Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Metal Nostradamus: The Shape of Metal to Come

I've never portrayed myself as a soothsayer, nor even as a Nostradamus impersonator, but I feel as though I have somewhat of a good prediction of what the next "big thing" in metal will be. That "next big thing" is going to be Post-Death Metal and I will tell you why.

For years we have been inundated with countless Death Metal (DM) bands looking to top each other in speed, brutality, and technicality. Multitudes of Cannibal Corpse clones have practically overtaken the metal globe. Needless to say, we're at a point now where the DM scene has become oversaturated with unoriginal mindlessness. Especially with the last decade lacking any real creative leaps and bounds (save for a few bands), DM definitely needs a place to go.

As a sidenote, I hate to sound so negative, because there are still some Death Metal bands of the last few years that I think are doing interesting work. Some that I have enjoyed immensely have been Obscura, Nile, Immolation, and Necrophagist (and from more than a few years ago, Gorguts...though keep reading to see and hear the new news on Gorguts). Besides Nile and Gorguts, it may be arguable that none of these bands are doing anything completely original, but they are certainly building on a an already established foundation.

In the past decade, we saw the emergence of Post-Metal (with the likes of Neurosis, Isis, and Pelican) and Post-Black metal (Wolves in the Throne Room, Altar of Plagues, and Velvet Cocoon). In the case of the former and in some ways the latter, many of their musical ideas originate with Post-Rock pioneers in the 90s. Bands like Slint, Tortoise, Mogwai were/are called Post-Rock because they completely tore apart the rulebook for Rock. These bands ignored the standard organization of the rock song and replaced it with a honed sense of dynamics, put a focus on atmospherics (sometimes over musicianship), and completely disregarded vocals (with some exceptions). The difference between Post-Rock and Post-Metal/Black Metal is that the Post-Rock pioneers were re-writing the rules whereas the Post-Metallers were just merely taking influence from these re-written rules.

Now that that history lesson is out of the way, let's take the focus back to DM. It is my forethought that DM will take a turn for the experimental, and I don't mean a new Cynic album. There are two bands I think whom are dabbling with what I might consider Post-Death Metal. These two bands are Portal and Impetuous Ritual. The fact that they currently share members may not be too surprising. Neither band has really re-written the rulebook for DM as far as I'm concerned, but they are certainly interrogating it. Each band has sort of an other worldly, lurching sound to their particular brand of Death Metal. In a sense, they create a sort of wall of sound wherein the atmospherics are more important than what is necessarily actually being played.

I think of all the sub-genres of metal, DM may one that is the most conservative musically, and by that, I mean the least willing to experiment. I can't really offer a reason for this, but I might speculate that there is simply no room for experimentation since DM is so extreme in terms of speed, brutality, and technicality. Every minute of every song is filled with 1000 brutal chromatic chord progressions at 300 BPM. There is certainly a formula and most bands stick to it (a)religiously.

What it comes down to is that DM bands have taken the sub-genre to its logical extreme in terms of the three characteristics I previously mentioned. Now is the time is ripe for DM bands to drop some acid and get a little fucking weird.

I can already hear it...a brutal slam death metal breakdown sandwiching a complete wash of downtuned improvised noise, the slow buildup of a death metal riff from near silence coupled with electronic glitches gradually interweaving in amongst themselves, and an uncomfortable black drone underneath/over a bomb blast...

Thus spake the prophet!

-Judge Dredd



Just thought you should know... >:)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Interview with Misha "Bulb" Mansoor of Periphery!!

Periphery Official Myspace:

Phone interview conducted on May 12, 2010.

WULF: To start off with, I know you guys have probably heard this like, a million times, but your new album is amazing. It's completely nuts.

MISHA: Oh, dude, thank you so much! I'm so glad that you like it!

WULF: I don't know if it's too much for me to say "I've never heard anything like it before" but I feel it's really unique.

MISHA: Thank you, dude.

WULF: Anyway, I'd like to know how the reception is for this new album on your end.

MISHA: You know, it's good, but I don't know...I always feel like I'm looking out for and trying to find the bad reviews because I like to torture myself. I've invested a large part of myself into this album for the last five years and I've put so much into it. I don't know, I like seeing good reviews, but I prefer honest ones. There's definitely people who dislike it or who dislike aspects of it...as with any art form that's to be expected. Sometimes I find reviews (where) people dislike it and they say why, and it's like "alright, fair enough." But sometimes I see reviews and I'm just like, "dude, did you even listen to our album?"
And so, I'm kind of ready for it. But overall I'd say the response has actually been really good, or a lot better than I expected it to be, because I was kind of nervous.

WULF: The first time I actually ever heard about you guys before we got your CD was through MetalSucks and I guess that's kind of coincided with this album, because I've been reading about you guys there and we've got your CD, and so...anyway, I was looking at your Myspace and is it true that you guys have three guitarists in your band?

MISHA: We have three guitarists in the band, yes.

WULF: Yeah, because I saw that in the lineup and I wasn't sure if one guy was (just a touring guitarist). I was wondering (though), doesn't that ever get confusing in the studio or live? Your songs are pretty technical and crazy...

MISHA: Well, here's the way the works-- it just so happened that I wrote the grand majority of the songs on the album, I wrote all of them except for the last song, "Racecar", which I wrote with Jake (Bowen, guitar), and so when writing by myself or with Jake we just tend to write for the sake of writing good songs, and not so much thinking about how we're going to do it live, and since the beginning it's always posed a problem when we've played with two guitars for a brief period, we were always like "wow, we have to keep cutting parts out that are kind of essential", and we can't ever really get the full sound. We write with so many layers, and even with three guitarists there are a bunch of times when it's not enough and we're deleting this or integrating backing tracks because we tend to compose more when we're writing and not really thinking, like, limitations, or how we're going to do (it) live, it's like, "well, we'll figure that out later." And so that necessitated three guitars, because at least (with) three guitars we can get all the cool-looking and sounding riffs out and all the riffy-riffs out in front, and then leave the more ambient, backing track stuff for the backing tracks when we do integrate those. And now that we don't have backing tracks at least we're not compromised severely by having two guitars, so it's always been sort of a thing we have to do out of necessity from the beginning.

WULF: When you guys are playing live, I'm assuming that you've got one guy holding down the rhythm while the other two are doing harmonies and stuff, or--

MISHA: Well, we usually split it up. Having written my parts, I usually like to play a lot of the rhythm parts because they're more fun, and I play my leads. It's the same with Jake on the stuff that he's written. But when it's my stuff I like to split it up, like, everybody has lead parts, everybody has rhythm parts, everybody has clean and ambient parts. I want it to kind of seem like everybody is a lead and rhythm guitarist and split it up as evenly as possible. It's always changing, depending on the song. On one song, it may look like Jake or Alex is actually the lead guitarist of the band, and I kind of like that. And on other songs one of us will each have a lead part, for example.

WULF: So you're all doing lead guitar stuff and rhythm at some points too?

MISHA: Yeah, we're all doing everything.

WULF: That's cool man, I like that. I was surprised when I heard it too because from the way it was described to me I thought it would sound a little bit different. It's pretty aggressive stuff but also (with) both the harsh and clean singing it's also really passionate, and I think when you said "layers", that was a good word because there's a lot going on in the songs. Is there a favorite track in particular that you have for the album? I really like "The Walk", just because the guitar atmospherics are really cool, and the drums are crazy with the rhythms. Is there a particular track that you like, then?

