Dyscarnate Interview: “Our plan is to always get better and better with every release.”


Dyscarnate

On the first day of Hammerfest, a light drizzle has been flirting in the air. However, after Dyscarnate play one of the most intense sets at Hammerfest, the rain begins to pour down, and so the trio brave it so we can talk about touring, progression and the dreaded ‘third album’…

I’m here with Dyscarnate. Would you guys like to introduce yourselves and what you do in the band?

TOM: My name’s Tom, I play guitar and also vocals.
HENRY: Henry, bass and vocals.
MATT: I’m Matt and I play the drums.

First of all, how are you guys today?

MATT: Good, yeah! Bit tired, we had a long drive up – five or so hours – but good now we’ve played. Feeling good, having a few beers.

How did you feel about the reception you had for the set then?

TOM: Yeah, really good actually! We were a bit dubious before we started playing, we were looking out at the crowd and it wasn’t that busy, and we weren’t really sure if there were too many death metal heads in the crowd, but once we started playing it just filled out, people getting into it, pits and people headbanging… so yeah, it was good.

The reaction seemed really good, a mini-moshpit going on.

HENRY: Yeah, smurf moshpit! [Edit: There was a group of Smurfs in the crowd]

For anyone new to you, how would you describe yourselves? Maybe a little bit of history, musically to begin with if you want.

TOM: Style, I suppose, obviously death metal. Our influences are sorta taken from stuff like Dying Fetus, Misery Index, Cannibal Corpse – those sort of bands – and some of the newer stuff like, y’know, maybe elements of Whitechapel. People might not see that so much but they are a bit of an influence on us.
HENRY: Anything catch really.
TOM: Yeah, if you can bang your head to it…
HENRY: Just the catchy heavy shit really, that’s what we like, that’s what we do.
MATT: Hatebreed are playing this weekend, they’re a big influence on us, as well as Napalm Death. It’s halfway between Hatebreed and Napalm Death – all the grindcore blastbeaty bits with groovy bits as well.

That’s a pretty good description!

MATT: It works. Those are the two bands we’re really looking forward to seeing this weekend.

Anybody else you’re looking forward to?

TOM: I can’t think of anyone else who’s playing.
MATT: Our mates Bloodshot Dawn are playing, Flayed Disciple are playing too. Our friends in OAF as well, just sorta bass, drums and vocals, which is pretty cool. Yeah, we’ve got a few friends playing, and I think for us, Napalm and Hatebreed.
TOM: We’ve probably ruined one of your questions now, haven’t we?

Yeah, kind of, I was saving that for later! That’s one down.

HENRY: Fuck it, move on!
MATT: Next! [Laughs]

Well, how long have you guys been together then with all the touring…

TOM: Overall, me and Henry have been playing music together since 2002, something like that, but we hadn’t been a serious band, with the line-up we are now, until since 2007-08.
MATT: In 2008 we brought out our first EP, if you can call it that…
HENRY: Pile of shit.
MATT: Don’t say that!

I liked it – I bought it!

MATT: It’s a good CD! [Laughs]
HENRY: Oh!
MATT: It’s a bit under-produced compared to our later stuff, so you know, I think it’s pretty cool to have that just to show growth as a band; someone can listen to us chronologically and sort of…
HENRY: Progressively gets better, in my opinion… although a lot of people will prefer “Enduring The Massacre”.
MATT: I’d hate to blow our best CD on the first one and it will be downhill from there. Our plan is to always get better and better with every release.

Improve and change.

MATT: Definitely, yeah.

Dyscarnate

Last time I spoke to you was the Aeon gig [Cardiff] in January, how have things progressed in that short time? Have you had any exciting stories on tour?

HENRY: Aeon, we had a snowball fight with ‘em, that was quite fun.

How did that go, who won?

TOM: Errr… mixed bag [Laughs].
MATT: [Laughs] The Aeon singer was getting very into it.
TOM: There was snow winner in that one, I tell ya.
MATT: Oh… come on!

No blood then?

HENRY: No blood. Just every man for himself.
MATT: We put them onto the wonders of Sainsbury’s hot food deli as well, and they were in awe of that, so… they were loving it.
TOM: Chicken wings…
MATT: Couldn’t get enough of that.
TOM: Yeah, it was a good tour, we had a good laugh.
HENRY: Dublin was the best night – we were all just completely battered and just pissed around all night.

Was the crowd insane?

HENRY: The crowd was the best as well I reckon.
TOM: Really?
MATT: Dublin?
HENRY: Don’t slag them off!
TOM: Cardiff was good.

Aw, you don’t have to say that.

TOM: It was good!
MATT: London, Dublin, Cardiff.
HENRY: Capitals.
MATT: Exactly, yeah. Everyone’s brilliant, but London, Cardiff and Dublin… Dublin we love: the nights out we have in Dublin are always the best.

I’m sure you mentioned before that that was going to be the first Irish date you’d do.

MATT: Dublin? Yeah.
TOM: No, it was Cork, then Dublin and Belfast.
MATT: Yeah… but we’d played Dublin before with Fleshgod Apocalypse. After we’d been there once, we wanted to go back, Ireland is just fucking amazing to play shows in, some of the nicest people we’ve met I think.
TOM: Yeah, along with the Welsh.

