Confessor Interview with Vocalist Scott Jeffreys
Interview by EvilG and Arto Lehtinen
PART I ? Confessor 2005
(Interview questions by EvilG)
Before we dig into the history of the band (that section of the interview is handled by Arto), I?ll be doing the section on what is currently happening and on the return of Confessor. So let?s get started since there are a lot of questions here!
The band reunited in 2002, why is it now 2005 and still no new full-length album, just the 3-track demo called BLUEPRINT SOUL? Is it just the usual story of you are all busy with life and it takes time to get an album together?
Well there is some of that but we really didn’t officially get back together until 2003. In the meantime we have been writing new material, recording the demo and shopping the demo. That is the thing that has really taken the longest time, trying to find a deal that is fair to the band. It is a large task in this day in age that’s for sure. So, with that said we hope that we are on the road to that goal. If not there has been discussion of releasing the full length ourselves. We just don’t want to be put in the situation we were before with our first record. So that is the main reason for the delay. Just trying to be patient.
You reunited following the unfortunate death of guitarist Ivan Colon. Did his passing open the door for the band reuniting?
Well the main reason was because of the death of our old guitarist, Ivan Colon. You see Ivan passed away due to Cardiac complications and his wife was left to incur the medical costs. Confessor decided to get together to play a benefit show for her and give her all of the proceeds. It was really in the minutes on stage again at that show that lit the spark for us and now the fire has been lit. Without that show, I?m sure this would have never happened.
Did Ivan leave behind any riffs or song ideas that you will be able to use as a tribute to him?
Yes, there are a few parts that we are using in the new material that have come from some of the last things we did back in the day.
For anyone that didn?t know him, what was Ivan like?
Ivan was a great person. He had so many people that would say he is my best friend. Always happy and he loved his friends and family. Ivan was just cool with everyone and is missed terribly.
Is North Carolina still your stomping ground? Do you get to play in the area much and what?s the local support like?
Yes, we are still a NC band and the support at all of the shows here is tremendous. The Raleigh shows are always a great time because we get to see all of the people who used to come out to ours show and just hang out with everyone again.
You?ve been called a ?Progressive Doom Metal? band, is this a description that you think fits your music? What other bands do you think fit into this niche?
I suppose that’s as close as you will get with the category. We are so unconcerned about our labeling. It is so interesting to me that everyone try?s to put us in a category and can?t. I think everyone needs to listen to the new Confessor and just decide if they like what we are doing now. I know we do!!
I think the vocals and the progressive elements has the potential to open the band up to listeners who would not normally listen to much doom. Have you found that the case, or is the core of your listeners ?doomsters??
That’s hard to say as the “new” Confessor is just now out. I think putting out a full length and promoting it well to get it out in front of the metal world will answer this question. We will see if Confessor will appeal to the newcomers or if we stay a cult type band. My guess and hope is that we will be looked at as something fresh to the scene and will be accepted by most.
When I listened to BLUEPRINT SOUL I was reminded of Black Sabbath, early Alice In Chains, and a little bit of Memory Garden. Have any of these influenced you or do you think you would share a common fan-base with those bands?
There are certainly influences of Sabbath in the music and AIC in the vocals some maybe. I think fans of all of these mentioned bands would dig Confessor and think they should give us a listen. There is certain the emotion in the Confessor songs that all of these bands conveyed.
How do you think the material on BLUEPRINT SOUL and the newer material you are writing compares to older material like the album from 1991, CONDEMNED?
The new material is much more mature, without a doubt. Not saying anything against the early tunes. It’s just that the Confessor of 2005 will be much more palatable than that of 91, but still you will know is Confessor by the unique style of the band.
What is meant by the title BLUEPRINT SOUL and how does the EP cover art represent it?
Well the title is really taking a look inside of yourself. If your soul had a Blueprint of itself what would it look like? Would someone want to take that blueprint as a template of their own? It’s really trying to make people look inside themselves to see what they are really made of. Would you want your soul to be copied? Is it worthy?
Since you?ve been away from Confessor in terms of writing new material for the band for about 12 years, how do you approach Confessor in 2005? Are you trying to recreate your sound or it is all still coming natural?
