Gatecreeper interview (10/2019)
|With:||Chase H. Mason|
|Conducted by:||RaduP (skype)|
Gatecreeper is one of those recent death metal bands that seems to get a lot of attention with their really great emulation of olden sounds, mostly of the Swedeath scene. I got the opportunity to talk with frontman Chase Mason about some of that, and also about that time he hanged out with Post Malone.
Radu: So when was the last time you played live in a new place?
Chase: Um… Last time Gatecreeper played a new place was probably on our last tour; we played some places in Canada that we haven't played before. But we haven't been touring yet for the past year with Gatecreeper - we were writing and recording the new record - so starting next week we'll be starting a new tour.
Radu: You've been to Europe, right?
Radu: How are European crowds different to US ones, from what you've seen?
Chase: It's just a different way to interact with live music there, I feel like, depending on where you're at. It's maybe a little bit more appreciative, maybe they don't get as many shows as some other, bigger cities, or different cities in the US; it's a little bit more appreciative, a little bit more responsive, I'd say.
Radu: Yeah, in a way. How difficult is it for a US band to tour in Europe? Usually for the other way around it's really complicated with the visas and everything.
Chase: Uh-huh. The visas weren't that bad; we've only done one European tour, about two years ago. It's pretty difficult… the others got really sick, so that made it pretty difficult as well.
Radu: Yeah, but generally organizing it there as a band from overseas is, like, big financial risks right now.
Radu: It probably is?
Chase: Yeah, it's pretty expensive.
Radu: Yeah, I can guess. How is the response to Deserted so far? Do you think it lived up to Sonoran Depravation?
Chase: Yeah, the response has been really good. I think we made it a better record than our last one, which is our goal. People seem to agree. The response has been really good, the good reviews have been really validating for us on all the things that we've been trying to do, it's been recognized, and… yeah. The response has been really good. We're really excited about it.
Radu: Yeah, great. I don't think you would have released it if it was worse than your debut?
Radu: It was really great seeing a death metal band get so much attention from their debut album, like you did. I've seen Sonoran Depravation brought up on Pitchfork and stuff like that. And you've probably been asked this on every interview, but did you finally figure out how Gatekeeper got so famous? [Editor's note: you definitely called them "Gatekeeper" here. That's okay; I mix them up, too.]
Chase: Nah, I mean, we worked really hard, whether it was touring or making sure that everything we release is better than the last or having a high standard in everything that we do, our visuals, our merch - it's very methodical and there's a very specific vision that we have in mind, so all of that combined, I think that's helped us… I wouldn't put it as that we're… I don't think about it, "oh, we're famous," or whatever -
Radu: You're a step above a lot of bands, anyway.
Chase: Yeah, yeah, I do think that the work that we put in helps us stick out from a group of bands, because there are so many different bands, there are so many metal bands, there are so many death metal bands, and even right now there's a huge wave of old-school death metal bands -
Radu: Revivalistic -
Chase: Yeah. So we do everything that we can to create our own identity and make something people can latch onto and have us stick out above the crowd. That's something that we strive for.
Radu: How difficult is it creating an identity in a genre that feels like it has been done before so many times, especially when in a lot of songs you can really trace each influence that you have had?
Chase: We aren't afraid to wear our influences on our sleeve, you know, and I think the most important part is if we just take all the different elements of our favorite things and kind of weave them together, take those ingredients and make them our own sound, a different combination of things, and more importantly if you're going to do that, if you're going to reference certain things, then you have to do it really well.
Radu: When I first listened to Sonoran Depravation, someone jokingly said that you are from Sweden and I actually believed them.
Radu: Yeah, it's actually a really good throwback to that sound that you have, but on this newer record I can tell that you have kind of expanded your palette. You already had some Obituary influences, but now it feels a bit more Finnish.
Radu: Was that something you've been going for?
Chase: Yeah, yeah. I love Finnish death metal, whether it's the first Sentenced record, the first two Amorphis records, and then, you know, like, Demigod, Convulse, all those bands, they're definitely an influence on me and my songwriting, and I account for about half of the songwriting for Gatecreeper, so definitely in the stuff that I write that's a huge influence.
Radu: I'm waiting for you to be influenced by Demilich with those burpy vocals.
Chase: Yeah, I like that band, but I don't think with our riffs or vocals… it's not super referenced to Demilich.
Radu: Do you think you'll look for another set of influences for when you're gonna write the next album?
Chase: We'll see. As far as my vision for the band is, we're not trying to be progressive, we're not trying to evolve too much; we're just going to continue to do our own thing. We add a couple different new things in there when we can, some new elements to spice it up, so maybe there might be some curveballs on the next one, but most of the main ingredients are always gonna stay the same.
Radu: Okay. So you're not exactly looking that far up ahead and thinking, "Oh, we're gonna add that to the new album," right?
