When former Juno judge David Hall looked at the nominees for this year's Metal/Hard Music Album of the Year award, something stood out for him: long-running Canadian progressive metal band Voivod weren't on the list, and melodic punkers the Flatliners were. Hall was so taken aback, in fact, that he started a rapidly growing online petition this week to get Voivod added to the shortlist.
"It just totally shocked me," Hall, who also runs Ontario-based independent metal record Handshake Inc., tells Exclaim! "It's impossible to know every band in the world, but I like to think when it comes to metal, and especially Canadian metal, I've at least heard of most bands. So when I was reading the list, I was like, 'the Flatliners'? I thought they must be some new up and coming metal band I don't know. So I double checked, like, five times that I had the right Flatliners… I just thought, 'That can't be, there's just no way.'"
Both Voivod and the Flatliners released albums last year (Target Earth and Dead Language, respectively), but only the latter made the shortlist of nominees. Voivod's management confirmed to Exclaim! that Target Earth was submitted to the Junos for consideration. But the Flatliners made it to the shortlist of nominees while Voivod didn't, and Hall is questioning if they should even be in the Metal/Hard Music category.
"Some people are coming back and saying the Flatliners are punk and the category is 'Metal/Hard Music.' It just doesn't seem right to me," he says, stressing that this is not an attack on the Flatliners (who declined to be interviewed for this story). "I don't hate that band, I have nothing against them, and I'm not trying to be critical."
To raise awareness of what he sees as a "mistake," Hall started an online petition on Tuesday (February 4) to get Voivod added to the shortlist. Called "Voivod is metal, The Flatliners are not: fix this mistake JUNOS," the petition — which Voivod have shared via Facebook — has, as of press time, 600 signatures (and, yes, there is more than one reference to the infamous 1989 Jethro Tull/Metallica Grammy debacle in people's comments).
Hall says that he doesn't think that it will be possible to actually get the Flatliners off the list of nominees and Voivod on it with his petition, but he says that he hopes that it will get people thinking about what heavy music is.
"I'd like to be able to hopefully raise awareness about Voivod's album, which is a great album, and I think is as deserving as [other nominees] Gorguts, Anciients, KEN Mode and Protest the Hero in the metal category. I hope that it will in the future have the judges or the committee consider a bit more carefully what could qualify as metal and hard. I hope that from a more positive standpoint it will foster a lively debate and discussion about what heavy music is and get people to just think about it."
A spokesperson for the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, who operate and manage the Junos, provided Exclaim! with this statement regarding the situation:
The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) does not have control, nor can they influence the outcomes of the voting process. The judges are highly qualified, genre specific music industry personnel. Each category has 10 new judges every year that represent all facets of the industry, all provinces and territories of Canada, and both official languages. The judges cast a secret ballot in which they rank their top ten artists/groups in their assigned category.
As for Voivod, the band's management offered this statement to Exclaim!:
The band are busy preparing for shows in Japan, China, Australia, Chile, Peru, Brazil, USA and Europe after a year off from touring and look forward to supporting their new record Target Earth which was listed in Rolling Stone and every major rock publication around the world as one of the best metal records of 2013. They have no comment regarding the Junos.
When asked if he has anything to say to the Flatliners, Hall reiterates that this isn't anything personal against them.
"I don't wish them any ill will," he says. "It has nothing to do with them. I guess it was their decision to submit in that category. From the comments on the petition, that seems to be the general consensus as well. I think most people who like Voivod, they're not going to be meatheads. They'll be progressive thinkers and realize this is not about Flatliners trying to be anti-Voivod; they never set out to take that spot, they're just sort of in the wrong place at the wrong time."
Besides, Hall says that maybe this can all work in their favour, too.
"At the end of the day, the Flatliners definitely won't suffer; if anything, they're going to get more people checking them out."
You can see the petition over here.
This is the third year the Junos have had the Metal/Hard Music category. KEN Mode won the award in 2012 and Woods of Ypres won it in 2013.