A new festival arrives in Mexico City
Interview: KMäN Riffs
The man. The myth. The legend…. you get the point. Mr K, as I affectionately refer to him, is a pillar of the ‘Metal Twitter’ community and keeps us all on the right track when it comes to the weekly onslaught of new metal releases. Despite everyone in the Metal Twitter Community adoring KMäN and the amazing metal content he posts, we still don’t know much about the man behind all of the hard work. Apart from revealing that he lives in the land down under, his Twitter bio leaves a lot to the imagination and I, being the ever-curious creature I am, decided to contact Mr K and ask him for an interview. KMäN has worked hard to keep his identity private and out of respect for that, we agreed upon a written interview, including some questions from a few of his Twitter followers.
Fae: So, Mr K – What is your professional background and has it got anything to do with music?
KMaN: Oh lord, I wish it did. But alas, it has absolutely zero relationship! As much as I would love to dress in Metal Ts and casual gear every day, my professional career is very much the opposite. At work, you cannot tell that I’m a full-blown metalhead just north of 40 years’ involvement. I’m in professional dress. No one I work with even knows how deep my passion for this genre runs. Some closer colleagues know I’m into ‘music’, but the style and extent of my involvement is nothing they know about. They certainly have no clue about this online social media hobby I‘ve got going on. All of this is just the way I want it. I’ve no desire nor inclination to discuss it with them as I already know the response (total bewilderment). It’s not worth the aggravation. But, in my perfect world, I’d love to do this 24/7 and get paid a truckload of cash, but I think we all know that that just isn’t going to happen.
F: I think that would be the dream job for a lot of people reading this! How did it all begin and why did you choose Twitter as your main social media platform?
K: Firstly, I never intended to start anything like this. What you see and read now on my account has evolved in an organic fashion, especially over the past 2 years. I’ve only been on the platform for 5 years. The catalyst for this was the reshelving of my record collection. Having dabbled on Twitter under another pseudonym, I was impressed with how easy it was to construct a post. Plus, back in 2017, Twitter was restricted to only 140 characters; you couldn’t actually say much. It was pretty much ”here’s an album I own, do you know it, let’s share stories”. But the whole game changed when Twitter went to 240 characters in 2018 – now you had the ability to converse and put together a reasonably literate sentence/paragraph. I never did consider using any other platform – websites were too finicky, and the lack of portability didn’t make it attractive enough. Using an app on a phone made things a whole lot easier for me and for people who wanted to follow – I saw the power of the platform. Like with everything I invest my time in, I took to it with deadly seriousness. Right now, at the click of a button, in an instant I can promote heavy music to 13K + likeminded metalheads across the globe. I think that’s an incredible thing. And for all the bands that follow and let me know, they think so too!
F: What sparked your love of metal music?
K: Discovering ‘Heavy Metal’ clearly came much later, but I’m convinced that my father (83 and still kicking) started it all and lit the fuse by taking me to the local football ground to watch a band playing on the flat top/back of a truck semi-trailer. It is a memory that to this day is burned into my very being. So vivid. That band? AC/DC with Bon Scott! Like really? At the time, I had no idea who I was watching or what it even meant, but it stuck with me for whatever reason. From then on, the sound of the electric guitar seems to have been a major attraction for me. Then at some point in ’82 I saw the Iron Maiden video for ‘Run To The Hills’ and proceeded to ask my mother to buy the album for me when I showed her the cover art for Number of the Beast….errr, not today son! Ha! It didn’t take long though and I began to seek out anything that looked remotely heavy. Deep Purple and Black Sabbath were major go-to artists and I was blown away to discover that Judas Priest had seven albums out before I’d even heard them; Maiden had two; Van Halen wasn’t even a thing in this country until 1984 and they had five other albums yet to be discovered. I jumped on everything coming from the States and Europe – Def Leppard, Accept, Motley Crue, Ozzy, Gary Moore and the whole early Glam Metal scene – Ratt/LA Guns/Cinderella etc. Then Metallica changed my whole world. ‘Ride the Lightning’ pretty much opened a porthole to another Metal universe that, thankfully, I’ve never escaped. Thrash into Death Metal into Black Metal and whatever other genre you like, I devoured it. Still do.
