Interview With Vocalist Pat Vigil
Interview By Lord of The Wasteland
Watch Them Die’s new CD, BASTARD SON, hit me like a ton of bricks upon first listen. Not only is the Oakland-based band pulverizing in its intensity and outright brutality, but the thrash-influenced riffs of Greg Valencia and ferocious vocals of Pat Vigil tore me a new one. With every other new CD released these days seeming to be a metalcore hackfest, it was refreshing to hear an American band flip off the norm and go right for the jugular.
Pat Vigil took the time to answer a few questions about the new album, their just-completed tour with Exodus and 3 Inches of Blood, being on the road with GWAR and how the combination of Black Metal, punk, hardcore and Bay Area thrash bands shaped the ass-kicking sound of Watch Them Die…
How did the Exodus tour go, Pat? It must have been incredibly cool to play alongside a fellow Bay Area band as legendary as them?!
Exodus slayed night after night. Very cool guys. We definitely walked away from this tour with some extremely cool friends. Gary Holt is a fucking madman.
A lot of people are wondering how the new line-up is live since it is only Gary Holt left from TEMPO OF THE DAMNED?
The new line-up is tight and powerful as fuck. Vocals are brutal and consistent from the beginning to the end of the set. All the bands pushed each other to play with conviction and aggression. Starting the fire on a bill like this takes some work but we did well and won over some new fans.
Did you learn anything from watching Exodus nightly, or did the band offer any useful advice that you took away from the experience?
I think all the bands learned a little something from each other. Advice would be not to snort parmesan cheese.
How was it hanging with the guys in 3 Inches of Blood? They are an incredibly tight, live band from right here in Vancouver and one of the few North American bands to be waving the flag of “real metal” these days.
3 Inches of Blood have become one of our favorite bands. They are surely Metal motherfuckers and great guys, too. We miss those guys and hope to do more touring with them. Knives high to 3 Inches of Blood!!
Are you nervous at all about playing this year’s Century Media Xmas Ball show in front of so many of the label people and other CM bands?
No, not yet, but it will happen, I’m sure. This is an awesome evening of metal for sure. Drummers must share kits, and that always kind of sucks but we will have a good time.
Going back to when Watch Them Die opened for GWAR, what was it like to try to warm up that band’s fans? Having just seen them play last weekend, the opening act got shredded!
I was talking earlier about starting the fire opening on a sick bill…it is hard work, especially for a band like the mighty GWAR. Their fans will tear you apart. We did well, and it turned out to be an amazing tour. Again, friends were made and respect is held. Hail the mighty GWAR!
Are there any plans to head up to Canada in 2006?
We truly would love to visit Canada but some members of our band have a history with the Goddamn law.
Getting on to the new CD, how did the band land Tue Madsen to work on BASTARD SON? He seems to be one of the most sought-after names to be handling studio work these days.
He is genius at what he does. We are very thankful and impressed with his work and we do hope to work with him again. Century Media approached him to work with us and we were blessed that he chose to. He captured the live energy and sadistic sound we were going for.
I have to say that BASTARD SON has some of the most eye-catching cover art I have recently seen. Who is the twisted bastard responsible for this macabre piece of work?
The art was done by Anthony Clarkson. He works for Century Media but we know him as a friend. He has a great vision for pain, death and violence. We do hope to work with him more in the future since he has done some cool shirts for us, as well.
“Bastard Son” and “Onslaught” are two punishing opening tracks and really set the mood for the rest of the CD. Where do you draw your venomous lyrical inspiration from?
That’s a heavy one. I think a lot of what I write comes from a place where crime and the urge to cut myself used to reside. Words of hate, violence, suffering, pain, death, love, revenge and the ability to rise above…you know, things of that nature. A lot is fantasy-related, too. You know you can’t put an ice pick in someone’s neck and get away with it but you can write about it and be free.
Who is the female vocalist that appears on “Throne of Lies” and “Under Flames”?
Her name is Morea Buckley. We actually met her the day of recording. She was doing some recording next door. We heard her voice and asked if she would do a song with us. She impressed us immediately and added an emotion that was necessary in these songs. Fate hard at work…
Not that you guys are Bon Jovi or Poison, but would you call “Born To Suffer” a ballad, albeit a dark one?
Well, I am not offended that you would call it a ballad. As a matter of fact, you have our permission to do so. I guess it is our version of meditation brought to you by the hate and pain of Mr. [Greg] Valencia [guitar/vocals]. Aarggh, that sinner friend of mine.
Your cover of Bathory’s “Armageddon” really caught me off guard. I suppose I only imagine European bands in corpsepaint taking on one of Quorthon’s early compositions, so what are a bunch of American thrashers like yourselves doing taking a stab at it? What made this Bathory track, in particular, the band’s choice?
Bathory has been a favorite for most of us since we were in middle school and “Armageddon” always stood out. Sick fuckin’ song from day one.
Who is that on vocals?
That’s Valencia on vocals. He does do this song justice.
“Belial’s Path” has the obvious Satanic reference in its title and seeing as you covered an early Bathory track, is it safe to assume you are fans of Black Metal?
We were raised on shit like Venom, Sodom, Kreator, Destruction, Hellhammer and Celtic Frost. Black Metal was a great way to vent as a kid…I guess it still is. The memories of the young Black Metal days are crucial in my life. No regrets. Carry on burning.
How did you approach BASTARD SON in relation to the debut? Did you try to go faster, heavier, more brutal, etc.?
When [guitarist Jase] Freakley left the band, Valencia took over the majority of the songwriting. His background and influences shine in his creations. With a new guitar player came new talent and we were able to do things we couldn’t in the past. The music was naturally fast and heavy, we just added emotion and character.
