Here’s how Liquid Death turned hate comments into a punk album
If you've ever been trolled online with hateful comments and reviews, chances are you didn't handle it the same way Liquid Death Mountain Water did.
Liquid Death is the most metal water brand you may ever come across. With branding featuring skull illustrations, death-metal script and taglines including "Death To Plastic" and "Murder Your Thirst," they seek "to make people laugh and get more of them to drink more water more often."
Though this is a hilarious idea that takes a healthy product and makes it cool, some people have scathing reviews. Instead of internalizing hate comments, the brand got to work and used these reviews for lyrics to two volumes of metal music: Enter the Greatest Hates.
To create the album, Pinkshift's Ashrita Kumar, Brendan Kelly of the Lawrence Arms, Anti-Flag's Chris #2, Dan Andriano of Alkaline Trio, Jen Razavi and Josh Lewis of the Bombpops, Jer Hunter from We Are The Union and Skatune Network, Joe Principe and Tim McIlrath of Rise Against and ex-Death By Stereo member Paul Miner shared their skills on the project.
“We all got too much time on our hands these days,” Kelly shares. “Some people waste it writing pointless hate mail at canned water companies, and some strategically utilize it to make albums out of said hate mail. I'm proudly part of group two, and my company on this side is unimpeachable. Who wouldn't work with Jen, Chris, Tim, Joe and everyone else that I don't know?”
Razavi shared a bit of her experience as well.
“Singing ‘Another Contribution To A Very Sick Culture’ was particularly fun,” she says. “I’ll never forget Chris #2 asking, ‘Hey Jen, do you want gonorrhea or the flu? Brendan has syphilis.’”
Some of the bangers you can hear on this album include "Rather Murder Myself" and "Liquid Lame-O." Greatest Hates Volumes 1 and 2 are available for streaming on Spotify and Apple Music, and you can preorder the new vinyl here.
Alternative Press had the chance to hear from Liquid Death co-founder and CEO Mike Cessario about how this album came to life, how we can be more sustainable and what we can expect from the brand next. Check out the full album and interview below.
The Liquid Death brand certainly doesn’t care about bad reviews if you're turning them into songs. How did this idea come to life on the first and second volumes of Greatest Hates?
We live in a world where people are terrified of the internet. Everything we do or post is open game for judging and criticism by all. People take down things because one person hates it in the comments. But the reality is, only a few angry people post most social hater comments. Their opinions don’t actually represent the opinions of the masses. Greatest Hates is a way to remind people not to take crazy internet trolls too seriously. Don’t be afraid to make things you love, and don’t worry about everyone liking what you do. It’s 100% OK if some people hate things you do because if someone hates something, nine times out of 10, there are 100 more people who love it to death. Trying to please everyone is a terrible strategy for a brand or a person.
You have a stacked lineup of musicians on the new album, including members of Rise Against, Alkaline Trio and the Bombpops. How did you go about teaming up with both rising and veteran performers? Was there a specific artist you knew you had to get involved?
A lot of folks who work for Liquid Death have a background in punk/hardcore/metal music, myself included. We have a great network of friends who happen to be awesome musicians who play in awesome bands. And when you have a legitimately fun idea, it’s easy to get these people excited to be involved.
What were the artists’ reactions to performing hate comments for a water brand? Were they involved in the writing process? Did these artists take any creative liberties when performing to fit their specific style?
It all came very naturally and organic. First off, they all are friends before this, so they know each other pretty well. All the lyrics are verbatim hate comments, so we gave them a bunch of comments to choose from and build songs with, which they all shared the writing of. But the lion’s share of songwriting came from Jen, Brendan and Chris #2.
Have any of your haters responded back to you after hearing their comments in a song? If yes, how did they respond?
Not too many have responded back to say they heard their comment. It would require them to follow the brand, click the album and take the time to listen to [the] songs. Which none of them are probably going to do.
You may be the first brand ever to make music from hate comments. Why was this the best way to spread your message of sustainability to new people?
Our strategy is not to jam sustainability messaging down people’s throats with every piece of entertainment we create. That is a mistake bad marketers make, feeling like everything they put out has to force specific messaging or product attributes on people. Sometimes you just need to entertain people, and they’ll respect your brand for giving them something that isn’t a sales pitch.
Besides drinking Liquid Death, what other steps do you recommend music and metal fans take to reduce their plastic waste? In what ways would you like to see live shows use less plastic or be less wasteful?
Just look to buy less single-use plastic in general. Helps to remember that plastic is not actually recyclable. It is technically better for the planet to throw your plastic waste in the trash because it requires less trucking to get it to the landfill since the recycling facility will not recycle it and just have it picked up and taken to the landfill on more trucks. When you are forced to throw all of your plastic in the trash instead of the recycling bin, it makes you feel worse about it and helps you be more cognizant when buying plastic. Recycling bins offer an “I’m doing something good” feeling when you throw plastic in it, but in reality, the data is showing it is actually worse.
Can we expect more Greatest Hates volumes in the future? How will you continue to adapt and grow the series if so?
More Greatest Hates albums are definitely a possibility. [It] would be fun to explore even more genres with the concept. A polka album, perhaps?