If, in the underground scene, well known guys get together forming a band (or another project) it isn’t a guarantee for success... Florida based DRUID LORD is a new name on the map of the extreme Metal scene and the line-up consists of Tony Blakk, Pete Slate and Steve Spillers. These guys delivered their debut album “Hymns For The Wicked” two months ago that is a must for every oldschool Death / Doom fan. The questions in the following interview were answered by Tony, Pete and Steve...
So guys, DRUID LORD is a new band on the map of the underground scene, you guys behind this band aren’t unknown to the fans, since you are involved or were involved in bands, such as EQUINOX, ACHERON, DIABOLIC, SERPENT SON etc., so is DRUID LORD a new band or a project?
Steve: “I think EQUINOX had gone in such a direction that in order not to completely change what that band was all about it was necessary to form DRUID LORD. Despite the fact that our fans will always hear a sound reminiscent of EQUINOX in our music the ideas and inspiration behind DRUID LORD are of a drastically different nature. Make no mistake, DRUID LORD is and always will be where we devote 100% of our efforts."
Pete: “Yes, DRUID LORD may be a new band, but we have been around many years involved in the underground scene. DRUID LORD is intended to be a new band all together. We've always been into the traditional Doom bands like PENTAGRAM, BLACK SABBATH, CANDLEMASS, WITCHFINDER GENERAL and bands of that caliber. A lot of our background also is oldschool Death Metal. So we wanted to incorporate that into our music similar to what AUTOPSY, ASPHYX, and HOODED MENACE are doing but with our own sound and feeling.”
Tony: "It’s a new band we started to praise the old ways of Doom, Destruction and Gore. It seemed like the right time for DRUID LORD and from the response we are getting we are right."
Being based in Florida, how do you view the present scene compared to the early / mid ’80s when Death Metal was exciting, hot and something new? How about the early classics?
Pete: “It's completely different now. Nothing will top the scene in Florida as it was back in the late 80s / early 90s. Those were the glorious days. You had bands like MASSACRE, DEATH, MORBID ANGEL, OBITUARY, ATHEIST and tons others just destroying every stage they played down here. I will say that there are still good bands in Florida that are writing great Metal music. As far as the scene in Florida goes there are hardly any bands playing Doom / Death Metal in this state. So this is a good thing for DRUID LORD. We have a new following of fans that are eager to hear what we are all about. Not the same typical mid 90s Florida Death Metal."
Tony: “It’s all about Myspace and Facebook these days. It doesn't seem like as many people are mailing demos and exchanging flyers as they did back in the late 80s and early 90s. You didn't know so much about people, what they looked like and what they were into. It was more mysterious. Man, the AMON demo blew me away the first time I heard it. NECROVORE!!!!”
Steve: “I think the main difference is that because of the internet and (dare I say it) the popularity of Nu-Metal the whole scene gets more attention from more people. In the early days underground didn’t just refer to whether a band was signed or not- it also referred to the fact that because of the lyrical content, whether it was Satanic- or Gore-based, a lot of bands were considered to be “underground” or out of the general spotlight. Of course, this all began to change in the early 90s when Earache and Relapse and other such labels signed bands like OBITUARY, MORBID ANGEL and DEICIDE. When Grunge music exploded we saw Death Metal wane for a number of years but as bands like SLIPKNOT and MUDVAYNE became popular with the remains of the Grunge fans Metal in general began a slow, steady upsurge in popularity. The only drawback to the widespread attention via the internet and Nu-Metal is that the present scene is flooded with so many bands doing the same style of Metal. The scene is now watered down compared to what it used to be. That’s a huge reason we started DRUID LORD to play something that is different yet has the influence of the early Death and Doom Metal bands."
Which bands would you vote in the Death Metal hall of fame?
Pete: “Damn, that is a hard question. I would say NECROVORE for sure. They were damn brilliant. MORBID ANGEL as they had a huge impact on the scene. DEATH / MASSACRE both deserve to be in there as well. I'm not mentioning the Thrash bands or Black Metal but BATHORY and MAYHEM should be in there somewhere. The gods CELTIC FROST for sure. I could add about another 50 bands but I won't."
Tony: “NECROVORE, IMMOLATION, SUFFOCATION, CANNIBAL CORPSE, INCANTATION, GRAVE, GORGUTS.”
How and when did DRUID LORD get together exactly? Do all of you take the band seriously?