The last time I spoke to you, you mentioned you were planning a new album in 2014…

TOM: Yeah, 2014, we’re working on it at the moment.

No new jams?

TOM: Not at the moment, we’re sorta getting the pre-production tracks together, sorta piecing it together, nothing concrete down just yet.
HENRY: It’s fucking hard, y’know?
TOM: 2014 will be…
HENRY: There’s an awful lot of touring life left to pass.
MATT: Yeah, we’re gonna do that an awful lot more and get to a hell of a lot more places.
HENRY: Problem is is that album number one is your life’s work, album two is the progression of that and album three is like “Oh hell, what do we do now!”
MATT: You’re fucked!
HENRY: So we’re just…
MATT: We don’t want to repeat ourselves – we’re trying to find our ‘album three’ sound.
TOM: It’s gonna be a “Black Album”…

It’s gonna be a worldwide seller!

HENRY: Yeah, it will be a “Black Album”.
TOM: Enter Sandman
HENRY: There’ll be no blastbeats.
TOM: St. Anger
MATT: We’ll fuck off death metal, there’ll be singing, we’ll have a female vocalist.

Sue Spotify?

MATT: Yep, brilliant.
HENRY: Of course!

I don’t know if you guys know, but not too long ago, Arif of Wormrot posted a video of one of your songs on his Facebook, said he really liked you.

ALL: Oh cool!

Is this the first time you heard that?

MATT: Yeah! We played with them a long time ago, at The Old Blue Last in London.
HENRY: Yeah, at Hackney.
MATT: It’s Islington isn’t it?
HENRY: No, Hackney.
TOM: It’s Shoreditch.
HENRY: Shoreditch, that’s right!
MATT: The Old Blue Last is quite a legendary venue; it’s quite a well-known venue. Yeah, we played with those guys, they were awesome. I remember the chicken impressions were particularly impressive.
HENRY: Yeah, he was barefoot on stage, weren’t he?
MATT: Yeah, it was really cool! Those guys are fucking awesome; we haven’t had any contact with them since then though.

He plugged you about maybe a month and a half ago.

MATT: Wicked!
TOM: Cool.
MATT: Twitter or something?

Nah, Facebook. Well, I was wondering, but you’re obviously quite happy about that then?

MATT: Yeah, cool band!
TOM: What a man.

Well, I was going to ask who else you guys were excited to see, but er…

MATT: Well, Napalm and Hatebreed; I’d say our sound is halfway between the two.

Yeah, I don’t remember you saying that… So what’s in the pipeline for Dyscarnate in the future?

ALL: More of these [Laughs]. [Edit: This is a David Brent (The Office) joke I forgot at the time]

More gigs? More festivals?

HENRY: More of these, yeah.
MATT: Yeah, we got more.
TOM: Nah, we’re going to Russia at the end of the month, we’re doing a headline tour out there, so that’s like ten days in Russia.
MATT: Ukraine as well.
TOM: One day in Ukraine, yeah.

Pretty much an Eastern European tour?

TOM: It’s our first time, we’ve done like the Czech Republic and Slovakia before, but not been as far as Ukraine, so it should be interesting, should be good – we’ve heard good things about Russia so we’re looking forward to it, and er… there’s a festival in Indonesia at the end of April, it’s supposed to be a 35,000 capacity festival.
HENRY: We’ve got stuff planned later in the year too, but I’m not sure if we can talk about it just yet.
MATT: We’re headlining a festival in Israel as well, we’re doing Tel Aviv Deathfest, which will be pretty sweet.
TOM: We’re the secret headliner for Bloodstock… nah, only kidding.
MATT: [Laughs] Yet to be announced!
HENRY: Yeah, we’re gonna headline Download [Laughs].
TOM: They tried to get Machine Head in but said ‘nope’ [Laughs].

That’s pretty much it, is there anything you’d like to say to your fans, in Wales or otherwise?

TOM: Yeah, for anyone who came down to our set in Hammerfest, we appreciate it, hope everyone enjoyed themselves and hopefully we’ll be back before the end of the year. We’ve got some stuff planned and we’ll be back in Wales.
MATT: Yeah, what he said!

It was cool to talk to you!

TOM: Thank you.
MATT: Cheers, yeah.

Dyscarnate‘s latest album, “And So It Came To Pass”, is out now on Siege Of Amida Records.

Interview by RichReviewz.

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Serpent Venom Interview: “This is the easiest band I’ve ever been in.”


Serpent Venom

Doom metal at times can be very serious business, however Serpent Venom – who deliver a thick and filthy doseage of Electric Wizard meets Saint Vitus – may just win the prize for the friendliest guys in metal. After they put on a thunderous and crushing show at Hammerfest V, clearly having fun onstage, I caught up with Gaz and Nick to discuss Sabbath, influences and playing with legends…

First of all, would you like to say who you are and what you do in Serpent Venom.

GAZ: Sure, yeah. I’m Gaz and I do vocals in Serpent Venom.
NICK: I’m Nick and I apparently play bass.

I kind of wanted to get a backstory of the band, like how did you all get together, meet up and form the band, all that kind of stuff.

