InterviewsJune 3, 200714,330 views

Carl Severson interview

By Alex

So why Ferret? My friend once described them as nature's beer coozie. But why Ferret...? Does your label smell musky and spend most of it's time trying to open cupboards to get to the cereal?

Yeah... Ferret... not going to say I love the name. seemed like a good idea at the time. I had done a zine (remember those?) and kids called me 'Carl Ferret.' When I decided to put out the Endeavor 7" it just made sense at the time. Now, it's ten years later and almost 100 releases, shit's just kinda stuck. Gun is sweet though... oh, and you'd be surprised at how many people can't spell 'Ferret.'

Do you ever feel awkward over the fact that a lot of people on the internet who think they know everything view your label as sort of safe and mainstream?

1. If you start with 'a lot of people on the internet' i immediately think - I really don't care what they think. But you know, let's address the question. The closest thing we have to a pop band is BNO, who sing about killing people, I dunno how mainstream that is... unless they were hip hop and then it'd be pretty run of the mill. I guess I just don't care. Shock value is bullshit. I wouldn't put something out just for that reason. I love dangerous shit, I like bands that have something to say. I feel like we put out a bunch of heavy shit. If it's safe-rock then okay.. it doesn't feel that way to me.. I don't see a bunch of dudes in make-up singing about missing their girlfriends on ferret but you know.. the 15 year olds on the internet probably know better than I do. (ps... i have nothing against 15 year olds. I was 15 once and i definitely knew everything... like they do now).

Have you ever passed up signing a band that you knew could make a lot of money for the sheer reason of trying to retain some sort of unobtainable (impossible meaningless bullshit) sense of credibility?

Umm... yeah. I've done all sorts of stuff that cost me money. Not for a sense of credibility - but because it's the right thing to do. We pass on Camel as a sponsor for Sounds of The Underground and they have bags of money, we pass on the Army as a sponsor as well (and shit, I don't even mind the army) because we don't feel it's the right place to pimp that sort of shit to kids. Naturally, after as many releases as we've done there are bands that I don't agree with 100%. I work with Christian bands and I'm not Christian, I have edge bands and I'm not edge. But credibility - we're honest and straight up with all our bands, we don't have wack shit in our contracts that takes advantage of our bands, we're on a personal level of accountability with everyone we work with - you'll always be able to deal with me on shit, not our lawyers. Paul and I run Ferret in the same manner we live our lives. That's enough credibility for me.

What's the biggest obstacle you've encountered with running a label?

Bands. Fuckers and their opinons.. hahah. For real? I dunno, everything, the industry constantly changes, the audience constantly changes. It's hard to keep it going in the right direction, but I wouldn't trade it for anything.

What's the biggest obstacle you've encountered with running from a bear?

Never ran from one, though I firmly believe I could out run a bear. I'm fast as shit. However, I , like everyone else, am wrong, I'd get mauled and it'd be a bummer. Have you seen that beer ad where the bear chases the guy in the woods and he holds him off by offering up his beer - then his boy runs by and steals it. It's pretty funny.

How does the process of signing bands go? What are some key things you look for in a group before considering working something out with them?

Myspace friends.... haha no. I get asked this question all the time. There isn't a specific thing that I look for. It's a vibe, the sound, the attitude, etc... Half the time it's just a gut feeling I get, sometimes I'm right others times I get a record I love but people don't feel the same way.

Do you still have major ties over with the people at Roadrunner? I know you were working with them at some point or another.

No ties at all, other than some good friends over there. I worked at RR for about 4 years, a lot of the same people are still there. My partner Paul worked there as well, as did our VP, Marc. So we still do a bunch of work with their bands when it makes sense. We did have a deal where they released a bunch of our stuff in the UK, Europe, AU and Japan. That's over now but the records they released are still under license.

Not to give anyone too much of a shortcut, but what's the secret to actually running a successful label?

No idea man, If I had to start this right now I wouldn't know what to do. It's money, time, an ear, relationships, etc. But there's no secret. I loved the music scene I grew up in (hardcore and punk) and wanted to do whatever I could to be a part of it. That was a zine then a label and then a band. I just did whatever I could to keep putting out records and the stuff I liked happened to do really well.

If there was some sort of scenario like in Marvel Comic's Secret Wars in which all the bands from all the heavy music labels were teleported to another planet by an omnipotent Elvis impersonator and forced to battle each other, who do you think would win?