Pete: “Well, I had been in touch with former EQUINOX drummer Stephen Spillers prior to 2010. We talked about putting a new band together. We both have similar backgrounds when it comes to Metal. I had mentioned that I wanted to keep the music in the Doom / Death vein and he was interested. So we started writing material I think back in February of 2010. I had already some songs written that we just needed to structure. The first two songs were 'Chamber Of Ghastly Horror' and 'Awaken By The Dead'. We then approached vocalist / bassist Tony Blakk as he's been a long time friend. He was also playing with me in the last version of EQUINOX. He agreed and the band was in full force around April. Yes, this band is very serious. Maybe at first we didn't know what to expect but the response has been overwhelming and this is a full time band."
Steve: “Ever since I left EQUINOX I knew that at some point I would want to make music again with these guys. I’ve been in other bands since but I’ve never had the camaraderie that we had in EQUINOX. When Pete first mentioned doing DRUID LORD I didn’t hesitate to join up. I really couldn’t ask for a better opportunity and as expected it’s going great."
Tony: “Pete was talking about doing a Doom band since 2007 when I took Matt’s place in EQUINOX. He was saying how cool it would be to go back and pay tribute to some of the great bands we grew up listening to like CELTIC FROST and ASPHYX. I have a lot going on, but always put in 100% into any band I'm a part of."
What are your goals with DRUID LORD? Would you say, that you keep the spirit of oldschool Doom / Death Metal alive?
Pete: “Our goal is simple. Keep recording new music and focusing on getting gigs for the band. Back in EQUINOX it took us forever to record new material. I swore we'd never do that again. I want DRUID LORD to do one full length a year with a few extras along the way like 7" EPs or a split EP. I'm a huge fan of vinyl and the Metal fans love it was well. We have a lot of creative drive right now. Yes, I'm all about oldschool Death Metal / Doom. I've also always been into the early Black and Thrash. So we will keep the oldschool feel alive. Playing Metal the way it should be played in my opinion.”
What does the name refer to and who came up with it?
Pete: “I came up with the name. The Druids were always very interesting to me. They were basically priests for the Celtic people coming from Western Europe. Most disappeared by the 5th century some say by converting to Christianity. Some believe they performed human sacrifice, rituals, etc. I like the idea of a Druid God or Druid King of sorts. This was my basis for the band. It has a heavy sound to it. This reflects in the overall tone of our music."
How about your rehearsals? How were the songs written at all?
Pete: “I usually write the music and form the arrangements with Steve. We then rehearse the song with Tony and work on lyrics. Tony and I share the lyrical ideas. Since we live in different areas of Florida it's easier to work this way. I write the guitar music first and send the guitar tracks to Steve."
Steve: “It’s a very difficult way to write songs but somehow we get it done. Unfortunately, due to our geographical differences we don’t always get the amount of time I would like to have for developing the material. A good portion of the songs on the CD were arranged literally the day before we recorded them. I didn’t get to ‘fill in’ the drum tracks as much as I would’ve liked.”
Have you recorded any demos to attract label interests? How did you do support and promotion for the band?
Pete: “No, there are no DRUID LORD demos. We did a few rehearsals just for the band but we didn't share those with anyone. We gained so much interest just putting one rehearsal track up on Myspace that we started getting offers to record an album. So the album was recorded in stages. It was meant to be a demo and MCD. We realized that we had to record an album. All our promotion was done by contacting friends, fans, bands that play Doom / Death, and just contacting labels. We were relentless in perusing these contacts. I wanted everyone to know who DRUID LORD was and that we were going to make an impact on the scene. It all happened really fast actually."
Your debut record was released on Halloween and is entitled "Hymns For The Wicked”... how did the recording sessions go?
Pete: “Very well. We recorded everything ourselves at Tony Blakk's studio Blakk Magic Studios. It was a learning experience to do everything ourselves from the recording to the mixing / mastering. It came out great in my opinion but I always think it can be better. So, we'll take the experience and make the next album even more crushing. The one thing I enjoyed was that there was no pressure. We recorded everything at our own pace. We are all perfectionists so we takes over and over until we were happy with the end result. Yes, it was important for us to have a Halloween release especially since the name of the band centers around Druids. We talked to Mike Juliano from the label and he agreed. It was released as planned on Horror Pain Gore Death Productions."
