Australia already gave birth to a lot of extreme Metal acts, but I personally wasn’t really into most of them, to be perfectly honest… Well, ok – of course I still worship the classic HOBBS ANGEL OF DEATH and ARMOURED ANGEL releases and I also pretty much enjoyed the GOSPEL OF THE HORNS debut mini CD, but I was never really a big fan of all the uncompromising, intense bands that emerged from Down Under the last couple of years…. Things immediately changed when I got to hear CEMETERY URN, the latest (and greatest) band of former CORPSE MOLESTATION and BESTIAL WARLUST frontman Damon Bloodstorm… These guys are a lot more oldschool sounding, yet equally intense and maintain an overall quite blasphemous approach in their songwriting, so that their two full length albums "Urn Of Blood" and "The Conquered Are Burned" are highly recommended to fans of this particular style. We hooked up with Damon for the following in-depth interview about the band’s past, present and future…
Greetings Damon, hope everything’s going well on the other side of the planet and you’re in a good mood to do some talking about CEMETERY URN?!
"Greetings Frank! All is well over here and I’m fully recovered from the alcohol woftage from the U.S tour, so yes ready to talk!!"
Tell us a bit about the early days of CEMETERY URN, cause all I know so far is that the band started out in the summer of 2006… When I got it right, CEMETERY URN was formed by Andrew Gillan (who already used to be in BESTIAL WARLUST and ABOMINATOR with you) and yourself… What actually lead to the origin of CEMETARY URN? Were you dissatisfied with your previous bands or something?
"We began sitting in a bar in our city of Melbourne and since I wasn’t doing anything at the time and Andrew said to me ABOMINATOR wasn’t doing anything at the time as well, so we had the idea to do some kind of a project, so over mass amounts of beer we planned it all out over the next few days, and then the writing of music and the finding of members began, so yeah it was a straight forward beginning."
When and how did drummer Matt ‘Skitz’ Sanders get into the picture then? Is it equally difficult to find skilled drummers in Australia as it seems to be in certain areas overhere?
"We had known Skitz for many many years and it was only after trying out several drummers that couldn’t do what we wanted, we decided to ask him since Andrew was helping out his band as a session guitarist so it was quite easy for him to help us, and we knew he could do the work we wanted as he is very experienced and has played in many bands over the years, not only that we also knew he could contribute in other areas too. So yeah the choice was made!!!"
Who came up with the name CEMETERY URN and does it have any deeper meaning for you or was it simply chosen because it sounded cool for a band that plays brutal Death Metal? Are you aware of the fact that a lot of people often misspell it CEMETARY instead of CEMETERY? Probably due to the Swedish band that also spelled it the wrong way…
"The name was chosen simply by Andrew and me when we first had the idea for this project, it suits our style and represents the overall music what we wanted to create, plus it’s a good Death Metal name too, which is a must have!! Ha!! Yeah I often see CEMETERY spelt several different ways here too, but we chose what we know, and to our knowledge it’s the correct way from our education."
When and how did you end up with FUNEBRARUM’s Daryl Kahan for the logo design? Were you in touch with him before already? Was the logo all his ideas or did you contribute bits and pieces as well?
"Yeah we have been friends with Daryl for a long time and often visited him over his way over the years and we knew of his artwork and design ability so we simply asked him to create a logo design for us, in which we gave him some ideas in which he knew right away, he added his ideas too and thus the final result appeared which was exact!! He has also created the artwork for both of our albums along with merchandise designs too!! Which we are extremely pleased with!!!"
In February 2007 you already entered Three Phase Studio in Melbourne with engineer / producer Sam Johnston for the recordings of "Urn Of Blood"… why didn’t you complete the line-up first and let Andrew take care of guitar and bass duties instead?
"We had problems finding a suitable bassist or the ones we wanted were unavailable, so Andrew decided to do the duties to save a lot of delays and later search for the required members to complete the line up."
What made you record a full length album right away? Have you never considered to record some demos before in order to see how your material sounded in a studio recording and to get the name of the band out a bit more?