I dunno, however, I've been reading comics again a lot. Our Drummer, Ross, buys just about everyone that comes out each weeks. It's pretty insane. So while we 'wrote' the new NORA album I'd contribute by sitting and reading all of them. The Civil War series that just ended was pretty sweet, though i think the last issue was a massive let down. Comics are sweet. Did you ever read SCUD the comic? It was a really indie one but real popular. A long time ago, in like 1999 I reached out to the writers about doing a soundtrack for the comic. I thought it'd be cool. Almost happened, didn't (clearly). You don't care do you?

Whose idea was it to assemble a tour consisting of In Flames, Throwdown, Nevermore, and Evergrey? Were you aware that this tour had the potential to ignite a global war between white guys with cabby hats and jerseys and really pale white guys with long dyed black hair, wearing fishnet shirts, packing swords?

Hahah... talk to Throwdown about that. They wanted on that tour and fought to get on it. Good for them, they had a great time. But yeah apparently having metal bands tour with 'core' bands is against some sort of rule. I was actually 'schooled' on this by a girl in AZ. She was wearing running shorts, a black hooded sweatshirt (hood up) and a bandanna - it was 119 degrees outside (I swear to god). Shortly after I asked her friends to stop beating up the slightly awkward kids that pushed them away after getting punched in the head, I was told that I should have expected fights because we had hardcore bands play with metal bands. Here's a quick quiz for the kids - go look up the touring history of the Cro-Mags. Then tell me that HC bands can't tour with metal bands... or go tell John Joesph or Harley that they weren't in a hardcore band because they toured with metal bands. That'd go well.

Where in Minneapolis did you live? I lived in Bloomington all my life, practically. I bet we probably hung out at the same shows. Were you there that one time at The Inferno where that singer of that band took a bite out of a dead squirrel in a bucket and had to be rushed to the hospital?

No, missed that. But it sounds gross, and stupid. I lived there 93/94 for my freshman year of college. I went to the U. If you're not from there the 'U' is the University of MN. It was fucking cold. Really really cold and I walked across the Mississippi everyday to get to class.

When you meet with the guys from Maylene And The Sons of Disaster, do they wear shirts? Didn't they tour with P.O.D.? I'm still confused why that guy left Shadows Fall to go sing in that Christian rap group.

Haha. Yeah they wear shirts most of the time. Though I have seen 2 of them naked and we really haven't spent that much time together yet. P.O.D. Seemed like a good idea at the time... they played in front of a bunch of kids that had never heard of them. But yes, P.O.D are one of the bands that is guilty of a very high dreadlock to non-dreadlock hairstyle ratio.

Have you ever had to cover for one of your bands after they fucked up pretty hard? Like if they said something really racist/insane on television or interviews, gotten arrested, etc.

Yes, yes and yes. It's like being a parent. The calls you'll get are pretty amazing. But no.. no stories for you guys... I have to protect the innocent, or really the guilty, cause my bands are pretty much always guilty.

Didn't Keith Buckley from Every Time I Die write a lot of the bio/press sheet material? Did you have to heavily edit certain things he wrote?

Yup, kid's brilliant. I never edited a single thing he wrote.

Who is your favorite band on the label at this moment? Off the label?

That's like asking which kid you love the most. I don't have a favorite, there are bands that are selling tons of records (which is always sweet) , there are bands that are just all around sweet dudes, there are bands that just have the best work ethic ever... for the most part I'm lucky enough to enjoy hanging with all my bands.

Do you secretly hate anyone on your label and don't have the nerve to tell them? Would you like to use this interview to call them out and reveal your dislike for them?

Oh no, I'll tell them. It's fine. But what do I get out of hating anyone? Nothing, it's a waste of time. I've had one or two bands that left on very bad terms but we're fine now. People always say it's not personal, it's business. There is no difference. Business is always personal. If you can run your business without any personal feelings or ramifications you'll have zero loyalty from your staff and might as well run a plantation.

Was From Autumn To Ashes' Ferret debut the album that really took Ferret to another level? How do you feel about that band now?

Yeah it really was. It really took off as a couple other records were doing well - ETID's 'Last Night In Town' and Killswitch Engage's 's/t'. All three of those records were really moving and then the FATA record just blew out. It was moving tens of thousands of copies - chains started to care about that album and I was able to introduce them to other Ferret titles at the same time. That entire period of Ferret 2001 - 2003, things just really moved well all around. It was fun. But yes, it really stepped the label up to another level - and more importantly it demanded that I make Ferret full-time. If bands like ETID and FATA were committed and touring full-time then I had to be at that shit 24 hours a day.

