Thursday, September 4, 2008

"Dude, They Sharpied My Dick Black" : Keepin’ It Real With THE FACELESS

*to be published in Hails & Horns Magazine
Kim Kelly 2008

Doing interviews with great bands is awesome. Preparing for interviews, however, sucks. Unless you’re an insane superfan who knows everything possible about your favorite band – including sisters’ names and shoe sizes – there’s bound to be a fair amount of research put into preparing your questions. Interviewing your heroes is hard; not only do you usually have an immense back catalog and tour history to wade through, it’s really fucking scary to talk to people who have changed your life – for example, I was literally shaking when I first spoke to Jimmy Bower and Brian Patton from Eyehategod, only to discover that they’re two of the nicest Southern gentleman you could ever hope to meet.
It’s even harder when you’re due to chat up that hot new band that everybody and their mother is covering and you can’t for the life of you think of anything remotely interesting to ask that they haven’t already rattled off an answer to earlier that week. On top of that, think of the poor band themselves! They don’t want to talk about their writing process, they don’t want to fend off questions about why their last drummer left, and they really don’t want to talk about genre tags. Really, all band dudes want to do is to go play the rad new songs they just recorded and hang out with their fans.
Keeping that in mind, I decided to take it easy on The Faceless, and show some mercy to one of the most uncompromising and bright new stars in the death metal galaxy. Instead of asking them the same boring questions that they get in every interview about their influences and gear and whatnot, I figured I’d branch out a bit and try to have some fun...then, you know, ask about their influences…

So, you guys are from LA. And DON’T play thrash metal? How does that work? Nowadays it seems like every kid in the state is issued a Flying V, a denim vest, and Bonded by Blood upon his graduation from sixth grade, then promptly offered a record deal. How does a band like The Faceless fit into the L.A. scene?

A: Well quite frankly we don't fit into the L.A scene, I suppose. Although there is a big fan base for death metal here, there's not really any successful death metal bands that I can think of from LA. In regards to the whole sudden uprising of bands composed of 18 year old kids pretending to be 80's thrashers, I find it rather strange. Maybe the next thing will be dressing up in bell bottoms and playing disco. We'll see.

What are your thoughts on NorCal? From what I observed during my time out in Cali, it seems like two different worlds – the south digs thrash and death, the north is all about black metal and depressive shit, and the middle – is there one, even? I’m an East Coast gal, so your great state is a damn near mystery to me.

A: I love NorCal. There's an amazing tech-death scene developing there with bands like Anamolous, Vile, Decrepit Birth, Odious Mortem, Severed Savior, etc. You're certainly right about the popularity of black metal and darker shit as well though. As for Central California, our singer Derek actually reps that region. He's from Santa Cruz.

How’s life under the Governator? On a more serious note, are you guys politically active at all, or has the American legal system beat you into apathy yet? And the ever-present question: who’s getting your vote for President?

A: You know, I think Arnie has done a lot of good for our state, even though Californians aren't too happy with him these days. We're a very politically opinionated group of people. We are all scared as hell of the insane people running our country and world for insane reasons. I voted for Ron Paul in the primaries, but I plan to vote for Obama.

You’ve toured extensively over the past few years, and I’m sure you’ve collected plenty of battle scars and epic tales by now. What’s the hands-down creepiest (or coolest) thing you’ve ever encountered on the road? Did you ever get a trucker to honk his horn for you or pick up any hitchhikers? I’ve never been on tour, myself, so I like to imagine that it’s just like all the road trip/horror flicks I’ve ever seen (except with blastbeats).

A: Okay, I've got a great one. Last tour our merch guy got wasted on Black Dahlia Murder's bus and ended up blacking out in their lounge. They drew all over his entire body and filmed the whole thing. He calls me in the morning to tell me this and we all had a laugh about it, but then the best part hits. 2 hours later I get a text message from him while we're all eating at a pizza hut buffet somewhere in South Carolina. "Dude. They sharpied my dick black" Apparently he didn't realize that part until he went to take a piss. When he finally met back up with us a few hours later we had to take pictures of the ridiculous spectacle.

