Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Drawn and Quartered, part 3; death metal from Seattle

This segment continues the interview with Drawn and Quartered. In this section, Kelly (guitars) explains the period when the band begins to come into its own, with better songs and recordings with better quality. If you have not yet read the previous parts of the interview, don't forget to read them because there's tons of information about the early days of the band.
As it turns out, your first album came out during the revival of death metal in the late 90s. Nile, Krisiun and Hate Eternal were finally awakening an interest in death metal at a higher level again. Bands like Krisiun had weathered the black metal popularity and now newer death metal bands (compared to Death, Morbid Angel, etc.) had some bands getting some international attention. How was your debut album received in the United States and the Pacific Northwest in general?
All three of the bands mentioned were influential, and I got to open for or see. Around this time we were doing some U.S. tours. Despite its flaws, no one beat us up too bad for our debut 'To Kill is Human.' Although we did finance the record, artwork and first pressing, it was originally intended to be a demo. We shopped a tape around a little, but didn't get a deal immediately, so we just put it out. It is a low-budget affair, considering the expense of recording back then. Although we'll probably have the same budget for our next record! It is a different era now, you can make great sounding records much easier now, you just need some good songs if you want to make a good record. Our songs suffered from bad production in the past. As far as how it was received, it was considered an instant classic. It's just that Black Metal was all the rage still. And the bands that did come out like NILE, KRISIUN, and HATE ETERNAL...they were REALLY good! There was a lot of ultra brutal stuff out there, and for a while even guitar solos went away on many records.
Our record was OK, but it could have been produced better. So by this time I had a couple of crappy sounding demos, and sort of underwhelming debut record. I was sick of the style we were doing, and Matt didn't see that interested in my ideas. He and Greg had been working together for a few years, but that working relations ship began to strain, and the band began to suffer. Matt and Greg had other bands going as well. The potential of DRAWN AND QUARTERED is present on the record, and in hindsight it is a telling piece of work, a solid foundation for what was to come. Unfortunately the production, and mix hold it back a bit. We sold and promoted many copies in the Pacific NorthWest and around the country. Most of the reviews were in small print fanzines, so not immortalized in the digital age that we were on the precipice of.
Then, in 2003 there was "Extermination Revelry." Right after that in 2004, you also had "Return of the Black Death." It seems like you entered a period of high productivity. Was the lineup stable around this time, did it have good chemistry? If asked to recall the early 2000s, what types of associations come to mind in terms of the band during this time in the Seattle area? Were you able to play shows in the Pacific Northwest outside of Seattle? What about the rest of the U.S. and internationally?
The first record 'To Kill is Human’ was originally recorded in 1998 and we released tracks on cassettes. We pressed a few hundred copies, two versions. No cover or title, just a promo tape. We soon decided to release the record on CD, and we pressed our own copies. In 1999 we made a deal with MORIBUND to distribute the record, and they pressed their own copies. The original version has color on the image on the disc itself, the Moribund version doesn't. Also our version has a different process for recreating the cover art making it shinier, compared to the higher quality MORIBUND version. After that that tour from 1999-2001 I began writing and rehearsing regularly some new PLAGUE BEARER material. Matt was playing drums in SERPENS AEON, Greg was doing a cover band, and also was involved with PLAGUE BEARER. Herb and I worked on various things, and he did vocals on my PLAGUE BEARER demos. Writing with DRAWN AND QUARTERED was like pulling teeth, but we had put together some things, and did start playing a new song on our last U.S. tour together with Matt in 2001. That song was called 'Incinerated Faithful' and a version was recorded and included on our next record. I completed a 7-song demo called "Defiled by Sodomy" with PLAGUE BEARER. I did extensive mixes, came up art, had the recording mastered, but never released it. But all the work, rehearsals, recording etc., helped bring my writing to another level, and I got some chances to rip out some solos and practice over and over, something I wasn't getting as much out of our DRAWN AND QUARTERED rehearsals.
We'd been doing a lot of really great shows around the region that was getting us more and more experience and local notoriety. We opened for MORBID ANGEL, IMMOLATION, INCANTATION, EXHUMED, IMPALED, THY INFERNAL, MONSTROSITY, DEICIDE and many more. Some of the local bands we were playing with were BLOOD RITUAL (members of DISBELIEF), TASTY GORE, IMMORAL INTENT, FORNICATOR, INQUISITION, LORD GORE, ENGORGED, WRAITHEN, SOL NEGRO and many more. In the early months of 2002 DRAWN AND QUARTERED rehearsals had been reduced 2 twice a week from 3-5 for many years. The writing was dragging on. We had two finished songs since the last record. I had plenty of new ideas, and we finally got serious about completing music for a record. At the same time MATT and SERPENS AEON were closing in on finishing the music for their debut. Things came to a head and MATT left the band. It was a tough time for me. I was fearful, and it was hard to let go of being a road-ready band ready to open for the best in the business to start over and the possibility of failure. Who knew if we'd ever perform as DRAWN AND QUARTERED again? Once again Beau Galloway referred a drummer to us. Dario Derna had returned to Seattle. I'd hear from Odin he was coming back, so that helped with allowing Matt to step away from what he took seriously as a commitment to me and the band. I did contact Dario, who really hadn't played drums much for years. So within a week or two of Matt’s departure we began rehearsing and writing again. In less than a month we had 5 brand new songs. We did a little rehearsal demo, to see how the new songs were sound. It was intended just as a sound test for us, but we sent a copy to Odin at MORIBUND, and it was decided we would promote DRAWN AND QUARTERED Mk 2 with our new 5-song rehearsal demo we called 'Crusaders of Blasphemy'. Hundreds of copies were created, and one version even had a little atmospheric keyboard thing at the end of 'Worshipers of Total Death' that we made Dario take out of future versions! A deal was made with MORIBUND, in a matter of a few months we began doing shows again, and we completed 11 songs for a new recording that began in the spring of 2003.
