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Interview - VACUOUS DEPTHS - The exhumation of a moldy death metal grave!

Interview with death metal band from Tampa, Florida - VACUOUS DEPTHS.

Answered Austin (Vocals, Guitars), thank you!

Translated Duzl, thank you!

Questions prepared Jakub Asphyx.

Recenze/review - VACUOUS DEPTHS - Corporal Humiliation (2022):

Ave VACUOUS DEPTHS! I am currently listening your new album “Corporal Humiliation” and I can´t help but think that this is the kind of music which will be played during the end of the world. I think it is a great masterpiece. How do you feel about your new album? Have you received any feedbacks? From fans for example? Have you played new songs live already? Do they work?

A: Jakob, it is so nice to talk with you after being a long time reader of your awesome blog and page. So, thank you for having me (Austin) join you. Im glad you’re enjoying the fuckin’ record! We feel awesome about how the final release came out and we HAVE been getting people reaching out to us about it. Overall, its been super positive so far. The fans we already had really like that we didn’t move too far away from the demo’s rawness. The new faces are seemingly feeling the brutality of Corporal Humiliation as well.

We do play most of our material live. It helps refine the songs so that helps a lot to see what people are liking and moving to. As long as motherfuckers are scowling, headbanging, and moshing live we are on the right track. When we play, people pay attention. Its an intense and heavy experience when we play live. Its a strength of ours. Loud, menacing, and intense.

How do VACUOUS DEPTHS compose? Are you a traditional band who go to the rehearsal room and compose or you prefer going online and send your ideas via email? I am really interested in your composing process.

A: Since the beginning of the band in 2017, mostly all of the writing has been been on my own. I typically compose riffs and parts to bring to practice, then work through a rough version of loose ideas to the guys. They let me know if it's good or bad, I go back to the writing process by cutting or changing things around. I come back to practice with a skeleton that we can agree is on track. Then together we flesh-out the rest by jamming through the skeletal outline and refining the details of the concept as a whole. Songwriting is something I take seriously. I have firm rules about writing in this band will be mostly done in person. The rest is on my own, but their input on the song allows me to make sure they like where it's going. The only people I care to impress is them.

Lyrics are a separated topic of VACUOUS DEPTHS. Who is the author of your lyrics? And what are your lyrics about? Where do you find inspiration for your songs? The lyrics on “Corporal Humiliation” just fit so perfectly to the music. What was first – music or lyrics?

A: Lyrics and content is a huge part of our band, which a lot of the time with death metal bands, is a minor detail. I like to say that we are a “vocally-minded death metal band”. Lyrically, we have put ourselves into a “real life horror” genre focusing on personal experiences of loss, tragedy of real life events and specifically Florida-centric horror. When I am writing a song on guitar I am simultaneously writing the lyrics. I typically write lyrics all of the time, like all the fuckin’ time. Haha. So, I will have some ideas laying around in my files to work with when I start writing the music for it. Words inspire the song a lot more than you’d expect. The song “Deep Night” was written about a girl that I used to work with, Taylor. She was murdered and left in an alley in St Petersburg. The song “Gold Crosses” was written about a Catholic Church that was using gold cross necklaces to mark their victims of abuse for other pedophile priests to abuse them in the future. My grandmother left the Catholic Church when the stories started to surface about the church. She never forgave them for the way the mishandled this. All of our songs have these type of connections. The title track, “Corporal Humiliation” is a story about the Dozier School For Boys, a reform school that was located in northern Florida. It housed boys from roughly 7 to 17 years old for a multitude of minor crimes to felonies. They have a cemetery of unmarked graves on the premises that came under scrutiny after numerous men, came forward with accounts of abuse, rape, and even murder. The story is an amazing and long one as the school was open for over 100 years and only recently closed in 2017. There is a book called “The White House Boys” that tells these stories as well as several news outlets that have started reporting on investigations of this abuse. The University of Florida’s research team started to excavate the cemetery and surrounding area. They have found the remains of around 90 kids, ages as low as 8 years old. It's unbelievable horror. This was how we decided to conceptualize the cover art. The building in the center of the cover is the “White House” referred to in the book. This was where the beating and lashings were given to the kids.

