Blogger Spotlight: Dave Luttrull (Hellhound Music)

Hello and welcome to a new week of industry-focused content here on the official blog of Haulix. We took Monday off in honor of Labor Day and are now ready to dive back into coverage with another spotlight feature on a talented writer who is making waves in the alternative scene. If you have a suggestion for a site or writer you would like to see us featuring in the coming weeks, please do not hesitate to email james@haulix.com and share your story.

We have learned time and time again that no two people working in the music industry today have the same origin story. Like the caped crusaders filling comic books worldwide, the people who make a career out of music do so by carving their own niche into an already thriving world. They offer something unique to those willing to listen (or read) that could very well change the way things work, and today’s spotlighted talent is no exception.

Dave Luttrull founded Hellhound Music in 2004 after becoming a staple of his local music scene. He worked his way up from fan to someone bands turned to for advice, and that year (nearly a decade ago) marked his first professional turn in the music as a manger for a variety of regional acts. Hellhound launched shortly thereafter as an avenue to help give his musician friends a backing in the music industry, and just a few short years later it evolved into one of the most reputable online destinations for alternative music news, emerging acts, and features. None of this happened overnight, of course, and in today’s feature we’ll learn how it all came together.

If you would like to learn more about Dave and his work, be sure to visit (and bookmark) Hellhound Music. Any additional questions regarding the site can be added in the comments section at the end of this post.

H: For those unaware, please state your name, the site you work for, and your role at said site:

DL: My name is Dave Luttrull and I run Hellhound Music. I handle most of the day to day posting/writing on the site, scheduling interviews and corresponding with industry folk.

H: We have over half a decade of Hellhound to review, but let’s start with your origin story first. To whom or what do you attribute your interest in music?

DL: Music has been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember. I have a fairly strong background in Punk and Hardcore stemming from my younger years as a skate rat. Most of my adolescent years were spent skating and exploring music that was off the beaten path.

H: What was the first album you purchased with your own money? Do you still own that record today?

DL: If memory serves me correctly, the first album I ever purchased on my own was a Broken Bones Never Say Die 12” EP, which I do still have that to this day.

H: As we will soon learn, Hellhound is more than just a news site. What attracted you to entertainment writing in the first place, and how did you first get your start in the music industry?

DL: I never really intended to take this route in the music industry even though I had always been interested in this side of it as a fan. My initial steps toward the music industry was speared on by friends in local bands in here in Virginia because I attended a lot of shows and helped out bands from time to time. Several bands were like “Hey Dave, you should be our manager”.

H: Okay, now to Hellhound. When did you decide to start the company, and how did it evolve from a management focus to one that also included news coverage?

DL: HHM was started as an avenue to promote and book shows from the handful of bands that I was managing and or promoting at the time. (2004). I spent the majority of that part of my life booking shows, setting up recording, photo/video shoots and reaching out to the industry to gain exposure for my artists. During that time, I reached out to the now defunct Rane Clothing as a sponsorship relationship. As time went on, my relationship grew leaps and bounds with RC, who also was putting out a monthly zine called Rane Zine. RZ was doing interviews and also publishing submitted music news in an interactive format. I was invited to join the team and soon after was in charge of the overall content for each month. During those years, RZ was converted into a daily blog and instead of us chasing down content, it was being sent directly to us. It became way too much content to put out monthly so we began posting daily. After a few years, Aeron (RC President), decided to move on into different things and turned over Rane Zine to me, at which point it, was absorbed into Hellhound Music. This was the birth of what HHM is today.

H: Where does the name Hellhound come from? Were there any other names being tossed around before you settled on that one?

DL: I have always been a big Misfits fan. It’s a Misfits song. I have been using the hellhound as a screen name since the 90’s on AOL chat, (old)Myspace and all the other relic social networks. There was never any other name even thought about, just the suffix. I settled on Music because it seemed to be much more broad to use. It would work for a site, record label, management company and any other industry field we decided to pursue.

H: In addition to the typical coverage of news and opinion pieces, Hellhound has a recurring video series that features widespread coverage of the rock world. When did you begin integrating original video content? Would you say the demand for such content has risen, dropped, or remained the same in recent years?

DL: Our video coverage is still in its infantile stage. I have always wanted to implement a lot more of it just never really had the equipment to do it to the quality I would like. It is a resource that is pretty untapped by us up to this point. Video coverage is huge now, social networking has made it so easy to access and share that sort of content. It has probably become one of the most important aspects of the music industry. We definitely want to push ourselves to provide much more of that to our readers. We currently have a few video projects in the works.

