Monday, January 9, 2012

an interview w/ IN THE COMPANY OF SERPENTS... Already one of the very best REVELATIONS of the year !!!

I feel always honored when I receive a mail from a new band with great stuff to discover, but when it's on a Friday evening and the band is called IN THE COMPANY OF SERPENTS, it doesn't last long to transform this honor in a kind of sonic orgasm that will continue all week-end long !!!!
And, as said each time Hannibal "I love it when a plan goes toegether" ! because, indeed, so much enthused by their fantastic debut album, I've sent quickly questions to Grant (means yesterday evening) and got everything more than nicely answered this morning in my mail-box ! FANTASTIC from A to Z :)

But then, what should I say about the most essential, except that this debut is  yet one of the ESSENTIAL albums of 2012 ??!! I.T.C.O.S. delivers a monstruous kind of Sludge/Doom, so deeply groovy, punchy and viciously infectious, that you can not resist but just become addicted to their venomous sound, and succumb under the power of their mindblowing riffs, amazing bluesy solos, titanesque drummings and crushing psyched-out vocals...
As for now, here's an interview with Grant (guit/vocals) to let him introduce his band to you all ... This is maybe the first time you'll read about them, but certainly not the last !
Enjoy it and support them : Get the album for 5€  through Bandcamp, you will decently NOT be disappointed !

Ok, first song "intro" is an excellent way to introduce your style to people, very representative musically but also pretty LONG for just a normal intro... was it composed to be THE intro(duction) of the album or was it first a normal instrumental that you didn't find a name for ? do you also play it as intro live ? You are dead on in terms of it being an instrumental that we couldn't come up with a name for. The working title of that track was actually "Shellac" because both JJ and I thought it sounded like a Steve Albini riff from a Shellac album whenever I would play it without my fuzz pedal on. We do play it live because it's something that we can really punch to try and grab people's attention- that's probably why we ended up calling it intro, as we would always open our sets with it when we first started playing. You can see a clip featuring the latter portion of that song & the beginning of "Dirtnap" here:

ITCOS, where does this name come from ? any particular interest for those very special beasts? I don't know much about serpents but I feel your music fits well the idea of something viciously, insidiously and infectiously flooding in your veins ? I fucking love that description. Thanks! The name itself was JJ's suggestion, & it is both a reference (a quote along the lines of "Do you not think it better to be in my company and in that of angels, than in the company of serpents and devils?"- I can't find the specific source, unfortunately. sorry.) and a reference to a lyric by the band At the Drive In. Personally, I like the more Luciferian connotations of the name. We're not a Satanic band by any stretch, but I do like the view of the Lucifer archetype as a sort of Promethean rebel who gets a bad rap from sources who could be considered infinitely more 'evil'.

What about the fact of being a duo you -Grant- on voc/guit and Joseph on drums ? Was that your wish/decision from the beginning ? We had toyed with the idea of recruiting a bassist, but didn't necessarily think we needed it. We're both big Melvins fans, and basically thought the sound was thick enough without it. I'm playing a baritone guitar tuned to A, so things are already pretty bassy. Plus, fewer people equals fewer headaches, as anyone who has played in larger bands can attest.

What about your former drummer JJ who played on the album and if I'm not wrong now seem to be a part of your live sets (judging by some photos on FB) and who you present as (your) Black Priest , Shaman ... ? JJ was the original drummer, but had to leave the band when he accepted a teaching position at a University in another state. We started playing together in January of last year after our other bands (who are both Country acts, oddly enough) played a gig together & he heard me fucking around with some Earth riffs during our sound check. He found out about the teaching position pretty soon after we started playing together, and our initial goal was just to put out something we would listen to ourselves. We kind of viewed the band as being time-stamped by his imminent departure, but as we got more into it, he pretty much insisted that I carry on with it after he left & even actively helped me to find a replacement. Joe Myer (who also drums in Royal Talons, a sick band you should definitely check out) ended up taking the reigns in september. That YouTube clip above was his first gig with ITCOS.

