Horrendous interview (04/2019)
|With:||Jamie Knox, Alex Kulick|
|Conducted by:||RaduP (e-mail)|
Horrendous is a death metal band who got quite a lot of recognition lately and for good reason. Moving in between a more old school death metal sound and a more progressive one, while having a name that's the exact opposite of how their music is. They were also nice enough to answer a few questions about how they did it.
Idol, their latest album
RP: Doing a bit of research on you, the first three interviews I've read have all been with a different member instead of the usual one designated media contact member. How do you guys decide who gets to answer the questions? Rock, paper, scissors? Random list generators? Coin toss?
Jamie: It just comes down to who is available at the time. We're all pretty busy people for a variety of different reasons, and we try to avoid letting interviews pile up since trying to catch up really sucks. Occasionally, an interview will be best answered by a particular member depending on the topics.
RP: Since I haven't seen Alex answer any interview yet, I'd like to hear his thoughts on the following The Hard Times Article.
Alex: Luckily they tend to crack the windows whenever leaving the van, so I've been able to survive so far!
RP: It's been ten long years since the band was formed and you've achieved quite a lot. How did you manage to keep the exact same lineup until the addition of Alex as a bass player?
Jamie: I suppose the other three of us have just been very invested in the band, and we enjoy making music together - Horrendous is our most significant creative outlet and hobby, and we each bring perspectives and skills to the table that collectively make up the Horrendous formula. We're also pretty particular when it comes to our music, production, and even other aspects of the package (e.g. art, layout, etc.), in the sense that we want complete creative control and for things to be done our way. I'd say we are resistant to outside influences and opinions in general, so bringing someone else into the fold always seemed like a bad idea.
RP: Speaking of Alex, how did you come to the decision that you're in need of one? While I know that bass duties in the studio were handled by both guitarists, how were they handled live before? How was the recording of Idol affected by having a designated bass player?
Jamie: In the early days, we only played live a few times a year, so it didn't make sense to teach and maintain a bass player. As I mentioned, we also didn't really want other people involved if we could avoid it. So we played without live bass as a trio, and it surprisingly worked fine for that time period. But it got to the point that we needed a live bass player - after Anareta, we began performing more regularly, and our songs had become more complex with time such that a lack of bass became a problem for the live sound as a whole. We first had Steve from Crypt Sermon play a few shows on bass with us, which was fun. His schedule was pretty limiting though, so we next convinced Alex to play a few shows, and Alex has remained with us ever since. Our musical approaches gel very well together, and it now feels like he is a natural part of the fold. In terms of recording Idol, the difference this time around was that we had someone writing and working on bass parts from the beginning of the creative process. For the other albums, bass was written and added very late at the end of recording. Matt and Damian did have a lot of fun since they were writing bass parts almost like a third guitar part, but this occurred entirely within the studio after songs were otherwise completed. The bass parts on Idol were worked out much more carefully than anything in the past.
RP: Idol is probably your album that's closest to technical death metal. Was that a conscious decision to go in that direction or did it just feel natural?
Jamie: I suppose I see why some people would say or think that, although I (and we more collectively) don't make a lot of connections between us and that genre. To me, the similarities can be traced to musical complexity - our music has certainly grown more complex with time, but I see our philosophy as being completely different than that of the "tech" genre. So there was definitely not a decision to sound more like that. I think Idol's sound was a pretty natural product of our evolution both as songwriters and players - we are constantly challenging ourselves to create something new. And I suspect the follow-up to Idol will have a different feel to it.
RP: You were no stranger to excellent critical reception beforehand, but Idol seems to have gained you even more recognition, seeing how it appeared on both our and Anthony Fantano's end year lists. What's your secret?
Jamie: We do appreciate the positive feedback we've gotten for Idol, and it does help to motivate us to keep pushing forward. I think it depends where you look - some outlets that loved Ecdysis or Anareta haven't really warmed up to Idol, while others appreciate it as much or more than those albums. And I do think Idol exposed us to a lot of new audiences too, which has been great. Honestly, we just continue to push ourselves in terms of writing with each new release and trust that the final product will turn out to be something we're proud of. So far it has worked out, and I'd like to think people are beginning to trust that whatever we produce will be something interesting. I think at this point most fans probably realize that we will not make the same album twice, and I hope that they are excited by our constant path forward into new territory.
RP: You've taken quite a lot of time to come out with Idol. Why?
