Interview with UK death metal band Cruciamentum

Today I spoke with one of the best new death metal bands in the Uk, Cruciamentum. Check it out:

First off congrats on the new ep sounds killer – if I am not mistaken Priory Studios is a pretty legendary studio right? How was it recording there?
D.L.: We’ve worked with Greg at Priory Studios at some point on every release we’ve done. We keep going back because it is a great studio, Greg is easy to work with and not only does he understand the music, but he’s open to experimentation and working collaboratively with us.

The Absu cover is pretty sick – how did you guys decide to cover Descent to Acheron?
D.L.: It’s a song we’ve played parts of in our rehearsal room since we started the band. Barathrum V.I.T.R.I.O.L. and Temples of Offal played a big part in influencing Cruciamentum, and once we decided to record a cover it was a natural choice.

If I am not mistaken you guys have been going for about 10 years now. What would you say have been the highlights of being in the band to date?
D.L.: To me personally, our greatest achievement was to release Charnel Passages. The album took a long time to write and it wasn’t an easy process. It seems safe now it’s been released for a few years to say that I feel quite proud of it, it represents a musically and conceptually matured version of Cruciamentum – of what we were building towards on the earlier releases and a mark of quality to which we must adhere to in the future.

If I am right most of you guys have had experience in other death metal bands before Cruciamentum, why do you think you have made it work with this line up versus previous bands?
D.L.: Our experience isn’t limited to death metal but we have also played in other metal bands. Success is subjective and can’t be measured – though I didn’t get to tour with previous bands, I still think I achieved what I wanted to at the time with them which means they’re still a success in my eyes. They’re important steps in our musical evolution. As for Cruciamentum – I think that it worked out because it was the first time for many of us that we were in a band where we as a collective had similar tastes, attitude and ideas as to how a band should be musically, and conceptually. The physical distance between the members and the money, time and traveling involved means that whilst it slows us down and limits what we can do, there’s no-one in the band who is a deadweight because the requirements to be in the band mean that only someone truly dedicated could be involved.

The first song we wrote was “Rotten Flesh Crucifix” which was about the Catherine Wheel, a medieval instrument of torture and execution.

Cruciamentum means torture and pain in Latin right? Who came up with the band and what does it represent to you guys?
D.L.: Torture or torment, but yes. The band name was my idea, at the start of the band the lyrics were less reflective and focused around blasphemy and anti-religious topics. The first song we wrote was “Rotten Flesh Crucifix” which was about the Catherine Wheel, a medieval instrument of torture and execution. It seemed to make sense to take a name which summed up that theme and in a language which conveyed it in a time appropriate fashion. That said, the name doesn’t feel obsolete now – it still very much sums up a large portion of our themes and has a certain obscurity and mystique to it.

Do you guys have a world view (political or religious) that you subscribe to?
D.L.: Philosophically we all to varying degrees view the world in a way that mirrors the band’s themes, but we would never consider ourselves an ideological band.

It’s difficult to pinpoint what it is about the Midlands which made it the breeding ground for heavy music

I presume you guys are based in the West midlands right? why do you think so many legendary bands have come from the Midlands (Sabbath, Priest etc)
D.L.: Actually, no – not any more. I still live in the Midlands at the moment, but the rest of the band is spread across the country, and actually now we’re spread across two countries. It’s difficult to pinpoint what it is about the Midlands which made it the breeding ground for heavy music that it is. I believe many of those bands cite the fact that the area being a very working class industrial place bred a need for a harder form of escapism as the “flower power” idealism of that period didn’t speak to the average working class person. When you take that into consideration it does make sense, Birmingham is not a city where the idealism of late 60s California translates.

We’ve been very lucky to be signed to two labels that have done well by us

How did the record deal with Profound Lore come about? What’s been the most noticeable plus side of working with them so far?
D.L.: We had been in contact with Chris for some years prior to singing with Profound Lore and he had from the beginning shown an interest in signing us. We were happy with our old label Nuclear Winter until it folded, but when that happened we didn’t really consider anyone else and simply contacted Chris to see if the offer was still open. We’ve been very lucky to be signed to two labels that have done well by us. Both have been nothing but supportive and honest to us and provided us with everything that we asked for.

What’s been the biggest show the band has done to date?
D.L.: Probably playing the main stage at Netherlands Deathfest. Unfortunately due to technical problems and very little setup time it was probably the worst show we’ve ever played. I personally prefer smaller, more intimate shows but it would be good to return at some point to right the wrong.

Do you guys have a bucket list of countries you want to play? I know I would love to see you play NYC
D.L.: We actually played NYC back in 2012 at the first Martyrdoom festival. We’d love to return though! As for countries we’d like to play… Australia, and generally South America, Asia and more of Eastern Europe.

What can we expect from Cruciamentum in 2018?
D.L.: 2018 will likely be a quiet year for us. We’ll concentrate on finishing writing our second album which we hope to start recording at the end of the year.

Any final words?
D.L.: Thanks for your support. Anyone wishing to get in touch with us can do at cruciamentum.uk@googlemail.com, and we’ve got plenty of merch available at http://cruciamentum.bigcartel.com/

Interview with Cavernlight Wisconsin Crushing Doom Metal

There is nothing more crushing than Doom metal done right. Today I spoke with Wisconsin based Doom band Cavernlight. It took a while but we finally made this one happen!

* So I have been checking out the new tracks on your bandcamp – absolutely crushing stuff – so how did you guys get into playing doom?
We’ve all been into slow, atmospheric, heavy music for varying periods of time. But it’s a constant favorite amongst us all. Playing this way just came natural when we got together.

* Not a lot of people realize its probably harder to play really really slow and keep it interesting as opposed to super fast – what’s the secret in putting together a good song but keeping it so slow and pulverizing?
I don’t think there’s any real secret for us. We just try to spin a certain feeling or emotion into the songwriting process. And yeah, playing slow can be difficult. But just like playing a blazing fast tempo, it becomes easy in time.

The early Southern Lord catalog really turned my head

* People were shocked when Lee Dorrian left Napalm Death (the worlds fastest band) to play in Cathedral (the world’s slowest band? {well at least the first album}) What was the gateway band for you guys as fans of the genre ?
Our personal doom tastes all vary greatly. I personally don’t click much with what most people consider the “classic doom” sound. It wasn’t until the early 2000s when I started to dig what was going on, and it was mostly US bands like Asunder, Khanate. The early Southern Lord catalog really turned my head.

* Outside of doom artists what would you say are the major musical influences on Cavernlight?
Jason Molina (of Songs: Ohia, Magnolia Electric Company), Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Barn Owl, Neurosis

As the album was completed I realized the record meant too much to me

* You guys made some leaps and bounds from your demo – how did the deal with Gilead come about?
Gilead Media is actually my own label. Initially I was intent on not releasing the Cavernlight material myself, but as the album was completed I realized the record meant too much to me. I only approached one other label to release it when everything was said and done. They weren’t interested, so I did it myself.

* In writing the songs for this record – how did you start? With a guitar riff? With a mood you want to convey? Please explain
Much of the songwriting comes from a mix of those things, a mood transposed through guitar. That’s generally our basis. From there we flesh out the remainder of the song together as a group. Scott and I then write all of the lyrics and vocals as we come up with a concrete formula for the song.

* How was the recording process for this album was it analog to digital or did you guys choose the all digital route? if money was no object would you record full analog like the old days?
We went all digital, but the final mixes were dumped to tape and then re-imported for mastering to give it a small amount of analog quality. I personally would opt out of recording on tape at any point, as any real-time editing can be done so much more efficiently digitally and studio time costs are quite high.

* As far as I am aware you guys tend to play more events than tour in the traditional sense – has any of the band done national touring before (in other bands) and if not is that something you guys have planned for the future?
I toured a couple times in my youth and I’m not a fan. Two of our members are fathers, I run my own business, and the other guy is very focused on his own creative visual work. And I think it’s safe to say none of us are particularly interested in touring and playing every night. We much prefer to play shows infrequently.

I spent much of my youth driving to Chicago for shows

* When you think of Metal scenes, Oshkosh isn’t one of the first places that springs to mind – is there a scene there and if not where do you guys go to travel for shows? Milwaukee? Chicago? Canada? (I recall the guys in Deadbird telling {they were from little rock Arkansas} that it would be nothing for them to drive the 8hrs or so to New Orleans to catch a touring act yet people in NYC might think twice about a subway ride to Brooklyn in case the next tour the band plays Manhattan ha ha)
A metal scene? Not particularly, although there are some great bands from around the area. The art scene is indeed rich here, but it’s a small college town so many people just leave when they’re done with school. There are a number of very talented musicians, but most people here seem to be content writing music for themselves and playing with people they’re close to. I spent much of my youth driving to Chicago for shows, frequently visiting the Fireside Bowl in Chicago.

* Outside of playing music – what is worth checking out in Oshkosh? Local microbreweries? etc (I used to go to the Milwaukee metal fests in the late 90s early 2000s even then Milwaukee had some great local breweries)
Honestly, Oshkosh is a weird place. Only half the band lives in town here, it’s just sort of where we operate out of. There isn’t much in terms of destinations in town, it’s not a tourist hotspot or anything. There are places that have their charms, and businesses run by some wonderful, passionate people. And of course a couple small craft breweries, but overall it’s the sort of place you seem to find yourself and not a place you typically travel towards intentionally.

