Before technical/slam death metal maestros Dying Fetus' one off London headliner at the Barfly, eGigs crowded into a tiny kitchen with the band's skin slapper Trey Williams to discuss the state of death metal now, how technical is too technical and Dying Fetus' next album all with the promise of being cooked ratatouille (which never happened sadly)!
How are you?
I'm great. How are you?
You played Bloodstock Open Air last night the biggest metal open air we have in England how was that for you?
It was great. It was killer. We actually had to play up against Slayer. Our fans came out and showed a lot of support and gave us a lot of energy right back at us. It was a fun show to play. I think for me, it was the most fun show to play on this tour. I'm not just saying that.
Did a lot of people watch even though Slayer were playing at the same time?
The tent was full and there were a couple of them trying to get in from outside. It was really really nice to see that happen because, c'mon, Slayer is Slayer.
You released your last album 'Reign Supreme' last year. What were the fans and critics reactions to this record?
I think some people really enjoyed it. As far as critics go, you're always going to have ones that give bad critiques and the ones that give good critiques. The fans who are Dying Fetus fans, as a whole, enjoy the album.
How different would you say it is compared to the work that you've recorded with Dying Fetus?
It's just another Dying Fetus album for me. We have our technical parts, we have our slam parts, we have our hardcore influence and our grindcore influence. The most different part is John [Gallagher, guitarist]'s soloing on the album. He solos a lot more and we really encouraged him to have thought out solos and he did. In the past, they just kind of came to [him] on the fly, on the spot, and I think he was thinking more ahead. That's more of a question for him but we did encourage him. We were like: "Look man, let's make these solos memorable and something you can hum." I think it came out pretty cool.
'From Womb to Waste' and 'Second Skin'. Why did you choose these two songs?
'Womb to Waste' I think has a good mix of everything that is Dying Fetus; we have the hardcore parts, we have grindy parts and of course the technical parts. 'Second Skin' is technical and intense; it's a ripper from front to back. When we talked to management, we were like "Let's work with these songs," and they were like "We agree, sounds cool, let's do it."
The video for 'Second Skin' is more narrative where the video for 'From Womb to Waste' is a live video. The lyrics for the latter are pretty visual and extreme. Why didn't you do something that tied in with the lyrics for that one too?
I made a suggestion [to] do a live video where it can capture the essence of a Dying Fetus show. That's actually the Maryland Deathfest we filmed at so we're really thankful to the guys who put on the Maryland Deathfest for letting us do our video there. Maryland's where we're from so it's our backyard, it's our people. Also, we wanted to show it being a fun and rowdy time for people who might not know what a Dying Fetus show is. So there you go, that's that.
Back to the lyrics, Dying Fetus have always been socio-political. From where precisely is the inspiration drawn from?
The world around us is a horrible and fascinating place and you are inspired by the news and the people around you in your life. That's where we get our inspiration.
So do you see an issue on the news and remember it for when you're writing or do you have these ideas after the music and you choose whatever goes with it?
I haven't written any lyrics so that would be more of a question for the guys but I think that as they live their life every day, different issues might strike them as a plausible song. When it comes time to put pen to paper, they try to express themselves with those thoughts on paper as best they can.
Obviously, you're quite influenced by hardcore bands that had a lot of socio-political lyrics. Are your inspirations drawn directly from that? It's not so common for death metal to have these kinds of lyrics.
It's one of the things that make us a different death metal band. So much death metal is gore and Satanism and all this and that. That's cool; in the past, Dying Fetus had gore-based lyrics and disgusting stuff. I was actually just reading a write up in Terrorizer and it was something Jason [Netherton, ex-bass player] said: "If I'm going to be screaming something every night, I at least want to scream something that means something to me." He's a lyrical wordsmith. So once we got established, we had to keep going with it. That's what people expect; we give them what they want.
I really think it is something people think about when you say the name 'Dying Fetus'. Your album art over the years has also been quite strong. 'Destroy the Opposition' comes to mind.
It's a classic. I think it's one that people are always going to remember as being the better one.
And obviously Jason was on that one. Who decides the ideas for the album art?