Chase: Yeah, that's what we did on this record. We listened to the first one, Sonoran Depravation, and thought about what is it missing, what could we do better, what worked and what didn't work. Things that did work, we expanded on those. There's the doom parts that are even more doomier, there's the melodic parts that are even more melodic -
Radu: Yeah, you can work on that even more and make it even more doomy.
Chase: Yeah, so maybe we'll listen to this record and some of the things people have said, "Oh, you guys have slowed down a lot, there's not so much fast parts," so maybe for the next record it'll be mostly fast parts. Who knows?
Radu: So you haven't really gotten around to listening to Deserted and thinking, "What does it miss?" yet?
[here the connection breaks a little bit]
Chase: Uh… what do I think when I listen to it?
Radu: You haven't really gotten around to doing the same listening and seeing what worked, what didn't work for Deserted as well?
Chase: Yeah, yeah, we haven't toured on it yet, 'cause that's sometimes when the songs really get put to the test to see what works live and what doesn't work live, but sometimes we write songs - like the last song on the record, "Absence Of Light," we wrote that song and it's a great closer to the record, but we're probably never gonna play it live, you know?
Chase: So a song that we make and that we record doesn't necessarily mean that we have to play it live or it has to work in a live setting, but after touring for years on the last one we have a good idea of what works in our live set, so we wanted to write new songs and put them on the record, songs that both sounded good recorded and we knew that we would play live when we go on tour for the record.
Radu: Yeah, it's not necessary that every song has to be played live. There are obviously some things that you should do in a studio that you cannot do live.
Chase: Yeah. And it's not necessarily that we're adding things on there, it's just for our live set we want to be very impactful, and sometimes probably a long doom song isn't really the best fit for our set. Maybe for a special set, you know? Depends on what we're doing or who we're playing with.
Radu: Yeah, there are some bands that don't want to play some songs live because they don't think that the crowd really wants it, but there's always that group of people that really wants to hear that song played live one time. Like "Black Rose Immortal" from Opeth, which is their longest song, and I don't think they ever played it live, and some people, including me, really want to hear it.
Radu: So maybe in 20 years when you're doing the "20 Years of Deserted" tour, you're gonna be playing the whole album live?
Chase: *laughs* Yeah, maybe.
Radu: So how did you get to hang out with Post Malone?
Chase: We have some mutual friends, or some mutual business sort of people, I guess. We have a friend who used to work with metal bands, she managed metal bands, and now she works for his touring crew. She talked to him, he likes metal, so she showed him Gatecreeper and he liked it, so he wanted to meet us, went to the show, we hung out, we've kind of been friends since.
Radu: And you like hip-hop, too, right, like the Memphis scene?
Chase: Yeah, yeah.
Radu: I saw it in the Bandcamp recommendations thing that you did.
Radu: It was really unexpected. Having a metal perspective on hip-hop, usually you can't really tell, it's all just hip-hop to you, but when you look into it, these smaller scenes - it's like death metal, when you have the Swedish sound, the Finnish sound, the Floridian sound, and they have the L.A. sound, the Chicago sound, and the Memphis one.
Chase: Yeah, and I've said this before, but if you look at the Memphis rap world of the early '90s or whatever, there's parallels between that and, say, the early death metal tape-trading sort of thing. People were putting out tapes, they were sampling each other, they were borrowing stuff from each other, there were all kinds of different collaborations that happened -
Radu: And having that gritty sound.
Chase: Yeah, it's gritty, even the aesthetic of it, of the demo tape, like the Xerox sort of stuff, if you dig deep into the Memphis stuff - or just other stuff in general - they're pretty similar. And even with bands, like with the groups like Three 6 Mafia, their early stuff is… the lyrics can be pretty evil, too, you know?
Chase: I think it's cool. It's an influence for me, whether it comes out musically or rhythmically, the way that I… lyrics or vocals or whatever, but there's definitely influence there.
Radu: Yes. But it's not really something that you would completely blend in with your sound?
Chase: Absolutely not. *laughs*
Radu: Okay. Do you think you can get me an interview with Post Malone?
Chase: Probably not. I don't think he does press at all anymore.
Radu: No? Ah, too bad. I've been bugging my editor to get me an interview with Post Malone ironically and he doesn't want to do it. [Editor's note: It's true. I don't.] I thought, "Oh man, I'm interviewing Gatecreeper! He's gotta be able to!"
Radu: Everybody knows that death metal and horror movies go hand-in-hand. Now that it's Spooktober, recommend us some of your favorite horror movies.
Chase: Believe it or not, I'm not a big horror movie person. I'm not even really a big movie person. I think I have… my attention span is very bad, so I don't know. I like music; that's about it.
Radu: So that's mostly the only art form that you're really interested in.
Chase: Yeah, I mean I like art, graphic design sort of stuff, but as far as entertainment, music is my thing. If I'm watching something - I'll watch some shows, but if I'm watching a movie, it's a documentary probably centered around music. I care about music and that's about it.