Tony: “Wow, they were pretty brutal. Drums and scratch guitar recorded in my garage which has become known as Blakk Magik Studios. In 90 degree heat. Rhythm guitars, bass, vocals and lead guitars recorded later in the A/C. We did our best to make it sound like everything was recorded at the same time, but truth be told, there are 3 different recording sessions on that album.”
Steve: “As well as the CD turned out I’m still surprised we managed to pull it off considering the circumstances. I have to hand it to Tony - he did a phenomenal job recording this. I give credit to the amount of experience we all have - that’s what we relied on to turn out such a great sounding CD in such little time. Most people don’t know it but the drum tracks were written and recorded in very short order. On a number of the tracks Pete and I would get together and do arrangements and work out the drum tracks and rhythm guitar and then record the final track the very next day with literally no time to rehearse them."
Does the album represent what you want to achieve with DRUID LORD?
Steve: “I think “Hymns For The Wicked” achieved what we set out to do and then some - of course, it was originally slated to be a 3 track demo but due to fan and label interest we morphed it into a full length release. “Hymns...” definitely exceeded our as a debut since the main purpose was to introduce everyone to our inception of Doom Metal. However, I think I can speak for all of us when I say that this CD just scratched the surface of what our overall aspirations for DRUID LORD actually are.”
Pete: “Yes, a very solid release. Damn heavy Doom / Death album.”
Tony: “Yes, I'm extremely proud of the way it turned out. I've learned so much about the process and have so many ideas for the next album.”
Is “Hymns For The Wicked” a classic Doom piece or does it continue in the sickly tradition of bands like ACID WITCH, COFFINS and AUTOPSY?
Pete: “That's exactly it, we are going for the classic sound but with that eternal heavy crushing feel. I could say we are similar to ACID WITCH, AUTOPSY, WINTER. These are all bands we admire and like to listen to, but my influences are too varied. As I mentioned before I listen to a lot of CANDLEMASS, CIRITH UNGOL, then I can turn around and listen to POSSESSED, NECROVORE, and the original Florida INCUBUS. DRUID LORD may be in that similar vein but we do have our own sound and technique.”
Tony: “As comparison would be or is legendary, cult NY based outfit WINTER too…Wow man, I am a huge WINTER fan. I actually had the chance to work with the guy that recorded their “Into Darkness” CD. Would you believe he died last year. Fucking tragic man. But, yeah, I think it’s going to be legendary someday. Most people I have talked to listen to it 3 or 4 times before they make an opinion about it. No one would listen a CD 4 times if it wasn't enjoyable."
Steve: “We are fans of different styles of Metal with each of us having a little bit different preferences yet we also have a lot of common ground given our roots in the scene. Rather than write in one specific genre we decided on basing DRUID LORD in the classic Doom and early Death styles but not limit ourselves by adhering to one style in particular. I feel this gives a multitude of fans who are into differing styles.”
Musically it is pure simplicity, all the typical trademarks, such as slow, crushing riffs, deep growls, well performed solos and good drum work are here, it isn’t varied, but I wouldn’t say boring either, what are your views on it?
Pete: “We knew from the beginning that this band would not be about blast beats or have a typical Death Metal feel. It had to have both influences from oldschool Death Metal and Doom Metal. Steve's drums really compliment my guitar playing. I was combining different type of guitar solos from minor scales interweaved with some Blues feel. We are not trying to be the most technical, but we are going for feeling. A feeling of dread and misery, of torture and pain. Blakk's vocals are damn sick and fit the music perfectly.”
Steve: “We are fans of different styles of Metal with each of us having a little bit different preferences yet we also have a lot of common ground given our roots in the scene. Rather than write in one specific genre we decided on basing DRUID LORD in the classic Doom and early Death styles but not limit ourselves by adhering to one style in particular. I feel this gives a multitude of fans who are into differing styles something to like about our music.”
Tony: “We tried to stay true to straight Doom, but it didn't work. Slowly but surely all these parts came out that weren't really classic Doom, but fit the music so well we had to take a step back and say "it doesn't have to be Doom all the time." There are little blasts and Black Metal vocals mixed in if you really listen for them you'll hear it.”
Are your influences and faves moving on a large / wide scale?
Pete: “It's hard to tell. Bands want to be popular as it leads to more $$$$. I still listen to many underground Metal bands that have never made it to a wide scale. To me it doesn't matter one way or another."