"We did demos for ourselves only and worked on the sound we wanted and because we are experienced in working in studios over many years we knew what we wanted, and of course we knew the studio sound too, so it was decided a full length album would be done and because our plan all along was to release it on our own label Cemetary Recordings so there was no need to release a demo and because of the member history behind the band would eventually help us circulate the name through various promotional channels worldwide."
How long did you stay in the studio for the recordings until you finally were able to do the mixing in June 2007?
"Due to limited times with the studio being available and also times with the band and of course finances we recorded it in different sessions from February until May, the drums were completed in the first session over a few days, then after a day or two here and there until we completed it."
Your drummer Matt unfortunately didn’t really stay in the band for too long, so what was the reason that he already left CEMETERY URN right after the recordings again?
"Yeah Matt Skitz had alot of things going on with other bands he was involved in so it was very hard to commit and we had to keep it going, so it didn’t work out between us so we went on search for another drummer, there’s no bad blood and we are still cool friends, and he did killer work on the album!! Hail to him for his efforts!!!"
It surprisingly didn’t took you very long to find a proper replacement in Xavier Lawrence… how did that happen and when and how did Squiz (bass) and Luke (guitar) become members of CEMETERY URN?
"Well it wasn’t too long after we recorded the album Andrew met up with Squiz and yes, yet again at a bar he was an old friend of ours of many years, he had played in many bands over the years from our area and at the time he wasn’t doing too much musically and we knew his ability and his beer habbits would suit us completely, so a rehearsal session was organised and he joined right way. As to the addition of Xavier well, Andrew came across him performing in another local area Death Metal band and after several discussions with him he was offered to audition after several sessions he was offered the position and he then became a member. Then as time went on we were auditioning guitarists and found none suitable, so Luke who was also playing in Xavier’s other band offered to help us out as a session member in which we decided to take him on board and then eventually as a permanent member, so the line up now was complete."
On April 24, 2008 you played your very first show as CEMETERY URN at the Noise Bar in Melbourne… was it with that five-piece line-up? Tell us a bit more about that special night and how it turned out for you…
"Yeah it was as a 5 piece line up for the show, a very good night with alot of old friends and maniacs attending, considering we didn’t do much promotion the night was a success and we all played well."
In June of 2008 you already left Australia for a 17 dates lasting U.S. tour… Did you book that tour on your own or were you invited by some booking agent or band from the U.S.? Did you play as headliners or support act? Which band(s) did you tour with back then and how did you get along?
"We have had a long time contact in Chris from Hate / War Productions and Booking in Los Angeles so we organised it completely with him, we gave him dates that were available for us and he got it all together. He then suggested we should do it with another band from here in Australia and make it a big tour package, so then we contacted our friends from here GOSPEL OF THE HORNS and asked if they were available to do it, which they agreed to, so then other bands from the U.S were added to the line-up which were ANGELCORPSE (5 shows), ARES KINGDOM (3 shows), SANGUIS IMPEREM (for the complete tour) and HOLOCAUST WOLVES OF THE APOCALYPSE, and then the tour was named BLOOD OF THE DAMNED TOUR 2008. Most of the tour we played in the middleof the line up some of the nights, or second last on other nights which was ok by us because we had more beer time!! Ha!! The whole tour was killer, all the bands were all good friends so we had many brutal times on the road, the time will never be forgotten!!!"
What about shows in Australia (or other countries) at the time? Or did you just play the U.S. dates in support of "Urn Of Blood"?
"After our first show was here in our city we toured the U.S. right away that was the plan for a long time and when we returned we played the east coast of Australia that was all for the support of the release, nothing else regarding the support of the album."
When did you start writing the material for your second album "The Conquered Are Burned", which you recorded in March of 2009?
"Andrew started compiling riffs even before the 2008 U.S. tour but started creating and demoing songs properly I guess around when we returned and I was the same with the lyrics, the usual steps were taken to finalise them all until everything was satisfactory, so overall it was a bit over 6 months of creating before entering the studio."
