Louder Than War has a chat to quite probably the youngest & quite possibly the best reviewer of heavy music, the remarkable Elliot QP whose Youtube video reviews have been causing quite a stir.
Towards the end of the last year the Holy Roar record label (a label who specialise in music of the “heavy” persuasion to say the least – for instance that Bongripper / Conan split we’ve been waxing lyrical about recently came out on Holy Roar) posted on their Tumblr a YouTube video review of one of their artists. Not unusual in it’s own right of course but this review was by someone a tiny bit younger than your average alternative music reviewer. What was even more surprising however wasn’t so much the guy’s age but rather how good the review was, a totally assured & informative piece of music reviewing. Suddenly my Tumblr dashboard & Twitter timeline was alight with (tongue in cheek) woebegone comments from writers along the lines of “might as well give up with this reviewing malarkey I guess as this lad can do so much better a job of it than me”!
That was a few months ago now anyway & Elliot (for such is the guy’s name) has gone from strength to strength. He’s up to review number 70 now & we thought it was probably about time we introduced him to you lot. Some of you will know him already of course as he’s done many reviews of some of our (& therefore we like to think your) favourite artists. His most watched video review, of Neurosis, has now racked up nearly 12,000 views & by way of testament to the fact that he’s not just a ‘gimmick’ he’s managed to keep on getting reviews in the 1000’s on a regular basis ever since.
I mentioned the dude to one of our favourite PR’s, Lauren at Rarely Unable, in relation to his review of Nails recent album & she immediately offered to introduce us. Next thing I knew the idea of interviewing Elliot for Louder Than War was born.
We also asked Elliot for a few of what he’d consider his “landmark” videos, ones that were noteworthy to him for one reason or another. Granted this was a little unfair & perhaps I should have taken this task on myself for, as Elliot put it himself “…I feel a little proud of all of my reviews, maybe more so my most recent ones, each one has contributed to the channel.” It’s a bit like asking a parent which is his / her favourite child!
We’ll scatter the reviews throughout the interview but before we get going here’s the first, Elliot’s review of Neurosis’ “Honor Found In Decay” (which we reviewed here).
Elliot’s first landmark review: “My Neurosis review is a bit of a landmark review I suppose as it got my name somewhere. That review was shared on quite a few websites and I got a lot of comments and messages because of it.”
So onwards with the interview:
Louder Than War: Firstly can you tell us what kind of music you’re into & how old you were you when you first got into it. Perhaps this would be a good place to list a few of your favorite bands / labels!
EQPTV: I’m a massive fan of genres like post-metal, sludge, progressive, ambient, hardcore and so on. I generally like to listen to music which has a large amount of substance and changes often throughout an album or track. My favourite bands are Isis, Neurosis, Mastodon, The Ocean and bands of their ilk. There are certain labels that I fully support too such as Holy Roar and Hydra Head, Nuclear Blast, Inside Out Music, Southern Lord, Relapse…. The list goes on.
Louder Than War: Next logical question is how did you get into this kind of music?
EQPTV: I became interested in music through a series of bands when I was about 6, starting with The Doors and The Beatles. I became fascinated by the later era of The Beatles because of how strange and experimental it sounded to me at the time. The Doors were so dark at points, but had an incredible sense of melody. I later got into The Smiths’ The Queen Is Dead. Miserable songs, but incredibly melodic and catchy. I watched a film, I think it was Flushed Away, which contained the song ‘Bohemian Like You’ by The Dandy Warhols… I thought that was heavy at the time as I was about 6 or 7 then. I asked my dad if he had any ‘hard rock’. He played me Black Sabbath – War Pigs. Of course this was heavy metal, and I was converted for life. I went on to find bands like RATM, Dillinger Escape Plan, Mastodon and a lot of my favourite bands through music websites. I spent a lot of time doing research about music and bands and it became a constant hobby of mine. All birthdays and Christmas’ that followed were for metal CDs and books.
It wasn’t until I was about 10 when I really got into bands like Neurosis, Isis and Pelican. They were difficult bands to get into, but once I did, I was hooked for life.
