Wednesday, March 16, 2016

interview with: A Flourishing Scourge (Seattle)

A Flourishing Scourge
A Flourishing Scourge is a band from the state of Washington, U.S. They call their music “progressive blackened death metal” and they put emphasis on quality musicianship. They have an EP called “As Beauty Fades Away” and have been pretty active since the fall of 2015, when the EP was released. They have been playing shows in the Seattle region and getting their name out there a little bit. Below is the band’s bio and also a brand new interview with this publication. Kevin (bass) and Tye (guitar, vocals) answered the questions.
BIO
A Flourishing Scourge is an all original progressive blackened death metal outfit hailing from the gloomy metropolis of Seattle, Washington. Inspired by a degrading society and the destructive negligence of man, AFS is a pummeling force of misanthropic visions and apocalyptic consequences while still finding rare, intimate moments of solace and hope amidst the carnage.
AFS began in 2013 under the original moniker Begotten, when Tye Jones and Josh Keifer discovered a shared taste in musical expression. They quickly began writing and recording demo material and were soon ready to seek out other members. Kevin Carbrey joined in 2014 and the band officially became A Flourishing Scourge. By 2015 Andrew Dennis completed the lineup and the band began establishing itself in the Seattle scene.
The band’s first EP, As Beauty Fades Away, was released in September 2015 on their own independent label, Begotten Records. The EP consists of the bands four original demo tracks, re-recorded and performed by its full lineup. Currently, AFS is playing shows in the Pacific Northwest in support of the EP and finishing new material for their first full length album.
INTERVIEW
I think that you already know that your music is, basically, difficult. To most metal people your music does not sound like it comes from Judas Priest, Accept, Iron Maiden, Metallica and Slayer. Are those bands old fogie music? You know, old fogie music: a bit interesting, but ultimately not your cup of tea and not something you are inclined to listen to again?
KEVIN: WELL, I AM AN OLD FOGIE, SO I TOTALLY RELATE TO ALL OF THE BANDS YOU MENTION. I THINK IT’S SAFE TO SAY THAT EVERY METAL BAND TODAY HAS ELEMENTS OF NWOBHM AND THRASH BANDS, OR WERE AT LEAST INFLUENCED BY A BAND THAT WAS INFLUENCED BY THE BANDS ON THIS LIST. I WOULD LABEL ALL OF THESE AS CLASSIC, TRAIL-BLAZING ACTS TO WHICH EVERY BAND OWES AT LEAST A TIP OF THE CAP. IN OUR MUSIC, IT’S ALL THERE AS WELL. FROM THE RIGHT HAND TECHNIQUE OF SLAYER AND METALLICA, TO GUITAR HARMONIES IN PRIEST AND MAIDEN, YOU HEAR BITS AND PIECES AT EVERY TURN. THE CONNECTIVE TISSUE TO THESE BANDS, IN MY MIND, IS THAT THEIR ARRANGEMENTS ARE VERY PROGRESSIVE. LESS SO WITH THE EARLY PRIEST AND ACCEPT, BUT WITH METALLICA AND IRON MAIDEN IN THE EARLY YEARS YOU CAN REALLY SEE THE MUSICIANSHIP AND SONG WRITING START TO TAKE SHAPE, SO ALL OF THESE WERE HUGE INFLUENCES ON THE MUSIC WE CREATE.
TYE: I’M NOT ALL OLD AND DECREPIT LIKE KEVIN SO I GUESS I WOULD SAY I WASN’T AS DIRECTLY INFLUENCED BY PRIEST OR MAIDEN UNTIL A LOT LATER. I WAS MORE OF A 90’S KID SO METAL HAD ALREADY STARTED GOING UNDERGROUND AND OVERSEAS BY THE TIME I WAS OLD ENOUGH TO START BUYING MY OWN MUSIC. THE FIRST 2 ALBUMS I REMEMBER BUYING WERE METALLICA KILL EM ALL, AND NINE INCH NAILS BROKEN. MY DAD LISTENED TO A LOT OF 60’S AND 70’S ROCK SO I ALSO GREW UP LISTENING TO A LOT OF THAT, BUT HE NEVER GOT INTO THE METAL BANDS OF THE LATE 70’S SO I DIDN’T REALLY HAVE ANY EXPOSURE TO THEM EITHER. WHEN I LISTEN TO THEM NOW I DEFINITELY HEAR THE INFLUENCE THEY HAD ON A LOT OF WHAT I REGULARLY LISTEN TO TODAY. I’VE NEVER REALLY BEEN A HUGE FOLLOWER OF PRIEST, BUT EARLY METALLICA IS ONE OF MY BIGGER INFLUENCES. MAIDEN I ALSO DIG, BUT NOT SOMETHING I THROW ON VERY OFTEN. SLAYER IS GREAT. I DON’T REALLY LISTEN TO THEIR MUSIC BUT I’M GLAD THEY ARE MAKING IT.
