Australia’s black/death/industrial metallers The Amenta released their third studio album, titled Flesh Is Heir, on March 22. In celebration of them releasing their third record in 13 years, I had a little chat with the driving force behind the group, Timothy Pope (lyrics, samples, programming). Even though he describes himself as an arrogant bastard, Tim’s actually a very down to earth guy who gladly shared with me his views on the band, the hard-hitting new album, touring, and life in general.
Hello, I’m Magnus Altküla from Sputnikmusic and I will be conducting the interview. How are you doing and what have you been up to lately?
I’m very well, thank you. I’ve basically been doing this sort of thing (interviews). The album’s been out in Australia and near it almost a month, so we’ve been doing a lot of interviews. A couple of them have been live interviews, but there have been a lot of e-mail ones as well. I handle most of them, so that has basically been my life for the last few weeks.
Which kind of interviews do you prefer: the e-mail ones or the live ones?
I think they both have their benefits. The live ones are probably better because they’re quicker. Sometimes you can be a lot more clear in text, though, so I guess both of them have their own benefits. But I prefer personal contact because you can work a bit better with questions that way – you can play off answers and I like how it’s like a real conversation. I prefer the lives one because of that.
Not many people on Sputnikmusic know about you guys. How would you describe The Amenta as a band to someone who hasn’t heard of you before?
To give us a genre we’re an extreme music band. I don’t really believe that we’re a death metal band, I don’t believe we’re a black metal band, and I certainly don’t believe we’re an industrial band, though there are definitely elements of those genres in what we do. I like to say that we’re extreme music, because the only unifying factor in what we do is that it has to be extreme. By that I don’t mean that our music has to be the fastest, or possess the lowest vocals and the most grotesque of lyrics. I mean extreme in a way that it’s a new idea and it’s always pushing things forward. We’re always trying to challenge ourselves, as well as the listener. That’s my definition of an extreme band. I believe that’s what we do. I think we’re quite experimental and quite different than a lot of other extreme metal bands that people might be aware of. I hope that there’s something about us that would appeal to people across a lot of interests and backgrounds.
What’s the thing that makes you so special? What’s the one thing that makes you stand out as a band?
I’ve been thinking about this a lot actually and in some ways I’ve answered this question over the years in interviews in my own way, but it’s only recently that I’ve realized what I was really trying to say, which is that I think we’re unique and different because we’re a very honest band, and we’re representing ourselves honestly. I think that in itself is quite unique. A lot of bands aren’t really trying to represent themselves, but their genre or an idea. We’re are trying express ourselves as artists. So in that way we’re unique, but the other side of it is that we are also completely unlike other people as individuals, and as a band. We’re different, obviously, as every single person in the world is different, so our music being an honest expression of ourselves is going to be unique and different compared to an honest expression of anyone else. We’re different in that we are actually trying to do something honest and something with integrity, but also, by doing so, we are representing a completely different kind of person. I think that there’s something that other people could find in our music that which will hopefully appeal to them in some way. They’ll never understand the band the way we do, because it is something that is us, but with all art the artist is expressing himself and you just hope for somekind of a cross-pollination with other peoples interests to spark something in their mind.
In my review I described your sound as being akin to a mix between Meshuggah, Psycroptic and Red Harvest. Who do you (as a band) count as your biggest influences who you respect and draw ideas from?
There are definitely a lot of bands that we respect, but I wouldn’t call them influences. This is possibly me being a little bit semantic, but a lot of people ask the question about influences and I think it’s a mark of a terrible band that is influenced. On the other hand, inspiration – we try to harvest it and try to cultivate. Influence is a negative thing. It’s when you hear something and you say “I want to sound like that,” as opposed to inspiration, where you hear someone expressing themselves in a new way and finding their own language. That makes you think “I want to do that, I want to express myself in my own language.” There are thousands of bands and other artists like film-makers and writers that inspire us, but I don’t think we’ve really had an influence, or if we have had, we’ve tried to work it out of our music and be quite honest with the music that we want to make as people. There are bands that I’m sure people will say we sound like, but that’s never been a conscious thing, as we’ve never gone out and said that we want to sound like Meshuggah, for instance. They have never really been a touchstone for us at all, so it’s interesting that you hear them, but that’s the great thing about art: people can hear things and relate to things completely differently, so where you hear Meshuggah, someone else might hear something else. This time around a lot of people have been referencing Gojira, for example, which we find really bizarre. So there’s a lot of people hearing a lot in our music that we are not putting there, but it’s not our job to dictate how it appeals to them.