MISHA: There is! I'm really, really proud of "Racecar", the album closer, for a few reasons. One, it's the one song that sort of encapsulates exactly our (sound). Maybe the only reason it can is because it's fifteen minutes long and can go through all the sort of moods that we go through, but also because it's the only song on the album that I wrote with someone else, and as much as I've been writing everything myself, that's not something that I plan on doing forever and I really do enjoy writing with other band members, and that's always something that we will do more of when we all have more free time.
Especially when that's the main limitation. But it was a lot of fun to write that song, and it came out just right, I think, and I'm really proud of that, so that's probably my favorite one at the moment. One thing that's interesting that I've noticed, when you were asking earlier about how (the album) has been received and all that, is one thing that makes me happy, and as subjective as music is and everything, I've definitely noticed that everybody's favorite song is a different song, which makes me really happy, personally. Because I really don't like it when one song gets more attention than the next, and I don't know, maybe it's because they're all like my babies and I want them all to be loved equally, or something. But it's like, ("Icarus Lives!") got a lot of attention, that's our single and there's a video for that, but I don't necessarily think it's our best song. I think it's very catchy and very good at grabbing people right off the bat, but it's interesting to see how, when people sit down with the album, they'll pick two or three of their favorites off the album, and it's always different, to the point where every song is someone's favorite song, which makes me very happy.

WULF: Yeah, it's not like there's just this one song and then people feel like the rest are filler.

MISHA: Like, "why did you put that on the album?! Nobody likes it!"
But (for our album), it's not just that somebody likes it but it's somebody's favorite song, which (would have) made a big difference if we had not put it on the album. That's something that makes me really happy, and I was interested in seeing what your song would be, and "The Walk" is kind of off-the-wall for me, especially because it's one of the older songs on the album, that song is so boring to me now.
It's five years old, it's naturally (that way). But I'm really happy that you like it, I really am.

WULF: Because I'm always kind of curious as to how things go on in the studio, since the last track is so long, would you say, then, that it was the most difficult track you guys had (during) recording or was there (another) track in particular that was hard to nail?

MISHA: That was definitely one of the hardest songs to write vocals for. I think "Buttersnips"...that was a very hard song to get the vocals right on, but I mean, they were all very hard. "Ow My Feelings" took a lot of work with the vocals. It was mainly the vocals because the songs themselves had already been written and tracking them went pretty fast, that didn't take too long. Writing "Racecar" was actually extremely easy and that's maybe why I like it so much, because it was the first time I wrote a full song with Jake, and we didn't know the song was going to be 15 minutes long. We were just writing riffs together. It was just ideas and ideas and ideas and ideas, and we had like three sessions three days in a row and (during) the first session we did about 6 minutes of the song, and (during) the second session I did 4 or 5 minutes by myself, and (during) the third session we wrote the last bit of the song. We just kept on having ways to bring back themes and make it cohesive, but (also) make it longer. We never (meant) to write a song that long, it's kind of crazy to have a song that long but it just sort of ended up being that way.

WULF: Yeah, sometimes some songs just (get written that way).

MISHA: That's why some songs on our album are 3 minutes long, and one is 15 because when we feel the song is done, and we're out of riffs, and we're like "yeah, we said what needs to be said," everything that can be said musically and lyrically, then we're like "alright, it's done."

WULF: That's awesome, man. Just out of curiosity, who wrote the lyrics to the album? Was it you, or was it Spencer, or--

MISHA: No, it was kind of everybody. Some were written by our second singer, Casey (Sabol), some were written by Chris (Barretto), our third singer, and some were written by Spencer. Some were written by our bassist, Tom (Murphy), who actually wrote a lot of the vocal parts. The only thing I didn't do was the vocals. Those were produced and engineered by Spencer's friend, Matt. There's a real sort of amalgamation of all these ideas and efforts that hopefully came out somewhat cohesively...I think it did.

WULF: Yeah, it's great, man. So you guys are about to go to Australia, and did you say that it was tonight that you were leaving or tomorrow?

MISHA: No, we're leaving tomorrow. Tomorrow afternoon.

WULF: Wow, that's crazy, man! I'm assuming that you guys have not been to Australia before, like, to play.

MISHA: No, we've never really left the country other than Canada, as far as (together as) a band. I've been to Australia in the past but (have) never gone there to tour or anything like that.

WULF: Well, I just want to say congratulations on that. Also, I've heard that Australia, especially for the metal scene or the extreme music scene, can be kind of crazy. Speaking of touring in the United States, what city would you say has been the craziest, as far as craziest Periphery fans?

MISHA: Honestly, Canada's been really good to us. That's why I'm kind of excited about Australia because I've heard that their fans are kind of crazy like that because they feel like they don't get American bands that often, and Australian fans are even more so desperate (than Canadian fans) for those bands. But I'm expecting the crowds to be kind of crazy there too. But yeah, Toronto and Montreal have been pretty cool. In Oshawa, Ontario, we played this, tiny, tiny venue, but kids were going crazy there! And L.A. is always great to us. California in general is really good to us. I don't know, usually we do better in major markets. I'm trying to think...my memory is so bad. I do remember the Canadian shows being particularly intense, and the fans are intense there. They're really into the bands, I like it. And all of my friends who have toured in Australia talk about how great fans in Australia are. I really can't wait to go down there and meet them.

WULF: Yeah, I'm sure you guys are really pumped. You guys are going with Dillinger Escape Plan, have you talked to them yet? I don't know if they've been down to Australia yet, but if they have, have have they said anything about it?

MISHA: I'm sure they've been to Australia before. Dillinger has been one of my favorite bands in the world forever, so on a personal level that's kind of one of my bucket list items, right there, that I can check off. It's kind of a dream come true, I can't really believe that it's happening, it's like too much. I've just sort of resigned myself to not thinking about it. But yeah, it's going to be crazy. I'm just so honored to be able (to go on tour with them), it's going to be fun to see them every night. Maylene and the Sons of Disaster is also on this tour. I haven't really checked them out but I heard their music at some point and I really dug it, and I knew I really dug it because I didn't know who it was and I was like, "whoa! Who is this?" And (my bandmates) were like, "that's the band we're going to be touring with!" And I'm like, "Oh, that's great!"

WULF: Yeah, it's really rockin' stuff. But yeah, we've been fans of Dillinger for a while and so I'm pretty jealous. I'm not even in a band but it's still pretty cool.
But OK, my last question is a question I always like to ask bands-- who would you say, as far as tours that you've done, is the craziest band that you've ever toured with?

MISHA: Craziest? Like in what sense?

WULF: Craziest, like, maybe not necessarily onstage, but like behind the scenes. Like, wild dudes or just really wacky or whatever.

MISHA: Um...you know what? I think I might have to disappoint you with that because all the bands that we've toured with have been pretty chill, man. I think for the most part, maybe it's the kind of music we play or the kind of tours that we go on, but we've just had the best luck, we end up loving all the bands that we go on tour with.

WULF: No crazy black metal bands or anything?

MISHA: No! They're all chill, really easy-going dudes, so it's like...they might party, but even when they party it's kind of in a chill way and they have a good time and don't go "rock-'n'-roll crazy". And plus, I don't know, maybe it's because we're a little bit older, we're all like (in our mid-20's), but for me personally, partying and going crazy kind of lost its charm a few years ago. So now I just kind of like to take it easy and have a good time, or just like, sleep and relax.
So I'm sorry to disappoint, but maybe it's just my bad memory.

WULF: Well you keep on talking about your bad memory and I was thinking maybe it was due to other things or something!

