On a decidedly dark and depraved evening one year ago two long-time collaborators, Jonathan Keilback and Zach Fehl, concocted a mischievous plan. A plan of monumental proportions. A plan for an all-local metal and heavy music streaming station. Behold! The creature, The Metal Edge was hatched. Co-manager, producer of The Millvale Music Festival, bassist with Only Flesh and the (currently on hiatus) Existential Gentlemen, and honestly one of the nicest guys around, Jonathan, generously offered up his brain for the pickings.
The River’s Edge was such a great idea and filled a definite void in terms of streaming local music in Pittsburgh & the surrounding area. What inspired you to branch out with another station dedicated to heavy music?
A lot of the inspiration comes from the success of The River’s Edge and the strength of their platform. While Zach Fehl and I are both passionate about heavy music, having the River’s Edge platform available to us (thanks, Brian Crawford!) allows us to pull this off. When you have that kind of support, inspiration comes naturally!
T.P.: I don’t want to sound like I’m DOUBTING it’s success, but how is success measured on a streaming platform? What necessitated an entire metal station as opposed to, say, metal nights or weekends?
Jonathan: On paper, its pretty simple… listeners, website hits, blog interactions, and social media shares. However, another measure of success is word-of-mouth buzz. It’s not easily measured, but this is probably my favorite because I can be quite the chatterbox in public, especially after a few brewskis! I love going to local shows and just hanging out with random Pittsburgh metalheads, so I’m keeping my ears open for what people are saying about The Metal Edge. Not to mention, hearing buzz about the station is a confidence booster that continually reminds us of the goals we must reach for.
T.P.: Well put! Lots of startups could benefit from both putting credence in and putting a constructive spin on word-of-mouth. And the need for a station entirely devoted to metal?
Jonathan: Having an entire station dedicated to metal is important because metalheads are always metalheads, not just during certain times of the week. I believe that having blocks of metal music on an existing variety station would be a disservice to metal fans since we would be giving in to the notion that our style of music is only to be enjoyed at specific, and sometimes stereotyped, times of the week.
I felt this way about my time at 90.1 WIUP FM (Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s radio station.) Our metal block was from Midnight-2:00 AM.
T.P.: I love that answer! Metal is such a broad genre & the styles are so vastly different. It’s kind of like jazz in that respect. I’ve seen your playlist so far and am impressed. You’ve got the local heavy-hitters like Solarburn & Deathlehem, but also some that people may not be hip to yet like 156/Silence & Defy The Tide. Are there any bands that you don’t have that you REALLY want to get on air?
Jonathan: There are many! However, we understand that some bands may exercise caution until they see our station in action. Other bands are bound to their record label, and are unfortunately unable to sign our usage agreement… the label would have to sign it. If I had to pick one, it would be Lady Beast. The good news is that we’ve been in contact with them!
T.P.: Nice! How often do you plan on adding to/updating the bands in rotation?What would cause a band’s submission to be (sorrowfully) rejected?
Jonathan: We add bands immediately after they sign the agreement and send us their music! There are two possible rejection factors… first, if the band is outside of our region. We have a general rule that the band must be within 100 miles of Pittsburgh. Second, if the music quality isn’t good enough. Quality is important! Music that was recorded on a Talkboy won’t cut it. 😉
T.P.: What a perfect segue way into the question everyone’s (ok, some people have) been waiting for! The River’s Edge currently doesn’t feature an overwhelming amount of punk. Is punk welcomed on the “heavy station?” Does it have to be a certain genre like hardcore or crossover?
Jonathan: The truth is that we need to draw lines in order to be true to our format. So on that note, we welcome hardcore, crossover, and crust!
T.P.: I think that’s fair. Rewinding for a moment (on my Talkboy,) I didn’t learn of your DJing days at IUP when I was snooping on you! I’m a failed detective. I did see that your co-manager Zach had previous experience at WCAL, California University of Pennsylvania’s radio station. That station is like a diamond in the rough out there. How did the two of you first become acquainted and how did you end up working together on this project?
Jonathan: Ha! Well, I only did it for one semester, and that was over 10 years ago! You’re not a failed detective… there’s just no evidence of my one semester on Smash Alley (they’ve used that name for the metal show since the ’80’s!)
I actually met Zach at an event he put together called Heavy Metal Monessen in 2014. It was the first-ever HMM, which was organized as a WCAL event. According to Zach, it was a very casual affair that was thrown together for fun. At the time, I was living in nearby West Newton and since my friends in Klaymore were on it, I stopped by. At the end of the event, I introduced myself to Zach and we just hit it off from there. This is also where I met Brian Crawford, who just recently launched The River’s Edge. I joined Zach in organizing the next two Heavy Metal Monessens, where we learned how to work together and grow the event. Additionally, I started making guest appearances on his metal show at WCAL.
When Zach graduated from Cal U, thus ending his time at WCAL, Brian brought up the idea of expanding The River’s Edge, and the three of us got to work.
And the rest SHALL be history! The Metal Edge launches this Sunday, 11/12/17 at 8:pm broadcasting from Mr. Smalls Theater! See the full roster of bands and get all of the latest on the official Metal Edge website here. Bands interested in hearing themselves on the station can send streaming-quality original work to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Catch up with Jonathan in person when he and Only Flesh perform alongside an all-local lineup consisting of SplatterGore outfit Leprosy, the AltMetal Reign of Z, and the proggy, stoner metal Wretched Hive Sunday, November 26th at Spirit during Hooked on Reptiles!
Thank you, Jonathan! You were a lovely, er…, \m/ interview! I can’t wait to tune in!