IMMOLATION´s Ross Dolan
Interview by Luxi Lahtinen
Live pictures by Marko Autio
Transcription by David Groves
The true veterans of US death metal, Immolation, landed their troops on European territory during March-April 2008 on the "Shadows of the Emissaries Curse" tour – also bringing along fellow country mates Goatwhore, Israeli infamous black/deathsters Melechesh and Greek´s Sickening Horror, whose technical and tricky death metal seemed to make a huge impression on many fans who wanted to witness some quality death metal on that particular night of April 3rd 2008 in Helsinki.
Immolation´s 7th album, SHADOWS IN THE LIGHT, has given the Immolation camp more and more death metal muscle, making Immolation one of the last true torch bearers for the old school death metal. If you are yet to hear the album, do yourself a favor and get your hands on it immediately, ok?
I met a smiling and polite Immolation frontman Ross Dolan at Nosturi, Helsinki right after the band had just finished their soundcheck. We sat down, and I let my tape recorder roll during this nice conversation with Ross about the tour, Immolation albums, the friggin´ good old times and so on… ;o)
SHADOWS OF THE EMISSARIES CURSE TOUR 2008
You have already played two shows in Finland. How was the response from the crowd in those two cities?
I thought they were good. It was our first time in Finland so obviously we didn’t really know what to expect, but the crowds have been good. The first two shows were in smaller cities, and just from talking to some of the people there they said they don’t get too many American death metal bands playing there, so considering that, it was good. The crowds were very receptive and supportive, you know, they were into it and they were very happy that we’re finally here.
Did you have any expectations about your first gigs in Finland?
We had no idea – we always expect the worst. That’s the rule – always expect the worst. We expected the worst and we were pleasantly surprised. So everybody says tonight will be the best out of the three shows, and already pre-sales are very good for tonight so hopefully it will exceed my expectations.
You started your European tour from Trencin, Slovakia on March 14th and have been doing about 20 shows in Europe on this tour thus far. How has this tour overall been for you?
Yeah, I’m happy because the package is a good package. We’re really getting along with all the bands, like Sickening Horror from Greece – this is their first tour, ever. So it’s exciting for a band like that to be in a package like this and they’re big fans of the other bands and they’re super-cool guys. We’re good friends with Goatwhore, we toured with them in the States twice, and we’ve actually tried to bring them over here with us for the last couple of years, so we’re just happy that it finally worked out and we got them over here, because I think they needed the exposure over here now they’re on Metal Blade. And it’s cool to have people on the road that you know and you’re friends with.
Melechesh has just been…just phenomenal. Super-cool guys from Holland and we got along really good with them – to me that’s what makes a good tour: not only the quality of the bands but the people as well, you know. It’s been a really fun tour for everyone, and it’s a good vibe – it’s hard to explain to people who’ve never been on a bus with 20 other people but you need that good, positive vibe to make everything go smoothly. This is our second tour with Massive Music and they do a phenomenal job; the crew, the people, Maurice the main guy who books everything for us, it’s been really great for us.
And show-wise, we’ve had some really good shows, and we’ve had some ok shows – it’s been up and down, here and there. We hit extensively in Europe last May and came back in August and did all the big festivals. So we’re just trying to wrap things up and hit some different areas. The newer places that we’ve hit have been some of the eastern countries we’ve never played in like Romania, we played Metal Mania in Poland, we played Budapest, Slovakia, we’re playing Latvia and Lithuania; all those places have been ridiculous. Even the shows up here up north have been good, Gothenburg was ridiculous, Norway was good, even though there wasn’t a huge crowd, the people who were there were really into it and hardcore and that’s all that matters. So I’d say it’s been good, it’s been very good.
How many tours have you done in Europe prior to this tour, by the way?
Oh wow, a lot. Since ’91 we’ve been here. Every year that our new album comes out we tour Europe. The only one we didn’t do a full tour was for HARNESSING RUIN, we only did the Graspop festival and the Furyfest, and those were the only European dates we did for that record just because of our work situations at home. For this album we were able to be more flexible with our schedules at home, that’s why we were able to do so much. So we’ve done over 100 shows for this record, four full tours and a festival tour so we’re pretty much done after this, we can start writing some new stuff.
How high would you rate this tour in your own career with Immolation if you compare this tour to any other tours you’ve done this far?