If someone wants to fly us somewhere to play a great show, we won’t say no

* What touring goals do you guys want to achieve with Cavernlight? Play NYC? Play Hole in the Sky Norway? Hellfest? etc
Our only real goal with Cavernlight is to continue creating, that’s really it. We’ve already done more than we originally set out to do, so after this anything else is just going to happen as needed. If we need an outlet, if we feel the desire to play and record. Etc. If someone wants to fly us somewhere to play a great show, we won’t say no. But it’s not something we’re necessarily chasing.

* What can we expect from the band for the rest of 2017?
We’ve just played our first shows of the year, we hadn’t played out since Migration Fest in Olympia in August 2016. We’re writing for a possible split LP release, learning a couple covers for another potential split, and working on material for another new full length we intend to record in December 2018, possibly at Electrical Audio with Scott Evans at the helm. But we will see what happens there.

Surrender to your misery

.
* Good luck with the album release and any final words?
Surrender to your misery.

Interview with Pittsburgh Metallers, Legendry

If you have been reading our site for awhile now you will know I am really into different cities music scenes. The Pittsburgh metal scene has been bubbling just under the radar for some time now and with Dave from 20 buck spin recently relocating from the west coast to Pittsburgh, I am sure only greater things are yet to come. One of the top metal bands coming out of Pittsburgh right now is Legendry, today I spoke to the boys in the band to learn more about them.

So you guys have a great sound – I am going to go out on a limb here and guess that you are not 18 y.o. guys who just discovered metal thru their older brothers Iron Maiden records right? How old is everyone in the band and how did you all get into metal?
Vidarr (guitar and vocals):
Thank you! I’ve been into metal and heavy rock since I was very young. I started out listening to my dad’s The Who and Frank Zappa records and cassette tapes. I started getting into metal with Metallica’s first four albums, then got into the progressively more extreme subgenres starting with Slayer, Overkill, Kreator, Sodom and Obituary, finally developing an interest in black metal like Darkthrone, Burzum, and Bathory. Throughout this time I also got into a lot of Helloween, early Hammerfall, Manowar, and generally medieval fantasy inspired power metal, always searching for a representation of that atmosphere in metal.

Evil St. Clair (bass):
I discovered metal at about ten years old. My parents would take me to the record shop. When I saw the cover of Ozzy Osbourne, Diary of a Madman I had to buy it. I was always into creepy stuff and that album cover was the coolest thing I ever saw, and the love of Metal just grew from there.

Kicker (drums and percussion):
Thanks for the compliments and the opportunity. I discovered Metal when I was about 13 or 14. I went to a Catholic school back then and was being told about all the evil in the music industry and things of that sort. One day my cousin and I found Slayer – Seasons in the Abyss and King Diamond – Abigail hid away in his tape collection. We listened to them and thought it was the coolest shit we ever heard and it just went from there. Definitely not 18! I’m 39.

* Can you give me a brief history of the band? From the little I know you guys formed in 2015 but I am guessing this isn’t your ‘first rodeo”?? right?
Starting in 2004 I created a solo project called Defeat, for which I learned to play drums and bass. I recorded a demo and two full length albums for Defeat in a folk/black metal style.

Legendry started when I moved north of Pittsburgh to New Castle, PA and began jamming with our original bassist, Choo. As our jamming progressed, we found that our interests in progressive rock and melodic sensibilities were both original and taking on their own form. Choo introduced me to Kicker, and we instantly hit it off musically, so we began writing the songs which eventually became the Initiation Rituals demo. Immediately following this demo, Choo left the band, which left us without a bassist and unable to play shows for a time. We decided to start tracking the Mists of Time album as a studio project, with myself on bass. We made contacts at this time with Non Nobis Productions of Portugal, who have done the CD release for both Mists of Time and CD/LP for Dungeon Crawler (along with Underground Power Records of Germany). After Mists of Time was released, Choo rejoined the band for a brief
period, but was eventually replaced by Evil St. Clair, who has played with us for all live performances and played bass on the Dungeon Crawler album.

The concept behind Legendry is to create a medieval fantasy world, using primarily rock/metal instrumentation, without relying on synthesizers to create an epic feel. I wanted to create a kind of Hawkwind type space-rock vibe, but with a barbaric fantasy tone instead of a spacey sci-fi tone.

* I presume the name Legendry is a play on Legendary and Foundry? Who came up with the name and what is the meaning behind it?
Actually, that is not at all where the name comes from. While many internet search engines think that you are spelling “legendary” wrong when you type “legendry”, it is in fact a word meaning “a body of legends”.

I found the word used in Robert E. Howard’s essay The Hyborian Age, where he uses it in the phrase “shrouded by the mists of legendry”. This became both the source for the band name and part of the inspiration for the title of our first album, “Mists of Time” (although that is a typical sort of phrase).

We actually had the opportunity to work with Arthur Rizk of both bands on the mastering for the Dungeon Crawler album

* What are your thoughts on all this new younger bands like Eternal Champions etc. embracing the “classic metal sound” of the 80s?
I think it is great! With the wave of younger bands bringing attention to the genre, it allows many of the great older bands to see how important they are to us. So many of these obscure, yet classic, albums have been reissued, and so many of these bands have reunited to play on some of the big true metal festivals of the world.

We had a chance to play with Eternal Champion and Sumerlands last July, and they were very supportive of what we are doing. We actually had the opportunity to work with Arthur Rizk of both bands on the mastering for the Dungeon Crawler album. He did a fantastic job with it, and we are very glad to have worked with him on it.

* How long have you been playing guitar and what bands were inspirational in you starting?
It must be around 27 years: crazy to think it’s been so long! My biggest inspiration early on had to be Richie Blackmore of Deep Purple and Rainbow. As I got older, I’d say guitarists like Frank Zappa and Robert Fripp would be the most important inspiration for me. I love endless soulful guitar solos, so when I eventually discovered Manilla Road, Mark Shelton became another huge influence.

We had the honor to open for them when they came to Pittsburgh on that tour

* I recently caught Manilla Road when they did their last US tour. They have to be an influence on you guys ?
Absolutely! Before Legendry I had been working on a cover of their song, “Necropolis” for the next Defeat album. A full band version of that cover ended up on Mists of Time when my focus shifted to Legendry.

We had the honor to open for them when they came to Pittsburgh on that tour, and it was really surreal to have that opportunity. They have had such an impact on me creatively, and I have to say I was quite nervous knowing that they would be hearing the songs I wrote. We met up with them after our set, and they were very supportive, kind people (as I expected they would be).

* Any preferences for guitars and amp set ups?
Yes, for sure. I am big on vintage gear and vintage sound. I play a limited edition American Standard Fender Strat through a Musicman 210 65 combo and a 212 RH cabinet, and Evil St. Clair uses a late 70s Fender Tele bass through a Fender Bassman 50 and a 215 cabinet. I think that this gives us a very unique sound, seeing these are blues rigs all around: I even use only the neck pick-up on my guitar, which is very uncommon in heavy metal. All of the effects that I use are analog as well.

The remake, however, was horrible

* I loved reading the Robert E Howard paperbacks when I was a kid growing up in the 70s – did you ever see the Conan Remake with Jason Momoa? If you did…thoughts? What about Kull with Kevin Sorbo (Me personally I liked the first Conan film and the Red Sonja film and at one point in the 90s they were planning to make King Conan with Arnie as an old and weary Conan but I don’t rate the remake at all)
I grew up watching the original Conan movies on TV, and of course I love everything about them (the effects, the atmosphere, Arnold, and most definitely the music of Basil Poledouris!).

The remake, however, was horrible. I have only seen it once, and tried to give it a second chance a few years later, only to stop it half way through. It wasn’t that Arnold wasn’t in it; it was just the overall cool-action-movie feel. They totally missed the mark.

Kull was a kind of cool movie, and it was kind of interesting to find out that the script was originally for the third Conan movie that they never made. Red Sonja was great, especially with the Ennio Morricone soundtrack, but the whining kid comic relief kind of got annoying at times.

* Every time I turn around it seems that the music scene in Pittsburgh just grows and grows – can you tell me a lil of what life is like there and why you think the music scene is so good?
Yea, there are definitely some great classic-styled metal bands in the area now, Lady Beast, and Argus among them. It has traditionally been more of an extreme metal town, so it’s good to see something more on the melodic side.

We’re admittedly not so active in the music scene there, though. While we all live reasonably close to the city and I grew up in the area, we all live about an hour outside of downtown right now (and I live opposite the band, making rehearsal nearly a two hour drive!).

* Have you guys done any major US tours yet? If not are they are the bucket list of plans for Legendry?
No, not yet. We would definitely like to do a small tour in the near future, but our personal and professional lives likely wouldn’t allow for anything extensive. We would love to eventually play in Europe at some of the heavy metal festivals there like Keep it True, but those possibilities remain to be seen.

* What can we expect from Legendry in 2018?
We will be setting up some shows in the near future, and potentially a short tour if the opportunity presents itself. We are also planning for the next album already, and have begun writing new material which we are hoping to record in the summer of 2018.

