Erik Rutan, guitarist and singer in one of the most extreme bands in the Death Metal scene: HATE ETERNAL. He's also known for his recent work in MORBID ANGEL and for his past devoted to the style he enjoys and prays the most, Death Metal. As the band has just released their second album "King Of All Kings", we had the opportunity of talking with the guy, via telephone to speak about the band, his past works and the future of this awesome act...
Hi Erik. What's up? Where are you now?
"Hello, well busy doing interviews over here in Los Angeles. I really enjoy this periods when you've just released a new album and you have to make all this promotion thing..."
Lets talk about the new release. You've released this new record through Earache Records directly instead of Wicked World, Earache's sublabel, where you released your debut album "Conquering The Throne", why this?
"It was just a decision from Earache Records. Wicked World is a sublabel from Earache, so there's not much problem doing the record directly through them. The promotion department and the distribution is the same for both, so it's the same thing."
Maybe I'm wrong, but it sounds to me that Earache saw that your debut record was a big success and they decided that it would be fair and profitable for the label to release the new album by themselves instead of the sublabel, don't you think so?
"To be honest with you, we prefer to be on the main label instead of the sublabel. It's not that we have nothing towards Wicked World, but Earache is more known than them and we're sure that Earache's work on promotion and the rest is going to be amazing. Earache has done so many things for Death Metal music throughout the years, that we feel very comfortable with them now. We make music for fans and for ourselves and we really think that Earache Records are going to spread it to every corner of the world, in fact they're doing it."
"King Of All Kings" is a really awesome record. For me it's much more brutal, fast and technical than your debut. How is it possible that just three guys are able of recording a so crushing Death Metal album?
"Thanks for the kind words, man. Well, Death Metal for us is something so important that we feel the need of taking it as serious as possible. We are three musicians that love what we do. Death Metal is more than just a music style. I've been involved in the Death Metal scene for so many years and I still enjoy and love this thing, man. "King Of All Kings" is some kind of tribute to the fans of this style of music. It's some kind of continuation of "Conquering The Throne" and it represents our will to achieve the power. Jared (Anderson; bass and vocals), Derek (Roddy; drums) and me, we've worked very hard to achieve perfection and I really think we've got it with this new album. We still play the kind of brutal Death Metal we're known for, but this time everything sounds better and heavier. Some people have told us that this new record is what they were looking for since a long time ago into extreme music."
The record is amazing, with many fast and brutal rhythms, but the complexity displayed throughout the record is simply awesome. How important is it for you as a band to sound skillful, as well as brutal?
"Skillness is 90% of our music. If you sound very brutal and fast, but you don't have the technique, it uses to become a wall of noise. If you know how to handle your instrument and you play it properly, you have the work done, man! Sometimes you hear bands that use to play absolutely fast and brutal, but it lacks of something... And it uses to be the technique. Death Metal must be technical..."
You always have the words "Death Metal" in your mouth and it seems that you believe what you're saying. Not every musician into this style or other different ones pray so much about his lifestyle than you, isn't it?
"That's because I really feel what I do, as well as Jared and Derek. As I told you, I've been involved into this scene since a very long time ago. I love Death Metal, just because, as you've said it's more than just a simple style of music. I sleep dreaming with Death Metal, I wake up in the morning thinking in Death Metal and I spend my whole days doing Death Metal... Not just that I play in a Death Metal band. I also produce Death Metal albums and try to follow everything that happens into this Death Metal scene. HATE ETERNAL is a brute force into the Death Metal scene. We pretend to make HATE ETERNAL as big as possible in this movement, no barriers will stop us! HATE ETERNAL is going to become one of the big bands into this style. We just have two records released, but I think that we've shown people that we are here to stay true to our believes, and our believes are simply Death Metal!"
Well, sincerely, listening to "King Of All Kings" and also to "Conquering The Throne", one can see that the words you're saying come from the heart...
"Yeah, of course... They come from the heart, because that's exactly what we think!!!"
Let's talk a bit about HATE ETERNAL, when you released your debut album "Conquering The Throne". Back then you had Doug Cerrito playing guitars and Tim Yeung doing the drums, apart of Jared and you. Why did they leave the band?
"Well, they didn't leave the band. They were just helping Jared and me in this period. They both had different interests in life. I just asked them if they would be interested on helping me doing the debut record and they both agreed on doing it. We're absolute thankful to them for doing this. Then I asked Derek (he had experience in such acts like MALEVOLENT CREATION, NILE, COUNCIL OF THE FALLEN...) if he would be interested in entering HATE ETERNAL and he said yes. I'm happy of having Jared and Derek in the band now. They're absolute competent musicians and they know perfectly what they want, and for me that's enough."
It seems that when you started HATE ETERNAL it was more of a project than a serious band or something like this, isn't it?