What happened with Martyr AD exactly?

Eh, it's a long story. One of my favorite releases ever and the follow up to the Disembodied releases. The band and I had always, since Disembodied, had a great relationship but Ferret wasn't full-time for me and it was for them. When other opportunities came up, or shady fuckers would start talking in their ear, they'd listen. To their credit I totally understood - it was just always the wrong opportunities coming up for them, and when they took them the didn't work out. That band was a labor of love for me and I knew know one would treat them that way, and as history proved... no one did. I think some people took advantage of that band and I'm bummed on how things turned out for them. They should have been massive; Disembodied and Martyr after them were always at the forefront of the cutting edge. Joel (guitar player) just shit out riff after genius riff.. he's one of the best in my opinion.

You used to run Ferret alone, now you have a partner. Why was this done? Did he actually purchase a portion of the label to get that position?

Paul Conroy is a full partner in Ferret. We met at Roadrunner when we both worked there. He left RR to return to managing bands shortly after I left to run Ferret full-time. Side note - he's responsible for different things happening that resulted in me being able to run Ferret full-time - he figured out what I had with Ferret before I did. Anyway, after a year or 2, I think 2, of running it full-time by myself with Portland and Rick, Paul and I decided to join forces. His management was blowing up (at the time he was managing ETID, Lamb Of God, Unearth and Eighteen Visions and turning down other clients on a regular basis) and Ferret was growing faster than ever... long story short - we work exceptionally well together and the dude is a machine. No purchase made, we more or less started a new, bigger company together. Ferret Music is part of that. We also have a management company, a publishing company and are 2 of the 4 owners of Sounds Of The Underground.

Ferret Music umpa-lumpa, Portland

What do you think about the new "free" Ozzfest format? Will Sounds Of The Underground follow suit?

I think it's great, that's a big stack of cash kids aren't spending on Ozzfest that they might spend on SOTU tickets. We've got bands we manage on Ozzfest this year. It should be a pretty sick run. While we have no plans to follow suit we love Ozzfest, end up with bands on it every year, and look forward to it again this year.

Tell us about SOTU 2007, and tell the kids why they should go.

Cause it's the hot shit. Ha. It's a great mix of bands and the last 2 years have been fun a hell. You won't find another venue this summer with a line-up like ours. We keep it cheap, it's easy and it's a good time.

What's been the most successful Ferret release to date?

In Flames' 'Come Clarity' is our highest and fastest seller, but it's followed closely by ETID, and the Chimaira record we've just released is already feeling amazing.

On the flipside, what Ferret release do you consider to be the biggest disappointment from a commercial standpoint?

Like our biggest, fattest failure? I don't want to get specific on that, not because I care if people know a record didn't do well... that's pretty easy of you to figure out - you have an All Chrome 7? You don't, do you? I don't want to get into it just because I don't want to bum bands out. I can't think of a band that didn't bust their asses and do the work - just sometimes it's not what the people want.

How long do you see yourself doing this?

Long as possible. I have 2 college degrees I'll do nothing with. So beyond this I have zero idea what I'd do.

Have you ever tried to impress someone by namedropping your label and bands and shit like that at a work party or something, only to find out that they've heard of absolutely no one you've mentioned and then you feel really stupid?

I was with Josh from Trustkill like 9 years ago and we tried to impress a chick who worked at the mall by saying he worked with Rancid (they were on the first TK release) and she drew a blank. But otherwise no. I'm impressive enough.

Did you ever talk to Jesper from In Flames and ask him why he answered my interview with single sentence responses? Was it because I went off about the time he rudely ignored a 15 year old boy and his dream to talk to the guitarist of his favorite metal band ever? The same time he crushed the spirit of a young lad who convinced his father to drive hundreds of miles to the shithole known as Milwaukee?

Hadn't heard about that. Jesper is a really really sweet dude, though he's really quiet. As far as the one sentence answers - dude, interviews suck, email ones are might be worse. Think about how many he's done. Maybe he was having a bad day and a dude like me was nagging him to get that shit done and turned in.

What do you get when you fuse the passion of hardcore with the extreme brutality of metal?


Pop quiz, hot shot: There's a bomb on a bus. The bus goes over fifty-five miles per hour, the bomb is armed; it drops below fifty-five, the bomb goes off. What do you do?

You ever noticed how Sandra Bullock is sometimes hot and sometimes not? Like half the movies she's in they treat her like a fat guy and have her trip and fall or some shit? But at some point in the movie they roll her out dresses all sluty and it rules. Weird.