It is really coming natural and the whole writing process is flowing like never before. We are not trying to consciously change or imitate anything from or past sound, we are just writing what we fell and are into now. The Confessor sound is still there, it’s just more mature and quite frankly, really heavy!!
Where will you be recording the upcoming full length, who?s producing/mixing..etc?
We will most likely record the full length at Osceola Studio in Raleigh, NC (same place as the demo) with legendary producer Dick Hodgin (Corrosion of Conformity, Hootie and the Blowfish) and Grammy nominated Engineer Ian Schreder.
Will the full-length be self-released or has there been serious label interest as a result of the new EP?
There have been serious interests from a number of labels. We are currently in negotiations with a label and trying to iron out all of the details. If it doesn’t work out we have discussed getting a distribution deal and releasing it ourselves.
Have you been playing live much recently, or are you concentrating on new material for now?
We have really been trying to write the material for the record but we do play about twice a year in Raleigh.
When the album does come out, will you be looking to tour, or is the band a sideline to what you all now do in life (ie. 9-5 jobs, families, etc)?
If things go as we hope we will play some festivals and do some limited touring. We will see what happens as far as how much touring we will do. It will depend on what kind of tours we will be able to be a part of.
If you will tour, what countries do you hope to visit, either again, or for the first time?
Well as we toured Europe twice in the past, of course we would love to go back there. We also have a pretty nice fan base there. We never went further that Denmark into Scandinavia and I would like to hit Norway, Sweden and Finland next time. I think that area is really hip on the kind of music we are doing. We never did an extensive US tour and I would also like to one here.
In the past, could you point to any one region as having a strong support for Confessor?
Hmm, not really. Certainly more in Europe in general though. However we do have many e-mails from Japan and South America from people who are ordering the Ep off the website. If I had to say one though it would probably be Germany.
Why do you think that during the time when there was no Confessor, that you maintained a cult following with even bands mentioning you as an influence?
That’s a good question. Maybe is was just because we had that one record and it was just like a good memory for some people at that time, I don’t know. I guess it was like a one night stand, we just came and left and no one ever heard from us again.
I understand a new DVD is in the works that will have footage from the old line-up up to 2004! What types of things will be on it and was any of it pro (or close to pro) shot? Do you have a release date yet?
We have not decided about exactly what we will do with the Live DVD. Most of it will be form home footage of show but some of it is professionally shot. We will also have the MTV video of condemned on there as well. To be honest the label negotiations are consuming my time right now and the DVD will come out when that is settled. The DVD will feature Confessor live from the early day, 1986 up to the most recent show from last year.
PART II ? Confessor History
(Interview questions by Arto)
Vocalist Scott Jeffrey used to be involved in the Texas WatchTower in 89/90, but when Confessor was founded in 88/99, did Jeffrey dismiss the band to join Confessor, or how did this happen?
Actually, I was in Confessor when WatchTower send me 2 songs to audition for. The vocals were recorded and sent back to them but nothing ever happened and I believe they disbanded soon after that. Steve Shelton our drummer was also talking to Trouble around the same time about filling in the drumming spot but we both chose to stay with Confessor which is wear our hearts were.
Jeffrey’s old Watchtower has reunited some time ago, but Jeffrey wasn’t involved in it at all? Do you maintain contact with any of the guys?
I was never involved with WatchTower except doing those two demo songs and I do not have any contact with them.
Ex-members named Graham Fry (guitar) and Jim Shoaf (drums) were in Confessor at some point in the band’s career. I assume they were there for the early stages before the debut album saw the light of day?
Correct. Jim is Brian’s brother and he left the band and went on to do lights or drum tech for several bands, including, SoundGarden, Alice In Chains, and Pearl Jam. that’s when Steve joined the band. Grahan was one of the original members and he left just before we were signed. He was going in a different direction musically and decide to leave and that’s when Ivan joined.
Did you record only one demo called Collapse back in 1990, do you have previously unreleased demo outputs canned somewhere ?! (If yes, please it is possible to have them somehow? hehe)
The was The Secret in 88, Uncontrolled in 89 and Collapse in 90. These demo’s are out there amongst the tape traders of the world.
As for this Collapse demo, how many hours did you spend doing the recording session ?! Did it cost a lot, and how many copies did you sell?
I honestly do not know. I would say it took us a few days and cost under $1000. I have not idea how many were sold.