Do you feel that the band has grown a lot since the debut was released?
No doubt, we have grown both musically and as a family since the last release. We have been through a lot together and we share both the pain and pleasure. Brothers since youth. The next chapter will hold these things, as well.
I understand it has been shot, so what is happening in the new video for “Bastard Son?” Is it a performance video or is there a concept behind it?
Nothing too fancy or off the wall. Mostly just jamming live in an old meat packing plant. Cool lighting and a lot of different angles. Again, we wanted to try to capture the live aggression and violence. It has aired on Headbangers’ Ball. That means someone liked it some where.
What metal “scene,” if any, is left in the Bay Area these days?
The metal scene, I believe, is strong. There are a lot of really talented bands in the bay, all with unique styles. Young kids are showing support in metal again and that is fucking great.
I definitely hear some traditional thrash riffs, so is it safe to assume that the Bay Area thrash bands of the 80s influenced the sound of Watch Them Die?
Yes, it is safe to say that. The obvious, like Exodus, of course, among others like Possessed and Metallica. We have a huge Punk and Hardcore background, as well, that we cultivate energy from.
What do you think of the newer releases from the “classic” thrash bands like Exodus, Death Angel, etc.? Do you see the reunion of these bands as a good thing to show the younger kids what all the fuss was about, or would you rather see them remain in the past as a memory in time?
The bands you mentioned truly are still putting out sick metal but there are also those that I think should have stayed in the grave. I admire the ability to not drop your weapon.
Are you fans at all of the European thrash bands like The Haunted, etc.?
There are many European bands that have made an impression on us and, yes, The Haunted is high on the list of bands we like.
Does new guitarist Sonny [Reinhardt] ’s background work with Beck and The Dust Brothers bring any influence to Watch Them Die? Also, since he was your sound man before joining the band, does he have more of a say in the studio because he “knows the ropes,” so to speak?
Sonny is a good son of a great mother. He brought a lot of talent and creativeness to the table, as well as the studio. I don’t know if Beck and The Dust Brothers were present at the time of this, though. He is, amongst all, a great friend.
Your bio states that you spent several years on the road with GWAR in the 90s. Were you Balsac or Jizzmak? Seriously though, what role did you play in the travelling GWAR circus? There must be some good stories!!
I was never a character in the band. I only sold their merchandise and did their vending. I turned it in to a carnival-like surrounding, barking at customers and conning people out of cash. The stories are endless but I will leave you to read about them in my book.
Since you were previously a roadie with Buzzoven, do you have more respect for the work that they do for your band and on tours that you’ve been on? Also, is it better that you get first crack at any groupies now that you are “in the band?”
No groupies…loyal to the woman back home but titty bars are fun. Buzzoven paved the way for mixing violence with music. The world of aggression owes these guys a lot and respect for them is grand. They helped raise me. Another knife held high for Buzzoven.
What was it about Grimple, or maybe Hardcore music in general, that made you turn your focus towards Metal with Watch Them Die?
Well, most of Grimple was raised on Thrash and Black Metal. There was not a huge metal scene where we were raised. There was, however, a huge punk scene. We got really in to true Hardcore, not the hardcore of today. A lot of foreign stuff. Punk bands were touring through our town and they made an impression on us. We were not talented enough to play metal, so we started punk bands, with Grimple being the longest-lasting and most well-known. As time went on, our music was getting more and more metal, a natural progression that has become Watch Them Die today.
Is your vocal approach any different with Watch Them Die tunes than it was with Grimple or Buzzoven?
Yes, completely different. I don’t know what it was or what happened, but one day I just started breathing and singing from a different place in my body and I guess my mind, as well.
Do you handle all the lead vocals or does Greg do some, as well?
I do most of the singing but Valencia does quite a bit as well. Since the beginning of our career as band mates, it has been this way. Valencia has been a teacher and a mentor to me for years now. If not for him, I would be a corpse or an inmate today. The combination of our vocals has somewhat become a trademark for our bands.
Do you still dabble in any side projects or have you devoted your time fully to Watch Them Die?
I don’t know how people do it. I myself cannot find the time for another project. Watch Them Die is a massive piece of my life and I enjoy being a part of it. Any time off I truly enjoy living and I must make time for my girl, my dog and my love of cycling and the outdoors. You know, “real life” stuff like that.
Are you still working day jobs or is Watch Them Die paying the bills?
We are working hard to make that a reality, but as of now, it has not become real. We struggle like most touring bands, sacrificing houses, family, jobs and all that shit that actually pays the bills and makes you feel like you are doing your part at home. We humbly work hard and fight for the same goal. Between tours, we work, pawn, and hustle like pigs to make the next one possible. After all, it’s us against them, so we must fight for what we want.
Where do you think Watch Them Die fits into this world of endless metalcore and pop/punk bands that kids are lapping up like crack these days?
We don’t go over to well on metalcore bills. The kids can’t find it in them to do their karate dancing to our music. Honestly, I have seen maybe one or two kids even attempt it. We definitely go over better on a metal bill. Shag-heads playing Swedish black metal with breakdowns…does Slayer approve?
Anything you would like to say to the readers of Metal-Rules.com? The last words are yours, Pat!
A desperate attempt to touch the light, I remember the past. Brave to carry, avoid the cracks and god it passes fast. Withstand the years and stand with fears, it’s been strained for fun. Time in the pocket so quickly spent, we won’t outlast the sun! Thank you for your time, your minds, and your ears. See you on the road. THRASH TILL DEATH!!!!
Check out Watch Them Die’s official site here
Hear an mp3 of the title track from BASTARD SON by clicking here