GAZ: Paul, our drummer, met up with a guy called Pete, they were jamming in band called Orpheus Child quite a long time ago. They had a bass player called Tas, who left to join Electric Wizard. All his friends, they were doing that for a while, I was friends with Paul. Tas left, Paul basically phoned me up and said, do you fancy coming in and having a jam with us.  I was like, yeah that would be great! We did that for a while… we needed a bass player, but we’d known Nick for a while through various gigs and things like that, and seen him about, having beers and stuff, and a mutual friend of ours basically put us in contact with him and me and Nick met up. I gave him like a CD of the stuff and said come down and try, and basically that was that. We recorded an album, Pete then left to move to America, then we got Roland in, who I used to be in a band with as well, a band called Sloth – again a guy we’ve all known for years and that sort of got us to where we are now.
NICK: We got off the plane after going on tour across Europe and we were all standing there at Gatwick Airport, going; ‘that felt really fucking cool… So, do you fancy rehearsing next week?’ And he was like, ‘…yeah’. And there we go! [Laughs]
GAZ: Yeah, we all had common interests and stuff, and I hadn’t been doing anything for a long time. I always was kinda talking to Paul about doing a band that sounded like a fucking dirty Pentagram, sorta stuff, and you know, he was like, well I’m in this band…
NICK: Yeah, again, I got a fucking phonecall from Paul saying, ‘are you up for playing in a band?’ And I’m like, I grew up watching these guys play in other bands, and I was like… yeah, of course I fucking will! I mean, I’m a guitar player by trade – played extreme metal – and I thought, well, I can’t be arsed to play that anymore, and [he] said, do you want to play in a doom band? Of course I wanna play in a doom band. And I’d been arsing around on bass in a pisstake death metal band for a while, and yeah… it was nice, these guys set me up for it. Me and Gaz went down the pub and that was it really; we started rehearsing after, didn’t we?
GAZ: Yeah, we did, yeah. That’s how it all sort of happened.

Just mingling in the circles then.

NICK: Yeah, I mean we all kind of knew each other really.
GAZ: Doom scene really, doom gigs, mutual friends…
NICK: Yeah, doing doom gigs and meeting friends and stuff.
GAZ: Everyone knows everyone really.

It’s pretty good in London with the doom scene then?

GAZ: It is! Everybody seems to know everybody, yeah.
NICK: Yeah, and if you don’t know someone; they know someone you know.
GAZ: It’s kinda handy!
NICK: It’s sorta like: ‘OH! You’re so-and-so’s mate in…’ and yeah, ‘the one who pissed themselves at fucking Cathedral and Electric Wizard’, ‘yeah, that’s right’. It’s cool, we have a good laugh, we get on really well. Just four idiots having a laugh, playing noisy music and doing alright, really…
GAZ: Yeah, it’s not bad, not bad at all…
NICK: For fuck’s sakes, we’re here. [Laughs]

Listening to your music you’re obviously influenced by Saint Vitus, I was wondering how excited you are to be playing alongside them?

GAZ: Something I never thought… I mean, we’re on different stages, but even to be on the same bill as them, on the same day…
NICK: We wouldn’t have given a shit if we were on a different day!
GAZ: Exactly, just to be on the same fucking poster with them is an honour. Candlemass, again, and Angel Witch as well…
NICK: Everybody’s playing really… they’re all names, it’s wow!
GAZ: Never thought that would happen, I mean, I was lucky enough – years ago – to play with Spirit Caravan with my old band and it still blows me away. Y’know, but yeah! [Laughs] I’m at a loss of words for this bit… fanboy worship, I suppose.
NICK: Yeah, but the minute you lose that grounding, you might as well put your instruments down and fuck off really. We’re just human beings playing music for entertainment and we’re doing it for a laugh, for ourselves, and to be able to do it here, or anywhere! We build up friendships with all the bands we play with, great guys, y’know, Conan, Undersmile, Black Magician, Grimpen Mire… all of these guys we jam with and we always get on with them and we always become friends: it just goes to show it’s the best scene in the world.
GAZ: The whole scene in England at the moment is really healthy, there’s so many good bands. There’s another band, Atragon from Edinburgh, who we played with last night… they just come out crushing.
NICK: Blinding… well worth checking out.
GAZ: Bast we played with as well…
NICK: They’re fucking awesome.
GAZ: There’s so many to mention at the moment.
NICK: There are these hated bands for some reason, people just don’t quite get them, and it’s like, we get them involved in shows with us because then people will watch them, y’know… they’re stunning. Simply stunning. There’s loads of bands – millions, hundreds – everyone we’ve played with has been great.
GAZ: It’s just brilliant.
NICK: Christ, we’re just idiot fanboys and we love it. [Laughs]

Well it’s good you get to play alongside personal heroes…

GAZ: It is, we love it. Y’know, when you’re a kid listening to stuff like “Born Too Late” or “Hallow’s Victim” [Saint Vitus albums], you never imagine that one day you’ll be on the same bill as them.
NICK: Even for me with the noisy stuff, we got to play a show with Voivod, and I love Voivod – and so does Roland – and we were both like, ‘Oh my god, we’re playing with Voivod… but we’re opening up for them, and Doom as well, oh my fucking god’. Crust punk legends!
GAZ: I was on a honeymoon and got a text in Mexico from them saying, ‘We got a gig when you come back’. I was like, ‘Oh yeah, who with?’ and it was like…
NICK: Voivod and Doom! [Laughs]
GAZ: I nearly fell over the balcony! [Laughs]
NICK: It was fucking killer mate, y’know, it was just a stroke of luck really. It was Roland’s other band, End Of Level Boss, couldn’t do it, they had some conflicting trouble with members living in other places, couldn’t fly down from Scotland and Harry, their singer, just said, ‘Put them on! They’re a good London band!’ And we did, we played, we were like, fuck… we’re standing shoulder-to-shoulder with heroes. It never gets old. [Laughs] Never gets old!