MISHA: No, it's my bad memory...or maybe we had such a crazy with some band that I forgot it all, drank it away.
But honestly, most of the bands that we tour with, a fair bit of them smoke a lot of weed, and if you smoke weed you're kind of chill, you're not really going nuts. So maybe we need to tour with some bands that do a lot of coke or something, then we can get some crazy stories.
No, but we've just been really lucky in that sense because we like bands that are chill, like us, so we've always had the best time on tour with all the bands, we got along great with everyone, and maybe that doesn't make for crazy stories but (we've made) good friendships and had good times.

WULF: Yeah, I didn't necessarily need to hear any crazy stories or anything, so that's a totally valid answer too, because it's just a little more relaxed and the stereotype on the road is that it can be crazy or whatever, so this is cool too. It's a little different.

MISHA: Well I'm sure it can (get a little crazy), but I mean, you gotta remember, we're a bunch of dorky musicians who play progressive metal, we're not rock 'n' roll, man.
We're not sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll. I mean, even if we wanted to be, it just wouldn't be there. You could just come to our show and ask us about our gear and we love it. That's kind of our scene, that's kind of what it's always been and kind of what I'm expecting it to be, but if shit goes on I'm down to see it! But I'm happy with whatever I can get.

WULF: Well, that's cool too, man. Anyway, that's all the questions I've got for you, so I just want to end by saying thanks for taking the time to talk to me--

MISHA: Thank you for interviewing us, man! We really appreciate it.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Interview with Johnny Roberts of Woe of Tyrants!!


Phone interview conducted on May 6, 2010

WULF: First of all, I want to say it's a pleasure talking to you. I really like the new album, "Threnody". I was actually blown away by your last album, "Kingdom of Might", so it's great to see that you guys pulled off another great record. How has the reception been so far on your end for this new album?

JOHNNY: It's been pretty cool, especially given the time that we had to record the album. We had only two or three months in total to write it and only two and a half weeks to record. We didn't really know what the response would be since we brought in a bunch of new ideas so we didn't know how people were going to receive some of what we had written, because we knew it was a bit of a different direction. I'm glad that a lot of people have been digging it though. Especially the new material live. It's been going over pretty well so far. We're thankful for that.

WULF: Good, man! I hadn't heard of you guys before the last album and so when I got the digital promo for it from Metal Blade, I was like "whoa! Who are these guys?!" It was great to work out to also.

JOHNNY: Right on, man. That's awesome, thanks.

WULF: While I liked the whole album, right now I'm really digging "Venom Eye", which is badass because you guys got Dusty from Between the Buried and Me to be on it, also. "Singing Surrendur" is also really beautiful. As a side note, just out of curiosity, who programmed or played the synth parts on the album?

JOHNNY: That was our singer (Chris Catanzaro), he does keyboards on the side. He actually learned how to play keyboards while we were writing and recording "Kingdom of Might". He just really stuck with it and it got to a certain point where he was writing some pretty cool stuff. We were on the road for the better part of 2009 before we started writing for "Threnody", and he had some cool parts and some ideas and (so) once we started writing we were like, "Hey man, you can write the parts just as long as you can play them live."
We can throw in whatever, so he had some ideas and Jamie King, our producer that we went in the studio with, and he collaborated with (Chris), so to speak. He had all the stuff in the studio for keyboards and (we used them) in a bunch of songs.

WULF: Yeah, it's cool man. I'm actually going to get to Jamie King in a second because I had some questions about him, but what song on the album would you say is your personal favorite, or which do you feel turned out the best?

JOHNNY: It changes a lot, there's a lot of songs...I would say, overall, "Lightning Over Atlantis". That song is a song that our rhythm guitar player, Matt, and I wrote in a matter of days and we pretty much come up with all the original ideas. He had a bunch of the riffs in the song already laid out when we started writing it and structuring it together and it just sort of went with the flow. It didn't change much over the first two days of writing it but we went in the studio and (put) the solos on top of it and whatnot, but I think that song, as far as the production and the ideas with the whammy he does in the beginning and everything, I think that turned out to be my favorite.

WULF: Right on man! Yeah, I was surprised, "Kingdom of Might" came out at like the beginning of last year, and we're not too far into 2010 and already you've got this new album. I think that's saying a lot, considering also that your music is pretty meticulously put together, really technical, so I want to congratulate you on getting that done, it's a pretty amazing feat. So, my question is: did you have any difficulty during this recording process? Since your songs are pretty technical I would imagine it might be kind of hard to nail in the studio, not to doubt the technical ability of you guys, but you guys are playing some pretty challenging stuff.

JOHNNY: Yeah, we all pretty much made sure we were keeping our heads in the game and even during the writing process (which) we started in August and we had the tour with God Dethroned (from) the middle of September to late October, that was like a (month-long) chunk out of the writing process to go on the road so we did a little bit of writing while out on the road but we came right back home and started writing throughout November, then recorded in December. So it was a very stressful three or four months total and so we had to all make sure our heads were in the game, we were practicing every day, like six to eight hours a day writing this music. We didn't have anything else to do so (when we came) home from tour we were like, "fuck, we really gotta go in with this." So we did that for awhile and by the time we hit recording actually and got in the studio, we had been playing so much that a lot of the stuff was pretty much in our heads, but some of the songs were painless, even the songs that were the (hardest to write) were the ones that we were playing the most and were the easiest in the studio. We pretty much went in and laid the tracks down pretty easily. All the drums were done in one day, the first day that we were in there.

WULF: Wow! Congratulations!

JOHNNY: Yeah, we we did like four of five hours of recording. I had been playing so much at that time I was just warmed up. I just went in there, drank some Mountain Dew, and got it done. (As for) the guitars, there weren't very many parts that (Nick) Dozer, our lead guitar player, got stuck on or anything.

WULF: What was it like working with Jamie King?

JOHNNY: He was a beast, he was awesome. He really gets ideas, once he was going through the drum tracks and guitars and whatnot. As far as production and his end of the spectrum, we didn't have very many ideas. We were so busy writing the music, we were like "any input is appreciated", and he knew that and (inaudible). He did the track "Venus Orbit", the instrumental track on ("Threnondy"). Dozer and (Jamie King) wrote that one together. King did a lot of the percussion and instruments on there, he did most of that. When recording, he got the best take out of everyone. He was very good with (our vocalist) and our vocal production and all that too. He definitely knew what we were going for.

WULF: That's awesome, man! So I noticed that you guys are from Chillicothe, Ohio. I was kind of curious, what's the metal scene like there? I would think there would be a lot of black metal bands from there because according to Wikipedia it's a designated "Tree City, USA" by the Arbor Foundation, but what would you say?

JOHNNY: (laughs) There's definitely not black metal. There's tons of like, southern and country (people). There's all kinds of country people. Some of our original members were from the hills of Chillicothe. Our original lead guitar player that was on "Kingdom of Might", he was real big into blues and country, and that's actually what he's doing now. He's probably rocking out on an acoustic guitar (right now). As far as metal goes, it's pretty dead. There's isn't much going on here. There's newer bands coming out now, recently, now that the scene has started picking up, but we were one of the only death metal bands to come around (from) there. (There was) one other death metal band, In Despise, who has since broken up. There's not much of a metal scene in Chillicothe, you have to travel north to like, Columbus. (It has) a bigger metal scene. There's not too many venues around here, it's since changed in the past five years or so once we started.

WULF: I'm in the Midwest too, man, I know how it goes. I'm in Kansas, so--

JOHNNY: It's hit or miss, man, it's hit or miss pretty much anywhere you go around here.

