MelodicRock Records founder states why he passed on Steel City’s debut which prompts backlash

MelodicRock Records founder states why he passed on Steel City’s debut which prompts backlash

Kivel Records has recently announced a number of new bands to its label. Steel City featuring guitarist Mike Floros (Idora) and lead vocalist Bryan Cole will be releasing their debut album Fortress via Kivel Records on February 19, 2018. The album was produced by Johnny Lima. As is the case with most bands, Steel City apparently shopped their recordings around looking for the best deal from a label. One label that Steel City apparently approached was MelodicRock Records, which is spearheaded by Andrew McNeice who has been running the MelodicRock website for about two decades.

A message thread was started on MelodicRock‘s Noticeboard about Steel City on January 9, 2018 and eventually McNeice posted the following comment later on that day: “I passed on the album. Didn’t do it for me I’m sorry to say.”

Eventually, McNeice gave more details on his decision to pass on Steel City‘s debut album as he stated on January 11, 2018:

“So let’s take a good look at this.

First of all – despite my personal decision to have nothing to do with this label due to the person running it and the fact this is my site that I pay for – I still allow you and Mr. TTS to regularity add topics related to their releases here. That fact alone should clearly demonstrate my unbiased approach.

Secondly – on the topic of this album – it was shopped to me mid-last year and in the state it was in at that time, I considered it unlistenable. It was horribly produced and the songs required work.

It most certainly did not match the standards I try and maintain at MelodicRock Records.

Plus I wasn’t alone in that assessment.

Vocalist Bryan Cole himself was sending me multiple messages stating his unhappiness with the way it sounded, how his vocals were mixed and some performance aspects. He was asking what I could do to fix it. He clearly stated he didn’t want to be associated with it if it was to sound like it did.

I was considering options when I was informed Bryan wanted to leave MRR to search for a bigger label that could accommodate his requested recording budget for album #2. I’ve always held the view that if an artist isn’t happy, or has a better opportunity elsewhere, then they should go with my blessing.

Once Bryan made that decision I stopped considering this record. It found itself a home as TTS has pointed out, and most likely some improvements have been sought. I don’t know, I haven’t heard it.

So I hope my detailed explanation shows the clear thinking behind my decision and also shows proof of my willingness to do the right thing by artists, despite certain associations.

Steel City lead vocalist Bryan Cole

On that subject – after 20 years in this business, I believe I have every right to pick and choose who I promote. The only reason any artist or label is not represented here is because they are either: dishonest, disingenuous or just plain old dislikable. And you have to do a lot to finally be tagged as one of those 3 things (or all 3!)

Cheers and thanks for reading.”

McNeice then posted the following message on his Facebook account today:

“For those interested, I’ve posted a comment in reply to another, about me passing on a recent album shopped around (why I did pass), leading to an additional comment on why I choose not to deal with a few select artists or labels.

Read the complete comment via the link below. But on what I base my decisions on:

“On that subject – after 20 years in this business, I believe I have every right to pick and choose who I promote. The only reason any artist or label is not represented here is because they are either: dishonest, disingenuous or just plain old dislikable. And you have to do a lot to finally be tagged as one of those 3 things (or all 3!)”

Seems timely that I post this after clearing out a few on my “friends” list here. If you’re reading this, congrats, you’re one of the good people”

McNeice‘s Facebook post sparked a number of positive and negative comments.

Steel City‘s producer Johnny Lima stated on the same Facebook thread, which prompted more exchanges between McNeice and Lima.

“Oh for fuck’s sake Andrew. Why are you trying to sabotage this album? I’ve read on a number of occasions, where you said things like “I passed on this album”, “The production isn’t up to my standards”. However, I need to call bullshit here. And I’m starting to see that your legion of ball swingers are now jumping on your bandwagon and licking your ass and “agreeing” with you. Same ol social media diarrhea. Say something enough times, get enough people to repeat it and it becomes truth. What you’re doing is making people have a negative opinion on an album they haven’t even fucking heard yet. This genre of music is tiny, and this immature negative bullshit I see being swung back and forth isn’t doing the genre any good.

Andrew, you and I have been friends for years, and I love you man, but I thought you had more class than this. I thought you were in this business for the right reasons. To help promote a dying breed of music. Regardless if it’s on your label or not. But lately you’ve become a very negative and vindictive person. Your personal vendetta you have with John Kivel is better addressed privately with John and not on social media. We understand your butthurt that Bryan Cole is no longer working with you cause you didn’t want to give him any money to make his new album. Cool, so you like getting free shit from artists and making a profit out of it. That’s your business model, and if it works for you, great! Not going to fault you for that.

