WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Welcome to Witchpolice Radio. I'm here with not a band this week, but an event that's focusing and highlighting on a lot of local bands. We're talking about the Manitoba Loud Music Awards, which, at the time, you hear this, if you're listening right when these episodes come out, it'll be happening within about a day of the release of this podcast. So if you haven't got a ticket yet, you should probably do that listening to the show.
But I think before we even get into any details about this year's event, let's just figure out who we're talking to here. I know there's a lot of people involved in organizing and putting on this event every year, and two members of that team are on the podcast today. So if each of you want to sort of introduce yourselves and give a bit of information about what it is you do with this event and how long you've been involved, that would be a great way to start.
DAG AYMONT: I'm Dag. I'm the founder of the event. I own Badlands Promotions, Inc. And it was something I wanted to do for a lot of years. And I brought it up to one of our other promoters at one point, and I had said, hey, this is kind of my idea. What do you think of this? And he was like, let's do it. Let's make it happen. And then him and I were going to do it together. And I'm kind of glad that COVID hit, because it really put a halt on us, possibly screwing it up, because it gave us a chance to actually find a whole committee of people to start it up. So the idea was first announced in, I think it was end of 2019 or something like that. But we didn't get the first one out until 2021.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: And then we've got Mike here as well. And, Mike, you're a familiar, I guess, voice and face to the podcast in that your band Ramskull was on the show earlier this year, but you're also involved in the festival. It's not the festival, the award show. So what is your role with the show?
MIKE DEARMAN: Yeah, for me it's just for being in the scene for years and years and years. I kind of always wanted to kind of do something similar to what DAG was thinking. I'm not that other promoter, but yeah, Ramskull is actually nominated in the first year and so we attended and we're all a part of the festivities and everything like that. And I just was like, I really want to be a part of this.This is something that I really could get behind and believe in.
So I just approached the existing committee that was there and Dag, and said, hey, I really want to like kind of like a team effort. Everybody kind of has a little bit of a different role, but at the same time, we kind of all do the same thing. So for me, we're getting out, getting sponsors and just talking to people and just trying to promote the event as much as possible and just be an advocate for this event.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Cool. Well, it's been interesting to see it sort of on social media.
It seems like every year this year, and we'll get into it for sure, but this year you have Econoline Crush headlining. That's a big get for the event for sure. And it seems like it's growing organically, sort of watching this happen every year with who's being nominated and all the kind of people sharing posts and sharing information about it. So whatever you're doing is obviously working. And I guess was the goal of this to sort of give some attention to an underserved music community in Winnipeg? In Manitoba?
DAG AYMONT: Yeah, absolutely.
We don't get recognized by big award shows. They'll do like a heavy award and it's like just a general rock, punk and metal thing or whatever. But we wanted to focus specifically on all of that and all the people in that industry and within Manitoba because nobody else is doing that, first of all. And secondly, it's totally fan based. Like fan nominated, fan controlled, fan voted.
We aren't a board that sits there and says, okay, this is who wins this year. It's up to the fans. And it's actually really funny because Mike is nominated on a few of them and we've removed those categories from his vision so he doesn't know if he's going to win or not. And it's driving him nuts. And I love it.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Well, I guess that makes sense, though, if you have a volunteer board, right? People who are probably everyone is involved in the scene in some way. So it's probably not that unusual to have someone nominated on the organizing committee for the event.
DAG AYMONT: Yeah, I had hummed and hawed because I was nominated the first year and the second year. Last year I had won and I was kind of humming and hawing whether I should or not. I took it last year because I thought to myself, like, I don't know how many more years of playing I have left. I might as well take it while it's there.
And I didn't even get nominated this year, but I would have turned it down had I been nominated just because I did my one win. And I want to focus on everybody else now.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Yeah, well, and it's interesting, too, because when I first heard about this, I assumed that it was going to be strictly for the metal community and the metal scene. Because Winnipeg, as I think that everyone in the city knows, it's a very strong and very tight knit and sort of supportive for the most part, metal community with all the different subgenres. But you go beyond that. It's not just metal bands. There's punk bands. There's more kind of straight ahead hard rock bands, cover bands, tribute bands, things like that are in there as well. So I guess what is the criteria for loud? How do you define what a loud band is and how much leeway is there? I mean, for someone who maybe wouldn't necessarily be considered in one of those categories to qualify.