Second landmark review: “There is a review I’ve uploaded recently that I’m quite proud: The Ocean – Pelagial. That particular review I feel opened my channel up to a different audience. I’d been reviewing a lot of post-metal and post-rock at the time and that review opened up a lot of doors for me.”
Louder Than War: And how did the idea to start doing spoken word ‘to camera’ reviews on Youtube come about?
EQPTV: I used to read the reviews sections in magazines. They were always the part which I most enjoyed. I then saw video reviews online and it seemed like something I wanted to do. I believe it was a review of the Morbid Angel album which came out that year…. I tried countless times to film one of decent quality. I gave up a little bit, despite never uploading one in the first place. And after a bit of a growth in my confidence I began to upload and it’s taken me to where I am today.
Louder Than War: I first heard about your video’s through Alex at Holy Roar. How did word start spreading about you? Who discovered you as it were!
EQPTV: I only had about 20 subscribers until Converge shared my review of All We Love We Leave Behind. I got quite a few subscribers from it. About a month later I reviewed a range of albums, all of which were shared on various websites (Amenra, The Secret etc.) It was only when I reviewed Neurosis’ Honor Found In Decay (which was shared on several sites) that I started to take reviewing more seriously.
Louder Than War: What’s the general response been from people?
EQPTV: The people who have watched my reviews have been incredibly positive, which I never really expected. I’ve been compared a few times of ‘theneedledrop’ which is amazing because he’s an incredibly talented album reviewer, who I never considered I’d be thought of as being in the same league as. I’ve gotten some fantastic messages from a range of people, which really makes it worthwhile. Obviously some people won’t like what I do but hey, you can’t please everyone.
Third landmark review: “I also consider my Nails review a bit of a landmark. I’d forgotten about hardcore for a long time and when I reviewed that album it felt like a bit of a throwback to the type of albums I used to review.”
Louder Than War: How do you choose which albums to review & what’s the general process involved with doing a review. Do you just go for it or is it scripted?
EQPTV: I used to be quite specific with what albums I review, going through phases of restrictive genres. I decided early on to only review albums I enjoyed, because I don’t believe in giving something I don’t enjoy any more press, especially if it’s a band that is trying its best to make a living from it. Over the past 3 months or so, I’ve become more relaxed with what I review. While listening to the album for the first time I focus purely on the music on display. I try to push their previous releases out of my head. Once I think of a score and my general opinion, I set up the camera and just speak. I’m surprised it comes out sounding half-decent!
Louder Than War: I’m always fascinated in finding out where people discover new music / bands?
EQPTV: I got into a lot of bands through music websites which say ‘For Fans Of’ in their reviews. I was able to get into a massive range of bands through that. But I discovered a lot of the core bands I listen to through music books and so on.
Fourth landmark reveiw: “My review of MBV reached a different market as well. It was my first real non-metal, non-hardcore review which meant that I had a lot more freedom to what I reviewed. My audience expanded in all directions in the aftermath.”
Louder Than War: I know when I was first getting into non chart music my mates thought I was bonkers. What do your pals think about the music you listen too? Do any of them like the same stuff?
EQPTV: My friends know I do this, but don’t take much interest in the music. They know who my favourite bands are and I have a couple of friends who like some bands I like, for example Deftones and Baroness. But besides that they aren’t too bothered.
Louder Than War: Have you any thought’s of progressing the music reviewing off of YouTube into the written word maybe?
EQPTV: Writing for a website sounds like a lot of fun, but I think I would have to retrain myself to write down my thoughts as oppose to just speaking them. But yeah, once I discipline myself to do that, it sounds like something I would really enjoy. It also sounds like just as great to write for a magazine or possibly a fanzine.
Louder Than War: What’s the future hold in store for you do you think? Any idea what you’d like to do once you’ve finished school? Maybe pursuing something music industry based?
EQPTV: I’ve been learning guitar and bass for a few years, roughly 4, so being a musician sounds appealing. But I’d love to be a music journalist as it would mean I’d be able to spend all my time listening to and talking about music. I’m looking forward to reaching the age where I can go and see shows, because I’m pretty restricted to festivals at the moment.