10 Dec
Interview with PANDEMANIAC

Welcome to the FILTHY DOGS OF METAL Webzine.
Tell us a few things about PANDEMANIAC (Members, Starting Year etc).

Members: Matt Snyder and Mike Mullholand. Started in the Spring of 2020.
(Mike): Matt contacted me earlier this summer and asked if I would put a lead track on a song he had just completed. He sent me Acid Rain.
I thought it was a bitchin' jam so I figured I'd give it a whirl... I finished up my tracks and emailed them to him and within 5 minutes
he emailed me the other 7 tracks. I was hooked!
(Matt): Pandemaniac essentially started as a way for me to continue to write, play, and record music while my band Mold Golem has been on
hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I just kept playing and practicing guitar and writing material at a frenetic pace, and improving the recording process using my home equipment. I knew that my stepbrother Mike was not only the best guitar player I knew, but that he also was adept at recording music in his home. So thankfully he was receptive to contributing to the Pandemaniac
project with his guitar leads and keyboard parts. I feel like I bake the cake and he adds the icing. It tastes much better this way.

You have recently released your album ''A S W D''. What is the feedback from your audience as well as from the press?
(Mike): So far. everything I have heard has been great. People seem to enjoy the songs. My 2-year-old cannot contain himself when I play it! He runs in circles for the whole duration of the album, so that's good - right? Although, his taste is a bit suspect... he likes Blippi... if you don't know what Blippi is, google "Blippi Harlem Shake"... I knew something was a bit off with that guy...
(Matt): To be honest, you're the very first press person to reach out to us about this, our first album, which as of this writing has only been out for a few days. My friend and Mold Golem guitarist Micah told me he was feeling "some GWAR, Midnight, Ghost, punk rock/NWOBHM vibes, very original, very cool". And one of the admins of Cave Dweller Music called it a "fun as hell album" and a "super enjoyable listen". It's been a great time and learning experience for us to record "A S W D", and I am certainly very excited to hear what the metal community thinks of it! So that's kind of the present challenge - to put the album out there for as many people to hear, to promote it effectively. Presently we're on Bandcamp, and just last night I completed the distribution process through CDBaby to put it on Spotify
and other streaming services. So we'll see what kind of feedback we get - fingers crossed!

Label or DIY and why?
(Mike): DIY - Because why not? Also, if you are reading this and you run a label... we could use a label, PLEASE!
(Matt): I'm not sure - I think "DIY" can only take a person so far, especially if they're busy working full time and have a family, like we do.But it's also obviously super beneficial to be as hands-on involved in as many processes as possible, from recording to putting your music up on different platforms, having some kind of social media presence. I think it's a missed opportunity to let others do everything for you. Be involved and learn as much as you can.It makes sense that a band would call upon the professional resources of a label, or whatever, for help with promotion especially, but also potentially merchandise and distribution. I understand that these things cost money, and that there are plenty of people in "the business" out to make as much of it as they can off of young, starry-eyed bands. I'm gonna call a guy today in fact to discuss what he can do to help promote Pandemaniac. He seems to be sensitive to not taking advantage of his bands, that they're in it to help keep the metal scene alive. And he said he thought we were "marketable". So we'll see what happens with that! *NOTE* So Pandemaniac has signed a contract with Misanthropik Records. They're going to press some CDs for us and they're confident they can market and promote us to our satisfaction. Everyone I've dealt with there has been really friendly and knowledgeable, and they're excited to help us spread our music, so we'll see where it goes. But personally, I appreciate the help in that endeavor!

Do you prefer Vinyl, Tape, CD or Digital Format and why is that?
(Mike): I miss the packaging more than the format... when we were kids, we would buy a new cassette, CD, 8 track or some shit and  spend hours looking over the liner notes. We would memorize all of the lyrics, study all of the pictures - just really ingest the whole  thing... that is long gone. However, I do like the immediate access to literally any song you can think of via the internet, so that  is a good thing - I think.
(Matt): I think it's cool that vinyl has had such a resurgence in recent years, but I for one have not jumped down that rabbit hole. There was a time I embraced the digital only/mp3 revolution, even sold a bunch of my CDs, which I now regret. But nowadays I'm perfectly happy rebuilding and expanding my CD collection. Even though when I get a new CD, I immediately upload  it onto my computer, so I can listen to it via my SONOS home speaker system, which is quite convenient and sounds great. So I guess technically I prefer both CDs and digital.

