Interview: Christian Bankes
(Organizer of Justicia Pro Bestia)
Interview Date : 25th July 2011
Interviewers : Phill Bruce & Emma Wilson
People view of the alternative community is sometimes they don’t see the great people we are. Sometimes we all get together to help a good cause. I found out about Justicia Pro Bestia, a compilation of artists banding together to help The Animal Legal Defence Fund. For many years animals have been treated badly and The Animal Legal Defence Fund has been fighting for more rights for animals and greater sentences for those who abuse animals in America. I got chance to have a word with Christian from Crunch Pod, the organizer of the Justicia Pro Bestia compilation.
Phill – Hi Christian. Thank you for giving Grave Concerns this interview, a chance for us to help you and your new project that you have undertaken.
What was the reason and can you tell me why you decided to produce this compilation album with proceeds going to a worthy good cause?
Christian – I have seen many different types of charity efforts throughout the years in the Industrial/EBM community. While they are all noble causes there hasn’t been many that work to raise awareness for animal rights and welfare. For awhile i’ve wanted to do something that would bring those issues into the light more and puttting together a compilation of artists in our scene that are animal lovers and supporters would be the best way to do it. It’s an idea i’ve been thinking about for quite some time. It was just a matter time and deciding who the proceeds of the compilation would go to. Recently one of our cats, Bugsy, passed away due to cancer. That has been an added motivator for doing this.
Phill – Out of all the charity’s out there in the world why did you choose The Animal Legal Defence Fund?
Christian – The ALDF is a charity i’ve been watching for a while now. I believe there are three ways to make an impact and get your point across and your message heard. You can either hit someone in their wallet, which works well. You can hit them in the face, but that will usually put you in jail. Or you can change the rules and laws. The ALDF works to improve laws to protect animals and make the penalties for breaking those laws tougher. I admire what a lot of other charities do to help animals but I think what the ALDF does works well. They have won many court cases and have helped start new laws and changed a lot of laws for the better throughout North America, so it’s a proven method they have.
Phill - What will the charity be doing with the money raised from the sales of the album?
Christian - The ALDF is comprised of lawyers who spend most of their time filing lawsuits to stop animal abuse, providing free legal assistance to prosecutors working on cruelty cases, working to improve anti-cruelty statutes and providing public education seminars and workshops. Legal fees alone get very expensive so they will use the proceeds from the sale of the compilation for those various things.
Phill – What can we expect to hear from the artists that have agreed to help on the compilation?
Christian – A little bit of everything. Some of the artists made tracks specific to the compilation about animals. Some decided to go a different direction, have a little bit of fun etc. While animals rights is a serious matter, it’s still nice to have some fun while supporting a good cause.
Phill – How did you decided on the artists that appear on the album, out of the many that are in the industry?
Christian – We decided to invite artists to be on it. I have worked with many different artists throughout the scene so I reached out to people I knew who were animal supporters or had animals. I’m also very lucky to work with such an excellent roster artists on Crunch Pod. Some of the artists on the label also contacted a lot of their friends and people they have worked with to be on this compilation. They didn’t hesitate to help me with it. A big thank you goes to Justin of Lexincrypt, Bee of Mangadrive, and Karloz of Manufactura for helping me put this compilation together. Karloz was also the one who came up with the name Justicia Pro Bestia for the compilation. He’s our dirty uncle Karloz but he has a heart of gold!
Phill – Are there any tracks on the compilation that have been written specially for you by the artists and donated to you for the album?
Christian – Well all of the tracks are previously unreleased on the compilation. Some of the artists did write songs specifically for the compilation such as Manufactura, 9th Evolution, Bitch Brigade, Mangadrive, Uberbyte, Rec|use, Polluted Axis, Sinsect, and Iammynewt. For these artists to take time out to make a whole new song for this compilation means a lot and is an honor.
Phill – Is the compilation only available in the US or can it be purchased worldwide?
Christian – It can be purchased worldwide. It wouldn’t be fair to hold out such awesome music from the rest of the world.
Phill - The internet has played a huge part in helping bands to promote themselves, connecting to their fans using medias such as Facebook and twitter, have you also utilised this idea to help promote your charity album and raise awareness to the cause?
Christian – Honestly if you don’t have a web presence these days you won’t be going far. Social Networking sites have played a huge part in promoting the compilation. When we made the public announcement about Justicia Pro Bestia on Facebook, people would repost the info on their pages, and then their friends repost the info. It just goes on and on from there. It’s word of mouth 21st century style. We also sent out the release info to people on our promo list and they in turn posted the info on their Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, and blogs. As I mentioned it plays a huge part in promoting it. That can be said for any album or compilation.
Phill – Where will people be able to buy the compilation from?
Christian – It will be a digital only compilation and can be bought through most digital download sites like iTunes, Amazon, eMusic, Rhapsody, Spotify, Fixit, Vampirefreaks and many others. You can also buy it directly from us. Just go to Crunchpod.com under the “Shop” section.
Phill – How much do you hope to raise from the release of the compilation for the Animal Legal Defence Fund?
Christian – I actually haven’t thought of a dollar amount. Obviously I’d like to raise obnoxious amounts of money for the ALDF, but I’m realistic about it. Times are tough and people are very careful where and what they spend their money on. Hopefully they will decide to use their hard earned money to buy Justicia Pro Bestia. 100% of the sale of the compilation will be going to the ALDF so they know their money is going to a good organization and to a great cause. Even if they decide not to purchase the compilation I would hope they would still check them out and even donate to the ALDF in other ways.
