PeripheryTravis Shinn

Misha Mansoor On Periphery’s Popularity: “I Feel Like We’ve Hit Our Ceiling…”


Periphery guitarist Misha Mansoor has been rather frank when it comes to the band and their current status in the music industry. Last spring  he bluntly stated that the band “make no money”—a statement that was later clarified by their former label head, Sumerian Records founder Ash Avildsen in this interview.

Roughly a year ago Mansoor himself followed that up himself, describing the band as a “passion project” while also stating that popularity or making “crazy money” via the group weren’t their main concerns.

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In the below chat with fellow musician Ola Englund (The Haunted, Feared), Mansoor offered up more insight on his current views of the record industry and the changes the band have endured throughout their career. When asked for advice he would give up and coming artists, he responded:

“This is the thing: the industry has shifted, so there’s no money. When we were first talking, there was already no money, and that’s when, like, there was some people buying CDs, but now, the streaming model…

I think one of the fundamental differences between my point of view and a lot of other people is that people would’ve called me a cynical asshole, because they were, like, ‘You know, this CD thing can’t last forever. It’s gonna come around, there’s gonna be a change.’

And I was, like, ‘Yeah, there’s gonna be a change, and it’s gonna suck for artists.’ Now what’s the difference, I think some people were, like, holding fast hope that maybe something was gonna happen that was gonna benefit the artists, and I’m, like, ‘When has that ever happened?’.

So, I was, like, ‘There was gonna be a change, and it’s gonna suck.’ So I told everyone in the band, I was, like, ‘We’re probably never gonna make money from this band and if that’s a problem, it’s cool, I get it that maybe it’s not for you.’

And everyone who wanted to be in the band understood. ‘Alright, let’s do this because it’s fun and exciting; playing shows, you get to play your own dumb music in front of people,’ like, that’s awesome.

Talking to other people that have been in the industry, it’s, like, ‘That’s great, but that’s not sustainable’, like, by the time you hit 30, you’re going to want some stability, have some backup plan, you know.

Matt [Halpern, drums] was doing lessons, we played around with that, and we noticed that people for whatever reason – right or wrong – seem to value our opinion on gear. Companies were very eager to send us stuff, it was being an influencer before that word meant anything.

That’s basically what that business relationship was, and it’s, like, ‘Alright, how do we parlay this into something that can be monetized?’ So you talk about signature products, collaborations…

I sort of became a music producer by accident, just by helping Tosin [Abasi] with the first Animals As Leaders album, but it was just basically trying to find any way I could make money that didn’t involve me having to have my 9-to-5 job.

Everyone starts there and then you’re, like, ‘What can I do to spend more time [on what I love]?’. There’s a dark side to that as well, which I don’t talk about a lot, which is, like, you get sucked into that machine, it can actually take out all the fun. Before you know it, it’s a job.

And, like, it’s not that music is a better job once it’s a job, because anything that’s a job, when you have to do it, especially if it’s something that you kind of rely on inspiration, it’s, like, ‘It doesn’t matter, you gotta do it, here’s your deadline.’ It’s a very dangerous thing to play with, you have to find a good balance.”

When it was later mentioned by Englund that he felt the band’s work ethic saw them still growing rather than “staying afloat”, Mansoor responded:

“I feel like we’ve hit our ceiling, if I’m honest, yeah, probably. It’s metal, you know, I think there’s maybe a little bit more, you know. We’ll see what happens with this one [their new album], I have no expectations, honestly.

I think we’ve seen the majority of our growth. Maybe I’m wrong, but I also like where we are. It’s fun, we get to play fun shows. If we grow more, it will be great, but if we don’t, it’s kind of at the point now where I’m not relying on Periphery in any financial way.

It can really just be a passion project, and I love that, man. I’m sure now you have that relationship with music now that, like, I’d say your YouTube career and your guitars are probably your main focuses and your main sources of income.

The music industry just be, like, ‘Yeah, I like to do it,’ and that’s why we started, right? When we started, I was, like, ‘Oh, man, this is a cool thing I can do. Look I made a song.’ It was never about, ‘Oh, let me show it off to people,’ or, ‘Let me worry about this album cycle and fulfilling this date’ and blah blah blah.

It’s just, like, ‘Oh, that’s how I felt when I first started writing music,’ and it was just because I could. Now I’m doing it with my friends.”

Periphery made a big jump last year with the launch of their own label, 3DOT Recordings. Their latest album, “Periphery IV: Hail Stan” recently debuted at #64 on the Billboard 200 with 4,595 units* shifted during its first week. The band’s previous album, “Periphery III: Select Difficulty“, opened at #22 on the same chart with 14,850 units during its first week back in July of 2016.

*A previous version of this report had an incorrect listing of first week units for “Periphery IV: Hail Stan” listed.


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