Monstrosity – Vocalist Brian Werner
Interviewed by Robert
As one of the longest running forerunner’s for the Florida Death Metal throne, Monstrosity has been a force to reckon with since 1990. From the classic IMPERIAL DOOM to the most recent output, a split cd also featuring death metal giants Incantation as well as Rottrevore and Repulsion for Relapse Records, Monstrosity has maintained a loyal worldwide fanbase, toured the globe almost constantly and endured their share of line up changes. Having seen the band in concert over five times during various stages of their career, I was as anxious as any to hear what the band had been up to these last few years.
Upon attending the NAMM Summer Session conference (a music industry trade show that just so happened to take place in my hometown of Austin, Texas) I had the chance to meet many interesting musicians. A good number of them were death metal related. There was Derek Roddy of Hate Eternal fame, David Vincent of Morbid Angel, and Tim Yeung from Vital Remains hosting the World’s Fastest Drummer competition. Taking a break to step outside and quench my desire for an afternoon smoke, I happened upon one Brian Werner who it just so happens is Monstrosity’s new lead singer….in addition to fronting the underground death/black metal outfit Infernaeon.
I got a chance to speak at length with Brian about all things Monstrosity / Infernaeon related. Here is what he had to say…
First of all, Brian it has been over two years since we last heard from Monstrosity, I believe the last thing I purchased with the infamous Monstrosity logo on it was the Relapse Records Split Singles which featured Monstrosity, Incantation, Repulsion and Rottrevore….What have you guys been up to?
Working on the new album right now. We got Mark English back in the band to replace Tony Norman and the writing process is really coming along well. We just got off of a big European tour with Deeds of Flesh, Vile and Impaled. It was killer man headlining 33 shows in 15 countries the fans were really receptive and the promoter couldn’t have been more professional. It was a good tour all around. Deeds of Flesh have been good friends of ours for a long time and I always love sharing the stage with them.
Do you have any interesting stories about playing in Europe? As an American metalhead I have always wanted to partake in a European metal festival, is it really everything it is cracked up to be?
Ha! Ha! I’m the same way, I have been dying to get over there for a while to check out the scene like everyone else and it was killer. We did this Bringer of Death fest in Essen Germany which was awesome. It wasn’t like Fuck the Commerce or Full Force but it was a good example of how those shows can be. Fans are killer and go nuts. It gets a little harder in Europe I noticed with the language barrier being a little bit of an issue when trying to communicate with the crowd but they don’t care and as soon as the song starts and they realize what you’re playing you can see the excitement on their faces, it rules.
Yes it does. Because metal is universal, no matter what country you are from Monstrosity makes you wanna go nuts! Was it tough playing clubs in the U.S. again after having such large crowds in Europe?
I don’t care where it is I just love to play. I play the same in from of 10 people as I do 1,000. The way I see it you put up with the bullshit from time to time with scumbag promoters, shitty accommodations sometimes and road fatigue. But when you walk out on that stage for that 1 hour a day it’s about whoever is standing in front of you that paid money because they love the music. Whether it’s 5 or 500 people each one is just a deserving of a killer show, so it really doesn’t bother me one bit.
How did you come about landing the vocalist position in such a well established death metal juggernaut as Monstrosity?
Well Jason had quite the band a few years ago after the last Euro tour and everything with the band was in limbo for a while with Tony going to Morbid as well. I had been good friends with Lee since I lived up north. I actually promoted Monstrosity in Appleton, WI, a few years ago when Sam was singing for them and remained friends with since I moved to Florida. On Christmas Eve Lee actually called me needing a singer for that European tour and needless to say it was a hell of an unholy Christmas present! I was a huge fan up north and now I feel like a death metal Ripper Owens in a way.
A death metal Ripper Owens…. Wow, well I hope for your sake that doesn’t mean you record a few sub par albums with Monstrosity and then get the axe in favor of the former singer. What did you do to celebrate when you got the news?
