Bay Area Death metal band Extremity has made one of the best DM releases of 2017, This week I spoke with guitarist Marissa on what it takes to create one of the most essential albums of the year – read on
* First off congrats on the new release “extremely fucking dead” It sounds like you guys had a lot of fun making this album – what was the writing process like for this one?
Marissa: Thanks! It was a lot of fun. Recording is my favorite part of the whole process. It’s really neat to hear everything coming together as the recording progresses.
Shelby and Aesop worked out the song writing over the last 8 years or so. When Erika and I came on-board, things were more or less written. We contributed some small tweaks here and there. But, the music was pretty much ready to record.
* How about recording – you guys have nailed that old school sound – Was everything recorded digitally or analog?
Marissa: Everything was recorded digitally. It’s just how you do it these days.
Aesop wanted to do something way more primitive and ignorant, so they parted ways.
* Off the top of my head a bunch of you guys have a rich history of playing in metal bands around the bay area, so how did Extremity come about – give me the brief history of the band
Marissa: About 8 years ago, Shelby had some songs written, and was looking for a drummer to do something with. He met up with Aesop, who was looking to put together an old school death metal band. They jammed, but the material was pretty busy and grindy. Aesop wanted to do something way more primitive and ignorant, so they parted ways. That project eventually became Shelby’s old band Apocryphon.
Once Apocryphon started gigging, Shelby had the realization that he wanted to start a second band that was a lot simpler. So he reached out to Aesop and they started putting something together. Eventually they got to the point where they wanted another guitarist and bass player. Erika jams with Necrosic directly across the hallway from us at our practice space, and she’s fucking awesome in everyway. So she was their first choice on bass.
Erika made a post on facebook about jamming with a new band, and I half-jokingly replied asking if they needed a guitar player. It turned out they did, and my name had come up on the list of candidates. Shelby started showing me the riffs, and we all just hit it off. So, here we are…
I know he has a wah pedal on there, so he can really rock those “Dad solos”.
* For those of you who don’t know your previous bands, you want to give us a run down of you and Marissa’s gear, What guitars you favor (for writing, recording and live work) amps etc. I know a lot of metal dudes these days prefer to travel with a rack as opposed to tube amps and just dial in their sound.
Marissa: Shelby uses a Mesa Boogie Triple Rectifier. He’s also got a pedalboard full of little do-dads that I don’t know much about. I know he has a wah pedal on there, so he can really rock those “Dad solos”. He plays a Jackson Kelly as his main guitar.
I use a Marshall Valvestate 2000 which I’ve had for over a decade. It gives me a tone similar to a JCM 800, without having to worry about changing any tubes. Even though the amp is digital, it actually sounds really close to an analog amp. The only pedal I have is a tuner. I’m traditionally a grindcore musician. So, I like to have as little gear as possible.
Live, I use a B.C. Rich Warlock, mostly because I need the locking trem system. In the studio I used a black Gibson Flying V, with Lace “Drop n Gain” pickups. I love that guitar! It has tone for days! I wish I could use it live.
it was really Cannibal Corpse’s “Eaten Back to Life” that really grabbed a hold of me
* I know Aesop is an old man (actually I just checked he’s younger than me!) but the rest of Extremity have a pretty extensive knowledge of old school Death metal – what was the one DM band growing up that sold you on the genre?
Marissa: I had started to warm up to death metal with Obituary’s “Cause of Death”. But it was really Cannibal Corpse’s “Eaten Back to Life” that really grabbed a hold of me, and gave me that “fuck yeah!” moment that catapulted me into a ravenous death metal fan. Everything about that album is so awesome. I love the tone, the speed, just the right amount of complexity, and Chris Barnes’ vocals on that album are a lot of fun.
* I just saw Obituary on tour with Kreator a few weeks back and in my mind Obituary stole the show – I am sure if you told the Tardy brothers (Or Trevor Perez) that you guys would still be killing it 25+ years later – they wouldn’t believe you. Why do you think old school DM has come back into vogue with the younger generation?
Marissa: It’s kind of part of the culture, isn’t it? It seems to me that fans of metal not only like the music, but we want to know everything we can about the bands. When you get into a metal band, you want to know their whole back catalog, what bands inspired them, and what other bands exist in their genre? That seems like it’s always been a part of it. To really know metal, you need to know its history as well.
But, you know… Those early death metal albums are the best! The genre was learning about itself, it was primitive, simplistic, and energetic. Those old records have just the right amount of extremity and experimentation, without being completely overwhelming. There’s a lot to grab onto there.
* How did the deal with 20 buck spin come about?
Marissa: I think Shelby hooked that up. He has a relationship with Dave (of 20 Buck Spin) through Vastum. So, they spoke to each other, and Dave liked the material and wanted to release it.
* List your top 5 favorite DM records of all time and have you seen the said bands live?
Carcass – Symphonies of Sickness
Cannibal Corpse – Tomb of the Mutilated
Obituary – Cause of Death
Dismember – Like an Everflowing Stream
Bolt Thrower – Warmaster
I’ve seen all of these bands live.
The Bay Area has a pretty long musical history, especially when it comes to metal
* Yet again another great band comes out of the Bay Area – I have spoke to a bunch of Bay Area bands in the last year (Atrament, Palace of Worms, Ails, Hammers of Misfortune, Cardinal Wyrm etc) why do you think so much talent comes from this part of the world? Something in the water?
Marissa: The Bay Area has a pretty long musical history, especially when it comes to metal. Even when the metal scene had pretty much died here in the mid ‘90s, there were a few bands kicking around, trying their damndest to keep metal alive. In the last decade the scene has really grown, and there’s a great local scene happening here right now. It’s really cool to get to be a part of it.
* Something I ask all Bay Area bands – do you think a time will come when you guys will have to move to either LA or Portland to keep playing music? As much as I love that neck of the woods – it’s even more expensive to live there than NYC!
Marissa: I can’t really see that happening. At least, not for me. But, playing music isn’t my primary source of income. So, I’m probably not the best person to ask in this case.
* I know you guys have done a handful of shows so far – any plans for a National tour or you guys just want to keep it local?
Marissa: We want to play some shows up and down the East and West coasts.
* Have you done much touring before (in your old bands?) if so any funny tour stories you can share?
Marissa: I haven’t done a lot of touring. I did a West Coast run with my other band Cretin a few years ago. But there aren’t any stories from that tour that would be funny to anyone who wasn’t there. I’m kind of boring really…
* What can we expect from Extremity for the rest of 2017?
Marissa: We’re currently working on writing new material for a full length we hope to release next year.
* Any final words?
Marissa: Thanks so much for the interview!