F: I asked some of your Twitter followers if they had some questions for you, so I think we’ll take a few of those next… Who started Metal Twitter? (@etherealdarkbe)
K: It’s an interesting question. When I turned up in September of 2017 it wasn’t really a phrase that had been coined. I certainly wasn’t the first person to post pics of my collection and chat about it. A few that already existed when I appeared were Greg (@thetruth), Mo (@MoMetaltrax), Emil (@UniqueHiFi) and Jay (@JayKeeley). I even recall in the very early days, Greg and Jay putting me through some sort of ‘Metal Card’ initiation by asking me to post photos of certain albums to prove that I was a legitimate player. So, I posted Fates Warning’s ‘The Spectre Within’ and was duly accepted into the inner circle. Ha ha! Greg, at the time, even had 6K followers (until he got hacked and had to start again) – and I thought “how the fucking hell do you even get those numbers??” You go back and look at some of my earlier posts – 3 likes, 0 retweets etc – for weeks and months on end. Just a total void. It’s a wonder I even stuck with it. But in following others, treating them right, not being a dickhead keyboard warrior, and actually conversing like a human being and them following you back, slowly but surely, I could see the numbers improve. There is no doubt that some sort of community has been built here – and I think many others have also seen the power of the platform, so much so that we see invested followers such as Jack (@irondwarf) MCaneva (@LFCMFighter), Joe (@joewebber) and Heavy Therapy (@Heavy_Therapy) link their own reviews to the posts, plus online magazine reviewers, online zines, freelance journos, podcasters (The @BangersP lads, especially), labels, PR crews, bands/band members are all involved. I never coined the phrase but I’m pretty sure this is how Metal Twitter has developed over the past 5 years.
F: What is your information source, for all of the great albums you post about? (@Bangyourradio)
K: I’m an extensive user of Bandcamp. So daily email notifications keep me abreast of any bands using this platform. I only regret it when Bandcamp Friday rolls around at the beginning of every month (easily 500 + emails to delete). I am fortunate enough to have established relationships with a ton of PR crew who do a magnificent job for their respective labels – early access to promos and release schedules are a great help. I use a select few websites like NCS and AMG who do similar promotion and I have three fairly accurate releases pages that I go to check upcoming album dates. Of course, I also follow a ton of bands and labels on Twitter itself.
F: How does it feel to be the boss of Metal Twitter? (@danteruivo)
K: There’s Dante going all out with over-exaggerated assumptions. Ha Ha! Look, I don’t own this thing. I just saw a gap in the whole social media promotion of Metal and decided to make it a 24/7 daily habit goal to annoy the living Christ out of everyone with my incessant posts. Ha! It’s only ever been about my passion for heavy music; my way of flying the Metal flag. 13K + have hung around and contributed to the cause. It probably says I’m doing something right.
F: This one is from a mutual friend, Mr @dazzshallperish – Home and Away or Neighbours?
K: I do not give a fuck!
F: Ha! Ok, how’s about this…Panama or Hot For Teacher? (@BangersP)
K: Love the lads at Bangers & Mosh throwing in VH questions. Tough choice for me – love the riff and swagger of ‘Panama,’ but ‘Hot For Teacher’ gets the vote just for the whole package of the Alex VH intro, smart as fuck DLR lyrics and the maestro EVH just doing his thing. Plus, the video is genius. Peak VH.
F: Now, this next one might be tricky and it comes from another mutual friend, David (@swampyriffs2022) – Iron Maiden or Judas Priest?
K: Christ, David can I call a draw? Two absolute pillars of the genre with massive catalogues makes a selection rather difficult. Early days, I was probably all over Iron Maiden a bit more, mainly because of their omnipresence via ‘Live After Death’ and watching the VHS (which I still own) ad nauseum. Plus, their first seven albums are as great a run that any Metal band could dream of. Priest was always there – especially from SFV to DFOTF, but less so after Turbo and RID. And while I recognise the beast that it is, I’m also not a rabid ‘Painkiller’ fan. I never reach for it. Today, I find myself in Priest territory way more compared to listening to Maiden – especially the early period – always revisiting from Sad Wings through the late 70’s albums to 1980’s ‘British Steel’.
