pátek 23. března 2018

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Interview - GRAVEHILL - Old school blackened death thrash!

Interview with death/black/thrash metal band from USA - GRAVEHILL.

Answered Corpse.

Translated by Markéta, thank you!

Ave GRAVEHILL! I did not find any interview with you in Czech. Could you please tell our Czech fans a little bit about your band? Could you please focus on the changes in the line-up of your band? Because I have to say I am not sure how is it now and how it was before in the past. Who is in today´s GRAVEHILL? 

Cheers! Gravehill is an amalgam of heavy metal music that takes the best elements from early Slayer, Celtic Frost, Bathory, Autopsy, Bolt Thrower, Mercyful Fate, etc…. and we shit out the blasphemous musical output you see today. Old school blackened, death thrash!

The band line up has changed drastically over the years with the only original member being our drummer Thorgrimm. The most “recent” line up has been together for over 3 years now though so it has been pretty stable. Check out Metal Archives if you want to see who has been in and out of the band. 

DARK DESCENT RECORDS has send me your new album “The Unchaste, the Profane & the Wicked” and I am amazed! I knew that your graveyard music will be great again but I did not expect that you will absolutely kill me. How did you compose the album? How GRAVEHILL compose a new material? 

With every album we’ve written, we’ve tried different approaches to how we write songs and what kind of progress should be made on each. The Unchaste, the Profane, & the Wicked is no different only in that it is a vile piece of blasphemous filth that we hope our fans and new fans will appreciate. If they don’t, perhaps they’re not filthy enough! 

We write records collaboratively so everyone brings ideas to the floor, riffs are played, chopped up, and rearranged, and then we all argue for a few days about whatever song we’re writing and then if we come to a consensus; we keep writing. We may spend a week or so writing a new song but then decide to scrap it. This is probably the main reason Gravehill doesn’t release an album every year. The writing process is usually quite long. 

The sound of the album is great. It is dark, cold and sharp at the same time. What studio did you chose to record? Were you able to have any comments about the final sound and mastering? 

We recorded drums and various other tracking at Trench Studio in Corona, California (USA). John Haddad is almost always our “go to” guy when tracking drums and he’s been involved in pretty much every Gravehill recording. The final sound and mastering were completed by Alejandro Corredor of BOOM! Productions. Alejandro has been in this business for a long time and played in some legendary bands worldwide. He took our notes and he dialed in the final product. 

Who is the author of your lyrics and what are they about? Where do you find inspiration? 

Lyrics were a collaborative effort between our vocalist Corpse and Thorgrimm. While some song lyrics were written completely by Corpse (i.e., Plague Hammer, The Unchaste) others were completely written by Thorgrimm (i.e., Iron & Sulphur, Sabbatic Whore). We’re always fascinated with the occult, death, concepts of evil and good, history, and religious fanaticism and we try to incorporate these themes into the lyrics and writing processes. 

You have always had great covers for your albums. Do you take a special care about how your cover looks like? The author of the cover for your new album “The Unchaste, the Profane & the Wicked” is Mark Riddick. I really like his work. Why did you decided to work together? 

We’ve been working with Mark ever since the Rites of the Pentagram (2009) LP was released. He’s responsible for our most popular shirt designs and is a professional artist in every aspect. We were always a fan of his work and he was the first person to come to mind when we were finishing up the writing of Rites of the Pentagram. The Unchaste, the Profane & the Wicked is a new chapter in the history of Gravehill so we felt we really needed to make an impact not only musically, but visually as well. The new album art comes from an idea born from the demented depths of Thorgrimm’s overall vision but seeing Mark bring it to full and blasphemous life was a real treat. 

You band was born in 2001 (you released an EP “Practitioners of Fell Sorcery”). But I have read somewhere that you started to play in 2006. So what is the truth? Did you break up? 

Gravehill was indeed first formed back in 2001, wrote and recorded Practitioners of Fell Sorcery, and then just as quickly broke up. In 2006, Thorgrimm and close friend Mike Abominator (Ruin, Gasp, Dead Conspiracy, Necronizer) wanted to make filthy old school death metal so they decided to resurrect the old band name and start the process again. We recruited local musician friends and the first demo of the “new” Gravehill generation was released in 2007. There have been a ton of line up changes since then but we continue forward without looking back. 

I am sure you will agree that your music is influenced by bands from the 80s and 90s. It looks like you grew up listening the same bands. But there had to be one band which was significant for you, the one which inspired you to actively play music. Did you have any band as an inspiration? And how was it to grow up in metal California (in America)? 

We know we’re not reinventing the wheel here. Gravehill just wants to write and play music that takes us back to a time when there was no Internet and you found the most grimiest, detestable, evil music through tape-trading, word of mouth, or buying an album based on the cover art alone. We pay homage to the greats and try to celebrate those styles and incorporate it into our music. As written earlier, we pay homage to early Slayer, Celtic Frost, Bathory, Autopsy, Bolt Thrower, Mercyful Fate, Sodom and more that inspired us when we were young.