DRAWN AND QUARTERED was reborn. It had taken from until about 1992 until 2002 for me to really hit my stride as a writer, performer and player. All of the side bands, demos, shows, tours were finally paying off and we were finally in a slightly more modern recording environment. In 2003 we were show ready and could learn as many songs as I could bring in. The band all contributed riffs and ideas as well. We now had a label able to fund this operation and we had a 3-album deal to fulfill. Our music and performances were coming across great and people loved our new songs. Things in my personal life were stable, so I was able to focus writing and recording. I knew I was in a very good, and probably rare situation so I took full advantage and brought a lot of ideas and began writing and recording as much as possible. In early 2004 we had an offer to do a split 7", so we recorded two songs on our own recording equipment, it was fast and dirty and the songs came out great, I felt free to just shred away. Unfortunately, the split didn't happen (as often happens in these things) but the tracks did appear on a cassette album in Germany, and as part of a bonus disc in 2007 for the release of MERCILESS HAMMER OF LUCIFER. I pushed for the recording of our next record and in 2004 we were able to record and release RETURN OF THE BLACK DEATH. Much tighter, cleaner, with even better performances, and some of our more technical music in our catalog, this is one of the highlights of my career. I wrote many of the songs, including the epic AS IDOLS FALL. It received amazing reviews including a nice spread in METAL MANIACS. It was a productive time. I had less of a commitment to a specific job for a few years, and it was often challenging personally. But I had more time to focus on music for a little while.
There was a period of time when DRAWN AND QUARTERED was in a holding pattern while our drummer was getting his personal life together. We didn't waste any time, though. Greg Reeves was our bass player. He had a lot of drive to various projects, and had been working playing drums for a while. We formed a band called WINDS OF PESTILENCE. It featured Greg on drums, Herb Burke played bass and vocals, I played guitar. And Greg's' friend John Fryer was the second guitar player. This was another great opportunity to keep my chops up, and rehearse the lead parts I wrote for myself, work on some new ideas. The music was thrashy, black and death metal influenced I wrote much of the music and lyrics, but Herb started contributing later as well. Unfortunately not all of the songs we had got recorded. From 2004-2008 we played some shows, did a small tour, and recorded a demo that has been mastered, but not officially released. John posted some rough mixes and misspelled some of the titles, so they are out there. Also in 2004 I pieced together some song scraps that became the PLAGUE BEARER EP 'Rise of the Goat'. I had a friend who was playing drums for FUNERAL AGE at the time. They rehearsed down the hall. He was eager to jam. So I threw together some songs and lyrics, we rehearsed for a while, then went to the AUTOPSY ROOM that DRAWN AND QUARTERED had been recording at and did a very quick recording. It cost about the same as the demo I did at LAUNDRY ROOM studio for the 'Bubonic Death' demo back 93! It took a while, but I eventually got the recording released as a vinyl EP on NUCLEAR WINTER RECORDS. Dario was soon back and we did a lot of shows around the region, but DRAWN AND QUARTERED has yet to conquer the international market as a touring act. In fact Dario was never willing or able to do extensive touring.
These two albums were on Moribund Records and the debut was independent. How was the relation with Moribund at this point in time for you? How did that come about? Moribund is a label from Washington, is that correct? In the early 2000s the internet had not yet taken over as such in metal and people still bought cds, right?
Moribund started in the Seattle area, and is based in Washington State. Odin and Moribund has been there since my first show in 1993 at the LAKE UNION PUB. The relationship for me has always been great. I worked as a Moribund employee for a while and was involved with mail order and promoting, including my own records. Odin was a Metal fanatic who worked in local record stores, began his own distro, and eventually label. Unfortunately due to other distributing partners going bankrupt, he took a big hit and had to down size for a while. But he also was the US distributing partner for NAPALM RECORDS, and began Metal Distribution Network. People were buying CDs. I probably didn't even own a computer yet.
Drawn and Quartered - Worshippers of Total Death
As Idols Fall

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