Hailing from Denver, Colorado, Angelic Desolation is a band that started taking themselves seriously in 2016. Since then, their merciless riffs, horror-inspired stage antics, and social media savvy have helped them bring their music further and further from the Rockies. Guitarist Matt Markle took some time to discuss the inner workings of the band...
Tell our readers all about your band! Where are you from and when did you get started? What is your music like?
We're Angelic Desolation out of Denver, CO. We blend together elements of thrash, grind and death metal for a unique sound that has caused some within our scene to call us American Razorgrind. If you're a fan of Aborted, Cryptopsy or Revocation, you'll likely be into what we do. We've officially been around since 2008 but we pretend like that time didn't exist. Jay, our vocalist, is the only one still in the band from that time. Things were never taken seriously, partying mattered quite a bit more and it was just a sometimes-hobby. Fast forward to 2016 and we opened the regional date here in Denver for the Summer Slaughter Tour. After that experience with the giant spike in fans, connections with the touring bands, etc., we woke up and decided to take everything to 100 mph. We rebranded after that show with a new logo and a new fire of drive lit underneath us.
What are your goals for your band?
The ultimate goal of course is to do this full-time. People think that it's too hard in extreme metal to make a living and that's probably true if all you do is tour. Coupled with giving lessons though, making press kits, and booking tours for upcoming bands you're homies with, I think that there's a real potential there; you just have to be willing to put in the work. Things to check off beforehand would be to get on with a larger national tour as the opening act or something like Obscene Extreme would be insane.
What do you do for a living?
I run a residential and commercial moving company.
How do you balance your work and personal life with the band?
You just have to have the drive to not be lazy when you get off work. Even if you work a 12 hour shift, you can still build your band's awareness by commenting on social media, checking in with homies on tour, etc. Don't just come home and play videogames, get your sh*t together. Sorry, scratch that. If you just want this to be a hobby, do as you please, no judgements attached. But, if you are trying to be serious about this thing you HAVE TO work on your musical endeavors when you get home.
What do you consider to be the best investment you've made, music-wise?
During the COVID shutdowns I was fortunate enough to continue working, so nothing changed at all for me. With the money that was sent out, I purchased classes on how to utilize social media properly. It taught me the ins and outs of how to navigate this terrain, best practices, how to not get lost in the action, etc. It has paid off immensely. This last year when booking tours, I had plenty of instances where people had heard of us even though we'd never played that town. People have their phone in front of them at all times, even when they're driving, so to not utilize its reach is just shooting yourself in the foot.
What's the worst or least helpful thing you've ever spent money on as a musician/band?
Don't purchase your own tickets and hand them out to your friends for free. We are guilty of doing this and after that dumpster fire, it never happened again.
What kind of merch sells the best for your band? And what do you purchase most often as a music listener?
Probably shirts or CDs, hard to say. CDs fly out the door the second new music drops, but that spike dies off quickly. Shirts, assuming you keep them stocked, will continually sell throughout the year. Shirts are the tortoise and CDs the hare. With that in mind, shirts probably edge out CDs in the end. As to what I purchase personally, it's clothing items as I'm not a collector in any sense of the word. I'm also not a fan of CDs so I'd rather just stream the music. Don't get me wrong, I'll support bands by purchasing their albums digitally, I just don't want 600+ CDs lying around.
If you've been on tour, can you share some tour budgeting tips?
Don't eat out as much as possible. Bring a grill and cook as much as you can yourself. Crash at people's houses as much as possible. If you're on tour long enough to do laundry, don't wash your underwear and socks, just buy new ones. Look at laundromat prices and then look at the price of 10 pairs of socks and 10 pairs of underwear. The choice is simple.
Which online music or social media platforms are most helpful to your band?
TikTok is the new thing so that's really good for hooking the younger fans who might just be getting into the genre. We've definitely had quite a few times where a kid with X's on his hands tells us he found us on that platform. Otherwise, Facebook and IG seem to do pretty well for us along with Spotify. Again, I attribute all of that to the classes I took back in 2020. Facebook and IG have very good ad platforms and advertising there is pennies when you consider the return on investment.
What does "making it" mean to you, and what do you think a band needs to make it in 2022?
Bringing it back to the second question, it would be ideal to not have a job in the traditional sense. To "make it" though, that's harder to define. I guess once our name gets regularly mentioned in conversations with the big dogs, that would feel pretty damn good.
Not for the faint of heart, Angelic Desolation will be releasing the album Orchestrionic Abortion on March 31, 2023. Connect with the band here.
Interview and band photo courtesy of C Squared Music.
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