HEADHUNTER D.C., one of Brazil's longest running Death Metal acts, recently got honoured with the release of a tribute album entitled "Born To Punish The Skies... A Deathmetallic Brotherhood In Darkest Mourning For God - Tribute To HEADHUNTER D.C (Vol. 1)". Since our last bigger feature on HEADHUNTER D.C. is already a couple of years old, we figured it would be a cool idea (with an overall different approach) to exclusively discuss this tribute release with the band's vocalist Sérgio "Baloff" Borges... So, read on and find out all details in the following interview.
Greetings Sérgio, hope all is well in Brazil?! Have you ever answered any interviews that exclusively deal with the HEADHUNTER D.C. tribute album before?
"Deathmetallic hails Frank & mighty VFTDS!!! Glad for appearing here once again! Things here are going well, thanks. We’re preparing ourselves for the upcoming shows from next Saturday 22 on, ending 2014 at this year’s Zoombie Ritual Open Air on December 14 sharing the stage with almighty VENOM! A dream is going to come true... Horns up!!! As for the HEADHUNTER D.C. tribute album, it’s the very first time I’m answering an interview dealing exclusively with it, and although it has been released there are only three months, I do not think there will be other inties like this, then kudos to Voices From The Darkside for the exclusiveness, haha!"
Who came up with the idea for a HEADHUNTER D.C. tribute album and how did you get the message out that you were looking for bands to contribute?
"The idea came from the mind of Mutilation Recs’ boss Sérgio Tullula kind of 2, 3 years ago when we were turning 25 years of existence, so he thought it was about time to do a homage like this for us through his label, what made me more than fucking honoured. After that, some time has passed until Sérgio finally asked me to be free to coordinate the tribute, inviting bands which I believed had a real link with us, musical and ideological wise, so I started inviting some bands we’re in contact with for some years (and which there was a kind of mutual admiration / respect with as well) and then the initial step was taken."
Was it clear right from the start that Mutilation Records would release the album?
"Yes, since they’re the label which the idea came from, not mentioning that they’re our current label in Brazil, so there couldn’t be a better one to do it."
Have you been aware of any HEADHUNTER D.C. cover songs (recorded on a band's album, EP or demo) before there was talk about a tribute album?
"Not that many. From the more unknown, there was a Brazilian Death / Grind band from mid 90s, from Itabuna, Bahia called SECOND FACE that recorded a great version for 'Winds Of Death' on their “The Death Of Messiah” demo. INSIDE HATRED also used to play 'Eternal Hatred' at their shows and if I’m not wrong they used a live recording of it as a bonus track for one of their demos (and they’ll appear on the second volume of the tribute with a proper studio recording of it as well), but of course the most known HEADHUNTER D.C. cover song is 'Am I Crazy?' by SANCTIFIER recorded for our split 10” from 2007 on Legion Of Death Records. If there’s any other out there I’m not aware, please someone let me know!"
Would you have included previously released cover songs on the tribute album as well or should any band that wanted to appear on it come up with an exclusive recording?
"Since we’re not a so popular band, the possibility of any band having a previously released cover song of ours - apart from the ones we are aware of - was remote, so we were not even counting on this. Anyway, having brand new recordings of them would sound better and fresher and thus they are."
Was it clear from the beginning that it would become not only one, but actually two volumes? Have you ever considered to release it as a 2 CD set right from the start?
"The initial Mutilation plan was to release one volume only, but since there were more bands other than the initially invited that shown interest in participating, then a second volume also had to be planned. Another real reason for a two volume release is the running time of our songs, which mostly exceed 4 minutes long. Yes, I got to consider it as a double CD set, but Mutilation found it better to do it as a 2 volumes release and now I think that was the best decision to be taken, even because since we are dealing with many bands, there are different deadlines among them for their material to be sent, then it would take too much until we have all masters in hands and consequently the tribute would take much longer to be finally released."
Since compilation albums in general and tribute albums in particular have never really been the best selling releases, would the label still release volume 2 if volume 1 wouldn't sell the necessary amount of copies?
"Yes, volume 2 will be surely released, it’s not only a plan. More than half of the bands for it has already sent their masters, so the release date is planned to be around first trimester of 2015, regardless of the volume 1 sales. Selling wise, the CD is being sold at a lower price than the usual here in Brazil, taking into consideration the quality of the release, with nearly 80 minutes of playing time and a 24-page booklet with one page for each band, liner notes etc., and according to the label and our own, despite of its very recent release, the sales are going really well, even if people do not use to buy this kind of release a lot."
How did you select the bands that ended up on the album? Did you accept any band's contribution or have there been recordings that you didn't wanna use for one reason or another?
"As I said, some bands’ names were initially chosen by me and then they were invited to appear on the tribute. The criteria used was basically the link these bands have with us musical and ideological wise as I previously said - consequently the other bands that later shown interest would also surely fit in this same context. No other band besides the ones that appeared / will appear on both volumes sent us recordings for the tribute."