I was just wondering what other influences you have, in and outside of music.

GAZ: I dunno really, generally a lot of it is the doom stuff, for me and Nick, we watch a lot of horror films and stuff like that. I read a lot of historical books and stuff like that, about the old battles of years ago, the brutal kind of fucking slaying people and stuff like that, and old kings…
NICK: It’s ok, he is sane, he is sane.
GAZ: Y’know, there’s all that…

I’m sure Kerry King does that as well anyway.

GAZ: Yeah, exactly.
NICK: He’s sorta on the naughty side with some of his flags and memorabilia, him and Jeff [Hanneman], dodgy fuckers!
GAZ: I think with regards to lyrics, I generally try… I mean, I try to veer off the horror thing because a lot of people are doing that, and I kind of look at the human mind. Sometimes I think real-life can be a little bit more scarier than fiction sometimes, y’know, with people going mental and doing fucking mad stuff. That’s what I kinda try to go towards now, especially on the lyrical side, definitely.
NICK: Certainly with doom as well, it is particularly miserable music, and I think a lot of the time… me personally, I dunno, correct me if I’m wrong Gaz, but I think lyrically it’s all metaphors for stuff that is perhaps experienced.
GAZ: Yeah, absolutely.
NICK: You got the blatancy of Born Too Late and Dying Inside, y’know, it’s about getting the piss taken out of you for being who you are and being a chronic alchi and stuff like that. But some of the stories that Gaz is telling I sometimes think, I know what’s going on in his life and stuff, and I think he’s drawing on that experience and put it into a story, and people will look at that – as with any doom lyrics – they’ll pull their own interpretation out of it.

People can relate.

GAZ: Yeah, yeah, exactly.
NICK: That’s what I do with fucking songs, I mean, Lord Vicar wrote a song called Endless November and it’s the most sorrowful fucking song in the world.
GAZ: One of my favourite songs by them I think.
NICK: Yeah! It’s just an acoustic number they did and listening to it back, its like, that fucked me up. I got really drunk and tearful one night, and Gaz is the same.
GAZ: I don’t want to get too morbid on it, but my old man passed away when that album came out and I remember that song really hit a chord with me, y’know? Lyrically and the atmosphere of the whole thing… things like that, I think, in doom, there’s so much emotion in it. It can touch you man.
NICK: Music in general, everybody’s got a favourite song for a sneaky little reason – it’s not just a riff where you’re like “WHEY” and banging your head like a nutter to Slayer or Morbid Angel or whatever. But there’s something there just grabs you and that is what drew me to listening to all this stuff, and the fact that I get to play this and make it all up as well is really cool, certainly with the level of people I’m with as well… I mean fucking hell, the guys I’m a band with, amazing. Me and Roland knock riffs off of each other: I’ll play a riff and he’ll say, ‘yeah, that’s quite good’, and I’m like, nod of approval, ‘yay, I like that, wicked!’; then he’ll play something and I’ll be like, ‘fuck’. Then we tie them into the new stuff and it’s amazing, y’know. It’s such a pleasure to bounce ideas off of everybody and have this situation…
GAZ: Yeah, this is the easiest band I’ve ever been in. [Laughs] There’s never any conflict or anything.
NICK: We’ve all been there and done it, we’ve experienced it.
GAZ: We sometimes bang heads over certain riffs and what have you but generally we’re all in it for the greater good.
NICK: There for the craic and the craic’s good.
GAZ: Exactly.
NICK: We all like a beverage and a laugh… and we’re very silly. [Laughs] The most silly, idiot doom band ever. We’re not My Dying Bride or Paradise Lost, just walk around moping, we’re actually quite up-beat and take the piss out of everybody and ourselves all the time.

That’s kinda what I think: Eyehategod are quite heavy and doomy, but at the same time, they have riffs you just want to get drunk to.

GAZ: Absolutely, absolutely.
NICK: It fires you up, yeah.
GAZ: Definitely, definitely man.
NICK: I love that.

Those are the best riffs!

GAZ: Yeah, the riffs just make you wanna sit there and drink yourself into oblivion are kinda the best riffs I think. [Laughs]
NICK: Pretty much, yeah. Or you just slap it on in the car and put your foot down and drive into a bridge or something for a laugh.
GAZ: Or make you want to slow down to a complete stop and just fuck everyone else off. [Laughs]
NICK: Yeah, I guess you could do that! [Laughs] Yeah, put You Suffer from Napalm Death – WURGH! – just slam your brakes on right in the middle of rush hour traffic… doesn’t make any sense, but you know, anyway… [Laughs]

Serpent Venom

2013 is going to be a big year for doom metal because of the return of Black Sabbath and the new album. Are you excited or nervous about the new album? I noticed you’re [Nick] wearing a “No Bill! No Sabbath!” shirt.

