Interview: Cory Coleman, Chernobyl Agency 2019

Just when he thought he’d be done with promoting, Cory Coleman (Chernobyl Agency, ex-FTMP) got sucked back in. And naturally, I was curious about some things, and he was sweet to let me share them with you. Have a look!

Vick Sacha: How long have you been promoting? What made you want to start booking shows?
Cory Coleman: The start was in summer of 2013, but I didn’t really grasp what I was
doing until December of that year. The first few shows I did were
absolutely terrible, admittedly; disorganized, maybe a dozen people
there, etc. As a lot of people my age, we’ve all been involved in this
scene/community in some way for a while. I remember I was 18, street
teaming and what not, then I went to performing, then I felt like I
could make some good shows happen. I got asked to help with some shows
over that summer, as I stated, but I made a giant 3-stage/32 band
festival in December that started off my Live Alive series. Of all of
them, I think you’ve been at one; I had Rings Of Saturn for one of
them in 2014.

VS: And alas, I ceased giving shits about them that night. Anyway, Who’s been your favourite band to bring into town?
CC: Its a few; Lakota De Kai, Kaonashi, Second Death, Motives. I don’t
really book bands that I’m not a fan of, or that I’m not close with,
so its really hard to narrow it down to favourites.

VS: Who are your favourite locals to work with?
CC: Favourite locals? Inertia is at the top of the list, even though I
probably annoy their drummer hard by always mentioning that they
should do a Calamity From The Skies reunion. Grizzly Run is filled
with people I’ve known for half of my life, and they are doing a great
job of blending their old school influences into a sound that isn’t
catering to popular metalcore, but isn’t exactly a throwback either.

VS: Who’s been awful to work with?
CC: Awful to work with; one was a pop-punk touring band that was just
basically pissed the whole time because they knew I had tried to drop
their tour, since the headliner (who was the only reason I took the
tour) dropped. They actually told me (not realizing I was the
promoter,) that they just wanted to “play their set and get out of
there,” The other was this rather….interesting kid, who booked his
“band” on a show of mine. For weeks, he told me he never received
tickets, so I told him to just bring whoever he could. Show time
happens, and not only is his “band” not there, but tickets are being
handed in that, because of the tracking on my ticketing site, were
his. Turns out, his “band” didn’t exist. Good news; he realistically
only scammed me out of like $16, so in the grand scheme, not that
crazy of a screwjob or anything. There was also a band from Watertown
I think, that hopped on a show that just had like a $6 ticket attached
to it, sold nothing, but told the venue that they were “promised” $60,
so the venue paid them and then made us pay them back. I have a good
solid 3-5 bands on my “blacklist” locally. And probably a dozen or so
on the larger scales.

VS: What’s your favourite currently open venue?
CC: My heart tells me I’m supposed to say Casa Di Francesca’s because
that’s where we do things, but honestly, I’m giving it to the Rec Room.
Chris Ring/After Dark did a fantastic job of creating a comfortable
venue that fits quite a crowd, but also gives people room to escape
with the upstairs areas. We actually had an event there in the first
few weeks, when we hosted Storming The Heavens. Might not be the last
one we do there either….so stay tuned.

VS: How about one that’s closed?
CC: Closed venue; SO MANY. I’ll say The Icon, loved the area there, I
wanted to look into reopening that myself, but it doesn’t appear to be
for sale. A runner-up mention is warranted for Palmeri’s in Niagara
Falls, and Evolution in Depew. I got to see ETID/Poison The
Well/others at Evolution, and up until last year, that was my favorite
ETID holiday show.

VS: If you could bring anyone to town that you haven’t already, who?
CC: Honestly, its dream-booking for me; I’d want to bring Poison The Well
or Drowningman back. I’ve got a lot of bands on my radar that I want
to bring here; The Drowned God, Lionheart, if the Jonbenet would stop
fucking teasing and give us a reunion, I’ll book that in a second.

VS: I don’t think that many people actually know you founded/ helped found
FTMP. Have you really been in the shadows more compared to your fellow
FTMP cohorts?
CC: I will correct that assumption; FTMP was created probably a full year
and a half before I joined on. As far as the shadows are concerned, it
wasn’t intentional, but it wasn’t displeasing to be considered in the
shadows compared to them. I was, and still am, very picky when it
comes to who/what I will book. So when I’m booking 1 show a month,
compared to the 12-15 my cohorts were doing, the shadows is where I
would be. Most knew I was part of the organization, they just rarely
saw me. One of the main differences I noticed between myself and the
remainder was that I would schedule shows around my job, where they
would schedule their job accordingly to ensure they could do all those
shows. Kudos to them for the time-management, but I just didn’t feel
the  need to book more than a couple times a month, so it was what it
was.

VS: You obviously had a falling out with Greg, can you briefly (and
vaguely, if you see fit) go through the sequence of events that led to
your decision to quitting?

