Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Drawn and Quartered (part 4 out of 5): death metal from Seattle

The interview with the death metal band Drawn and Quartered (from Seattle) continues. This is the fourth part. There is one part after this one. Remember to read the previous parts of the interview if you have not done so!
In 2006 and 2007, you had another two albums in rapid succession "Hail Infernal Darkness" and "Merciless Hammer of Lucifer.” The lineup seems to be same, so the band seems like it was stable at this time, you were still on Moribund. You must have been coming up with songs day and night at this time. How would you describe the period of 2003-2007 for your band? Were those albums financed by Moribund Records; Did that help you guys to concentrate on the music, with some stability? Or, did you guys get into a lot of debt to Moribund Records during this time?
'Hail Infernal Darkness' came out in 2005. [Metal Archives says it was released January 3rd, 2006. –Ed.] This is one of our finest moments. I absolutely loved that record, and wanted to take a slightly different approach with the next record. I was able to secure budgets for our records, and we did some videos for 'Hail Infernal Darkness' and ‘Merciless Hammer of Lucifer.' The whole band was contributing ideas and sometimes even a song for these records. It was a lot of work to do the records and videos. We couldn't have done it without the line-up staying intact. The fact that we had these stabilizing factors helped me push to make another record. I have amazing rough mixes for 'Merciless Hammer....", the final mix wasn't quite how we intended. The record can be played very loud, and with some EQ it sounds pretty good. But by this time people are listening to music on computer speakers, not home or car audio as much.
We never went into debt. We just don't get any royalties until remunerable costs are covered. That includes recording costs, part of the advertising, video budgets and merchandise and monies advanced for tour support. These years 2003-2007 were very important for DRAWN AND QUARETERED. We put out 4 records in the space of 5 years, as well as the videos, bonus tracks, and recording and shows for PLAGUE BEARER and WINDS OF PESTILENCE. It took most of free time and energy to keep up with the projects and various shows, festivals and touring. At one point we did a small tour as WINDS OF PESTILENCE. Dario was not really willing or able to tour. This became an issue, as Greg Reeves, our bass player from 1997-2008 very much wanted to tour. He was getting fed up with the lack of financial return, and was really hoping to be making part of our living with DRAWN AND QUARTERED. That just wasn't happening. We generated money, but not the kind I'd want to try to live on. As far as writing music for the records, that was the easy part. We all had plenty of ideas and riffs for the songs. We started writing a lot of things in the rehearsal room, it was very organic at times.
Did things kind of slow down in terms of activity for you after 2007? Your next recording came out in 2011 and it was the EP "Conquerors of Sodom" on Nuclear Winter Records. But then you followed that up with "Feeding Hell's Furnace" in 2012, again on Nuclear Winter Records. For those that do not live in this area and who associate you with Moribund Records, what have you guys been up in recent years, in terms of record labels?
By 2008, with 'Merciless Hammer of Lucifer' out I had begun booking a U.S. tour I called the 'Assault of Evil' tour with Moribund Records label-mates SATANS HOST. Back then I booked quite a lot of the tour with the help of MySpace! I was able to locate bands and venues. Some people were able to offer some guarantees, and I negotiated deals, rented a vehicle. We had to recruit Steve Fournier from IN MEMORIUM as the drummer, as Dario was unable to tour. We practiced with both drummers beforehand, and we were rehearsing doing shows as DRAWN AND QUARTERED and WINDS OF PESTILENCE, and recorded the WINDS OF PESTILENCE demo that never got a proper release.
I would have to say that the activity did NOT slow down after 2007! We took some time and did the tour in 2008. On the third show of the tour the drummer for SATANS HOST quit. We were in Denver, and he just took his drums and went home after our set. The shows had been sparsely attended so far, in Seattle and Tacoma. The Denver show was kind of a fiasco; being moved ultimately to a dumpy Mexican restaurant. I'm glad we did at least get to perform. I can't really blame people for being discouraged, but the tour got better. Our touring drummer Steve, ended up working with SATANS HOST to help them finish the tour. SATANS HOST had become a black metal band at this time, as opposed to the power-metal-from-the-devil approach they originally had, and have returned to. Ultimately, it was a fun but challenging tour; gas prices were 5-6$ a gallon. That cut into potential profits. I also printed too many shirts. I still have couple left from that 2008 tour, to this day. On the last leg of the tour our bass player had an issue and basically quit the band in New Mexico, and tried to sabotage what was left of the tour. He took his gear and things, and I have never heard from him since; after 11 years! So we finally made it home, I took on some significant debt. I could have made a profit, except for a couple of missteps. It was a great learning experience.