NICK: I think… yes, I was wearing that because I really think they should have sorted the fucking… whatever’s behind the scenes is driving them, it sounds so financial, it’s unreal; ‘Well, y’know you’re not writing riffs so you’re getting less’, so the whole percentages thing… whatever disagreements they have over that, I think they’ve been through too much, as friends.

They’ve been together their whole lives.

NICK: In and out. Remember when they got together and they just banged music because they wanted to? Forget all of the fucking money and the accolades, this, that and the other: you’re the biggest rock band in the history, invented heavy metal and invented a whole new fucking genre with doom. Remember you are four friends; just get over that shit and play, because you’re friends. So yeah, it’s a shame. The album’s gonna turn out and sound nice, I mean for fuck’s sake, who’s playing on it!
GAZ: Yeah, I’m sure it will be great.
NICK: Three out of four ain’t fucking bad. [Tony] Iommi’s the king of riffs. Oz[zy] might not have the same voice, when you think of the 80s, but give him a fucking chance. I’ve softened my attitude a little bit, well, it’s not going to be shit, is it? They’re gonna make sure it’s not shit, and the production is not going to be shit either, but… I would like to have his [Bill Ward] name on there just because I’m a silly fanboy dick, y’know.

Well, he was one of the original members.

NICK: Of course. Y’know, he had that jazz foot thing going on with his drumming, that slight swing where it’s not really swinging, the band used to thrive on it immensely, y’know, obviously… that, to me, was is the Sabbath stuff – sure, I loved the Dio stuff as well, a new era, and he’s my favourite singer of all time – but when you have that announcement, 11/11/11, Sabbath are back together, you think ‘fuck, they’re gonna give it one’. And certainly with Iommi’s health the way it is, it’s all up in the air, it’s all a big secret as to how he’s getting on. The swansong of that band in their later years, or their autumn years, as a band, it should be all four of them, for me. I don’t know. It’s very selfish, but I’m allowed to be a little bit selfish I suppose.
GAZ: We were talking about it on the way up in the van, about that…
NICK: It’s a shame. But they’re not gonna get anyone older in, are they? They’re gonna get somebody that suits them and where they are musically now. So… I’m looking forward to hearing it, but there’s a small evil part of me looking forward to saying, ‘Ha! It’s not Bill’, y’know.

It’s not the complete thing.

NICK: It doesn’t matter, they’re complete fucking legends and they can do what the fuck they like, y’know, I’ll still lap it up. A lot of albums people don’t necessarily like, that Sabbath have produced, I still like, because I’m a complete fanboy dick. Y’know, they can’t do wrong as far as I’m concerned, y’know… any more than some silly Metallica fan will love “St. Anger” because ‘IT’S METALLICA WHO DID IT’; even though it’s the biggest pile of shit in the world. Well… they topped that with “Lulu” didn’t they?

Yeah, they really set the bar on that one…

NICK: [Laughs] Massively.
GAZ: [Laughs] Massively.

Well, who else are you excited to see? Obviously Saint Vitus, Candlemass…

GAZ: We’ve literally not been here long, we got here – we were driving up from London – just before Undersmile went on, so saw them.  We kinda clashed with Angel Witch, which I kinda would have like to see, but it’s a bit, you know…  I guess it would be Candlemass and Saint Vitus really! [Laughs] Because we haven’t had any time.
NICK: Again, Angel Witch, going back to the friend thing, it was bloody Will [Palmer] and Bill [Steer], alright fellas! [Laughs]
GAZ: Couple of our mates in there, so it would have been nice but it’s one of those things, you know… we’ve been running to and forth, we haven’t really been here. I’m not sure if Napalm Death have played yet?

No, they’re the last band because Sodom got moved earlier.

GAZ: I’m looking forward to seeing them then, yeah.
NICK: Fuck yeah, man. We’ll go see the legends we want to see.
GAZ: I’ve not seen them for a few years.
NICK: We’ll see whatever really.

Just wander through…

NICK: Yeah.
GAZ: I’m a bit gutted that Sodom were clashing with us as well.
NICK: They were meant to be on quite late, weren’t they?
GAZ: I was like, it’ll be 4 o’clock in the morning and we can have a few beers with them, but…
NICK: Or we’d probably just wave our hands at them while laying on the floor, arseholed. Just, ‘Whey! Sodom!’
GAZ: Safe.
NICK: Yeah, well… we’ll probably still scream that anyway… Yeah, Napalm Death, certainly. I’m a bit gutted that I missed Enslaved the other day because we were playing last night in London – I would love to see them. I like extreme metal anyway.
GAZ: Lifer yesterday…
NICK: Oh god, yeah! Just look at the line-up, it’s bizarre… that we’re sorta playing it. [Laughs]
GAZ: It’s a bit weird, ain’t it!

Just sinking in now then?

NICK: Yeah! Well, we’ve finished now so we can just go and relax and got nothing to do but get pissed and have a laugh.

That’s cool! Well, is there anything you’d like to say to your fans, in Wales or whatever?

NICK: Oh yeah, we’d like to come here and play!
GAZ: Yeah, definitely!
NICK: If there’s like some promoters that are interested in doom stuff for some venues, you can have us, get in contact, yeah.
GAZ: Anyone who’s happy to watch us, we’re more than happy to jump in the van and come up, absolutely.
NICK: Do a string of dates. We mainly manage ourselves pretty much anyway – we do a bit with Future Noise and stuff – so get in contact with us, our email is quite easily available. We’d love to come and do some doom gigs with some local bands or bring some friends with us, like Conan and stuff. We can always sort it out.
GAZ: Earls Of Mars as well, I’d like to mention them.
NICK: Oh man! Absolutely!
GAZ: Have you heard them?