Radu: Okay. Let's talk about music, then. [Radu audibly discards his question about how many David Lynches it takes to direct one Gatecreeper video] Since the decade is almost over, what would you say are some records from this decade that will be regarded as classics in the future?
Chase: Morbus Chron's Sweven. I think that one kind of got lost a little bit because they broke up right afterwards, but that's one of my favorite death metal records of the last ten years. Disma - Towards The Megalith. Modern classic. I've liked - as far as modern bands, Hooded Menace is one of my favorites. All their records are really good. Yeah, as far as metal and death metal, those are some of my favorites.
Radu: Okay. It wasn't really specific to metal.
Chase: I'm trying to think… I'm drawing a blank on what else in the past ten years has really excited me.
Radu: Yeah, this is more of an e-mail question than a Skype question.
Chase: *laughs* Yeah, yeah.
Radu: Okay. How does it feel being sober for so long?
Chase: Feels good. I mean, I wouldn't be able to do any of this stuff if I wasn't sober. I'm kind of a maniac when I'm not sober, and if I'm doing drugs or if I'm drinking, that's all I care about. Like I said, all I really care about is music, and that's all I do. If I'm getting fucked up, drinking, doing drugs or whatever, that's all I want to do. There's not really much room in my life to do anything else, so I wouldn't be able to do the band, I wouldn't be able to tour, I just wouldn't be able to hold it together. It's good to be sober. I mean, it sucks, because I like drinking, I like doing drugs, but I like it a little bit too much.
Radu: So if you have one drink, you're suddenly gonna feel like having another and it's going to spiral out up there, right?
Chase: Yeah, exactly. It's better for me to be sober, it's better for everybody else around me that I'm sober, but now it's been… It's been over seven years and I've been able to accomplish a lot, so I don't really want to go back, you know?
Radu: Yeah, obviously. Do you feel like after so long if you had another drink it would be as hard to stay sober as it was when you first started?
Chase: Yeah, probably. I'm pretty sure if I started again it would go downhill really fast, yeah.
Radu: Well then, don't do it.
Chase: I don't plan on it.
Radu: And that was seven years ago, so when you were in that other band - Slut Sister was before that, right?
Chase: Yeah, yeah, there was a little bit of a break before. I didn't play music for a couple years, probably, because I couldn't hold it together. Like I said, there wasn't really much room in my life to do anything else; I could barely even hold a job. That was the last band that I had, and then I started Gatecreeper after I got sober.
Radu: And you did release a split with what became of that other band, right?
Chase: Yes, correct. Take Over And Destroy.
Radu: Do you think they're gonna do a new album soon?
Chase: Yeah, they have a new record that's done, but it's not out yet. I think they're going to release it themselves. It's really good.
Radu: Okay, so we're gonna have to look out for that.
Radu: Have you been involved in any other bands since you started Gatecreeper, any other projects?
Chase: Yeah, I play bass in Spirit Adrift.
Radu: Oh, yeah, other than Spirit Adrift, obviously.
Chase: Ah, no. I have some ideas for some other bands that I would want to do, but at this point I don't really have time, especially with the new Gatecreeper record coming out.
Radu: And you're gonna start touring soon.
Chase: Yeah. I have other stuff - like I said, I love music. I like to play music, make new music, I like all kinds of different styles of music. It would be cool to play in all kinds of different bands, play different instruments in different bands or whatever, but right now Gatecreeper takes up all my time - which is not a bad thing, but I don't have time to focus on anything else. If I'm gonna do something, I like to do it with full force. Don't wanna half-ass anything.
Radu: Yeah, I can hear you. How do you find time between Gatecreeper and Spirit Adrift?
Chase: Um… It's a different sort of mental energy between the two. Gatecreeper is more my vision and creatively there's a lot more responsibility, where with Spirit Adrift it's just been, I just have to play -
Radu: Do you have any songwriting -
Chase: No, no, with Spirit Adrift I don't write any of it. I don't even play on any of the Spirit Adrift records. Nate [Garrett] writes it, Nate plays most of the instruments, and it's his thing. I pretty much just play in the live band.
Radu: Okay. How does it feel - you're an instrumentalist, but you're only doing vocals for Gatecreeper. Why?
Chase: I don't want to do both. When I started the band, I was just gonna play guitar, but it came that I was gonna do vocals, I didn't want to play guitar and sing at the same time… I'm all right with playing the instruments or writing music behind the scenes. I don't have to worry about equipment, guitar pedals, guitar cables, strings, breaking strings… I don't like gear. I'm not a tech or a gear nerd, so that's just all kind of annoying to me. I'm pretty relieved that I don't have to worry about that live.
Radu: And you finish packing up much earlier.
Chase: Yeah, exactly.
Radu: Okay, that's about it. Do you have anything else to say to your fans?
Chase: No, that's it. Thank you so much.
Radu: Okay. Thank you and see you next time.
Chase: Yeah. Talk to you later. Bye.
Thanks once again to SSUS for transcribing the interview
||Posted on 27.10.2019 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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