After a massive delay we are finally able to present you the entire INCANTATION interview. Parts of it are quite dated by now, but what the fuck. Answers were given by John, Rob and Kyle…
You have just ended your long lasting co-operation with Relapse Records by signing a new deal with Necropolis. What was the reason for this move? I mean, weren’t you satisfied with Relapse anymore? What makes Necropolis a better company than Relapse from your point of view?
Rob: "We just couldn’t get Relapse motivated to do anything, they just did the minimum they could do and though we had a long relationship with them it’s always been rocky. They missed a lot of opportunities that could have brought INCANTATION to a higher level. Instead they choose to ignore us and we refused to enter into another album with people who are not into DEATH METAL. We wanted off the label and they accommodated us by allowing us to make the move to Necropolis Records. It’s probably the best decision they have made concerning INCANTATION in years. Necropolis is a Black / Death Metal label mainly, they can understand where we are coming from, as well as see the potential in working with us instead of against us."
Even though INCANTATION is a strong force in the worldwide Death Metal underground for eleven years now, you still seem to have problems to fully establish the band in Germany. In my opinion this is mainly due to the ignorance of the major magazines overhere who don’t understand INCANTATION’s (and similar acts) music… Any comments on that? Do you have similar problems in other countries as well?
Rob: "Well perhaps you’re right about major magazines not giving us enough exposure, but again I blame Relapse, they even have an office in Germany which did practically no good for us, except for some interviews they never tried to get us on any kind of tours, or festivals. We make our own breaks and land all of our tours ourselves, especially in North and South America. Now that we have a European representative and we have contacted some agencies we now are getting offers to do things there. We hope with our new label we can achieve the reputation and touring schedule we have developed in the US."
Except for your 1997’s "The Forsaken Mourning Of Angelic Anguish" release, all other INCANTATION albums feature the impressive art by Miran Kim. Why did you break with that tradition at the time and used a cover by Joe Petagno instead?
John: "The bottom line was money, Repulse couldn’t afford to have Miran Kim do the cover for just a MCD they felt that it wasn’t reasonable. We wanted Miran to do it. Repulse suggested having Joe Pentagno to do the art and at the time he was not doing too many bands album covers, so it sounded like a good idea! It was a cool change for the one release. And we thank Joe for doing a killer job on our cover!"
There’s two versions of "The Forsaken Mourning Of Angelic Anguish" out – the Relapse release and one by Spanish Repulse Records… What’s the reason for that and do they differ in any way? As far as I can recall the tracklist is a little different, isn’t it?
John: "The whole thing with "The Forsaken Mourning of Angelic Anguish" is proof that the business side of music sucks. Well, where do I start! That was one fucked up time in the band for sure. Well first off at the time we wanted off Relapse. So we made a deal with Repulse to do a MCD for them and their part of the deal was to send Relapse a certain number of CDs to buy out the contract. At the same time we recorded a "Tribute To The Goat" Live in the studio CD for Elegy Records and we were getting ready to record "Diabolical Conquest" for Visceral Productions. And we were really looking forward to the change from Relapse. But Repulse never sent Relapse their copies and our release from Relapse was noel and void. So that fucked up everything with our Elegy Records and the Visceral Records releases. Along with Relapse getting the rights to release the "Forsaken Mourning Of Angelic Anguish" MCD worldwide. And along with the new pressing they wanted to include some bonus tracks from the "Tribute To The Goat" session. The bottom line is the whole thing is just contract flukes and bullshit music business back stabbing and is a disgrace to the true sprit of Metal and the true underground."
The "Mortal Throne Of Nazarene" album was also released in two different versions – but apart from a different cover design and the change of the running order I didn’t really notice a difference, so what was the reason for that?
John: "Incantation didn’t decide to release this CD so there is not really any reason on our side. it was something that Relapse Records wanted to release, so you need to ask them. Relapse were being real spiteful to the band at that time. They refused to work with us on the CD. So if it was up to us things would have been different. We wanted it to have bonus tracks of earlier recordings and we were also not happy with the idea of the song order backwards from the original way. But, that was then and this is now! We are totally proud of the recording; we just felt that the CD could have had more hard to find material so the people that purchased the CD can get more for their money."