We are grateful to all of the fans for supporting our work

* Any final words?
Thanks for the support in doing this interview. We put a lot of work into the Dungeon Crawler album, and it’s great to see that people are really digging it so far. We are grateful to all of the fans for supporting our work; it means a great deal to us that there are people finding this music enjoyable.

Interview with Midnight Main Man Athenar

Anyone who knows me, knows I am a HUGE Midnight fan and make every effort to catch them whenever they play anywhere near NYC. Today I got a chance to speak with Anthenar, who’s is the brains behind Midnight – here we go:

* So the new album has 2 super long songs on it – What was the game plan on these? Or they just wrote themselves that way?
Super long songs! they’re pretty short by in-a-gadda-da-vida standards. They kinda wrote themselves although those were the first 2 tunes written for this album and I initially was just gonna release a 2 song 12″ ep. but the 4 song shox of violence ep came out instead so I figured fuck it and just use the 2 super long songs as bookends for a full lp. for those tunes I was kinda in the headspace of Achilles last stand and blood of my enemies. I don’t think they turned out like either of those songs which is good!

* How do you lay down drum tracks when you are demoing – play it on a kit yourself or use one of those “toon track” type drum programs?
Just simple as possible. Sit down behind the drums and play while humming the tune in my head. it’s just like air drumming but actually hitting the drums while air drumming. makes sense?

 

Still waiting for that phone call from Neil Young.

* Have you ever been tempted to collab with other songwriters? Or is that something you have zero interest in?
Yeah me and Joel Grind have talked about doing stuff for years but nothing has surfaced yet. Maybe some day. Still waiting for that phone call from Neil Young.

I just liked the chuck berry idea of just showing up to a gig with a guitar and playing

* You started out just you playing along to a backing track – was that just from a lack of finding like minded musicians?
I just had no interest in being in a band. I wanted to do something somewhat unique like not having a band, sounds stupid I know. I just liked the chuck berry idea of just showing up to a gig with a guitar and playing. He had a live back up band waiting for him. I had a tape machine, bit of a difference.

I did write satanic royalty in a week in the winter.

* So are you originally from Cleveland right? (I recall an interview some years back where you said you just moved back and sat in your basement and wrote the entire Satanic Royalty album in a weekend as it was too cold to go out)
I was born in Cleveland and never moved away from the northeast Ohio area. I did write satanic royalty in a week in the winter. it was just something to do cuz it was shitty cold outside which I don’t mind. I’m not a sun sucker, I’m a snow bunny.

* How much of an influence do you think the city has been on your songwriting – as in my mind Cleveland has always been a dirty rock n roll town
Yeah being from Cleveland is for sure an influence of what’s gonna come out from inside. I didn’t grow up in the slums of east Cleveland or anything but it’s a certain type of person from Cleveland, very genuine.

* Correct me if I am wrong but didn’t you live in Boulder CO for some time too? How do you compare the two cities music scene wise?
You stand to be corrected sir. I never lived in Colorado. I have visited the state though and recently it smells of mary jane.

* Originally the plan was for you to just release Eps and Splits and you are now on your 3rd LP? What made you change your game plan? (Not that I am complaining mind you!)
Yeah well we all know life never goes as planned. It just started with satanic royalty to see if I could make a full album of 10 songs and see what would happen. Some folks experiment with drugs, I experiment with fucking around in the basement with a 4 track tape recorder I guess.

Dang as a 12 year old now would be cool too

* How much of a difference do you think there is if you were growing up as a 12yo metal fan now versus say discovering the underground scene in the 80s?
Dang as a 12 year old now would be cool too. there’s so much music readily available to your though the computer. where as in the 80’s you really had to pick and choose wisely. you have 1 album to waste your money on a week if you’re lucky. you just couldn’t endlessly download obscure demos and imports. although that is the bad thing about now is it’s total overload so you don’t get to digest everything like you could in the 80s. back then you would buy hallows eve tales of terror, listen to it over and over while checking out the cover, reading every word on the back cover, insert and hopefully it came with a merch sheet that you could send in 8 bux money order to buy a shirt and hopefully get it in 2 months. or like in my case with hallows eve never receive the shirt at all, bastards!

I really enjoyed doing those gigs with Joel. We have a lot of shit in common

* You did a stint playing live for Joel Grind and Toxic Holocaust – what was your biggest “take away” from how Joel runs his band for you?
I really enjoyed doing those gigs with Joel. We have a lot of shit in common. I guess the takeaway would be was there is no compromise at all. You get to see your vision hopefully fully realized.

* So as of right now there is a lot of evil shit coming out of Hollywood , you know total EYES WIDE SHUT stuff, What’s your take on all of that? Surely Hollywood is the real Satanic Royalty, no?
Ha! I guess. Who knows what goes on with all that horseshit. who cares?

* What can we expect from you in 2018?
Well I’d like to say to expect some touring and gigs, boring answer. but probably not. I’m just finishing up recording vox for another full length lp but that won’t come out in 2018.

* Any final words?
I hope these aren’t my final words in life! but thanks a lot Alex for taking time to give a shit about the band, it means a lot.

Interview with Metal Priest from Ukraine Thrashers Bestial Invasion

Bestial Invasion are one of the best new Technical Thrash bands to come out of Europe. Today I spoke with band leader and mastermind Metal Priest on thrash metal, being in a metal band in Eastern Europe and our mutual love of German legends Destruction!

* Congrats on the new album Contra Omnes – how did you approach writing this album compared to your previous releases?
Hello! Many thanks for congratulations! This album was created and
recorded in a completely different way than any other, which I either
worked on. On this album, I decided to remove any frames of style and
create what my heart desires. I wanted to create something special and
unique, like we did it. Many worked on the concept and lyrics, which
was missing the last album. For me it was a fantastic experience!

* If I recall correctly half the band do not live in the Ukraine – how easy is it to get together to work on the songs?
Now the situation has changed a little, now only one member of the
group lives in Ukraine, I moved to live in Hungary since November.
This does not prevent us from working on new songs. We even in this
mode we assholes many other groups in which all participants from one
city and regularly rehearse. We release releases every year.

Fate divided us and under some circumstances I moved to live in the city of Sumy

* You are not originally from Sumy are you? How did you end up there?
I come from the city of Zhitomir, earlier I was the creator and
bass player of another successful thrash band Violent Omen, with which
we released 3 albums. But fate divided us and under some circumstances
I moved to live in the city of Sumy and created there a new group
Bestial Invasion where we started our journey. I do not want to return
to this city anymore …

* Sumy is in the North East correct? Are you closer to Russia or Belarus? I presume you have a good relationship with the Russians since V. Zadiev is from there?? The reason I ask is I know some Ukrainians do not have a good relationship with Russians
That’s right! But this issue has a share of provocation, so I do
not particularly want to answer it. We are fine.

The city itself was musically dead at that time

* Is there much of a metal scene in Sumy? Do you have many International metal bands tour your region?
I lived there for almost 2 years and we were the only band that did
something and developed on the metal scene. The city itself was
musically dead at that time, but I do not know how it is now. Before
moving to Sumy, I did not know any metal bands, although I am quite
familiar with metal with the price of Ukraine

* How often do you play concerts? Are they easy to organize? Have you done much touring in the few years the band has been together?
The group only gave 4 concerts and all of them were in 2015
and in the old composition. We get a lot of offers about concerts,
even from the USA, but for us it’s very unprofitable and
uncomfortable, we prefer to be more of a studio group, we are more
comfortable.

* How affordable are recording studios in the Ukraine? I know many bands in the USA try to record at home or in their rehearsal studio on a computer to save money – is this the same for you guys?
Not really, since it costs a lot of money for Ukraine. Young groups
can not spend such amounts for their hobbies, so many make their own
records, which of course sound bad. Americans are so poor that they
can not afford a studio? ahahahaha

Schmier knows our group, the former guitarist of theirs Harry for us even recorded a guest solo on the first album

* With a name like Bestial Invasion I presume you are a big Destruction fan – when did you first hear destruction and were they one of the first Thrash bands you ever heard?
Destruction is my favorite German band. Schmier knows our group, the
former guitarist of theirs Harry for us even recorded a guest solo on
the first album and we did a cover on Thrash Attack, so for us this
group is important

* What plans do you have for Bestial Invasion for 2018?
From the beginning of 2018 we will continue to compose a new
album, and if everything will be fine, then we will write it in the
fall. Many ideas, but so far they are in the stage of incarnation. The
label promised to re-release our releases on the record as well, so
we’ll see everything !!!

* Are there any countries or festivals you would like to play?
It’s certainly Wacken and any other European festivals, time will
tell, maybe we’ll visit them someday

* Any final words?
Thank you for your attention! Read the code of the great Caligula
!!! Remember Death is only way !!!

go follow them on facebook
https://www.facebook.com/bestialinvasionua/

Note: Metal priest asked me to tidy up his English for this interview – I have left 99% of it as is – since 1) It’s pretty damn good and 2) I think by me editing it some of the intent / meaning may be lost.

