music and Utah have probably had one of the strangest relationships
over the years. While having a dedicated following fueled by some
of the grittiest thrashers and ruling over a number of different
venues since the mid-80's, acknowledging its existence is near taboo
in some circles and is often clowned on as a lesser genre. To the
point where you're lucky if your band name even gets mentioned on
KBER, let alone a show being promoted. But in recent years that
attitude has started to turn a corner with the help of a particular
"Maximum Distortion" got its start roughly five years ago on KRCL as a source for all things metal, covering both the rising local acts as well as national bands who weren't getting attention on the dial. Their mid-week nightly dredge through the heavy, the black, the goth, the speed, the death, the glam, the doom and all other trends along the way give listeners an opportunity to experience more than just an overdose of Metallica like others are prone to fall back on. I got a chance to chat with the two hosts about the shows and the music, plus thoughts on the local scene.
Cody Dangel & John Forgach
Gavin: Hey guys, first off, tell us a bit about yourselves.
Forgach: I interned with RAS Records in D.C., graduated from Delaware State University and moved to Utah in 1994. I’ve worked for the same company since ’94, wrote for SLUG Magazine from ’95-’05 and started "Maximum Distortion" in ’05. I got married earlier this year, own a dog, two cats and hedgehog, and I have a passion for soymilk.
Cody D: I was born in Texas, raised in many states but call Las Vegas home. Geek out to aviation, classic cars and music, and most importantly, I enjoy romantic strolls on the beach at sunset.
Gavin: How did you both take an interest in Metal music, and who are some of your favorite bands?
Forgach: I saw a news show that did a story on KISS when I was in the 1st grade, pre-MTV. That hooked me. I served in the KISS Army until the 5th grade, then got into Rush, Sabbath and AC/DC. My family moved to Japan when I was in the 6th grade where I discovered Iron Maiden, Michael Schenker and UFO, and the rest of the NWOBHM bands.
Cody D: A cousin turned me on to Alice Cooper and KISS when I was really young and Alice Cooper Goes To Hell was the first record I purchased as a kid. I then started listening to Van Halen, The Scorpions and AC/DC, and the love of hard rock/metal music grew from there. I’m more a fan of bay area thrash, and technical metal. I’m currently on a Byzantine kick again. If you haven’t heard of Byzantine, do yourself a favor and check them out.
Gavin: When did both of you first meet each other and become friends?
Forgach: We met in 2000 working for the same company. I remember sending out my usual feelers to see what kind of music Cody listened to. When he was familiar with the band Excel, I knew he was a keeper. I would take him as my “Plus 1” to the shows I reviewed for SLUG.
Gavin: Forgach, as mentioned before you had previously been a writer for SLUG Magazine for about a decade. How did you first join the zine and what was it like writing for it all those years?
Forgach: I met Gianni, the former owner of the magazine and suggested he needed someone to write a metal column. He agreed. Writing for SLUG sucked balls. I love the magazine, then and now; I just hated the writing process. It was hard to make the words come out.
Gavin: How did the idea come about to start up the show?
Forgach: The former owner of SLUG did a short stint as the Music Director at KRCL. He called and suggested that I should to start a metal show for the station. I agreed.
Gavin: What was the first broadcast like and what was the reaction from the staff and listeners?
Forgach: I sat in on “Joe’s Garage” (Thursday 10:30PM - at the time) for about four months before “Maximum Distortion” began and overlapped both shows for the first month or so. Its first slot was Friday 1AM, directly after “Joe’s Garage”. I remember watching the clock, noting how fast 1AM approached. I remember thinking to myself, “I could just leave now.” I’m not one for puking in response to stressful situations, but definitely felt some sort of bodily response would have been appropriate. I’m sure the first many shows reflected that.
Gavin: How did you eventually bring Cody into the mix, and Cody, how was it for you joining in after the show was established?
Forgach: I wanted to bring Cody on right from the beginning, but the Program Director at the time discouraged two-person shows. He was afraid we’d get too chatty on-air. Go figure.
Cody D: About four or five months after the start of the show, I joined to start a local/unsigned band feature.
Gavin: Do you already have an idea each week of what you wan to play, or do you need to make a playlist for suitable content?
Cody D: Forgach takes care of most of the stuff that gets played. Whether it be theme shows, old favorites, new releases that get listed on the Loud Rock Report, or providing the massive library to accommodate the plethora of requests that we take every week. The playlist gets sprinkled with recommendations and requests from me from time to time.
Forgach: I have the first 20-30 minutes of the show planned. I also have a rough idea of music to play depending on what’s newly released, what the two of us are currently listening to, or classics I unearth from the vault throughout the week. I edit for profanity and cut out long, boring intros. Cody programs and board ops the end of the show so I can haul ass out of the studio to start working at 1AM sharp.
Gavin: How did the decision come about to play local bands on the show, and what's their reaction been like to hear their songs where most other stations wouldn't touch their albums?