No, I haven’t.

GAZ: Earls Of Mars, crazy, but probably one of the best bands I’ve seen and heard in a long time.
NICK: If you get a load of horror DVDs and epileptics and nutters, and stick them all in a washing machine, that’s kind of what you’ll get onstage. They are mental.
GAZ: Yeah.

I’ll have to check them out.

NICK: Definitely worth it; stunningly well live. It’s nice to have a mixed bill where you get a bit of everything, I think.

That’s what’s great about this festival, you get those different types.

GAZ: Exactly. I think sometimes when you get a bill where every band sounds the same, it can be a little tedious. Sometimes you need a bit of diversity. A band you’ve maybe never heard before or a band you’ve never been fussed about before, then you see them live and it’s like, ‘fucking hell’. That’s what you want, definitely.
NICK: I think we find that all the time with everyone we play with really, we’re always pleasantly surprised with the bands we end up on bills with. Christ, the level of fucking playing is unbelievable in the underground, everyone’s just giving it their all, all their guns, ‘This is us! Let’s do it!’. You can’t get better than that, and that’s why particularly the scene we’re involved in and particulatly the bands we play with, they’re all…
GAZ: Very strong at the moment, very strong.
NICK: It’s immensely strong and it’s well up there with the rest of the world, isn’t it?
GAZ: It’s a pleasure to be a part of it. Definitely.

Well, it was nice talking to you guys.

GAZ: Well, thank you, thanks for taking the time!
NICK:  Thank you!

Serpent Venom‘s debut album, “Carnal Altar”, is out now on The Church Within Records.

Interview by RichReviewz

Winterfylleth Interview: “If you want to look at people wearing corpse paint, then don’t come watch a Winterfylleth show.”


Winterfylleth

In recent years, black metal has seen a popular renewal in the UK, and one of the many bands pushing its harsh sound is Manchester’s Winterfylleth – mixing a progressive black metal sound with heavy folk vibes, thus creating a unique and refined brand of BM. Before the band hit the stage at Hammerfest V, I managed to talk to Chris Naughton about influences, corpsepaint and remembering your roots…

First of all, would you like to introduce yourself and say what you do in Winterfylleth?

Sure, it’s Chris Naughton and I play guitar and do lead vocals in Winterfylleth.

So, have you played Hammerfest before?

No, never played Hammerfest before, played other festivals but never had the chance to come to this festival… so looking forward to having the opportunity to play next to Burger King, that’s a life-time ambition achieved right there, I think [laughs]. We played this ATP festival a couple of years ago, similar kind of set up to this, kind of holiday park. It sounds a sorta bit bent at first, doesn’t it? But it’s quite a nice thing when you get here, like there’s food for everybody – catering facilities and great big venues – and everybody gets to stay in a nice shack every night, so it’s good [laughs].

I know you’re touring with Enslaved, and you’ve only just arrived here, but I was wondering if there was anybody you’re looking forward to seeing tonight?

Erm… not really. I mean, we’ve missed all the bands we wanted to see today and we’re also touring with Ancient Ascendant; they’re great, we saw them last night. I was looking forward to seeing Enslaved again but we got here late and it’s been a bit of a mess about. Nobody else really, all the stuff I wanna see is on tomorrow. The bands – for me, today – is not what I want to watch, so…

Who would you like to see tomorrow, if you had the opportunity?

I’d like to see Candlemass, Napalm [Death], Saint Vitus, Angel Witch, all that sorta stuff – it’s much more what we’re up for. But it’s good to be here and it’s good to play alongside Enslaved again and just some of the smaller bands – we’re quite good friends with this band called Triaxis from South Wales, I wanted to catch them but we arrived hours after they finished, so… it’s been a messy day, so y’know… I just wanna get drunk [laughs].

They [Triaxis] had a good reaction though!

Yeah, they’re a good band! They recorded with this guy called Chris Fielding, who we record with, and he’s produced an album for them, and they’re starting to get an influence that’s absolutely positive for them, y’know, quite DIY roots, building a name of their own and they’ve not had the support of a label up to this point, so they’re getting their name out there and playing lots of shows, doing really well for themselves. It’s great to see people still do that and get to this level.

Especially in this digital age.

Yeah, completely. I think there’s too many folks downloading and all that sort of stuff… it does my head in man, but like, it is what it is and you have to adapt to it. A lot of people buy t-shirts these days rather than buying CDs, so that’s how bands make their money.

Vinyl’s making a comeback too.

I think so, yeah.

Winterfylleth

I noticed on your official website that you describe yourselves as “English Heritage Black Metal”, I was just wondering what that might specifically entail, musically or lyrically.

Well, I think it started as a kind of like a buzzy term really to sort of say we aren’t Norwegian black metal, that we aren’t Scandinavian or we aren’t USBM [United States Black Metal] or whatever. I think we’ve always wanted to… yeah, we all love black metal, but we’ve always wanted to do something that was our own. I’m not suggesting we’re reinventing the wheel because we’re not, it’s a black metal band, we’ve done songs in the spirit of that sort of stuff. I just think we try to put a uniquely, hopefully, English twist and talk about, well, stories of England and the British Isles and stuff that matters to us. Actually, y’know, the front cover of our new album is probably taken nearer to here than anywhere else, up in Snowdonia… so, it’s not specifically just about England but the British Isles and our collective history as a sort of… lump of land [laughs].