But yeah, there are millions of bands that we find very inspirational. Back in the (band’s) old days there was a lot of second generation black metal and a lot of death metal, obviously, but then, over the years, there have come other things that inspire us. Recently I’ve been really inspired by Swans and their album The Seer, as well as Stars of The Lid, and I’ve also been listening to quite a bit of more avant-garde hip-hop – things that people probably wouldn’t hear in our music at all because we’re not influenced by it, we’re not trying to sound like a hip-hop band. It’s just the idea of the way these people express themselves that excites me and makes me want to find more in my own way of expressing and writing lyrics that I can bring forward.
About your similarity to Gojira: I have noticed that a lot of people have been comparing your riff patterns and stuff and I don’t really follow it either. Why I compared you to Meshuggah is because you have those crazy rhythms going on and you have like the technicality of, say, Psycroptic mixed with Meshuggah. When I made that comparison (in my review) I didn’t really mean that your sound is like Meshuggah’s, but that there are similar elements in your music.
I’m aware of that, yeah. I think all metal bands have a similar genesis and (when it comes to) Psycroptic, we’re really close with those guys and we’ve toured with them and played with them, so I wouldn’t be surprised if there has been some unconscious rub-off there, but definitely not conscious.
The Amenta is a strong, catchy band name, but what does it represent? What is the story behind the name and does it possess a special meaning to you?
“Amenta,” the actual word, was originally a song title when we were in another band. It comes from ancient Egyptian and it means “the hidden earth.” In Egyptian mythology, it represents the doorway to the temple of judgement. Initially we picked it because we liked it and thought it was a strong and catchy name – I think it’s very important to have a simple but catchy name – but it’s come to mean quite a lot to us. The one thing I used to talk about was that, because it means “the hidden earth,” it represents a small intellectual underground of people who are able to think beyond animalistic reactions. I think a lot of people are essentially animals, they’re motivated by really basic instincts like fighting, feeding and fucking, whereas it’s the aim of a true human to use his brain, to try to elevate himself as close as he can to god status. So there’s that side of things. The other is that it’s (the “Amenta”) the doorway to the temple of judgement and we’re really judgmental people. All of our lyrics have over time become very cynical and there’s a lot of analysis of our souls and how we fit into the world in them. I guess we are judging our souls and the world, and that’s sort of the journey we’re currently on with our lyrics.
You are in charge of samples and programming – basically the industrial side of your band. How do these apocalyptic soundscapes you produce for the band come into being?
It’s different for each album. On the first album it was a lot more keyboard based and as we’ve always hated the idea of traditional keyboards, it’s always been something that I’ve attempted to move away from. Eric (who is the guitar player) and I have spent years, literally years, trying to find ways to make the keyboard sound uglier and nastier. Over time we’ve experimented with different things – I’ve played keyboards through guitar pedals and through amplifiers and that sort of thing. And then on n0n, the second album, everything was very programmed and that’s when (during n0n’s recording process) I learned about programming and synthesizers, so I made a whole bunch of sounds.
But for Flesh Is Heir it was very different. I wasn’t interested in the idea of sitting down and being very meticulous like I was with n0n. I spent months per song, making tiny little changes and plotting out these really meticulous sample parts, so this time I wanted to avoid that and do something that was more quick and organic and really in the moment. I spent some time creating a sample library with an SM57 microphone. I would walk around the house and find things that I could either bash or play with a violin bow, or something like that, and record all these samples. Also, I stole some little samples from some modern composers. Then I loaded all of them into my live setup and created keyboard patches out of these samples. And then I mapped all the controllers of my keyboards to various effects like distortion, delay, reverb, pitch-shift and all that sort of stuff. Then, when playing it into the recording computer, when we actually went to record, I was playing samples that I had previously created and affected/perfected them in real time. I think that way you get something that’s a lot more organic and a lot more human, which hopefully is coming across on this album. I think the album’s a bit more live and a bit more warm. There are these rough edges (on this album) that are coming out, so for me it’s a constant process of learning, experimentation and trying to find ways to essentially keep myself interested. That’s what it’s always been about – finding something that’s going to keep me inspired and motivated to write my parts for the album.