WULF: So you just finished up a tour with Overkill, Vader, God Dethroned, Warbringer, and Evile. How did that tour go? And which was the craziest city that you guys played in?

JOHNNY: (laughs) Well, the tour itself was crazy. Obviously, it being a six-band package, it was a long show every night, which is not at all a bad thing with all those bands because if you checked out every one of the bands it was really crazy. Really good music, real fun nights all the way through tour, but I'd have to say the craziest night was the very last night of the tour in New York City. You probably heard in the news about the whole bomb scare. We played there that night, the night that they found the Pathfinder. The show's going on, and we were playing right around when they found it at 6:30, and our guitar player went outside (after our set) to get something to eat and all that stuff started going on and they started blocking off (the streets). The Pathfinder was sitting right at 25th and Broadway, which is the address to that venue, so there was a show with like 1500 kids going on in the basement of this place and they knew they couldn't cancel the show so it just kept going on. Once the show was over we couldn't get our vans anywhere near the venue to get our equipment or anything, man, it was ridiculous. We just had to wait to the next day until everything cleared up. Aside from the stress of that huge show going on that was undoubtedly the craziest show on that tour, and then that stuff happening on top of it was just...a way to end the tour, you know?

WULF: Damn, man! That's nuts! OK, so I know we're running out of time, but I've got one last question. So of all those bands you toured with on Killfest 2010, who would you say was the craziest or rowdiest band behind the scenes?

JOHNNY: (laughs) I thought it was pretty chill, there was lots of work and it was a really busy tour, but any time we had a chance to hang out and party I'd have to say Warbringer, man. Those dudes are crazy. Even if we had work to do, they'd find a way to hang out and party while we were doing it.
It was just like a huge party whenever we were hanging out with those dudes. They're real good friends (of ours).

WULF: Cool, man. Well, right on, I know that we're out of time and you've got another interview to do, so anyway I just want to say thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me! Hopefully sometime here soon we'll be able to see you here in Lawrence or Kansas City!

JOHNNY: Oh, for sure man!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

"Die By the Sword": Heavy Metal, the 'Culture of Alienation', and Hipsters

Arguably, one element of the heavy metal subculture that has allowed it to not only survive but to thrive (albeit, with some droughts) during the several decades it has been in existence is the culture of alienation that exists within it. With some exceptions, there has been little that has changed concerning the social norms of the heavy metal subculture. A primary reason for this is the fact that metalheads cast out those who don't follow the social norms of the subculture. Those that they are cast out are presenting somewhat of a threat to the subculture at large. This social deviance is addressed in a variety of ways, but most commonly by labeling some fans as "poseurs" and some bands as playing "false metal". In recent years, both the hipster subculture and mainstream culture have embraced (or re-embraced, in the case of the latter) heavy metal. The hipster subculture has embraced heavy metal in an ironic way while the mainstream has yet again embraced it as a viable sub-genre of rock music. The question is, how has the this culture of alienation within heavy metal changed with as a result of these new fanbases, or has it changed at all?
While heavy metal is, ironically enough, a music originally produced and avidly listened to by outcasts, it has become equally as exclusive of a subculture. Metal fans and media cast out other fans and bands alike for all sorts of social descrepancies within the metal subculture spectrum. These "social descrepancies" generally deal with either a fan "pretending" to like metal a band radically changing their sound to gain mainstream acceptance. Both of these cases deal with a perceived lack of authenticity as seen from a general perspective within the heavy metal subculture. Whereas these "discrepant" fans are largely viewed as "poseurs", the "discrepant" bands are generally viewed as playing "false metal" which is often accompanied by the phrase, "Death to false metal".
Author of All Known Metal Bands, Dan Nelson, has stated that “[The] phrase ‘Death to false metal’... represents the worst of metal culture. The idea that culture should somehow be kept pure is oxymoronic. Culture thrives and advances only through cross-pollination and corruption and misuse. The most prolific and usually boring subgenre of metal (black metal) is a testament to what happens when you stick to the formula. Long Live False Metal!” (www.invisibleoranges.com). Although one can certainly agree that a subculture, and especially a music subculture, thrives through "cross-pollination", there is also a certain extent to which certain social norms must be adhered to for a culture to thrive as well. Arguably, it is this very conflict between the heavy metal purists and free-thinkers that has allowed heavy metal to progress while still retaining some of its most basic values. But I digress.
This cross-pollination, as described earlier, has led to a sort of liberalization of metal, especially in recent years. What bands are allowed to do (not only with music) has expanded substantially in the post-grunge years. One way it has cross-pollinated recently is by gaining notice by the hipster subculture.
Despite the disgust that most metalheads (including me) have for hipsters, I would argue that their interest in metal has served to further expand metal's audiences and creativity (even while some hipsters' interest in metal is merely ironic or to gain more elitist street cred). None can deny that hipsters come from just as stringent of a culture of alienation which is why I think this particular cross-pollination is logical. On the other side of it "[hipsterism], in general, flies directly in the face of much that is Metal: dedication, the battle of Life & Death, and a lack of irony" (http://www.bigtakeover.com/essays/die-hipster-metal-die). That is, I think, where the disdain for hipsters and hipster culture comes from within the metal scene.
One thing that has defined hipster/indie music in recent years has been it's unabashed experimentation with music forms that are either disdained or largely unknown to the majority of the population. I've heard hipster/indie bands play with flamenco, Caribbean, and African drumming. I think it is this creative freedom to interrogate other forms of music within an already established type of music that has been/is being brought to metal.
Being a fan of some weirder, more experimental metal, I fully embrace new ideas introduced into heavy metal's veins. However, I will forever scoff at a hipster showing their face at a metal show. Such is the conflict. Metal, like everything else, goes in cycles. It has seen a rebirth in every aspect in the last few years. Call me Nostradamus, but metal will eventually fall under the radar again and then we can separate the faithful from the "poseurs". But for now, enjoy the new creative peak that metal has reached, and when you destroy that fucking hipster in the pit, just look him with your bloodthirsty eyes and think, "Thanks."

- Judge Dredd

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Girlfriend's Guide to Metal Shows

Hails! Grym Kym here! Let me begin with a brief preface to assure you that I am qualified to dispense advice on the subject of having breasts and attending metal shows. I've been going to metal shows for years now and have finally perfected the formula for having a fucking awesome time. It's quite simple really. Booze + live metal = fucking fun. But if you're just starting out you may need a little advice. Or maybe you don't. This entry will probably be the most useful to the girls who are just going because their boyfriends are. If you are one of those girls, heed my advice. No matter how you feel about metal now, I am quite positive that you can have a great time. Maybe even a better time than your metal-head boyfriend. Perhaps metal could even change your life.

Personally, I am a big fan of viking/folk and power metal. I also like some symphonic black metal, but any metal show can be enjoyed by all. Even though I wouldn't sit around my house and listen to Cephalic Carnage, or drive around town with Pig Destroyer at max volume, I would still go out of my way to see them live. Live metal is good metal. It's all about the experience. I have been lucky enough to see some amazing live shows, such as Nightwish, Amon Amarth and Sonata Arctica. Other bands I've seen include, but are not limited to: 1349, Goatwhore, Celtic Frost, Dragonforce, Testament, Municipal Waste, Zephania, Lazarus A.D., Cannibal Corpse, Manilla Road, and of course, local favorite, Hammerlord.

Alright, good. Now you are convinced that I know a thing or two. Over the years I have learned what to do to maximize your viewing pleasure.


