Atlantic Canada has always been home to a variety of music from the traditional celtic music that the region is known for to punk and heavy metal bands.
Five years ago, a record label with its roots in heavy metal and specializing in “exposing the seedy underbelly” of the Canadian East Coast was formed in Halifax by Josh Hogan. That label is Diminished Fifth Records and is helping bring Atlantic Canadian metal to the global stage.
In the last three years, the label has released seven albums and has secured distribution for their product throughout Canada, the US and the UK.
Truth is, the Maritimes have always had a viable heavy metal scene, but it hasn’t truly been given due attention. Adding fuel to this fire is the fact that this past year’s East Coast Music Awards ceremony was the first year which had a category dedicated to heavy metal and loud music. Better late than never, I suppose.
As coincidence would have it, Hogan was a vital part in this category being created, working behind the scenes with the East Coast Music Association for over two years before the category was finally added in 2009. But adding a category into the mix of an established awards show and conference isn’t a simple task by any means.
“Introducing the category took a long time because the metal scene in this part of the country has always been underground. Had we not started a petition in the summer of 2007 to show that such a category would be supported, I doubt that the wheels would have turned,” Hogan explains. “We had to submit a formal proposal to have the category introduced and then it turned out to be a ‘chicken or the egg’ scenario. The East Coast Music Association couldn’t necessarily support the creation of a category for a genre that did not have any members and the potential members who are in the metal bands didn’t want to join the association if they were not going to be represented with a category.”
As fate would have it, the inaugural year that the heavy metal/loud category was introduced, the award found a home with one of the bands signed to Hogan’s label “” Moncton’s Iron Giant.
Indeed, if there’s anything Hogan seems to be acquainted with, it is hard work and determination. It is good to note that others beyond the Canadian borders are taking note of Hogan’s work ethic as well.
Recently, Diminished Fifth Records signed an American distribution deal with Relapse Records, home to legendary Canuck metal pioneers Voivod as well as The Dillinger Escape Plan, F*ck The Facts and Brutal Truth. This means that Hogan’s bands can count on a solid distribution chain south of the border, giving groups like Gallactus and Orchids Curse the opportunity to spread their gospel to their American neighbors.
The affiliation with Relapse has Hogan on cloud nine as the label is one of his all-time favorites and has spawned many of his favorite bands as well.
“Oddly enough, Relapse had approached me about doing this deal, which makes it even better!” Hogan enthuses. “After we had announced our affiliation with Sonic Unyon Distribution in Canada, Brian from the label e-mailed me to find out who was handling our catalogue in the US. And the rest is history!
“When I started the label, I had little in the way of expectations in the very beginning. I initially started the label as when it came time to release my band’s debut album, I realized there was little to no support for the East Coast metal scene. And then by the time we released the first compilation CD (The Music of Artisanship and War), I knew this was something I had to keep doing.
“To look back on the last three years, I’ve overwhelmingly exceeded my initial expectations of the label.”
If there is one thing that is clear though, it is that Hogan is in it for the long haul, as demonstrated by his steady focus and determination which has got the label to where it is today. And even though the label isn’t raking in the millions yet, Hogan is able to foresee a time that his day job might be a thing of the past, allowing him to focus on the label full-time.
“I’m still working a full-time job but for the first time ever, I can foresee a time where I might no longer need the day job. Both Diminished Fifth and Hogan Media Relations (a publicity company Hogan recently started) have grown rapidly in the past six months.
“At this stage in the game, I am still trying to pay off the massive debt I ran up in the first two years of operation and am reinvesting all revenues back into the business.”
Now don’t go getting the impression that Hogan is one to complain; truth be told, he’s too busy mapping out future label releases to bellyache about the fact his label isn’t turning a profit yet. It’s a love of what he does that is propelling him forward.
The label’s next release will be Black Moor’s debut album ‘The Conquering’ which will be available on August 25 in Canada. Later this fall, Thy Flesh Consumed releases their newest.
“Our third release is still a bit of a secret but I can say that it centers on a New Brunswick-based band and will be announced at the end of July.”
For more information on Josh Hogan’s label, check out his website at www.diminishedfifthrecords.com; Hogan Media Relations makes its home at www.hoganmedia.ca.