Your former bandmates Craig Pillard, Ronny Deo and Jim Roe returned to the scene in 1999 with a new band called DISCIPLES OF MOCKERY and even released an album with them which is totally in the old INCANTATION style… What do you think of that and why did you originally split up with them? Musical differences must have been out of the question for obvious reasons…
John: "If you want to know why they left you need to ask them. Just to clear things up they all didn’t leave at the same time they all left the band about one year apart. Jim returned to help out on "Mortal Throne Of Nazarene". And Craig has returned to help us on the "Forsaken Mourning Of Angelic Anguish" and "Tribute To The Goat". So we have all remained friends over the years maybe not as good friends as we once were but I live pretty far away from those guys and don’t really see them that much anymore except at shows. As for the DOM CD I think it kicks ass! Great stuff!"
As far as I know their bandname was changed in the meantime and they were spreading some really braindead fascist paroles in an interview with a German fanzine… Any comments on that?
John: "I don’t know what you are talking about, I didn’t see the interview, and I know nothing about their political views. So to answer would be unjustifiable."
Do you think that your hard and very honest work over the last couple of years is finally starting to pay off now? I mean, it seems that INCANTATION gets more and more respect nowadays, you are even considered as innovators when it comes to the "New York Death Metal style", while many people obviously didn’t recognize your qualities in your early days…
Rob: "INCANTATION has always worked hard for over a decade, the never surrender attitude has earned the respect of many, especially anyone who dedicates themselves to their band and makes it their life’s work. How can someone throw that away because someone doesn’t feel the same way? Every album has been 100% INCANTATION, the people who contributed in the past and currently understand what it is that makes INCANTATION. With the line-up now you have Mike who played in DEATHRUNE (NY) and also MORTICIAN. I myself with MORPHEUS DESCENDS and EXILE, and then Kyle who has recorded on "Forsaken Mourning", "Tribute To The Goat" and "Diabolical Conquest". As far as people recognizing the band, I think the people who have their pulse on the real Death Metal scene, have always supported INCANTATION. Maybe now that trends are dying many still see the band recording and touring and this creates interest."
Would you agree that INCANTATION made a huge step forward when you hooked up with producer Bill Korecky? How did you get together with him? I mean, the bands he used to work with (for example Integrity, Earth Crisis) are not necessarily references for a great sounding Death Metal production, so…
Rob: "Working with Bill has been most productive and rewarding. He believes in INCANTATION on a real level, not like other producers who wanted to mold us into something that we are not. Bill has an incredible ability demand our best performance in the studio. We all participate in every level and facet of the recording. When we are in the studio he is like the 5th member."
In your bio is mentioned that "…two of INCANTATION’s three previous full-lengths, "Onward To Golgotha" and "Diabolical Conquest", are considered classics…" – so, what do you think was "Mortal Throne Of Nazarene" lacking in, that it haven’t become a real classic as well for certain people?
Rob: "It’s classic in the way that you can feel the distention in the music that was going on in the band. People just seem to prefer the others more than that one. Every album we do can’t be the favorite of all or have the votes divided equally to not have one less considered. To me there is much to hear within the music. It was when John realized everyone in the band at that time wasn’t on the same page as he was. Not only that but they wanted to change the direction in many ways. Its rough production makes it hard for the average fan to get past."
INCANTATION has had many line-up changes throughout the years – so, I was wondering if there’s been a line-up that you really enjoyed working with (apart from the most current one)?!
Kyle: "For me, no!"
Among all the members that have come and gone in the INCANTATION line-up also used to be PRIME EVIL’s Mary Ciullo for a short period of time. How was it to work with a female bass player and why didn’t it work out on the long run in the end?
Kyle: "She was only asked to help us out on some songs we were demoing at the time. She also did two showswith us around the same time. It was great to work with her. We were fortunate to have her help us out, But she has a real job and so it is impossible for her to have ever been a full time member. I don’t think her being a female would have ever made any kind of difference."
John: "For me it was a true honor to have worked with her, she was the bass player for the legendary thrash band Prime Evil. They were the NY / NJ’s greatest underground Metal band of the late 80’s early 90’s. So for me it was like jamming with a legend! Everyone that is into old school Thrash and Death Metal must look for, and buy their "Unearthed" CD. It includes all their classic recordings!!!!!!"
Aren’t you sick and tired by now of all those member changes? I mean, will INCANTATION ever be a band that has a steady line-up instead of session musicians here and there?
Rob: "Like I said before, this line-up is INCANTATION, this line-up after this recording will be the longest running line-up. Excluding John, combined we have almost 12 years into this band and all of us have a history with the band. We have stopped the revolving line-up changes, just as a lot of bands have started to deal with the same issues. How many bands have had the same line-up? How many people can stay dedicated to a concept and belief, it takes weeding through the herds of people who claim they’re ready, but till they live in a van for 2 months at a time with no money and little rest and many problems they don’t know what they got themselves into. We have all proven ourselves over and over, only time can be the judge."