Interview with Sanhedrin – Brooklyn Heavy Metallers

Sanhedrin play out and out metal, no shame in that game. Today I spoke with guitarist Jeremy about playing metal ,  life in Brooklyn, the making of their debut album and much more – read on

* Can you tell me some history of the band? I know you guys formed in 2015 and that you are all vets of the NY scene – but how did you all meet – how did you decide to write in that classic metal style Sanhedrin is etc
Nate and I used to play in a band together prior to Sanhedrin. When that band split up, the 2 of us kept jamming together, just hashing out riffs and ideas with the idea of eventually starting a new band. As time went on, he mentioned he had a friend named Erica who was a great singer and played bass. We had her come in to check out what we were up to and things came together from there. Over time, we learned how the three of us could best accentuate each other’s strengths and Sanhedrin was born. There was no conscious decision on what the style would be. Our sound is a reflection of what our 3 personalities give to one another when we get into a room with guitars, amps and drums.

We seem to have a lot of unspoken expectations of each other and what we expect of the material

* How did you guys approach the song writing on this album compared to your 2015 demo?
The 2015 demo actually contains 3 songs that were eventually re-recorded and put on the debut album. In terms of songwriting, we work very organically. We have songs that were written very quickly, while others were really labored over for months. Typically, I’ll come to practice with some riffs that work well together and throw them at Erica and Nate. At that point, it’s a very democratic process to turn it into a song. We seem to have a lot of unspoken expectations of each other and what we expect of the material, so knowing when a song is done just sort of happens on its own. Bouncing ideas off of each other to see a song to fruition is one of the primary joys we take from being in a band together.

* When recording did you plug straight into the desk or do it old school mic’ing up a couple of Marshall stacks?
Well, nobody in this band uses Marshalls at the moment, but it was definitely a case of plugging into amps and letting them rip. We’re certainly not opposed to using modern technology in the studio, but we really dig our live setup and try to capture those sounds in the studio. That said, we do experiment in the studio when appropriate. Overall though, the sounds you hear on the album and how we sound live are pretty much in line.

* As a guitarist what are your thoughts on digital versus analog rigs? (I have seen bands wheel in massive stacks of cabinets into clubs and see guys come in with a digital rack and a guitar. The old days it was definitely about tube amps to get your sound but it definitely seems like the digital effects have come a long way)
The only rule I have is if it sounds good, it is good. I play in a couple bands, and my gear choices really come down to what serves the song and the vibe of the band. For Sanhedrin, my rig is pretty much all analog. That said, I don’t have a moral opposition to using digital gear if it gets the point across. They’re just tools used to create the big picture. If it serves the material, I will use it no matter what.

* What tricks did you learn production wise that you utilized in your debut album?
The most important thing we did was demo the whole album on our own before going into the studio to make it for real. It’s an important process to sit back and listen to things critically and demoing songs allows you to do that. It also saves you a lot of time in the studio later mulling over small details that chew up precious time. You may hear things quite differently when you’re able to focus on the material without also having to play it. It sort of puts things into perspective so that you can visualize what you want the record to be before you go into a studio and spend precious time and money recording.

Our backgrounds lend themselves more to a realistic take on the world and a desire to bring attention to some of its ugliness

* Subject wise you guys write more about “real life” versus lyrical content of traditional hard rock bands (sword and sorcery etc) what was the deciding factor is taking that route?
Erica is the primary lyricist for the band, so I don’t want to totally speak for her on that front. That said, I think our environment and our backgrounds lend themselves more to a realistic take on the world and a desire to bring attention to some of its ugliness. There are some themes and metaphors that are less direct in some of our lyrics, but Erica definitely has something to say with her lyrics and Nate and I back her intentions 100%. I personally think that the lyrics are the most important aspect of the band’s music, and Erica delivers them with an emotional fire that is a real as anything I’ve ever heard. The world is in a real state of tumult right now, and it’s no coincidence that we titled the album as we did.

* You guys worked with Colin Marsten on this album right. He is reknown for his work with NYC extreme bands. Why did you choose to use to work with him?
My other band Black Anvil did our last record with him prior to Sanhedrin working with him, so I was already familiar with his studio and his demeanor. He was one of a few names we were looking at as the album was coming together, and it all lined up to where he became our top choice. While he is best known for working with more extreme metal bands, I knew that he would be able to understand what we were going for with our music and capture it. He has a very organic approach to recording and a great disposition as an engineer. Upon hearing the final product, I can’t imagine having had anyone else record this album. All 3 of us are very pleased with how it turned out sonically.

* What’s the reaction been to the new album so far?
We’ve been pleasantly surprised by the reaction. We self-released it, so we didn’t have the PR machine of a record label to put it out there. We just told our friends, put it up on Bandcamp, and the word continues to spread! We’ve gotten messages from people from all over the world telling us how much they like it, which is gratifying. It’s really cool to cut the middle man and bring your art straight to the people and let them do what they want with it.

* I know I have seen you guys play a bunch of times on NYC – but have you done much national touring yet? If so whats been your favorite city to play?
We actually have not played outside NYC yet unfortunately. Black Anvil has had a really busy touring schedule this year, so I’m mostly to blame. That said, Sanhedrin is definitely looking to get out there and play wherever people will have us in the coming months and years.

We’ve been able to share bills with amazing bands, both local and national, that we may not have if we were elsewhere

* Speaking of playing NYC what would you say are the pros and cons of being a band in NYC – I know probably half the bands in the country would die to relocate to a major city like NYC or LA and half the NYC bands would die to move out to say Richmond VA or Philly.
There’s a lot to like about being in a band here. We’ve been able to share bills with amazing bands, both local and national, that we may not have if we were elsewhere. I think my favorite thing about being a musician here is being in a melting pot of music in general. Every type of music has a home here, and you get exposed to sounds from all over the globe living here that people who live in less diverse places may never get exposed to. I’m a generally curious person, so hearing all these different sounds definitely informs what I do.

There are drawbacks too. The obvious one is the cost of living, which is really high here. Couple that with making music in an era where it’s been devalued in a lot of ways, and it can be stressful sometimes. It’s also tough to find rehearsal space, and venues have a hard time staying afloat here too. That said, there are a lot of great people here who work hard to put on shows and keep things vibrant in the face of hardship.

 

* Have you guys played overseas as Sanhedrin yet? If not any plans to do so?
We would love to get overseas. In fact, our record is doing pretty well in Europe so we would like to go over there and play for all the great metalheads over there. All in due time I suppose.

* Sanhedrin is Greek for “assembly” or “council” right? What does the name mean to you guys?
It is Greek as well as Hebrew. I suggested the name when we were trying to figure out what we should call ourselves. We feel like naming the band after a “council” accurately reflects our creative process. In terms of songwriting and how we go forward with presenting our art, it’s important that we do so with a sense of unity amongst each other. We make the decisions as a team, not as one individual telling everyone else what to do.

We will be playing a couple shows in the Bay Area of California

* What can we expect from Sanhedrin in 2018?
Well, in January it looks like we will be playing a couple shows in the Bay Area of California. We’re still working out the details, but we are really look forward to that. Erica used to live out there and played in some pretty accomplished bands, and I know she’s excited to show her old friends what she’s been up to lately. After that, we hope to get out of town when we can and spread the word of Sanhedrin with as many people who will listen. We’ve also begun writing the next album, and I expect we will get a lot done on that front in 2018 as well.

* Any final words?
I just want to give a big “thank you” to everybody who has supported us to this point. We have been pleasantly surprised and touched by the feedback coming our way upon releasing “A Funeral For The World.” It’s been very encouraging and we hope to see as many of you all as we can in person in the coming year.

 

Interview with Crypt – Aussie Death Metal Legends

Today I spoke with Nathan from Crypt, Aussie Death Metal legends – for those who don’t know they were a big name down under who were active from 1990, splitting in 2000 only to reform in 2016. here’s my interview with guitarist Nathan

Why the break for so long? Were you guys all doing the family thing or?
At the time we stopped in 2000 the band had run out of gas. There was no plan to any of it, we just went our separate ways. I kept playing in bands and Cliff was doing Audio stuff, Allan was drumming in the Hymies for a long time too. Resurrecting the band happened naturally, Chris from Infernal Devastation asked Cliff about reissuing the 90s stuff which got us back in touch with each other. Initially it was just going to be about making the music available again but eventually the idea of us playing became a big deal to us all so we booked some shows that went really well and before long I was writing new songs.

The scene has a renewed energy with so many younger people being into it, there’s some exciting new bands and labels around- its great!

How has the DM scene changed since you have returned?
The scene has a renewed energy with so many younger people being into it, there’s some exciting new bands and labels around- its great! There’s also a lot more scope in metal now, it used to be metal and nothing else, now people into extreme metal listen to all kinds of stuff, its really helped to broaden the sound of extreme music, from stuff like SUNN O)))) to some of the newer synth stuff like Pertubator and S U R V I V E, even extreme noise shit like Russell Haswell or Fushitsusha is likely to be found in record collections that contain a lot of metal. Look at a band like Faceless Burial, all 3 of them are in other projects, Max and Alex play ALL kinds of music.

How was it to play with Nocturnus? Were you in contact with them in the early days?
It was great to see Nocturnus, although I would have loved it if Mike Davis was on guitar, that guy was out of control. I wasn’t in touch with them back in the day but those first 3 Nocturnus releases (up to the 7″) are killer, The Key is obviously a classic.

Both Death Metal and to a slightly lesser extent Black metal have thrived in Australia – do you see much similarities between the Queensland DM scene and say the Tampa one of the late 80s early 90s?
Not much other than both places being humid.

Brisbane has a very rich history of interesting bands. It’s a strange place.

