Interview with Untimely Demise
Photos courtesy of Aaron Brown
In the three years since SYSTEMATIC ERADICATION, you have left Punishment 18 Records and decided to go independent How did that transition occur?
Matt (Vocals, Guitar): We had been in talks with Punishment 18 as well as other labels and at this point we felt it was in our best interests to release ‘Black Widow’ independently. There are many reasons that led to this decision, but basically we financed the record ourselves through the generous help of Creative Saskatchewan as well as our 60 kickstarter supporters. We laid out the album and pressed 300 copies on our own. We had our extensive Canadian tour supporting Act of Defiance’ the two Zimmers Hole shows and then our headlining Eastern leg. We had the album ready and the tour booked. It just made sense to release the album when we did. In the past we have self released albums and then have them re-released by labels and this is something we are open to with ‘Black Widow’ as well.
How was the Kick-starter campaign? Was it successful and would you recommend it to other bands?
Matt (Vocals, Guitar): Our kickstarter was a complete success with us meeting and exceeding our funding goal. It was a nice tool to reach out to our fan base and get them to help us with the album by pre-ordering and grabbing a t-shirt. We were realistic with our funding request and didn’t go overboard with crazy perks and I think people appreciated our no nonsense approach. When we launched our kickstarter we had the album recorded and all we needed help with was the Repka artwork, the layout and printing of the first run of CD’s. Not only did the kickstarter help us finance the final aspects of our Black Widow release but it also served as a means to create a buzz leading up to the official release.
You guys have been around for almost a decade and I still hear people say, ‘Ultimate Demise, that new thrash band’. Does that piss you off?
Matt (Vocals, Guitar): I think people will say any thrash band that didn’t come out in the early 80’s heyday of thrash metal is a ‘new band’. It is our goal to put out quality albums that we are proud off and promote them to the best of our ability through a old school road dog touring approach. We have been around for over a decade and we don’t plan on going anywhere. Building a band name takes time and perserverance for people to warm up to a new sound. We can only do our best to sell the band by writing with Metal integrity and perform with passion while our heroes such as Chuck Schuldiner, Megadeth, & Priest, hover over our hearts. So to answer the question…..No it doesn’t bother me that people say we’re a new band. We know it takes a life time to build a band name.
How much has the fact that you are from Saskatoon helped or hindered your development as a band?
Murray (Bass): Being from Saskatoon has absolutely helped the musical progression of Untimely Demise – we have long frigid winters here which relegates one to a lot of indoor activities. Playing, practicing and writing music has been a positive outlet for us for the past 16 years now. When I was a little hellraiser kid in my late teens in Saskatoon it was forming a band with my brother and friends that helped me become a more disciplined,focused and goal-oriented person. I think the isolation from bigger metal scenes was a boon in regards to creating something original and inspired, independent from pre-existing trends. Obviously, having our base of operations in a small city isn’t ideal in growing a niche thrash/death metal band but regardless we are grateful for the diehard support we continuously receive here. The most detrimental consequence of living in Sask is not having enough professional drummers to work with; they have to be great to fit into our band, but also willing to go on the road for weeks on end. As the result of this we have had to by necessity look past our provincial borders and tap talent from Edmonton, and before that Winnipeg. We are all about improvising, adapting and overcoming the obstacles that attempt to impede our success. Our solid arts scene here has helped us significantly, in particular I’m speaking to the recording and tour funding assistance that we have received through Creative Saskatchewan, as well as support from Sask Music and the Sask Arts Board. What I really like about being from Saskatchewan is that we know that the majority of people here are rooting for us and want to see us prosper internationally.
It’s nice to see you guys working with Ed Repka again. Did you give him some direction on what you wanted on the album cover?
Murray (Bass): Thanks Josh! Working with Ed Repka is a privilege and blessing to our band insofar as his iconic illustration style tells people right away that they are holding a seriously bludgeoning album in their hands. Our association with Repka has been 100 percent positive and essential to the dissemination and growth of Untimely Demise. Ed has a very specific process to formulating his concept for his cover masterpieces. We, the band, will send him the title of the album and some lyrics from the title track – he will listen to the music and start conjuring up the imagery for the cover. We will give him our envisaged concept and then he will Repka-fy it. Basically he takes the extreme and bumps it up to 11. For this cover we knew that the provocative subject manner was going to be controversial – thus Ed added some more humorous details to the art (like Bombergirl’s ‘assets’ or the corpulent flying limbs and 50’s hysteria horror movie background characters). Could really talk about this forever so I will end by saying we are stoked with the final outcome and feel this is our finest and most stunning cover to date.
Speaking of which, the chick on the album cover is totally hot. Is she single?
Matt (Vocals, Guitar):I think she is, but she comes with a lot of baggage.
It was all nice to see your long-term relationship with Shawn and Glen Drover is going strong. Do they still champion the band and do you now just phone him up and order them to bust out some tracks?