Ha! Ha! let’s hope not they way it’s going this new album is going to kill all. Well let’s see, it was Christmas Eve and I was intentionally not celebrating it because I hate Christmas. I went to the bar with my neighbor and took my Rottweiler in the bar and my boy bought all the drinks I could handle. After that went home smoked some of the best weed South Florida has to offer and started learning the songs that night.
What was your musical background prior to fronting Monstrosity? Were you always pretty active in the death metal scene as a performer?
I used to work for the Milwaukee Metalfest when I was younger as well I used to own my own production company for a while called Blood Ritual Productions and used to book shows such as Monstrosity and Fleshgrind. I played in a couple things up north, but nothing serious. I really started getting active as a performer when I moved down here to Florida I started take my playing a lot more seriously. It’s easy to do in a place like this Hollywood of death metal for a reason.
Which metal bands have influenced you the most up to this point in time? What would we find if we browsed through your cd collection right now….
Oh! That’s an easy one first and foremost is definitely King Diamond and Mercyful Fate. From Don’t Break the Oath to 9 and from Abigail to The Puppet Master, I love it all. After that it gets a little weird I’m really digging the newest Necrophagist. I love older metal…. Testament, Death is one of my all time favorites, Malevolent Creation definitely. It takes a lot for me to get into anything newer. I like bands that push the envelope. Behemoth is one of those bands. There is this one band from Ft. Lauderdale called Synapticide I’ve been listening to a lot those guys are killer. Jason Avery was always a major inspiration to me as well as Keith DeVito from Pyrexia and Catastrophic are two guys I used to mimic when I was learning to sing.
What is your personal favorite Monstrosity album and why?
You know for years it was “In Dark Purity” I loved the guitar playing and the lyrics as well. Everything on that album was amazing from beginning to end. Now that I have been playing with them it has changed to “Rise To Power”. There is just something it that gripped me I love Sam’s lyrics on that album and the music is absolutely amazing. The tunes that’s Jason wrote the lyrics to are incredible. As a Satanist I am honored to sing the words to “Rise Power” he truly did an excellent job on that song.
You mentioned that you are working on a new album, are you presently signed to a label?
Yeah we are on Metalblade over in Germany and we will probably be doing the new one with them here in the US.
How did the endorsement deals with Warwick guitars and Framus amplifiers come about? I understand they sent you to the NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) summer show to promote their booths, how did that go?
Framus rules hands down some of the best amps in the world. At my 9-5 job my boss runs RockSolidAmps.com and he is the number one dealer in the US for England. Framus he actually hooked us up with them and Warwick and they have been very good to us. Yeah, we a pretty much the first real death metal band they have using their stuff so it’s a little bit of a different angle for them. The NAMM show was killer. Framus helped us get our foot in the door with some other companies as well for Drums and picks and other things so it was definitely good to go and be seen and let people know that were are far from done yet.
Who did you all see and hang out with at NAMM? Did Lee try out for the World’s Fastest Drummer?
No, Lee didn’t try. You know what are you going to do when Derrik Roddy and Tim Yueng are sitting there, and sometimes it’s cooler to not try. I mean to it correctly you would have to sit there and warm up and put forth a real effort instead of doing it on the fly and looking like a jack ass and we just didn’t have the time. Ahh, let’s see, we saw David Vincent working at the Dean Guitar booth ran into Rita Abbot Dimebag’s wife in the afternoon and then went to a Deicide show with her and got hammered. Ran into Billy Milano at the show as well which was unexpected. There was this band Lupara opening for Deicide which is Jeremy Wagner from Broken Hope’s other band which was totally random running into those guys.
Yes, Austin in a crazy town. You never know who you are going to see. And speaking of which, that club you went to called The Backroom will be closing it’s doors forever later this month. It’s been one of Austin’s premiere Metal clubs for more than 15 years. This puts a big dent in Metal and especially touring bands. What is your opinion on the state of Death Metal music today? It seems like there are even more barriers to overcome.