  • Dress for the occasion - Keep in mind that if all goes well, you will be attending a night of guzzling beer, chain smoking cigarettes and head banging. Whatever you do, do not wear a skirt. Especially not a short one. Having a hand up my skirt in a mosh pit was enough to teach me that lesson. Your best option is jeans and a t-shirt. Go with a plain t-shirt or tanktop, preferably black, or a t-shirt with the name of a good metal band on the front. If you're a n00b and you're not sure which metal bands are cool, don't risk it. ICP, Slipknot and Disturbed are all no-no's. Iron Maiden and Slayer are safe bets and can be worn to shows of varying metal genres. If you're like me, and aren't into denim and tees, try mixing it up with some hot black skinny jeans and a red low cut shirt. Metal loves cleavage, and it's a lot harder for some loser to covertly cop a feel of your boobs than to slyly slide a hand up your thigh. You'll be able to see them and punch them in the face, or get your man to do it for you. My standard metal show attire consists of black skinny jeans, comfortable flats (make sure they fit snugly so you don't lose one in the insanity of it all), a red tank top, a black, tight, v-neck shirt, black eyeliner and red lipstick. Black is the best to wear on top because if you're doing everything right, you should break a sweat, and you don't want that to show. Don't wear anything expensive or too well-loved. It could get ruined.

  • Drink excessively- If you're not that into metal and you don't drink, then just don't go. I promise you won't have too much fun if you're soberly milling about. You'll end up staring at merch for three hours. I enjoy going to metal shows and I like to get into it, but I definitely need a little buzz to get me loosened up. The most fun I've ever had was at a power metal show in Kansas City. I drank PBR tall boys and headbanged with the guys. It's more fun the more you get into it. Your first time headbanging might make you feel a little silly, but if you get a few beers in you, you won't be worried about what anyone thinks of you. And I hope that you're not too worried about the opinions of the sullen mallcore kid with myspace hair or the forty year old man wearing a Goatwhore t-shirt. Finding a hot guy at a metal show is kind of like looking for a needle in a haystack... so leave your insecurites with the door guy.


  • Drink whiskey or beer - Anything other than whiskey or beer is NOT METAL. Don't sip on a vodka tonic with a lime or, heaven forbid, Mike's Hard Lemonade. Long Island Ice Tea is acceptable, but only because it will get you drunk fast. Getting drunk fast is metal.

  • Get to the stage - Metal is not meant to be observed from the back of a venue. You need to be up close and personal to get the full experience. I would have to say that the entertainment value of a metal show is 25% music and 75% stage presence. You're going to see a lot of shitty metal bands. You'll probably see about twenty shitty bands for every awesome one, but a show with shitty bands can still be a good time. I love getting right in front. It's pretty cool when the lead singer of some black metal band is scanning the crowd while growling hateful lyrics into the microphone and his eyes fall on you. Makes you wonder what it would be like if he punched you in the face while wearing those spiked gauntlets. Exhilerating! And when the bassist of a power metal band starts headbanging in a circular motion, flinging his long, wavy locks round and round, you'll probably get some of his sweat on you. Good thing you took my advice and didn't wear anything expensive or special.

  • Talk to people - Guys may not approach you because metal heads aren't famous for their social skills (Tom G. Warrior's idea of hitting on me was to say, "Give me kiss?"), so you're going to have to do the work. It's really fun to talk to some of these people, once you've learned enough to weed out the losers (you can usually spot them by what band's t-shirt they're wearing). Don't waste your time talking to anyone wearing bondage pants. Bondage pants and the people who wear them are gross. If you're looking for conversation, the merch table is always a good place to go. You're a girl at a metal show, they'll talk to you. You're a novelty and a prize (as long as you're in the states). A lot of times you'll find some of the band members hanging around the merch. Talk to them! They will want to talk to you, especially because of your gender, unless, of course, they're from Europe. If they're from Europe, they probably have more of a problem not getting laid when they're playing at home. Don't be offended if the Europeans aren't beguiled by you. They're like Gods where they come from.



  • Don't be a fan girl - Just don't. You should know what I mean. You're reading this blog, so you must be pretty cool. We all have a little fan girl inside of us, but don't let it out. There's a time and a place for that: your room when you're alone. Don't be annoying. Don't give us metal chicks a bad name.

  • Leave your purse in the car - You don't want to be carrying around your purse at a metal show. Unless you are sneaking in beer, just leave it in the car. It's much harder to let go and have a good time if you're lugging a purse around and worrying about it. But, and this is important, if you do leave it in the car make sure to put it in the trunk. This is true for everywhere and all the time, but the majority of metal shows take place at sketchy venues so be extra careful. I left my purse in my boyfriend's car at a 1349 show and someone broke the window and stole a bunch of shit. We had to drive home on the highway in the cold without a window. It was pretty metal, but it also pretty much sucked.
  • Get the fuck into it - Yell, pump your fists, throw up the horns, take a shot of Kentucky Gentlemen, do coke with the drummer from Goatwhore, punch someone in the face! Whatever you need to do to get the fuck into it, do it. It's worth it, just make sure you have some ibuprofen to take for your bangover.

    If you have any questions, such as, "what's the best way to wash that one guy's corpsepaint off of my face after a makeout session?", just let me know and I'd be more than happy to help out!

    -Grym Kym

    Just remember... this guy is probably more afraid of you than you are of him.....

  • Monday, May 10, 2010

    Interview with Tapio Wilska of Survivors Zero!!

    Phone interview conducted on May 6, 2010.

    WULF: It's a pleasure to talk to you! Before I heard Survivors Zero, I know you've been in a lot of bands but I'm (a big fan) of your work in Finntroll so anyway it's cool to see that this band is doing really well. In fact, with this new album, is it called "nine-nine-nine" (their new album is "CMXCIX", in Roman numerals, so I was curious as to if I was pronouncing it right when speaking about it)?

    TAPIO: Yeah.

    WULF: Yeah, I wasn't sure. I had to look that up on the internet. It kicks major ass! I'm a big fan of Finnish metal in general, so needless to say I was really impressed with this record. How has the reception been so far on your end?

    TAPIO: I can't complain, man. I want to complain, but I can't.
    When you put out a new band and put out a new album, especially without any major labels involved you're always surprised (to get) a really amazing response from all over the world. This album has been heart-warming. So all I can say is that, when we're sitting here doing interviews. What can I say? It's all good man.

    WULF: I noticed that you guys are on Cobra Records. I hadn't ever heard of that label before, so I looked it up. Is it a metal label or is it just kind of like more...rock?

    TAPIO: Most of their releases so far have been metal. They're a really new label. They're actually a label put on by the biggest independent record store in Finland, and they started out a bit over a year ago with the record label. We were the first band to be signed on the label. The guy who runs the label is an old friend of ours. They just basically put on the record label and signed most of the best bands in Finnish underground metal. We got offers for record deals from bigger companies in Europe and all that, but the deal that Cobra gave us was..."here's an offer you cannot refuse".

    WULF: Awesome, man! Well, I really like the whole album but I would probably say my favorite song is, besides "Armageddon Cult" I really like "Reclaim My Heritage". Which song would you say is your personal favorite, or which song do you feel turned out the best?

    TAPIO: I really couldn't say. I'm really happy with the album. "Armageddon Cult" for me is great to play live, (there's) so much feeling in it. But let's just say that my favorite song on the album is the first one, "Embrace the Inferno". That was the first song written for this band. We'd just came off a one-month European tour and it's just a raging song to play live, so that for me pretty much sums it up, this thing to play in front of people. So that's a good one.