You guys took quite a while to release a follow-up to n0n. How did the writing process look like for Flesh Is Heir? Was it an immediate breeze of inspiration that’s responsible for the material on this album, or was it a continuous process during the years where there were a lot of ideas thrown back and forth?
A little bit of both. There’s always a long time between our albums because we work so hard on them that we get burnt out, and the idea of writing another album immediately after is really distasteful. The other side of it is that we are in some way blessed and some way cursed by the inability to write a song that we’re not really inspired by. So if you write an idea that sounds like the last album, then the idea of actually writing a song out of it is really boring. So we’ll just keep trying to find that little spark that’s going to give us that excitement, which is going to allow us to write a song. Writing this album – there was a lot of experimentation, a lot of false starts. We’d write an idea, write a riff, then work on it and then we wouldn’t really be feeling it, but just sort of repeating ourselves. Because we worked so hard on n0n, the second album, everything was starting to sound like that. It took a while for us to find the idea that we wanted to pursue, which was the more live and immediate sort of thing, so we had to work quite hard to find it. Eventually, when the ideas actually came, the album came together quite quickly.
Then the other side of things was the recording process. We all live now in different cities in Australia and Cain, the vocalist, lives out in Perth, which is about a six hour flight and a three hour drive between the cities. It was hard to get everyone ready and all the parts together. The recording process itself was a logistical nightmare, but the writing was quick, once it got started.
Flesh Is Heir boots a really interesting concept. Tell us more about it.
It’s about the war between the two sides of the human psyche. We’ve given them names. The name of the side that seeks obliteration is called The Obliterate. That’s the side of the human that wants to be swept up in something greater than itself. When you are an I, when you are yourself, that comes with a whole bunch of problems and issues and troubles. Obviously, it’s not necessarily a pleasant thing to be alive. So people find things that they can throw themselves into and it annihilates the self, and therefore all those troubles. By becoming something greater than themselves, people stop thinking, their minds stop being conscious of themselves. It’s a bit of a survival thing. Some people do that through religion, drugs, sex, mob-violence – there’s a whole bunch of different options and everyone’s got their own thing. But then the other aspect is the part of people that wants to further the I, the ego, it wants to carve out a niche for the individual, so it would be possible for the individual to differentiate himself from everyone else. That’s the survival side and we call that one The Realist. Between The Obliterate and The Realist there is this constant war. Everyone is somewhere on that continuum, constantly oscillating between the two, and that tension is essentially what life is. Some people lean further towards one side than others. People like junkies and shamans, they are the obliterates as they spend much more time being obliterated and a lot less time being conscious. On the other side you’ve got the philosophers, manic-depressives and people like that who are a lot more conscious. Everyone sort of exists on that continuum, but everyone have both sides and it’s a constant war. The lyrics examine that idea; they’re trying to find which one is more noble. And I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no nobility, there only is that war, that constant struggle, and that’s just life, really.
How does the album’s title tie in with this concept?
That actually comes from a famous speech in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”, which is the “To be, or not to be” soliloquy. In that speech Hamlet is debating whether he’s going to commit suicide and obliterate himself, essentially, or fight to try and find his father’s killer, which is the realist side. As I was writing the lyrics, I realized that it playing out as a kind of debate between the two sides, and that led me to the actual song “Flesh Is Heir”, which is loosely based on that soliloquy. It just seemed to sum up the idea perfectly: the flesh is heir to a lot of troubles and issues. That’s essentially the crux of that war, that’s what The Obliterate is trying to escape and that’s what The Realist has to embrace in order to survive. That’s why Flesh Is Heir seemed as the most appropriate name (for the album) that we could think of.
What kind of a progression does Flesh Is Heir represent for the band, compared to Ocassus and n0n?