Jamie: There were a lot of reasons. For one, our tours with Tribulation and Kreator in 2016 and 2017 took a lot out of us and tour rehearsal ate up a lot of writing time. We then tried to write and record the album during a very busy and challenging time in several of the members' lives (this is reflected in the album's lyrics). Aside from this, Idol was a very challenging album to record - for example, I had a really tough time getting drum tracks that I liked, to the point that some songs were completely redone from scratch 2-3 times. The creation of Idol was incredibly stressful in general, but we are all very happy with the final product.
The fabled band
RP: Are you already making plans for a follow-up?
Yes we are currently working on a follow-up album and have been doing so gradually, pretty much since Idol was finished - while our writing slows down around the completion of each new album, it never completely stops. We are still a bit early in the writing process for the follow-up, but things have been exciting so far, and we are eager to see what we end up with. We don't set out with preconceived ideas about how an album should sound; instead, we try to keep an open mind during the writing process and to follow the music where it takes us.
RP: When is the long awaited The Raunchy Fucking Bensons reunion finally happening?
Jamie: Definitely never, although I do wish we had taken that project a bit further. I'm surprised you are aware of that band - it was Matt and I's first band and featured a very fast, thrash/punk-oriented sound. The honest truth is it would be really hard to play those songs now without seriously catching up our chops - I played bass in that band and definitely can't play that fast at the moment. The same goes for our friend Garrett who was the drummer, although I suspect Matt would laugh at his own playing back then and could pull it off easily now. Back then, we played together like 3-4 times a week and enjoyed the physical shape and energy of youth (we were all under 18), so we really ripped through the music.
RP: Speaking of ex and related projects, tell us a bit about Pissboys and also why is Matt not in Crypt Sermon anymore.
Jamie: Pissboys is Matt and I's new project, and it also features Garrett on drums again and Matt and I's younger brother Pat on vocals. The band is punk/hardcore through and through, giving us a different type of musical outlet and allowing me to get back on bass. Matt and I really enjoy channeling our creativity into different places, so we're having a lot of fun with the project. We put our first release up on bandcamp a bit ago and will likely play our first shows coming up this summer. I have a good feeling about Pissboys and I suspect the band will pick up steam in the coming year. Regarding Crypt Sermon, I believe the other members became impatient with Matt's schedule and elected to have a more available person play bass for them. Matt and I do have some other projects in the works too, one metal and a few outside the metal world, so stay tuned.
RP: Given your punk roots, it's quite surprising that they're not as obviously felt in Horrendous' music. Do you think they ever will?
Jamie: If I had to guess, I don't think there will ever be more punk sound in Horrendous than there is now. I just don't see that happening based on how our more recent writing has been going. At the same time, it's possible, and it's hard for me to predict what future material will sound like - we really let ourselves experiment in an unfettered way when writing, so who knows what we'll get into. I do think Matt and I still maintain some degree of a punk mentality when writing, even though the influence isn't very clear in Horrendous' music.
RP: Gives us a few underlooked cult death metal albums that should get a bit more recognition.
Jamie: My days of tracking down obscure early death metal releases are largely behind me, and honestly a lot of those bands haven't really stuck with me as the years have passed. Some of my favorites that I still revisit occasionally may not be obscure enough for some people's tastes, but I'll mention Denial by Crematory, Across The Horizon by Utumno, The Ending Quest by Gorement, A Touch Of The Burning Red Sunset by Sarcasm, The Winterlongů by God Macabre, and Ashore The Celestial Burden by Dark Millennium.
RP: Horrendous have never made a music video yet, but if you could have any living director do one for you, who would it be, for which song and which would be the general storyline for it?
Jamie: I'm not a huge fan of music videos for modern metal - I feel they rarely get the appropriate aesthetic across, with the exception of expensive, carefully produced videos by bands like Behemoth. If we were going to do one with a massive budget in a perfect world, I'd pick David Lynch, since I'd want something really bizarre, moody, and troubling. And I'd love for it to be provoking but difficult to interpret, which seems like something he could easily deliver. I'd probably pick "Prescience/Soothsayer" together as the song since they are basically a continuous piece, but I'm not sure what I'd want to convey in terms of a storyline/theme.
RP: If all four you had to start a different side project that wouldn't be metal, which genres would those be?
Jamie: Some kind of jammy, experimental rock, for sure. That's the kind of stuff we make when we're warming up or messing around. I could also see us doing a folk project, or making some kind of melodic indie rock. We have really broad interests musically, and I think this will become apparent if any of our newer side projects pick up steam to the point that we release music.
Where you can catch them live next
RP: Does pineapple belong on pizza?
Jamie: Nah definitely not, I wouldn't dream of ordering that kind of pizza. [Hint: wrong answer]
||Posted on 10.04.2019 by Doesn't matter that much to me if you agree with me, as long as you checked the album out.|
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