Monday, August 15, 2011

Excommunicated Interview

1. Can you tell us a little bit about the band for those that have never heard of you before?

We’re pretty new on the scene as a band; but all come from a death metal background for the most part, and have toiled at this in one form or another for most of the last two decades. The guitarist Jason McIntyre was the founder of Suture, which was probably Louisiana’s top brutal death metal band for well over ten years. The other guitarist Jonathan was the founder of Despondency, which were more of a melodic and European style DM band from the Lafayette area. He currently helms Psychometry, which is an even more orchestral and eclectic type of metal band. I was the original member of Catholicon, a death/black metal band that toiled in the underground for about 15 years, putting out 4 rather raw and out of print albums. I was originally the vocalist, later the keyboardist and backing vocalist. All of our respective bands wound to a close in the 2000’s; we were sort of the last guy’s standing who still wanted to do this sort of thing on into the next decade, and who were able to. Fate kind of brought things together. I’d say we try to represent most of the strengths of our respective backgrounds, and bring them to this new entity.

2. How would you describe the musical sound that is presented on the new album?

Well, I think it’s eccentric for sure, in that it pulls from a variety of influences. We’re drawing from death, black, even some thrash metal influence here; and there are nods to Amorphis, Morbid Angel, Deicide, Exodus, Obituary, Cemetary, Nocturnus, Mercyless, Monstrosity, Benediction, Celtic Frost, you name it. Lyrically, there are secret nods to all sorts of things too. One of the amusing things about the last band I was in, was that we never were quite able to be pegged as death or black metal. I think this project is far more perplexing in that respect. There’s something for everyone; but a purist of anything will be confounded. Basically, music for and by fans of the heyday of death and black metal; which I would say is 1990-1994.

3. What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the new release explores?

The entire album is a concept based on the medieval history of Catholicism: abuse, corruption, cruelty, and perversity. We go into a lot of topics, and tried to steer clear for the most part of things that have been over-done; and hopefully shed some light on things that have been nearly forgotten or would hardly be believed.

3. What is the meaning and inspiration behind the band’s name?

Well, to be excommunicated is to be removed from the Catholic faith. By their doctrine, it also means damnation; no chance of salvation. “Extra Ecclesium Nulla Salus”, which in Latin means “outside the Church, there is no salvation”.

5. What are some of the best shows that the band has played so far and how would you describe your stage perfomance?

We’ve never yet played live. We’re looking at that possibility now; but of course getting the record out was priority number one. We’re following, I think, in the grand tradition of black metal; which is to sort of keep to ourselves for a little while at first. Venom didn’t tour or play live until their second album; Bathory never did.

6. Do you have any touring plans for the new album?

We have only (in recent days) begun to talk about even the possibilities and logistics of pulling off a live show. I think the consensus is that we’d do it if the opportunity were right; but we’re mostly focused on just promoting the record and working on the second one right now. We’re also in the middle of several other important recording projects; which kind of takes the fire out of much discussion about touring.

7. On the album you had some guest appeareances from a few legends in the underground metal scene how did you get in contact with them?

I’ve known Vincent Crowley from Acheron for twenty years; and consider him a true friend and warrior. Having his appearance on the record gives it an air of authenticity that I can’t begin to describe. I wrote those words for Vincent as much as for the album’s concept; because I know they represent exactly how he and I both feel regarding the subject, without compromise, without any pretense. Andy LaRocque, I’ve been in touch with here and there for a year or two. It really just came down to asking, and having some patience, and the luck of a small window of opportunity being open in his schedule. One thing that’s true, which I told him as well, is that I’ve chased after the King Diamond concept album “The Eye” my whole life. It’s my favorite record of all time, and a continuous inspiration. This was the second time in my life that I’ve put together a set of lyrics for a record that basically is my homage to what The Eye tried to do, and nothing would validate that better than having the actual guitarist from The Eye grace the record briefly. Fortunately for us, he was agreeable to the idea as well.

8. On a worldwide level how has your music been recieved by death/black metal fans?

So far, the response has been amazingly positive. We’re still kind of crossing our fingers. Haha the record really has just hit the streets as far as the press, with some press packages still waiting to go out; and at the time of this writing, it is one day out from official release (August 15’th). I’ve given a copy to a large circle of old close friends; whom I’ve always sort of used for feedback, and they’ve all been extremely positive. Much more so than anything I’ve been involved in prior.