I think all of our albums are part of a journey. Obviously we’re not the same people we were when we wrote Ocassus. I think we started writing that when we were 18, so we were very different people compared to now. I think the older we get the more refined our ideas and our music becomes. We are attempting to create something that is pure self-expression, that would represent us completely now. We as people are constantly growing. I’m not the same person I was five years ago when n0n was released. We’re documenting different people, basically, but it’s always about musical growth and musical experimentation as well. I don’t know about progression in the sense that we’re going somewhere specific, but we’re always moving forward and we always try to find new ways to do things and new ways to express ourselves and keep ourselves entertained. Once again, it’s about keeping ourselves inspired. We’re not inspired by doing things that we’ve done before, so the only way to continue is to move forward and find something interesting and new.
All of your albums have had different vocalists and all of your records are quite different from each other due to that as well. What does Cain Cressall bring to the table compared to your previous vocalists and how has his inclusion affected the band’s evolution?
I think that Cain is very different compared to our previous vocalists in that he’s a lot more involved in the process. We really, in the past, haven’t allowed anyone other than Eric (guitar player) and myself to do anything with the band. It was our band, we wrote everything and came up with the esthetic ideas. Cain is probably the first person we’ve had in the band who has taken a part of it from us. He’s now quite a strong part of the band. On this album he actually wrote two sets of lyrics: to “Sewer” and “Disintegrate”. Normally I would write 100% of the lyrics, so he’s having a lot of input, plus he, with the help of Jess Mathews, who is a friend of his from Perth, has been really involved in the esthetic idea of Flesh Is Heir. They created the “Teeth” film-clip and shot the photo for the cover, so it’s been really good to hand over some stuff to him and get a fresh pair of eyes. This is a guy who has an excellent aesthetic sense. He’s also the best frontperson I’ve ever seen. When we played with him live on the n0n tour we played alongside his other band (Pathogen). We just stood in the crowd and thought “we’ve got to get this guy; we’ve got to somehow get rid of our current vocalist and get this guy,” because he just blew us away. Thankfully not long after that Jared, the other vocalist, quit, so it worked out very well for us.
In the past, as I said, it’s just been Eric and I, and we’ve brought in these other people to further our vision. We used them like instruments. We got people who we knew could do what we needed, and we made them sing what we wanted them to sing. With Cain it’s very different. He’s a lot more involved in the process, he’s got a lot of ideas, he tries things. A lot of the album’s sound owes its birth to Cain and his brain. You definitely can’t say that about our early vocalists. Mark, who did the vocals on the first album, worked with us for a long time, but he didn’t have a lot of input in terms of aesthetics or the creation. Jared, in his turn, came in at the end of n0n and he wasn’t really involved in the writing at all. But it’s nice to start getting a band together. It’s been 13 years now that we’ve been writing material, and it’s only now starting to feel like we have a band.
So we can expect Cain to stay for a while?
Well, we certainly hope so. I think every interview I’ve ever done has asked me the question about the line-up and I always say that “this is the strongest line-up we’ve ever had” and that “these guys are going to be in the band forever.” But I don’t know if that’s true. Things change, people change and people often promise things they can’t deliver. All I can say is that at the moment we’re very happy with Cain. He’s a very strong part of the band. There is certainly no intention to get rid of him. Hopefully everything works out, because at the moment we’re very happy.
About your “Teeth” video: it looks really murky and twisted. Is it like that mostly for shock value, or rather, is it a symbolistic piece? What is the band’s goal with the video?
