History of Empire & Empire Extreme
Empire Extreme has a long and varied history. At the turn of the century, Josh Drespling was working his way through the ranks of the music business while plugging away at his day job in the print industry. He had birthed Deface Marketing as a sort-of collective of artists and musicians.
All the people involved with Deface Marketing agreed that they would promote each other and lend a helping hand to the other members of the collective. They shared equipment, shows, vans, and sometimes girlfriends. As the director of Deface Marketing, Josh was always tasked with putting together the advertising campaigns, websites, and press materials for all of the bands and artists involved. Being the frugal guy he is, Josh would print one band’s flyer on the back of another band’s flyer, thus cross-promoting them and saving some much needed cash. As the needs of the bands grew larger it was time to produce marketing pieces, promo photos, and all the peripheral material that magazines, newspapers, and radio stations loved to get, Josh had an idea.: “Let’s make our own magazine.” The magazine, that would come to be known as Empire, would contain articles, band interviews, and business and merchandise ads and would be made available and distributed to media outlets and fans.
After a five minute meeting with the other higher-ups in at Deface Marketing, the decision was made to make Empire Magazine happen. It only took a few weeks and the photos, interviews, and entire layout were complete. The staff was even able to sell a couple ads to outside businesses to help offset the printing costs.
When Empire Issue #1 rolled off the press, it included several interviews with other local bands and was a testament to the music scene in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. From the moment the first copies hit the street, we knew we were onto something big. From that point on, the locomotive that was Empire rocketed forward and exploded onto the scene nationally and internationally.
Over the next several months, Empire built a crew of reporters, writers, and artists, to attack the music industry on a grand scale. They dove in and began securing interviews and photo opportunities with some of the biggest bands in the country. Empire Extreme’s niche was featuring some of the biggest and brightest bands alongside the underground artist that deserved coverage, but were never offered the spotlight, thus garnering them the unheard of trifecta of respect from fans, bands, and labels alike.
Each issue grew larger and larger. Within sixteen months, Empire changed the name to Empire Extreme and went from a fledgling, home-made, self-promoted piece to a full-fledged print publication that had national distribution. Empire was distributed by Best Buy, National Record Mart, Hasting, 7- Eleven and nearly 100 other independent retailers.
Unfortunately, Empire Extreme got much too big, too fast. Being a self-financed project by a tiny company in Pittsburgh, the cost quickly outgrew the cash flow. Despite everyone’s love and dedication for Empire Extreme, the change in information delivery via the internet doomed a publication like Empire Extreme. The doors were shuddered and the 100,000 plus unique monthly visitors to the Empire Extreme website were left out in the cold.
Fast forward to 2014… Josh Drespling and Jason L. Nelson got together to talk about music and bands, but the conversation somehow migrated to the good ‘ole days of Empire. They both agreed that it was time to resurrect the ghost and embrace the new and exciting digital age. This meeting would be the catalyst of many discussions over the next year that would help direct the reemergence of Empire Extreme. This time, it would be a bigger, stronger, and more efficient running machine. It will still serve our niche market of hard, heavy, and extreme musical acts and it’s still built on the premise that there are so many great bands that go unrecognized, both in the local markets and touring the nation. We are here to introduce the public to all of these hidden gems by aligning them with the monstrous names you know and love.
Empire Extreme is alive and well, pouring out of the minds and hearts of a dedicated staff that is only paid in free concert tickets, the ability to mingle with their heroes, and a bit of notoriety.