Also your cover of „Corporal Humiliation“ is amazing and it fits with the music! I am frightened with the cover. How and why did you choose Karl Dahmer? Did you hear any of your songs to create the cover?

A: Karl Dahmer has a massive portfolio of some of extreme music’s most violent art. His art influences and his fucked up brain can make his art come to life with horrific detail and violence. Its detailed and refined, but splattered and scratched. It was a perfect fit for the content and concepts we had discussed in detail. He heard rough mixes of the record before as much as we could as he was working through it all. He enjoys the record a lot which is great too. He is super excited about how it turned out. He worked a couple major details into the piece, specifically the White House, the administrator with the shovel, and actual crosses from the actual graves. Everything else was his take on it. The back art features a cherub-like child crucified with urine running down its body. A detail of a story I told him about from a child pissing himself with fear while he listened to a child next to him gasp for breath and dying after a beating.

The sound of the album is great. It is dark, cold and sharp at the same time. Which studio did you chose for recording? Did you have any opinions about the final sound and mastering, were you able to change anything?

A: Thank you, we are so happy with the end product. Its nasty, the way it should be. We recorded with a dude named Dan Byers at The Hum Depot. He is a friend of ours and he has recorded my past band as well. I knew he could kill it, and he did. Dan and I were side by side through the whole process. Recording is one of my favorite things to do. It took longer than we wanted, but so does everything else in the fucking world. We weren't going to rush this. We did a whole bunch of different production tricks to make this as close to our live sound as possible. We wanted it to hit you like a hammer all while trying to NOT leave the rawness of our demo behind with big production. Nothing worse to me than finding a band’s demo and listening to a fucking Def Leopord record when the studio album shows up. That is so backwards. This music came from limits, restriction, and extremity. Why would anyone want a death metal record that sounds like it could be on the radio? We accomplished this goal with a balance of both rawness and some clarity for punch. Vocals and drums driving the overall sound and atmosphere being the only two elements of acoustic sound.

The new album was published by Swedish Blood Harvest. Why this label? Were you satisfied with their work?

A: Yes! We actually have 3 labels around the world working with us on it; Goat Throne Records in Texas, Chaos Records in Mexico, and Blood Harvest Records in Sweden. A huge goal and motivation this time around was to have as many people moving it around the world as possible. Aaron at GTR released the 2017 demo in 2019 on cassette and we have become good friends since then. He helped us get around to the people that he had traded or worked with before. We only made a short list of people to reach out to. Some said no, some said their circumstances weren’t ideal to do the release or timing was bad. I am so happy to say that Blood Harvest heard it and immediately was interested. I'd like to mention that Chaos Records only heard our demo and wanted to put the record out. This is an amazing feeling working with people in the underground that WANTED to put it out. It wasn't opportunistic or a “blow out” or “sure thing” kind of record, they just like what we do. That was it. They have all been good to us and we've got the vinyl in production now and we will see those in 2023. That will be a phenomenal day.

You have been playing since 2017. How was the beginning of your band? How did you create the band and what was the first impulse to build something death metal? Did you have any idols? How was it to play death metal in Florida?

A: This question is as challenging to answer as it was to start and maintain his band. Hahaha. I’ve always been a very measured individual when it comes to starting bands and setting goals for those bands. In 2017 I started the band with a couple guys, Chris and Doug, who were good dudes, but there was only so much interest and it eventually ended when I told them I was going to be a father. I knew, and told them it wasn’t done, but they just weren’t “in it” with me. I took a break to concentrate on my baby and figuring out work and my new life as a dad, but ALWAYS knew I’d come back to it. After some needed time I found myself getting deeper into my influences and listening to more and more of the shit I loved. I refined my influences I wanted to use for this band to a couple counties and a handful of years in death metal history. The scenes of Finland, Mexico/South America, and the Midwest USA from 1987-1993. I started writing and trying to figure out new members, found some shit heads along the way, and eventually arrived to meet Arturo and reacquaint with Dustin. This is where we are today. Arturo and Dustin are great friends and we are doing our best to write more and build from this release.