Your music style is Speed Metal. Which are your main influences (Favourite Artists / Bands etc.)
(Mike): I am influenced by everything I hear - some positively, some not so positively... I think there is something to learn from the  shittiest pop tune to the meanest metal jam... Really, this answer is just a cop out... I mostly still listen to "The Cure" albums  from the 90's (I'm not even joking). Matt is much more versed in modern music than I am. Disregard my answer and go with whatever he says. I only play the leads & keys on the album anyway... he wrote all of the songs!
(Matt): I grew up on "The Big Four" of American thrash metal in the 80's - Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer, but was also greatly
influenced by punk bands like The Misfits that wrote some really catchy, hooky songs. However one of my biggest pet peeves is people who
get stuck in a by-gone era of music that think there's no good music coming out nowadays. So I make it a point to listen to primarily
recent stuff, because there's a TON of great music out there if you're willing to dig for it. If I'm in a thrashy mood, there's Municipal Waste, Power Trip (RIP Riley Gale), Havok, and I really love Warsenal from Canada. Or if I'm in a doomy mood there's YOB, Pallbearer, Bell Witch, or Electric Wizard. My wife is a big fan of Behemoth, so we get a lot of that around the house too. But I've always been a sucker for a good pop song - which is why I try to make Pandemaniac songs kind of short and catchy. 

Which things, do you think, a Band should sacrifice in order to succeed?
Have you ever sacrificed anything in your life for a better future of your Band?
(Mike): Goats. Definitely. And chickens, too... Sacrificing goats and chickens is the only way I can think of to succeed!
(Matt): Things are different now that I'm a husband and father about to turn 45. When I was younger and playing out all the time in local and regional bars and clubs, that's what life was all about. Embracing the lifestyle of a local rockstar, being out in the bars every night in the name of public relations and promoting the band, the party was on nonstop. So as far as sacrifice goes, I guess you might say I sacrificed a lot of valuable time back then, time that in retrospect might better have been spent getting a proper education to build a more financially stable future for myself, and not living in some fantasy world that real rockstardom was just  around the corner. But I can't regret those times, I forged some of the most beautiful and long-lasting friendships imaginable during those formative years. But now it's totally different. I'm older, have some financial stability, and can focus more completely on creating some killer metal, undistracted by the idealistic dreams of youth.

Describe your ideal live show as a performance Band. Have you already experienced that?
(Mike): I love playing festivals. Something about that environment really gets my blood pumping! At this point, because of Covid-19,  I'd settle for playing for 3 pissed off bar staffers and 1 drunk townie in Fort Wayne, Indiana (I've found myself in that situation more than once!)
(Matt): I've been on bills with some cool bands, the biggest of which would have to be GWAR. I remember Oderus Urungus telling me he liked the Hellacopters shirt I was wearing! But even though Pandemaniac is primarily a "studio" project, there might perhaps be a reason to put it on the stage sometime. Maybe a bigger festival show, outdoors, summertime, with a bunch of heavy metal and punk bands. Bring us to Greece!

Which attributes, do you think, that a new Heavy/Speed Metal Band should have in order to gain identity and be unique?
(Mike): Seriously, just present your songs with confidence and do not pretend to be something you are not... Embrace your strangeness!
That shit always gains recognition.
(Matt): I think the most important thing for a new metal band to do is have fun. If it's not fun, you're not going to be doing it very long.To this end, it's important that the chemistry of the band members has to jive well. I might also add that I think it's important to have a general idea what you want the band to sound like, don't hop around genres too much. A little bit yeah, that's cool. But too much just confuses the listener. It's also a strange conundrum to find yourself in when you're "too thrash" for one group, but "not thrash enough" for another group. So I don't know, maybe hop genres as much as you want, be true to yourself. It just might be more difficult
to find a receptive audience. Also freaking practice your instrument, get better at playing.