What was the intention of the "Tribute To The Goat" release and what can you tell us about the featured material? Is that kinda like your version of "Stepping On Angels… Before Dawn" maybe?
Kyle: "We did it as a favour for Rob at Elegy Records. It didn’t really come out to be what we intended. One of the things we were gonna try to do was re-record some of the older songs and try to get a better production, but I think it came out worst. We also wanted to get some of the newer material at that time out. There was a limited recording budget, and the studio didn’t do us any justice. We did it in a day and Craig and myself were partying like idiots. It is definitely not our ”Stepping On Angels…”
You have toured pretty extensively throughout the US and other territories already… Any particular happenings (good or bad) that you can share with us from those journeys?
Kyle: "If you’re any kind of fan of Incantation, then you know that we always have something fucked happen on tour that tries to set us back, but we always move forward with blasphemous fuckin’ Metal. I try to forget our funnels if possible. Don’t get me wrong, touring isn’t always bad or we wouldn’t keep coming back. As far as a particular good thing, I guess every time we play for a good amount of true Metallers and we get paid for it."
But you haven’t really toured in Europe that much yet… why? Lack of interest from promoters overhere or was that one of the problems that you had while you were still signed to Relapse Records? Will that maybe change in the near future?
Rob: "Again it is the lack of enthusiasm from agents to bring us there in the past, we had a label who wouldn’t do the right thing to get us plugged in. They chose to help others instead, we get tons of requests from supporters to come to Europe , but until we get the chance to prove ourselves we have to wait till that agents feel we bring something to shows in Europe ."
How important is the INCANTATION website and the internet in general for a band like INCANTATION? Would you say it has helped to increase your popularity a lot?
Rob: "It is our direct link with our fans, we correspond on an everyday level with people about our plans and situations. Like with the incident involving Mike, many rumors were flying around and when we posted the truth on the site and in a press release, it set the record straight. Also it allows people to see our tour dates, history, merchandise available, etc. Even for interviewers it allows them to do research to ask questions more in depth, instead of the same basic ones that most ask everyone. We try to make it the central location for news and info about the band."
Are you aware of computer fonts that are entitled "Incantation" and that exactly look like the letters in your bandlogo?
Kyle: "I wasn’t aware of that, but I’m barely able to even type this interview. I don’t see much on the computer."
John: "Yes I know this font and we used it on our website! That is killer to have a font made out of our logo! I’m sure Bill Venner the master mind that came up with the logo is happy to see that his creation is making font history!"
Are there already concrete plans for your Necropolis debut? I mean, have you already written anynew material? Any songtitles already? When will you enter the studio? Will you work with Bill on the production again or are there any surprises coming up maybe?!
Rob: "We currently have the songs written, about 12 in all and though we have no title for the album to announce yet we are preparing to enter the studio in June to begin recording. The record will be out this fall."
Any closing comments?
Rob: "Many thanks to your magazine for the interview and see you this August at the Party San Festival in Germany. We are also performing in Czech Republic and a few other shows in Germany. Check out www.incantation.com for more details. RAISE HIGH THE HORNS OF HELL!!"
Shortly after this interview Rob parted ways with the band, so here’s a little update on the things…
What is the reason that Rob is out of the band again? Have you already found a replacement?
Kyle: " Rob is out because of personal and financial reasons on his side from our understanding.He didn’t show up to work on the new album, so we asked a friend that John knew. His name is Joey ”Fingers” Lombard. He did Europe with us, and he kicked fuckin’ ass. He is on the new album and now is a member of Incantation."
In the meantime you should’ve finished your brandnew album, so please tell us a couple of details about it.
Kyle: " Well, we’re not finished with it yet. We still have to do vocals, some bass and mix. We will be finishing in the end of October. We do have drums anf guitars done, and so far we are extremely happy with the recording. These songs have a lot of the old school Incan feeling and a lot of the diabolical era. John got a dark demented guitar sound for this one, sounds good with my barbaric style of drum playing. We did some demo vocals and Mike is really stepping up hard on this one. All fans of Incantation and true blasphemous Metal will fuckin’ love this release. Look for it on Necropolis Records (USA) / Candlelight (Europe). Hail your horns high. Kyle666."
Live Pics: Barbara Tetro, Mary Ciullo & INCANTATION website
Interview: Frank Stöver