    WULF: Did you have any difficulty during the recording process, and what was it like working with producer Jonas Kjellgren?

    TAPIO: Well, first of all, what you have to know and keep in mind is Jonas (he pronounced it Yonas haha) is mad.
    So the whole studio process was actually awesome. We had like two weeks to do the album and there's this studio called Seawolf just outside of Helsinki on this old fortress island and just the whole process of recording the album (was awesome), Jonas is an awesome producer. He's also fun to be around in the studio but he's also a slave-driver. It was weird, we had a lot of fun in the studio but also because we wanted this to be like "OK, this is our first (record), time to show what we've really got!" and this is why we hired Jonas, to bring out the best in us. So in the studio when you're playing for the fourth hour and (your) hands are hurting, and you have this tall, bald, Swedish guy in a leather nazi cap yelling in your ear, like "play it better!! What!? You're a metal guy!! Do it better!!" It was great.

    WULF: That's awesome. Yeah, I was just kind of wondering about that, I'm always interested in the recording process. So, the music video for "Reclaim My Heritage" is really cool. I like how it's you guys playing in that place, and then there's the old, ancient texts of like the occult or something in there, it's awesome. I was curious, first of all, about where it was filmed.

    TAPIO: Well, here comes the big secret. We had a budget for the video, which was zero dollars, but luckily our guitar player Sami (Jämsén) works as a video and media producer, so we basically directed the whole video. It was shot in a very unique place, the underground garage of their company.
    But the other footage with the girl and stuff is in the Finnish National Library, in central Helsinki. Those are the two places (since) we really had no money to do the video, but I'm more than happy how it turned out. It's cool.

    WULF: It looks really professional. I think it looks great. Anyway, as I understand with the girl, she was a Miss Finland finalist, Minna Nikkila? Is that right?

    TAPIO: Yeah. How we got her in the video is that she works in the same company as our guitar player, like two desks over.
    During a work day (he asked her), "do you want to do, like, this photo shoot to advertise our t-shirts? You'll get a t-shirt!" Then, (he was like) "would you like to be in a video? We can't pay you."
    She's a wonderful girl and she's really cool, so she was like "OK!"

    WULF: That's awesome! Does she like metal?

    TAPIO: Um...not really, no!
    She's a cool person. It's funny, she's been doing modeling for a long time and after our video came out two or three months later she was like, "OK, I'm going to be in the Miss Finland Competition!"

    WULF: Yeah, she's really pretty. Well, OK, so I'm sorry to hear the news about you guys not being able to tour in North America, that really sucks. Since you're not going to be going on tour here, do you have any plans for touring anywhere else, like in Europe or anything?

    TAPIO: We just came off a European tour we did through February and the start of March supporting Hypocrisy all over Europe, which was really good for us. We were supposed to come to the US right after that tour but then US Homeland Security decided that they didn't want to give us work permits. I've been keeping tabs on our friends Swallow the Sun and Finntroll they're really bummed about this but let's just say that we're hoping we can remedy this in the future. This time (US Homeland Security) thought of us as not commercially viable or whatever in the United States with the first album, so let's hope when we get a little more time and maybe another release under our belts we'll be able to tour there.

    WULF: Yeah, because I'd love to see you guys! I'm sorry about that! Our government kind of sucks. Well, OK, so in your experience touring, where would you say is the craziest city to play? Anywhere in the world. Who has the craziest fans?

    TAPIO: Well, I've played with several bands all around the world. Let's just say (there are a lot). Russia, Moscow has always been insane, still a lot of metal bands don't go there that often so metal fans there are starved for music and they are insane!
    There are places I've played in the old, behind-the-Iron Curtain countries like Slovakia and Slovenia, which have been amazing. For us, on the last tour, really surprisingly France was really good. The guys were really into us and giving us a chance, most of (them did not know) who we were and (had) come to see Hypocrisy, but they were really into us which was good. I remember I did one tour with Finntroll in the United States and Canada, and in Canada Toronto was cool, we did one wild show in Poughkeepsie, New York which was awesome...I don't know, I'm in this whole thing just for playing live. I love it, and let's just say that's my sole reason for playing music. I don't enjoy the studio all that much, 90 percent of it is shit.
    Playing live, that's my thing.

    WULF: Yeah, I think most musicians would probably agree with you. I'm sure the studio time gets really tedious.
    Well then, the follow up to that (question), is what is the craziest band that you've ever toured with? Either a band that you've played in or a band you've been on tour with in addition to your own band, which would you say?

    TAPIO: Well, let's just say that the years with Finntroll were really insane, from start to finish. The band that I really enjoyed being on tour with was Napalm Death, they're a bunch of really awesome people. The best people in the whole business that I've ever met. But if you think just in terms of crazy we went on this one tour with Napalm Death, Black Dahlia Murder, and Belphegor. Black Dahlia Murder, who were then on their first European tour, were like the new kids set loose on Europe, and it was so much fun I still bear scars from that one.

    WULF: That's awesome man! It's good to hear that an American band can at least kind of hold their own maybe, in Europe.

    TAPIO: It was a nice experience for us, maybe not for them. They were these young, 20 year-old American guys stuck in a bus with a bunch of old Finnish guys and old Polish guys, Vader. Let's just say that (The Black Dahlia Murder) were not that used to the (large) amounts of vodka in the bus.

    WULF: Well, I know that we're out of time and that you've got another interview after this, so that's all the questions I have. I wish you the best of luck in the future, hopefully we'll be able to get you over here to North America and I can't wait to hear the new Survivors Zero stuff that you've got lined up for us in the future, hopefully.

    TAPIO: Yeah, the plan now is to go into the studio in September and release a new album hopefully in the beginning of 2011. We also have a split live DVD out with a friend band, Sotajumala, out of Finland, which, if you can your hands on it, check it out.

    WULF: Yeah, I saw that on your metal-archives page! I'm a big fan of metal DVDs so I definitely marked that down for something (I want to get). Well anyway, thank you so much for talking to me, Mr. Wilska. It's been an honor, and I wish you the best of luck in the future.

    TAPIO: Thank you man, thanks for having me. Have a good one.

    Saturday, May 8, 2010

    Interview with Steven Rathbone of Lair of the Minotaur!!


    I realized when typing this up that I kind of implied that The Gaslight Tavern in North Lawrence is a bad venue to see live music. That's definitely not what I meant, as anyone who has seen a show there knows that it's a good time. However, I still think that it was kind of awkward for a Lair of the Minotaur show just because it was so small. Anyway, if you haven't been to The Gaslight, don't be discouraged from seeing music there or hanging out or whatever. It's a cool place! I meant no disrespect!

    Phone interview conducted on April 21, 2010.

    WULF: I really like your new album, "Evil Power", but unfortunately the track that is my most favorite (song), "Let's Kill These Motherfuckers", I can't play on the air. It's not very radio-friendly.
    But I love the album, it's really balls-out, kick-your-ass (stuff), I love it. But my first question for you is how has the reception been so far for this new album on your end?

    STEVEN: It's probably been the best out of anything we've released so far. It seems like people so far are really digging it. It's definitely a little bit more like stuff off our first and second records, and we just went along with the concept of the last record, "War Metal Battle Master", (which) was about Ares, the god of war, and about a very peaceful time turning into a very violent one and all of our songs are about Greek mythology. So just went along with that story, and now this record is kind of like a party after the battle. A victory party, if you will. So that's why the songs kind of represent that. Very celebratory, anthemic type of sound.