Do you believe that Bandcamp and other Digital Platforms help the new Heavy Metal Bands? Which, do you think, is the ideal way for a Band to promote its work?
(Mike): From my perspective, anyway you can get your music heard by new ears is a good thing. I would prefer to spread the music through
live shows, but in this Covid-19 environment it's not very feasible. So, any and all digital platforms are a viable option - sign o' the times, man!
(Matt): Oh yeah, for sure. I spent the infancy of the internet 1990's grinding it out in local clubs and bars of the American midwest, truly in the trenches of heavy metal obscurity. Here, sign our mailing list, we'll send you an email every now and then, which I'm not sure we even ever actually did! I think it's fantastic that a band can upload an album for purchase or streaming on a great looking platform like Bandcamp that's truly accessible to everyone with an internet connection. Sure, the internet is flooded with great metal, that you can even listen to for free, and people have gotten used to not paying for music anymore. But I guess that's how the game has changed. I don't see "rockstardom" as a viable career option anymore - nowadays it's more of a "labor of love" or "side hustle" for me. 

Tell us a few things about the New Underground Heavy Metal Scene in Toledo, Ohio, USA (Bands, Fanzines, Webzines, Metal Clubs etc.)
(Mike): Ask Matt, he knows more about that shit than I do!
(Matt): I'll be honest man, I'm really disconnected from the young, local rock and metal scene in my area. As a husband and father of a couple
young kids, I don't really have much desire to spend time in my local bars and clubs watching bands. I spent almost two decades doing that when I was younger and crazier, mostly pursuing oblivion because I wasn't living up to my own unknown expectations. The inspiration I glean for Pandemaniac comes definitely from listening to newer metal music however. I love listening to the stuff that people post on the different "heavy metal" groups I belong to on Facebook, or checking out the growing playlists on "New Wave of Old School Thrash Metal" on YouTube. If I get drug out of the house to watch a band, it's not really a local one. Before the COVID shut down all the shows, I'd recently seen Iron Reagan as well as Pallbearer up in Detroit, which is about an hour north of Toledo.

Do you know anything about the Hellenic Metal Scene? 
(Mike): I didn't until I read this question... now I have new music to geek out on for the next few months!
(Matt): Dude - Cult Of Eibon is really cool. They have an old school thrashy feel about them that I love. Actually some of the riffage reminds me a bit of the newer stuff I've been writing. I'll have to explore them some more. They might be my new favorite band! I've heard of Rotting Christ - they're pretty big. So the Hellenic Metal Scene is death and black metal from Greece? I suppose I'm more familiar with bands from Poland like Behemoth and (the real) Batushka, but that makes me sad. I will explore the Hellenic Metal Scene, thanks to you, Filthy Dogs of Metal! You are truly an ambassador!

What are your future plans?
(Mike): Well, after I emailed Matt my last tracks for ASWD, he immediately sent me 8 more for the second album - so I guess that is next... Rumor is, he's almost done writing the 3rd!
(Matt): I've got the next two albums pretty much written right now, so as long as my friend and brother Mike is down with providing all the sweet guitar leads to go with my riffs, then we'll stay in business! I just recognize I have a deeply felt need to be creative, which I'm very grateful for. And to be so inspired by finding new music (like Cult Of Eibon!) just makes me want to contribute to the global heavy metal discussion. I want Pandemaniac to leave a mark. So as long as my hands can still pick a guitar and I'm still inspired to create, I'll keep doing it.

Thank you very much for your time & Keep up the good work! The closure is yours.
Stavros, no - the thanks is all due to you. By reaching out to us lowly disciples of metal with these interview questions, you are helping to maintain the inspiring hellfires within our hearts. Why do we do what we do? Why is Pandemaniac? On many levels, we do this to satisfy our need to create. But there are many more levels that yearn for the attention, that crave some positive feedback. We want to know that our contributions to the heavy metal conversation are heard and valued. So thank you Stavros, thank you Filthy Dogs of Metal, thank you for caring about Pandemaniac! Don't forget to visit our Bandcamp page at www.pandemaniac.bandcamp.com! And keep your eyes and ears
peeled for us to show up on Spotify and all those other streaming platforms!

By Steve the Filthy Dog.

* The email will not be published on the website.