The album was once again recorded at Three Phase Studio in Melbourne with engineer / producer Sam Johnston, but to me it sounds way better than the debut album… So, did Sam change studio equipment, were you better prepared this time or was it simply a result of learning from mistakes that you made while recording "Urn Of Blood" maybe?
"This time around we were better prepared and spent longer time during the process in all areas, we used different ideas than what we did on "Urn Of Blood" and of course with some updated and added equipment in the studio helped us achieve a better result."
When exactly did the line-up problems with your second guitar player Luke and drummer Xavier become evident and when and why did you part ways with both of them?
"We parted ways with Luke around February this year due to him not being committed to our plans and schedule and lack of interest, and with Xavier well he recorded on the new album then he decided he couldn’t or didn’t want to do our style of music anymore so he wanted to leave in which we didn’t object to."
In early 2010 you found a new drummer in Matt Mayhem… what can you tell us about him and his previous band BELLIGERENT INTENT? Please comment on all three CEMETERY URN drummers and tell us what their strength was / is?
"We met Matt a few times in the past his band BELLIGERENT INTENT (which he is still a member of) play brutal Death Metal, and they have played shows with us a few times, also he helped us out in rehearsals some time ago when Xavier had some arm injury, which gained our attention even more than seeing him perform live, so when the day Xavier no longer played with us Andrew made a call right away to him and he was very interested to play with us, so the usual rehearsals were done which were killer, so the maniac joined us!! The difference between all the drummers you ask?? Well, I’m not going too much into it, all I can say in my personal view is that each drummer we have had has their own techniques, styles and motivation from one another they have been all good in ways, but our new drummer Matt his work ethics, technique, etc etc, are on a greater level which suits us perfectly in all we do, 666 to you Matt!!!"
In May 2010 Hells Headbangers released "Urn Of Blood" as a picture disc with a glossy gatefold cover, limited to 100 copies and on black vinyl, also with a glossy gatefold cover… How did you get together with Hells Headbangers for that and are you satisfied with the way both editions turned out? I suppose the picture disc was sold out in no time, wasn’t it?
"We have been in contact with them for some time and like what they do and when we did the 2008 USA tour we were hanging with them in Ohio at our show and after as well, when they asked about their label releasing a vinyl version of the album in which we accepted cos we knew they do great work on everything they release, and not only that they have done great work with us in distribution of the CD version, so yes it came out limited of 500 copies (400 black vinyl and 100 pic disc) and yes we are very pleased with the way the product came out. And now from what they informed us about a few months ago is that all copies have sold out which is very surprising since it had only been released for a short time, well done to them!!!"
There’s also plans for a vinyl edition of "The Conquered Are Burned"… will it again be done through Hells Headbangers and do you already have a release date for it?
"Yes, the new album will come out on vinyl on Hells Headbangers due for release in early 2011, at this moment we are finalising the layout and packaging, we were originally going to have it released just before our U.S. tour but we both decided to let it wait because of some other ideas both us and the label have for it, which im sure will be worth it!!! Vinyl maniacs will have to wait and see!!"
What can you tell us about the announced 7" EP on Relapse Records which will feature the exclusive CEMETERY URN track ‘Mass Graves Of Blood’… Feed us with all necessary details about this release, like when it will be out, when you recorded the song and how you actually ended up with Relapse for that?
"First off I’m going to take you back to early 2008 when we were approached by the label to record an exclusive track for their upcoming underground compilation series of 7” EPs which would eventually become a collectors boxset, some of the bands that would be appearing were IGNIVOMOUS, FATHER BEFOULED, UNCONSECRATED to name a few and also the artwork was being done by artist Mark Riddick, so anyway we agreed to the contract that was sent to us, then we entered the studio in May of that year right before our US tour, which was again the same studio as our albums that were recorded at, then submitted the recording to them. Now I’m taking you to 2010, after minimal replies and minimal answers from alot of questions we have asked to the label regarding the release date, we get another answer from our guitarist asking yet again this time right before we tour the USA saying the whole project been cancelled with no great explanation to us, which is very disappointing to say the least after over 2 years. Alot people apart of it didn’t even know, then I hear while we were on the recent USA tour that it has been offered to other labels to release it, which we want no part of it, so we a going to do something else with the track which is forthcoming."