Can you tell our readers what the scene in Queensland is like these days?
I moved to Melbourne in 2004 so didn’t have much to do with the current scene there until recently. It kind of feels much the same these days, there’s a lot of metal and punk bands around and only a couple of venues so not much has changed there. I’ve always found the scene in Brisbane a little claustrophobic being a smaller town there’s the same faces at every gig when it’s a local band, and a whole other crowd that appears for internationals. That said, Brisbane has a very rich history of interesting bands. It’s a strange place.

What are your thoughts on the new cannibal corpse album?
Haven’t heard it, I stopped listening to them when Chris Barnes departed.

How did the deal with EVP come about?
I work at the label, we were originally going to self-release but Mike who runs the label was keen to do it on EVP so of course we said yes!

Bandcamp exists now, not just an awesome place to discover music but a great tool for bands/musicians/labels.

Is there anything you miss from the old days of the scene? Eg: writing letters instead of emails? The thrill of discovering new bands and hunting down rare import copies of their vinyl etc?
Not really, it’s much easier now to get your music heard – there was no internet when we started out hahaha. It was exciting discovering new stuff back then but a lot of that had to do with our ages at the time I think. The 90s were a bad time for vinyl, it got to the point where new albums didn’t even come out on wax, whereas now everything comes out on vinyl. And venues are much better now, they usually have good PAs! I’m not all that sentimental for the ‘good old days’, things are just as good now, you just need to work a bit harder to cut through all the crap that’s out there. also Bandcamp exists now, not just an awesome place to discover music but a great tool for bands/musicians/labels.

Has your guitar set up changed much over the years? What would you tell your younger self if you could send one message back in time as far as guitar playing or gear?
Yeah it’s much better now I can afford real good shit haha! But the basic idea has stayed the same -using a tube head with built in gain, and a flanger pedal. I’ve never found a distortion pedal I’ve been totally happy with. Back in the 90s I was using a Peavey Ultra Plus head, now I have a 50W Soldano head in tandem with a Fender Prosonic head, the gain in the Soldano is the best I’ve ever heard. If there was one ‘gear’ related thing I could tell my younger self it would be to buy as much 70s Fender stuff as I could, it was real cheap in the early 90s and is worth a fortune now!

We’re definitely wanting to play in the USA next year

What goals would you love to achieve this time around?
Yeah playing MDF would be amazing. We’re definitely wanting to play in the USA next year, we have tentative plans to do so in the 2nd half of 2018. There’s almost an albums worth of music written for a new Crypt album so hopefully we can get that out next year too. We’re spread out across Brisbane/Sydney/Melbourne so we need to plan when we’re going to get together and get the most out of it, we only tour once a year so generally recording is done at the same time while were all together.

Any final words?
Thanks for the interview! Anyone interested in what we’re up to head to our facebook page – facebook.com/cryptdeathmetal/

Interview with Palmistry – Montreal Doom

Palmistry are an up and coming doom band based out of Montreal Quebec. I am a great believer in cities as musical scenes and yet again Montreal does not fail to produce another great band. Read the interview and learn something

* There is not really much about the history of the band online – so can you tell us how the band came about?
We had a band together from 2013-2015 called ALPHA WAVES , with K.B on vocals and members of “Warslaves” . We left the project aside because of schedules , but some tracks just stayed with us and we felt like they would be amazing for a traditional doom project .

* How did you guys decide that it was doom that you wanted to play together?
It kinda came naturally because we are huge doom fans . We wanted to get into this dark place with the story telling and the general vibe , so doom was just IT for us.

* Have either of you played in any local bands before Palmistry?
Yes, C.B is the lead vocalist and bass player in Warslaves & lead guitarist/vocal in Shezmu.

For now it’s just us writing music and telling stories we want to tell

* Since you are a husband and wife duo have you figured out how you guys are going to pull this off live? I think the days of “traditional vocals/bass/drums /guitar bands” line ups are not so limiting – I just saw Swiss group Bolzer perform Friday night and they are a two piece with a huge wall of sound and it works.
For now it’s just us writing music and telling stories we want to tell. It’s nice to create something as a couple, especially doom music since we love it so much. But it’s not definitive that we will be only 2 members and what we want to do for live shows. For now, this is our baby and we’re just having fun creating.

* Have you played many live shows to date?
No not yet. We want to be really satisfied with the album before we go live and it’s nice to keep some mystery for now.

* How do you guys go about writing songs? Do you start with a guitar riff? Lyrics? how does it work?
Usually the riffs are what comes first . We like to create a mood and then tell a story. But we both write lyrics randomly when we get inspired by something, so it depends on how we feel really

Tarotology , Palmistry, demonology and occultism in general has always been a huge part of K.B’s life

* Do you guys follow any occult paths? if so what ones and why?
Tarotology , Palmistry, demonology and occultism in general has always been a huge part of K.B’s life. It’s something she studied for years and still do.

* What’s the recording process like for Palmistry do you map everything out on a home computer first? Record everything live starting with drums? Please explain the process
Most of the songs were born on an acoustic guitar. Just jamming and composing. Then C.B records everything on his computer and we take our time to listen to it and flow with the vibe and lyrics. Then we add the vocal.

* What has the reaction been like for your demo so far?
The reaction to the demo has been great. Traditional doom fans gave us such good feedback , and people who weren’t used to the genre got into it, so it’s fucking amazing

* I see the band is based in Montreal (beautiful city) are you both born and raised there? if not where from?
K.B was born and raised in Montreal and C.B is from a small town called GENTILLY, 2 hours outside Montreal.

Montreal’s metal scene is indeed fucking amazing

* Why do you think Montreal has such a great metal scene?
Montreal’s metal scene is indeed fucking amazing. People TRULY love the music, not many posers and bullshit. The bands here just support each other SO MUCH it creates this great vibe and respect at every shows. Montreal is known to be super open minded and diverse, especially in the music scene. You can feel the love and its seriously magical at times.

* I know you guys are working on a full length album when can we expect it and what can we expect from the album?
We would love to put the album out at the end of 2017/ beginning of 2018. We’re not rushing it ! We want to get into this really dark place and just experiment with the vibe and vocals

* What goals does Palmistry have for 2018?
Writing more music, shows , maybe doing splits with other bands. Lots of partying and rituals

* Any final words?
Stay tuned and spread the love !

Interview with Rance – Atmospheric Black Metal from France

This week I Spoke to Gaetan of Cepheide about his other band Rance, if like me you are a fan of Atmospheric Black metal then ya gotta check these guys out! Here’s the interview:

* What does the name Rance mean?
We were looking for a single name or french word. Something simple because this is how we feel the project, that differs from «traditional» or «romantic» black metal aspects. The voice is not omnipresent in the band, we didn’t wanted to be conceptual in order to keep the project really «open». After brainstormings, Rance came to us as an evidence.

Our music is sometimes depressive but always luminous

* You describe Rance as Luminous black metal – please describe to readers who have not heard you before what this means?
«Luminous» was first found during the composition period to name a few caracteristic riffs. Lila wrote it physically for the first time the day we had to play on stage and describe the band to the booker. This word stayed because we felt it as an evidence, and people around us were curious. Our music is sometimes depressive but always luminous, almost positive sometimes and really different from traditional black metal

* Does this differ from your work in Cephiede? Some bands happily include their noisier work and their more atmospheric work on the same albums – why divide the two?
Gaetan : Although both are Atmospheric Black Metal projects, the process and feeling about music is very different. To draw an exaggerated line, you could say that Rance is a live project, while Cepheide is a studio project. What I mean by that is for Cepheide, the composing is done prior to playing. When we get to play, it’s mostly about polishing the details, and enjoy playing the new songs together, but the song is mostly done by the time we enter the rehearsal room. With Rance, it’s the exact opposite. Yann and Lila agree on the first chords, and we play for hours until a structure comes out of it. We have a fairly similar vision of what we want for the dynamic of our songs so they end up feeling “alive” or “instinctive”. The concretization is also different. With Cepheide we very much value the recording process. Tracks are recorded on click, instruments per instruments, and we’re constantly looking for a sound identity. This add up to many hours of work, and we’re extremely exigent about the final result. For Rance, it’s again different. Our first EP was recorded live. The goal was for our tracks to be bearer of emotions, while assuming a more “garage” production. To conclude, I’d say both projects are as pleasing as they are different.

* How did you find the other members of Rance and what do they think of your work on Cephiede?
We quickly met after I moved to Paris. Yann and Lila know each other for a long time. I was actively looking for a band, and we instantly got along, be it musically or personally. Anthony, a friend from Strasbourg, my hometown, took care of vocals on the first EP and our 3 first live shows. Today, the project is mainly instrumental. We mutually respect each others projects, although Rance and Cepheide aren’t closely related on a personal level.

It becomes a moment of total abandon which I have a hard time defining

* How do you find just playing the drums in Rance as you also play guitars and sing in Cephiede – is it more relaxing or?
Gaetan: There are two musical aspects and musical energy that are very different. In Cepheide, there is a opposite force that is quite interesting. There is the melodic aspect of guitar that requires a bit of concentration, or even a strong focus as it’s the songs root, while singing brings to a state of self forgetness, by the energy it takes and the emotions it creates. When singing is exacerbating, it sometimes happens that you’d finish a sentence or a scream and wonder how your body coped with it. It’s quite interesting to wonder about this coordination, how the body reacts when confronted to those two opposite reactions to music.