Yeah, there’s a lot of Celtic…

Of course, yeah. I think we haven’t delved into all that sort of stuff maybe as much, but y’know, we’re only three albums into our tenure as a band.

The fourth album is still yet to come.

Yeah, the third album has only just been out, whatever it is now… four or five months? We’re still kind of getting it out there and touring that; that’s why we’re touring with Enslaved and its come at the right time for us. So yeah, fantastic for us to be able to come out here and play some new songs for people and hopefully a few older ones and see a few heads banging.

Play the classics.

Well, do we have classics songs yet? I don’t think so.

Maybe, give it another year.

[Laughs]

Well, related to that question: is there anyone else you consider to be in the same vein as what you’re trying to do? I know you’re good friends with Wodensthrone…

That’s right, yeah. Erm… there’s bands in a similar vein. I think the British, English, UK and Ireland scene at the moment is really kind of fruitful, there’s lots and lots of great bands coming out on the scene. I think everyone’s kind of coming from a similar perspective but everyone’s got their own take on it. We’re friends with quite a few of the great bands coming out of England, so y’know, Wodensthrone obviously, as you mentioned, they’re a little more Pagan, kinda bit more specific with their themes as opposed to like A Forest Of Stars, who are a bit more about the Victoriana and the occult, trance-mediums and bit more kind of obscure. Then you’ve got bands like Fen, a bit more Earth and nature, and then bands like Cnoc An Tursa from Scotland who are more about Scottish history, poetry, heritage, all that kind of stuff. So there’s this vein of bands coming out of England which are really great and got a similar vibe. I suppose maybe what we do differently – although I can’t speak for those other bands – but what we’ve tried to do with our stuff is mention the history and heritage that we think are interesting but also to link them to, I dunno, having a social undercurrent, I suppose, and stuff that actually resonates with people and means something other than singing about beer and losing your girlfriend and “eee-yeeer”… That’s fine, but it’s not what we want to do, we want to do something a bit more sincere and a bit more meaningful, so I think a lot of the English bands – Irish bands as well, like Alter Plagues and all that sort of stuff – there’s a real kind of sincerity and uniqueness about what they’re all doing, and it all stems from their relationship with where they’re from, their culture, their stories as opposed to trying to be a Norwegian band from England, you know what I mean, trying to sing songs about satan. It’s taking things on one step, maybe, and making it into something that’s relevant to us and not a parody of what lots of other bands have done before – content-wise at least. I’m sure there’s musical crossovers, but you know…

That kind of leads to another thing I was wondering about with Norwegian black metal: they’re heavy on the make-up, spikes and the leather, I was wondering because you don’t look like you play black metal, you’re quite casual in comparison to the Norwegian black metallers. What are your thoughts on the whole make-up and that stuff?

Well, I mean… from my perspective, I think that those guys created that look and that emotion and those sort of visuals as a reaction to their scene, to their social or musical or political or whatever kind of struggles they were going through at the time, and rebelling against death metal and all that sorta stuff… looking at the dead, and they were creating something new from it. I think it’s been done to death a lot, and I think for us to try and create something and pen it as English black metal, it makes no sense to me to parody early-90s black metal when we are [a] 2013 English black metal and we’re writing songs about our own experience, our own social/political problems, our own…

Environment?

Environment, heritage, yeah… our own stories. It didn’t make sense to us to panda-up. I think that was their reaction to their situation; I think ours was to be a bit more… I dunno. It’s less visual image in that sense to me, I think the music is supposed to speak for itself: we dress quite plain onstage, jeans and black shirts, ‘cause it’s not about ‘Oh, they look evil and they’re wearing spikes’, because our music isn’t necessarily about being evil, it’s about challenging peoples thought processes and making people think differently about social situations or social pressures. So for us to dress up like Norwegians from the 90s it doesn’t make sense to me, that’s why we stay clear of it. I don’t necessarily hate other bands doing it but y’know… we aren’t singing about satan, we’re not evil. We’re people who care about who we are, where we’re from and our environment and macro-political stuff that’s affecting everybody and I think there’s lots of apathy within people; and think that if you don’t have somebody who’s prepared or willing to sort of say stuff to challenge peoples’ opinions that perhaps we have and hopefully continue to do through the stuff that we write, then why are you doing it? There’s lots and lots of metal bands that do it for the wrong reasons and just want to be in a band as opposed to having something to say and I think it’s really important to have something to say.

I guess the image distracts from the message a little bit.

I suppose, but you know, it’s not something that’s ever been super important to me. I think when you look at other bands like Enslaved, [they] don’t really have an ‘image’, they’re just guys in plain shirts and jeans who play amazing emotional music and has a real atmosphere to it that a lot of bands can’t create; and I hope we try and do something in our own way that’s similar to that. So, if you want to look at people wearing corpse paint, then don’t come watch a Winterfylleth show. If you want to hear music that’s atmospheric and hopefully affects you, then absolutely come and see Winterfylleth. That’s what we’re trying to do, so that’s why we don’t wear corpsepaint.