    WULF: Yeah! Well, I kind of get that feeling from looking at the photo shoot for the album, with the big minotaur dude and everything. I thought that was really awesome, and it definitely seemed like it was a very fun shoot and it's a very fun album also. I guess you could say that about "War Metal Battle Master" also because the video for (the title track) was absolutely nuts. Unfortunately right now I still have not seen this new music video (for the title track off of the new album) yet, but I've heard it's really awesome. For "Evil Power", what would you say is your personal favorite track on the album?

    STEVEN: I would probably either go "Death March of the Conquerors", that one is one of my faves, "The Violent Iron Age of Man"...but that's kind of the way we write the albums, to not put in much filler. We've been playing pretty much all the songs from the album live and it's been like that with all of our records. There isn't a song that we've recorded that we haven't played live at some point. We try not to fill the record full of filler and that type of thing. I think people who listen to us feel the same way. It seems like a lot of people are saying something along those lines, saying it's one of those records that you just "put on", you know? You don't bounce around from track to track.

    WULF: Right, right. I've seen you guys live twice now and it's always been a blast for sure. I'm in Lawrence, Kansas...I know that you guys have toured a lot and so I don't know if those shows (in particular) stand out to you, but anyway it's definitely a very fun live show. I'll get to your touring aspects in a second, but I'd like to know-- when you were recording for this new album, was there a song in particular that stands out to you that was a little more challenging to record than the others?

    STEVEN: No, not really. When we record, we basically record like we're playing live. Then we'll go back over and record, like, a second guitar track, and then do vocals. But we don't do a lot of tricks, we don't do triggers or anything with the drums. We want to keep the songs very raw, and so most of the songs you hear on the album are first takes. There's a couple we did two takes on, and outside of that we want it to sound like it's a band playing and not a machine.

    WULF: Right, which is definitely the feeling I at least get when listening to a lot of these newer death metal bands.

    STEVEN: It's so crisp, it's got the same production value of like a fucking Janet Jackson song, you know what I mean?

    WULF: That's something that I hear a lot. I have two buddies who are drummers, and one of them really, really likes the really crisp drumming stuff and he says it just sounds like a machine, there's no feeling, and the other guy really likes that style, so I guess there's a market for either one.

    STEVEN: Oh, totally. I know there's people out there and it's like it's all they crave, that really...efficient type of sound.

    WULF: Well I would say you succeeded with this new album. It's a really good word that (you used) to describe (it with), "raw". It definitely sounds very raw, but I had no idea a lot of that stuff was done in one or two takes. I didn't know that you guys didn't use any triggers and so that's awesome, that's quite a feat, for sure. OK, so you guys are playing some shows and you're on tour, where would you say as far a Lair of the Minotaur audience goes, which cities would you say are your favorite to play in? Which has the most consistently crazy shows for Lair of the Minotaur?

    STEVEN: It seems like anywhere outside of our hometown, Chicago.

    WULF: Really?!

    STEVEN: Basically. I don't know if it's like a "hometown" thing...we usually have decent shows and good crowds that come out, but it's kind of like that thing where you know so many people and everyone's like-- "yeah, get off the stage, come drink with us!"
    That kind of thing. But shows that we've done over in Europe were definitely way, way over the top. It seems like their enthusiasm for music kind of blows away what's going on in the States. It's a nice thing.

    WULF: That's something that I've heard a lot, actually, is that in Europe, especially for metal it seems, bands get better treatment as far as venues go, and also it seems the shows are bigger...there's just more metal fans over there. I don't know. I wouldn't know. You've been over there so (you've seen it).

    STEVEN: Yeah, I don't know. It's hard to gauge because so many shows are so different. You play with different bands and that kind of thing. It seems like (this is) a general association (but) I don't know if it's because there's so many bands touring, (and in a) bigger city like Chicago or New York or that kind of thing, every night there's a multitude of shows going on. You'll be at some show and it just seems like people are kind of despondent to the whole thing and looking at their cell phones. It's like, "why'd you even come out tonight?" That kind of thing.
    But luckily we attract a certain type of fan. People that are in it for the music. I think people that know when they hear a band like us that we're not trying to do what's popular, we're not doing this just to make money or be in a popular band. It's because we love this music, and I think people respond to that. That's definitely one of the comments we get from people. They'll be like, "wow, I've been waiting for a band like this. Why aren't there more bands like this?" kind of thing, and we feel like we can kind of fill this void.

    WULF: Yeah! Well I feel like a band like Lair of the Minotaur has a lot more character, it seems, than your generic deathcore whatever. But anyway, I was curious about your new label, The Grind-House Records? I'm not really sure...is this a new label or are there other bands (on it)? For some reason I wasn't sure and (thought) maybe it was you guys, like your own label?

    STEVEN: Yes, that's exactly what it is. Actually, it's a partner company from a business I run which is a website called The Grind-House. We sell movie posters and t-shirts focusing on the cult hit stuff for sci-fi and action-type stuff. But basically what happened was that our contract was up with Southern Lord and this is something that we've wanted to do, to start our own label. I approached Greg Anderson from Southern Lord about this and he was totally into the idea when I told him I wanted to do this, and once we started talking about it he said that they would be into doing a distribution deal and so we signed a distribution deal with them, and they've been great with us. But we just kind of wanted to, for lack of a better term, take the bull by the horns, and try to control things on our end a little bit tighter. It's been a cool experience because all the other albums that have come out have had a lesser role with the handling of the promotion and sales, and to have such a hands-on aspect is cool because you can mold things how you want it to be and make sure things are being done right and all of that.

    WULF: Yeah, definitely man. I didn't know that about The Grindhouse, I'll have to check that out! I'm glad also to hear that it wasn't a complete split from Southern Lord, but it was amicable and you guys are still partners in that respect. OK, anyway I know that we're running close here on time and that you're probably really busy, but my last question is: so far, as touring goes, which band would you say, is the craziest band you've ever toured with?

    STEVEN: Wow...with this band or do you mean other bands?

    WULF: Well, I mean, whatever.

    STEVEN: Well, I was in another band called 7000 Dying Rats, they've been around for awhile, and we toured with Anal Cunt back in '95.

    WULF: Oh! Uh-oh!

    STEVEN: Yeah, and that was back when they were dangerous. That was definitely quite an experience. All the shows would get shut down before they would start and that type of thing. It seems like now like even the most insane, crazy, Satanic black metal bands (are) basically just like any other dudes, sitting around, drinking a beer.
    No one's burning churches down or doing all these crazy things...destroying hotel rooms...

    WULF: Anal Cunt were the real deal then?

    STEVEN: If they could get inside a hotel room.

    WULF: That's awesome.

    STEVEN: We like to have a good time, we're cool with people, we don't try to destroy people's shit just randomly, but we've found that most of the tours that we're on, we're the barbarians.

    WULF: Yeah, well the first time I saw you guys it was kind of weird because you guys played at The Gaslight Tavern in Lawrence--

    STEVEN: You were actually one of the 20 people that were shoved in there?

    WULF: Well, you know, it sucked because like (while) it was a really cool show, it was the first time I saw you guys, and for some reason since you guys were on Southern Lord at the time I thought you were going to be a doom band, so then when you guys started playing fast I was like, "oh!" You know? "Shit!" Then I wished you guys had been outside on the patio because it's a little better, it was just an awkward way to see you guys at first, so that's why when you came to The Replay the second time I saw you guys it was a lot better because The Replay is a better venue for thrash than where you guys were stuck (before) at The Gaslight.

    STEVEN: It was probably one of the smallest places we've ever played.
    That was a fun show though, it was really cool.