The goal was to create something striking that would appeal to people. If you look at it commercially, then that’s what’s going on. There’s definitely symbolism in there too, though. We gave the lyrics to Jess Mathews – the girl who actually directed, shot and edited the video. We gave her the lyrics, and I explained what they’re about. “Teeth” is about the use of drugs and how you can use drugs to scrape your mind of high human faculties and almost become reptilian, which is a really base level of the brain that you can get to. It was about that, and about using drugs to deliberately devolve, and then coming out of it, as you sort of wake up in the morning and you’re coming down a little bit, that’s kind of the re-evolution. So it’s about that process and I explained that to Jess. The video is her interpretation of that. You’ve got Cain, who is this sort of creepy, lustful monster. He is the reptile, this sort of real basic, horrible creature. And then he’s got these girls who are probably overdosing and he’s leaning over them in control. So you can kind of see the power of drugs and what they do to the human side. On the other side, it is a striking, strong image. Cain is a great performer and he inhabits characters really well, so it was also a chance for us to show Cain’s mannerism off, because the guy is not normal. He’s a creepy, creepy dude! Him on stage is not that far from what actually goes on in his brain when he’s off stage. He’s a lot politer about it, but he’s still this quiet, twisted and strange person.
In your biography you guys describe the sound of Flesh Is Heir as both „ugly and beautiful“. The harsh, so-called ugly part is easily identifiable as your sound is really coarse and heavy, but where does the beauty aspect lie in Flesh Is Heir?
Beauty is a funny thing. I find there is beauty in harsh sounds, as they’re sometimes the things that make you smile, and isn’t beauty supposed to make you smile? I find discord quite interesting and exciting to hear, and therefore, isn’t that beauty? The other side of it is that we’ve always been pegged as a band that doesn’t have any melody, which seems bizarre to me. In some ways that (the bio) was a deliberate play on that. We wanted people to sit down and actually hear these big choruses and big melodies in our songs. It’s something that seems to happen when you put out a press release – people will pick out a couple of words and they will color the album even before they’ve heard it. As an experiment with this album I laced all of my communication with the press with words like “organic,” “human” and “melodic” just to see how it would affect reviews. And it does. People read that and I know I do the exact same thing: it colors the way you hear music. So by saying that there is beauty in it, I’m hoping it’ll force people to understand that there really are quite pleasant sounds in there (on Flesh Is Heir). There is harmonic resolution, as well as oddly and harmonically twisted choirs with quite melodic sounds. To me that’s beautiful and exciting. I hope that other people who are hearing the record hear it the way I do. I understand that maybe they’re not going to, but I would hope that people can appreciate both the ugliness and the beauty in our record. There’s ugliness and beauty in everything, in life, and that’s what the album’s trying to be about – those two sides, that dichotomy of life. I think the beauty is there, I hear it, and I hope others do too.
I agree, as I for example did hear them. They were really dark melodies, but there were definitely melodies on Flesh is Heir.
Definitely! I think the dark melodies are quite often the more beautiful ones, because they tend to be more intellectual, whereas happy melodies tend to be a bit more physical. I don’t think you can really get beauty out of that physicality, because it is a reaction. Beauty is something that needs to be appreciated and I find that the darker and sadder melodies allow your brain to work a bit stronger when it comes to the appreciation side of things. That’s why I think of them as more beautiful, but it’s subjective, of course.
It is subjective, but I agree with you. When you’re younger, a lot of people tend to say to you that “oh, you’re in your metal phase, but you’ll grow out of it,” but I think the melodies in metal are exactly what keep people glued to the genre. Darker melodies have this kind of a deeper, more complex and more affective vibe to them in my opinion.
I definitely think so, and I think a lot of people get turned away because of the harshness that you talked about. The first thing their brain hears is blast beats and growling, and they won’t hear anything else. Their brain will not allow them to hear deeper. It’s like with any kind of complex music – you have to learn how to appreciate it, but once you do, you’re hooked.
N0n was a chaotic, nihilistic record that represented The Amenta way of thinking really well. Would you care to share your views on society and modern culture that influence The Amenta’s music?