Though most of us grew up in California, a few members grew up in other American states but there were no real major differences. Looking back the metal scene wasn’t bad at all. Shows were just as crazy (if not more so) and the scene was still somewhat cohesive in that “sub genres” hadn’t really formed yet. Napalm Death and Morbid Angel were death metal bands; not a Grindcore and a Death Metal band, but two bands of the same genre. The splitting of hairs didn’t come until later but most of us (those of us in our late-30s and over 40) remember when we didn’t differentiate between the two. A bit of a tangent there but there you go. 

When I told my friends that I will do an interview with you, all of them told me: “Ask them about the underground, how is it there?” The Czech Republic is a small country we have some death metal bands which are good. How do you feel about your scene in America? Do people visit concerts? Do they buy merchandise, do bands support each other? 

The underground is fine in larger cities here in America. Los Angeles, Chicago, New York City, etc… all have huge underground metal scenes. We’re pretty privileged to have the options available to see most big and small name bands from the world come through. There are cliques and in-fighting of course and we still have to deal with religious or political fanatics trying to shut down shows but overall it’s pretty healthy. Probably the biggest drawback is that the United States is a BIG place and there are LOTS of bands. It’s impossible to keep track of everything that’s coming out over here which can sometimes feel overly saturated. Everyone wants in on the new big trend whether it’s the Sleep rip-off bands or the Sabbath rip-off bands. Gravehill has never been about those trends which is probably one of the reasons we still stay underground. No one cares if a band sounds like Celtic Frost until in a few years when suddenly Frost is trending again. Fuck that. We stay true to our roots. 

I am an old metal dog who has been listening to metal music for 30 years now. The time has changed. We have the internet, young people only download mp3s and sometimes I feel that “the good old days” are missing. How do you feel about those changes in music and at concerts? Have you had to change anything as a band? Like the attitude? 

Technology can be a double-edged sword but its benefits outweigh the negative. We all like to look fondly back on the days when we’d go to the local record store, dive through all those heavy metal cassettes and vinyl looking for something special and picking up a band based solely on the artwork. It felt great to discover something like that but in reality how often did that happen? We forget the many times we got burned and lost money buying dumb shit. Tape and CD trading was fun and a great way to listen to new bands and yeah, I get missing the personal touch that involved. But sometimes we can’t look back with rose-tinted glasses at the past because it’s elevating a time in our lives when we didn’t know what we know now. 

I WISH there was YouTube back in the 80s so I could know what a band sounded like before I bought the album. Kids and young adults who are into the same shit we are nowadays have it good. Everything is so convenient. Need a concert ticket? Go online. Want to listen to a record? Go online. Want to talk to a band directly and have them actually respond? Go online. That’s fantastic! The Internet is one of mankind’s most treasured innovations since the wheel or discovering fire. Gravehill keeps our music heavy and in tribute to those who came before us but we embrace social media and advancements in tech wholeheartedly. The way the music industry operates now is completely different and if you’re a band unwilling to be flexible and adjust to a constantly evolving technological world then you might as well call it a day. This hasn’t changed our attitude or style but it has made us reevaluate our business practices as well as utilizing the modern tools available to us to help promote our brand. 

Do you remember who did the logo for GRAVEHILL? A few weeks back I try to figure this out with my friends in a pub and the result? Well, not only we got drunk but we found out that we had no idea who did the logo. 

The logo was designed by Antonio Nolasco. 

How about GRAVEHILL and concerts? I saw that you are going to do an USA tour to support your new album. Do you also want to go to Europe? Is it difficult to organize a tour in America? 

We don’t usually do extensive tours although we all wish we could. Life and family obligations supercede any extended blocks of touring but the upcoming shows in April with Impiety was something we couldn’t say no to. We did a brief tour with Impiety in 2011 which went extremely well so it seemed like a natural fit to team up with them again. The booking of this tour had its challenges but that’s the nature of the beast unfortunately. 

As for Europe, we’ve had offers to play fests and there were plans to try and do a Euro tour but as always, money is the big issue. We’re not rich men so paying for flights to Europe and back (especially during the Summer) is practically impossible on our budget. We know some awesome people from promoters to fans to bands overseas and we would love to fly over and rage with everyone! If there are any fabulously wealthy metal heads that would love to pay for Gravehill’s flights; you know how to contact us! haha.

Are there any albums which have caught your attention recently? 

Carpenter Brut (synthwave) has a new album called “Leather Teeth” which is amazing. Also Night Flight Orchestra’s “Amber Galactic” album have songs that you will be thinking of hours afterward. Sumerlands from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania are another great act that everyone should check out. We all tend to be a little eccentric when it comes to listening to new music. 

Do you know and listen any Czech bands? 

Not particularly familiar with a lot of Czech bands but I do love Root, !T.O.O.H.! is pretty innovative, and Malignant Tumour rules! 

Thank you so much for the interview and I wish you many sold CDs, hundreds of crazy fans and tons of great ideas. 

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