The Future of Discovering Music: Interview with Dan Lilker

Dan Lilker is something of a metal legend having been in bands that are household names such as Anthrax and S.O.D while also staying in touch with the local metal scene with bands including Blurring and Nokturnal Hellstorm. When he’s not shredding he’s working at Record Archive. Now he has joined the ranks of Dave Mustaine (Megadeth), Randy Blythe (Lamb of God) and Johan Hegg (Amon Amarth) as a DJ for Gimme Radio, an online 24 hour radio station dedicated to metal, with his show Braindeath.

PHOTO BY JACOB KRUG – Mark Welden (left) and Dan Lilker (right) in Blurring

Jacob Krug: How did you get the job at Gimme Radio?

Dan Lilker: I met the Gimme Radio staff at the second edition of the Decibel [magazine] Metal and Beer Fest back in March in Philadelphia which is Decibel’s home base. I was there with a brewery from Virginia called Adroit Theory with whom I helped brew a nice, hazy New England Double IPA called Personal Coma. At first I did a video interview with the Gimme radio crew, and then they asked me if I’d be interested in being one of their DJs. It sounded like a really cool thing to do since although I’d spent over 30 years playing metal, I’d never done anything like this.

JK: What do you hope to do with your position at Gimme Radio?

DL: I just want to play a bunch of cool stuff that I enjoy personally as well as songs from bands that have been inspirational to my work. Without hopefully sounding too big-headed here, I do realize that there’s a lot of people out there who respect me and the music I’ve made, and I’d like to think that listeners would find my choice of bands/songs interesting in that respect. If I can get people to check out a band they might not be previously familiar with, then that’s the more direct answer to your question I suppose.

JK: With on demand streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music becoming the primary way people consume music what do you think Gimme Radio will accomplish?

DL: These services usually have you search for what you want to hear or provide bland suggestions, while Gimme Radio serves up killer underground metal (as well as more palatable choices depending on the DJ) without requiring input from the listener. You basically sit back and enjoy the ride, and hopefully get turned on to some new bands. We do all the work!

JK: Do you think the concept of Gimme Radio could be applied to other music genres?

DL: Possibly, but I think it would work better with more underground genres like industrial or goth music. Two reasons for this- people who like less-known music are more passionate about following it, and also, mainstream pop music (Dave Matthews, etc.) is already all over “regular” radio, and having a Gimme Radio format for it is almost unnecessary.

JK: Do you think Gimme Radio will be a direct competitor with on demand streaming services such as Apple Music and Spotify?

DL: It’s indeed possible- for one thing it’s free! Also, as I mentioned above, there’s the advantage of the listener not having to search for what they want to hear, which is a great way of being exposed to new bands. But it’s a slightly different format because of that, so it’s almost apples and oranges anyway.

JK: What part of metal’s future do you think Gimme Radio will play?

DL: As more people slowly but surely transition from listening to “hard copies” (vinyl, CDs) of the music they enjoy to online streaming services, Gimme Radio will be there to ensure that the radical underbelly of metal is still strongly represented in this format, so in that respect, they’re just as important as the bands themselves in keeping the flame burning.

JK: You mentioned people moving away from physical media to digital media. What’s your opinion on the revival of cassettes and vinyl? And how underground sub genres like black metal has strong ties to cassettes.

DL: Good point…

Well, perhaps I should have phrased that “as most people transition etc.”. As an employee at a killer record store [Record Archive] I know that vinyl in general is doing really well now, both new and used. Cassettes are also still doing well due to their underground nature, that explains their thriving in black metal, where (like punk) there’s an aversion to corporate industry shit.

Personally, when we have a metal party over at our place we use my wife’s Spotify subscription with our smart TV, maybe just out of laziness, which is probably what a lot of people do. Not to mention that you can hear whatever you want without owning it or digging it out. And using Gimme Radio with “travel speakers” will definitely be happening at the next bash.

Check out Gimme Radio here