Matt (Vocals, Guitar):Obviously we have worked with Glen since our first official release ‘Full Speed Metal’ back in 2008. We would stay in touch with Glen ever since corresponding through phone calls, text, and emails. We did three releases with Glen and wanted to do this one with him as well but it just didn’t work out this time. I first started talking with Shawn when I did some guest vocals on a track for Glen titled ‘Walls of Blood’ that Shawn, Glen and I worked on. At one point, the opportunity for Shawn to record a drum track on our album came up and we were totally stoked on the idea. From there we’ve jumped on to lags of the last two AoD Canadian tours and both Glen and Shawn continue to mentor our band and do what they can to help us out and for that we are forever grateful.
You have recently acquired veteran and titanic Western Canadian drummer, Bryan Newbury. How did that happen?
Matt (Vocals, Guitar): Me playing with Into Eternity would be my first experience working with Bryan and my first impression was he was a complete pleasure to play with and a total bulldog behind the kit. We needed someone to fill in for our Calgary Metalfest last year and the drummer we had fell through, so the first persons name that came to mind was Bryan Newbury. That show was an amazing experience and when it came time to record the album we hired Bry to track the drums. In the time leading up to recording Bryan was excited about the material and expressed interest in officially joining the band. A few months later we announced the release of ‘Black Widow’ and that Bryan Newbury was the new full time drummer for Untimely Demise.
What is you live rig like?
Matt (Vocals, Guitar): I use a gap 1101 digitech processor that I plug into the back of my 6505 plus head, with a 6505 cab. For the last few tours I’ve been playing my Jackson soloist guitar that one of best friends/former UD guitarist Noel Wilcox lent me. It is very comfortable and it’s been my go to for live situations – I used it to record ‘Black Widow’ as well.
I noticed that lyrically and sonically ‘Black Widow’ has an even more intense and aggressive edge. It’s perhaps even a little more serious. Where does that fire still come from?
Murray (Bass): Haha, well we as a band still have a lot to prove – no complacency here as we haven’t even scratched the surface of what we hope to achieve with this band. Operating as a 100% DIY entity keeps us very hungry. When you are doing all of your own production, booking, roadie work and driving on tour it inherently keeps that fire and desire to succeed at a fever pitch; if you can plan and execute on all of those tasks you know you are a lifer in this music game. I believe that touring Europe with Massacre and Western Canada with Death to All, Obituary and Massacre in 2014 helped ramp up the brutality and intensity of our songwriting and performances during the Black Widow recording sessions; we are products of our environment. Nurture over nature. Matt and myself were extremely meticulous in the composition of the music and lyrical themes on this release, more so than anything we have done in the past. Again, the turbulent world we live in has a direct and profound influence on the music, especially the lyrics. It is a case of art imitating life, not the other way around. Songs like ‘Anticolonizer’ are lyrically tantamount to our ‘Run To The Hills’ where we express our support of Indigenous peoples around the world and decry the draconian powers that be. The title track was inspired by the epidemic of female suicide bombers in Chechnya – it is a topic that fascinates me and it helps us lyrically match the beauty and brutality of our music. Ultimately, we want to be the best band out there and we recognize that the playing, presentation and symbolic content of the music must always be a huge step up from our previous efforts. At this point our fire has grown into a conflagration. Thrash til death, right?
The thrash metal market is very competitive and crowded. How are you guys able to keep ahead of the pack and what is the next stage in your plan for world domination?
Murray (Bass): The thrash metal scene is over saturated in 2016 which makes it difficult to be seen or heard with the option shock that listeners experience. With that said, there are so many killer bands out there that lite a fire under our asses and motivate us to forge something inspired and unique within our genre. Our continuing juxtaposition of classic thrash with Floridian Death Metal flavours has given us the latitude to transcend the status quo. We place a paramount focus on writing technical but memorable songs and always write at tempos that allow the songs to breathe and for the solos to shine. Matt’s diverse hybrid vocals are also something that makes UD stand out, where they jump from harsh, Carcass influenced distorted tones to the more traditional power thrash timbres of Chuck Billy and Steve Zetro. The addition of Bryan Newbury on drums has bolstered the intensity and sophistication of our music, where there are now literally no limits to how fast, tech or greasy we want the music to be. Our ambition and Saskie work ethic makes us dangerous in the scene as well for we never shy away from any challenge that presents itself. As far as tearing this world a new asshole, we have just successfully completed a 12 date Cross Canadian tour with Act Of Defiance and Zimmers Hole shows, as well as 5 headlining dates in Ontario and Quebec – we definitely experienced punctuated fanbase growth on that run. We are currently in the planning stages of undertaking some long overdue touring in the United States, a place essential to our ascendancy. We have already sold out of our first independent pressing of Black Widow discs, which is very encouraging and we will use that momentum to carry us forward as we continue to pursue labels, management, touring and booking opportunities. The Widow has landed and she is about to explode.
For more information check out https://untimelydemise.bandcamp.com/