For Rance, playing the drums and always writing music together allows me to simply be driven by Yann and Lila’s melodies, which is extremely pleasant. Doing so, it happens that the drum patterns change from one day to the next, depending on the feeling of the moment. The physical aspect of drumming is also very important. There are moments of real effort, and when those efforts react in an instinctive way to Yann and Lila’s melodies, it becomes a moment of total abandon which I have a hard time defining, and that’s why each live show with Rance is a very intense experience for me.

* How did you guys record the songs for Rance? Professional studio or a home set up ? Do you record live or is everything layered (drums recorded then guitars then vocals?)
Gaetan : As mentioned earlier, we recorded our first EP like we would play during the rehearsals. We recorded everything together, including vocals, because it was important to us to do it that way, all together

* All of the songs on the EP have peoples names – are they based on actual people or?
Gaetan : Indeed, this often puzzles people, but it was not our goal. First of all, during the band’s first year, the project was instrumental, and with no intention of fitting black metal codes, so the titles just came out naturally, without any question and Lila is very inspired for that.

* Do you intend to do any live shows as Rance? Touring?
Gaetan : Yes, live matters a lot to us. We played a few shows for the release of the demo, and some more are scheduled for the end of the year.

* What kind of feedback have you had on the EP so far?
Gaetan : We had more than we would have hoped for. We had a lot of live offers and support. It’s really important for a first release. We haven’t took the time to prospect for reviews or that kind of things, because we were all very busy on our sides, but we’re going to look into it so that this EP gets to shine a bit more before we release the next one!

This is the role of our EP : push to introspection, to find his own creative impulses

* What is the image you have used on the artwork and does it have a symbolic meaning for Rance?
Lila : This form is abstract. Everyone can get his own interpretation. Concentric shapes may evoke a radiation symbol, a galaxy (see Galaxy du tourbillon, drawn by Lors Rosse, 1845), the “7 cercles du purgatoire” (illustrated by Gustave Doré in La Divine Comédie, Dante), a corridor, or a matrix. Something fruitful and conducive to the opening, a substrate from which spout a creative force. This is the role of our EP : push to introspection, to find his own creative impulses. I grown with Rance music and marked universe for 3 years old. Our music, both dark by the style (black metal) and luminous in its interstices, gave me the answer natural to do this draw ant the technic I used to make it (black ink).

* What can we expect from Rance in 2017? Full length album?
Gaetan : We hope to release something new by the end of 2017. We don’t know yet if this will be a 2 tracks EP or a full length album, but there will definitely be a new release soon!

Interview with Walpyrgus – North Carolina hard rockers

Walpyrgus was formed in 2012 in Raleigh North Carolina to write, record and perform hard rock / heavy metal music. They’re influenced by Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, old Slayer , The Ramones, The Scorpions. Today I got to speak to Scott and Peter from the band – read on

* First off congrats on the album it sounds retro but with a totally fresh spin on it – how long were you guys working on this before you went into the studio?
Peter Lemieux: ‘The Dead of Night’ and ‘We Are the Wolves’ were the first demos I ever heard, so really since the formation of the band!

Scott Waldrop: Yes, Peter had a home studio right there in our jam space so we recorded lots of demos of these songs right when we started the band in 2012. It was about 3 years of long nights in the basement and several gigs in The Carolinas – and at some Fests to “test” the songs in front of a crowd. There were different incarnations of the tunes and we tweaked them several times before eventually going into “Volume 11 Studios” here in Raleigh NC to get the drums and guitar rhythms done. We of course, are all inspired by older bands from 70’s prog to 80’s punk, but we use modern gear.

For instance, Charley and I play through Mesa Boogie amps with modern guitars containing emg pickups. Him and I discussed guitar tone when we started the band – whether we wanted to play Gibson SG’s through old Marshalls or go full “meathead” metal with the sound. So, we opted to use our pointy guitars with sizzle tones and that ethos of “modern tone” verses “old school song-writing” followed us aesthetically unto the album’s completion. Basically, the philosophy was, “Let’s write cool classic metal songs in the vein of the early 80’s masters but let’s take advantage of technology and not make this band a retro novelty by going out of our way to track down vintage gear and record on analog”.

It’s like if Gary Holt from Exodus was hired to come into The Grateful Dead’s practice and whip the guitarists into shape

* How did you write for this album – does it start with a guitar riff? Lyrics? Does everyone bring ideas to the studio or do you rule with an iron fist?
Peter Lemieux: Scott, for the most part would come up with the skeleton tracks, i.e. rough guitar and some vocals! We would flesh out the songs together, at rehearsal, but also on the side with guitar jams and rhythm section practices!

Scott Waldrop: That’s right. I will write a song in my home studio with a drum machine. I’ll do a simple guitar version with my example vocals/lyrics then take it to the band. At band practice, we’ll pick it apart and scrutinize all the tempos, the rhythms, chord progression and fills. I give the guys something simple so that they can all bring their expertise to it. Peter will add all his cool quirky drum fills, Aune will fine-tune the melodies and vocal harmonies, Jim is always the “master” editor usually adding the minutia that give our songs their signature dynamics, and Charley basically just swoops in and polishes our guitar playing up completely. He obsesses over how many time we’ll palm mute on a 16th note and have us bend our Schneker harmonies 100 times until he’s somewhat “okay” with them, ha ha. He gives me the kick in the ass I need to NOT be a sloppy hippy of a musician. It’s like if Gary Holt from Exodus was hired to come into The Grateful Dead’s practice and whip the guitarists into shape, ha ha.

* How was the recording process? Did you guys use a lot of analog gear or was it all plugging right into the desk?
Scott Waldrop: No, we were in a proper studio for most of it but at the same time we did record in Pro-Tools. We didn’t use analog at all but Tom went to great lengths to make the album sound as organic as possible. It’s funny – we were tempted by those “reels” as both of the main studios we recorded the main tracks in down here in Raleigh NC have working vintage reel to reel machines. First, we went to Volume 11 Studios (owned by Mike Dean of Corrosion of Conformity) so it’s like the C.O.C. “nest” in there – full of all kinds of amazing boutique effects, amps and vintage gear.

Mike Shaffer of local thrash legends Blatant Disarray engineered the drums and rhythm guitars. He even played some rhythm on “Torch” during the solo section which he didn’t get credit for on the liner notes so I’ll give it to him here, ha ha. Recording everything in that studio was incredibly fun. There’s such a cool atmosphere and history in that room.

It’s rad being surrounded by Corrosion of Conformity’s road cases and there’s this guitar stand Motorhead gave them, guitars Metallica gave them etc. Anyway, then we took the album a few blocks away over to long-time collaborator and Twisted Tower Dire engineer/vocal coach John E. Wooten of Widow and just a long-time friend. He’s the guy I call if we need help with vocals or if I need help moving a piece of furniture. That said, recording vocals with him is pretty much the “fun stuff” being in a band is all about.

When we get together in the studio and start working we joke around between takes, laugh at ourselves, and you know- it’s like we’re still 20 years old. Wooten did however, wind up going to college for audio engineering and was mentored for a long time by producer James Lugo (if you google this guy his resume/client list is insane. I went over to their studio one night to help fix a cable and they were recording vocals for a Disney movie, ha ha ha. Anyway, so Wooten helped us produce the vocals. Many of the vocal melodies are his ideas and he probably should have received a little more “defined” credit on the liner notes as well.

He (Wooten) sang with us a lot on the album too on the back-up vocals. After vox, Tom Phillips took over orchestrating keyboards and editing EVERYTHING. He painstakingly nudged things bit by bit to keep the organic integrity of the album. The hours he spent doing this were unbelievable but it’s the main thing that holds the album together as sounding “vintage”. Once you “snap to the grid” it sounds like modern robotic production which turns a lot of people off including myself. I really wanted something between “Powerslave” and “Nevermind The Bullocks” when I referenced the overall ”sonic wall” I wanted to hear. After Tom was done putting it through the “While Heaven Wept” ringer (which was an epic process to say the least), he sent it over to long-time trustee Kevin 131 of Assembly Line studios to mix it (again, look at his resume – the guy’s a bad ass) and finally over to Kevin’s mastering counterpart Bill Wolf to give the album its final polish. And there you go! That’s a how a Walpyrgus album is made.

* You and bassist Jim were in OCT 31 together right – how did you guys meet? There has to be a good story there!
Scott Waldrop: I’ve never got this question, ha ha. It is a good one! Jim and I grew in the DC Metal scene and we were both Deceased fans. I saw his band Springheel Jack play with Deceased one time (we must have both been under 18 at the time) at the legendary Safari Club and I knew one day I would “steal” him ha ha. He was a totally awesome bass player back then already. He was this super tall and gangly kid with hair down to his ass and looked like Cliff Burton. I thought, “I need dudes like this in my band!”

Anyway, we knew each other for a while from the scene and when October 31 needed a singer Tony Taylor (TTD) tried out and got the gig. I think Tony kind of talked King into bringing me along as a “side package” because they wanted a rhythm guitar player after losing Kevin Lewis. Tony knew I was a big Deceased and that it was kind of like a “dream come true” for me to play in a band with King. So, Jim and I wound up riding together a lot on October 31 trips because I drove this little ford ranger pickup that only seats two.