I think I’m like a lot of people. I read a lot of news, I watch a lot of news on TV, and I don’t think you can really watch them without understanding that the world is a pretty terrible place. The other side of it is that I’m also aware that news is biased. It’s presenting an idea, so when we see images of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, for example, we’re seeing one side’s interpretation of what’s going on, while we’re unaware that the whole idea is not being presented. There’s always the possibility behind all that information you’re being provided that perhaps you’re not being given the truth. I’d like to think that I’m a cheerful and happy-go-lucky kind of guy, but I don’t think that you can be a man of conscience in this world and not agree that we’re living in some pretty fucked up times. I’m not a bully and I’m not a religious man at all, but I can understand why religious people believe that we’re coming up towards the end of the world. It seems like everything is speeding up and everything is falling apart, and it seems like it’s going to keep going that way until something terrible happens. I don’t see any saving grace. I think people individually can be really beautiful and great, but as a group and as a mass they’re terrible. They make terrible decisions, they torture eachother, they’ll beat eachother up on the street for a loaf of bread. And that’s terrible. The older I get the more I realize that people are just animals. We’ve dressed ourselves up in civilization, but at the end of the day we all just want to eat, fight and fuck, and that’s it. That’s what people are. We can dress it up however we like, but as soon as you put people in a time of trobule or stress them, then the animal comes out and culture just drops away. We’re getting to a point where the media is constantly bombarding us with images of people doing horrible shit to other people, and I think that people are becoming more and more animalistic. The culture is starting to rot off people’s bones. It’s like people are just regressing constantly. I actually think that it’s quite a scary time to be alive.
You talked about the animal coming out of people. In my personal view, in the animal kingdom there is this kind of a perfect balance (well, at least there was before humans came along). Even if all animals did was eat, fuck and sleep, then everything was in balance at least. Thanks to us everything’s pretty much in chaos, and there is no balance.
This is true. The lack of balance is due to the culture we’ve spun up around ourselves. Things like capitalism, for instance, are about one person getting more than someone else, which is not the way it works in nature. Nature is about survival of the fittest, yet, but it’s also about eating only as much as you need, and then moving on. So I think that we have created that lack of balance. The problem now, as we regress back to animals, is that we’re not going back to achieve the balance ( at least at the moment). I guess we will eventually, actually, but we have to go there by tearing down the system, and with that comes a lot of pain and hurt.
What’s the one thing that pisses you off the most in the world of today; what’s the one thing that really gets under your skin?
Ignorance. For example the bombings at the Boston marathon. The amount of people who immediately assumed that Muslim terrorists were behind it – I think that’s insane, especially coming from a country like USA, who has so much domestic terrorism. It’s insane! That just blows me away, because there are so many other options and ways, but people have been sold this idea of external threat, and it’s the first thing they jump to. It’s kind of pathetic really, It’s like being a hungry man and thinking “I just need McDonald’s,” because you’ve been told that McDonald’s is this amazing thing. You’re getting ads thrust in your face all the time, and it’s the same with that kind of reaction. Because of the scheme-mongering that people have been using to sell McDonald’s to essentially give you this nice feeling of safety in your home – that’s (also) why people jump to such a (rash) conclusion (about who is to blame for the bombings). That’s one example that’s fresh in my mind, because that’s something that has just happened. But you see it across all countries and cultures – this knee-jerk reaction and fear, which has nothing to do with the intellectual side of things. I find that the most frustrating.
Kind of a hard question to answer, but what is more important to you, your music or your message?
I’m going to say that the music. The message is what I believe, but if I didn’t need to write lyrics, I wouldn’t. I don’t feel the compulsion to speak about it (my views). I think beliefs are something that you can keep internal – they’re not something that get stronger by expressing them. Sure, it helps sometimes to be challenged, to have to prove. It forces you to think deeply about things, but I don’t feel the need to preach. I don’t care if no-one agrees. It’s not about converting people, it’s not about making people sit up and go “oh wow”. All I’m trying to do is work everything out for myself. If I didn’t have to, I wouldn’t be writing lyrics, but for me the music needs vocals, and the idea of having lyrics that I don’t believe in doesn’t work for me. I’d be quite happy just writing music instrumentally, if that would serve the music well, but I think that the kind of music that seems to push our buttons needs vocals, and therefore it needs lyrics and a message that we believe in. They are (the music and the message) intrinsically linked.
I’m also aware that most people don’t care about lyrics. Most people who listen to death metal and black metal – lyrics are secondary, if even in the consideration (for them). It’s all about the other side of things (the music). And that’s fine by me. I don’t care how people appreciate the music, all I care about is expressing myself, and hopefully it triggers something in other people, whatever that is. And as long as people are appreciating it, it’s not my job to say that you can or can’t appreciate my music for different reasons. It’s quite an odd thing. Obviously, if you’re going to holistically understand The Amenta, you need to appreciate both (the message and the music), but there are people who love our music who I’m sure have never read a word or don’t understand what the lyrics mean. And that’s perfectly fine, because at least they’re getting something out of it.