Forgach: Local metal seemed like an obvious addition to the show. Surprisingly, it’s been a mixed bag of reactions and responses from unsigned bands over the years. For every unsigned band that has their shit together, there are ten others that redefine the word flakey. We appreciate it when bands keep in touch after we play them – at least enough to let us know they heard their music on the show. We also like it when bands spread the word about the show. If every band we’ve played gave the show an on-stage shout consisting of “Listen to 'Maximum Distortion' on KRCL 90.9FM every Wednesday night”, we probably wouldn’t have the large number of metalheads in the Salt Lake Valley (after 263 weeks of the show) that don’t even know the show exists.
Gavin: Over time the show has gotten a lot of exposure, constantly appearing on the Best Of Utah lists, Cody was a featured intern on “Radio From Hell”, most every heavy rock and metal band in the city praises the show. How is it for you guys to have that kind of exposure and recognition?
Forgach: The show has had moderate success over the years, but no one’s beating down our door. We’re very happy at KRCL, but seriously, not one offer has come our way. Our demo was even ignored by X96’s Program Director for their Sunday night locals-only show – and Cody was working there as an intern for FREE at the time. That’s gratitude for you.
Cody D: We have been both fortunate and lucky with the exposure and recognition that we’ve received over the last five years. We’d like to personally thank Angela Brown at SLUG Magazine, Bill Frost at City Weekly, you Gavin of Gavin’s Underground. Richie T. Steadman, Kerry Jackson, Bill Allred and Gina Barberi of “Radio From Hell”. And Dusty and Renee at Club Vegas for their on-going support.
Gavin: What's been your personal favorite moment on the show so far?
Forgach: I ordered pizza for Cody’s birthday this year. That was pretty good.
Gavin: Fair enough. This year you guys hit the five year marker. How does it feel still being a part of KRCL with the loyal audience after all the changes and whatnot?
Forgach: We love KRCL! We’re allowed the freedom to do “Maximum Distortion” every week without filters, management interference or rules (besides the obvious FCC and station regulations). We’re both amazed by the rabid, although, still relatively small group of loyal listeners that support KRCL every Spring & Fall Radiothon. KRCL is a listener supported radio station, so we hope that some day a larger percentage of the metal community will embrace and support community radio – without KRCL, “Maximum Distortion” is nothing.
Cody D: Yes, our loyal listeners prove every Radiothon that there is room for a metal show on KRCL.
Gavin: Going state-wide, what are your thoughts on the local music scene, both good and bad?
Cody D: Initially, I thought metal music would be a non-factor in Salt Lake, but once we started digging in, found that it definitely has a strong presence. I guess oppression truly does breed discontent.
Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to make it bigger or better?
Forgach: I think everything is already in place for the medium-sized market/scene we have here in Utah. There are plenty of clubs/venues, plenty of bands and plenty of media outlets that will at least pay attention to what is going on with metal. Everyone involved with the scene needs to continue (or start) utilizing the resources that are right in front of them.
Gavin: Who are your favorite acts in the scene right now?
Cody D: Separation Of Self, Massacre At The Wake, Cave Of Roses, Jezus Rides A Riksha, Vinia, and Reaction Effect have been long time “MD” favorites. A few bands that we have just become hip to are Toxic Dose, Lidsore, Dead Vessel, and Killbot, just to name a few.
Forgach: The Daniel Day Trio!
Gavin: Moving to broadcasting, what's your opinion of current local radio, both community and corporate?
Forgach: For the most part, radio blows. Besides the stellar programming going on at KRCL, we both enjoy Darby’s KAOS on 94.9, but that’s it for metal in Utah. Cody wastes his time listening to sports radio, while I prefer the heady topics featured on NPR. When all else fails, I also subscribe to both XM and Sirius Satellite Radio.
Cody D: I have been a fan of radio for as long as I can remember and I’m disappointed with the current state of radio. The FCC and special interest groups have completely handcuffed on-air personalities from taking the chances that made radio interesting in the past. Aside from a few hosts at KRCL and “Radio From Hell” on X96, there isn’t anything locally going on that can keep me interested for more than 5-10 minutes.
Gavin: Where do you personally see things going in the next few years for radio?
Cody D: Who knows? At the rate it’s going, it doesn’t look good. But then, I may not be the right person to ask. I listen to satellite radio almost exclusively and I thought at this point satellite radio would be king of the hill by now. So what do I know?
Gavin: What can we expect from both of you and the show th rest of the year?
Forgach: We will do our best to cultivate and grow our listenership with an emphasis on quality over quantity. We want people to listen that understand and are invested in the spirit of community radio. We’d also like it if people started listening close enough to call us out on the blatant lies we spew on a regular basis. During a recent, on-going, four-week rant, which took place amidst the Stanley Cup Playoffs, I claimed I was an ex-professional hockey player. We’ve also been claiming for years that we’re both bumping up against being 30 years old, although, we also talk about memories and experiences we both have of the ‘70s. Maybe our listeners just feel sorry for us?
Gavin: Aside the obvious, is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?
Forgach: Visit my Facebook page: Give The Devil Horns Back To The Metalheads! It chronicles the overuse and dilution of the now overly famous metal salute. And of course, listen to our show every Wednesday night from 10:30PM-1AM.
Cody D: Get out and support your local Book Mobiles. The only thing that can overcome ignorance is knowledge.