Besides selling the demo on your own, another important way the demo got distributed was through underground tape trading – for example I (Arto) found Confessor via tape trading, it was a good movement back then and helped a lot of bands, what about Confessor?
That helped us more than anything!!! That is eventually how Earache heard about is. It doesn’t seem to be so popular anymore.
The Paradise Lost guys used to be good friends with you, cos I remember that Nick Holmes used to wear the Confessor shirt in one of early day promo pics?!
Yeah, actually we weren’t really friends. We didn’t even know about them until someone told us they were wearing our shirt on the album. After that we spoke a few times but we have never actually met.
The song ?Uncontrolled? ended on PeaceVille comp album “Vile Vibes”, Did Hammy personally approach you to ask for a track for the comp album?
Yes, actually he was interested in signing us but for some reason never made an official offer. We did tell him Earache was interested and gave him the opening to do so but it never happened.
How did you get the deal with Earache in the first place? The label was more into the more extreme stuff and used to sign a lot of death and grind-core combos like Napalm Death, Massacre, Terrorizer, Morbid Angel, Entombed? Did this Collapse demo get them convinced to sign you or this Peaceville thing?
Some bands on Earache kept telling them they should sign us and I guess after they had been hounded enough they checked us out and decided to do it.
Was the deal with Earache based on a one off deal, was there any option for a second album if the first one would of sold well?
Yes there were plans for a second record and they decided not to do it. This left a bad taste in our mouths and we became a bit fed up with the whole record industry and soon after just decided to give it a break. A 12 year break!!!
In my opinion, well seen from the point of view of a record label, signing Confessor for an extreme metal label was more or less a risky investment, since Confessor totally sounded so different and had unique style, how did you get along with Earache, were you ever advised to change the style to something else?
We were never asked to change. I think it was just hard for them or anyone I’m sure to know how to market Confessor. However the Confessor of 2005 is much more palatable and there is no reason that we would not be quite easy to market today.
Your video got a lot of air play on HeadBangers Ball on the European MTV, if my memory services right, the video looked as if it had been done fast and low budget? Did you have to get a video out quickly, or what is the history of the video?
Well, when a record company gives you a small budget for a vid, you do what you can.
Confessor went out on tour with the ?Gods Of Grind? tour if I recall? crossing central Europe, mainly in Germany, together with Carcass, Cathedral, Entombed.. What kind of reception did you get on the tour and how did you get along with other bands?
This experience was great. All of the bands got along very well and the tour was a great success. We were fortunate to be on the tour and even though we were in front of death metal fans we were still supported. No regrets!
How much did the MTV coverage of the tour help you to get more attention on the tour?!
I think it certainly helped. We were showcased along with the other bands for some weeks on MTV and it certainly helped raise the profile of the tour.
Playing with such bands had to be a weird experience, at least I think so!?! Or did you usually share stages with other death metal bands in The States at that time?
We were doing a lot of shows with Corrosion of Conformity here in the US and a band from Nashville called FUCT. We were either playing with Death Metal bands or Punk bands. That’s just what there was around at the time.
Then you returned back to the studio to work on the follow up to Condemned called simply Confessor, but somehow, I for one never came across that release, I am afraid that EP kinda disappeared somewhere.. What exactly happened to the Confessor EP after all?
I don’t know. It was out there. Maybe a question for Earache to answer.
Did the low sales and a lack of interest of the media and the metal crowd end the career of Confessor?
Well, from the last numbers we heard the album sold about 35,000 copies. But the reason was mainly that we were getting a bit bummed on the treatment from Earache and some of us were wanting to do some other things. I think we must get past the old confessor and look ahead. We are not re-releasing the old material. We have great new material that is not so foreign to any ears of today. We must focus on the future of Confessor not the past.
Steve Shelton and Cary Rowells formed a new band called Fly Machine, what kind of style did they play? Even a self-titled album came out back in 1997, right?
Yes, I don’t know too much about it but it was in the same style as Confessor.
That?s all from the 2 of us for now?.good luck with your album! If there is any news that you?d like us to pass along, let us know!
Thanks! Thanks guys. we will let you know as soon as we have some news. Please mention our website www.confessorband.com as that is the only place currently where the folks can pick up a copy of the EP.