INTERVIEW: CORY COLEMAN (CHERNOBYL AGENCY)

Cory Coleman of Chernobyl Agency (2nd from the left) has been working hard to promote and facilitate underground shows in the Buffalo area for several years now. He’s been making huge strides for the metalcore and hardcore scenes especially, but most recently, Cory has been announcing a series of shows called DRAG ME TO THE ALTAR, showcasing a wide variety of styles. It’s people like Cory and his team that have the capacity to make Buffalo a “must” destination for touring bands. That’s why I wanted to catch up with him and cover his entire timeline as a promoter. Let’s get to it.

  1. When and how did you first decide to form the Chernobyl Agency?

In October of 2017. The whole idea was not to separate myself from my
former company as a whole, but to distinguish my brand of shows. As
everyone probably knows, that transition did not go as smoothly as
anyone wanted.

Back then, my appearances at events were limited (I’m almost certain
it took me until about 2018 to formally meet you.) So even to this
day, a few of the bands I’ve booked for recent shows knew who I was,
just have never actually seen me in person. So the ongoing joke is
that I am a “unicorn” of sorts in the scene.

But I was also in a band from 2013-2016 called My Girl, Chernobyl. So
the name came from that.

  1. Thinking back, what were some of the most memorable shows you can
    recall putting on, and why were they so important?

a. Inertia’s Teratoma release show. That show also ushered in the
feeling of a “renaissance” coming over the heavier music scene that I
hadn’t felt in some time. I also began my campaign for procuring some
random reunion/revival shows that night, in a hilarious way; I was
talking with Grizzly Run’s guitarist (Shawn Gomez,) I was explaining
to him that This Gun Smiles was one of the bands I wanted to bring
back, not realizing that he was, in fact, in that band as well.

b. Chernobyl’s first Mr. Goodbar show in July of 2018. Very few people
know this, but Goodbar stayed away from heavier music for roughly 20
years, and only gave it a shot due to a date opening up last minute.
That show featured the revival of Makhai along with others, but it
also ushered a new era for heavier fans, as well as the agency. What
began as a sort of “seasonal residency” at Goodbar, has blossomed into
double the schedule due to the success of it so far.

c. This show will get announced quite possibly after this publication
hits the stands and/or online, but the Inertia guys have been friends
and supporters of mine (and vice versa obviously) for quite some time,
and gracefully agreed to revive their former band, Calamity From The
Skies, for one night only as a pre-wedding gift to me. (Mike – If this
is hitting shelves before April 29th, you can consider this an
exclusive of sorts?)

  1. What do you currently have in the works that our readers should
    know about? This doesn’t have to be about shows, but anything
    connected to you in particular that involves the local music
    community.

I’ve felt the bug for a while, so I’m thinking about dusting off my
microphones and getting out there again as a vocalist.
I also have the Drag Me To The Altar event series, which has been
leading up to what was actually supposed to be my farewell show as a
promoter on August 27th (the day before my wedding.) However, in
booking these events, I realized how many people I’ve grown close with
over the years, and how I can still be a catalyst for the continued
growth of the community, even if its just a part-time situation.

  1. Where do you think your passion for booking and promoting comes from?

I’ve been going to shows since I was younger, and was always
fascinated with what it took to create those events. Even local
showcases were a thing of art in my eyes. Whether it was an EP
release, an absolute genre-bend, or an acoustic showcase at a small
bar, the amount of music flowing was almost overwhelming. I even went
to Villa Maria College specifically for their music business degree
back in 2003. Finally, 10 years later, on pure coincidence, I was
given a chance to create those events, and I’ll hope to continue
putting them on, even if its not a large schedule.

  1. Are you currently playing in an active band?

Active, no, but hopefully that will change in the not-distant future
if all can progress as I hope.

  1. Following that up, what instruments do you play?

I’ve dabbled on the drums, I have a little bit of experience as a
bassist in some other bands over the years, but I’ve primarily been a
vocalist, aside from that one time I tried to be the bassist for
Aspired Infliction for the night.

  1. When it comes to live sound, home recording, or just playing on
    stage or in the practice room, talk about some brands, makes, or
    models you swear by. This can cover any gear relevant to you, or the
    shows you put on.

Pig Hog cables haven’t done me wrong yet as far as cables are
concerned. I enjoy the Blue microphones, but there’s a special place
in my heart for my Shure Super 55 that I got after my previous band
dissolved, so I haven’t been able to get any work in on that one.

  1. Who are your go-tos for graphic design for flyers, AND audio
    engineers for live sound? Who do you think the rest of the scene
    should be investing in on the business side?

For graphic design, I’ve gone with the same person since 2014; Joey
Lanzillotto of Point Black Graphics, also co-owner of Horseheads venue
The L.

Audio engineers I haven’t really thought of go-tos, simply because any
and every sound engineer has the same blessing and the same curse; you
know what you’re doing, but someone is still going to complain about
it.

As far as business side is concerned, its not about what and who you
invest in, its about what you shouldn’t invest in. Investing in merch,
videography, design work, equipment is logical, it expects a long-term
game with a (hopefully) monumental return. What you shouldn’t invest
in? Sponsored ads on social media and “guest vocalists.” Both of them
for the same reason; if your talents aren’t catching the eye of your
local demographic, then there’s work to be done. Your favorite bands
spend years crafting up their best mixes, you didn’t create magic in 2
studio sessions and an email to a Rise Records vocalist.

  1. Plug any upcoming shows you have, or any shows in general you think
    people should be aware of.

Wasted Space will be unleashing their EP on May 21st, most of the
remaining Drag Me To The Altar shows should be announced by the time
this goes on the shelf.

I personally think fans in any scene should be on the lookout for the
festivals that are filling the void of yesteryears Warped and Mayhem
fests. Your favorite band from when you were 20 is reuniting for one
festival, and you don’t know it, but one (or more) of your new
favorite bands will be discovered on that very same stage that day.

  1. Plug your online presence. Where can we find you?

Chernobyl Agency page is active on Facebook. There’s no other social
media for it, but personally I’m on Instagram as @yourpaperarms, and I
just had to look it up because I barely use it, but I have the same
username on Twitter, so that’s neat.

*Taken from our May 2022 issue: “One Cold Spring in Buffalo”

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