The man, the myth, the shredder, the legend:. Musician Steve Anthony has been known as a guitar hero to many as well as a local metal mainstay. These days, in addition to his band TKTWA, Anthony has been promoting a series of Monday night metal shows aptly titled Metal Monday. You’ll find them several times a month at Tumbleroot Brewery & Distillery, including this coming Monday, Nov. 8 with metal acts Desmadre, Dysphotic and Night Soil (6 pm. $10. 2791 Agua Fría St., (505) 393-5135). We caught up with Anthony to learn why Santa Fe loves metal so much and what the mid-pandemic crowds have been like.
Why do you think Santa Fe just can’t quit metal?
That’s a funny question, but I would say that back in the day, when punk rock was still alive and well, it was hard for metalheads to get people to come out—especially when there weren’t shows at bars and restaurants and places you could drink. When it was all ages, you’d only see kids out at shows, but a lot of those people have grown up, gotten a little older.
I’d like to think the people before me, especially Augustine Ortiz, spent time cultivating the scene. Without all the work he’s done, we wouldn’t be where we are today. What’s great about the scene is that everybody in a band cares about the scene, so whether they’re working together or working for somebody else, everyone is working for the good of the scene.
I wouldn’t say Santa Fe can’t quit metal, I’d just say it’s prevalent anywhere you go, especially in a small town with religious roots—it’s an outlet for people to blow some steam off, have fun and be surrounded by people who are like-minded in safe space.
As a musician yourself, would you say promoting shows is as simple as doing what you’d like promoters to do?
Absolutely not. No way. I think that part of the reason our shows have gone so well is because Tumbleroot is very supportive of what we do and have been great to work with. Another reason is because of my experience in the industry and the things I’ve done working for a record label in promotion, especially with acts like Skeletonwitch and Marty Friedman. I learned a lot about metal marketing, and I try to do as much as I can in that vein without making it a real job for myself.
When you put these shows together, you have to cater to the entire scene. Sometimes mixed-genre shows do better than people would expect. Sometimes it’s fun to have The Blackout Pictures up against my band...You have to make it worth everybody’s time, not just the musicians, but the people who are going to these concerts. If you don’t really understand basic music marketing, you could skip some of the basics and fall flat on your face. Luckily, all our shows have done well, and I get to pay the bands and sound guys. I’m not in it to make money, but if I were in a situation where I had a huge rental fee and big guarantees, I’d step back a little bit. If I can’t pay the talent, I’m not going to keep doing it. With promotion in general, knowing your market is one thing, but having the experience and having failures and successes in the past—I’ve been doing this 20 years now—well, I’m really only doing it because nobody else is available to do it. Catering to the scene for the musicians and the concert-goers is a big part of the success.
What have crowds been like in a pandemic world? Are people thrilled to be in back in your estimation?
It’s interesting, because the first show I threw in July was super-well attended, and I wanted to kind of have a vaccination required policy, but a lot of people didn’t think it was necessary. In my opinion, the metal community takes the pandemic very seriously. There was a lot of hesitation leading up to it, but people were starved for live music, and we’re careful to make sure nothing happens. Like, we have face masks available when you come in and pay your cover.
When Delta showed up, that’s when it started to get scary again a little, but we didn’t see attendance drop—we saw people being more careful. We’ve had a really great response, and it’s all because of the community. The pandemic is always in the back of your mind, but if people are washing their hands, wearing masks, being as respectful as possible...Not to get too political about it, but I have zero interest in working with someone who isn’t willing to do whatever they can to help the community. My wife worked in the ER through the first 18 months of the pandemic, and she saw more than most people. It’s real, it’s scary, it’s there all the time. Luckily the scene is really understanding of that. If they weren’t, we wouldn’t be doing these shows.