Johnny Lima

But since Mike Floros, Bryan Cole, and John Kivel are friends of mine, and I mixed this album you seem to think sounds like shit, I feel the need to chime in and and bring you back from the dark space that you are in. Bring you back to REALITY. Reality is, you’ve never produced, mixed, engineered, or even wrote a song (that I know of). So I’m not sure why you think it’s important for you to comment on the production of an album you had nothing to do with. Unless you want to try to make it fail in which case, I say that’s a real DICK move on your part. I just finished listening to the Steel City masters again, and compared them to some of your releases and it totally stands up to your releases, and dare I say, sounds better than most of them. Is the Steel City the greatest album ever made. No it’s not, but neither are any of your releases.

Mike Floros and Bryan Cole worked really hard and made a pretty damn cool album on a tiny budget and I wouldn’t come on here defending it if I didn’t think so. I got paid for my services in full, so I have no other financial gain from this album. But most importantly, they are really good people, who love this tiny genre of music, and don’t deserve this petty fucking bullshit I’m reading on social media. You guys should be ashamed. But from my perspective (which is more accurate than yours or the people swinging from your nut sack), this album has some really great songs, and there’s nothing wrong with the production. Especially considering it was recorded in a bedroom studio and mixed in my home studio. So Andrew, be careful on how many times you slam the production of this album because I’m pretty sure once people listen to it their going to realize your ears may be full of wombat shit. And Eric Ragno, I love you man, but let’s hear some of your productions and compare them to this album when it’s released. I’m talking about an album, you produced, mixed, engineered, and wrote.

But I want you and your minions to know this is a pretty cool melodic rock album and when it’s released, listen to it with an open mind. Clean out the w And if you’re a fan of melodic rock, I’m sure you’ll dig this album. But if any of you are going to hate on this album just because Andrew says to, or because you don’t like John Kivel because you “heard” he rips people off,”

Kivel Records‘ principal John Kivel took exception to McNeice‘s comments as he posted the following Facebook message today (with slight edits):

“So Andrew McNeice wants to spin things. Here is my view on the situation. Enjoy the read folks. And no, it is respectful and just matter of fact. Like some said, theres two sides to every story. True, but everything is not as it seems.

Steel City guitarist Mike Floros

oK…….Time to speak up on a few things. I may regret this, but frankly, I don’t care anymore. This is a small genre/scene. It is not something we are going to become “rich” in. I always say live within your means and try to do your best. Most of all be proud of what you are doing and rock that palette of passion as if it drives you.

I don’t believe in public airing laundry or slamming others trying to carve out their lil corner in the scene. I do my best to congratulate others and even give shout outs and nods to people that are making strives in this scene.

I try and look the other way when others choose an opposite mindset. One that is more negative if you will. I find it sad, petty and frankly unprofessional that a person that should be focused on promoting his brand, product , festival etc. rather than taking pot shots, trash talk and snide comments at other labels such as Frontiers and myself. Spouting vitriol hate over Eddie Trunk , seriously? WHY? Going on about how you “passed” on bands on other labels (this was said about several bands recently, not just “one”) Who does that? WHY? Do you think this makes you look better? Superior? You know there’s a legend/rumor that a certain A+R guy passed on Nirvana. I bet $$ he may be regretting that move. What you think?

My point is this, there is no purpose of such a public airing and dismissive boasting that comes from such comments. So honestly, why ya got to be so mean (yes I quoted Taylor Swift) You claim that you “allow” various people to post about my bands on your noticeboard (ie open forum) as if doing some sort of favor. What you leave out in that facebook thread you got going on defending your stance is, you never ignore a chance to post a negative/petty comment in those said threads about me. So forgive me for questioning your sincerity and that i find it funny that you split hairs on your wall as having no vendetta when you say in threads /open forums you will not have anything to do with THAT label and include insults. Which you is your right. However why do you feel the need to express that every time my name is mentioned? Odd since you claim theres no vendetta.

You know I passed on an act that ended up on your label. I didn’t post in threads when people mention them. I don’t comment on the material , what I think pro or con. Or why I may have passed. Simple, NONE OF ANYONE’S BUSINESS and would frankly be rude of me to do so. Ironically I recently gave kudos to this one band for making strides with their album and made a nice post telling people to support them and go out and buy their new album on YOUR label. Why did I do that? Why not? See if someone else succeeds, it only helps everyone else succeed. Nothing to be gained by tearing someone down and undermining their release. For the record my reason for passing on this band had nothing to do with the quality of the band or album. My reasons were I had a lot on my plate when said person came to me and I honestly felt that although good, it wasn’t what I look for. So I don’t want anyone to think I’m going tit for tat and returning fire here in regards to my comparison.