Best story ever. I wonder how long it took him to get the Sharpie off? That's a brutal mental picture right there. Oh, and speaking of horror flicks… a few moments spent reading your lyrics conjure up some pretty frightening fare. They’re less of the zombie-gore-naked chicks variety than of the psychologically brutal, with hints of an almost classical (mythologically-speaking) epicness. Who writes the lyrics? From whence does he draw his inspiration? They’re very poetic, in a dark sort of way. “Its white skin is illuminated under pale moonlight Reminiscent of fresh snowfall The patterns formed by shadows and its hair make each square inch unique My lips still burn from the last time that I uttered its proper name Those thin wrists seem to melt in my hands My flesh on its flesh with gravity on my side I should, but won't, tread lightly on it…” (Chris Barnes, eat your heart out.)

A: There were 3 lyrical contributors to our album. Myself, Derek and our former drummer Nick Pierce. I think sometimes it's good to get your sick side out in something relatively healthy like song lyrics, so that you can function as a normal human being. The lyrics on Akeldama cover everything from the sick psychotic things you keep hidden in your head, to religion and it's horrible affects on society.

Right on. So, according to the all-knowing internet overlord that is Wikipedia, you guys are associated with Animosity, As Blood Runs Black, Brain Drill, Job for a Cowboy, Vile, and Vital Remains. Assuming that Wiki’s correct (which is a fifty-fifty chance), how does it happen that The Faceless has enlisted such a veritable who’s who of modern technical death metal/deathcore drummers over the past three years? Would you say that the current lineup is stable/permanent?

A: Well, I don't think we had any connection to As Blood Runs Black, but all the others are correct. Since the recording of our album, we've been searching for a permanent drummer. Which turned out to be quite the undertaking. We had fill ins on several tours, but I think we've finally found the drummer that we're happy with and want to keep around. Our new drummer Lyle Cooper is working out very well for us. I think at last, The Faceless can finally say that we have a stable line up.

If you had to pick a genre tag (and I know bands HATE doing this) what would you label yourselves? Now, how do you feel you transcend that label? A: Progressive death metal. Progressive can leave a lot of room for experimentation and diversity, which is something that I feel we explore. Even more so on our new material. Part of the objective of our band is to be a band that is remembered for having a unique sound that didn't fit in to this or that. Maybe they'll create some micro-sub-genre of metal for what we do some day. Haha! So, uh…what are your influences? (Told ya it was comin’!)

A: We listen to a wide variety of music. Our biggest influences would be Cynic, Spawn of Possession, Allan Holdsworth, Extol and Nile. Anything with a lot of thought put into it. However, on any given day you might find me listening to anything from Akercocke or Emperor to Steely Dan or Billy Joel.

How did you first get into heavy music? What is it that you love about it?

A: When I was a kid my older brothers and cousin listened to stuff like Sepultura, Slayer, and Deicide. I remember getting into Cannibal Corpse at a really young age and just thinking it was the most bad ass thing I'd ever heard. Now-a-days, the thing I love about metal is the freedom. You can explore any musical concept or lyrical topic for that matter.

How has your music progressed since the band’s inception? How has your sound grown, changed, and evolved since then?

A: When we formed the band, we were all in high school. I think back then we just wanted to play metal that seemed impressive and memorable to people. I think we focus a lot more on making thought provoking music now. We have much more of a focused goal for our music these days and we drop every ounce of effort and musical integrity into it we can.

What was the writing process like for your next upcoming LP, Planetary Duality? How does it differ from your last release, Akeldama?

A: Akeldama was written over the course of 3 years. Some songs being from when we were in high school and others being written right before the cd was recorded. So the new material is much more focused and matured. It involved a lot of nights in my studio just experimenting with riffs and licks. I wanted to make a record that I've always wanted to hear, but never have. I think we did a pretty good job of that. I'm really happy with it.

What’s next for you dudes? You just got back from Summer Slaughter, right?

A: We'll be doing a headline tour this October and November in which we'll be taking out Neuraxis, Veil of Maya, Decrepit Birth and Abigail Williams. From there, we're hitting the rest of the world and supporting our new record across the globe for a bit.

Any parting shots, messages, advice or threats?

A: Everything is only what your evolving consciousness allows to create as your reality. Therefore, my only advice is to not listen to anything anyone ever tells you....ever...including me. Oh, and buy our new CD. Thanks for a cool interview!

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