DAG AYMONT: Every year we've kind of come up with new parameters on what qualifies because we have had people nominated that barely fit into the parameters.
So every year our admin woman's doing, Mama Violet is doing the parameters and adjusting them accordingly so we don't run into certain issues again or people who don't necessarily qualify. Being on the qualified list, it really depends essentially anything that can be classified metal. The part we have the most trouble with is rock, mostly, right, because rock is such a wide variety. But we're trying to stick to more hard rock than like alternative rock or pop rock or anything like that. So it's tough when it comes to rock. Hardcore is pretty self explanatory. Most punk is pretty self explanatory, and metal is pretty self explanatory.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: I guess the good thing there, too, is that you're sort of mixing and matching with these people from different communities. I mean, I know Winnipeg. The music scene in general is fairly tight knit, regardless of what genre of music you're playing. But when you have the hard rock bands in there, they maybe wouldn't have played on the same bill as like a death metal band in the past. And maybe getting them in the same room is going to just open up some more connection for people and introduce each other to each other's music and fans as well.
So it's kind of cool that you do it that way and also the breaking it down by instrument as well. What was the reasoning behind that? Having best bassist, best drummer, those kind of things?
DAG AYMONT: We try not to use the word best, just bassist of the year, guitarist of the year, or whatever, just because, again, we don't want to be the ones to say who's the best and who's not, right? Because I believe, and it's entirely fan controlled and top voted more than anything, right?
But individual musicians are part of the music scene.The industry people, the studios, the photographers, the videographers, the engineErs, all those people, they all deserve the recognition. And every year we're coming up with new ideas for different people within the industry. And if categories start lagging or slacking in one department. So, like the first year we had a cover band category and a tribute band category, but it started slacking in one of the categories, so we just combined the two.
Yeah, so, I mean, we're trying to keep it around 20 at all times, round 20 awards at all times. Sometimes we do a couple of surprise awards every year, and sometimes those become permanent things. Like the Ambassador of the Year was totally a surprise thing and it became a permanent thing.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Cool. Let's just jump ahead to the actual award show now. And I was talking to Mike before we started recording about how cool it is you have Econoline Crush headlining this thing. And, I mean, I talked to Trevor on a recent episode of the podcast, too, and he seems pretty excited to be doing this as well.
What does it mean to get a band like that that has this kind of long history and the Manitoba connection as well, to be playing at a show, know, really honoring a lot more independent, a lot more kind of DIY bands that you know, aspired to get to where they got or may have grown up listening to them and things like that?
DAG AYMONT: I'll let Mike answer this. I just want to say, though, that it is not limited to just independent artists, like Propagandhi, Comeback Kid, anybody who's...our big parameter is 75% of your band has to reside in Manitoba to qualify for an award. That's our only major parameter. So, yeah, like big, major signed bands, they can all qualify, but it's kind of a thing like, don't run off your name alone, because it's the people who are working for it that get the recognition right. It's the people who are saying, like, hey, go vote for me, or, hey, check out this event. But I'll let Mike talk about answer your question.
MIKE DEARMAN: So getting Econoline Crush is not only is it a big deal for the awards and helps legitimize where our vision is going and everything, but it's also really cool. Just as kind of like local fans.
It's exciting. We're pretty close to a week out now and everybody's getting really excited and talking about Econoline Crush.
DAG AYMONT: Right.
MIKE DEARMAN: So for me, I was introduced to them when I was about 17 years old. So like 27 years ago or. No, I guess not that long ago. Yeah, 27 years ago can't possibly be that old, but yeah, no, it's kind of like a very fitting band for our first big band kind of having for the awards. And it's a really good marker as to where we want to go with this.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Is that sort of the plan then, to have. I know you have local bands, everyone's local and everyone has a local connection, but you have smaller local bands playing at the event as well. Is that the idea going forward, to have sort of the one big headliner and then a bunch of the locals that are sort of more day to day involved in the scene?
