Noel Peters has been bringing the noise—literally—to Toronto for the past two decades. Peters’ company, Inertia Entertainment, has hosted some of the biggest metal bands in the world, from Sepultura and Cannibal Corpse to Mastodon and Ghost. It’s a labor of love for Peters, who started his career as a concert promoter simply to help out his friends’ bands. Twenty years later, he’s still got his horns held high with no signs of slowing down. He celebrates the 20-year milestone with a hand-picked metal blowout featuring some of his favorite bands on February 27 at The Opera House in Toronto.
We caught up with Peters to chat about pre-Internet promotion, his career highlights, and what’s in store for the next 20 years.
How’d you get into the business?
I started out trying to help my friends’ bands break into the Toronto music scene and get some gigs [and] building networks with other Toronto area bands. The way to get them in front of a larger audience was to try to find bigger touring bands and get them to open for them. It took a lot of phone calls, a lot of faxing, a lot of perseverance to get taken seriously. In the first year in 1996 I managed to get some smaller touring bands; not really anything significant. It wasn’t until the second year in 1997 where I managed to land some larger touring acts to help get more exposure for local bands I was working with at the time. From there, it took off like wildfire.
To give a little more of an explanation: There weren’t any minor level touring acts. All of the bigger, club-level metal bands were bypassing Toronto. They’d been bypassing Toronto for close to five years because there wasn’t a promoter picking up the shows and doing the gigs with them. The big ones like Slayer, Pantera, Metallica, etc. they all played here; they were all promoted by what is now essentially Live Nation concerts. But the smaller bands that I would go and see in the 1980s and early ’90s like Morbid Angel and Cannibal Corpse, these bands all just bypassed Toronto. As I broke this nut to open up this network of larger touring bands to come through Toronto, it just kind of spread that there was a guy in Toronto who was booking these shows again. It morphed into something much bigger than what I ever expected it to be. Twenty years later, I’m sitting here still doing this.