H: You have a team of contributors that help keep Hellhound working around the clock. What makes a great contributor?

DL: I myself am consumed by HHM. It is one of my children for sure. It is always on my mind and I am constantly working on the site. We have a small team these days as contributors tend to come and go for the most part. Our mainstay is Myself, Jason Buonviri (my right hand since the inception of HHM), Matt Crane and Harley Hughes. We have a few others that submit interviews and photography (For those that do, thank you. I sincerely appreciate it. We also have a handful of Suicide Girls who do interviews and album reviews from time to time. To me, a great contributor is someone that realizes that this is work. It isn’t really an avenue to meet bands, fan girl/boy and expect a ton of personal gain from it. Realize that and you’re golden. Have I made tons of friends in the industry of the years because of this, yeah sure, but it was because I was willing to spend the overwhelming majority my time to promote something I believed in.

H: As someone who has been in blogging for the better part of a decade, what are some of the more common mistakes you see young sites/writers make? Do you have any advice to those just starting out in writing?

DL: Our site is ever evolving. We still make mistakes, try things that just don’t turn out the way we’d hoped. You just have to keep pushing. We are never fully satisfied with our content. We strive to be better all the time. For writers starting out, I guess that depends on what their overall goals are. If they are looking to build a website, be ready for tough road. Fame and fortune doesn’t come over night, if it ever does. You will never be the only site out there. Those emails you are getting are also going out to 3000 other people. The industry is fickle and you have to prove yourself 10 fold to most of the industry to be considered a viable avenue to promote its artists. This is no picnic, it is a lot of work and yes money….a lot more than you may think. In the end it’s worth it 100%. There isn’t a day that goes by that I am not proud of what we have built.

H: Some have said the rise of social media in recent years has lessened the need for critics. Do you agree?

DL: Tough question. I think there will always be a need for unbiased opinions. With bands being so f-ing accessible it has spawned a legion of fangirls/boys who really have little regard for the actual quality of content. That just creates overly bloated egos and a complacency when it comes to writing. There is definitely a need for those to say “Yeah, you look cute on stage but your music is subpar, tighten up”.

H: You feature a number of up and coming acts on your site, not to mention working with others to help further develop their career. Where do you go when you want to discover new talent?

DL: I have been lucky enough to have gained the interest of a vast amount of labels, management companies, publicists and bands. I discover new talent daily directly through our site or our email for the most part. I will stumble upon the odd band from time to time while soundcloud is on random or if we are covering a show that another band approaches us about working with us.

H: What advice would you offer someone who wanted to increase their chances of sticking out from the plethora of bands vying for your attention via email or other form of submission?

DL: We get a lot of email submissions through the site and social networks. I prefer to be approached through the site. One, that means they were checking out the site =) and Two, email is much more convenient for me. If an artist or band presents us with a well written submission with all the information in one place, 9 times out of 10 I will post them. With the mass amount of posting we do a day, there just isn’t time to track down photos, bios, links etc. Not saying I don’t ever, I just prefer to have it all right in front of me.

H: When it comes to receiving music for review and feature consideration, which services do you prefer and why?

DL: I myself enjoying putting together artists features, especially if it is a band I have never heard before that I find rad. I also enjoy interviews, but the artist features are where my heart is at. I feel like they get appreciated more by the artist as well. Reviews definitely get more hits, yeah….I LOVE hits but I would be lying if I said that matters most to me. I just want to be loved *haha

H: How do you feel about album leaks? Are they preventable?

DL: Album leaks have just become part of the deal. In an effort to reach more and more people, new music is sent out all over the world. To be honest, it can’t be prevented. Human nature is human nature. Ya know. Not everyone abides by the rules and that will always be the case. I am pretty sure my friends gave up on getting free music from me a long time ago.

H: If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?

DL: If you’re an artist, treat it as such. Stop the trend of being a musician to be a musician and not to express your artistry. Most of my favorites bands are artists, they write music as an expression not because it sounds good to that guitar riff or bass line. Write music that you want everyone to hear not music that everyone wants to hear.

H: Before we let you go, can you tell us a bit about what you have planned in the months ahead?

DL: We actually have a ton planned for the coming months. There will be a complete overhaul and recoding of the site. The content will not change, just the format and ease of navigation. We recently purchased new HD video equipment and gear to begin filming a lot more interviews and one off music sessions with artists. We already have several lined up and looking forward to getting those out to our readers. There are also a few bands that will be taking part of our tour life video series. We will be sending handheld cams out with bands on tour to get a look at the day to day like of being on tour. I am working towards getting back to sponsoring more events and potentially sponsoring our first tour.

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.