Maybe it'll be the development of your last words above but could you please precise the occult dimension of ITCOS, does it only reflect through the lyrics, or as a global image/concept ? I'm personally intrigued by occult topics & Left Hand Path subject matter, so these things tend to turn up in my lyrics & imagery that I create for the band, but we're not an occult band per se. I find these subjects fascinating, but we're not espousing any ideology of that sort in our music.

Musically it's sometimes not that easy to classify a band, you say it's sludge, some others will prefer something like stoner/doom à la Electric Wizard/Sleep, others will find some YOB hints and will say this is epic, another one will maybe call it Southern Serpent Doomed metal.... Do you want people to describe you more with special words/feelings than justing puting names or categories ? People can describe it however they'd like. I usually just describe us as doom or sludge, but I try not to worry too much about the various sub-categories we might fall into. Some people hear "sludge" & will think we must sound like Eyehategod or Buzzov*en, while others will hear "doom" & think we sound like St. Vitus. At some point all of the sub-categorization of metal starts to defeat its purpose.

You cover "vinum sabbathi" from E.W. (for a nice result), have they been the kind of band who decided you to play (this kind of) music ? The bands you've mentioned so far are all bands I love. JJ and I are both huge Black Sabbath fans, so that was a big influence. It's probably redundant to even say something like then when talking about doom, considering it wouldn't exist without Sabbath. Riff-wise, I think Sleep, Electric Wizard & YOB have all influenced me to some extent, but I also pull inspiration from swampy blues, punk & a ton of other places. I don't want to speak for JJ, but his playing style reminds me of both Chris Haikus from Sleep/OM & Jason Roeder from Neurosis. I know he loves both those dudes' style of playing, but I don't know if he would say they were big influences.

What about the DenverDoom estival ? There was about 10 bands playing there, that's certainly the sign of an emerging active scene ? That first Doom Fest was kind of a gathering of the tribes here, and I hope it happens more often. I think they're planning on having the 2nd one later this year, but I honestly don't know the details.
Denver has a fucking killer metal scene, & it constantly baffles me that it doesn't get more attention. As far as doom goes, there are tons of great bands here that most metalheads into this shit would love. Some of my favorites are Royal Talons, Keep, Black Acid Devil & Skully Mammoth. There's also some great grind, death & black metal being made here. There are too many to name, but Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire (CTTTOAFF) make some of the most punishing grind out there, & Stoic Dissension is a gnarly band that plays a hybrid of funeral doom & black metal. Every one of these bands is making amazing music.

For the moment the album is only available via digital download but soon a tape version will be available too, is it self-released and when is the date release planed ? We're self-releasing it along with a handful of extras like stickers, etc., that are still in production. For whatever reason the tapes take about a month to produce, but I hope to have the physical release ready sometime in early to mid February.

For an obvious reason of line-up composition (before anything else), do you think that the comparison with Dark Castle will be something often asked to you ?! You're the first to see that connection, but I find it flattering. I actually hadn't heard them prior to opening for YOB sometime last year, but they crushed that set. All of the polyrhythmic stuff that they do is impressive, & they definitely bring it full bore live. They unfortunately had technical difficulties that night & barely got through the set (which they could only complete because the dudes from CTTTOAFF, who opened, lent them their gear) but still managed to blow minds.

 2012 starts great, I presume that with the album released now, things should move seriously for you, do you have any special expectations, like I don't know playing in Greenland or ... ?! Ha! I wish! This is something we do out of passion, and it unfortunately doesn't pay for itself. We finished recording our record in July of last year, and it's only coming out because JJ & I finally scratched up enough coin to produce it. As such, touring isn't in the picture until we can afford it, but I hope that time is coming soon. We love playing live no matter the scenario, even if we're playing to a room with 5 people in it. My only hope for the album is just that more doom fans like yourself hear it & put the word out.

Thanx, add something if you feel I forgot something important : Thank you & keep doing what you're doing. This sort of music needs outlets like yours to be heard. Cheers.
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