Kenny Hallman & Brian Langley of INFERNÄL MÄJESTY
Interview by Luxi Lahtinen
If you have been wondering what´s been happening in the camp of Canadian legendary thrashers Infernäl Mäjesty for these last 3-4 months, I guess it doesn´t come as too big a surprise to anyone that the band has been working slowly, but determinedly with their 4th full-lenght album titled SYSTEMATICAL EXTERMINATION in Vancouver, B.C., Canada. This will also mark the debut of band’s new vocalist Brian Langley. Infernäl Mäjesty´s longtime vocalist Chris Bailey left the band, to say at least under very strange circumstances in late 2004, and apparently Chris continues his life in Toronto even if no one seems to be completely certain about his presice location nowadays. Hope he´s doing alright tho…
Brian (also a singer in his other band Mecha Messiah), however, is a relatively young guy full of vital energy and potential whose slot in Infernäl Mäjesty as a new frontman also came as a huge surprise for him, too. But nonetheless, he has done his job in the band more than well as a real pro thus far as far as all the positive feedback from the fans´ direction is concerned, so the whole band is undoubtedly standing firmly and strongly for sure. And as each of us should already know, the fans cannot be wrong, so don´t go questioning that tiny fact… ever! ;=)
I contacted both Kenny Hallman and Brian Langley just a short while ago and wanted to get all the latest, updated news about the recordings for SYSTEMATICAL EXTERMINATION, the band´s touring plans for this year, all the reasons why Chris actually left – amongst other ´hot topics´. Both Kenny and Brian were more than eager to give their best shots about the latest happenings of Infernäl Mäjesty, so let´s just read what they had to say about probably the hottest potato in their mouths at the very moment, the band´s eagerly-waited new record SYSTEMATICAL EXTERMINATION…
You have been recording your new album titled SYSTEMICAL EXTERMINATION in Vancouver. My first question is, have you already finished your recordings for it? If I remember correctly, you started recordings for your new album many months ago, and the recordings of it have been delayed due to a few different reasons of which you might enlighten the readers of Metal-Rules.com a little bit…
Brian: This album has been done a little unconventionally. However I think the problems that we have encountered during the last year with regards to trying to get the new album out has actually been for the better. Basically what happened is, our record company has continually delayed giving us the funds to put out the new album so, out of our own pockets, we have made a demo of the entire new album. With the help of Sho Murry and JF. Now, we’ve been sitting on this demo for the last 3 months, listening to it, trying different things and ways to enhance and improve the songs.
As far as I know, you have been using J.F. Dagenais from Kataklysm as a producer on this new album. Are you pleased for his input for this record as a producer?
Brian: I’m really impressed by how the album sounds, considering we recorded all of the parts at Profile Studios in Vancouver with Sho Murray, then sent all the bed tracks to JF and more or less said: “See what you can do with this… Great job”.
Kenny: The one problem we are also having is the scheduling of the recording. J.F. is also busy with other bands as well as Kataklysm, J.F. wants to record the record here in Vancouver from beginning to end as he wants to make this record sound the best that it can.
On your previous album ONE WHO POINTS TO DEATH you used Sho Murray to produce the record. How would you say his working methods have been different from Jean-Francois´, and was there something in J.F.´s methods to work with the band that Sho simply couldn´t offer for Infernäl Mäjesty at that time as a producer when thinking of the whole outcome of your cooperation with him?
Kenny: Sho is a very good friend of ours and he understood what we were looking for but Steve Terror and I paid for the recording of ONE WHO POINTS TO DEATH so we really couldn’t afford to go with a higher profile producer. But J.F. knows us well and now that we know how much we are getting to record the new record we could afford to get J.F.
Did J.F. manage to bring any cool ideas into the record that you found useful for this album while you were captured inside the studio environment?
Kenny: Not yet – he really just wanted to hear the songs in demo form first than he added input that we will use when we go back into the studio with him. We are willing to try certain things but I don’t what to screw around to much as the songs that we have are killer right now but we are open to suggestions from J.F. and use them if we feel it adds to the songs.
You have got 8 new Infernäl Mäjesty songs for SYSTEMICAL EXTERMINATION. Can you already name 2 or 3 of each of your favorite songs from that album and explain what these songs have got in them that make them so special sounding to both of you?