"Well, I was very busy playing with MORBID ANGEL when I started up with HATE ETERNAL, but I always took HATE ETERNAL as a serious band, not a project. If I have left MORBID ANGEL it has been because I wanted to concentrate myself 100% in HATE ETERNAL. If someone have thought of this band as a project band, they can change their minds and start to consider this as a serious Death Metal band."
I don't want to bore you so much about the MORBID ANGEL affair, as I suppose that you must be a bit tired of answering questions about all of this and not about your actual work in HATE ETERNAL, but what do you want to tell me about all of this, if you want to do it, of course?
"Thanks man, you're right... In the last couple of months, I've been asked for my past in MORBID ANGEL more than about what my work in HATE ETERNAL represents. I don't care about answering all those questions but I'd prefer to answer questions about my actual band than about my past work. Don't worry, I'll answer you, because I see that you know what you're talking about... I did leave MORBID ANGEL just because I felt the necessity of concentrating myself on my band HATE ETERNAL. I've been 9 years together with Trey and Pete and I don't regret anything I've done with MORBID ANGEL. It has been a really great experience being part of one of the most important and influential Death Metal bands in the world. But it comes a time when you have to think twice about your priorities and my priority today is HATE ETERNAL. All the years I've been playing in MORBID ANGEL have been great, of course, but the touring periods, the composition and recording periods and the enormous time devoted to them, stopped me a bit on developing HATE ETERNAL to the next level. I wanted to devote all of my time in something that was really mine. Some people have come and said to me: "Fuck, man! You've left the most important Death Metal band on the whole planet!!!" And I use to answer: "Yes, to make HATE ETERNAL as big as them!"
And what about your relationship with Pete Sandoval and Trey Azagthoth today? Is there any animosity against them? Do you still see the guys once in a while?
"I use to be asked about this... I'm still a very good friend with the guys. I keep a very good relationship with them and they don't think of me in different ways. They perfectly understood my decision and they have respected it since the beginning."
Why to wait nearly three years between "Conquering The Throne" and "King Of All Kings"?
"I explained you about the situation with MORBID ANGEL. I've been writing new material for HATE ETERNAL between tour periods with them. So, this way it was not so easy to write new songs and arrange them. But now, with me and the rest of the guys giving 110% to the band, I'm sure that we'll release new stuff each year or so..."
Do you think of "King Of All Kings" as a step ahead, not only in your career but also in the Death Metal field?
"Sure it is! Of course, it's people who judge, but I really think that this new album is a big improvement for us and it can be a pillar for the Death Metal movement. Or at least, I really hope so!"
What memories do you have of your period in RIPPING CORPSE?
"The best ones, man! It was my first serious band, I was so young and unexperienced that I look back now and see how child I was back then. But you never forget your first steps as a musician and I still look back with pride for having being part of this band."
What do you think of the band that some of the guys have now called DIM MAK, apart of the fact that you produced them?
"I love this band. I prefer their new record, first because I produced it and secondly, just because I really think it's more complex than the first one. They are cool guys and I'm happy that after the split of RIPPING CORPSE, many of us continued in one way or another involved in music."
Perhaps you're not the most appropriate one to be asked this question, but what about INTERNECINE, Jared's parallel band? Is it something serious or just a project band? You also produced the record and played the guitars in some of the songs, isn't it?
"Jared had songs written since a long time ago and he wanted to put them on CD format, so he offered the stuff to Hammerheart Records and they agreed on releasing it. I don't know if it's going to have any kind of continuation, but Jared's main objective now is the same than mine's: HATE ETERNAL!!! And he's giving everything he can offer to make HATE ETERNAL big. INTERNECINE is some interesting stuff and I really enjoyed playing for him and producing his record."
What about your producer's work at Mana Recording Studio, your own studio?
"Incredible!!! I enjoy so much producing than playing an instrument. It's very funny and enjoyable... I'm very busy lately doing productions, man!"
Talking about production, would you have changed something on the production of "King Of All Kings"?
"Not much. As a musician and producer, you always look on this or that and think for yourself: "Oh, I'll do it better next time...", but I'm really satisfied with the work done on the record. Everything sounds the way we wanted. We've been working really hard to push everything at time and get to record it the way we thought. And the result is satisfactory."
Well Erik, thanx a lot for this interesting interview. If you want to add something, do it now. Good luck in the future and we really hope to see HATE ETERNAL in Spain soon...
"Thanks to you. It has been one of the most interesting chats I've done in all this promotional campaign. It seems that you guy know what you're talking about and that you're a fan of extreme music since a long time ago. We really hope to see you on tour in the near future. Death Metal is still alive and we're here to show all the people about that."
Interview: Tony (originally published by Xtreem Music)
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