A Conversation With MetalSucks Founder Axl Rosenberg
Axl & Vince
In a scene that takes itself a bit too seriously at times, MetalSucks.net is a breath of fresh air. Founded in 2006, the site's unfiltered, and often hilarious, reporting on the metal industry has made it one of the more popular sites in the blogosphere.
The brains behind MetalSucks are Vince Neilstein and Axl Rosenberg, the nom de plumes of two witty writers based out of NYC. By the way, that's the photo they provided us for this piece. Like Noisecreep, their site isn't genre exclusive and covers anything from grindcore to Sunset Strip-approved hair metal and everything in between. Their staff of contributors includes published authors, syndicated journalists and musicians, and they all share the founder's biting blend of sarcasm and passion for the music they feature. Anyone familiar with the site knows that editorially speaking, they don't pull punches.
Noisecreep spoke with the mysterious Axl Rosenberg and got him to give us some insight on the world that is MetalSucks.
First things first, what in the world convinced you to start a metal blog?
Like most bright decisions I've made it my life, it came about via a mix of marijuana and Vince whispering in my ear. I really wanted to be a professional writer because I don't enjoy things like bathing, leaving the house, or talking to people. So I was trying to get a job at one of the metal magazines, but wasn't having any luck, either because I had no connections, or because my writing sucked.
In any case, Vince and I got pretty baked, as we tend to do, and went to a Children of Bodom / Amon Amarth concert in Times Square. I think I was bitching to him about how bummed I was that my writing career was going nowhere or something when he turned to me and said, "Hey, you know all those douche indie rock blogs? How come there isn't one for metal? Wanna start one together?" And I did!
So, basically, it's all Vince's fault. That's why every night before I go to bed -- I sacrifice a Christian baby in his honor.
I remember when I first read the site its tone reminded me of MetalSludge.com's early days. But instead of taking the piss out of Firehouse and Winger, you were covering the heavier bands.
Well Metal Sludge and Chuck Klosterman's 'Fargo Rock City' were probably our biggest influences – besides The Hun, of course. If the snark is pure Metal Sludge, then the over-thinking things to a ridiculous degree is pure Klosterman. The thing you have to keep in mind is that we're Jewish New Yorkers. Sarcasm and over-thinking things is just in our nature.
So of course the way those guys wrote was going to appeal to us.
But there was no point taking the piss out of Firehouse and Winger, mostly because we didn't know that Firehouse and Winger still existed until just now when you asked this question. On the other hand, Dave Mustaine was just walking around telling everyone how great he was and no one was calling him out for it, so it seemed like maybe somebody should say something, y'know?
Why did you decide to post under aliases?
A lot of people think it's so we can do undercover investigative journalism and express our honest opinions without fear or reprisal, but that's not true at all. It's just that if the father of a fourteen year old girl you met at Avenged Sevenfold show is looking for you, and he thinks your name is "Axl Rosenberg," it's going to be a lot harder for him to track you down.
When did you realize that the site could really become something bigger? Was there a specific moment that sticks out?
The first time one of our heroes from our youth threatened to sue us, I knew we were onto something. I mean, if when I was a teenager, if you had sat me down during an episode of Headbanger's Ball and pointed at the screen and said "See that dude right there? One day his lawyer is gonna give you a moderately hard time via fax," I would have plotzed.
You've taken shots at a lot of artists and labels throughout the years – do you ever worry about seeing these folks in person?
I've met people who I wrote bad things about and who know I wrote bad things about them, and they usually make a clever observation along the lines of "Oh you don't like me," and we both chuckle and move on with our lives. Really, what's the worst thing that could happen? You feel a little discomfort? I've had to submit to a rectal exam before, I've felt discomfort. It's really not the end of the world.
You've must have been in some awkward situations because of the site.
A girl called me "Axl" during sex once. That was pretty effin' awkward.