PROTOKULT is a Canadian band that has a rather cool attitude to their metal. ©2015 Anders Ekdahl

As I am not at all familiar with your band perhaps you could introduce it?
PROTOKULT is my heathen-metal vision that I have spent nearly a decade forming and revamping. We started it as a college band around 2004-ish and around 2009 the lineup finally started to stabilize. This is when we found our direction and have continued to progress ever since.

How hard was it for you guys to pick a name? What had that name have to have to fit your music?
-We picked the name nearly a decade ago in the days of MSN Messenger. We were discussing with our original singer at the time, what’s a name that would set us apart from all the others (at the post-peak of nu-metal)?…Bloodkult and Prototype were leading contenders and we somewhat fused the two. It represents believing in something from conception and it’s held it’s meaning to this day; considering Protokult is my primary and first band I’ve been in.

What band(s) was it that turned you on to the kind of metal you play? What inspires you today?
-Today it ranges; not so much global or media events but we still try to be in touch with nature and pre-Christian values. As mentioned we come from diverse, rich cultural backgrounds, so we incorporate pieces of history and folklore from Czech, Polish and/or Russian culture when and where we see fit. Unfortunately, we don’t have that much personal time to check out new acts as much as we’d like so it’s still a very classic influence we bear; everything from Iron Maiden, Wagner, Brahms to Type O Negative and Nokturnal Mortum. But I do think some interesting and inspiring music is present in this mundane day and age; recent pleasant discoveries include Solstafir and Legend, both excellent Icelandic groups!

What is the advantages/disadvantages of digital?
-On one spectrum, I get it; people want easy access, something to carry on their Ipod gizmo or whatever. Shitty albums are in fact partially to blame for this. Remember the days when you would buy an album based on a single and maybe the rest of it would suck? Well, now people can avoid this. On the contrary, remember the times when you would buy an album and 90% of the album was better THAN the actual single?? I’m still very old-fashioned in this sense but I hate to say it, maybe the music industry had it coming you know? The advantage of digital is artists can release whatever and whenever they desire without pressures from labels or album formats which creates easy access to fans. The disadvantage of this is the absence of an aesthetic album appeal, a tangible piece of art and history. Another disadvantage is the continued disengagement and dwindling attention spans of music so-called “lovers”. Lastly, unless you’re already established with a strong following and history (I.E pre-2005), it’s more and more difficult, if impossible, to make a living simply releasing digital music!

Is digital killing the album format? Is there anything good with releasing single tracks only?
-In terms of killing the album format- a definite yes. As mentioned, the only good thing is access and avoidance of possible filler tracks.

What part does art work and lay out play when you release songs digitally?
-The sad reality is that your modern, average music listener does not give a shit about this. Whenever we release something, even a single, there must and should be some artistic accompaniment to it.

Is it a whole different way to promote a digital track than it is promoting a cd? Or do you go about doing promotion the same way?
-If people like what they hear and want to buy it, they’ll buy it, most of it is as simple as that to this day. Promoting cd’s isn’t what it used to be. Record stores are sadly extinct and majority of sales are either live or online. Sure, we make some decent sales at live shows but I hate to generalize- your average metal “fan” might come to the gig with $20, maybe $40 they are willing to spend. Chances are they can only afford one album, maybe a shirt and some beers, so it’s vital for bands to make lasting first impressions that set them apart. Back in the day, you might’ve said “Oh this band sounds alright, I’ll buy the album”, these days I find, in order to purchase the record, a group truly needs to make a lasting impression. Our online sales so far have been rather fair but I find the online realm a lot harder to deal with and keep up with in terms of maintenance. On a daily basis, I may get bombarded with a dozen new sites asking me to promote my music. Who knows about these websites? When will you see or receive any income from music being promoted there? It’s like investing into some obsure blackhole you know? Axl (Rose) said it best when he called the internet a garbage can; for the 10% of valuable and effective info you may receive, the majority of what you’re bombarded with is absolute rubbish.

Do you feel like you are a part of a scene, locally, nationally and internationally?
-I never really looked at it in this way but yeah, a lot of people know about us; whether they like us or not is another issue and frankly, I don’t give a shit. We are one of the few folk-inspired metal bands who do it properly in Canada and if you ever get the chance to see us live, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Some bands may wear the fur, makeup and play their wanky solos, but we take a very heathen-power-thrash approach and we have fun with it. So yeah, there’s some Ontario and Quebec bands we get along with and always have a blast playing with; others, either the opportunity hasn’t been presented or they have chosen to distant themselves for whatever reasons. We are here and shall remain so for the forseeable future. Internationally, we’ve been getting good reviews all over Europe and our Central-Eastern fanbase has been on the rise to our delight!

How much of a touring band are you? Is touring/gigging still a great way of spreading the word of the band?
-It’s still an effective and “authentic” way of spreading the word. I can like a band on facebook but not fully understand what they are about unless I research them and discover them live. It’s interesting, some bands may gain recognition from jerking off in their basement and having label support/promotion while others tour their asses off and play to bars of maybe dozens of people. Touring/gigging is just the natural thing to do but a lot of bands simply can’t afford to put all their eggs in that one basket these days. It’s essential for any active band to tour, it’s a love/hate relationship for me but that’s just part of the business. If we get a decent stream of offers say 2 weeks to a month in a row, then why not? I can deal with the shitty lifestyle and mayhem for a while but in the end, the positives must outweigh the negatives. Live, it gets so unpredictable sometimes, which can be part of the magic. I hate predictability and routine (the only exception is when gear is functioning properly haha). The essence of PROTOKULT is in the live performance. Every show we play is a ritual, non-stop energy and we try to outdo ourselves; it’s definitely memorable for those present to witness it and it’s not your typical metal sausage fiesta either.

What will the future bring?
-We’ve recently been doing the odd acoustic show, so during the spring and summer we shall continue to play these fun, stripped down gigs on occasion. My intention was to promote nonstop this summer but we’ve been looking for management, fair offers and have our personal lives too. At the end of the day, I’m at the helm and if I don’t think we’re ready or presentable, then I won’t struggle and make a half-assed appearance. Most of a potentially new album is already written (musically) and let’s just say I’ve begun some Spring cleaning.

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