Did you talk to the bands upfront which songs had already been picked by other bands in order to avoid that songs would be recorded more than once?
"Actually I sent the same list of songs to be recorded to all the invited bands at the same time. Those who replied and have chosen their song first got the preference. Then, all the other bands that got in contact with us to participate on it received an updated list only with the songs still available, but there were a couple of cases in both volumes in which the bands have chosen a song that wasn’t on the list, what I found really cool."
How did you manage to come up with such a varied mixture of material? I mean there are 5 songs from "Born... Suffer... Die", 4 songs from "Punishment At Dawn", 3 songs each from "...And The Sky Turns To Black... (The Dark Age Has Come)" and "God's Spreading Cancer" and 2 songs from "...In Unholy Mourning...", so there's quite a solid balance of material on offer and no album is really underrepresented... Was that pure coincidence or did you plan this while compiling the compilation?
"No, that was on purpose. The idea was to really have a balance between our albums and their songs. Anyway, if any band had chosen any song that was not on the list then I wouldn’t complain and would accept it without any problem, like the ones I mentioned on the previous question. I never imagined, for instance, there would be bands choosing songs from the last album just because it has been released only a couple of years ago (also mentioning that bands use to record older cover songs on this kind of release), but for my surprise there were two bands that have chosen songs from it: REVEL IN FLESH with 'Deny The Light' and NERVO CHAOS with 'Lightless...', both with amazingly killer versions."
But it seems pretty obvious that HEADHUNTER D.C. is far more popular in your homecountry than in the rest of the world since 12 (out of the featured 17) bands are actually hailing from Brazil... Did that bother you in any way when you put the compilation together?
"Haha, obviously not! It could be a homage coming only from Brazilian bands and the honor would be the same. Even if Brazil is our homeland, it wouldn’t matter where the homage and recognition would come from as Death Metal is universal. Anyway, we’re glad to see and hear bands from other countries paying tribute to the Death Cult, what means that the word is spread not only in Brazil and South America. Spreading the Cult like a plague!!!!!!"
Did the label pay each band for the recordings or how was it possible that so many bands ended up recording songs that could be used?
"No, the label didn’t pay any band for the recordings, I mean, there wasn’t any money sent previously to them for it, but after the CD has been released Mutilation is sending copies for the bands to help covering their studio costs. All the bands were previously informed about that and all of them agreed with the terms."
How much time went into the whole project? I mean, I can imagine that it must be pretty difficult to deal with so many different bands and then still being able to have everything finished at a certain deadline...
"The whole project for the first volume of the tribute took around one year and a half, I guess, since the definitive accordance for the release between me and Sérgio from Mutilation until it gets finally out. The main reason for it hasn’t been released earlier was the long time some bands took to send their masters, but all in all, in view of some tribute albums we have already participated, I think it came out in a very reasonable time frame."
Was there a particular reason why a HEADHUNTER D.C. tribute album was to be released just now? I mean there's no real band anniversary or something, so...
"As I said before, the tribute was supposed to be released still in celebration for our 25 years completed in 2012, but as one can see in retrospect, another commemorative release of ours hasn’t been out in time, the 20th anniversary double CD on Crypts Of Eternity Prods. from Peru which should be released in 2007 and was only released in 2010. The Headhunter “Delay” Cult continues... HAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!"
How much time did you (or other members of HEADHUNTER D.C.) personally spend on the whole project? How deeply involved have you been in everything?
"There is only one person in the band involved on the whole tribute project and that is me. From the tribute title, contact with and selection of the bands, cover and layout concepts, liner notes about the band, to the compilation of the cover songs, everything came from my twisted mind and effort, and you know what? That was a huge pleasure! That was my humble cooperation for such a historical release, not only for us, but for the Brazilian and South American Death Metal scene since it’s the very first tribute album for a Brazilian 100% Death Metal band, in which the most important aspect is, of course, the great homage made by the bands with their great versions. There was more than one year spent on it interspersed with the other band’s and personal activities, but I can say it was more than worth it. Total death guaranteed!"
The cover artwork was created by Juanjo Castellano Rosado, who's a pretty busy artist himself these days, so was the artwork already finished before everything else maybe? Did you give him the order to create the cover before all bands had send in their stuff in order to safe some time maybe?
"When I got the finished artwork from Juanjo almost all bands had already sent their cover masters and further stuff, just remaining a few to be sent. As you know, Juanjo Castellano had already also signed the cover of our latest effort “...In Unholy Mourning...” and Mutilation (and also ourselves of course) liked the artwork so much that they decided to have a deal with him again to work on the tribute cover. The result was simply awesome again! Notice that every detail of that demonic sculpture on the cover refers to every album cover of ours and I think it worked out really great just as the tribute title referring to every title of our albums, easily influenced by the POSSESSED tribute album’s title “Seven Gates Of Horror” - the one we got banished from, do you remember, Frank? Haha!!!" (yep - Frank)
Tribute albums (or compilation albums in general) mostly differ a lot in quality from band to band... some of them lack in a proper recording quality, others in musical skills etc. etc. - did you have a certain quality level that bands needed to live up to in order to be included? I mean, if the majority of material would suck, it could also hurt the reputation of your band as well, don't you think?
