The Golden Gods Awards — the country’s first-ever metal awards show — take place today in Los Angeles (a shortened version will air May 2 on MTV2). Behind it all is the staff of Revolver magazine, led by editor-in-chief Tom Beaujour — a highly productive super-fan who’s also a prolific musician (guitarist-vocalist in power-pop band True Love) and producer (he’s recorded the likes of Nada Surf and the Virgins). Beaujour talked to Vulture about metal’s sense of humor, the state of the magazine industry, and the quality of New Yorker pop critic Sasha Frere-Jones’s singing voice.
How long have you been thinking about putting on a metal awards show?
I think what we realized a year and a half ago, and luckily early enough, that it was time to start expanding this Revolver brand beyond just a print entity. In the last week, literally, Blender went out of business, King went out of business, the Chicago Sun-Times, and two weeks ago, Metal Edge, which was the other big American metal magazine, went out of business, as did Metal Maniacs, which was sort of the underground one. Convincing people that our audience is worth marketing to is a big part of what this show is about on a business level. ‘Cause it’s not like this is an audience that’s that sexy to advertisers, because I think they sometimes feel that all these kids do is wear black and be weird.
I’m sure having the show in L.A. is a practical concern, so if you had to pick the most metal city, what would you go with?
It’s probably still L.A. I grew up in New York, I lived there my whole life, I went to hard-core matinees there, there’s always been tons of metal and hard-core out there. But L.A. is really a metal town. The Rainbow Bar & Grill is still around, still doing really well, we’re actually giving them a lifetime achievement award because that’s where every band goes to drink when they come here.
What kind of measures have you taken to make this a more metal-appropriate awards show?
Of course, we have a black carpet instead of a red carpet, which is completely obligatory for this. They tried to convince us not to because apparently they get dirty really fast. We were like, no, we gotta do it. Instead of having music to play when people receive their awards, we’re gonna have a guy shred with a guitar. And our award is a mini-Stonehenge.
It’s great that the genre is able to poke fun at itself like that. One of the good things about metal is that it sees the humor in itself. You talk to the guys in Iron Maiden, you know, they’re touring in a private plane, and every flight they book, literally, with the air-traffic control, is listed at 666. And none of these people are Satanists, it’s just like, part of the culture. It’s okay to be funny with it.
Is there any kind of suggested dress code?
I know that Howard Jones, the lead singer from Killswitch Engage, is coming in a pin-striped Armani suit. He actually is a very sharp dresser. I don’t know what everyone else is wearing — people keep asking me.
What was the voting process?
We only did one readers’-choice award. The other ones were picked by the staff of Revolver. And that may change in years to come.
You also run a studio in Hoboken, Nuthouse Recordings, and you recorded Sasha Frere-Jones there for his New Yorker piece on Auto-Tune. How was his voice?
It was actually too good to really illustrate the point. He didn’t want to do something that would be too horrible, because he didn’t want to completely humiliate himself. We were able to tune it and illustrate how Auto-Tune works. But it wasn’t some horrifying American Idol audition when they just put it on there to humiliate people. Definitely the Auto-Tune helped him, but I’ve tuned worse in my life.