F: What is your favourite Black Sabbath album? (@joewebber)
K: You know, I’ve hardly reached for Sabbath in quite some time, Joe. And we all know that without them, none of what we listen to today exists. That’s fact – Not a very profound one for the seasoned metalhead, but still, fact. I could pick one of the first six albums and most would agree and all would be sweet, but for me, over the past year I’ve found a real affinity and connection with 1981’s ‘Mob Rules’ – Whether it’s their best album is always up for debate but there’s no doubt in my mind that it is some of Dio’s best work and it stands up as strong as ever today. I’m also very partial to 1992’s ‘Dehumanizer’ – probably for the same reason, RJD! It was completely unfashionable to care too much about Sabbath in 1992, but hell, just for ‘T.V Crimes’ alone, I think it’s a strong album.
F: Now, returning to some of my own questions, Mr K. How do you come up with new ideas for content and what is the development process behind ‘Full Force Fridays’?
K: I love that this question has been asked. All of these ideas are inspired by the Metal magazines I read in the 80s and 90s’. For example, Metal Forces used ‘Demo-lition’ for their Demo feature. Also, Kelv Hellrazer’s ‘Raze Hell’ section to name another. So, when I started Radio in 1990, I wanted a show that had different segments with a feature name. In keeping with the whole Metal theme I looked for band song titles or lyrics to bastardize into a segment feature. I had a review segment called ‘Cargoes of Doom’ – taken from a Warrior Soul album. So, much of what you see is lifted from a band’s song or the like. Currently I’m using ‘Forgotten in Space’ (Voivod) for those long lost obscure/forgotten albums, ‘The Upcoming Terror’ (Assassin album title) for the new individual albums on the horizon. ‘Disciples of the Watch’ (Testament tune) for the upcoming monthly album releases. ‘Fire in The Hole’ (Laaz Rockit tune) is used for the Album of the Week selection. Tornado of Souls (Megadeth tune) for the lead-in promo for Full Force Friday. The other two main features are ‘Deth Dekk Dominions’ and ‘Full Force Friday’ – I blatantly stole ‘Deth Dekk’ from Kerrang Magazine as they used it to showcase what their staff was listening to. I just added ‘Dominions’ for aesthetic purposes. I’ve always loved combining words (with the same letter) in this fashion.
F: Which brings us nicely onto FFF….
K: Checking my history, it appears that I established it as a weekly feature back in August 2019. I think it was something like 15 albums or so (nothing compared to today’s dumps of 50+ on many occasions). As I started posting about new albums that were coming out and following Bandcamp releases, I became more and more aware of this ‘Friday’ release date pattern. Noting that all these Metal albums were being released on the same day was intriguing to me. The thing was though, you couldn’t go to one place to find them complied with links to their digital platforms. You still had to search in multiple places. I thought what if I could use a place like Twitter to dump them all in one spot and then do a feature summary at the end of the day? As far as I could tell, no one else on Twitter was doing such a thing. At least, not in a deliberate coordinated way. So, of course I had to call it something – I picked ‘Full Force’ out as it neatly lined up with the letter F in ‘Friday’ and it had a Metal feel about it. And now it has become a thing, a monster in fact. So many people have told me about its value and that it’s the one go-to place for them to find the new music releases. It is so powerful, and I feel I have an obligation to continue with it. I also love the lead into each Friday with many of the usual followers tagging each other into discussion about what they are looking forward to. Then we have the after-dump follow-up discussions about what was making an impression (or not) and others offering their surprise finds of the day, urging others to ‘not sleep’ on a particular album. I mean, really? How fucking cool is that?? The community it has created is a beautiful thing. Social Media used for good. It can and does happen.
F: What is the meaning behind your handle “KMäN”?
K: This comes straight from my 90’s Radio days. Back then, everyone in radio had a handle or call sign – so using my real, totally boring name was out of the question. Being a huge fan of the 90’s Cosmo Kramer and the Seinfeld sitcom, I adopted The K-Man as my pseudonym. When I set up my Twitter account, I automatically attempted to resurrect the name as my handle. Of course, it was already taken and used elsewhere. So, without really thinking about it too much, I differentiated by adding ‘Riffs’ to the end of it. The rest, as they say, is history. It’s stuck!