Bob and I were talking about this the other day so it’s funny you ask that. It’s hard, each tour is unique in its own way and it’s always sad when the tour ends; it’s like a month in your life that’s so unique from any other part of your life because you’re with four different groups of people from all over the world and there’s a certain chemistry on each tour that’s totally different from any other tour you’ve done. Like I could say that ‘wow our first tour over here in ’91 with Morgoth and Massacre was probably the most intense tour’ because it was our first time touring in Europe and that was a huge tour we were selling out places every night, like 500-600 kids every night, so that was our first experience and we were like – wow – you know.
And when we came back for the second record it was with Cannibal Corpse, and that was ridiculous. Cannibal Corpse are really good guys, really good friends of ours and we’re fans of theirs, and that was a huge tour for us; again, a lot of sell-out shows. Then we toured here for our first headlining tour in ’99 on our own, and you know, it wasn’t that good – it was a weird time, it was at the time when death metal wasn’t that popular. The tour did okay; it wasn’t our best tour over here. But then we came back with our next record and toured with Destroyer 666 and Deranged and that was great. That was only our second time headlining over here but that was a good tour, it was a full line-up and a really powerful tour. And again, we had some shitty shows but we had some really good shows to balance it out. But that’s what I’m saying, every tour is totally different. This tour is very unique because as you said, each band is very heavy but very different too. Sickening Horror is totally different, we’re totally different, Goatwhore’s totally different, Melechesh is totally different; but together it’s like a fuckin’ steamroller.
I’d say it’s one of the heaviest tour packages that are going on in Europe currently…
Oh really? That’s great. It’s cool man. But you know the vibe and the people are what make this a really cool tour for me, a very unique tour. But the sad thing is once this tour is over you’ll never recapture that again – you could get the same four bands together in another year but it’ll still be totally different, it’s a different vibe, you know.
The last date on this tour will be in Warsaw, Poland on April 6th. How will your touring continue after you have finished your European tour?
We’ll be done touring; we’ll be finished, go home and get back to work. And in a couple of months, start thinking about the new record, writing some new material. Our contract is over with Listenable here and Century Media in the US so technically we’re free agents now; we’ve fulfilled our contract obligations. So now we have to sit and think and see what’s best for the band right now.
SHADOWS AND LISTENABLE
Your latest album, SHADOWS IN THE LIGHT, came out on the French Listenable Records last year, and it really has that well-known signature sound of Immolation what your band is all about musically: The songs on SHADOWS sound dark, extremely heavy and brutal and everything in-between. It actually contains all those elements what Immolation´s sound has always contained since the day one. Now that it’s been out for a while, how satisfied you are still with the outcome of it?
Ah, we’re never 100% happy with anything. Each record for us is a learning experience, a new chapter in the band. I could look back at all the earlier records and we’re very proud of everything we’ve done but you can always look back and say ‘that could have been better.’ And songwriting; I don’t think we really fine-tuned our songwriting abilities until maybe CLOSE TO A WORLD BELOW or UNHOLY CULT. The first three records were pretty much us trying to learn how to write Immolation songs – we knew what we wanted but we didn’t quite get there, you know? That’s why if you listen to HERE IN AFTER or FAILURES FOR GODS they’re all over the place – there’s a lot of good riffs but sometimes the songs are a little too involved and herky-jerky.
I think once we got to the 4th or 5th record we fine-tuned stuff and made stuff a lot tighter and more straightforward, more forward-moving. And once we got to HARNESSING RUIN we pretty much stripped it down even more said let’s make stuff that’s more ‘boom’ and in your face, comes out and just kills you, not too much going on. So with the new record we took that idea, and reinstated it with some of the older ideas and made a combination of the earlier stuff and the newer stuff. Even though it’s a very straightforward album it still has a lot of the weirdness of the earlier stuff, with the overlays and different guitar parts. But it’s still a very forward-moving record.
SHADOWS was produced by Paul Orofino, and he also been producing Immolation since your FAILURES FOR GODS album that was released in 1999. What makes him such a superior producer in the eyes of Immolation in your opinion?
Well, we’re comfortable with him. We like the environment, his studio is very comfortable for us – plus he’s the fucking best guy in the world, he’s the nicest guy, he’s like part of the family and we feel like we’ve known him all our lives. It’s just a really comfortable vibe in the studio. And I mean, we realise probably our productions could be different or could be better in certain ways but I think the fact that they don’t really sound like anyone else makes it unique. Like, if you listen to one of our albums you pretty much know it’s us. There’s nothing overproduced or mechanical sounding, everything’s very organic and natural. The drums sound like drums, the guitars sound dirty like they were live. And that’s how I think this music should be. If you listen to some of the stuff that inspired us, take Seven Churches by Possessed – I always use that as an example. The sound on that was like, so raw, it wasn’t polished and that’s what gave it that feeling, that dark, eerie, haunting kind of vibe.
