Heart of Steel: Interviews

Interview With Brian Hoffman of Deicide

Intro and questions by Luxi Lahtinen

IN TORMENT IN HELL, Deicide´s 6th full-length studio album, closed one chapter for these highly respected Floridian Death Metal pioneers. Namely, it was Deicide´s last album for their long-time label Roadrunner Records. Probably these evil and wicked disciples of Satan wanted to clean the table with them for good, and started looking to the future and hoping to have a new start under a better, more reliable label.

This was where the legendary Earache Records stepped into the picture, sort of an epitome of all extreme metal labels, taking the opportunity and offering Deicide a multi-album deal that they just couldn´t turn down.

The first fruit out of the deal between the band and the label, SCARS OF THE CRUCIFIX is born: Deicide´s 7th album. With this new album the band has clearly taken monster steps back to the catchy yet evil atmospheres of their previous works, especially toward the infernally lovely ONCE UPON THE CROSS album both musically and lyrically.

I got an opportunity to talk briefly to one of the two Hoffman brothers in the band, Brian Hoffman. He was kind enough to reveal more about the whole process from signing a new contract with Earache to making the album to shooting the band´s first ever video, "Scars of the Crucifix."

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So Brian, how would you compare the new album SCARS OF THE CRUCIFIX to your all previous albums? To me it sounds like you have taken a couple  steps backwards musically towards the times of ONCE UPON THE CROSS?

Deicide_ONCEUPON.jpg (18443 bytes)People tell me a lot that it sounds like ONCE UPON THE CROSS and I agree. However, I also think it sounds a little bit like the first album and LEGION, too! It is pure Deicide. We put our souls into this album and I believe it is the true essence of evil.



Could you tell us what the hardest, most time-consuming parts of getting this new album done?

I think it was the mixing because we all have different schedules. It was a struggle to book time in the studio and we had to remix the album several times.



What was the most challenging aspect for you concerning the song writing process for SCARS OF THE CRUCIFIX? To find an ideal guitar riff or rhythm section for each track that flows effortlessly with the other instruments?

Deicide_ScarsOf.jpg (20938 bytes)Making parts flow is a difficult thing to do. When writing riffs, yes, it has to be catchy but they also have to have similarities within certain keys in order to be able to flow together. It's always a good idea to experiment with overlapping riffs, with harmonies and also different lines with alternate notes. I think the biggest challenge is putting the puzzle together.



Do you find it harder to top yourself as a song writer after several years and severals album?

Sometimes it gets difficult but you have to be in the right state of mind. A creative mood is always good when exploring the guitar or experimenting with scale blending.

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How many songs did you record for SCARS OF THE CRUCIFIX? Will your Japanese fans get their own bonus tracks?

Every song we recorded is on the album. There are no bonus tracks.



IN TORMENT IN HELL lacked a bit of that Deicide trademark for some really intense and damn catchy song structures.  Did you somehow keep this particular album in mind when trying to prove with SCARS OF THE CRUCIFIX that you are not old and tired in 2004?

Deicide_INTORMENT.jpg (23744 bytes)I'm still trying to get over IN TORMENT. That album had real potential but it was rushed. We had no time to write song structures correctly. We didn't even have time to write proper leads. We just wanted off of Roadrunner Records. They didn't care about Deicide anymore. They were more interested in bands like Slipknot. Also, we wanted to prove to ourselves that we still can write good songs and enjoy it at the same time. This album is for us to listen to and be completely satisfied with and it´ll kick you in the cunt!

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Deicide_LEGION.jpg (10317 bytes)I know a bunch of friends that consider LEGION as your all time classic Deicide album. Did you try to find elements from the LEGION album for SCARS OF THE CRUCIFIX? I mean all those relentless, extremely technical and sharp riffs, with and rhythm changes, intensity, and blitzkrieg´ish solo outbursts?

Yes, the vibe of LEGION is there at times. It's definitely all Deicide. My personal favorite song that I wrote is "Repent to Die". I've matured a lot since the first song I wrote when I was fifteen which was "Sacrificial Suicide."



