Full Of Hell interview (05/2019)
|Conducted by:||Apothecary (e-mail)|
Full Of Hell
Getting more into grindcore in recent years, no band has really made an impression upon me quite like Full Of Hell have. Celebrating their tenth anniversary of existence this year, calling the group "grindcore" almost seems a bit unfair, as their insertion of industrial, noise, death metal, and black metal influences into their formula makes their sound unusually dynamic and distinct by grind standards. After getting floored by the band's new Weeping Choir album this past Friday, I managed to hunt down vocalist Dylan Walker for an interesting discussion of where the band's been, where they are now, and where they may be going in the future.
Che: Hello and thanks a lot for the interview opportunity, Dylan. Getting into 2019 now, and with Full Of Hell being almost ten years old, I'd suspect you've been reflecting on your progress thus far this decade. Indeed, you guys have come a long way and are probably one of the most well respected younger grind bands out there. In retrospect, what do you think might have been the big key to you all getting as much recognition as you have and being so successful?
Dylan: Hmm. Well I think my answer might be telling, but it doesn't feel like we are all that important. In reality, we aren't of course, so that's a realistic feeling, I guess haha. I honestly think a key to success in any form of art is humility. Especially with live music and DIY. It's important to remember that you are simply a participant in a working community and that you aren't above anyone. We are very lucky to be able to do what we do and much of it is possible because of the efforts of the community around us. Humility is key.
Che: In your experience, what do you think really gets a young band noticed to the point of becoming a nationally, or even internationally established group, whether in the grind scene or otherwise? What advice would you give to musicians just getting going with things?
Dylan: That's a tough question as well. We had no business touring when we did. As soon as we started we were touring constantly. Spencer, our guitarist, was so persistent and resourceful that we were able to find shows all over the East coast and soon beyond that. We didn't even have a 7" out, so it was just sheer force of will. If I could give any advice it would be to play exactly what you want to play and to believe in it and go and do it yourself.
Che: Was there any sort of defining moment for you where you really fell in love with grindcore, to the point of deciding you wanted to get involved in it yourself?
Dylan: I remember being 14 and seeing a grindcore band called Robinson in a gymnasium in between corn fields in central Pennsylvania. I hadn't seen a band play that fast and had never heard anything quite like it before then. It immediately pushed me into all styles of fast music, grind and beyond.
Che: Were you in any bands before Full Of Hell? If so, what led to their end, assuming they did split up?
Dylan: Yes, just bands when I was a kid that never even got to a point of touring or putting any physical media out.
Che: Full Of Hell appear to have been doing quite a lot of touring lately. How do you manage your time between touring, songwriting, and just general time for your personal life? Do you ever find yourself feeling as though you wish you had given one of these areas more attention than the others?
Dylan: It's always a balance, just like anything else. The relationship between touring and being home with my family will always be imperfect just because it's a difficult balancing act and both are always tugging at my attention. I'm pretty content to go with the flow nowadays. I am truly lucky to have a supportive partner and family and to be in this band, so whatever needs to be done, I will make it work.
Che: Thus far each Full Of Hell album appears to have been considerably different in sound from the next. Was this something that you all planned from the outset, to never really do anything twice, or has it just been more of a natural evolution of your sound?
Dylan: I think it all feels very natural to us. We definitely discuss where we'd like to see the next record go, but it more or less comes to life itself. Spencer is the main songwriter and he has the master blueprint in his head. We just help contribute to his floor plan, if that makes sense.
Che: Recently, with Trumpeting Ecstasy especially, it seems as though the lengths of the tracks have been getting shorter, and there appears to be a greater influence of death and black metal in the mix now as well. Was this deliberate?
Dylan: Well, I don't know whether the songs are actually any shorter, but if they are in some cases it's not intentional. Death and black metal have certainly always had their place in our DNA, but are pushing a bit more into the forefront now just because they are more challenging to play and the band want to continue to push themselves. From my perspective, the denser the music gets the more colorful the sound and the more expressive it feels to me. So I'm all for it.
Che: I've noticed your vocals have changed a lot over the years as well. On the first Full Of Hell album it sounded pretty in line with the usual conventions of a hardcore/metalcore delivery, but recently you've been doing a lot more shrieking and growling, going more into death and black metal territory with your delivery. Again, has this been intentional?
Dylan: When I was in bands as a young kid, I was always screaming with highs and lows. I'm not sure why, but making weird sounds has always been pretty easy and fun for me. It wasn't until shortly before joining FOH that I thought it might sound cool to stick mainly to a mid range vocal style. I was very into bands like Pulling Teeth at the time. It wasn't until our split with Code Orange Kids and LP 2 that I realized I was wasting my ability by making the vocals so simplistic. I regret not doing my own thing early on, but as time has worn on I've tried to give more and more expression to the vocal delivery. I want to embellish them until it's right on the line of completely indecipherable. So to answer your question simply, yes it was intentional.
Che: Changes, changes, and more changes! One last thing that appears to have shifted lately for Full Of Hell is your lyrical angle. Lyrics on your debut album appeared to fall more in line with "traditional" lyrical themes for grind, hardcore, punk, and the like: politics, social commentary, and personal issues. Lately this appears to have expanded, especially with Trumpeting Ecstasy, into broader themes. I've picked up on more of a religious/fantasy tone, and there's even a track on Weeping Choir called "Silmaril." What might have fueled this transition?
Dylan: The first FOH LP is very introspective and relatively straightforward. I've lost all interest in presenting anything in a straightforward manner since then, and soon after that first LP I began to employ more of a poetic license to achieve a denser end and one that I think is just much more striking to a reader. The way I write in 2019 is the way I wanted to write in 2009. Much of the same inspirations, but a bit more experience in finding what I like for myself.
