Tuesday, February 5, 2019

interview: Verminlord

Verminlord is a one-person black metal entity in the United States. Starting in 2016 the recordings have kept on coming down the pipeline, including a demo, a few singles, an album, a few EPs, and split. This publication is going to get to the bottom of these developments and figure out for the readers what is going on with all this recording activity through the interrogation of a thousand and one questions. Let’s see what happens.
Metal Archives says Verminlord is based in Seattle. Bandcamp says Los Angeles. Which is right?
VL: Hahahaha yeah, I’m a bit of a nomad. I lived in Seattle for 7 years, then moved to Bangkok for a year and I have been living in Los Angeles since February, 2018.
Where are you from originally and how did you end up in L.A.?
VL: I was born in NYC and moved upstate to near Troy, NY when I was about 5. My earliest memories are my dad playing guitar in our apartment, and him picking up glass at the playground. Upstate New York is really grim, lots of poverty and farmland.
Right out of college I was hired as a 2D game artist/animator, and then later a comic artist, and now I work in film. I was hired to work as a Cinematographer on a web-series for Syfy so I packed my bags and moved to L.A.
When did you begin playing instruments? When would you say that you began as a musician?
VL: Music has always been a part of my life. My father loves folk & bluegrass and is always playing his guitar. My parents forced me to take piano lessons up until middle school. I absolutely loathed it, but I will forever be in their debt for making me learn the fundamentals of music. Luckily right after I quit piano lessons, my friends started a prog/power/death metal band called Epilogue. I wanted to join them and the only instrument that wasn’t already taken was keyboards. We played together for about 5 years and when I went off to college I left the band.
In college I still wanted to write music so I started learning music production and made a bunch of really fucking weird electronic music. Metal was always in my heart, so the songs all sort of sounded like angry video game music. I was even writing music on a gameboy for a while.
After that I was writing music under the moniker Abducted By Sharks which was a cyberpunk industrial project. The music kept getting heavier and heavier until I realized I just want to be writing black metal.
What music did you and your friends like in high school? black and death; metalcore and deathcore; pop punk and alternative? anything else?
VL: My friends were all nerds in high school. We played Dungeons & Dragons, and drove around upstate NY listening to Opeth. I could never have asked for better friends. Like most metalheads in the US my age, I came into metal through the nu-metal movement. Teen years are full of weird emotions and bands like Slipknot and Korn felt right at the time. Upstate NY also had a really healthy hardcore/metal scene. We were on the main circuit for touring bands coming up from NYC. I learned about metal in the most sincere fashion: in the pit.
There are a few deathcore bands I like but over all my tastes tend to lean to Folk Metal, Power Metal, Thrash, and Atmospheric Depressive Black Metal. I listen to a lot of other genres as well, though.
Is this your only musical output?
VL: Verminlord is my current main musical outlet but I’ve been in a dozen other bands. As far as active metal bands go I’m also half of the Murkwytch. Which is currently working on its second release.
I’ve been playing music my whole life. I was in a shitty punk band for a hot second, I played guitar in a Misfits cover band for a while, I wrote all the music (minus guitar) for Abducted By Sharks, and December, 20th, 2010 on the darkest night in 500 years my childhood best friend and I wrote an album in one night. It’s not the best album, but it was a fun night.
How was living in Seattle overall, for you?
VL: Hands down the best part of living in Seattle was the music scene. There were constantly shows all over the city. I worked for a few video game companies while I worked there so I was really stressed out all the time. Luckily, music is my therapy so I was able to funnel that stress into something productive.
Do you remember what you were thinking with your initial ideas for the music of Verminlord?
VL: I won’t name names because they’ve improved a lot but I was really excited for this one black metal band to play and they just kinda... sucked live. I had really fallen in love with the album and they kept stumbling over simple riffs. It was in their failure on stage when I thought to myself “I can play better than that.”
The following weekend I locked myself in my room and wrote the Verminlord Demo. It had been a pretty rough year at that point and the feeling of my hands aching and blistering from speed picking felt incredible. My roommates were supportive at the time but I tried not to record anything at night for their sake hahaha. Art has always been my therapy. I was going through a divorce and hated my job. I put all that frustration and sadness into the next EP: Anguish. None of the lyrics really deal with what I was actually going through but screamin about skeletons and ancient deities giving you quests into a microphone is fucking cathartic, man.
Did you always mean for Verminlord to be a one-person studio project? What instruments do you play on your recordings? For the atmospheric parts of your music, how do you do that?
VL: Verminlord will always be a solo project. It’s my alter ego. I would love to bring in guest singers or musicians at some point, but the entire process of writing, and recording is my passion and I enjoy doing it alone. I play all the guitar, bass and keys in the recordings. I’m a pretty shitty drummer so I just program all the drums. I hope I get to a point where people won’t know it’s programmed drums hahaha
My DAW of choice is Ableton, and I own a bunch of Plugins from Native Instruments. I compose all the orchestrations as well.
For the atmospheric parts I try to write riffs that are almost meditative and then in production I try to make it sound like I’m playing it in a giant cave of despair.

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