Now let me say this Andrew. You need to worry about yourself, your brand and your business. STOP slamming pretty much everyone in the scene. If you think it will ultimately win you favor, you’re mistaken. Perhaps there is a small group that may align and even share similar sentiment with you. However that does not justify or validate petty behavior, and YES that is what it is.

When you tell artists that you are interested in working with them, as soon as you find out (or even suspect) they are going to work with me, you spout some entertaining insults. Even try to deter them from working with me. But what gets me the most is the fact that you will tell them that you will NOT promote them or the album (which is your right) if they work with me. Again PETTY.

Let me remind you of your mission statement, is it not to help the scene? Help it thrive.? Turn people onto bands and new music? So why do you allow a personal opinion, vendetta, pettiness who knows, call it what you want. To dictate promoting music? All you do is ultimately you punish innocent bands, that the day before you wanted to work with. You hinder your readers and fans of the genre hearing a band they may like. Which, AGAIN is fine and your right to do so. However its kinda of hypocritical when you complain that Frontiers doesnt help YOU and say they are hurting the scene because they wont help you with your festival.

As for you not promoting my bands, I’m doing just fine without your help and despite what you like to tell people, my numbers are not dwindling. Again you should worry about yourself and not taking pot shots at me. I can assure you, I don’t concern myself with how well you are doing.

So Andrew, focus on your show, and I honestly wish you the best of success possible with it. When people ask me if Kivel Records will be there, I respond with “No we will not, but I’m sure it will be a great weekend and Andrew will throw a helluva a party. Have FUN”. I have said that privately and in public threads. I do not comment further or shed any light into why i will not be present for the first time at MRF.

Not once have I ever spouted something similar to your comments about me, my bands and products to others. OR calling customers “CULT MEMBERS”. BTW Andrew, some of those “CULT MEMBERS” customers of mine are also your customers as well. Not smart to insult people that may buy your product.

So again good luck, hope the show is a success and you kill it with the merch. I will do the same with all my 018 planned endeavors and focus on me. It should not be a competition it should not be petty behavior and it should be about MUSIC and that music should be enjoyed by all.”

Eventually, Steel City guitarist Mike Floros replied as well on the Facebook thread stating:

“Ok, I’ve refrained for months. The slamming of Johnny Lima, a good friend, has ultimately pushed me to respond. To be clear, I submitted to Andrew and did so out of respect to Bryan, who was signed to MRR at the time. I had opportunities from other labels and ultimately chose the label that I felt was best suited for me and for Steel City. We are a better fit for John Kivel & Kivel Records, plain and simple. Nothing wrong with that.

Andrew, if you’d like to continue to tell people that you passed, feel free, but know this: I passed on you long before you made your decision and that is the honest-to-God‘s truth. I waited for your reply, again, out of respect, but my mind was already made up. Further, I don’t have a problem saying that you’ve passed, as I know some bands on your label have been passed by other labels, as well. Not a fit for them but great for you. Fantastic. Here’s the difference, though. Those labels? They keep it to themselves out of respect to the scene and the bands. Whether you believe it or not, repeatedly & openly stating that you “passed” strikes a negative connotation among many and smacks of attempts at derailment. It also can appear narcissistic.

This is a small scene. I find it both alarming and disheartening that by the actions of a few people, there is great division on it. I have never seen John Kivel speak ill of you, nor has anyone from his camp, even as you continue to speak negatively about all of us. I have seen you call him evil on multiple occasions. Further, all anyone has done has wished you, your label, and your bands well. I have purchased several of your releases, even as you continued to publicly bash me, my friends, and my label, on people’s personal Facebook pages. I’ve gone so far as to say that I’d be in Chicago for MRF5 to help support the scene and to rock with my friends, some of whom are artists on your label.

In closing, I would suggest simply promoting your bands, your festival, and your business dealings. Ultimately, let the people decide without trying to sabotage the hard work of others, simply based on your personal feelings towards people.

This is the only time I’ll comment on this matter. First and last. Please don’t make me retract that promise.”

Steel City Promo:

Steel City Promo by Kivel Records

A perfect union of Arena Guitars and Power House vocals. All combined with a wall of HUGE Harmonies which are meant to be showcased on stages big and small. Featuring Mike Floros Guitars and Bryan Cole Lead Vocals. Come together to form STEEL CITY