$20,000 government grant for “awful” death metal

Death Metal isn’t something you expect to hear featured Neil Mitchell’s 3AW Morning show, but after the Sydney-based death metal band Ouroboros received a $20,000 government grant the controversy baiting shock jock wanted to know just why our tax dollars were supporting this “awful stuff”.

Mitchell compares Ouroboros to the sound of the Cookie Monster, however composer Matthew Hindson, chair of the Australia Council music board which approved the grant, has a very different view of the band. According to Hindson, Ouroboros “have a degree of technical virtuosity and musicianship. No matter what kind of music you are involved in, that comes through…The challenge is to try and ensure that music is still able to be represented in all its diversity without a (music) board.”

The grant to help Ouroboros write new songs for its next album that will include a symphony orchestra. “This is amazing for us,” drummer David Horgan told The Australian. “We couldn’t consider hiring an orchestra to do this without this kind of support.”

Responding to Mitchell’s criticism Horgan posted a comment on his band’s Facebook page thanking the shock-jock and 3AW for “promoting Ouroboros and stimulating an important and passionate debate about the great value of public funding for the arts in Australia and heavy metal music in general”.

This morning Mitchell invited Horgan on his show to discuss the issue leading to one of the more unusual conversations heard on 3AW. The Ouroboros drummer explained the differences between Death and Thrash Metal, conceded that Julia Gillard doesn’t approve of the grant, claimed that he was happy to teach his music students how to play One Direction, and asked Mitchell about his own artistic projects.

You can listen to the interview below:

Ouroboros statement in response to Neil Mitchell (from the band’s Facebook):

Thanks to our friend Neil Mitchell from 3AW radio in Melbourne for promoting Ouroboros and stimulating an important and passionate debate about the great value of public funding for the arts in Australia and heavy metal music in general. Australians are fortunate to live in a representative democracy with a rich and diverse artistic ecosystem. The Australia Council for the Arts is doing a fantastic and commendable job of recognising and fostering artistic diversity by supporting a broad range of artistic projects and initiatives, including Ouroboros.

Ouroboros has always been a labour of love for us as band members. We have put countless hours of our time and tens of thousands of dollars of our personal funds into creating original music and sharing it with our fans. The funding supplied by the Australia Council will not only help us create our next album, it will stimulate the wider economy by flowing to recording studios, engineers, studio techs, promoters, roadies, musicians, visual artists and many other businesses and arts workers.

Neil Mitchell admits that he does not see the value of death metal and relies on little more than his own emotional response to form his opinion. He goes on to use some of the lowest forms of rhetoric-specifically ridicule and sarcasm-to express his view that death metal is not art and is not “useful”.

Heavy metal fans and other open-minded music lovers clearly reject Mitchell’s opinion and are capable of seeing the artistic value of bands like Ouroboros. This is reflected in our success at the Australian Metal Awards; the torrent of positive reviews we received in magazines, websites and blogs; the number of people who attend our live shows; the financial support we receive from fans in the form of album and merchandise sales; and-of course-funding approval from knowledgeable panel of music-specialists at the Australia Council.

At the end of the day, Australian heavy metal fans are tax payers too. They deserve to have their artistic interests supported as much as anyone else.

– David Horgan (Drummer from Ouroboros)