9. Are there any side projects besides this band or is this a full time line-up?

Everyone does multiple projects, yes. Both guitarists are in multiple other bands, and I’m working on a side project record with one of the guitarists also. As a mix and mastering engineer and ‘bedroom record label/distro’ operator; I’ve always got my hands in other projects, it seems like, as well. Excommunicated, as a band, is my main focus though.

10. What direction do you see the music heading into on future releases?

Actually heavier and more on the side of heavy oldschool death metal, if anything. The next record, if anything, will be more consistently straightforward death metal. It’s not that we’re trying to sell-in or sell-out; that’s just the direction we’ve decided to take with it. What’s cool about the first album is that it’s got a lot of ideas put forward and gives us a starting point to go into a lot of different directions. I want to know what parts of it people respond well to; but I think we’ve already kind of settled on where the next one is going to go. It’s going to be more merciless.

11. What are some bands or musical styles that have influenced your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?

Well, firstly, I just turned 37; so I’m getting up there. I’m actually a lot more open minded about music now today than I ever was when I was younger. 20 years ago, I only wanted to hear Deicide, Morbid Angel, or something that was even more satanic or sick than that. 21 years ago, it would have been Slayer. 22 years ago, it would have been Anthrax and Megadeth and Overkill. When something like Cynic’s album ‘Focus’ came out in 1994, by that point it just went over my head. I was more interested in the debut Cradle of Filth or Lord Belial records that came out that year. It had to be full on satanic. Something I never got into until literally the last couple of years was the so-called brutal or guttural death metal. I thought singing about body parts was just immature. But today I actually enjoy it and appreciate it for what it is. I get it. Some things before, I just didn’t get. I also find myself listening to stuff that is totally not metal, and appreciating artists like Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, even something as of the wall as Tegan & Sara or Matt & Kim. Some stuff, I purely listen to for production value; and try to figure out how they got such a good snare sound or guitar sound, etc. I like The Cure, I like the Tony Martin-era Black Sabbath stuff. There are a few bands I have been listening too, for what seems like all my life without ever a period of dissatisfaction. Those are King Diamond, Mercyful Fate, Tiamat, and I guess I’d add Therion, Samael, Hypocrisy, Lake of Tears, and Bathory. I’ve been listening to Venom since the 80’s, but their only good stuff is from the 80’s.

12. I know that the music is very Anti Catholic but does Satanism or Occultism play any role in the music?

It hasn’t yet; but keep in mind we have only that one record so far, which is a concept album on Catholicism. My former band was more into exploring dark paths and dark arts and so forth; this hasn’t played any part yet in Excommunicated, and doubtful that it will in the near future. The next record is going to sort of pick up where Skeleton Key leaves off, as far as telling the ongoing tale of the damage wrought by Christianity on our world and culture. So we sort of have a course laid out for us already. My former band wrote a lot of occult themes, suicide, murder, Satanism, animosity. I wrote most of that stuff too; I know it comes from a dark place because that’s the place I was in when I wrote it. I know I have a lot of personal demons, and that stuff kind of tugs at my fragile sanity; even though the research that went into writing Skeleton Key did the same thing to me, in a different sort of way. For my own stability, I try to stay focused on more cut and dried fact-driven lyrics these days. I find it also less preachy and arrogant, in a strange way; to simply be the person warning you what not to believe; opposed to telling you what to think.

13/ How would you describe the death/black metal scene in Lousiana?

It’s healthy, it’s still around. It’s probably a lot stronger now than it was when we all started out, and certainly has gotten a lot better in the recent years, post-Hurrican Katrina. That storm basically stopped everything around here, music wise, for a long time… but it seems to be all coming back to life now. It’s funny, you know you are getting old or out of touch when there are death and black metal bands now in Louisiana that you don’t even know about and who don’t even know you. That’s kind of where I’m at now, there is a black metal band or two right here in Baton Rouge that I’ve never even met. When I started out with my former band some sixteen or seventeen years ago, there was nothing. We were the first to release a black metal album from Louisiana.

14. Outside of music what are some of your interests?

I have some knowledge and passing interest in computer hardware as well as audio electronics and manufacturing, making high quality cables, etc. I wouldn’t call them obsessions or even deep interests so much anymore; more like things I know in order to help do what I really love doing, which is music and making records. What I have a passion for, and where I have the most room to improve, is as a recording engineer and mix engineer. I love making a record, or helping others to make a record. It’s hard, a lot of stress and headache and challenge; but very fun and rewarding also. I’ve got a long way to go on that; but hope to get to focus more on it in the future.

15. Any final words or thoughts before we wrap up this interview?

Thanks, I appreciated the opportunity to talk. I really hope people give the record a chance; and look forward to hearing from those who’ve listened!