Why do you suppose that your music sounds so distant from the classics? Is it that the prog influences are so deep so most people would not know the roots anyway?
KEVIN: I GREW UP WITH METAL, SO THAT WAS REALLY MY FIRST LOVE, BUT I WENT THROUGH A HUGE PROG PHASE IN MY 20’S. FOR ME, IT REALLY STARTED WITH RUSH AND TOOL, WHICH EVENTUALLY LEAD ME TO KING CRIMSON, DEEPER CUTS ON PINK FLOYD RECORDS, AND METAL SPIN OFFS LIKE SYMPHONY X, DREAM THEATER, AND ULTIMATELY OPETH. SO, ESSENTIALLY, OLD PROG EVENTUALLY LED ME TO EXTREME METAL! THIS IS A GREAT EXAMPLE OF THE 1 DEGREE OF SEPARATION BETWEEN INFLUENCES THAT I ALLUDED TO ABOVE. WHILE YOU MIGHT NOT BE A FAN OF RUSH, KING CRIMSON, PINK FLOYD, GENESIS ETC., YOU MIGHT BE A FAN OF OPETH, OR TOOL, OR DREAM THEATER, ALL OF WHICH WERE SIGNIFICANTLY INFLUENCED BY THE “OLDER” PROG THAT’S OUT THERE.
TYE: I GUESS I GREW UP LISTENING TO SOME PROG NOT REALLY KNOWING IT WAS PROG AND NOT JUST CLASSIC ROCK, BECAUSE I LISTENED TO A LOT OF THAT TOO. I STILL REALLY DIG THE OLD STUFF, GENESIS, SUPERTRAMP, KING CRIMSON... I CAN’T SAY I DIG ALL PROG, SOME OF IT CAN BE TOO VIRTUOSIC OR TOO MATHEMATICAL AND NOT HAVE ENOUGH FEELING, BUT I DO LIKE A LOT OF IT AND I FEEL IT HAS INFLUENCED MY SONG WRTITING QUITE A BIT.
Have you thought about why you are attracted to making complex/not simple/not music-for-the-metal-masses?
KEVIN: WELL, I SUPPOSE IT’S ALL SUBJECTIVE AND RATHER UP TO THE TASTES OF THE INDIVIDUAL. THERE ARE A LOT OF BANDS THAT DO VERY MUCH TRY TO EMMULATE THE BANDS THEY LIKE TO LISTEN TO, AND WRITING IS A VERY DELIBERATE PROCESS IN AN ATTEMPT TO MAKE SIMILAR MUSIC. WHETHER YOU HAVE BANDS LIKE NICKLEBACK WHOSE RELIANCE ON THEIR “WINNING” VERSE-VERSE-CHORUS-LEAD-VERSE-DOUBLE CHORUS STRUCTURE HAS PROVEN SUCCESSFUL IN THE PAST AND THEY SIMPLY RECREATE THAT FORMULA OVER AND OVER, OR A GUITARIST WHO LOVES SOMEONE’S TONE AND DOES EVERYTHING POSSIBLE TO RECREATE THAT FOR THEIR OWN PURPOSES, A LOT OF YOUNGER MUSICIANS REALLY ATTEMPT TO TAP INTO WHAT HAS INFLUENCED THEM. THIS ISN’T CRITICISM; IT’S JUST HOW MUSICIANSHIP EVOLVES. ULTIMATELY YOU ARE INFLUENCED BY ARTIST “X”. YOU GO AND GET A GUITAR, AND TRY TO CLONE THEIR TONE AS IT’S YOUR MAIN INFLUENCE AND FRAME OF REFERENCE. NEXT STEP, LEARN A SONG OR TWO. YOU DON’T WRITE RIGHT OFF THE BAT, YOU LEARN A THOUSAND SONGS BY OTHER PEOPLE YOU LIKE AND ABSORB THEIR TECHNIQUE AND STYLE, AND SOON YOU HAVE A HODGE-PODGE OF DIFFERENT INFLUENCES THAT MEET IN THE MIDDLE TO DEFINE YOUR OWN STYLE. THIS IS TRUE OF ANY GENRE OR INSTRUMENT, JUST THINK OF A BEGINNING PIANO STUDENT FIRST LEARNING THE CLASSICS FROM BEETHOVEN AND BACH. THOSE ARTISTS ARE CONSIDERED THE STANDARD BEARERS, SO YOU FIRST LEARN THE CLASSICS AND USE THEM TO BETTER DEFINE TONE, WRITING, MUSIC THEORY ETC.
FOR US, WE DON’T ATTEMPT TO WRITE THINGS THAT ARE DIFFICULT ON PURPOSE. WE’VE ALL BEEN DOING THIS FOR TWO DECADES OR MORE, SO OUR WRITING IS A REFLECTION OF THAT EXPERIENCE. ALL OF US HAVE PLAYED IN MULTIPLE BANDS, AND ALL OF US PLAY ALL OF THE INSTRUMENTS, SO WE HAVE A GREAT MUTUAL UNDERSTANDING OF EVERYONE’S ROLE, AND CAN ARTICULATE TO EACH OTHER WHAT WE HEAR AND HOW IT FITS WITH A PARTICULAR SONG, REGARDLESS OF THE INSTRUMENT. MORE IMPORTANTLY, HOWEVER, IS THE FACT THAT WITH THOSE EXPERIENCES, YOU LEARN WAYS IN WHICH TO EXPRESS YOURSELF IN THE MANNER YOUR CHOOSE, WHERE YOU’RE NOT LIMITED BY LACK OF THEORY OR TECHNIQUE ETC.
ULTIMATELY, I SUPPOSE OUR APPROACH IS A BIT SELFISH. WE DON’T TRY TO TAILOR OUR MUSIC TO WHAT OTHERS WANT. WE WRITE AND PLAY THESE SONGS BECAUSE THEY GIVE US PERSONAL SATISFACTION. IF OTHER PEOPLE LIKE OUR STUFF AND THAT PRESENTS THE OPPORTUNITY TO DO WHAT WE LOVE WHILST NOT PAYING OUT OF OUR POCKETS, GREAT! BUT I FEEL LIKE WE’D PLAY THIS SAME MUSIC EVEN IF IT WAS SOLELY LIMITED TO A GROUP OF FRIENDS HANGING OUT IN THE BASEMENT BY OURSELVES. I REALLY THINK THIS APPROACH IS FELT IN THE MUSIC. WE WRITE AND PERFORM FOR OUR ENJOYMENT. THE SECOND WE DEVIATE FROM THAT APPROACH IN A DELIBERATE ATTEMPT TO MAKE THE MUSIC MORE ACCESSIBLE, YOU’VE LOST THE ESSENSE. THE PASSION THAT MUSIC BRINGS INTO THE WORLD CANNOT BE CONTRIVED. ANY DEVIATION WOULD NOT BE TRUE TO WHO WE ARE, AND I THINK IT’S PRETTY OBVIOUS WHEN A BAND MAKES THAT DECISION; THERE’S SIMPLY A LACK OF SINCERE COMMUNICATION WITH THE LISTENER.
Even the name of your band is difficult! What about your lyrics? Who writes the lyrics for your songs? What inspires the lyrics? Are the lyrics available to read anywhere?
KEVIN: FOR THE EP, OUR PREVIOUS DRUMMER, JOSH, PENNED MOST OF THE LYRICS IN POEM FORM, WHICH TYE (VOX, GUITAR) CHOPPED UP INTO PHRASING THAT WOULD FIT THE CADENCE AND MOOD OF THE SONG. THE EP SONGS ARE A LITTLE MORE TRADITIONAL IN THAT JOSH’S STANZAS TRANSLATED WELL INTO VERSE AND CHORUS STRUCTURES. THE LYRICS ON THE UPCOMING FULL-LENGTH RELEASE, DUE OUT THIS SUMMER, ARE A LITTLE MORE COLLABORATIVE IN NATURE, WHERE TYE HAS TAKEN SOME CENTRAL THEMES AND HAS REALLY DONE A GREAT JOB OF THEMATICALLY TYING THE GENERAL FEEL AND MESSAGE OF THE SONGS TOGETHER. IT REALLY FLOWS WELL. WE PREFER A FULL-ALBUM APPROACH VERSUS SONG-BY-SONG. WE HAVE A MESSAGE TO CONVEY, BUT IT TAKES LISTENING TO THE ENTIRE ALBUM IN ITS ENTIRETY TO FULLY EMBRACE THE CONTENT.
BOTH OUR NAME AND THE LYRICAL CONTENT ARE RELATED. WHILE WE PREFER TO LET THE WORDS SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES WITH THE INTENT THAT THE LISTENER JUDGE FOR THEMSELVES, THERE’S A GENERAL FEELING OF MISANTHROPY AND INEVITABILITY THAT RISES TO THE SURFACE.
AS FAR AS PUBLISHING THE LYRICS, WE WILL DEFINITELY BE INCLUDING THEM ON THE FULL-LENGTH RELEASE AND HAVE INTENTIONS TO PUBLISH THE REST IN SOME FORUM EVENTUALLY, BUT YOU MIGHT JUST NEED TO PICK THEM OUT IN THE MEANTIME! (OR YOU CAN MAKE US A SWEET LYRIC VIDEO!)
How important is the traditional idea of having a chorus in a song? Is it important to you that your listeners have at least something to hold on to, so that your songs are not just displays of virtuosity?
KEVIN: AS FAR AS THE CHORUS GOES, I DON’T THINK WE INTENTIALLY SET OUT TO CREATE A CHORUS. ON THE EP SONGS, SEVERAL OF THE POEM-ARRANGEMENTS LENT THEMSELVES TO A REPEATING THEME LYRICALLY, SO YOU SEE A LITTLE MORE OF THE TRADITIONAL CHORUS STRUCTURE AND HEAR A FEW OF THE SAME REFRAINS. THE NEW MATERIAL IS A LITTLE DIFFERENT. YOU WON’T HEAR VERY MANY LYRICAL THEMES REPEATED. INSTEAD, THE CONTENT IS A LITTLE MORE SUBJECTIVE AND THE TITLE’S REFERENCE A GENERAL THEME AS OPPOSED TO A SPECIFIC LYRIC IN THE SONG.
THE OTHER PART OF YOUR QUESTION, MAKING MUSIC THAT EVERYONE “UNDERSTANDS” IS A MORE NEBULOUS CONCEPT. AS MENTIONED, WE DON’T INTENTIALLY WRITE MUSIC FOR ANYONE BUT OURSELVES. IF THEY DON’T “GET IT”, THAT’S OKAY WITH US. I DON’T GET BEYONCE, COUNTRY, OR HIP HOP, BUT I DON’T FEEL THE NEED TO. THE DIFFERENCE IS THAT IF SOMEONE IN THOSE GENRES MAKES SOMETHING THAT DOESN’T RESONATE WITH THE LISTENER, THE REAL SONGWRITERS BEHIND THEM ADJUST THEIR FORMULA TO MAKE IT SELL BETTER. WE ARE IN METAL, SO HAVE NO EXPECTATION OF FINANCIAL SUCCESS. IT MAY SOUND OXYMORONIC, BUT YOU ACTUALLY MAINTAIN A LOT MORE CREATIVE FREEDOM IF YOU’RE OKAY BEING A STARVING MUSICIAN, WHICH WE TOTALLY ARE, IF IT PROTECTS OUR OWN VISION.
WITH PROG, YOU REALLY EXPECT TWO THINGS: LONG SONGS AND TECHNICAL EXPERTISE. BUT THOSE THINGS CAN BE INTERPRETED IN DIFFERENT WAYS. YOU LOOK AT SOME OF THESE HYPER TECHNICAL BANDS, AND THEIR DRAW IS THEIR MUSICIANSHIP. HOWEVER, IF YOU DON’T PLAY AN INSTRUMENT, YOU DON’T HAVE ANY FRAME OF REFERENCE TO UNDERSTAND OR APPRECIATE WHAT YOU’RE SEEING, SO IT TENDS TO TURN A LOT OF PEOPLE OFF. MY FRIEND FROM WORK WHO CAME OUT TO SUPPORT ME PROBABLY DOESN’T GIVE A SHIT THAT WE CAN PLAY IN 19/16 TIME AT 260 BPM. THEY JUST WANT A SONG THAT’S RELATABLE. THAT’S WHERE WE COME IN. OUR SONGS ARE LONG, AVERAGING 7 TO 8 MINUTES, AND YOU CAN LABEL THEM AS PROG SIMPLY BECAUSE OF THE LENGTH AND THE EASILY INDENTIFIABLE THEMATIC SHIFTS OR MOVEMENTS THROUGHOUT. HOWEVER, WE HAVE SO MANY WIDE-RANGING INFLUENCES THAT ARE PRESENT IN OUR MUSIC THAT IT SEEMS LIKE THERE’S SOMETHING IN THERE FOR EVERYONE, IF YOU’RE WILLING TO MAKE THE COMMITMENT. THAT’S REALLY THE DIFFICULTY IN TODAY’S MUSIC: PEOPLE ARE NOT WILLING TO MAKE THE INVESTMENT THAT IS REQUIRED TO TAKE MUSIC INTO THE REALM OF ACTUAL ART. IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR SOME INSTANT GRATIFICATION, WE’RE PROBABLY NOT THE BAND FOR YOU. WE TAKE A MORE TANTRIC APPROACH TO MUSIC.
Have your parents heard your music? Do they wonder why the heck you choose to make such music?!
KEVIN: FUNNY YOU ASK, BECAUSE MY PARENTS CAME TO SEE ME PLAY FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER AT OUR EP RELEASE PARTY LAST FALL. I DON’T KNOW THAT THEY WONDER WHY I MAKE THIS TYPE OF MUSIC, BUT THAT’S NOT IMPORTANT TO ME OR THEM. THEY KNOW IT MAKES ME HAPPY AND HAS KEPT ME OFF THE STREETS FOR ALMOST 3 DECADES, SO I’M SURE THEY’RE CONTENT WITH THAT…
TYE: I’VE ALWAYS MADE MUSIC AND LISTENED TO HEAVY METAL SO I DON’T THINK IT WAS TOO SHOCKING WHEN I STARTED PLAYING IN THIS PROJECT. IT IS THE HEAVIEST MUSIC THEY HAD HEARD ME PLAY, AND I DON’T THINK THEY EXPECTED ME TO BE THE VOCALIST, BUT THEY’RE VERY SUPPORTIVE AND CLAIM TO THINK ITS PRETTY COOL MUSIC.
You have spent all of your lunch money, allowances, pay checks and whatnot on buying instruments, and putting money into the band, not to mention time: driving around to rehearsals, driving to shows, hauling around your equipment, unpacking it, packing it back up, fixing it, replacing it; editing your music, recording it; answering lame interviews like this one; time on social media. It's exhausting just thinking about it. So, what's in it for you?!
AS CLICHÉ AS IT SOUNDS, YES, THIS IS A LABOR OF LOVE. AGAIN, ESPECIALLY IN OUR LITTLE NICHE MARKET, THERE ISN’T A WHOLE LOT OF FINANCIAL STABILITY INVOLVED. BEING IN A METAL BAND THESE DAYS IS INDEED A BIT OF A MONEY PIT, BUT IT’S WHAT WE ENJOY, SO WHO CARES? I THINK WE’D ALL REALLY LIKE TO LEAVE OUR DAY JOBS TO FOCUS ON THIS FULL TIME, BUT IT’S DIFFICULT TO LEAVE 15-20 YEAR CAREERS FOR THE UNCERTAINTY OF A DWINDLING INDUSTRY. I THINK WE’D BE CONTENT JUST BREAKING EVEN, BUT THAT’S PROBABLY NOT REALISTIC EITHER. THINK OF IT LIKE YOU WOULD ANY HOBBY. IF YOU’RE A GOLFER, YOU PAY AN EQUAL AMOUNT IN EQUIPMENT AND LESSONS, DRIVE TO COURSES AND RANGES ALL OVER THE PLACE, PAY RIDICULOUS GREEN FEES ETC., ONLY FOR THE LOVE OF THE GAME. THOSE FOLKS WILL PROBABLY NEVER TEE UP NEXT TO TIGER WOODS. AT LEAST IN MUSIC YOU’RE NOT LIMITED BY A TICKING BIOLOGICAL CLOCK, AND YOUR UPWARD MOBILITY IS REALLY ONLY LIMITED BY THE AMOUNT OF GROUNDWORK YOU’RE WILLING TO PUT IN YOURSELF.
TYE: FUCK THAT, I’M ALREADY MAKING PLANS FOR MY PRIVATE JET. WE’RE GONNA MAKE IT. ANY DAY NOW…
Do you have any news for us? I see on Twitter that you have some shows coming up?
KEVIN: YEP, LOT’S OF STUFF HAPPENING IN ‘SCOURGE LAND. SINCE YOU’RE AN EARLY FRIEND OF THE BAND, I’LL TAKE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO ANNOUNCE, FOR THE FIRST TIME, THAT WE’VE JUST CONTRACTED WITH GOJIRA’S SILVER CORD STUDIOS IN NEW YORK TO RECORD THE NEW FULL LENGTH ALBUM, WHICH WE HOPE TO RELEASE SOMETIME IN LATE SUMMER.
WE’VE ALSO RECENTLY PARTED WAYS WITH OUR ORIGINAL DRUMMER, AND ARE NOW WORKING WITH SOME NEW GUYS THAT ARE REALLY BRINGING A NEW FLAVOR TO THE EXECUTION OF THE SONGS, SO WE’RE REALLY EXCITED. YOU CAN CATCH THE NEW “LIVE” CONFIGURATION ON MAY 8TH OPENING FOR THE MIGHTY DEICIDE AT STUDIO SEVEN. HOPE TO SEE YOU OUT THERE SOON! \m/
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