That to me is what this music is about, it’s not about how fast or how technical you can play, it’s all about feeling – like any music. Anything I listen to, if it has feeling it’s good. And I don’t only listen to extreme metal, I listen to everything. And there’s stuff that has no soul, no feeling and it’s dead. Sometimes that’s okay, but I look for stuff that when you listen to it, it takes you to another place mentally, it’s like an escape. I think that’s what makes a good band, to have that identity, that soul, that feeling.
I understand our productions aren’t super-great, they are what they are, but Paul does a great job with what we give him to work with and the time we have and for us I think it works fine. We’re 100% happy with him – there’s always things on every record we feel could be better, like ‘the kick drums could be louder here’ or ‘we need more snare here’ or ‘the guitars need to be more upfront’. But I don’t know shit about that, I’m totally retarded in the studio, I don’t know anything about gear, you know. That’s what he does – we go in there and play the songs and that’s all I want to know: ‘Bring me something that sounds good’.
Do you also think Paul has the best understanding how a band like Immolation should sound like on a record?
By now, I think he does. But the good thing about Paul is that he’s not a death metal producer. He produces everything, from jazz to rock, he worked with Blue Oyster Cult and Bad Company, Golden Earring…every time we go up there it’s like a who’s who of rock and roll, we meet all these old-time guys from back in the day, all the classic players. And I like that about him specifically because he’s not a death metal producer. If you go to Scott Burns you end up sounding like everything he ever did – you’re gonna have no identity. Paul’s coming from a different place and a different mindset. He’s just looking at making the drums sound like drums and making the guitars heavy and making everything sound good, you know. He’s not about ‘well, you know we have to make the drums sound like this record because that’s what’s selling’, who gives a shit.
My own favourite song off your newest record is "Whispering Death" because in my opinion it has this very creepy and dark vibe in it – and it´s of course heavy and brutal as fuck!! It basically has everything that really creates that signature sound of Immolation. What do you think about that song yourself?
I love that song, we played it on our last three tours and this is the first tour the other guys didn’t want to play it. They’re like ‘lets give it a break now, we’ve played the shit out of it’ and I was like ‘damn it!’ So unfortunately we’re not playing that tonight. The other guys get bored of playing it now – this is our fifth tour already for this record so you’ve gotta understand. We try to do something different every time, we played "Whispering Death" last time we were here, this time we have all different songs. There are a couple of songs that are steady, like "World Agony" because it’s the video song and a couple of others but overall we try to mix it up every tour.
Your last album before your record deal with Listenable was with Metal Blade Records. What actually happened between the band and that label?
Basically we weren’t really satisfied with what they did with the band. It was nothing personal, all the people at the label are cool; Michael Trenkan is a good friend who heads up the German office, and we’ve known him since he worked for Nuclear Blast, he’s a cool guy. But they could only do so much and as an artist, after being around as long as we have we expect certain things and if we don’t get them we get disheartened. And we were never a priority for the label. So it came down to the record after CLOSE TO A WORLD BELOW and we weren’t happy and I knew they weren’t gonna do what we wanted so we told them we weren’t happy and said ‘let us go’ and they did, it was perfect, no hard feelings.
What about Laurent’s Listenable Records; how happy have you been with all his efforts toward Immolation?
We always wanted to work with Laurent because we’ve been friends with him since 1988. He was the first person from Europe to ever write to the band, and it was just good timing because when we left Metal Blade, he was finally established as a label that could do something for us. So we said: ‘Okay, Listenable it is.’
So Listenable has been treating well Immolation since that day when you signed to them?
Yeah, no complaints. Like I said, there are always things we expect that could be done but I think out of every label we’ve ever been with Listenable has been the most passionate and done the most for the band. Out of Roadrunner, Metal Blade, Century Media, Listenable has done the most – and they’re the smallest.
Metal Mind Productions from Poland reissued your debut album DAWN OF POSSESSION in 2006, with 2 bonus videos from you. Are you happy with the outcome?
Yeah it looks great. It’s a digipack and they kept all the artwork and the booklet the same, it’s just a digipack.
Was it released under the agreement from Immolation’s side as well, or without your agreement?
Well, they licensed it directly from Roadrunner. So it’s legitimate but it had nothing to do with us. We heard about it, we knew before it came out that there was gonna be a reissue. So there was no problem – even if there was a problem there’s nothing we could do anyway, we don’t own the rights to that record – Roadrunner owns the recording.