It seems you are familiar with the oldschool Finnish / Swedish underground scene (I speak about the late ’80s / early ’90s), in my opinion 'Gorgon Witch' sounds Scandinavian like
Pete: “Yes, I'm very familiar with the Scandinavian sound. 'Gorgon Witch' was meant to have more of a Death Metal feel. More verse / chorus / bridge type writing. I can see how some may see the relation to the Swedish feel. It was not my intention at all. I was just going for feeling when it came to the writing process."
Do you agree that DRUID LORD hasn’t anything to do with your previous or present bands, such as ACHERON, EQUINOX or SERPENT SON?
Pete: “I do agree. DRUID LORD is a separate entity. We have nothing in common with those bands other than the fact we played in those bands. You may hear a bit of old EQUINOX (demo days) in some of our stuff as we were more doomy back then."
Tony: “Yes, they are all separate bands and have different styles and different themes. We share members with these bands, but that is the only connection."
Steve: “Our fans will no doubt hear shades of early EQUINOX in DRUID LORD simply because all of us were involved with EQUINOX at that point of its history. I think each of us have certain dynamics to our playing that are apparent, no matter what band we play in. If you listen to the albums each of us played on with those other bands you can actually hear the difference between those and the ones that we didn’t play on. Not that we outshine anybody - it’s just that we have a different feel that can be discerned from others. I think that’s true of a lot of musicians. Take James Murphy for example. Listen to OBITUARY’s “Cause Of Death” and DEATH’s “Spiritual Healing” and you’ll hear James’ dynamics on both albums even though they are totally different in both name and style.”
How about EQUINOX by the way? How much influences DRUID LORD’s career the existence of the other outfits which you are involved in?
Pete: “EQUINOX is a great band and always will be. The band is on hold at the moment as we all have other things going on at the moment. If the ideal situation ever comes around then EQUINOX may come back. We'll have to see.”
Steve: “EQUINOX was a reflection of what we were into in those days and I think we can all say we still enjoy the music we made in that band. As Pete said, if the ideal situation presents itself (having the original line-up back together for example) I think we’d all be into doing something under that name."
What can you tell us about the lyrics? What kind of themes, topics did influence the lyrics?
Pete: “I'm focusing my ideas on the lyrics to center around Horror Occult type things. For instance, we've into all those cult horror movies from the 60s - 70s. So, I find a lot of lyrical ideas from that or just sadistic people of history. I put the lyrics together with Tony and so far it's coming out very cool. Sure, some of the lyrics are simple but this is Doom / Death Metal. We are not trying to change the world with our lyrics and we don't care to. Keep it simple and keep it creepy and evil is our goal."
Tony: “Old Horror movies, Zombies waking you up in the middle of the night to feast on your flesh, Vultures circling you, waiting for you to die - just tales of dread to spark people’s imagination about what those experiences would be like.”
Are you satisfied with the sound of the record? Does it live up to the expectations? Does it satisfy the demands of the oldschool fans?
Pete: “Hell yes, we are very satisfied!!! From the artwork, to the layout, lyrics, production. Everything came out how we planned. We are getting a great response from the oldschool fans and new fans too. One interesting thing is we are getting a lot of interest from the Black Metal crowd. Maybe it's the cold feeling we convey. The use of black/white artwork. The classic feeling of those "B" horror movies. I'm not sure but we are getting a good following.”
Tony: “It does for me. Honestly, I listen to some stuff from the old days and can't believe how bad it sounds. Technology has really come a long way. There is no way we could have had our own recording studio back in '90 or '95. That's why we went to Morrisound. They were the experts. I'm not saying it is perfect, but our fans have been shocked to learn we recorded these songs ourselves."
Steve: “Given the amount of time we had to work with it came out excellent. Actually, there are only a few small improvements that we could have done that would have improved the overall sound but all in all I’m quite satisfied with our first offering."
The cover artwork is simply awesome, it fits to the music perfect... can you tell us more about it?
Tony: “When we thought about an artist, there was one name we all agreed on, Putrid. The guy's been around forever and his stuff is totally pro. We were psyched to learn he heard one of our songs and agreed to do the cover.”
Steve: “Putrid was a stroke of luck for us for sure. We came up with a general idea of what we wanted and he exceeded our expectations by far. He is due a good deal of credit for providing us with cover art that everyone notices and everyone likes."