If you had to describe the strongest points of SCARS OF THE CRUCIFIX to our readers in Metal-Rules.com., what would they be?

The overall feel of evil of the album along with the song and lead writing.

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IN TORMENT IN HELL was kind of a letdown. It didn´t reach the same intensity, the same nasty atmospheres and overall the same songwriting level as your previous albums. So, what went wrong with it?

That album was a letdown to the whole band. Being rushed was definitely frustrating and depressing. I wish we could rearrange and write the songs over, but what's done is done.



Did you arrange any pre-listening sessions in the studio to hear the whole album in advance? What kind of comments did they give to you about the songs on SCARS OF THE CRUCIFIX?

No, we didn't have anyone sit in any of the sessions but we let friends listen to the demos and they love it. We know it's a kick ass album because we wrote the songs we want to hear.

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You had a label change from your previous label Roadrunner to Earache. Did the making of this new album feel like a new beginning for the band?

Earache has been nothing but the best! They didn't rush us at all. They gave us plenty of time to do this album right and their attitude toward it is purely positive. We couldn't have asked for a better label than Earache. They are definitely the epitome of Death Metal labels.



What kind of picture do you have about your current label, Earache during these past years? This is your first European record label. Are there different working methods between your previous label Roadrunner and Earache?

Like I said, Earache is far superior. Ever since we signed with them, it's just been great. They make sure we have plenty of publicity, interviews and advertisements. I probably did a dozen interviews in eleven fucking years with Roadrunner.

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What is your favorite song off SCARS OF THE CRUCIFIX? What makes it so special for you?

“Pentecostal” is one, just because it's so relentless!



You also shot a video for the title track of your album. What kind of experience was it like making your first video? Did it feel a bit strange for you to be in the front of the camera, or are you comfortable with them by now?

Again Roadrunner would never let us do a video. Yes, it was strange but it was an experience.

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Did you have some sort of a script for that particular video, or was it unexpected improvising?

Not really, we played it by ear.



You are on of the most influential Death Metal bands in the music business. Do you have any idea why it took so long to make your first video?

Roadrunner didn't push us.

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Will that video be available at Earache´s site? Where else will it be available? Any cable channels that might show it eventually?

Yes, and hopefully it will be allowed to play on cable.



You almost recently did a headlining tour in the States together with Cattle Decapitation, Krisiun and Hate Eternal. Hate Eternal is one of my favorite bands, besides Deicide, of course! How was that tour for you? Did you manage to play at any new venues?

It was great! We played in a few different venues and the crowds were awesome. Yes, Rutan and the rest of the crew are very hard-working. They're very good musicians.

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When are you going to start your European tour, and where it might possibly start from? Maybe from Helsinki, Finland... thank you!! ;)

I believe in May, it's getting scheduled right now. I know Ireland and possibly Scandinavia as well as the metal festivals in the summer.



Shooting DVDs has become highly popular in the metal scene lately. When will your fans will get their first Deicide DVD? Have you given any thought to this at all?

Of course!! There will be a few out very soon...

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What´s your relationship to Black Metal amongst other genres of metal? Are there some Black Metal bands that have impressed you musically?

There are some really good Black Metal bands out there. Bathory was one of my favorite bands back in the day as well as Venom.



What are some Death Metal bands that have earned your respect?

Hate Eternal, Monstrosity, Suffocation, Cannibal Corpse, Morbid Angel and many more.

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So what can people expect from Deicide within the next 1-2 years or so?

A lot of Deicide in your face!!!

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I want to thank you Brian for your time with this interview. It was a real pleasure to do as I myself have been a huge Deicide fan since I got to hear some of your demos under the Amon -moniker (thanks to my active time in the tape trading scene back in the day...) Hopefully this interview was worth of your time, too. If there´s anything you still want to say to the readers of Metal-Rules.com?

I hope you pick up the new album and give it a listen, you won't be disappointed. I also want to thank all our fans... you deserve this album!


Label Website: www.earache.com