We’d haul the gear in the back and put the other guys in Brian’s car. Jim and I were immediate kindred spirits with very similar senses of humor and tastes in music so having each other’s company made those long rides across the Midwest tolerable.

So, yea, we have like 20+ years- worth of voices and comic routines we entertain ourselves with on car rides to this day. Our bandmates pretty much just sit back and listen to us talk nonsense in weird voices for hours on end. I suppose the most pertinent bit of information is that him and I discovered early on that we had a very natural-flowing relationship when it comes to writing music. It’s very easy for us to sit down with guitars and get creative and we know each other’s weird quirks, as well as likes and dislikes. He can analyze seconds of me playing a guitar riff, then say, “Keep the first ‘Dead Kennedys’ dinga-ling, keep chugging on ‘Seek & Destroy” and do the ‘Revenge of the Nerds’ funk stop,” – and I’ll know exactly what he’s talking about.

Woman universally love him

* How did you find vocalist Jonny? Historically for so many bands, everyone spends years learning how to play guitar, or drums, how to write songs whatever and many singers are just like “yeah let me try that” whereas real singers like Jonny usually are very hard to find
Scott Waldrop: Jim Hunter was the talent scout that found Jonny, ha ha. He called me one day back around ’07 and was like, “Man, there’s this band of teenagers in a band called Viper I just saw last night and they’re way better than us!” We were looking for a singer at the time so Jim insisted I go check them out. So, I went out and saw Viper play at The Berkley here in Raleigh and was amazed by this guy’s stage presence and voice. Jonny is one of those guys who just resonates good vibes to everyone he comes across. He’s very magnetic which is the most important aspect of a lead singer. He’s the sort of person who’s just great at whatever he tries to do. He was a great athlete in high school. He knows how to look cool and present himself aesthetically that’s a little more over-the-top than most be never seeming to appear as though any effort is put into it. Woman universally love him and nonetheless he’s married to his high school girlfriend. I don’t know what the hell it is but the man has some swagger and some sort of “it” factor that is very special. So those are some of the things I love about the guy and why I like having him as our lead singer.

I’m just glad he wanted to be friends with me, ha ha ha. He’s like this super charming, talented, beam of light who helps me channel my creative ideas. So, yea, we were just EXTREMELY lucky to find him when we did. You know, aside from all of his natural talent & mojo, he grew up playing bass & singing in his Dad’s church. The Aune’s are a very interesting and tight family. They’d been grooming him to be an awesome musician since he could walk & talk basically. He knows music theory from stacking hymn harmonies as a second nature. I’ve played with guys that have formal classical music training/college degrees like Tom Phillips and Jonny can have a conversation about counterpoints, Mixolydian, and minor 3rds with the best of them. I remember his Dad saying at his wedding that one of the things about his son that amazed him was his ability to excel at the things he loved to do. They had photos of him being projected on the wall from when he was this badass high school athlete, then there were photos of him when music came into his life and he was starting his own bands, and then lots of photos of him and his (now) wife & mother of his child Nicole growing up together. My point is, he’s a very focused, intelligent, loyal, dedicated guy. He’s the architype of the sort of person I want as a friend and a bandmate. I never worried about him. He’s solid.

* In my opinion, its great seeing younger guys like yourselves playing almost a throwback to 80s style metal – tons of great guitar parts but also super tuneful songs. How did you guys get into this style of playing?
Scott Waldrop: As far as “music career” shelf life is concerned – I’m way passed my expiration date and indeed am older than dirt! Me, Tom, Jim, and Charley are in our 40’s. You must have been looking at Carlos, Peter or Jonny, ha ha ha. Thank you though! I feel young physically and mentally. Well, Charley I met back in the mid 90’s and he grew up with the whole Raleigh North Carolina scene – bands like Corrosion of Conformity, & Confessor.

Me, Jim & Tom grew up in the 80’s/90’s in the Washington DC music scene which entailed everything from punk/hardcore like Fugazi, Bad Brains, Minor Threat and the massive death/thrash metal scene centering around the community King Fowley of Deceased created. Up in D.C. there was ALSO the whole Pentagram / Maryland Doom Scene. You know- like most of the Hellhound bands were from the DC/Baltimore area like Revelation (Jim’s old band), Iron Man, Internal Void etc.

In the city there was some awesome grass roots seminal heavy music & punk we were lucky to be a part of and witness. But a few miles out in the suburbs there was something else going on. Kids were watching MTV and seeing the California hair bands. In 1984 my neighborhood was full of teenagers who had their bedroom walls covered in Motley Crue & Van Halen posters. That music was like teenage religion back then so it made a big impression on me.

Peter Lemieux: Believe it or not, my dad got me into playing the old school traditional metal! He took me to all the concerts while I was growing up and we’ve gone to see each other’s bands play countless times! The Dude plays Tony Iommi in a Black Sabbath Tribute for, Pete’s sake!

I’m budgeting time between writing music and perusing new horizons like the world of ultrarunning and charity work

* Are you aware of bands like Sumerlands and Eternal Champion who are also kind of in this modern retro genre?
Scott Waldrop: I’ve heard of Eternal Champion and I know this genre has been stirred up and that it’s simmered repeatedly since the mid 90’s so it’s never really gone too far out of fashion in the grand scheme of things. I used to be very involved in meeting and fraternizing with bands and I’m sure there’s lots of amazing talent out there, but now that I’m 41 I like to spend my time differently. I don’t drink alcohol anymore and just prefer to stay away from too much nightlife when possible. It’s not that I don’t care or want to encourage younger people to carry on this music or feel jaded in any way. I just have but so many hours in my day and days left in my life so I’m budgeting time between writing music and perusing new horizons like the world of ultrarunning and charity work (not to mention most importantly my beloved wife and teenage son). So, yea, I know about them but don’t go out of my way to listen to new music and I do wish them well. I supposed I’m just acting my age. I’m still and extreme person but those characteristics of my personality just manifest in different ways rather than me going out and getting wild and crazy. When I play with newer bands I always very much enjoy seeing younger people playing this music and loving it as I do – it proves that the genre is timeless which is a beautiful thing. When I look around at all these younger bands it makes me feel like heavy metal has won. When I say that I mean that heavy metal has carved out a place for itself in popular culture. It’s universal in its energy so new generations keep tapping into it. It’s here to stay. I think metal will (in the long run) be a very defined genre separate from rock, rap, blues etc. It has its own culture which is ever-flowing, so kudos to bands like Sumerlands (I love that name) and Eternal Champion for taking “carrying the sword with a burning skull impaled on its tip”. That run-on phrase sounded cooler and more metal than “carrying the torch”.

I’m cool with a lot of wiccan ideas and I’m very much into spirituality

* Am I right in thinking Walyrgus is a variation of the word Walpurgis ? In Germanic folklore, Walpurgisnacht literally means “Witches’ Night”. Are any of the band practicing pagans? if so what faith?
Scott Waldrop: Yes, we wanted the band to be about occult and supernatural topics. No, we aren’t into anything like that at all. It’s all about dark fantasy metaphor because the words involved in its general vernacular sound cool. I’m cool with a lot of wiccan ideas and I’m very much into spirituality but I’m my own animal. I navigate ethereal matters on intuition and through meditation. I don’t identify with any religion or group in-particular. I feel like to be in touch with spirit you need to remove yourself from religion or groups. Too much vernacular and dogma blur the focus of the mission which is to know spirit and not to belong to a secular group. We’re all stardust that will succumb to the same final singularity. The second you ever arrive at any feeling like, “Okay, I’ve got this, there’s nothing more to learn or understand”, you’ve cut yourself off from the possibility of further growth. Health and wellness have become of paramount importance to me as a sober alcoholic. I think it’s incumbent upon on all of us to continuously evolve as individuals and a species. That entails letting go of ego and seeking mindful consciousness as much as we can access it. Religion groups with which we identity our spiritual or philosophical perspectives is all too often fashion. What’s worse is conviction, as it drives a wedge between people with conflicting beliefs. So Walpyrgus is just nonsensical tales of witchery and cartoon Armageddon. We’re no less or more serious than Scooby Doo is about catching ghosts. Let’s keep it real! I’ve seen what those dudes look like in the Renaissance Festivals. You think those boys could hold their own in The Viking Age??? Those were some scary times. You could legally walk up to some dude and be like, “I want your house, your wife, your children, …and I’m going to fight you to the death for them.” And if the dude killed you, he got to keep all your stuff fair & square! So, no, there’s like some Pagan “nature energy stuff” I relate to but I’m rather glad I don’t have to make my way in The Dark Ages. I like doing 100-mile foot races. That’s my idea of channeling my inner pagan-toughness. That’s where I find a lot of my spirituality. I’ve been to a lot of conventions, festivals – even people’s houses who were practicing wiccans, purported witches, and voodoo practitioners and it felt way too much like Cosplay to me. I’m like the saxophone player from “The Lost Boys” ‘cause “I still BELIEVE”.

It’s pronounced “WALRUS PENIS”

* While we are on the subject of the name – what’s the correct pronunciation and who came up with it?
Scott Waldrop: It’s pronounced “WALRUS PENIS”. Okay got that joke out of the way. The proper way to say our name is: “WALL PURRRR GUS” That’s “Wall” as in “The Great Wall of China” or Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” if you like. Then “purrrr” as in the sound a cat makes. And lastly “GUS” as a dude named Gus or “Gus G.” if we want to get all Heavy Metal Nerdy about it.