F: What is the most memorable concert you’ve ever attended?
K: There’s been a ton and it’s always hard to pick. But easily my most memorable was Sepultura in 1992 on their Arise tour. I mean, they were at their absolute peak at that time. Take a look at that set list if you can – 17 songs – Arise/BTR focused, just phenomenal. Interestingly, another memorable gig was also with Sepultura on their Chaos AD tour in 1994, supported by Sacred Reich. Not that we saw a second of the headliners’ gig, as we copped some backstage passes and spent the whole entire Sepultura set having a whale of a time with Phil Rind and the Sacred Reich band. It was only when a sweaty Max Cavalera stormed into the bands room after their set and screamed ‘Woooaarrrhhhhh’ at the top of his lungs did we realise how long we’d been there. It was worth it, but I paid dearly for it the next day. The gigs that stick with me – Ministry in 1995 – twice in two days, the first at a Big Day Out Festival and the second on their own headline gig where the volume was unfathomable. THE loudest thing I’ve ever heard/witnessed. Metallica in ’88 on the Lady Justice Tour – the anticipation was palpable considering they were THE hottest metal band on the planet. Saw peak Guns ‘N’ Roses two nights in a row in 1988 on the Appetite Tour (before it took off). I also have very fond memories of seeing a Fear Factory double header gig (matinee and evening) in 1993 for the Fear Is The Mindkiller Tour – pretty much the entire SOANM album as their set list. Then in ’96 on the Demanunfacture album, they were a band in full flight. Others? Hell, AC/DC (1988), Henry Rollins, Aerosmith (Pump tour), Janes Addiction, Mudhoney, Queensryche, The Cult, Kreator, Alice in Chains, Megadeth (RIP tour) are ones that come to mind.
F: Did you ever expect to gain over 13,000 Twitter followers?
K: Not in my wildest dreams, man! Who even sets out to do that? I had no clue what would happen. All I knew in the beginning is that I wanted to use Twitter to find like-minded people who were serious about this music and be able to share and converse about it. Clearly, I found people and they found me. Once I started the whole FFF weekly feature, Upcoming Terror posts, dropping DDDs during the week and adding other features like ‘Disciples of the Watch’ and ‘Fire in The Hole’, look, much to my continual surprise, the whole thing has just taken off. I guess it’s the consistency that helps people. There is an interesting dichotomy at play though, for as much as the numbers grow it still only a very small portion of the number of Metal fans out there. As far as being one of the major players in Metal promotion, I think I am a pretty small fish. So many metal fans would have no clue. There are reasons for this – social media is seen as poison to much of the old school metalheads, so why would they bother? But you don’t know what you know! Plus, the number of bands that do not inhabit the Twitter playground as a social media platform have no clue about what goes down. For some strange reason, Instagram is a preferred choice. It must be where all the cool kids hang out? All I can say is thank you and welcome. But I make no apologies for the amount of material that will land in your feed. I’ve lost followers for that very reason, too. It’s too omnipresent for some. I get it. But for those who are really invested and absolutely can’t get enough of new heavy music, then based on the numbers, this seems to be a good place to hang out. Again, I thank everyone who helps share the love!
F: For the final question, I would like to know if you are glad that you agreed to let me interview you?
K: Well, as much as everyone wanted some sort of talking head/Youtube podcast thing, I’m in a place where I’d rather keep some sort of anonymity about myself. I use a pseudonym for a reason. I need to protect myself. People might be like, what? What’s to protect? Well, professionally, what I listen to and promote might be seen as diametrically opposed to the values of an organisation I work for – I don’t need that aggravation, that’s my paycheck, folks; that’s my mortgage. This might be different in the future, but for now, I hope people understand this. So, this back-and-forth chat with you was sorted out and agreed upon as the best way to provide some insight to what goes on here. So yes, given what I’ve disclosed here, I’m happy. If people have read this far, then I guess I also held their interest. Furthermore, besides the Banger lads, you are the only person who has ever asked. I’m humbled.