From mid/late 2008-2010 we re-booted DRAWN AND QUARTERED. Herb had been playing bass and doing vocals in our side band WINDS OF PESTILENCE from 2004-2008. When Greg quit, WINDS OF PESTILENCE was disbanded. Herb had to buy some bass gear. And we started from scratch, writing new material and practicing and rehearsing to a click track. There was a period of almost 2 years that we didn't perform live at all. In some ways it was nice to have a break from all of the band activity. I was able to pursue other hobbies a bit. Finally we decided to self finance our next record. I'd had connections with NUCLEAR WINTER RECORDS, and Dario had developed a relationship with Anastasis regarding DRAWN AND QUARTERED releasing our record with NUCLEAR WINTER. The record was done in 2010, but required mastering, and artwork to be completed.
We began performing again in 2010 as a three piece. The band decided to leave off a couple of the songs from the full-length. I was very pleased that we were able to release the "Conquerors of Sodom" 7". We had an earlier recording of the title track that was slated for a split 7' and t-shirt deal with Relapse Records that ultimately fell through. That version of 'Conquerors of Sodom' was never released. The full-length record finally came out in 2012. The band had been doing some traveling to play shows and festivals. The move to Nuclear Winter, wasn't so much of my doing, but we decided as a group to try something different. We had a new logo, we were a three piece. It was fun. We could bust out 20+ songs at any time as a live band, and more if we rehearsed a bit. It was a good place to be, as we'd been together with Dario since 2002, ten years. It was easy, I had a lot of free time. We didn't have to rehearse that much. We had been writing some new stuff, and even demoed an unreleased, unfinished song. We performed our last show with Dario at the Black Circle Fest in Portland, Oregon.
Dario had marital issues, then he got a divorce. Then met a new girl, then they started a family and got married. As this was happening he got a great job offer and moved on with his life. That's what people do. It was the end of an era. But it is what it is. And we weren't sure if we'd continue, do a long distance band, take a break or what. We did continue and with the help of Beau Galloway, I started piecing together songs for another record. Soon after, Simon Dorfman (SHADED EMNITY, INQUINOK) joined as our drummer. We began performing in 2013 and recorded basic tracks for a record by 2014. There was no label we were officially signed to at that time. Due to personal and musical differences that record did not get finished.
We are working on a deal for our next full-length now, we have about 13 songs as of this writing. We have begun tracking some songs for various releases we have coming. And we continue writing and performing at shows and festivals. I have a track for a compilation and a song for a split 7" we are working on. Then I will be releasing a limited edition cassette album. I'm also planning on doing our own 7" record and ultimately a full-length vinyl release. All of that on top of recording our next full-length that would be a CD release with a label. We just got some newt-shirts with the 'Feeding Hells' Furnace' artwork on them.
How has recording your music changed in the case of Drawn and Quartered? It used to be that young bands dreamed of going to a big studio and working with a famous producer, like Scott Burns. How do you go about recording your music nowadays? What are your views about the recording of drums nowadays?
All of the actual CD releases have been in a studio, with people we paid to engineer, record and mix the music. We were always there to help produce the records. There weren't any famous producers near enough for us to work with feasibly, without great expense. At one point there was talk of us traveling or working with someone. We did have James Murphy master our 2nd record. I am doing some in-house production for some projects I mentioned previously, using much less tracks and gear. That last 5 records have been recorded in the modern way with tracking drums to a scratch guitar played at the same time, then going back and recording guitars, bass and vocals. Different effects and gear have been used to record the drums to varying effect. There are many factors and variables.
I want a nice natural sounding drum kit, with punchy but not 'clicky' drums. Herb is definitely against the fake sounding, popcorn/typewriter drum sound. Usually the drummer and engineer are trying things and engineering the drum sound. It all gets a bit convoluted, and it is time consuming and challenging to record and get a good sounding drum performance. There are some many possibilities. It is hard to say much about, as I haven't heard every possible technique, piece of gear or engineering of drums being recorded. I know people try a lot of things, samplers, compressors and editing to get drum tracks. It begins to some ambience with all this.
Sometimes I wonder if just a simpler approach might be best. I would prefer a live sounding kit in a studio drum room. But in the end, I trust the drummer and engineer. I can't do everything, for better or worse, I have to allow them to try what they think is best at the time. I really don't know enough about it to comment. Sometimes even after all the efforts to create the drum track, the mix gets screwed up anyway. Sometimes when dealing with budgets, deadlines and logistics and realities of life things get screwed up. Sometimes a drummer changes their heads right before recording and they end up unhappy with the sound of the heads for whatever reason. There might be a tone or ringing they can't get rid of that you’re then kind of stuck with. All I can say is find a really good drum engineer.
[The conclusion of the interview is coming up next.]
Drawn and Quartered Hail Infernal Darkness
Sickness Redeemer

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