That sux man that place was cool. I think people are so used to barriers being put up around us that’s when instead of sitting by and just accepting them we need to get pissed off and fucking do something about it. It’s when we sit by and do nothing that we let them win. The state of death metal is a tricky one it’s great to see awesome bands like Behemoth getting the publicity they deserve, hell knows they’ve earned it. There are so many killer bands out there right now that just are not being brought to the surface like they should be. Bands like Vader should be over here on shit like Ozzfest instead of all the other gay shit that’s on there. It’s cool to hear to of a lot of old bands coming back together like Atheist I heard they were going to do another one which would be fucking awesome. So, overall I think we need to get more involved in this metal uprising that’s going on right now cause all of us who have been there since day one are taking a backseat to these hot topic wearing, gothic, flock of seagulls looking faggots who used to listen to Pearl Jam and Korn are selling thousands of albums when this is actually supposed to be our time.
Tell me a little bit about your side project Infernaeon….is there anywhere death metal fans can listen to your music?
We are a Florida style death metal band with a Euro twist. Like Monstrosity meets Dimmu Borgir. Check us out at www.myspace.com/infernaeonoracleofarmageddon
We came together in 2004 here in Ft. Lauderdale. We are big fans of Florida death metal so we tried to incorporate all the styles of our favorite Florida bands into one entity. The melody of Death, the viciousness of Malevolent Creation and the dis-harmonies of Morbid Angel. We are also fans of a lot of the Euro shit to so we also intertwine a ton of keyboards and make sound dark as hell, but without the high scratching black metal vocals. This is Florida, we like to keep it brutal. My guitar player Brian Magley is amazing. The kid is 18 and he wrote most of our shit when he was 15 and 16 and the kid can just shred he sounds like a young James Murphy.
How did your side project come together? Had you and JR from Cattle Decapitation collaborated musically together previously?
I was in Infernaeon before Monstrosity it was after we recorded the cd that I was asked to come into Monstrosity. JR plays in Lee’s other band Lavoizen which is just a good rock band, and we were having some drummer problems so I recruited him before Cattle actually did, but being that I’m busy with Monstrosity he took the job with Cattle and he’s been out on the road with them for the last 3 or 4 months. Good for him to the kid is only 18 years old and he’s got a real bright future ahead of him.
I understand that Erik Rutan (Hate Eternal, Morbid Angel) mastered the Infernaeon record for you, I think when dealing with the entire process of recording an extreme metal album it is of great importance to work with individuals with an ear for brutality. Can you see yourself working with Erik again?
Ohh definitely and in a way I have to thank him for getting me in Monstrosity as well. Me and my bass player drove up to Tampa to pick up the mastered copy and we stopped by Lee’s house and him and Sam were there jamming and I picked up a mic and did Angel’s Venom with them and Lee loved that and that was what got me hooked up with Monstrosity. Erik definitely has a great ear for this music. Derek from Rock Solid Amps sold Erik a bunch of amps and was grateful for it so when I approached him to do the mastering for him he gave me the ultimate hookup. I really hope we do get to work with him in the future he is the man to work with.
What is the status of guitarist Tony Norman, rumor has it since he was fired from Morbid Angel that he’s back in Monstrosity?
No, Tony is not back in the band. Yes, I have heard the rumors as well from Europe to Canada and they are not true. We have Mark English in the band full time and he’s just as good if not better than Tony. I don’t know him as well as everyone else does so I’m not going to say anything bad about him at all, but I do know he has some personal demons he needs to face and we all hope he does.
Can Monstrosity fans expect a full-length DVD anywhere in the near future?
We took a ton footage from Europe every night we played the Angel’s Venom I came out on stage with video camera and shot the crowd going nuts. We have some killer footage from South America too from when Sam was singing, As well as Jason Avery so hopefully we should have a DVD out with the new album. We will definitely be doing a video as well for the new album.
Any last words?
No, that’s about it man thanks for the hook up and the good times in Austin. We are playing a couple shows around the south. I know we are doing a fest in Alabama on August 26th as well as a fest in Kenosha, WI for WIPZ on Oct. 27th and I’m sure we’ll be filling in dates in between the two. I really want to thank Craig Kostigan from Dana B Goods for our Framus and Derek Bernier from Rock Solid Amps. See you fuckers on the road!