By Nikki Hedrick
Once upon a time, underground music was kept alive through street teams, homemade magazines, band flyers on light posts, and word of mouth. Our connectedness through the Internet has changed the way bands get the word out, but the need for marketing remains the same.
Kerry Thibodaux is the national president and co-founder of Gulf Coast Metal Alliance (GCMA), an organization that aims to help metal bands by creating an active network of members.
According to Thibodaux, GCMA began after five perennial bands, spanning from four states, shared a Pensacola stage. KillHammer, Grimwar, Dark Star Coven, D.R.E.A.D., and Omen of Ruin began kicking around the idea of an alliance, a way to help each other and build the metal scene.
“The scene, it fluctuates, and it has for the past 20, 25 years,” says Thibodaux. “So basically, what we’re trying to do is make it just to where people have a bigger scene, a bigger show, and a better time. And so far, it’s doing pretty well. We’re going into North Carolina, Tennessee. We’re talking to people in Georgia, and we’re talking to people in Texas as well. It’s just not about bands, it’s about people that actually go to shows and support the bands.”
GCMA membership is done through a vetting process, but there is no cost involved. “What we do is we filter through people, and we make sure that they are what they are, and that they want a better scene and that. We kind of have a No Douchebag or a No Asshole policy. That goes for clubs, that goes for venues, just people in general. We try not to mix what we have going with anything bad or negative.”
GCMA is built on an idea of community, celebrating birthdays with metal shows and arranging a festival at Jimmy’s Jukebox in Fort Walton Beach in collaboration with the online community Throat Punch Metal in March.
That concept of community also applies in the face of tragedy. Beckah Brown, the 25-year-old drummer of Ithaqua and I Like I Like, passed away unexpectedly last November.
“We’ve been just shaking jars at different events that we’ve gone to, to try and raise money for the family. Bands are going to be donating all kinds of stuff for auctions,” says Thibodaux. “We’re just trying to alleviate that from her family (medical and funeral expenses), because we were all family, too.” The benefit is Saturday, Jan. 18, at Jimmy’s Jukebox, starting at 2 PM.
Ithaqua bandmate Marcus DeGagne remembers Brown for her drive. “The four of us, including my mother Jacquelyn Maggelet, met in the lounge at Enlightened Studios. We started talking about doing joke metal covers of bands like Blink-182 and Green Day. Beckah kinda just looked at us, and plainly said, ‘Look, if you guys wanna do this as a joke, I’m out. I wanna do this for real, I want to make it in music and I will literally let nothing f—ing stop me.’ That’s when I knew she was perfect for our band.”
To learn more about GCMA and the upcoming benefit for Beckah Brown’s family, visit www.gulfcoastmetalalliance.com.