There's a guy named Orian Landau who works at Relapse Records. He's the in house art guy and he comes up with some cool stuff. He throws it our way and he goes: "I've got this idea for that album art," and his art is pretty slamming. We can't really argue too hard with him because it looks so good and it fits. With 'Reign Supreme' you've got this rotting necro lord sitting on a toilet He's not sitting on a toilet. [laughs]
But in your head, he is! So you have some of that religion, guns and stuff.
RELIGION! GUNS! STUFF! Yeah!
Before 'Reign Supreme', you did an EP 'History Repeats' with a lot of classic death metal covers like Broken Hope and Cannibal Corpse. How did you decide which bands to cover?
We wanted it to be a lot longer. We just didn't have the money and the budget to make it longer. We wanted to do some hardcore covers like 25 Ta Life and Agnostic Front. We didn't have the money for it so we thought we should just narrow it down to the death metal stuff. We just drew from our influences, bands that had a great thing going on when we were - and still are - listening to music and getting inspired by it. Napalm Death - grind fathers. The guys started grind and are continuing grind to this day. Bolt Thrower with that slamming groove, well, not slamming but war machine moving across the wasteland groove. Dehumanized is still a band now, an upcoming underground band. I was personally very influenced by that album. Who else did we do? Oh, Broken Hope! They've just recently come back but they were one of these underground bands coming up the same time as Fetus. We thought they were really cool and they had some great stuff. But then there was Twisted Truth and the Cannibal Corpse cover. Those were actually from different albums. The Twisted Truth was from 'War of Attrition's Japanese release. the Cannibal Corpse cover was originally meant to be on a Cannibal Corpse tribute album years back that never got released so we put that out on this too because it was another cover. And it was a way to pay honour the guys that inspired us.
Was this something that you just came up with or was it planned?
We weren't ready to put out a new album yet and we wanted to keep doing things, keep releasing stuff and keep our name in the press because if you go away for any amount of time, you're forgotten very quickly.
I'm not sure if you're aware of this in America but over here in Europe, retro-death metal is really popular now. People are playing in bands that sound more like Possessed and classic Immolation as opposed to the more modern technical and melodic death metal. How do you feel about this?
I saw Incantation was doing a show in Baltimore not too long ago and I was really interested in seeing that show. Unfortunately, it was right before we had to come here. I think it's cool. It's great. Just like everything; what's old is new again. Just give it time. People start craving it again for some reason. Bell bottoms came back like, what, fifteen years ago? [laughs] They're not around anymore, thank god, but everything comes back.
Obviously Dying Fetus are quite technical and slam. Is there a conscious balance about how technical you want it to be? There's a backlash against super technical bands, guitar masturbation or whatever. How do you draw the line on something that is too technical?
We try to balance it out by having a song like on 'Reign Supreme' 'In the Trenches', which is not technical at all. I mean, that's a hardcore song with double bass at the end. That's it. We try to balance it out like that. Songs just come together the way they come together. I can't really give any rhyme or reason. We put it together and it becomes a song.
How do you feel about bands that try and combine two hundred riffs in one song?
Oh, you mean riff salad? Let's throw a bunch of riffs in a bowl. I mean, great, wow. I can't remember that many parts! [laughs]
Do you listen to many tech bands?
Yeah, like Defeated Sanity. They're super tech death metal right now and I think they're great. Although in the long run if you're going to have a band, you need to have a part that's memorable and you can't be on it for two measures and on to the next thing because the audience goes: "Aw, that's that's gone." The good part's gone and it doesn't come back. You've got to have the one part that you bring back.
Of course. Are you currently beginning work on a new album?
We did resign with Relapse Records and we will be putting out a new album. Right now, we're finishing up touring for 'Reign Supreme' and then we'll start putting the axe to the grindstone, putting pen to paper and starting the new slamming Dying Fetus album.
When would it possibly be released?
Late next year.
Do you have any ideas yet? You don't write when you're on the road?
I wouldn't say that. Ideas come to mind; guitar players play things and record them on their laptop but as far as compose whole songs that doesn't.
That's the end of my questions. Is there anything you'd like to say to the readers of eGigs?
Just like to thank all the fans because without the fans coming out to shows buying records, stealing records I don't mind as long as they come out to the show. Support your local scene too. Big bands start out as little bands and if they didn't have their friends and their fans coming out from the beginning, they wouldn't be getting anywhere.
Thanks for the interview.