"We use to be on the other side of tribute albums, I mean, we participate in tribute albums since 1996 when we appeared on the DORSAL ATLÂNTICA tribute CD entitled “Omnisciens”. Since then there were around 8 tribute appearances among released and never released ones. Being on the honouring side our main concern was to do our best in quality terms (skill and recording wise) to pay our own tribute in the best way possible, but on the other hand, being on the honoured side now, I think the fact that a band is there doing a homage for my band in the most sincere and honest way possible (and that couldn’t be different as we’re not talking about a tribute to a mainstream band nor will it be spread worldwide in a large scale) is what is really important for us, no matter if it’s a highly skilled band playing one of our songs in a perfect way musically wise with a crystal clear recording or a raw band performing a raw version of it – the most important is the spirit, the feeling, the essence. Of course I would never be a hypocrite to say that I enjoyed a version that totally sucks (like many I’ve heard in different tribute albums over the years), but fortunately that wasn’t the case on the volume 1 and I’m sure that won’t be the case on the volume 2, at least in my opinion."
You, as a member of the band, are way closer to all of the songs since you've been part of their origin and therefore know each one of them in and out. So, which are the 3 best contributions on the album in your opinion and what makes them stand out for you?
"Don’t do this to me, Frank! That’s not fair! HAHAHA!!!!!!!!! Well, seriously now, it would be too unfair and even unethical from my side to say the best contributions in my opinion, even because every cover song has a special feature for me. I can mention, for example, two very different songs, versions and performances that I like in the same (and also different) way: one is the furiously and tightly performed version for 'Deny The Light' from “...In Unholy Mourning...” by German REVEL IN FLESH which got even greater with the mastering made by Dan Swanö, and the other is the rotten, disgusting and putrid-smelling version for the already gory’n grinding 'Death Vomit' from “Born...Suffer...Die” by PURE NOISE, a band probably (and totally) unknown for most of you out of here, but very respected in the Grind / Noisecore scene in Brazil, so one can found very interesting paradoxes on it. Other amazing contributions I really love (not in detriment of others, of course) are 'Celebrate The Chaos' by EMBRIONAL, 'Inner Demons Rise!' by INNER DEMONS RISE, 'Winds Of Death' by DEAD CONSPIRACY, 'Beyond The Deepest Lie' by QUEIRON, 'Intense Infanticide' by DEMONIC RAGE, 'Hallucinations' by POISONOUS, 'Lightless...' by NERVO CHAOS, 'Suicidal Soldier' by HOLDER... the list goes on... at last, all the bands have their great features, so they deservedly are part of the tribute."
Can you already tell us some details concerning volume 2? Which bands will appear on it and is it already clear when volume 2 is going to be released?
"As I said before, volume 2 is planned to be out in the first trimester of 2015, but as well as the first, it will depend more on the agility of the bands involved in sending their stuff than on me or on the label. The bands that already sent their stuff or have already finished their recordings for the upcoming volume 2 are APOKALYPTIC RAIDS, OBSKURE, VULTURE, INCINERADOR, INSIDE HATRED, ETERNAL SACRIFICE, ESCARNIUM, DISGRACE AND TERROR, S.O.H. and EMBALMED SOULS. The other bands already confirmed are NECROCCULTUS, CAUTERIZATION, DEFORMITY BR, SECONDS OF NOISE and GRAVE DESECRATOR. German HATESPAWN, which was on the initial list for the second volume, unfortunately finished their activities (according to themselves) and can no longer participate, what is really a pity for me since they are one of my fave bands in the current Death Metal scene, so they need to be replaced soon, and another European act is yet to be confirmed by themselves, but in a way or another everything must be confirmed later this year so that it can start being developed in the very beginning of 2015. Just wait and see!"
Ok Sérgio, that's about it... thanks for taking the time to talk with us about the HEADHUNTER D.C. tribute album... if you'd like to add something to this feature we might have missed out, you're welcome to do so now.
"First off let me thank you Frank Stöver for this unique chance of sharing some thoughts and info regarding the HEADHUNTER D.C. tribute album in an exclusive way and for your always mighty support throughout the years. All those deathmetallions interested in acquiring the tribute just get in touch through the email email@example.com or through the band’s official page on Facebook: www.facebook.com/headhunterdc. Last words about it are that we’re definitely honored for this, which is a kind of release usually oriented to mainstream bands only, so it’s amazing to have a tribute album to a 100% underground band that holds the Death Metal flag for long 27 years already, so I can only say thanks to Mutilation Records, all the bands involved and all those who are getting the release. We’ll for sure keep ourselves strong enough to honor back such a great homage. The Death Cult never dies!!!!!!!!! See you on the Death Metal road! HAIL THE METAL OF DEATH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
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