ArtushaArtusha - You Need to Pay Attention
by Dave Schwartz

There are many challenges faced by young bands.  The eternal struggle to be noticed is the most obvious.  The finances of the industry are another part of the conversation.  Bands recoup the lion's share of their income through touring and merch.  Due to the music sharing culture online, album sales amount to but a pittance of their revenue.  These are known challenges that every band negotiates and resolves to the best of their own ability.  It’s just an accepted part of the business of music. 

But, as we’re all aware, another variable has been added to the mix.  Add the Covid pandemic to the already stated challenges and you have a what amounts to a witch’s brew that has shut down music venues and taken bands of all levels off the road. 

The current (and justified) pandemic fears that are prevalent in our society have socially distanced many bands to the brink of bankruptcy.  Most bands have continued to produce music in a quest to maintain relevance, irrespective of having little means to immediately recoup their investment.  Artusha is one of those bands. 

Hailing from Richmond, VA, David Landers (guitar/vocals), Brian Hase (bass) and Caylon Landers (drums) – Artusha – are navigating the music industry during a Covid pandemic and doing their best to find their way through this unexplored musical wilderness.  I recently had a chance to speak with David Landers.

DB:  I’m excited to have the chance to speak with you and I do appreciate that you could share your time.

DL:  Absolutely.

DB:  Rumor has it that you’ve got a couple singles out and that you’re working on an album.  I would love to hear all about it.  Your two singles are “Inquisition” and “Zero Label.”  I gather that these are the early rattles of a coming album.  What can you tell me?

DL:  We released “Zero Label” first and “Inquisition” followed afterward.  Basically, they were our motivation to get my studio up and running and making sure we were good to go.  It worked out pretty well.  We are up in the air whether we would continue to just drop singles or do a full album.  The headline that came out was that we were going to do a full album but it kind of feels like we’re just going to continue dropping singles for the remainder of 2020.  But we have joked around that we might actually finish the entire record by the end of the year.

DB:  I think America as a whole is discovering that we have some spare time on our hands!

DL: Yeah, that is pretty much it!  Some bands really aren’t doing a whole lot while others are doing some stuff.  We’ve been busy.  We’ve been fortunate and blessed to have our own studio here.  I literally built a studio on my property here.  I’ve been recording music on and off since I was a teenager and we’re finally opening that up to the public this year.  So that will be fun too.

DB:  It sounds like you’re creating some excellent opportunities.  You mentioned that you were faced with the dilemma of whether or not to do an album.  It seems that the industry to becoming more and more singles driven.  Bands are finding that the expense of putting together an album can be overwhelming.

DL:  Yeah, we’ve talked about that too.  I was telling my guys that there’s this magical thing about putting an album out.  It’s what every young band wants to do.  If you are a band signed to a major label, you’ll probably end up doing that.  But, for bands that don’t have major support like ourselves, we are very much paying attention to the fact that there are a lot of bands making money and doing really well without much support and rolling pretty much just on singles.  I think that’s where we’re leaning but, me and my brother Caylon (Landers) have joked that by the end of the year, we may have enough music for a full album!

DB:  It’s not a bad thing.  But even if you just take the singles route and find yourself with a backlog of music to release as you want, it can all work.  Today’s reality is that bands recoup their investment on tour and as long as you’ve got some product available for the fans you can tour.

DL:  Absolutely. 

DB:  Your latest single is “Inquisition.”  I read that you’ve described the song as a “socio-political reflection on the state of America.”  Tell me a little bit about that.

DL:  Honestly, with that quote, I’ve tried to be as down the middle as possible with it because I really want people to understand that none of us in this band are trying to promote any political agenda or publicly align with the left or right.  You’re here in the U.S. and can understand why I’m saying this.  But, it’s really cool because Brian (Hase) our bass player is a really good songwriter and wrote most of that song.  He also wrote a good bit of the lyrics too.  When he brought the song to the table, I made some changes because, honestly, I’m the one singing and I want the songs to come from my heart too.  But long story short, it really doesn’t matter if you have a Facebook account, or you’re just walking down the street, the moment you start talking about politics – if someone doesn’t immediately agree with you it’s kind of like fighting words for most.  People want to go at it really fast.  And you know what?  It’s just sad.  We try not to get too political, but obviously with an election coming up...  During my last 8+ years of watching politics, it just sucks to watch people get so consumed by it.  Especially the division of it.  We have to remember that we’re all in this together.  And we did see that briefly when the pandemic started.  With the quarantine, we all kind of pulled together trying to get through it.  But somehow, we always get back to the political end of it and we all start drawing those lines really fast.

ArtushaDB:  I can appreciate your comments.  In the same spirit of keeping political commentary down the middle, we certainly have bred a society that would rather be fed their information than to go out and find information to feed upon.  We’re told what to think rather than developing our own opinions.  Irrespective of what side of the aisle we reside, we’re cheating ourselves and it’s been devastating to our society.

