Chaos Backstage: Goatwhore Interview
www.metalhammer.co.uk’s US correspondent Chaos recently spoke to true-metallers Goatwhore…
Goatwhore: Ben and Sammy
Chaos: Your latest album ‘Carving out the eyes of God’ can be coined ‘Black n’ Roll’, like that of Satyricon’s ‘Age of Nero’, which ultimately gained them some flack from their die-hard fans. Have you experienced any of this with the new album?
Sammy- I think that Satyricon carved their own sound for a while, you know with ‘Dark med-evil times’, ‘Nemesis Divina. I think we’re still carving out our sound in a different way than Satyricon. We are much more into our masters which has made us what is Goatwhore, like Celtic Frost, Bathory, Venom, Kreator, Sodom and Exodus. We delve into all our influences instead of doing ‘the Saytricon thing’, where it’s more of an industrial groovy…um how can I say this without being a fucking asshole…um let’s say commercialized sound…
Ben- I think they might have a moved little too fast maybe, you know? I mean it’s not a bad thing, bands do it a lot. Instead of making gradual movement, they jump immediately, not making everything flow naturally. Sometimes it can hurt you when you make a drastic change in style. Then your fans are like ‘What the Fuck?’.
Chaos- It’s like trying to force a square peg into a round hole…
Sammy- I agree. The whole Satyricon thing…[As we are sitting on an outdoor patio type environment, we notice the local law-enforcement who is on duty and in uniform, proceed to have a couple of drinks at the same establishment. We teased him out loud, and roared with laughter. What was he going to do? Arrest us for some bullshit, and have four witnesses testify he was drinking on duty? We fucking think not.]
Ben- The whole thing going from the record ‘A haunting curse’ to this record has it’s differences but nothing outrageous. If anything we embraced more the feeling and the roll of the music rather than trying to be the fastest or…
Sammy-…The most intense band ever, we just focus on what made Goatwhore…Goatwhore, instead of trying Angelcorpse or Morbid Angel and try to make the most extreme album ever. There are so many bands doing that nowadays and doing it so much better than us. So we just embrace what we do…and there was kind of a lot of soul-searching involved,[Sammy looks over at Ben] right?
Ben- Yeah I guess you could say that.
Sammy- It was like, let’s find out what make us Goatwhore. Blasting all the time gets boring after a while, you know? We’re not just going to keep ripping-off Celtic Frost all the time! [Ben starts to speak, he starts to laugh and we all succumb.]. No disrespect to Celtic Frost! I love Tom G. Warrior he knows that! [Sammy references his Celtic Frost tattoo on his left arm. It's more of paying respect to the masters who created that genre of music, but not too many people pay attention to it. Celtic Frost and Bathory dude...the first Bathory record had no blast beats, and that's how it should be.
Ben- He didn't have blast beats on any of his records.
Sammy- Exactly man!
Ben- The whole Norwegian thing was like...well not just Norwegian, if you look at Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth, it kind of pigeon-holes us. If someone calls us black metal, kids who have just got into it, confuse what black metal is and think it's like Dimmu Borgir or Cradle of Filth. So they really don't have the idea of... [Sammy jumps in]
Sammy-…The roots of where TRUE black metal comes from!
Ben- Kids don’t understand that there is a much broader spectrum to it. We hear things all the time like: ‘When somebody first brought up Goatwhore to me and I asked them what type of metal it is, they said black metal. I’m not a fan of black metal but then I went to a show and saw you, and it just wasn’t that.’. It’s hard sometimes, especially within the metal scene. We listen to a variant of different metal, and we don’t like to say this band or that band isn’t cool because they are doing something different. We grew up in the era of ‘cross-over’, with bands like of D.R.I and C.O.C, all these bands who created the transition and mixed the audiences…[Again Sammy jumps in...you get the idea]
Sammy-…As long as it’s evil heavy music…
Chaos-…Good metal is good metal…[Sammy and I share a fist-bump]
Ben- There is a lot of feeling involved though. When we were writing, there were songs we completed and three days later, I’m not feeling it, I’m not feeling the effort that went into it, so we tear it apart and rebuild or we’ll just toss it.
Sammy- Or if it’s not black metal enough…[again met with laughter]
Ben- Or if it doesn’t have the spice of evil added to it…
Chaos- Or if it doesn’t reference all seven deadly sins. [laughter continues]
Ben- It’s about feeling though, and this record is more about that. I think I have more fun on stage playing the new stuff than I do with some of our past material, because it has that ‘feeling’…
Sammy-…Like an ‘Old-school’ vibe…
Ben-…Like where AC/DC beats the devil on the highway to hell…
Sammy-…Or like VENOM dude! Remember when Venom has those AC/DC parts? Exactly dude! To me that’s what black metal should be.
