Monday, July 27, 2020

From Hell Interview

1.Can you give us an update on what has been going on with the band since the recording and release of the new album?
The only thing I can do at this point is promote our new album, Rats & Ravens. Normally, we would be preparing to play shows and tour, but with this COVID-19 virus running rampant like a surreal horror movie, no one can really do anything. It’s pretty strange. We have a tour booked in Europe this fall, but as of the writing of this, they have not yet cancelled it and there is no way in Hell the EU countries are going to let anyone from the US into their countries. Talk about weird! I don’t even want to book any shows right now or even attempt it until there is a handle on this madness. I don’t want to put anyone in my band in any sort of jeopardy in any way.

2.Recently you have released a new album, musically how does it differ from the stuff you have released in the past?
This is a new story based on old themes with a weird center to the story. It’s about a witch who steals children (old themes) and does horrific things to them. I try to write the music based on the theme of the story. I think the tone of these songs is much different than the previous album. Ascent From Hell was written with the idea of fire and brimstone and being in the heart of Hell. This one is written from the point of the witch and the dark energy around her. I think the music sounds more like what you might imagine the tone to be. I think this could be most evident in the song Three and Nine.

3.The band has been around since 2010 but so far has only put out 2 different releases, can you tell us a little bit more about the gaps in between albums? Life. Life really gets in the way sometimes. Other people’s changes of direction. I am definitely the driving force behind this band. And it’s rather up to me to take care of everything. I’ve chosen to be an independent vs go to a label and thus the expenses are much greater. Then I need to train everyone how to play the songs. You know, the typical fuckin’ BS. Right now, I have the best players on the planet. They all come up with amazing music to add to what I have written. Even though we started in 2010, my lineup changes every so often. Actually, the idea was conceived in 2007. That’s when I recorded the first song called The Walking Dead. That’s what the first album was going to be called and then, there was this TV show that came on.

4.The lyrics on the new recording are a concept album, can you tell us a little bit more about the story you had covered with this release? This album is about a witch who steals children and reanimates their corpses with rats. She calls them ‘Lilium’ and sends them out to terrify the nearby villages. The story starts with a man who unwittingly disturbs this evil in the east and it follows him home. When he wakes up in the morning, his son has disappeared. A witch appears in the night sky and tells them what she has done. She then proceeds to sacrifice the little boy and tells him what happens when he dies. That when a raven comes for his soul, she’ll trap the bird and keep possession of his soul. She’ll drain his blood with cuts on his wrists and feet then she’ll let the rats crawl into his body. They’ll crawl in and live inside of his flesh and compel the little boy to do as the witch commands.

5.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'From Hell'? It means we’re from Hell. Aleister Sinn is this demon figure from hell who tells these horror stories over heavy metal music. The inspiration behind this band is King Diamond. Other aspects fueling the inspiration behind this band was the utter disgust with politics. My last band was called Down Factor and it was very focused on politics and social events and situations. I got burned out on it. Nothing changes for the most part. Every 10, 15, 20 years, you look back and shit is still more or less the same. I got tired of complaining about something that wasn’t going to change. So, I wanted to go in the completely opposite direction and follow King’s path and tell horror stories over music. I don’t write music like King Diamond. I don’t sing like King. I don’t wear face paint like he does. It’s similar, but very much its own thing. When I created it, I thought, “How do I be King Diamond without being King Diamond?” and Aleister Sinn is what I came up with. 

6.Can you tell us a little bit more about the artwork that is presented on the new album cover?
Yes! Created by Pete Novak (@pcnovak on Instagram). I met Pete at a horror convention called Monsterpalooza in LA several years ago. Walking through the aisles and aisles of amazing horror movie memorabilia, I see this guys work stand out. He had a piece that he called The Wendigo. It was just badass on so many levels, I asked the guy for his info and we started talking about doing my album cover. It’s actually his first album art. But we discussed what my album concept was and I gave him plenty of descriptions of what was in my mind for the story and then I let him go and create the twisted images that came to his wicked mind. If you look at the artwork closely enough, you will see interesting things in the background. He sent me some preliminary pictures that looked so amazing and they were just mere sketches when it came to the final piece. So happy with what he created. I really hope he gets lots and lots of work doing more band album covers. He does great work!