DL:  You are right.  It really does boil down to that.  It is time that we all start thinking for ourselves.  These days, no matter what we watch, see or read – there is an agenda.  Opinion is injected to help push you one way or the other.  Whether it’s political or not, we have to be smart and not let others dictate who we are.  We need to pay attention.

DB:  Again, I can appreciate your comments.  Back to the music – your sound.  Artusha is very groove metal.  It’s a style of music that transfers so much energy to the fan.  I know that you’ve been kicking around Richmond, VA for a couple years.  Talk a little about developing your sound.

DL:  Brian and I got back together a couple years ago.  This band has been on and off for a while, we just haven’t made any serious pushes.  Life gets in the way, people start pursuing careers, and then all of a sudden, here we are.  Brian is more Black Sabbath / Motorhead and the grunge stuff too.  Me, I was born and bred in thrash.  So, he kind of slows me down you could say – in a good way.  Because I’ll always want to jump to playing fast.  It’s funny with groove because we really didn’t know what to call it.  I know that groove metal has been around.  Like Pantera.  I want to say that we aren’t trying to be Pantera or sound like Pantera even though I obviously I play a guitar that Dime had help design before his death.  I don’t want people to be confused or think we’re just trying to copy anybody.  When you listen our music you know that we don’t really sound anything like Pantera and I’m good with that.  We’re trying to be ourselves and there isn’t a single mold or idea that shaping us.  We’re not trying to follow any cookie-cutter stuff and I think that is what has set us apart a little bit too.  In metal in general, metalcore is making a comeback there are a lot of people doing that.  But I don’t think I see or feel a ton of bands that are doing what we’re doing.  And that is good.  It’s helping us carve out a little bit of a niche.  We’re happy with who we are and what we’re doing.  For us, that is what it’s all about.  And if anything comes from that, great.

DB:  In the press releases I received about your band, they mention your success on Spotify – 15k streams.  Are you excited by the warm response you’ve received?

DL:  Very much so.  We joked the other day that we know that there’s some negativity waiting for us around the corner.  Somewhere, someone is going to hate on something.  But we joked and said, those who have disliked or disagreed with our music have done so in a polite way.  For the most part, people have enjoyed the music.  It’s been a really cool thing to see the response from the video release and the Spotify streams, it’s just nice to see.  We spent a lot of time into writing music and then recording it.  Everything that we’re doing has been ourselves.  We record, we write, mix and master all our own music.  It’s time consuming because we want it to sound good and be right.  So, to receive this response has been really nice.

DB:  I have a complicated question.  It is with regards to where we are with the pandemic.  I guess I’m searching for a silver lining to this dark cloud that we all have struggled with.  This is a difficult time to release a record.  At the moment, bands can release their music but they have little means of recouping their investment.  All of the tours have been shut down until September-ish.  So, as a band you are left casting your music out into the wind.  But the other side of that, there are a lot of people sitting home – looking for something to do, looking for something new.  They are digging into Spotify and discovering new music like yours.  Is it possible that this pandemic has somehow been helpful to new bands – the benefit being that the public has had the time to find you?  And the benefit to the public is that they have new music to hopefully help brighten their day.

DL:  I think that’s fair to say.  This subject has been part of our conversation.  I mean, good time – bad time, when do we do this or do we not.  We felt like we had a little bit of steam before the pandemic.  We played our first show of the year in January and that has been our only show.  We were happy because people were liking us.  But going forward into this pandemic, I definitely think that it has helped people find us.  But that’s not to suggest that we’re happy that anyone is suffering from unemployment or is sick.  We chose to release because we had a little steam going and wanted to build and give people more of what they wanted.  We want people to hear what we’re doing.  We appreciate the people who have sent money and bought merch and you name it.  Right now, we have two songs released.  We want to keep feeding that.  We want people to keep coming back finding something new every couple months.

DB:  So, looking toward the end of the year and the world getting back to the new normal – whatever that may be.  Are there any thoughts with regards to touring?

DL:  We don’t have much booked at the moment.  We had an East Coast tour booked in June but that’s gone.  It would’ve been really cool, kicking off with a festival in West Virginia called Metal In The Mountains.  The festival wasn’t cancelled, just postponed.  So, it’s possible that we’re still on that later this year.  Beyond that, we don’t have anything booked.  We’re definitely interested in touring later this year and we hope to be out touring next year.

I want to thank David Landers for sharing a moment with DaBelly.  Artusha is a new band with a cool sound and they deserve your ear.  Please take the time to search out new music and support the artists you love. 

No. Title Length
1. "Zero Label" 5:17
2. "Inqusition" 3:54


Artusha is:

David Landers (guitar/vocals)
Brian Hase (bass)
Caylon Landers (drums)

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