One of rarest Immolation releases is STEPPING ON ANGELS, the demo CD, on Dave Rotten’s Repulse Records (what the label was called back then) – now people are trying to hunt that down because – if I can recall correctly, that thing was limited to 1000 or 2000 copies only. And now people are willing to pay like, let´s say $80-100 on eBay, just for grabbing a copy for themselves.
It´s crazy! I don’t know why, it’s only a demo…
I suppose people didn’t have the chance to get those demos when they were first released – a lot of people got into metal late and missed out those kind of things, y´know.
Well, kids today don’t understand. Production values back then were totally different. It wasn’t about having the million-dollar sound and mint packaging for a demo that looks like a real album. Back then it was just like – you taped it one night, you went in and recorded it and mixed it and you were done the next day, you copied some shitty tape, you made the tapes at home and you sent them out: that was it. It sounded like ass but the feeling was there.
But knowing how hardcore and die-hard fans are nowadays, they want to get their hands possibly on everything released by a band…
Of course, I understand that. The cool thing about the layout – we spent a lot of time just to give people an idea of what it was like with all the flyers and demo covers and how underground it really was, there was no internet.
And there were some reviews about your demos on there as well…
Yeah, everything. Shitty reviews… even on the CD: on a live track some girl yells out ‘You Suck!’ and we start playing, it’s great! We left it on there because that’s how it was, death metal was not popular back then and people didn’t know what the fuck it was, especially in New York, there were no other death metal bands in NY, it was just us. So we would always play shows with thrash bands, we’d get up there and we’ve got the deep vocals and people are like: ‘what the fuck is that?’ So we put that on there because it’s cool, we’re just up there playing and someone’s like ‘You Suck!’ It’s classic.
Have you given any thought to re-releasing STEPPING ON ANGELS?
We have talked about it with Listenable and we still might do it, but it’s not a big priority. It’s more important we get new stuff out there, who cares about the demos.
It also features the original artwork that was meant for your debut album DAWN OF POSSESSION, done by John Rainey. That’s just one of those reasons why it seems to be such a cool thing for the die-hard Immo-fans to find it from places like eBay…
Yeah, but you understand why we never used it (laughs)! I mean look at that and then Andreas Marschall’s cover. John Rainey was a tattoo artist and he did all of Morbid Angel’s tattoo work back in 1988, 1987. And that’s how we got in touch with him. And he did the original cover for ABOMINATIONS OF DESOLATION, their first album cover. We never saw it, but they were like ‘John can do it for you, he won’t charge you a lot and he’ll do a good job.’ And you know, it was good but it was not what we were looking for, we were looking for something more ominous, something very dark and unfortunately that wasn’t quite there. But we kept it, and…now people can see (laughs).
You come from New York where also bands like Incantation (re-located to Pennsylvania), Mortician and Suffocation come from – and Immolation together with these other 3 bands, basically create this main core for so-called ´New York Death Metal´ sound. Can you still remember when actually people started associating Immolation with this so-called ´NYDM´ sound? When was the first time when you heard people using the term ´New York Death Metal´ when talking about Immolation?
Well, all it was is that we geographically happened to be from New York, which isn’t unusual because New York’s a huge city with a lot of people. Beyond that, there’s no connection really, everybody sounds different: Suffocation, Incantation, Mortician and us sound completely different. It’s just like talking about the Gothenburg sound – At the Gates and all the bands similar to that. The Florida sound – most of the bands from Florida are from New York anyway: Deicide, Malevolent Creation and Cannibal Corpse are all from upstate New York. The media gave us the label; they need to label everything…so if you’re in New York, you’re NY Death Metal, the NY ‘sound’. Think about how stupid that is. What is the New York sound? Does it make any sense? I could see if you said the Morrisound, cause that’s a particular sound that he used, a lot of bands had that same drum sound, the same vibe. That’s different – if you go to the same studio and use the same producer you’re gonna sound similar but geographically it doesn’t make any sense. Like California had Autopsy, Sadist, bands like that. There wasn’t a California sound, they were totally different.
NightOfTheVinylDead.com has also announced that they will re-release your 2nd album, HERE IN AFTER (originally released on Metal Blade in 1996), which will also be a very limited vinyl release – limited to 500 hand-numbered copies only. Would you want to reveal more about how the idea for this vinyl reissue got fire under it?