You have currently been on tour in the US again… please tell us a bit more about it, like which areas you covered this time, how many shows got booked and with which bands you’ve shared the stages!
"Yeah we just finished, so yeah we did this time only the west coast due to the time availability, we did a total of 10 shows, 5 of them were with our great friends of woftage death SANGUIS IMPEREM, we covered most of Texas, then Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle, we played with bands SADISTIC INTENT, OBEISANCE, UNHOLY LUST, THORNSPAWN, FATHER BEFOULED, ENCOFFINATION, WEREGOAT, MORBUS 666, BUTCHERED SAINT, to name a few. All in all it was a brutal time everywhere and all the promoters did well for us!!! And all the loyal wofta maniacs came out to support!! I also must say Chris and Hate / War Productions did yet again fine work on booking it for us!! And the SANGUIS IMPEREM maniacs too for the support that got us through!!"
From what I’ve read you’ve used to play a CORPSE MOLESTATION song during CEMETERY URN’s live shows… do you still do that and if so, which song do you play? Or does that change from time to time?
"Yeah during the 2008 U.S. tour and a few shows here we played the track entitled ‘Sudden Combustion’ from the 92 demo, for the simple fact we knew there were alot of old fans out there that appreciated the band because this was pre – BESTIAL WARLUST, so we thought, hell – play it to the old maniacs out there give them some old classic aussie woftage heaviness!! At this moment we no longer play it, but however during the U.S. tour we just finished we played a BESTIAL WARLUST track entitled ‘Heathens’, we only played it at 2 shows and they were in Texas and I must say damn the maniacs went fuckin crazy!!! I don’t know if we plan to play it here anytime soon or even anymore covers."
You have been singing in bands now since 1989 already… First of all as a member of ENSANGUINE, then CORPSE MOLESTATION (who became BESTIAL WARLUST), then ABOMINATOR, followed by KUTABARE and now CEMETARY URN… and all of them were pretty extreme in their style of music, so I suppose you never really had the desire to try out something different, have you? Were do you personally see the musical differences in those bands? And what about HOLOCAUST WOLVES OF THE APOCALYPSE? Is that a sort of BESTIAL WARLUST / CORPSE MOLESTATION cover band or something?
"Well I guess I only know and like that kind of style and the other musicians I have been along side have been in some ways the same so the music comes out how it is, I haven’t had any opportunities to be apart of something else, if something arises that I see interesting I will possibly look into it, as to the differences between bands that I have been in, well they all have similar elements using our old roots as inspiration where the music was heavy and aggressive but each has there own defined style from one another as the times progressed, HOLOCAUST WOLVES OF THE APOCALYPSE which was a short time project with myself and the SANGUIS IMPEREM maniacs from the USA, we performed BESTIAL WARLUST songs during the BLOOD of THE DAMNED USA tour 2008 and those maniacs did killer work!!!"
What actually is the problem with your official website www.cemeteryurn.com? It seems there’s still a lot of things that need to be fixed and / or updated? Is that due to lack of time or lack of interest (do you focus on myspace instead)?
"There’s no problem with our official website it was only created from the ground upwards a few months ago by our guitarist so as time persists you will see more and more things added, as to myspace yeah you can there’s somewhat focus on that but we are trying to divert people to our site for more comprehensive information that you will not see on anything else out there, so keep on checking it out!!!"
Ok Damon, I guess we pretty much covered everything now… thanks for taking the time. If we should’ve missed something important, feel free to add it now… I’ll leave the last words up to you. Cheers!
"Hailz to you Frank for the support you have shown in CEMETERY URN and for all your years raising the Metal banner with pride!! The day will come when we will have many German beers with you!!"