What do you think about the band, Shora?

Never heard them. Shora isn't a word though, or at least not a good one. So that's annoying.

If you had young kids, would you let them watch Dora the Explora?

For the last month when you go to 'On Demand' on your cable box, Dora was one of the things that got a little video highlight while you look for something to watch. Dora sucks, I have young kids actually and they aren't going near that shit. I hate Dora.

When you're dancing, do you prefer to pick up change or punch the floora?

I see where you're going with this. It's witty.

What do you say to the people who claim that the new In Flames was a bora?

Cha-ching, mother fucka....

Are you familiar with the Dutch band, The Ex, and their now-deceased guest celloist, Tom Cora?

I wonder which ones of these you were proud of and which ones you thought 'shit... this isn't funny, but the joke really requires me to keep it up and this is all i got'

If the U.S. invades Iran, do you think it could lead to another World Wara?

See, now I'm running out of witty responses...

What do you think of Madonna's recent embrace of the Torah?

It's not as impressive and the accent she started using a few years back.

When you watch Family Matters, do you prefer Carl Winslow or Laura?

Carl was in Diehard. = the winner.

Is there anything else you care to add, like maybe tell us about the new Nora record and when it will be out and what it's called and other things of that nature?

The record is ready to go. It's pretty sweet, we're stoked on it. We didn't reinvent the wheel or anything but I'm really proud of it. It sounds mean. It's called 'Save Yourself.' The good people at Trustkill are putting it out on June 19th.

Please do not fight me at a show, and please tell In Flames not to fight me at a show as well. I am a fan of your label and I am still a fan of In Flames. I even reviewed their last record and gave it a good score. Thanks for answering all these stupid and unfunny questions that I probably shouldn't have sent you.


Post Comment
anonymous 6/3/2007 1:30:43 PM

I knew KNOW one would treat them that way, and as history proved...

anonymous 6/3/2007 1:44:08 PM

KNOW one? retard

Nick_ 6/3/2007 1:46:04 PM

Oh Drew, you're such a card

justin bean_ 6/3/2007 2:17:43 PM

a triumph of an interview.

anonymous 6/3/2007 3:55:38 PM


hamwarmer_ 6/3/2007 4:26:39 PM

omg a typo! omg omg omg no read

fuck drew_ 6/3/2007 4:43:39 PM

Carl is cool. Drew is horrible. why the f*ck would you continue with a stupid joke for half the interview? you should have let someone else interview him. you suck balls.

drew_ 6/3/2007 5:57:06 PM

yeah, f*ck drew

drew_ 6/3/2007 5:59:04 PM

on another note, the picture of carl is how i imagined him looking once he saw this interview in his in-box. rubbing his temples staring pensively at some invisible camera.

Shitbox_ 6/3/2007 6:40:07 PM

Shittiest questions ever.

anonymous 6/3/2007 10:05:38 PM

Shora is good. I was hoping Torn Apart would come up.

Taylor_ 6/4/2007 2:34:00 AM

That interview was stupid and disrespectful. I will beat you up at a show.

solideogloria_ 6/4/2007 5:17:26 AM

lol @ gay named taylor talking about beating people up. go mmmbop something.

Dave2112_ 6/4/2007 6:19:40 AM

Solid dude, one of the last.

Captain_ 6/4/2007 7:02:02 AM

Carl Severson's a good bro. That interview was kind of completely pointless.

dead138_ 6/4/2007 10:25:53 AM

best interview ever !!!

wait til you see my dick_ 6/4/2007 12:49:18 PM

One of the worst interviews ever, get killed.

Taylor_ 6/5/2007 12:03:32 AM

I'll fight you too gay. GO DIE.

thealmightyjim_ 6/6/2007 5:01:57 AM

Lambgoat reviews are f*cking comedy.

MY DICK IS ROCK HARD_ 6/6/2007 2:47:52 PM

lambgoat interviews are tragedies

panzram_ 6/6/2007 3:30:17 PM

Well that interview was a waste of everyone's time

masturbate with a turd_ 6/7/2007 9:51:53 AM

This interview f*cking sucks, shitty questions, carl made the best of it

dave_ 6/28/2007 9:50:00 PM

Carl was right.. email interviews do suck. There's no continuity. No back-and-forth conversation. :\

phoenix_ 2/27/2010 8:44:14 PM

this sick muther f*cker exposed himself to me & tried to beat me! Im serious... he was arrested in arizona after i called the police!