* You guys are from North Carolina right? How’s the metal scene down there? The Carolinas have a long history of producing great bands: COC, Confessor, Nile etc. Any idea on why the 2 states are so prolific considering you don’t have the population numbers like say California, NY or Florida does?
Scott Waldrop: Yea I think it’s because of the college scene down here. There’s a huge art/music culture which has existed here for a long time. You have just in one small area some of The American South’s top colleges clustered very close together in the Raleigh area. I’m talking about North Carolina State, Chapel Hill, Wake Forest, Duke. And then you also have a bunch of very old and venerable smaller colleges like Peace College, Meredith College and so on and so forth. There’s a constant influx of intellectual people flowing in and out of the area so there’s never been any shortage of clubs to play at or bands to play with. There’s a special “energy” here that’s very conducive to playing music. For instance, in downtown Raleigh there is one giant building that houses a club called The Maywood which is a great nightclub for metal/punk/indy bands. In the same building, there is a studio owned by Mike Dean from COC called “Volume 11” studios which is famous around here. Also, still in this same building – there is this massive labyrinth of rehearsal spaces so you can walk through there on any given night and like here like 20 bands rehearsing at once. COC and The Connells are in there sometimes. Also, downtown one of our main landmarks is an outdoor amphitheater you see as you drive through the city called The Red Hat. Slayer played outdoors there last week so all of Raleigh was being shook by “Angel of Death” ha ha. This amphitheater has a mosaic of a giant oak tree (our city’s symbol) which softly changes color like one of those meditation salt rock lights (if you have any idea what the f**k I’m talking about by that). It’s a very giant breathtaking art installation which really accentuates the city’s skyline and I know it must be surreal for artists on stage to look out on this see of faces under this trippy flickering mural. I saw Blondie there while there was a full moon over the buildings, over the hue-shifting mural, and over the amphitheater full of faces dancing on grass. She commented on how magical our city is. I turned around to take stock of what she must have been taking in from the stage and I, “Yea our city is pretty damn awesome.” Just within Raleigh, you have tons of clubs to play in like Slim’s, King’s, Deep South, The Pour House, Southland Ballroom, Berkley, Black Flower, The Lincoln Theater, The Ritz etc. etc. That’s not even talking about Durham and Chapel Hill which as two close-by cities with lots of other clubs. So, yea, we have it good down here culturally as a place for musicians to fraternize. Also, you know – when you’re talking about the music scene down here and you only mention metal, you’re only “scraping the surface” of the actual music scene because Indy Rock, Indy Folk, & Punk down here are pretty much everything. There’s a whole radio station devoted to it and of course the scenes cross-pollinate a lot. I think also it’s slow-paced down here compared to DC or Atlanta.

In the Carolinas, we pretty much grow crops, go to college, brew craft beer, swim in the ocean and hike in the mountains. I’d say our state is a fairly “existentially aware” sort of place as the culturally there seems to be an emphasis on enjoying life and you know – not giving too much of as shit about what nightmares are transpiring in The White House. There is room to breathe here and really think about art and music. This wonderful state is a place people come to visit for Holidays to have fun. It’s a major sports destination. It has the best beaches on the East Coast of North America and the most beautiful mountains (The Smokey Mountains) in the East – google photos of them, they are right out of a J.R.R. Tolkien story with their ever-rising mists. Our beaches are the cleanest, full of beautiful shells, ancient lighthouses, and boast most of the best surfing on the East Coast. To the west in Asheville you have some of the best mountain-loving hippy right wing liberal culture in the country. In the middle of the state, you have Charlotte and Raleigh which are major metropolitan hubs generating big income, sports, and influential people.

To the east you have a beach culture so distinct and desirable people come from all over this giant country and Canada just to spend a little time here. I think all the aforementioned is why you have such a perfect breeding ground for bands to be born out of. We live in a place that celebrates life and places value on the quality living and not necessarily “how much you can get done before you drop dead”. I was born here in North Carolina so I have to give it a big “shout out” and I believe everything I just said despite my inherent predilection for this place. This is my home and I love it. Great things manifest here!

* Have you guys done much touring on this album yet? If so what has the response been so far?
Scott Waldrop: We haven’t toured. The furthest this band has gone out of The Carolinas was Chicago for Ragnarökkr Metal Apocalypse and also back to Chicago this year when that fest became The Legions of Metal Fest. We’re going to Ventura California this October for Frost and Fire III https://www.facebook.com/frostandfiremetalfest/ (Thanks Jarvis!). The response has been quite good from all the reviews I’ve read. Of course, there are bad reviews of our music because not everyone will like your music but I’ve never heard us be accused of be sloppy or uninspired on stage. I’ve got a great team and I practice guitar a lot to keep up with those dudes. It helps that Carlos has been touring with Weedeater too because when he comes home and we do local gigs, he’s really in shape on the drums. People seem to consistently say the band is “tight” and that our enthusiastic energy is infectious on the crowd.

So, that’s exactly what we set out to do in the very beginning back in 2012. I want people to watch Walpyrgus live and think, “These guys belong together, they look like a gang, you can tell they work towards a common goal, they have vision, they’re a team, there are no weak links, no one looks like they wish they weren’t on stage, etc. etc.” Yea, I want you to think ALL that, ha ha ha. You know when you see a band and they’re great but there’s that one person that just looks like they don’t quite belong and that the band had to “settle” on this individual as a bandmate? I want us to never have to be like that.

You know, there’s always that opening band were each member looks like a very dedicated metalhead musician with sweeping chops and wild hair and all that… BUT they’ve got that one guy: a mediocre bassist who’s “competent” but playing with a pick. He’s wearing khaki Old Navy cargo shorts and some “regular person” T-shirt (maybe a well-worn white “Hard Rock Café” Las Vegas” shirt). We’d like to avoid that. It’s painful for the audience to look at something like that. It’s awkward for everyone involved.

In Walpyrgus as a rule, each member is integral to our live show. When we started this band one of the points was to be a great live band. When Peter left it was crushingly sad for us as I could not think of anyone that was worthy of replacing him down here – at least anyone that I knew personally already and trusted. There was only one guy I was willing to replace Peter with (and this was Peter’s suggestion too) – Carlos Denogean from Salvación. The only problem was that Carlos lives 2.5 ours east on the ocean in Wilmington. Still, it was worth us to travel to have him to hold our integrity as powerhouse line-up. That’s not to say he doesn’t sacrifice to drive to us as well because he does and we much appreciate it. Carlos kept this band alive.

* What can we expect from Walpyrgus for the rest of the year?
Peter Lemieux: You can expect to see us in Ventura, California the weekend of Oct 6-8 at Frost and Fire III with tons of other great bands! (including Twisted Tower Dire featuring Jonny, Scott, AND Jim!!!)

Scott Waldrop: We’ve got a very cassette version of “Walpyrgus Nights” coming out. Watch for announcements on that if you’re a tape person. I’ve got lots of new songs demoed. If Enrico at Cruz Del Sur wants another Walpyrgus album we’re going to start putting it together. Jonny and Charley have young kids so that makes things trickier with timing things. I have a teenager, several other music projects, and a whole “career” (if you will), around my distance running & charity work so I need real momentum or enthusiasm for projects (running or music) to justify focusing my time on them. I spend so much time in the studio and out on trails training that budgeting my time & sleep while not letting my family life suffer, has become an obsessive science.

That said, I’m sitting back and watching how “Walpyrgus Nights” is being received throughout the year to gauge whether or not The Universe is pushing me in the direction of a second album or just allowing the legacy of this one great (in my opinion) set of songs to stay intact & unblemished. We know if we do a follow it cannot be half-hearted as we put what I would call an almost immeasurable amount of thought and energy into these songs. If we tried to rush a follow up without enough forethought I’m sure fans would notice and may be disappointed. So, as with everything – the future of the band is tentative but generally bright.

* Any final words?
Scott Waldrop: Yes, thank you so much for taking interest in us and letting us talk. Yes, as an end note to plug my charity – I’m an ambassador runner for The Herren Project. We raise money and awareness around mental illness and addiction which is born from it. We want to break the stigma society holds around these topics. It shouldn’t be considered weak or embarrassing to ask for help when you or a loved one suffers from something like alcoholism.

No, this sort disease is not like cancer – it is psychological and we humans don’t know much about our own brains. In cosmology we pontificate and hypothesize about the implications of dark energy yet we unable to quantify our own consciousness!? I believe these problems (mental illness & addiction) shouldn’t be considered taboo and that people with mental illness need to be helped – not be made pariahs or unnecessarily incarcerated.

Obviously, drugs and alcohol effect many of us “music people” and for some of us the day comes when the party ends and we find ourselves alone in dark places. If you relate to this please check my page www.ultrarunvegan.com There is help. You can also connect with me personally on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter at the handle @ultrarunvegan …As for WALPYRGUS, you can also connect w/ us with the handle @walpyrgus on FB & Twitter. Better yet – you can find links to all our social media, book us for shows, buy our merch, buy & listen to our music www.walpyrgus.com THANK YOU & GOOD BYE (FOR NOW)!