Subterranea: Victor Griffin Interview
Doom legend and axeman extraordinaire, Victor Griffin, might have left Pentagram, but fans of musty, potent rock mottled by hard-won personal experience still have cause to rejoice. For the man himself has started a new band, In-Graved, and their self-titled debut album on Svart Records, out March 22, is made of the classic stuff a man has to climb many mountains to find. Read Greg Moffitt’s exclusive online interview below!
To the delight of doom heads worldwide, former Pentagram/Place Of Skulls axeman Victor Griffin is back with a new band. Starting life as little more than a few sonic sketches, the project quickly grew into a fully-fledged recording and touring outfit with an all-star line-up featuring Jeff Olson and Ron Holzner (Trouble), Guy Pinhas (The Obsessed, Goatsnake) and Pete Campbell (Place Of Skulls), among others.
“Just over a year ago, I was trying to formulate some fresh ideas,” Victor explains, “because I wasn’t sure how much longer I was gonna stay in Pentagram. It was cool and I really enjoyed my time back there, but it wasn’t really my vehicle anymore. I wanted to keep moving forward and I’d been writing new songs that I wasn’t really sure what to do with. I’d stayed in contact with Pete Campbell since he played in Place Of Skulls and we decided we should get the songs recorded. So, we booked some studio time and kicked the songs around for a couple of days. It was just me and him with no thoughts to any band name or anything. When we started thinking about other musicians, I sent out an email to people I know, just to see what the reaction would be, and it was great. I think the album turned out killer.”
Although billed as Victor Griffin’s In-Graved – a pragmatic choice which the guitarist himself was initially unsure of – this is definitely not a solo album.
“There were a handful of songs completed before everyone else came in,” says Victor, “but with their different styles, everyone doing their thing; I consider it a major collaboration.”
While moving forward, Victor has also been looking back. Although loaded with its fair share of doom, the hard rock of the guitarist’s pre-Sabbath influences – Steppenwolf, Alice Cooper and Nazareth – also has a looming presence. “I always had a natural tendency for that Sabbath-type tone, but before I got into Sabbath I’d go for bands that had a certain type of neck pickup tone. I loved the way it sounded.”
Given the current fetish for all things 70s – which Victor is very well aware of – In-Graved’s music chimes with the times. “What’s happening today is really cool. I ran into a kid recently who looked like he was 12 years old, wearing a Led Zeppelin t-shirt. I said, ‘Man, what are you doing wearing that shirt?’ He said ‘Oh, my dad turned me onto them, they’re a great band!’ That’s a trip, ’cause the thing used to be that you didn’t wanna have anything to do with your parents music!”
Perhaps the heaviest thing about In-Graved and Victor’s music is general, however, is the sheer emotional weight in the lyrical themes.
“I’ve always had an obsession with death and mortality,” he ponders, “and I got asked recently why all my songs are about similar things; the human condition. I said, ‘Man, I wouldn’t even know how to write a song about anything else’.”