Interview with Chris (vocals)
Interview by Andrew Shirley
Hey and thank you for your time. Please state your name and position in the band.
Chris, I ‘sing’ in Jesus Wept.
How did you guys all meet? Have any of you been in bands previously?
Robby (guitar) and I have been close friends since middle school. We met everyone else going to local shows. The bassist, drummer, and I played in another band that put out a record and did some touring, but we’ve all been playing together in various projects for the last decade or so.
When did you first start getting into music and know you wanted to join a band?
Probably around six or seven years old. I was raised on a lot of 80s stuff. I think the opening riff in ‘Rock You Like a Hurricane’ is what first made me want to play guitar.
You’ve just released your second record ‘Apartheid Redux’ after last year’s ‘Comfortably Dumb’, are there any themes on this album?
Comfortably Dumb was initially released as a promotional single for a split that never came together. Apartheid Redux is more of a compilation than anything else, so I’m hesitant to call it a record. It’s comprised of material from our first EP that was only ever released digitally, the Comfortably Dumb single, a previously unreleased song from the Comfortably Dumb sessions, and a recording of our W.A.S.P. cover that sort of worked its way into being a regular part of our live set. To answer the original question though, it varies thematically from song to song. A lot of blasphemous and sexual bullshit. Other songs are loosely political and contain critiques of capitalism, Zionism, and American foreign policy, although layered in a bit of irony and humor.
How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it?
Working class death metal.
Is there anyone you’d like to collaborate with, be it an artist/photographer or producer?
Assuming money were no object, doing a record with Michael Wagener, Andy Wallace, or Andy Sneap would be at the top of my list.
When recording this album, did you follow the same procedure as ‘Comfortably Dumb’, or did you follow a different path?
We did the first EP and the Comfortably Dumb material with our friend Andy Nelson. As individuals, we’ve had experience working with him several times in the past, so it made sense to go back. He’s great at what he does and is really easy to work with. When we were planning the release of Apartheid Redux, we decided to remix and remaster the older material so the production would match that of the newer songs. We also rerecorded the guitars so they would be in the same tuning and reworked a few of the solos. Robby and I ended up recording the guitars ourselves at my house and sent them to Andy to mix. Arthur Rizk handled mastering duties.
Do you have a favourite track from the album?
‘Fucked on the Cross’ is the one I find myself revisiting most often.
Where do you draw your influences from when it comes to producing new music/lyrics?
Carcass has always been the chief inspiration, but we’re influenced just as much by death metal as we are by hard rock and the 80s Sunset Strip scene. Apart from Carcass, a lot of Morbid Angel, Entombed, Celtic Frost, Ratt, Shotgun Messiah, etc. Incantation was a big one early on, at least lyrically.
Is it difficult balancing out being in a band with a ‘normal working life’?
Accommodating everyone’s schedules can be a headache, as we’re working stiffs for the most part. Geography has been sort of a challenge as well. Three of us live in the Detroit area and the other two live upwards of an hour and a half away, but we’ve been making it work. It just results in us practicing at weird hours of the night.
What is the music scene like where you are based in Detroit?
It was kind of thriving before the shutdown. There’s a decent amount of crossover between metal shows and punk shows here and people seemed excited about what was going on. Temple of Void and Shitfucker released LPs earlier this year that I liked a lot and Perversion is putting out a new record on Hells Headbangers. Our bassist fronts another band called Throne that finished recording their first full-length a few months ago.
Being relatively new, have you been able to play live & tour before the pandemic hit?
Prior to the outbreak, we were fortunate enough to share bills with Demilich, Blood Incantation, Vital Remains, Morta Skuld, Mammoth Grinder, Sanguisugabogg, and Undeath. We actually had a show with Obituary the weekend of the initial shutdown in Michigan. We hope to start playing out more once live music can safely resume.
Is there anyone or anywhere you would like to play and haven’t yet?
There are a couple friends’ bands we haven’t had the opportunity to play with yet, namely Mutilatred from Ohio. I’d like to go back and play the east coast again. Japan and Australia would be sick too.
Being a band that has their releases on Bandcamp, do you think it’s important for a band to be signed to any label to be recognised in today’s society? Or do you think that platforms like Bandcamp the way forward?
Label support can’t hurt, but there seem to be plenty of unsigned bands that are able to make names for themselves by word of mouth alone. I think Bandcamp is pretty good at putting things on people’s radars that they may not have discovered otherwise.
What are your views on bands who give away their music free on social media? Do you think this is a good beneficial marketing idea, or should fans be paying to purchase tracks?
Ultimately, it’s the band’s decision. I don’t feel strongly about it one way or the other.
What genres of music do you like to listen to personally? Any new bands that have caught your attention recently?
My tastes are kind of all over. I drove home earlier listening to The Pharcyde and I’m listening to Impaled Nazarene as I write this. I also like a lot of punk and more moody, ambient, Projekt Records type-stuff. As far as newer bands go, I recently got into Pan-Amerikan Native Front. Really gnarly anti-colonial, indigenous black metal.
What are the pros/cons of being in a band?
It’s given me the opportunity to do see some places and do some things I probably wouldn’t have experienced under different circumstances, but loading gear really sucks.
What do you like to do outside of music? Any hobbies?
I’m pretty simple. Women, skateboarding, grilling on a summer day, having a few cold ones.
As a band that likes Carcass, what would you say were their most important record?
Thank you for your time, is there anything you’d like to say to our readers?
Thank you for reading, check out Apartheid Redux. Wear a fucking mask.