That’s the only one that never came out on vinyl. I already ordered 30 – I said ‘fuck this, I’m getting those bitches!’ Well it’s the same cover, but the back’s actually a little cooler looking. The Metal Blade back of the CD was lame – the pictures with those fucking stupid lightning bolts, it was cheesy looking. So this one has the gates on the back, with pictures and song titles and on the inside it has the artwork with a reddish-orange colour to it, it looks sick. They do a good job, when they did SHADOWS I got in touch with them and told them ‘wow, it looks really good’ and they were like ‘wow, cool, thanks for writing’. They do a good job. And I’m happy because HERE IN AFTER was the only record that didn’t come out on vinyl. When that album came out, Metal Blade stopped doing vinyl, I was like, ‘you’ve got to be kidding’, that’s our luck – we sign and they stop doing vinyl. And then two years later they decide they’re gonna do vinyl again.
IT ALL STARTED FROM… TAPE TRADING
You were also a part of the tape trading scene back in the day, and got to know many bands from all over the world because of that. What are some of your best memories of this time?
That was great. You know what was cool about that? The fact that we were just some kids from Yonkers, New York, nobody was into this music, then all of a sudden we get letters from all over the world saying ‘wow, we’re into this, we like Morbid Angel, we like Death, we like Possessed, we loved your demo’…To me that was mind-blowing to see how huge it was – on an underground level. To get a letter from France or from South America or from Finland or Saudi Arabia or wherever – how crazy is that? We were just doing it for fun because we liked it, we never thought about signing a record deal, that was never our intention. Our goal was to record ourselves because it sounds sick, get it on tape so we could listen to it, and to play a local show, to play for your friends. Cause our friends would always come to the rehearsal room and hang out and drink and we’d play songs, do cover songs and stuff and that was fun. So to play a local show that was like – superstar! But that was it, we had no future plans and then all of a sudden we started getting mail from all over the world. It’s cool, because you’d write to a band, like you hear about these guys called Nihilist from Sweden; you write to them and boom! they send you their demo. And you’re like ‘holy shit this is great, this is the best shit I ever heard!’ Then you write to Morbid Angel and they’d send you the THY KINGDOM COME demo and you’re like ‘holy shit, that’s crazy!’ Then you get a demo from Chris Reifert from Autopsy and you’re like ‘CRITICAL MADNESS, that’s the best shit I ever heard in my life, why aren’t these bands huge?’ And then boom, there was the explosion and everybody got signed and that was it.
You were also in touch with some Finnish death metal bands back in the day, like with some of the guys of Funebre, correct?
Yeah, sure, I got both of their demo tapes; I used to write to those guys.
I remember them telling me ‘we contacted Ross Dolan of Immolation’ and saying how your second demo was great and really death metal and stuff like that. I remember how their faces were when they got your second demo, they were like ‘oh shit, this is so cool, you need to listen to this’.
(laughs) We were the same way, we’d get demos; put it in and listen to it, and then you’re always trying to push it on your other friends. That’s what was cool about the underground back then, you had to work for it: you had to send for it and wait for it like a month, you get the package and you’re like ‘oh my god, I’ve been waiting for this,’ then you tear it open and you smell it, you get all the little flyer and posters and shit and yeah, that’s the best shit ever.
It’s quite different today, it was like a true metal brotherhood, but now…
Yeah, but now kids are lazy and they don’t want to come out to the shows cause they’re Prima Donnas, they watch the videos on Youtube and watch the shows online, and the bands come out so much they’re bored and they just say ‘we’ll see them next time’, fuck that, that’s not being a fan. When we were kids, you know how it was. I’d take three trains to Brooklyn, come home at fucking 6-7 am, then go to work and go back and hang out the next night and go to a show again – that’s what it was about man. Kids today are little pussies, ‘oh man I have to drive half an hour, I can’t do that, it’s too far, I’m gonna stay home tonight and jerk off to the computer,’ you know? (laughs) But you know what kills me? You get a kid who comes up to you and says ‘this is the first time I’ve seen you, how come you never play here?’ and we’re like ‘we’ve been playing here for the last 20 years! Where the fuck were you?’ I’ve got a million things going on at home, I’m not like I’m sitting at home reading fanzines everyday, I’m not that kid anymore. How am I supposed to know about all the shows, and I still manage to go on a Tuesday or Wednesday night, I’m there every time. There’s no excuse, that’s just laziness bullshit. Just go buy a Britney Spears album and be done with it.
When Immolation put out their 2nd demo in 1989, people often made these comparisons to Morbid Angel. How much did Morbid Angel actually influence you back in the day?