Brian: Song 3, “Heathenism”. When people hear this track, they are gonna shit themselves. You though “Death of Heaven” off ONE WHO POINTS TO DEATH was insane, this song blows it away! I can’t even describe it. My other favorite right now is song 7, “Crusade”. The vocal delivery on this song is alot of fun. Also, the Coach (Kris DeBoer) does a blast beat over the slow intro riff which should throw everyone for a loop. I think fans will enjoy the guitar work on this album.
Kenny: I really don’t have a favorite song as I feel that they are all strong. We spend alot of time making each song unique so no one song sounds the same. Even the vocal styles vary from song to song which is something when never really did on our other albums.
How many songs did you actually rehearse for this album? Did they all end up on SYSTEMICAL EXTERMINATION, or were there some songs that were destined to be ´left-overs´ only for some reason or the other?
Brian: There are 3 or 4 songs that aren’t on the album that will surface and the album after SYSTEMICAL EXTERMINATION. There are 2 Infernäl Mäjesty albums for after SYSTEMICAL EXTERMINATION currently on the go. There is definately no shortage of ideas.
What about the cover art for SYSTEMICAL; when it will be revealed officially in public? And what´s in it anyway? Did you use the same artist for it who did the cover for your previous album, ONE WHO POINTS TO DEATH (Kierston Vande Kraats)? People are getting really curious and anxious, I can tell… ;=)
Brian: We are going with a different artist this time. The main thing for me about the new cover was the NONE SHALL DEFY Infernäl Mäjesty monster. The original idea with this monster was it was going to be the band mascot. He wasn’t on UNHOLIER THAN THOU or ONE WHO POINTS TO DEATH. I asked Kenny and Steve “What’s the point of having this mascot if you guys never use him?”. Thankfully, they agreed with me. I can’t tell you what the monster will be doing but, I can say that the Infernäl Mäjesty monster will be on the new album. Our artist is currently redrawing him to look more life-like and scarier.
How high would you actually rate SYSTEMICAL EXTERMINATION amongst other Infernäl Mäjesty albums? I of course understand that comparing this latest album of yours to your classic debut album NO SHALL DEFY wouldn´t be that justified or fair at all as they both represent different era musically, but maybe you could still analyze and compare all Infernäl Mäjesty albums to each other a little bit…
Kenny: I really don’t like to rate which album is better; each album has it’s own feel and mood. People will always compare everything we do to NONE SHALL DEFY, so no matter how high I rate this record it won’t really matter. I know this album is strong. As I said early we spend alot of time writing these songs and we really pick them apart. I don’t want to record anything that I wouldn’t be happy with in five or ten years as we have to play these songs live.
Do you have any plans to shoot a promotional video for this new record any time soon?
Kenny: We always want to do videos, but once again that is up to Black Lotus Records.
What seems a bit odd to me, there´s no release date set for this new album as of yet? Why is that? I assume you still have a deal with Black Lotus Records tho… or do you?
Kenny: Black Lotus Records wanted us to release the album at the end of 2005, but they didn’t have our money so they have delayed it until June – as for the acual date of release – I really don’t know. I know that Black Lotus has a release date in mind but I don’t know what it is.
Brian: We haven’t set a release date for this album because we have been told on a few occaisions when funding for the album would come through, and it hasn’t. These sorts of things have been happening throughout the bands career. As I’m sure it happens to alot of other bands as well. So we haven’t given a release date because we don’t want to lie to our fans. It’s more likely that the album will come out before Guns´n´Roses CHINESE DEMOCRACY though.
Are you happy with Black Lotus Records how they handled all the promotion and stuff for your last album ONE WHO POINTS TO DEATH? And if they failed in something in your opinion as far as these kinds of promotional things are concerned, why you think they did fail and what they should have done better in order to satisfy your expectations toward them as a record label?
Kenny: I’m never really happy with the way labels have treated us. Promotion is the most important thing to a band, without the proper promotion it makes it hard to get tours and without tours sales slide. I have done countless interviews over the years and I always try and stay positive but it is frustrating that Infernäl Mäjesty has never gotten the big push that it needs to take it to the next level.
What about releasing a DVD from Infernäl Mäjesty that could kind of sum up the band´s whole career from those days when your debut album NONE SHALL DEFY was released in 1987 up to this very day with a new line-up? Has this idea crossed your mind lately?
Brian: The band has alot of great ideas with regards to a DVD, it just comes down to the finacial means to do it.
WHAT HAPPENED TO CHRIS BAILEY?
