GORGUTS is a Canadian death metal band that back in the late 1990s took a hard left turn into tech-death insanity with the release of Obscura, and From Wisdom To Hate after that. Readers familiar with the band Human Remains might be able to hear the warped musical line connecting it and this period of Gorguts. In the late 2000s, the mastermind of Gorguts, Luc Lemay, picked up two-thirds of the American band Dysrhythmia, and John Longstreth from Origin, to fill in his new lineup. He must have known that he’d need phenomenal players in order to pull off what he had in his head for the new Gorguts record, Colored Sands.
Gorguts completed a small fistful of tour dates in the States recently (with Patrice Hamelin filling in on drums), and D.U. spoke to the two-thirds, Colin Marston on bass and Kevin Hufnagel on guitar, at the first stop of the tour. We started with how the guys learned the old songs that Gorguts had in the set, given how unorthodox and complicated is the music.
“We had a notation and tabulature book already,” began Colin. “I already had [a book] that they sold on the From Wisdom to Hate tour that a friend gave me. That was at least half the old songs we play, and then Luc wrote down the rest of them for us [on guitar tab] and scanned it and emailed it to us.”
Luc had a long-distance working relationship with Colin and Kevin to compose new material. “Yeah, it was crazy,” said Kevin. “We kinda had already written a few songs together, long distance, before ever actually playing them together as a band.”
“And we did that first, before doing any old stuff,” Colin added. “But that was how we started working together, was working on guitar demos and trying ideas and stuff.”
“So it was a pretty amazing feeling the first time we got together as a band, and then counted off and just played the songs for the first time,” Kevin said.
“Yeah, ’cause we’d never really done that. We’d always worked on bands where you sort of like worked on [songs] from the ground up … . I’ve never had the experience of going in and playing a brand-new song from start to finish with everybody’s parts finished. That’s never happened. It was fuckin’ weird.”
Whenever Gorguts plays shows, they try to pull in Blacky from Voivod to do live sound, as they did on their recent U.S. dates.
“We think having a sound guy for this band is pretty necessary,” Colin explained. “It’s too difficult for stuff that has like the density and also the range of tones and dynamics that’s being used, especially on the new material, and have somebody mix it like meathead metal, where it’s just like kick drum and vocal. I mean, Dysrhythmia can play without any PA and it sounds fine, you know? But Gorguts, you’re dealing with triggers, vocals, lots of effects changes, guitar solos—there’s a lot to deal with.”
“And just for me personally, I feel so much more relaxed before playing a show when I know that everything’s gonna sound good ’cause I can trust the soundperson, you know? For me it’s like a physical thing, too. I just feel like, ‘ahh,’” Kevin said with a smile. “I’m just not worried about it. Whereas when it’s at a festival and you don’t know what the fuck anything’s gonna sound like—”
“And these songs, and I don’t know if it’s like this for [Kevin], but I feel like they’re harder to play with bad sound than like with any of our other bands because it’s much more repetitive music. So if you can’t hear anything clearly, you have the like, ‘Wait, which rep are we on?’ kind of thing, whereas we never have that [with Dysrhythmia] ’cause the music’s linear enough and you can kinda hear each other well enough that you always know where you are in a song. We never get lost, really. So that’s something that’s kinda scary: you’re playing a big metal fest with awful sound, and you realize, ‘I’m on the wrong riff right now!’ Shit like that.”
“It’s a good learning experience, though, going through that,” Kevin added.
Live photos from the show:
Speaking of learning experiences, for some people (like your interviewer), Obscura was too avant garde of a record and took time to like and appreciate, even though one knew at the time that one should.
“I loved that record the first time I heard it,” Colin said. “Or I wouldn’t necessarily say loved, but I was into it. I was into it from the beginning. Like, Kevin was the first person to play it for me. And I heard From Wisdom to Hate first, actually … and both records, the first time I heard them, I was like, ‘This is something I want to listen to,’ you know?”
Watch a song from the show: