Monday, March 30, 2015

DRAWN AND QUARTERED: (part 2): death metal from Washington

This is part of 2 of the interview with Seattle death metal veterans DRAWN AND QUARTERED. Thanks to guitarist Kelly for taking the time to do the interview in a serious way.
Remember to read the first part posted below. It is a very interesting read!
In this second part, Kelly continues the story of Drawn and Quartered, taking us back to the 90s in the Seattle metal underground. This is not the end of the interview. More is coming!
Can you give us a bit of a landscape view of the metal scene in the early 90s in Seattle, as you experienced in the metal underground with your band? How was it different or the same as the late 80s? The early 90s are considered the golden age of death metal. Yet, I have never heard anyone explain the situation for death metal in Seattle in the early 90s, but you would be highly qualified to speak about it, correct? What was that like for you?
The metal scene for me went from huge shows at the Domes and Arenas in Washington, as a teenager to smaller more underground shows gradually, to the current level of pretty packed clubs is the best most bands in the underground are doing. As thrash and speed metal pushed aside power metal in the mid to late 80s local bands began to get a bit grittier, like METAL CHURCH. I lived south of Seattle, and was having to work by this time. And try to catch shows. I didn't have a band, really. I jammed a lot, and recorded, went to school, but I never saw grunge or death metal coming. In fact, grunge never REALLY existed. I guess a few crappy bands played in some scuzzy bars who were turned off by hearing power ballads by POISON and WHITESNAKE. Eventually a few them could cobble enough songs, and work long enough and hard enough to get something acceptable together and persevere long enough to become appreciated for getting better at what they were doing, and a lot of people were sick of power ballads, and spandex, and unattainable champagne and sports car rock MTV video era. People watched Friends, Frasier and Seinfeld, and sipped Lattes, pretty soon grunge is being referenced on Friends, and sold at the Bon! One video created an industry, and the rest got lumped in as grunge. Metal was non-existent in Seattle. Everyone was aware of it, influenced by it. But real metal was in the bars and finally small clubs, most with no stage or proper sound reinforcement. By the time I figured out what kind of music I wanted to play, I'd missed the boat. The thrash movement was fading. It was pretty small, anyway. Forced Entry. Nothing was happening. The situation was bleak. We'd go to the few shows that were starting to come through, but it was quite a few years until any of the original death metal bands got to Seattle. We were aware of it, we were writing, recording and performing it. No one really wanted to hear it. Odin [from Moribund Records] did his best, and made a lot of great releases, and some sold good. For me, the early 90s was a Golden Age of Death Metal. It is the time when I combined what I loved about underground music into my own vision, and have been inspired to create and continue for over 20 years. Of course, 20 years later, it is a reference point for underground music. But it is up to someone to preserve, improve upon and continue to evolve a pure version of this art form.
At the time it didn't seem like there were way too many bands doing this already. There seemed to be so many distinct ways of going about it. Nobody sounded the same, for long. Death metal was cool for about 3 years, but if you were cool around here in the mid to late nineties, you were into Black Metal. There were a few good Death Metal bands by 1996 when DRAWN AND QUARTERED began performing regularly. We were never quite with the trend of the moment. We just worked really hard for a long time on what were trying to do. I have some amazing rehearsal tapes. We made the DRAWN AND QUARTERED demo, that we put out from 1996-1997. We had a buddy record it, and only ended up with two rough mixes. The sound is horrible, but we never got to mix it properly before the guy disappeared. We started doing shows at every little dive bar in town. On our 3rd show ever we weaseled our way onto the bill featuring NAPALM DEATH and AT THE GATES in Seattle in 1996! We played an amazing set! The sound was great, we played brilliantly! Soon after we got the Obituary gig. And we opened for lots of shows that came to town in the mid to late 90s.
Going back even further in time. What kind of metal did you grow up with, as youth? Were you at all interested in the Seattle bands, like Metal Church and Queensryche? Were your parents into metal music? What kind of music were your friends into?
I listened to the BEATLES, PINK FLOYD, JIMI HENDRIX, CLAPTON, LED ZEPPELIN, THE WHO, BLACK SABBATH and DEEP PURPLE. So That would have been my parents’ era, my dad had many of those records, also THE ROLLING STONES and many others, but they both had other musical tastes for the music of the times. A few years later when I'm into PRIEST and MAIDEN, and heavier stuff I did listen to and have seen METAL CHURCH. I love the first two records, for sure. I also like the first EP from QUEENSRYCHE. I was a singer in cover bands around then. My friends and listened to the SCORPIONS, DIO, JUDAS PRIEST, KROKUS, BLACK SABBATH, IRON MAIDEN, early DEF LEPPARD, ACCEPT, SAXON, DEEP PURPLE, OZZY OSBOURNE, ACDC, LED ZEPPELIN and RUSH. Later in high school came MOTORHEAD, METALLICA, RAVEN, ANTHRAX, SLAYER, MERCYFUL FATE/KING DIAMOND. I saw all those bands. POSSESSED and DEATH as well. VENOM, EXCITER, then DESTRUCTION, BATHORY, SODOM, and KREATOR. My friends were from a different era, they weren't keeping up, so I found new friends.
The band's first recording is the self-titled demo from 1996, and then the album "To Kill Is Human" from 1999. How frustrating was it for you personally to be in death metal bands for so long before putting out an album? You must have been frustrated seeing the high popularity of death metal in the underground in the 90s and you were probably thinking you all need to get it together and put out your first album.
Our poor-sounding demo wasn't really helping get any record deals. Matt and Greg helped spearhead getting the first record done. It was on a 12-track tape deck. We had a set amount of time to record. Instead of focusing on just better versions of 3-5 songs, we decided we are going record all ten songs we had, the final one still be worked out. This is now 1998. We'd done a few dozen shows and rehearsed quite a bit to try to pull off this record in the equivalent of two full days to record and mix. Technically, it was a short session to set up and mike the drums, the next day we recorded everything. In one take, usually the first. Very few overdubs. I didn't really have many solos or many second guitar parts. I was already sick of playing the same songs for 4 years. I was very frustrated. I was ready to record an album back in 1994. I even had the money. But it took the band 2 years to get to the point of doing the 8-song demo. Part of the problem is that Matt and I never really clicked musically. It took forever to get a part or song completed. By 1998 I was ready to revive PLAGUE BEARER or do a side band so I could continue developing my writing, and lead playing, as I was completely dissatisfied and stagnating in DRAWN AND QUARTERED. Honestly, the recorded versions of songs aren't as good as rehearsal and some 4-track demos I had of all the early songs. The versions recorded before Matt were even better, 'The Hills Run Red,' and 'Christian Extinction.' He would never learn the ‘Bubonic Death' material. I think he was overcomplicating things for himself. But it is what it is. I love Matt like a brother. I am proud of the record, and the shows and tours we did. We had a lot of great times. We still do. But the best thing for DRAWN AND QUARTERED in the end is when he left. I was supposed to 'fire him.' Ultimately, we talked and it was decided that he would leave the band, and focus on SERPENS AEON. And they went on to make a great record! Matt did a lot for DRAWN AND QUARTERED for 8 years. He and Greg did a lot to get this band off the ground. It was a very frustrating time. But I never gave up. Because through it all I was finally getting better. It took that long for me to get better, as a performer, player, writer, soloist and recording artist. And with a lot more hard work, and multiple bands and projects, shows and tours we finally became what DRAWN AND QUARTERED became after 2002.
This is "Ministry of Torture" from the 1999 debut album "To Kill Is Human."
Ministry of Torture

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