MIKE DEARMAN: Yeah, I think it's really important to the whole committee, not only like me and Dag, but to the whole committee, to always be representing the smaller guys in the scene and where we're going and where we've kind of come from and things. As an example, one of the bands that are opening, or the band that is opening is the School of rock house band is kicking off the night for us. So we really want to show right from the beginnings of people's music careers throughout Manitoba.
And then the intention is to hopefully consistently year after year hit everybody with a really cool headliner or possibly co headliners, you know. But yeah, that's the overall plan.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Well, you have a lot to choose from. I mean, Manitoba has a pretty rich history of loud bands, so you're in a good place, I think, to find headliners like that, for sure.
MIKE DEARMAN: Way that things are coming together for us, I think that we'll have a plethora of good shows ahead of us.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: I was going to ask about... Dag mentioned this a few minutes ago about the voting aspect and the fact that it's fan driven and that you have fans sort of nominating people and also voting then for who's going to be the bassist of the year, Rock Band of the Year, whatever the category is.
Are there any concerns about people just sort of rigging it is the wrong word, but just pushing too hard for votes and maybe you're not going to get an accurate view of who is actually the most beloved bassist or whatever. Or do you care about that? Because I imagine there's some bands that are doing more campaigning, maybe for the awards than others. And some of them probably just are happy to get it, but don't actually push it. What are your thoughts on that?
DAG AYMONT: We have kind of run into something similar, like we do in person voting campaigns, which gives the nominee 30 extra votes per vote.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Okay.
DAG AYMONT: And usually it's at our fundraiser shows we do two of them.
I think next year we're doing four of them throughout the year and two of them will have in person voting. One in Brandon and one in here and one at Portage.
But there's certain things we've run into, like nominees can't play the fundraisers with in person votings now, but we've also seen the benefits of somebody pushing their name and somebody really saying, hey, here's your daily reminder to go vote for me. We've seen the benefits of that and that's ultimately what it's about.
The music industry has become so hard to just sell off your name or sell off the fact that there is an event going on it's very much like DIY.
My company does the best it can to do a promotion for an event. But at the end of the day, if the bands aren't helping with that, it's not going to have as great of a turnout. So it's kind of like rewarding the people who do put their name out there and do work their ass. Their butts to. To really spread the word.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: That makes sense. That makes sense for sure. Is it more difficult to get mean because Winnipeg in general, for every style of music is sort of the center for the music scene? Just because there's so many venues here, there's a ridiculous amount of bands here. Is it a challenge to get interest from artists outside of the city? I mean, I know Brandon probably has quite a few as well. But once you go sort of beyond the two big cities in the province, is it difficult to find, first of all, find artists who might qualify for some of these categories and then also get them interested in participating or get their fans interested in nominating them?
DAG AYMONT: My company operates out of Portage, Winnipeg, Brandon and The Pas.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Okay, so you got that covered.
DAG AYMONT: There's. There's a huge music scene up north. There's a huge music scene in a. There's a few local bands in Portage and stuff like, I mean, it covers that aspect. And they want to be involved too. And we want them. We want. It's the Manitoba Loud Music Awards, not Winnipeg Loud Music Awards. Right.
And I think a part of that is because I'm from Portage, I have friends that play in bands that deserve these awards. Right. They work their butts off and especially in smaller communities, they really work their butts off to promote themselves. And why should they be?
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Oh, that's fair.
MIKE DEARMAN: Yeah, I think we're reaching pretty well. There is bands nominated from Portage and Brandon and Miami, Manitoba. And we've got bands from Steinbach. And like we are getting a pretty good reach of the province.
Maybe we'd like to see it a little stretched a little bit further and see who else we could get involved. But it's evolving really nicely all three years. We've seen the progress when it comes to getting other bands involved that are from other corners of the province. Yeah, I think that kind of thing is just kind of happening naturally for us.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Well, that'll probably continue to grow as the event continues to grow too, as the awards get more word of mouth and get out there.
So the show is happening, you know, again, like I said at the outset, I mean, if you're listening to this the day it came out, the show's tomorrow. But what are the details of where it's happening? If people can still get tickets leading up to it and who's performing and all of that stuff.
DAG AYMONT: It'1l be at the Park Theater. November 18. Doors open at 5:30. Ceremony starts at six.