What kind of reviews did you get so far on the record?
Tony: “Haven't got a bad one yet. You know opinions are like assholes, everyone’s got one. I'm sure someone somewhere is not into it, but I haven't met that person yet."
Pete: “Killer reviews!!!! Most reviews are getting what DRUID LORD is all about. They understand what we are doing.”
Steve: “I’m pleased with the response we’re getting from both fans and press alike. I appreciate the fact that all of the reviews we’ve received have been honest - pointing out what was good and what they thought we lacked. It gives us ideas on how to improve our music for our next release."
There will also be a LP version on Witches’ Tone Records, strictly limited to 500 copies... was it done for the diehard fans? Is the CD release limited too or…?
Pete: “The CD is very limited. The LP is for the Diehard fan. Witches' Tone Records out of Germany did an amazing job on the LP. The first 100 copies are the limited version on orange / black splatter vinyl with limited DRUID LORD bag / patch. All LPs come as a gatefold with insert, poster. These are going fast by the way so get copy quick. Worth every Metal penny!!!!!”
Steve: “I’m psyched to have an LP coming out. It’s a format you can do so much with and Anna at Witches’ Tone Records outdid herself with this release. There’s more than just a killer LP with a great package - the LP comes with a carrying bag imprinted with the DRUID LORD logo a logo patch and a DRUID LORD sticker. First rate stuff!”
A track for an upcoming split 7” EP with the band WOODEN STAKE is currently also in the works... is it a brand new track or was it recorded during the "Hymns…" sessions? What's the title of this song?
Pete: “The song is titled 'Black Candle Séance'. This split will be amazing. Both tracks crush. WOODEN STAKE play haunting occult Metal with female vocals. I think both bands complement each other. Both bands will also have their own artwork. This will be released on Altsphere Productions and will be VERY limited. I can't say enough about this split. Eric "Rot" Engelmann (HOODED MENACE) did our cover.”
Tony: “It's called 'Black Candle Séance' and it was recorded a few months after we wrapped up the “Hymns For The Wicked” sessions. It's about a group of friends who hold séances in this old abandoned mansion. But, things go horribly wrong when a spirit is summoned who has evil intentions.”
When does this split material come out exactly?
Pete: “The release date is February 11, 2010. Samples of both tracks can be found at the Altsphere Productions website. Check ‘em out.”
You still don’t own an official website, only myspace and facebook pages, didn’t you consider it as important having a website? Is it a good tool for bands promoting themselves?
Pete: “Right now we don't care. We got so much attention on Facebook and Myspace that having our own website seems pointless right now as we are so damn busy. Unless we find someone to run a site for us it probably won't happen right now. Maybe in the future.”
Steve: “With the amount of attention we get and correspondence we do on Facebook and Myspace I’m not sure we’d have time for an official site at the moment. We also have other sites to run on sites like Bandcamp, Reverbnation and Last.fm to name a few.”
What are your future plans? Do you plan going on tour or playing some local shows?
Pete: “We have plans on finding another guitar player for live gigs and getting ready for that. We have a split CD / LP planned with the Death Metal band KAIJU for next year. Both bands will have about 3 tracks each with a bonus track on the LP. I want to get our own 7" EP out and of course a full length by Halloween 2011 hopefully.”
Do you have some new songs written? Are there already any plans for a second album?
Pete: “I'm writing music for new songs as we speak. We won't stop. Yes, a second and third....”
Steve: “Write, write, write, record, record, record with the odd live gig thrown in for fun!”
Thanks a lot for the answers, anything to add to the interview?
Pete: “Thanks for taking the time to come up with great questions. We appreciate the support. Visit our MySpace and Facebook sites and check out our merch. Shirts are still available too. Watch for more DRUID LORD in 2011. Horror Occult Doom Death!!!!!”
Steve: “I’m impressed with the thought and effort you put into this interview. It was in-depth and covered a lot of things we want to get across to our listeners so cheers to you for all the work you put in! Look us up on Facebook under ‘DruidLord Lives’ and www.myspace.com/druidlordz to stay up to date on everything going on with DRUID LORD! Anyone who wants any merchandise can find everything for sale on our Bandcamp page or contact us through Facebook or Myspace. Thanks for the interest and support!”
Tony: “Thanks for the support. Feel free to publish my email address for your readers, its email@example.com and our myspace is www.myspace.com/druidlordz”
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