CC: I have avoided this question for almost a full year. Not for lack of
things to say, not for any reason other than I didn’t think it would
benefit anyone.
To describe everything and do it justice, i’d have to write you a
thesis paper. To summarize, a lot of business decisions were made that
I didn’t agree with over a couple years before the falling out in
question. I’ve called it a “divorce,” and I remember being told that
the other side had proclaimed that “I didn’t share their vision”, and
that is probably the best way either of us would be able to put it. So
as much as mud-slinging could happen, I’d honestly rather leave it in
2018.

VS: If events panned out differently, would you still have stepped out of
the promoting game, even for a brief hiatus?
CC: What happened was less than desirable. In early December, I was
silently suffering from post-concussion syndrome, I was having trouble
sleeping to the point of hallucinating. It was physically making me
unable to function other than going to work, and even then I was
basically on autopilot. I couldn’t quit my job, so booking had to be
the one thing to go. So I made my sad announcement, and it was going
to be done. I had 5 shows left. The first one got cancelled due to
illness in the band, the second was due to all but one band dropping,
and the third was rerouted and I couldn’t secure the new date due to a
show that I found out did about 6 people. So out of that, I had 2
shows that went on as scheduled. I didn’t even attend what was my
“final” show; I hired someone to work that.
When I retired, I realistically wanted to possibly come back after
summer was over, do a couple shows to make amends for the cancelled
ones, and walk away with no regrets. Of course, when you go 2 for 5 in
the end of your run, you can’t be content with that. So, I discussed
rescheduling a couple things for a proper sendoff, ending my career
before the summer ended. That was the plan, however….

VS: You’ve been suckered back into promoting by a pretty solid group of
individuals. Who are they?  And how’d they convince you to come back,
especially so soon?
CC: The idea was to do a few shows with bands we wanted to bring here,
which has been my idea the whole time, just bringing bands we wanted
here. The grand scheme was to find/remodel and reopen a venue of our
choosing. This is still the plan, we’re just taking our time in doing
so, but we’re having fun booking the things we’ve done.
The agency itself is 5 people; myself, Felix Cruz & Ed Slowinski are
the “main” agents, so to speak. We’ve also contracted Rachel Surdi for
our design and marketing help because she’s amazing at what she does,
and Kahlil Sarikey from Inertia fame has stepped up to help us at
shows whenever his schedule aligns with ours, and I’m happy to have him
in any capacity, as he’s just an all-around great dude to be around.
I didn’t take much convincing after the initial comeback. It somehow
worked where the transition from my “tying up loose ends” May comeback
to a full-scale thing was seamless. I filed for our LLC, starting
purchasing new sound equipment to bolster the sound at our spots, and
we’ve generally been doing what we can to improve ourselves every
show.

VS: Why’d you choose the name, “The Chernobyl Agency”?
CC: When I first came back on the scene in 2013, I was the frontman for
critically-acclaimed (by maybe 3 people) metalcore band My Girl,
Chernobyl. The credit for the name goes to my dear friend Sarah, the
explanation behind it is very 2013 of me, as I’d proclaim “what girl
isn’t a meltdown?” Fast forward 6 years later, and I’m the meltdown at
this point.

VS: How did you convince a relatively fancy Italian restaurant to start
hosting metal/ hardcore shows?
CC: That happened by chance, I think we were going to just stick to
quieter/indie alternative shows there, but we took a chance and put a
heavier show there due to time frame, and it worked well. Ever since
then, we’ve had great success there, and honestly, the relationships
we have with our showgoers is essential to that. All I ever ask
patrons to do is make sure the respect the venue that is allowing us
to do this.

VS: CA hasn’t been around a whole year yet, but has already garnered
national attention.  Did you use this boost to your advantage?
CC: I saw us doing good things, but I did not see it happening this
quickly. I remember the national attention happened within a 4 day
time span; I got a call at work from an agent who wanted to ensure that
his act could find a last-minute show due make up for a cancellation.
This act ended up being Sworn In, and due to the unorthodox nature of
it being in an Italian restaurant, the internet was eating it up (pun
not intended, but not being taken out either). This has resulted in a
couple more bands coming under our radar, a few more things being
offered to us. Every show we do, we still have people telling us that
its wild that the restaurant is allowing us to do such a thing. I
think its great, I wish more venues would be open to the idea of
hosting things once in a while.

VS: What can we expect from CA in the future? Do you already have plans
for, er, expansion?
CC: Expansion has been talked about, mostly to further the reach of not
only our local bands, but the neighboring cities locals as well. I’ve
discussed adding a couple more people to the roster, but that will
probably come at a time when we book a non-metal show, as I’ve lost
touch with  a lot of the bands in the other genres. Mostly, we’re just
going to spend 2019 trying to put on crazy shows and even weirder
merch.

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