Chris Bailey, who was in the band on and off for 17 years, left Infernäl Mäjesty suddenly around August 2004, moved to Toronto and none of you, his fellow band mates have heard from him since then? Have you managed to talk to him since he left the band and try to clarify this, let´s say, at least a bit odd situation about the actual reasons why he decided to leave the band without leaving any public statement about his decision for not being a part for Infernäl Mäjesty any longer?
Kenny: We were on a 2 month Canada tour at the time and things were going good for us until we hit Quebec. Chris went back to Toronto and he missed a big show that we headlining and we had to do it without him. At that point things started to go downhill and I knew that once the tour was finished that we would have to rethink our future. Once we got back to Vancouver I went and seen Mecha Messiah and I was totally blow away by Brian. After seeing him play that night I knew that I had found our future singer. I had to convince the other guys that Brian was the right guy for Infernäl Mäjesty. After they meet him and heard him sing our songs they knew that I found the right guy. As far a Chris goes we tried calling him for 3 months after the tour, he was back in Toronto and he never called us back – as far as I’m concerned he left on his own, he was a great sing for Infernäl Mäjesty but we had to move on and I know we made the right choice.
You even tried to reach Chris via phone for several different times, but he was just never there, picking his cell phone up, so eventually you simply left a text message to his cell phone to tell him you have a new singer in the band. Didn´t he ever bother to reply back to that message in order to kind of confirm you loud and clear he doesn´t want to be a part of the band for some reason or the other?
Kenny: As far as Chris goes, we tried calling him for 3 months after the tour. He was back in Toronto and he never called us back – as far as I’m concerned he left on his own, he was a great singer for Infernäl Mäjesty but we had to move on and I know we made the right choice. I don’t even know where his at this moment, he knows how to get a hold of us but we haven’t heard a thing from him in the last 18 months.
Were there floating any bad blood between him and the rest of the members because what he did to the band, was definitely something that nobody expected from him to do for Infernäl Mäjesty? It´s just nobody can leave a band just like that – without giving any (good) explanation for it, so there must be something more behind his solution than just “he just left us and that´s it…” –type of explanation, isn´t there?
Kenny: I really don’t dwell on the fact that he is gone now. I’m sure he had his reasons for leaving but we’ve moved on and that’s what is important. If I ever do hear from him, he will tell me what his reasons were, only time will tell.
Because Chris left the band the way he did, I guess that was also the main reason for that why you had to cancel your already planned European tour last year with Hirax. Does that correct?
Kenny: After Chris left everything came to an abrupt stop without a singer we were going know where. That is why I didn’t waste any time in looking for a new singer. Even though we found Brian fairly fast there was know way he could have learnt our entire set in time for any tour. What we did do was have him learn every song that we have ever done and he has learnt them all so next time we are on tour we could literally play every song that we have recorded.
BRIAN LANGLEY, THE NEW SINGER ENTERS IN
Brian, you jumped into Chris´ boots like kind of all of sudden. So would you tell us the whole story about it for the readers of Metal-Rules.com as well?
Brian: I literally did jump into his boots! The first few shows I wore the big “Kiss” boots that he wore. I just got my own last week actually. At the time (January 2005) I was in another local Vancouver band called Mecha Messiah and I went to go see my friends band Cradle to Grave to set up a show for my band with them (on a side note, Cradle to Grave’s singer Greg Cavanagh filled in for Bailey at 5 or 6 Infernäl Mäjesty shows in 2004-2005). While talking to CTG’s guitarist, Steve and Eric walked up and Denis (Barthe) introduced me to them. Two weeks after that, Denis calls me up and asks if Infernäl Mäjesty had called me yet and I just didn’t believe it. I said “No, and why the hell would they?” and He just said “They want you to be their new singer”. Then about 10 minutes later, Eric called me and set up the audition. Two auditions later, they aked me to join, and now here I am.
You have told you have never sung Thrash/Death –type of vocals before until you tried that relatively demanding singing style in Infernäl Mäjesty for the first time. Did you sort of feel like this is the stuff what you wanna do, kind of never expected it to be that easy for you? I said ´easy´ because you convinced the guys from the first moments when you walked behind the microphone and simply let it go, screaming your lungs out for such immortal Infernäl Mäjesty classics as “Night of the Living Dead”, “None Shall Defy”, etc.?