Che: Despite all the changes, one thing appears to have remained constant with Full Of Hell: your noise influence, the presence of industrial elements and other bizarre electronic shenanigans in your music. This is a very important aspect of your sound, so would you mind giving a little context to your experience with noise and/or electronic music and how it's shaped the direction of Full Of Hell's development?
Dylan: The noise element was Spencer's idea from the start. I'd been into the more obvious people in the past (Merzbow, Throbbing Gristle, Man Is The Bastard), but I never thought about putting electronics into my own project. Spencer at the time had been wanting to incorporate this kind of thing into his music for ages and had finally found people that were receptive to it. I was immediately down because I felt like it would open a lot of doors for us, sonically speaking. It cut the chains for us in that regard and gave us a lot of freedom to do what we wanted and make the sounds we wished we could make.
Che: Indeed, it's become a pretty crucial element in your compositions. So Full Of Hell have also done three collaborative albums so far, the one with Merzbow and the other two with The Body. Collabs seem to be pretty unusual for grind bands. What made you all decide that getting into them was something you wanted to take on?
Dylan: We didn't actually decide on doing collaborations. We met Balazs Pandi (Hungarian drummer who plays with Masami) and he suggested it to both parties. We were completely floored that it was even under discussion, but Masami was down immediately. That project was huge for us, and very daunting. Again, we never thought we'd do another, but then our new friends in The Body suggested the next one to us. After working with The Body we've come to terms with the fact that this is now part of who we are. We love making them and intend to keep making them in the future.
Che: That's really great to hear. Let's talk a little more then about your collabs with The Body, because it seems the two you've done with Chip and Lee have really done a lot more as far as getting everyone more exposure is concerned and have been well received. I feel as though they each represent a different merging of your musical identities, One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache being very raw and assertive and Ascending A Mountain Of Heavy Light feeling a bit more hypnotic, for lack of a better word. How do you feel they relate to each other?
Dylan: I feel like they relate on a few levels. On a human level specifically, the first album was the result of our high expectations. Spencer and I had areas we wanted to make sure were covered in our heads and because of that I think it feels much more deliberate. The second one was much more in a comfort zone and therefore was a bit weirder. We didn't feel like we had to do anything in particular so we just went on a tangent.
Che: Very interesting. Do Full Of Hell have any future collab plans in mind?
Che: As for your latest album that just came out last week, Weeping Choir, this is Full Of Hell's debut on Relapse Records. What prompted the signing with them, and are you feeling it's a better fit for you guys?
Dylan: We ended up signing with them just based on them contacting us. We had done a couple records with the amazing Profound Lore and just felt like a change. We've been doing that since the beginning, we've always moved around through different record labels, kind of doing residencies at each before doing something else. It's not a matter of better or worse. Relapse is great though, they did a good job overall with the new one.
Che: Weeping Choir really seems to be a grand culmination of all the sounds Full Of Hell have experimented with up to this point, perhaps something of a "grind fusion" album. There's a bit of the sludgey hardcore sound from your debut, the wall of noise/industrial antics from Rudiments, as well as the shades of black and death metal from Trumpeting Ecstasy. Going forward, do you think you all will continue in this vein, or branch off from here more in one direction over the others?
Dylan: I'm glad it seems that way, that was definitely Spencer's goal! I can't say what's next really. I think there will always be a degree of trying to hit our zones on each solo record. We always try to do something different but the core always sticks around in one form or another.
Che: One guest you all brought onto Weeping Choir for vocals on "Army Of Obsidian Glass" really drew my attention: Lingua Ignota. How did Full Of Hell get involved with her, and might that contribution yield any more work together between you two?
Dylan: I found out about Kristin's music through The Body. They were constantly plugging her to me and online, so I had to check it out. The music absolutely blew me away, I was an instant fan. When we were writing this song, Spencer had it in his head that she would be the perfect fit to flesh it out, and by that time we were good friends. We are definitely doing more with Lingua. I actually have a band in the works with her and Lee from The Body, and the record is just about finished. FOH would love to tour with her and collaborate, so time will tell!
Che: Even though Full Of Hell could still probably loosely be labeled as grindcore, your sound is pretty atypical for the genre, and seems to be increasingly so with each subsequent release. Have you all encountered anything of a backlash from "grind purists" for being too "out there" now?
Dylan: Since day 1! However, we didn't even use the word "grind" until the past few years, and mainly just to piss people off. I don't blame grindcore purists for hating on the band, honestly. We aren't real grindcore, we aren't real death metal, we aren't "pure" anything. But we are making what WE like and what WE want to play, so that's all that matters.
Che: I couldn't agree more. I'm a little curious as to what kind of music you may be involved in outside the context of Full Of Hell as well. Are there any side projects of yours that we should keep an ear out for?
Dylan: I'm in a grindcore band called Ramuh with Balazs Pandi and Moe of Maruta, and I have that TBA project with Kristin and Lee. Spencer has Eye Flys, a noise rock band with Backslider guys, and Dave and Sam have Jarhead Fertilizer, who are sitting on an increasingly moldy and decomposing LP that may never see the light of day but would surely destroy us all if it did.
Che: Cool info, I'm definitely going to be anticipating that project between you, Lee, and Kristin. Well Dylan, major thanks again for your time and dropping all this info. Feel free to say whatever you'd like to your fans over at Metal Storm as this wraps up!
Dylan: Thanks for the interview! Go start a band and go on tour.
Major salutes to Dylan and the rest of the Full Of Hell pack on behalf of Metal Storm. If you haven't already, you should probably go get hammered by the latest, and perhaps greatest achievement yet from this bunch who are proving themselves increasingly relevant in the realm of extreme, fast, and altogether hellish music.
||Posted on 20.05.2019 by Comforting the disturbed and disturbing the comfortable since 2013.|
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