Well, on looking back, that was the only band you could really compare us to, there was nothing else out there that was really like us. I mean, there were other bands, Nihilist was very different and Autopsy was very different, they were more the slower, dirge-y, heavier stuff. But we were more – not more technical – but faster, had a lot more stuff going on. And I think also because we were from the US. But who knows. I never saw the comparison, because we’re totally different from Morbid Angel, we’re a much darker band; it’s a totally different type of music to me. And I love Morbid Angel, I was always a fan and always supported them but I never thought we were anything like Morbid Angel.
How did you like the Steve Tucker era of Morbid Angel?
It wasn’t the best for me, I think he did a good job but he was trying to fill some very big shoes. As someone who’s listened to Morbid Angel since 1987 and has actually been able to play with them with that old line-up, David, Richard and Trey; they had just gotten Peter in the band, he’d only been in the band a few months when we played with them, which was before their first record came out. So to me that line up was magic. Even when Eric was in the band, that was great because I think Eric Rutan added a lot to Morbid Angel – he added a really nice element to the band. Some of his stuff was some of my favourite stuff on those later records, the songs he wrote. He’s just a monster – he’s just crushing – that to me is great. So you know, I’ve seen them with Tucker and he did a good job but it was just different for me, I had just always seen Vincent with Morbid Angel.
TIME FOR SOME NEW STUFF – WHEN?
What about your new material? Have you already had a chance to start composing new Immolation songs for your next release?
No, we never write until we’re getting ready to go into the studio. It’s not like we just write riffs here and there. If we have to get into the studio in October, at the end of August we start writing stuff. For SHADOWS it was cool, Bob actually had about three 45 minute tapes just filled with riffs two months before, and a month before we started arranging stuff, rehearsing, pulling it all together. We were much more prepared this time than we were with HARNESSING RUIN. For three weeks we were going back and forth to Ohio changing shit every week and it just came together like that, it was really quick. Probably the quickest and most unprepared we’ve been but everything came together. This one we spend a lot more time on pre-production…even though it’s just us writing riffs and arranging. But we won’t even think about new stuff until the end of the year, maybe August or September. Or realistically, when we actually get a new record deal, then we’ll start thinking about the next record. Cause then we’ll know what the budget is and what the projected time of the new release is going to be, that has a lot to do with it too. We haven’t really been aggressive about getting a label; we just want to finish the tour and then we’ll start looking. A couple of people know, I’m sure the word will get out there. But we’re not advertising it, you know.
Do you do any demos before you enter the studio?
No, we just rehearse. We don’t hear the songs until they’re pretty much finished, you know – oh that’s what that sounds like.
And Paul Orofino will be your only choice for a producer’s chair, right?
Probably, unless we have another label who wants us to use another guy and it’s cool. I’d even like to bring another producer to Paul’s studio, that way we could still be there and work with Paul, he could engineer the project and have someone else produce it, that would be great too – just to work with Paul in some capacity. It’s cool because it’s only an hour and a half north of where we live, and it’s very quiet up there, it’s a little tiny town so there’s nobody there – it’s perfect for recording because you just get away from all the bullshit at home. It’s all about the vacation, never mind the recording (laughs).
Marko and Ross at Nosturi, HELL-sinki on April 3rd 2008
Is it easy to get into a creative mood again when you know you have to start writing songs for your next release?
Not really, it’s always awkward at first. We always try to leave the past albums behind and not even think about them, we just try to focus on new things. If you start trying to always do something better than your last record then you defeat yourself, you never do it. So you have to forget all the bullshit and start completely new. Always the first couple of songs we write for every new record are always the most bizarre ones because we haven’t quite locked into the mode yet. You don’t know how the album’s going to feel, whether it’s going to be aggressive or heavy or angry, you don’t know until you start doing it.
Do you ever have moments when you’re writing a riff for the new album and you realise: Oh shit, this safe riff was used for one of our songs on our first record already - we just can’t use that riff again!
Definitely, we’re very picky. I remember we were working on something and it reminded us of something we knew, we couldn’t figure it out, it might have been Incantation or something. But we were like, you know what, let’s not even use it. Or Bob will come up with something and it’ll remind me of something – even if it’s not even metal. He had a riff that sounded like something off TV that I had heard – Dave and Steve agreed that it sounded familiar and that was like done – we scrapped that straight away. So we’re very picky, if it reminds me of something it has to be left out.
Thank you Ross for your time and all the best for your tonight’s show here in Helsinki.
That´s fun. Thanks to yourself, appreciated!