Phill – Is there any other way you are raising awareness for The Animal Legal Defence Fund other than the release of the compilation?
Christian – The compilation plays a huge part in introducing people to the ALDF. We explain who they are and what they do. Outside of the compilation we will promote their efforts via the label and through our own personal means.
Phill – How have the songs been chosen, is it songs with meaning from the artists or is it songs you or Ben have chosen yourselves?
Christian – I have handled all the track selections for the compilation. Ben has been kind enough to let me handle all the details on this. The artists appearing on the compilation sent me the tracks that they thought would fit the best for this type of release because of the meaning behind it. I can say for sure every track on this compilation is top notch. I say that from a fan’s standpoint. There are no “filler” tracks on this. I wanted to make sure the fans get a good value for their purchase. There is a wide range of music styles on this such as Industrial, EBM, Power Noise, Drum n Bass, Breakbeat, and Techno. I wanted to make it as diverse as possible. A little bit of something for everyone.
Phill – What legalities needed to be addressed before the idea of the compilation could go ahead?
Christian – Luckily there wasn’t really any legal issues behind putting the compilation together. The only hurdle was getting the permission from the various labels that the artists are on to use their music for the compilation. There weren’t any issues and they all were very easy to work with!
Phill – So what are the origins of Crunch Pod?
Christian – Ah back in 1998 Ben Arp (owner of Crunch Pod) was in the backroom of a brothel in Thailand playing high stakes poker with a local mafia boss. The game was if you lost a hand, you lost your hand! Ben being the poker master he is, was winning left and right. The mafia boss was very angry. The mafia boss had a small record label that released Thai polka music on. He used it as a front for money laundering. He decided to bet the record label. At that time it was called Crunk Pot. The mafia boss had a full house. Things didn’t look good for Ben. Then magically when he revealed his hand he had four aces. The mafia boss yelled at him saying that he cheated and ordered his men to shoot Ben. With lighting reflexes Ben grabbed his winnings and got out of the brothel barely alive! He hopped a plane and landed in Sacramento, California where he retired his dangerous ways and m got married. He renamed Crunk Pot records to Crunch Pod and has been releasing some of the finest Industrial music this side of the equator.
Of course none of that is true but I guarantee someone will post that whole story on a blog somewhere saying it’s true! The real story is back in 1998 Crunch Pod started as a small limited run CDR label. As the label grew so did its fan base. They started releasing professional cds and have become the home of some great international acts. Today we are a digital only label, with some exceptions such as Uberbyte’s upcoming album NFY will have a limited c.d. run.
Phill – Where does the name Crunch Pod originate?
Christian – Back in the late 90s Ben was a DJ at the community radio station KDVS 90.3 in Davis, CA (USA). He had this thing for a few years where he’d change his DJ name each quarter when they'd move their time slots around. During one of those rotations he founded Crunch Pod so he used his current DJ name at the time which was "DJ Crunch Pod" since he couldn't think of anything else to call the label. "Crunch Pod" itself was just something he came up with after staying awake for like 3 days towards the end of a quarter studying for finals and had to submit a DJ name for his radio show.
Phill – What is your role within your record company?
Christian – My official title is Promotions Manager. My role over the past 6 years has evolved into a Jerk of all trades, a name I’ve coined for myself. I handle all the promotions for the label and work with all the djs and magazines/ezines by sending them our releases. I also search for new bands to sign to the label, help Ben with operations and pretty much anything else that will come up. Not exactly rockstar type stuff but I enjoy what I do.
Phill – Who works at Crunch Pod other than you and what are their roles?
Christian – Well there is Ben. He is the owner and big cheese at Crunch Pod. He handles all the day to day business of the label. Then there is Jim Bruce. He is the A&R guy. He handles all the demos that artists send to us and listens to them to see if they would be good additions to Crunch Pod.
Phill – What artists are on your label?
Christian – The current roster is comprised of Alter Der Ruine, Blackcentr, Manufactura, Cervello Electtronico, C/A/T, Lexincrypt, Bitch Brigade, Polluted Axis, Mangadrive, Sinsect, Uberbyte, and Syndika:Zero. We recently just signed two new artists Cryogenic Echelon from Australia and Ascension EX from San Francisco.
Phill – There are many aspiring artists out there, do you have any advice for them?
Christian –Take your time to hone your craft. We have received tons of demos over the years of people wanting to be signed, and the number has increased dramatically because people have easier access to equipment, mainly software. You can tell when someone just threw a bunch of loops together and sent it out. Take the time to develop your music, and don’t just clone someone else. Have some pride in your work. Oh and seriously stop with the gas masks. These are my personal opinions not the labels.
Phill – Thank you for giving Grave Concerns Ezine this interview, is there anything you would like to add?
Christian –Thank you for the interview. I’d thank everyone who buys the compilation, instead of downloading it from one of the Russian sites or torrents. Your money is going to a truly worthy organization and cause. Thank you to Limitless Audio (http://www.limitlessaudio.com ) for mastering most of it. Thanks Synthstruct ( http://www.facebook.com/pages/Synthestruct/100421170005457 ) for doing the artwork. Thank you to all the artists for appearing on it. Thank you to my amazing fiancée, Valerie for helping me with the compilation. This is slowly turning into an award acceptance speech. The band has started up so that means I gotta go. This one’s for you Bugsy!
Phill - Thanks again, Christian. To you and all at Crunch Pod, good luck with the album!
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