What lies ahead for The Amenta now that Flesh Is Heir is released?
I guess the next step is that we’re going to try and write something more. We’d like to cut down now that time we have (in the past had) between our albums. It was four years between our first two (albums) and five between the last two. We’d like to be a bit quicker. We were just talking the other day of doing another small EP, just something to blow out the cobwebs and try some different ideas. So we’ll do that and then we’d like to get to writing another album and speed up that process. For the first time ever I have actually got ideas for lyrics before we start writing an album. I’ve got an idea of what I want to do, so I’ve started jotting down fragments that I’ll piece together a bit later. We’re kind of starting very slowly (with the new album), but hopefully it should happen a lot quicker. We also have a bit of touring coming up. We’re playing around Australia and also supporting Cradle of Filth on some shows here. Then we will be heading over to Indonesia to play the Hammersonic Festival, and after that we’ll be looking for more international opportunities in order to get back over to Europe and the US.
Regarding touring, are there any cool tour stories that come to mind?
There’s a few I guess. Just trying to think of one that’s appropriate (laughs). One of the funniest shows we’ve ever played was in the US, in Detroit. We were supposed to play in upstate New York, but the show got moved a couple of days beforehand to Detroit, so into a completely new state, even if it was quite close. They (the organizers) didn’t really have time to advertise, so we ended up playing in Detroit in this absolute slum of an area. I think there were literally five people in the audience for the entire show. And this was Vader, Decrepit Birth, us, Augury, Warbringer – you know, bands who could pull crowds playing to five people. We made the decision to play a real rock ’n’ roll show and I think we did one of the best shows we’ve ever played. At one point Cain had his arms around the entire audience – it was pretty funny. And then we went and had beers with the entire audience. So that was pretty cool, that was our punk rock moment.
Any other stories that come to mind instantly? I read that you once had trouble in the US getting payed for your shows.
Haha, I didn’t even think about that story. That was in a place called Virginia Beach. That was a ridiculous gig! We turned up, though it was another one where the gig got changed to a different venue on the day of the gig, but thankfully there were a lot more people on this one. We ended up playing in a bar in the middle of a shopping center. It was so strange. You’d walk into the shopping center and into a door and all of a sudden there was a pub with a venue. So in there, we were playing the show, and on the first few notes the PA (power amplifier) blew, so we couldn’t hear anything, but we still had a really good time and it was a great gig. Afterwards the promoter refused to pay us, so Eric and I got a little bit aggressive, and we ended up running away from the police. We ended up getting payed, though, thank god. It goes to show that if people are being dodgy and are trying to rip you off, then if you punch them, they’ll generally give you money.
One thing I’m now interested in: you said that the show with five people was actually one of the coolest shows you’ve ever done, but you also said that the other show you mentioned “thankfully” involved more people. How much does the size of the crowd affect you? Do you like to see bigger crowds, or is it all about how much the crowd is into your music, in which case it doesn’t matter if it’s ten or ten thousand people?
At the end of the gig it doesn’t matter. If they (the crowd) have really gotten into it, then that’s all that matters. But there’s nothing more daunting than when you get up on stage and there’s no-one there. That’s a horrible moment. But if you play through it and there’s a couple of people there who love it, then it’s worth it. But on the other hand, when you get up on stage and you see a few thousand people out there and you think “wow, this is gonna be a great show,” and you get no response – that’s terrible. So at the end it’s all about response, but the initial reaction is that the more people you see, the better you feel.
Thank you very, very much for your time. For closure, is there anything you’d personally like to say to the Sputnikmusic community?
I’m a very arrogant bastard (laughs), so I think that Flesh Is Heir is the best album that will be released in 2013. I think people should check it out. If they don’t agree with me, that’s also fine – I didn’t make it for them, I made it for me, but I think it’s the best album of 2013, so I recommend that people check it out. If you sleep on it, you miss out!