7.What are some of the best shows that the band has played over the years and also how would you describe your stage performance? Some of our best shows have actually been playing Karla LaVey’s Black X Mass Party on Christmas night for The First Satanic Church. Karla is the daughter of the infamous Anton LaVey, founder of The Church of Satan in San Francisco. I had met her in the past, but one night after seeing King Diamond play at The Warfield, me and my girlfriend were at Tommy’s Joynt in SF and just before we were leaving, King Diamond arrived at the same place for a late dinner. I had the distinct pleasure of meeting King Diamond that night. That’s a bit of another story. At some point in talking to King, Karla was sitting at his table. I was talking to King about FROM HELL and Karla looks up and says, “Your band is called FROM HELL?” I said yes. She said, “Do you want to play my Black X Mass Party on Christmas night?” “Yes” I said, immediately. I wasn’t about to say no in front of King Diamond. Could you imagine? “Uhhhh, let me think about it and talk to the band.” HELL NO! Of course I said yes. And those shows are just amazing to play and the crow is always super into it. wWe have our full production show with our zombie dancers mostly naked and covered in blood. Everyone has a great time those nights. After that, some of the shows we played while we were on tour with Possessed and Belphegor in Europe a few years ago. Some of the crowds in some places were just off the hook. And when you play night after night, the band just gets so tight with what we are doing, that our performances are always at the top.

8.On the new album you also had a few quests, can you tell us a little bit more about who they are and also their contributions to the recording? The only guest I can think of at the moment was our female singer on Forest of the Screaming Trees. She’s a friend of my drummer, Wes. I was talking to the band about what I wanted for the song and he suggested Moorea Dickason. I started talking to her about what I wanted and she recorded the parts and sent them over to me and it worked out great. Originally, I really wanted to bring in a children’s choir to sing some creepy Pet Semetary shit, but after repeated requests from a famous children’s choir in the bay area, I didn’t hear back and I was out of time to get the album completed.

9.The last 2 albums where released on 'Scourge Records', can you tell us a little bit more about this label? Scourge Records is my label. I am an independent and I do everything myself. It is how I interact with the businesses I contract to help me promote this band. From signing agreements, to printing CDs, fliers, posters, permits, rentals, ads in magazines, etc. That is a label’s responsibility. That is how I handle all of the band business.

10.On a worldwide level how has the reaction been to your music by fans of extreme and melodic metal? The overall reaction has really been pretty good! I have to say that the promotions that I have done for this album have had a very extensive reach and I’m very pleased with that. I with to hell we could tour and really promote this record the right way. But so far, the response has been awesome. I’m excited to get out there and play shows for people. Fuck this virus shit!

11.Are any of the band members currently involved with any other bands or musical projects these days?
At this very moment, as of the writing of this interview, I don’t know. I don’t believe that anyone is doing anything because of this pandemic. The other 3 members usually have other projects they play in. It’s what they do. I unfortunately, don’t have the names of these other bands off hand.

12.Where do you see the band heading into musically during the future? I don’t know. The slate is clean right now. It’s fresh from just having released an album. It’s time to erase all of the boards I have and archive all music files created for the last album. It’s time to start fresh and I have no idea what that is. First thing I’m going to do is take some sort of a break. I’m waiting for the flesh of this album to decay so I can start the next one. And then I’m going to let the next horror story write itself in my head. And then I will begin to write the next album.

13.What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your music and also what are you listening to nowadays? Besides metal, horror movie soundtracks play a big role in the way I write and develop the songs for this band. I listen to soundtracks like The Omen, The Omen II, Hellraiser, Halloween, Silence of the Lambs, Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Other dark orchestral pieces. Things with majestic choirs like Lord of the Rings. I have the great benefit of having band members who play styles other than metal such as jazz, blues and fusion, rock, you name it. So, sometimes these styles will show themselves in parts of the songs and it comes out with an interesting flavor that I really dig.

14.Does Occultism play any role in your music? As a base element to the stories I write. I do not practice occultism. I am drawn to it because I like the dark and mystical nature of it, but my true self is a skeptic, so I can’t really divulge myself to follow any religion. I don’t believe in the Christian god or the Muslim god. I think they are stupid for causing wars over it and causing bloodshed in the name of fuckin’ whatever. It’s just so hypocritical. Often the things they do are projections of themselves that they claim occultists do. I think I’m drawn to occultism because the practice of hypocrisy does not appear to be one of the tenets of the faith. I was raised a Christian and then discovering the hypocrisy of it, having lost faith in it completely, I can’t bring myself to even believe in any other faith no matter what. 

15.What are some of your non-musical interests?
I’m also a video editor. I like doing video production. I’m actually just getting back into it over the last year or so. I probably would have been doing this full time already as another job, but I took a job running a giant rehearsal studio that was pretty awesome. I was there for 10 years and then my contract came to an end. So, now I’m getting back into video production. I also like scuba diving. Wish I could do that way more than I do, but it’s something I like.

16.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
Stay safe. Don’t be dumb. Unless you want to volunteer to thin the herd. But for the sake of the rest of us, do what we need to do so we can get through this surreal moment in human history. We want to return to normal and get back to playing shows, but we can’t do that until this fuckin’ pandemic is over and they find a vaccine for this shit. Honestly, I would prefer an alternative to a vaccine, whatever that may be. Something that speeds recovery time versus voluntary injection. But that’s just me. Fuck this pandemic! Fuck dumb people! And Fuck racism!

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