    WULF: Yeah, well I hadn't ever heard you're music before, so it was the first time I ever really got to check you guys out. I wanted to thank you, also, for coming through Lawrence those times, because not a lot of metal bands come through here.

    STEVEN: We actually came one other time, with Boris, as well.

    WULF: I know! I couldn't make it to that show, I was pissed. I don't know what was going on, there was something (I had to do), I don't know... I was pretty pissed off I couldn't go to that show, everybody said it was great so. Well anyway man, that's all the questions I have, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me. I know I missed you the first time you called me so sorry about that. But I just want to say have a great show tonight and hopefully we'll be seeing you guys coming through here sometime soon.

    STEVEN: Alright, cool man. Thanks a lot.

    Friday, May 7, 2010

    Interview with Chrigel Glanzmann of Eluveitie!!

    Phone interview conducted on April 21, 2010.

    ELUVEITIE OFFICIAL MYSPACE: http://www.myspace.com/eluveitie

    This interview was actually supposed to take place a day or two before, but due to Eluveitie getting mixed up with all the time zone changes (at the time the band was in the middle of their recent tour in North America). However, Chrigel was extremely apologetic, and while he was somewhat difficult to understand over the phone, he was very polite and one of the most cheerful people I've ever interviewed.

    WULF: I'm really a fan of this new album, "Everything Remains As It Never Was". I think it's great. I just want to know how the album has been received on your end so far?

    CHRIGEL: Absolutely amazing. (Inaudible) Over there (in Europe) it hit the charts in at least three countries, and even the top 10 charts actually, in Switzerland, which is really mind-blowing for a metal band. It's probably the first time ever a metal band hit the Top 10 charts in Switzerland, and we were like "whoa! What the fuck is that!?" And here in the States and Canada it's been received extremely well. So far it looks really, really good, and the songs on the album turned out to be quite cool live songs, they're really fun to play onstage and the crowds seem to like them as well. We are happy and thankful for that!

    WULF: Awesome, man! I'm glad to hear that too, especially since you're from Europe and you're here in the States and so it sounds like you're having a really good time so far. For this album, I'm a big fan of singles, and so the title track ("Everything Remains As It Never Was") I'd probably say is my favorite song on the album, but there's also an instrumental on the album, and for some reason right now off the top of my head I can't remember the name of it. It's called "Isa" or something like that?

    CHRIGEL: "Isara". Yeah.

    WULF: Yeah, it's a beautiful, beautiful song.

    CHRIGEL: Thank you.

    WULF: Even though it's an instrumental, I love it. So I was wondering, as far as your personal tastes go, which would you say is your favorite track on the album, or which track do you feel turned out the best?

    CHRIGEL: If you would have asked me that question for our previous albums I could name you one, but for this album it's the same for every one. I love every single song the same. Which is kind of a good sign I guess, too.

    WULF: Yeah, that's really good! It's a very strong album.

    CHRIGEL: Thank you.

    WULF: Anyway, during the recording process did you have any difficulty with the songs, or which song would you say was the most challenging for you to record?

    CHRIGEL: They're all about the same, I would say. We didn't have any difficulties or anything like that, but, as usual, we were pretty much under time pressure. We really, really worked a lot for the album and we had long studio sessions, sometimes we working in the studio for like three days in a row without sleeping or anything.

    WULF: Holy shit!

    CHRIGEL: Yeah, that was quite exhausting, let's put it that way. But overall, it went pretty smoothly and it was a good time, and we love being in studios anyway so there was nothing wrong with that.

    WULF: That's awesome, man! I'm glad that things went smoothly except maybe it could have been kind of stressful and you had to be up for like three days without sleeping.
    But anyway, right now you are touring in the United States. Where are you right now?

    CHRIGEL: Today we are in Canada, Toronto.

    WULF: Oh! I should have said North America, you're in Canada now.

    CHRIGEL: Yeah, that's probably why I got messed up with the timezones.

    WULF: Hey, it's fine. OK, so is there a noticeable difference, then, between playing shows in Canada versus the United States? I know Montreal is a pretty big metal city.

    CHRIGEL: Yeah. Well, when it comes to crowds I don't see much of a difference, actually, to be honest. What is different over here in Canada is that everything is a little bit more like in Europe, which basically means that everything is a little bigger. The venues are bigger, you play in front of larger crowds, and so on. Usually when you do a small tour in the United States everything is usually quite small, you have only 500 people-capacity clubs and things that are quite small, and so on. Here, you have like, 2000 venues and stuff like that. From what I can judge, that's the main difference actually. Besides that, everything is pretty much the same, really.

    WULF: I see. OK. So it's a little more like Europe? I know that metal, it seems, is a lot more popular, at least (in Europe). There are a lot more bands coming out of there than in America. Still, I know that shows could probably still be pretty crazy in America as well.

    CHRIGEL: Absolutely!

    WULF: Where would you say in the U.S. has been the best show so far, for you guys? Who has the craziest Eluveitie fans?

    CHRIGEL: We always have a lot of people in L.A., in California. It's always really good. A really good time with the fans over there. But it's pretty much the same as all over the U.S. We basically like it anywhere and we always have a good time no matter where we play in the States.

    WULF: One of my co-DJs (Mark of the Beast) for my radio show saw you guys in Chicago, and said that you guys were fucking awesome. So as far as the bands you're touring, I don't need to hear any stories or anything like that, but who would you say is the craziest band that you guys have toured with, in Europe or the United States or anywhere?

    CHRIGEL: The craziest band?
    That was probably Korpiklaani.

    WULF: Korpiklaani!?

    CHRIGEL: Those guys are such drunkards. They're really good friends of ours. When we toured together, (inaudible). The first time we toured with them, we had never ever drank like that before. It was wonderful.

    WULF: The Finns, as I understand, can drink a lot. Anyway, so from what I understand after you guys are done touring in North America you're going to go back to Europe and you're going to go on tour there. So what I was curious about was what some of your plans (after that)? I know you just put out this album, so you're probably not thinking too much about another album or an EP or anything like that, but I was wondering when are going to see an Eluveitie DVD?

    CHRIGEL: We actually started thinking about the next album while on the tour. We've started working on new material and stuff like that. But a DVD? I don't know, it hasn't been on our mind for quite awhile. We really want to do one one day, but so far we just don't know when. We haven't decided (on) anything. So far we are still pretty busy, actually, for a whole year, and a DVD is not something that we want to do just to (do one). If we do a DVD we really want to completely focus on it and do something really, really cool, with tons of material on it, really complete...live performances, tour reports, studio reports, whatever, really a lot of stuff. So that's something we really want to focus on when we do it, so that's all I can say.

    WULF: Yeah, because that's not something you really want to rush, so that's cool. Well, essentially that's all the questions I have for you because I know these interviews are supposed to be short and I know you're probably really busy. So anyway, I just wanted to say, I don't know if you're playing a show tonight but definitely have an awesome show and an awesome rest of the tour. We really like this album here in the Kansas City area, so hopefully someday we'll be able to see you guys maybe around here.

    CHRIGEL: We'll be back in a couple months, actually.

    WULF: Oh, you mean back from Canada?

    CHRIGEL: No, I mean we're going back to Europe but in a couple months, in like November or something like that we'll come back to the United States again.

    WULF: Oh, OK, awesome! You'll be coming back around! That's awesome man! Well hopefully I'll be able to catch you guys then, I still have not seen you guys yet and I've heard it's awesome. Enjoy the rest of your day, enjoy the rest of your tour. Take care!

    CHRIGEL: Thank you. Take care.