Playing death metal in Florida is very give and take. Florida shows are something of a massive challenge for us. Luckily for us the Tampa venue, The Brass Mug, the infamous bar that brought us all of the old gaurd death metal legacy bands has our back now too. I will say this though, the scene of the past is NOT of today. The legacy of Tampa Death Metal only supports their own. There isn’t a sense of one scene, rather, more a sense of two worlds- Legacy and DIY. It feels like there are two separate scenes. We definitely feel alone in what we do and it’s hard to push through it sometimes. We will, and I wont give up pushing forward, but fuck itd be nice to not fight uphill the whole way.

You can see how much you enjoy your music in your band. Do you have any target which you want to hit? Someone wants a famous label, the other one might want to play on big festival.

A: We love the underground and where we are at. We have no delusions of grandeur. Haha How could we?!? So, no real tangible goals other than writing more music and enjoying what comes out of that process. If we ever get offers they will be considered, but for sure no touring. I have a family and anything more than a couple days is so hard to do. Being gone isn't an option.

Austin, unlikely from the other death metal singers I can actually understand what you are singing. Singing death metal music must be very difficult for your vocal folds. Do you take a special care for your vocal folds? Like prepare singing before a concert?

A: I appreciate that and it is a massive compliment. A lot of my favorite vocal influences I have enunciate quite a bit, so I do my best to do the same. Convulse, Disma, Incantation are my main vocal influences. I think enunciation shows a strength in vocals when you can understand them just enough. It means they should be important to the mix and not just a sonic-component of the band. No wild effects, no cavernous echoes, just pissed and striaghtforward. As long as its extreme its approach…

As for the care of my voice, practice is all the care it needs. We practice weekly and I sing the entire two hours of practice. Vocals and drums are the two things that suffer the most from bands that dont practice. I have never once hurt my vocal chords and as long as they get a weekly push I dont plan to ever seen an injury. Typically no warm up unless the weather is cold or the room is very dry.

How is it to play death metal in Florida? Do you have a lot of fans on concerts? Do fans support bands? Do they buy CDs, merchandise, etc.? When you organize an event how many people will come?

A: When we DO play a show we always get a great response with support. What is particularly special is the younger fans that we have being excited about the band and the genre as a whole. I wish that the older group wasnt so jaded, but we do get a lot of older dudes who remember the “good old days of death” when it was violent, angry, and it was dangerous. I think we make them feel like it is again. We want that back too. Haha

Death metal is a demanding hobby and an even harder lifestyle. What does it mean for you? What do you enjoy most about it and how do you perceive it? How did you actually get to him?

A: When I played music in other genres throughout my life, I had never received the support and sense of community that I have in Death Metal. I appreciate the people who come and talk to us before and after shows the most. Usually positive, but it feels like we connect to them on a visceral level. The thing about death metal as a genre that I love the most is constantly being on the hunt for new and old bands. Its such a vast genre that you truly have to wade through all the bad to find those unreal gems.

I deliberately ask this question to all bands to do some promotion for the future. Please tell us what VACUOUS DEPTHS is planning soon? What can we look forward to?

A: In the near future we are planning some shows, a show with Druid Lord in Orlando, Florida and a release show with some friends. We are also concentrating on the vinyl being released and to do something special with it. We actually have written 2 new songs since we recorded, so we will have more songs in the future, but enjoying seeing this release come out finally is all we want to do for now. I want to see it do well for the labels and for people to enjoy it. We don’t write music for others, we just hope people continue to think what we're doing is killer.

Thank you so much for the interview and I wish VACUOUS DEPTHS a lot of sold CDs and only sold out halls. Be happy in your personal life. I am looking forward for your next death metal apocalypse!

A: Jakub, thank you so much. I enjoyed the process and the questions. I hope the rest of the year is good for you and yours. I promise to keep making shit more and more vicious. A quick thank you to everyone that has picked up a copy of the CD or tape so far. Corporal Humiliation is on our Bandcamp. Thank you also to our labels for getting it out there! Go support the underground!

Fuckin’ Death Metal!

Recenze/review - VACUOUS DEPTHS - Corporal Humiliation (2022):

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