Brian: I think that in order to sing this style of music, it has to be in you, you know? You can’t fake this stuff. Anybody can half-ass a pop song. Obviously at first it was rough. After a few weeks though and it was seamless. I work on my vocals alot at home. If you want me to sound like Bailey off the NONE SHALL DEFY album, you’ve got it. His vocal stylings off UNHOLIER THAN THOU I’m there. ONE WHO POINTS TO DEATH? My favorite. Then there’s SYSTEMATICAL EXTERMINATION – that’s me. When we play live, I tend to stick closer to how the older songs were sung album to album because as a fan myself, I know that that is what I would want to hear.
Your first live appearance with Infernäl Mäjesty happened in May 2005 in front of a great bunch of fanatical and curious Infernäl Mäjesty –fans, and you made a huge impression on them; the fans of the band really loved your first performance with Infernäl Mäjesty! Even the local promoters told you that you blew Chris out of the water, he-he! That´s surely quite a compliment from them to hear, wasn´t it? ;=)
Brian: It was really unexpected, being so new to singing the way that I do with Infernal. I liked the way Bailey sounded on ONE WHO POINTS TO DEATH the most. So for my first show I was more or less trying to emulate him. Now that I’ve been in the band for a little over a year and played some shows with the band and have been generally excepted by the fans, I’m more comfortable just being me up there without having to worry whether or not the fans are going to like me.
As most of us know by now, you also sing for this more Hard Rock –orientated band called Mecha Messiah which is said to be musically like a cross between Bon Scott –era AC/DC and Black Label Society, sort of. Would you see it possible that both Mecha Messiah and Infernäl Mäjesty could share the same stage some day? How would it feel a difficult task to do two gigs for one night?
Brian: I love being on a stage and performing for people, so the first thing I wanted to do was to have Mecha Messiah open for Infernäl Mäjesty. However, Steve and Kenny didn’t like the idea because what if I blow my voice before Infernäl Mäjesty’s set? I’d also have to do a quick wardrobe change.
Brian, you´ll turn to just 23 this year (or have already done so?), so compared to other members of the band, you kind of come from a very different metal generation compared to the rest of the members in Infernäl Mäjesty. Has this fact caused any problems with the rest of the guys as far as your own differences of views about something related to Infernäl Mäjesty´s music are concerned?
Brian: I’ll be 23 March 4th (so congratz dude! -Luxi). I grew up on AC/DC in the 80’s, which doesn’t help me whatsoever with where Infernäl Mäjesty came from. I’ve been really into the heaviest forms of metal for a good 10 years though. Being an outsider coming into the band has allowed me to know “what’s what” so to speak. It also has helped that the guys are really easy to work with. I think in their eyes I have proved my worth, so If I have something to say about anything, it weighs heavily on what the final decision is. Also, despite the generation gaps, Kenny and I always seem to be on the same page on most band issues.
What you have learnt from your other band mates thus far when being a member of the band nowadays – and what you have taught to them if we simply restrict this subject to some musical innovations and tricks that could possibly take full advantage in Infernäl Mäjesty´s music?
Brian: Before Infernäl Mäjesty, I had never been in a band with a record deal. I must say it’s been a real eye-opener. They have helped me get through it because they’ve been dealing with this corporate crap for almost 20 years. All I want to do is play I don’t want to go through months of paperwork. I think that’s why they’ve dubbed me “The Kidd”. I’m still pretty “green” when it comes to putting up with the bullshit side of the music industry. For things I have shown them… I guess marketing techniques. This band started while Thrash Metal was exploding, there is only a handful of bands from that era left. We have to take full advantage of our stage attire and image. Infernäl Mäjesty is one of the few bands today that wears the leather and spikes without the corpsepaint that gets taken seriously.
What kind of touring plans does Infernäl Mäjesty have for 2006? Any plans to re-arrange some dates to Europe; or even better to Finland? ;=)
Brian: I would love nothing more than to do a proper North/South American and European tour. Cannibal Corpse wants to tour with us again, same with Vader. We’d love to. Unfortunately, it comes down to tour support from the label. We can’t finance it out of our own pockets, few if any metal bands can.
Thank you guys for your time for killing lots of curiosity amongst the readers of Metal-Rules.com by enlightening the current situation in the Infernäl Mäjesty –camp and best of luck to you on your successful road toward even more successful times. Anything else worth mentioning you might want to add to this interview – this space is saved for you… ;=)
Kenny: Thanks for your continous support towards us Luxi! It means a lot to us!
Brian: Visit at www.infernalmajesty.com for the latest updates concerning the new Infernäl Mäjesty album SYSTEMATICAL EXTERMINATION. Thank you for your support.