With the way tickets are going right now, I'm wondering if there will be tickets available at the door. To be honest, they're going pretty hard. I just drove out here to Winnipeg and sold 15 on my way here. They're really flying in a lot of the sales.vYou can try to chance it, but I wouldn't. Yeah, they're $25 through the Park Theaters website.
And the bands that are playing is, like Mike said, School of Rock, their house band will be opening up the ceremony. Then we'll have Ash and the Arsonisst. We'll have Northern Royals, we'll have Book of Ghosts. All three of those bands are from Winnipeg and they're just absolutely wonderful.
And then, of course, Econoline Crush.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: This year, obviously, like we've clearly determined already, the nominations are done, the voting is done. All that's left to happen is to give out the awards. But this is clearly something that you're planning on continuing in the future as well as it's growing. How do people get involved going forward? Like, if someone is completely new to this event, maybe they hear this six months from now and this has already been done, the awards have been given out, but they maybe want to find out how to get involved, how to nominate a band, how to vote what are the details there? Where should they go? To find out more information.
DAG AYMONT: You can just follow us on our socials. Mantoba Loud is our Instagram. And then I think MB Loud Awards or something like that on Facebook. It's a Mantoba Loud Music Awards, though. And yeah, we're constantly updating our socials. There's a website, loudawards.com, that the voting system happens on.
Yeah. And there's pages on our website for previous year's winners and previous year's photos and stuff like that. All of our sponsors are on there and we keep them on there until we start getting new sponsors for the next following year.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Cool. And then the actual nomination process, how long does it take from when the nominations start coming in to actually tallying up the votes? Is it a few months in there between sort of the names being put out there and then the actual voting?
DAG AYMONT: Yeah, it's like one month of nominations, I think two months of comment or getting the bands to get their information in and then one month of voting. And then we spend the next two or three months, like getting ready for the ceremony.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Well, you said earlier too that you do fundraising events throughout the year and that the ceremony is obviously the big kind of close out for the year. Is it always at this time of year? Is it always sort of in the late fall, early winter?
DAG AYMONT: Yeah, I think this will be the last year it does that.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Okay, is it going to be moving to a more hospitable weather or what?
DAG AYMONT: Yeah, absolutely. The first year we did it over three days at Bulldog Event center and on the Saturday we got hit by a storm and I drove back to Portage behind a semi unit and that was rough. And then last year, I think on the Saturday again, there was a bit of a snowfall and that one was over two days. But now we're doing it over one day and hoping that so far it looks like it's going to be a nice day out, actually.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Yeah. You're hoping. Right before I let you go, what do they actually win? What is the actual prize that an award winner takes home?
DAG AYMONT: Every year we've gotten more and more and more stuff like everybody wins an award, obviously, but every year we're doing more and more. So the Metal Band of the Year gets a spot. The Metal Band of the Year is sponsored by Loud as Hell Festival in Drumheller, which is second largest metal festival in Western Canada. And they get a paid spot on that festival.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Cool.
DAG AYMONT: And the following year, SOS Fest does hardcore Band of the Year and Corey Thomas does the same thing. He gives them a spot.
And we're just kind of, like, trying to get more sponsors involved in helping us out. So we're hoping to know maybe a guitarist of the Year or Drummer of the Year or something. Right. Like, something we want to entice so that it's more than just an award.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Yeah, it's more than just bragging.
DAG AYMONT: I mean, again, every year, we're just growing more and more and coming together more and more with these ideas. Mike's been such a mastermind behind so many things that he's got all these great ideas that I personally wouldn't have thought of, and it's just like, holy crap. Yeah. That's awesome.
Violet's really good with coming up with ideas on stuff, too, and Brett and Tommy and Denny does a lot of our social media stuff, so it's really awesome that we all have these unique things to come together and really make it evolve more and more.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Well, one thing I think you're missing is the podcast of the year. You got to add that one of these events.
DAG AYMONT: We'll talk about it.
MIKE DEARMAN: Yeah.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.
DAG AYMONT: Yeah.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Say no more.
DAG AYMONT: We may have already discussed it.
WITCHPOLICE RADIO: Right on.