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Metal fans have an axe to grind and Paul Martin has joined the battle

Sep 19th, 2011 | By | Category: Arts/Entertainment, Featured Article, Features, News

ANGRY AXE: The Axe Man onstage with World War Four. PHOTO: Umbra Digital Photography

ONE of metal music’s biggest champions is adding his Axe Attack radio show’s weight to a campaign for more recognition from the New Zealand industry.

A Facebook petition calling for the introduction of a metal award into the New Zealand Music Awards has been given added impetus by Paul “The Axe Man” Martin.

So far 800 angry metal fans signed up for the page initiated by Sarah Sampson owner of Black Frog event and artist management

Martin has hosted the Axe Attack show on The Rock radio station for 25 years – part of the logo is featured on the front page of NewsWire.

He believes metal fans have to stand up and demand more media coverage, awards and government funding in order to “save ourselves from cultural extinction.”

For many metal musicians the Facebook petition calling for the introduction of metal award highlights the disparity in the NZ music system.

They feel that pop and hip hop songs get all the government funding, media attention and awards.

The Axe Man’s familiar radio voice comes on over the phone, he has to leave for work soon.

For fans of his Sunday night heavy metal show it is probably a little known fact that he is an industrial radiographer – he x-rays pipes on an on-call basis.

The DJ, who was born in National Park and grew up in Wellington and “all over the place” before settling in Hamilton, also teaches guitar, to supplement his income.

As a staunch supporter of NZ metal bands – he makes sure he plays 25% kiwi music on his show – he is sick of metal bands not getting any funding for their music which drives them overseas.

“Why the hell should Dawn Of Azazel have to go to Europe to get the respect they deserve while we applaud and bankroll disposable pop songs.”

As it says on his website, the whole point of his show is to cater to a large body of the music market that is ignored by the music and media industry.

He wants the government to give funding to a diverse range of genres, instead of just to pop and hip hop music which doesn’t represent him.

“I want a say in our cultural representation.”

The World War Four guitarist and vocalist sounds as though he is declaring war on the music system.

“If we roll over and never do and say anything about our metal needs being met, they will win and our culture and country will be forever represented by bubblegum, dire pop-rock and US hip hop wannabes.”

While music critic Simon Sweetman is not a fan of industry awards, he credits metal fans for their loyalist attitude to music.

“One thing I love about metal is that it has cultivated and supports a proud subculture; the audience is loyal and loving,” he says in a Facebook conversation.

The Axe Man credits fan’s loyalty as the reason why the Axe Attack is the longest running music programme in New Zealand broadcasting history.

“It’s not me so much as it’s the quality of the music – I just give them access to it through my show,” says the Axe Man.

He is so humble that he tried to turn down a Dean guitar endorsement, although he initially mistook the call as one of the Rock’s infamous Wind-up calls.

“[Music producer] Riccardo had been stung by it recently so I was waiting for them to get me,” he says.

“I started swearing at them, because I knew they wouldn’t play that on the radio and the guy just cracked up, it could have gone really bad.”

The Axe Man also has endorsements with Wylie X Eyewear and Skinks Tattoos as he is heavily tattooed thanks to the Hamilton based shop.

“We don’t want awards we want acknowledgement and a fair go at the trough,” he says.

He feels that more of the media attention should given to metal bands, instead of forcing pop and hip hop down people’s throats.

“People would at least know they exist and could check them out for themselves.

“It’s not about awards, back/arse slapping, being ‘mainstream’ or selling out its about us saving ourselves from cultural extinction,” he says in a Facebook exchange.

As a metal musician and fan, the Axe Man sees metal as a legitimate and important part of New Zealand’s culture.

“I just don’t want in 20 years time to have New Zealand music be remembered just for Scribe and Dawn Raid.”

Axeman admits it will be “a cold day in hell” before the award is introduced but he is looking forward to a New Years Eve concert, Beyond the Black, which finally caters to the metal fans.

“Lets make this concert a statement from the metal community to the mainstream and a freaking huge event we can all be proud of and they can’t ignore,” he says of the Trentham Racecourse event.

“Call it our own metal forum, party, meet and greet.”

He will be playing bass there with another of  his bands Devilskin, with his 15 year old son on the drums, which he credits as one of the achievements of his life.

But the biggest success was one he never dreamt of – after opening for Black Label Society, lead singer and guitarist Zakk Wylde praised his band World War Four to Ozzy Osbourne, which led to him opening for Black Sabbath on its New Zealand tour.

“I can die happy after opening for Black Sabbath.”

He sums up the passion that metal fans and musicians feel about live metal gigs, like his upcoming Wellington gig at Medusa on October 7.

“It is the whole point of our existence.”


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is a Whitireia Journalism graduate working at Presstige Community Newspapers for the Northern Courier and Petone Herald.
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