Hellbound’s Origins #2: The Whys and Hows

I had originally meant to do this post along with the photos I put up last week (see HO’s #1) but didn’t have the time right then and there to collect my thoughts and put them down. Better late than never I suppose.

I’ve had a few people ask me why this site is named Hellbound; what prompted the decision to give this site that moniker. So I thought I’d take a few minutes to explain the whys and hows of the name and the creation of this site. Hellbound isn’t a term I came up with. It’s not even a term that I have any sort of real attachment to. It’s more or less something that came to me by just trying to help out the local metal scene in my community.

I’ve been involved with college radio on and off since going to university in 1991. In my first month of school at York University I befriended one of the hosts at the school’s CHRY-FM station and spent pretty much every Thursday afternoon there for the next year sitting in (well, probably more like annoying) a really nice dude named Ken Sum. He did an open format show but was a former thrasher that was getting into all kinds of music – playing everything from Voivod to Phleg Camp to Sun Ra – and I just sat there week after week and soaked it in.

Through Ken I met the station’s metal hosts and started sitting in on the two Tuesday night metal shows (the latter of which was hosted by a gentleman who has become well known in Canada and Sweden as Danko Jones) for the next year or so. When the host of the first show quit I figured my little spurt playing Kreator, Vader and Cathedral records was over but it didn’t end there. He later moved to CKLN in downtown Toronto, taking over Brian Taylor’s Aggressive Rock show, and asked me to help out. I eventually took over the show from him and did it for the next three years until late 1996.

After a few years off, a few gigantic moves and some work experience in the US at one of the best metal labels ever, I found myself in Hamilton, Ontario and was soon doing a radio show on one of the local stations, CFMU-FM. They weren’t too keen on playing metal before midnight (and still aren’t), so I started with a late night show but, due to work commitments, switched to a more agreeable early evening show that concentrated on my other musical love, psychedelic rock. I did a few different shows at CFMU from 1998 until 2004, giving up after we realized that trying to work full-time, write part-time and do a radio show with a new born baby was way too much for my wife and I to handle. Bye bye CFMU.

I kind of figured that college radio was behind me. I started writing for a few more places that asked me, like Adrian Bromley’s Unrestrained! Magazine, and even considered trying my hands at podcasting (I think we made two episodes before scrapping that) and was pretty content not doing a radio show anymore until something resonated with me during a call with a local program director at the city’s other college radio station. Jamie “Gunner” Smith has been in charge of Mohawk College’s C101.5 FM for about half a decade now and he’s a funny guy, very easy to get along with.

Long before Gunner got there, I used to deliver issues of Exclaim! to their office on the weekends and had asked the then-station manager about the possibility of doing a show there, as the station was just about to get an FM license and not be cable only. Dude offered me a country show Sunday mornings from 6:00 till 9:00 AM. Fuck that! Gunner didn’t know about that, it was before his time, but I’m sure I’ve told him the story since.

During our call, Gunner mentions that the dude that was doing their metal show, Hellbound Radio, wrapped his car around a tree commuting back and forth from London to Hamilton and packed it in. He said that he didn’t know what was going to happen with the show and that if he couldn’t find a host there wouldn’t be a metal show at the station anymore.

I didn’t listen every week, but I would often tune into Hellbound Radio on a Friday night. The kid that did the show – the telephone wrapper dude – had a different take on metal than I did. He would always play the “big” bands like Pantera, Lamb of God, Cannibal Corpse on a weekly basis. He even named his show after a Pantera song, one that I don’t really like.

Since Hellbound Radio was the only metal show in the city at the time, I knew it should continue and offered right away to take over the show as soon as he’d put me on the air. I told him I’d find a few co-hosts and could do a kick ass three hour program every week on one condition – move the show to Sunday nights. He agreed and within two weeks I had gathered up a posse of passionate metal fans centered around myself and Kevin Stewart-Panko and we’ve been there pretty much every Sunday from 9 PM till midnight ever since. It’ll be three years next month.

Kevin and I have both been writing about metal for at least fifteen years. Through CKLN I met Ian Danzig and started writing for Exclaim!. I started their metal section in 1995 and helped get Kevin started writing for them. He had already written for years before that, doing his own zine, Doomhauled. When I moved to the US, our mutual friend became Exclaim’s third metal writer. Chris Gramlich is now associate editor of that magazine a dozen years later. Kevin’s written and/or writes for pretty much every metal publication that matters: Terrorizer, Metal Maniacs, Metal Hammer, Rock Sound, Unrestrained!, etc, etc. I knew he’d be a great co-host and I enjoy every Sunday night doing the show with him.

Both of us had been writing for Unrestrained! and Metal Maniacs for the past few years. We’ve gone to and coveredmetal fests together for those magazines, traded CDs to each other, swapped writing assignments, etc. When our pal Adrian Bromley passed away in December, Unrestrained! ceased to exist. A few months later the publishers of Metal Maniacs pulled the plug on it despite it still generating revenue each and every issue. This left Kevin with two less places to write for and pretty much killed my two main metal writing gigs. That finally got me off my ass to start this site.

My wife had been suggesting to me for years that I should start a metal reviews site. She figured I knew enough good writers and knew enough about the music that I could edit my own webzine. She, as usual, was right. It took the unfortunate closing of the two places I was writing for to do it, but I took the final bit of cash I got from Maniacs, registered an URL and paid for a year’s worth of hosting. I asked some of my closest metal friends, as well as some of my favourite Canadian metal writers, to contribute to it and polled them on a few different name possibilities. The most popular one was www.hellbound.ca.

Everyone said the same thing – the name is simple and it ties in well with the radio show. This is true. It does tie in well, although I am starting to feel that the radio show is a good companion to the webzine and not vice versa. We’ve been “live” here at Hellbound since June 1st and it’s starting to feel like home.

We’ve got a good crew of passionate, enthusiastic, opinionated metal fans contributing and they are damn good writers too. Much better than me, truth be told. I’m so glad to have each and every one of them here and hope they know how much I appreciate them.

So, in case I haven’t mentioned it, thank you to all of you, for making Hellbound a better site than it would be without you.


Sean Palmerston

Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.