Winterfylleth

Another thing I was wondering about: You can hear a lot of influences outside of black metal, like in Mam Tor there’s quite a thrashy intro, I thought anyway, and you have an acoustic sets in your music, and sometimes doomy as well. What are your biggest influences outside of black metal?

Well, I can only really speak for me, obviously the other guys have got quite a wide spectrum of musical interests, but at the heart of it all we’re all just fans of extreme metal. Death, black and doom… I’m a big fan of ambient and drone and stuff like that, easy sort of stuff. One of my close friends runs Coldspring Records, sort of noisy-ambient-doom, weird black ambient – there is loads of stuff with bands like Inade, Sleep Research Facility, Merzbow, Zorn, Z’ev and stuff like that. I think, for me, that’s where a lot of my influences come from. Doomy-wise, we were in a doom band before we started Winterfylleth, in Atavist – we did five or six releases with that, I suppose some of that crept in a bit in the early days when we were finding our way with what Winterfylleth. We all love stuff from the whole spectrum of doom, from guys like Saint Vitus right through to the extremes of Evoken or Indesinence or like Esoteric, and stuff inbetween. I suppose in that sense we’ve got a broad range of metal that we draw on, I mean, it tends to be in the more extreme realms of things, more kind of… I dunno, underground maybe? But we’ve still got love for the things like Deep Purple, Whitesnake and Judas Priest

You can’t forget the classics.

Yeah, I think if you do then you forget what these guys are doing. Like you hear these kids talking, going, “Oh, if only Black Sabbath recorded with modern production”, and you’re like… I know what you’re trying to say, you wanted to sound really punchy and massive, but you have to understand that these guys were paving the way…

It was modern back then!

Yeah, exactly!  And try judging [after] having heard the latest Metallica album. These guys are the forefathers of it and you have to appreciate where it comes from and how you’ve got to where you are now from there.

They are the band that created “Kill ‘Em All”, so…

Yeah, exactly.

I heard that you hold down regular jobs as well as being in the band, I was just wondering if it’s safe to say what you do, or is it all secret?

It’s not secret, but it’s not important either, what we do… I dunno, I heard a great interview that Alan Averill from Primordial gave once, just sort of saying, do I really need to know that Ted from Darkthrone is a postman? No. All you need to know is that when the four of us come together outside our regular lives – we’re Winterfylleth and we bring the music that you hopefully love on the records and that’s why you stand in front of us, y’know. I don’t think many bands can make it in the modern world without having worked, so… yeah, we do work.

Yeah, Darkthrone hold down regular jobs.

Yeah, exactly, I think a lot of bands do. I think you have to. It is what it is, but I think we spend so much time thinking about this band that it’s almost the thing we love to do outside the need to eat and have a roof over your head and all that sort of stuff.

You recorded the last album in Wales; was that a joint decision by you all and how was that experience with recording?

Well, we recorded our last three releases in Wales actually, in a place called Foel Studios. It’s great, it’s done by Dave Anderson who used to be in Hawkwind and The Groundhogs and also Amon Duul II, there’s a real heritage in Dave, he bought the studio in the 70s, it’s in a place called Llanfair Caereinion – if you put a pin prick in the middle of Wales, in the middle of all the fields, it’s basically there. It’s like a 30-minute drive from the nearest shop, it’s great. He’s converted this old, massive barn outside it and two big properties that he owns, the studio’s all in there… lots of bands have recorded there, Napalm [Death], all that sort of stuff. The engineer Chris, really, was why we went there. We were quite friendly with this band Ingested from Manchester, quite slammy-death stuff, a couple of them used to be in Annotations Of An Autopsy – not music we’re necessarily or particularly love, but you know, they’re a great set of lads and they had a really good experience recording with Chris, so we fancied having a go with Chris. We started working with him and became really close friends, don’t think we trust anyone else to get the essence of what our albums sound like. It’s difficult, when you find someone you love working with it’s very difficult to try somebody else because…

… to go away from that.

Yeah, I suppose it’s the element of maybe getting a slightly different sound for the next record or doing something else and moving forward, but Chris captures this sort of organic, flowing – I use the word loosely – spiritual element we have to the albums.

It does show on the albums.

We’re really happy with that, that’s why we keep going there, because he’s the engineer there. He’s moved studios now, started his own studio, so it might be that we’ll follow him to his new place in the future.

So we can expect the new Winterfylleth there then?

Yeah, well we’ve already written about half of it, and we’ve recorded an EP that’s coming out inbetween on Seasons Of Mist, a split with… well, it’s like a folk compilation so we’ve done three folk songs. Its traditional English folk songs, done our own style, and one of the guys from the Ukrainian band Drudkh – he’s organised it. It’s gonna feature bands like Kampfar, I think Sólstafir are doing it, I’m not 100% though. A big compilation of like six or seven bands doing their own versions of folk songs from their own countries, and coming out at some point this year whenever everyone gets together with it and then we’ll start writing what will become the fourth album.

Yeah, well, that was my next question to be honest.

Yes, there will be a fourth album.

There will be a fourth album then, that’s good! Well, that’s pretty much it really, it was nice talking to you.

Thank you, you too.


Winterfylleth
‘s latest album, “The Threnody of Triumph”, is out now on Candlelight Records.

Interview by RichReviewz.