Ben- It’s like the rock in metal. Like Judas Priest, how it evolved into what it is.
Sammy- It’s still black metal, but it’s heavy on the metal, and light on the black. Don’t get me wrong the black is still there, of course we sing about our lord and master Satan, but heavy metal is extremely present, you know?
Chaos- It would seem that many metal albums released over the past few years suffer from the guitars being drowned out by drums and vocals, or have had all the life sucked out, and the tone sounds buried. ‘Carving out the eyes of God’ seems to be an exception, was this done with explicit intent?
Ben- Oh hell yeah!
Sammy- Absolutely dude! On the last couple albums we did, we only spent about a half hour on guitar sound. We spent THREE DAYS on the guitar sound for ‘Carving out the eyes of God’. We wanted to make the guitar sound so fucking BIG and ENORMOUS!
Ben- We said the same thing, there were so many records coming out, even BIG name metal records coming out where the drums and vocals were so much here [motions with his hands far in front of him], and the guitars sat back here [motions with hands close to chest]. Where are the guitars? That’s what metal is all about!
Sammy- Let me ask you a question Chaos.
Sammy- Do you remember when you first heard Anthrax’s ‘Spreading the disease’?
Chaos- Like it was yesterday.
Sammy- The guitars are so loud on that album, so fucking prominent and in your face. It has such a great sound. That’s what makes an album heavy in my opinion.
Ben- The thing is, so many new producers get into this mind space where they think guitars drown everything else out, and it’s like NO dude, if you’re a good enough producer you can make the guitars pump through and have everything gel. It was funny because I kept telling Rutan [Metal Blade's go to producer Erik Rutan], the guitars need to be turned up. He said ‘But you’re the vocalist, and that’s going to drown you out…’ and I was like no, it’ll be fine and everything will end up in the pocket where it’s supposed to be.
Chaos- I have to commend you for that. There are a lot of vocalists who seem to only care that the vocals overpower everything else.
Ben- I fucking hate that! I mean you can hear it in early Judas Priest records, but that’s the way they used to mix back then, then you get to ‘Painkiller’ and it’s like boom everything is right there. Now we have the technology to make it happen and have everything sound killer…
Sammy-…And to make everything sound larger than life, where the guitars don’t suffer and everything is just in your fucking face, you know?
Ben- What’s even better about it is…Rutan he’s pretty high on the producer scale but not as high as some of these other guys and he basically pulled something off something where all these big producers keep saying no you can’t do that because it will drown everything else out…
Sammy- Fuck that! [gives a big thumbs down] Break the rules, LOUD guitars!
Chaos- I can’t tell you how many Cd’s I spin, where I have to fuck with my equalizer to try and muster more of the guitar. It drives me crazy.
Sammy- I understand Bro! What’s the point of writing a guitar-riff if you can’t hear the fucking riff, right?
Chaos- How the fuck is it metal, if it’s not guitars in your face?
Ben- That’s what metal is all about, if you want proof look at Metallica’s ‘Ride the lightning’, Slayer’s ‘Reign in blood’…ALL the great metal albums.
Sammy- There’s so many people scared to crank their guitars. If you lack that much confidence in your guitar sound and skills maybe you should keep your penis in your pants and stop playing guitar, maybe play a different instrument.
Chaos- Or maybe consider a different style…
Sammy- I agree…
Ben- It’s perfect proof on ‘Carving out the eyes of God’, you CAN have heavy guitars and everything else still comes through. Every member of the band is a different entity that you have to please, so recording is a pain in the fucking ass.
Sammy- The drummer…that’s the one guy you always have to please, but when you have loud drums AND loud guitars, that’s perfect, that’s when it’s fucking metal.
Chaos- The vocalist also has to be strong and skilled…
Ben- It doesn’t really have to be that strong, just fit in that pocket…
Chaos- But if you have a suck-ass vocalist, it would be difficult to pull it off…
Sammy- [Laughs]…but we don’t have that problem.
Ben- What some people are starting to realize, but most still don’t understand, is that with all the tools available today, you could be a terrible fucking musician and they can still make you sound like a god, doesn’t matter if your a vocalist, guitarist, bassist, drummer or whatever the fuck.
Chaos- How do those bands/artists survive when playing live?
Sammy- They don’t! You come to a Goatwhore show and we pull our shit off like a motherfucker, probably even heavier than on the recording.
Stay tuned for part 2 !