MUWW Special: Interview with Vent Box Productions

This year marks the inaugural edition of Metal United World Wide, with multiple gigs featuring local bands happening across the globe on the same date, 5 May 2018. Hosted by Vent Box Productions, Singapore’s edition brings metal bands veterans and newcomers, to showcase the potential of the scene in one concert. We speak to Mike of Vent Box Productions to learn more about the founding of his organisation, and how Metal United World Wide Singapore came about.

Hey Mike, thanks for giving us the opportunity to talk to you. Vent Box Productions has been around since 2013, and over the years has become an important force in the local metal scene. How did the idea of Vent Box Productions come about?

Mike: Hi Heavy Metal Tribune. First of all, thank you very much for taking the time to setup this interview. Vent Box Productions was actually setup in 2014 instead of 2013 as a platform to promote local bands. We did Vent Box 2014 Underground Music Festival at Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce featuring local bands from different music genre. Metal, Rock, Oi and Hardcore bands were invited to play that very show. We always think that local bands are not getting enough recognition and opportunity to showcase their music.

Over the years, Vent Box Productions has expanded its role from a gig organiser, to a booking agency representing multiple bands. What was the reason behind this move, and how has the experience as an organiser helped you with this additional role?

It was just a coincidence that we ended up becoming a booking agency representing bands. It all started when we did the first tour for French Putrid Death Metal band, Necrowretch. After that successful short tour, we were encouraged by our good friend, Khaal (Balberith/Ravage Records) to continue doing booking for both local and international bands. Honestly, it’s easier to be an organiser than a booking agent. But being an organiser, I also get to communicate with promoters around the region which helps a lot in booking tours for bands.

The team also opened its Philippines division couple of years back. What was the reason behind this, and how different has it been organising gigs in Philippines compared to Singapore?

The idea came when we were planning for Vader: Rise of the Empire Live in Cebu 2017. We appointed, Mr Henri Castellano to manage Vent Box Productions Philippines. 1 very important reason is to be able to have bands from both region touring in both countries. Example, we got a slot for Cebu Black Metal band, Kalabira, to perform at Morbid Metal Festival this November. We’ll also be having bands from Singapore going over to Philippines soon. To be announced. There isn’t much difference organising gigs in Philippines compared to Singapore except that the tickets sold in Philippines will always be much cheaper than in Singapore. And of course, planning the route for the band to travel from their hotel to the gig venue is also not an easy task due to the bad traffic.

Vent Box Productions has been the host for such high profiled acts as Implore, Benighted, and Hiss from the Moat over the years. Of all the gigs, which has been the most memorable for you personally, and as an organiser?

I would say that Impiety Legacy of Savagery Live in Singapore was the most memorable as both personal and organiser. The gig that we spent a lot of effort making it look really like an extreme metal show with barb wires, sinister masks and burning incense. But I know after 5th of May, Metal United World Wide, Singapore will be the most memorable.

Over the years, we have heard laments about the difficulties in bringing in international acts, or holding local gigs. Having had years of experience as an organiser, what has been the most challenging aspect in bringing a gig together?

Finding gig venues is really challenging in Singapore. Used to have really limited choices to host shows but recently, with the opening of Decline and EBX Live Space, things are getting so much better. One of my favourite venue, however, had closed down. Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce.

Having hosted local and international acts alike, how different is it when dealing with local bands, compared to international bands?

International acts usually will send their technical rider for us to fulfil. Which is always an important requirement. Singapore bands are more accommodative with whatever we can provide decently. Usually we try not to take short cuts and scrimp on productions.

This year marks the first year of the Metal United World Wide in Singapore. How did this gig, as well as the collaboration come about?

At first I got a text message from Clarence Chong (Assault/HMT) regarding this event. I was sceptical initially so I decided to read up about the whole event on how it works when the main organiser, Black-Roos Entertainment from Australia contacted me. Got some explanation from them and went ahead with the collaboration. Because I think it’s a really good platform to promote our local bands.

The lineup boasts some of the classic names in the local metal scene, such as Meltgsnow, Wormrot, Rudra, to even Bastardized – a name we haven’t heard in a while now. How did the lineup come about?

It has always been a dream of mine to get all the classic bands to perform on 1 stage. So when I agreed to do MUWW, I went ahead and contacted all these bands. Meltgsnow was recommended by Subash of Truth Be Known. It takes a little more than convincing to get Bastardized on board but we manage to do it from our long time friendship since the 90s era.

Meltgsnow, circa 2018

As mentioned earlier, some of the classic names in the local metal scene are feature in this line-up. This event will certainly be one of the biggest gig featuring local metal bands, are there any objective you hope to achieve through organizing this gig?

To bring all the local metalheads together. After all, its call Metal United World Wide. At the same time, hoping that the bands involved will be recognised internationally and probably score some oversea tours later.

The wide-ranging lineup is certainly eye-catching and attention-grabbing. How has response been so far for the gig?

Response has been moderately good. However, we are expecting more people to buy the tickets once the physical ones are in store. We got very good coverage on social media with bands and fans sharing the event. So we are pretty positive that the event will be a great success.

Mike with Ilemauzar. Photo credits: @haljin_photography

Your own act, black metal band Ilemauzar, is also a part of the lineup – not the first time where you hold multiple roles for a gig. How do you manage your time, and still ensure that the gig runs smoothly and successfully?

Vent Box Productions has a few good experienced crews that have been helping us since day 1. I also have my girlfriend, Winnie Tan (Founder of Vent Box Productions), managing all the shows plus I will only spend 30-40mins on stage.

Metal United World Wide happens on 5th May 2018, and is hosted in multiple locations across the globe. To find out more about your local Metal United World Wide, click here.

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