Originally published in ‘zine issue #7, 1993
Deceased is a death metal from the grave band that I’ve been following ever since its second demo, Birth By Radiation. Since then, to make a long story short, Deceased has signed with Relapse Records and has put out the Gutwrench 7”, the Luck of the Corpse album, and now The 13 Frightened Souls EP. Deceased will release The Blueprints for Madness album sometime after, which, as with its past releases, it’ll record at Inner Ear Studios. Below guitarist Mike Smith talks about all the tours that have fallen through for Deceased.
Well, it’s not our faults, it’s not Relapse’s faults. [It] comes down to, certain bands have dicked us over when they said they were gonna do something, certain bands wanted too much money that we were gonna go out on the road with and, I dunno, it’s the timing thing. When I talked to Matt [from Relapse] a couple weeks ago, he said hopefully this summer [in the U.S.] for the EP, so when our bags are packed and we’re walking out the door, it’ll be happening.
You can’t complain. If you’re gonna play underground music [pause] it takes money to be on the road, it takes money to go from place to place.
D.U.: How do you guys come up with these weird ideas for the new songs? You started working that in about a year ago?
I guess. I dunno [pause] I think because we all, well, three of us, really, our roots in metal go way, way back. We may have a lotta ideas that a lot of the newer death metal bands don’t know about, just ‘cause our influences go a lot further back, not to really death metal, but just metal. And I think that ‘cause all of us are major Voivod freaks, Voivod influenced us in a way that, not so much, like, songs, but the attitude that, always be more creative than the last thing you did. And it’s not something we consciously do, like, “Oh, we gotta do a weird part here.” We come up with a part and, y’know, we throw them all together.
So you agree with that attitude, don’t sweat originality as long as it sounds good.
Yeah, speaking for myself, I don’t sit down, come up with a riff, saying, “I have to make this riff sound like nothing else,” because that’s not true. I’ve written riffs in the style of other riffs I’ve heard. We don’t consciously say, “Oh, this song has to be much more original, something that’s never been done.” We just write songs the way we do, y’know? It just seems to work okay for us.
You get better at writing songs as you go along. You may always be able to come up with riffs, but it’s the actual sit down with the rest of the band, and we work things out. King is really good at this especially, is hearing things in his head, what should go next. Say I write a song. It’s not a song; it’s just a whole bunch of riffs. I have no particular order or anything. I show the riffs, or Mark shows his riffs, or Les shows his riffs, and we can hear it in our head what we wanna do with it.
When’s the latest you’re going to record the new album?
I thought we’d be going in a lot sooner, but Relapse wants to wait and let the EP sell for a little while before we go in and do it. I’d like to get it going soon.
Because the more you wait, the more the songs keep changing?
That, and just ready to move on and start maybe writing the next batch of songs. I don’t want to drop any of the songs off this album because we may write a better one in a couple months, you know? Try to put everything we do out, and when it’s ready for the next release, just write a new batch of songs.
You’re of the opinion that when you write a song, it’s done, and you don’t want to keep changing it?
Well, it’s gonna go through a lot of changes at the beginning, because you throw these riffs together at the beginning of practice. At the end of practice, you think it sounds really good, just ‘cause you haven’t heard it. And a couple practices later, you’re like, “Eh, we need to change this around, change that around.” Y’know, [the songs] evolve. But some songs come together and just, like, stay the same forever. Something happens where it worked the first time.
We want this album to be just all fuckin’ killer. We don’t want it to be said, “Oh, ‘A Tolerance for Horror’ is okay …” We don’t want any filler stuff on this album.
“It’s real cool to be as Satanic as you can, y’know? And it’s stupid as shit.”
You were telling me that you’re sick of death metal lately.
Um [pause] pretty much. I think the death metal underground as it was a couple years ago, and even a year and a half ago, is pretty much dead. There’s too many really junky bands that’re putting albums out that really have no business putting an album out yet. There’s too many little sub-scenes going on, with that whole new black metal scene in Europe, which is totally fuckin’ stupid. And it’s lost its creativity, its coolness. It’s like, the underground was really cool before. The bands really supported each other, and it seemed like everybody was doing something kinda original.
Do you think it comes down to the labels trying to cash in?
Yeah, that’s part of it, but another thing is, these labels put out releases that appeal, y’know, to these little kids and the redneck kinda people that want something different besides Metallica. They hear a band like Sepultura and Obituary, and they think that’s the shit. And the more of those people that get into it, the more people that are into this death metal thing, and then those people decide, “Well, shit, it’s no fun playing this Metallica. Let’s start a death metal band.” And they start bands too fast. Bands won’t even do a demo anymore. They’ll do a 7” straight away, and that’s their introduction to the world. Before, you’re like, “Who the hell are these guys?”
So that happened with thrash, it’s happened with death metal, in a couple years it’ll die away again, and maybe it’ll be a real underground again, like it used to be. But it’s gonna happen no matter what. When any kind of music gets big, the lesser people [pause] y’know, start a band. It happens with everything. Everything goes in cycles.
You think the next big thing is that black metal wave?
The black metal thing’s going on now, and again, man, it’s such a fuckin’ trendy thing. It’s real cool to be as Satanic as you can, y’know? And it’s stupid as shit. And I mean, parts of it I think are a funny. I think it’s funny that they burned down the guy in Therion’s house.
What was that all about?
They weren’t Satanic enough, they were fake Satanists or something, so this Black Metal Mafia burned his house down*. They sent death threats to Unleashed, Entombed, Dismember. I don’t give a shit. What I always thought a true Satanist was, is you don’t go around telling everybody you’re into Satan, y’know? Who cares? If Entombed wants to do what they wanna do, let ‘em do it. Who’s Darkthrone to say that they’re not real Satanists, that they have no right to play what they play? Especially as trendy as Darkthrone is. They went from being a thrash band on the demos, first album being a total ripoff of Entombed meets Autopsy, to being Bathory wannabees. Who’s being trendy?
Recently I gave you some death metal demos to review, and you said you couldn’t honestly do it. Why is that?
Right. I just [pause] whether they were good or bad to someone else’s ear, to me it was more of the same. It did not do anything for me, and I didn’t wanna review these demos and totally cut them up, because I didn’t want to discourage these bands, y’know? Because what’s my opinion mean? It doesn’t mean shit, so if these bands wanna keep going—I just didn’t wanna discourage them, basically, because I didn’t feel I was honestly the one to be doing it. Let someone who’s really into all this new death metal shit do the review.
Is all this new death metal shit what’s killing the scene anyway?
It’s part of what’s killing it. I mean, there’s a lot of things that contribute to it.
So you don’t think it’s valid to say maybe these bands need to be discouraged?
Well, that’s what it is. Maybe I’m taking the pussy way out. I didn’t want to be the one to do it to them, y’know? Because, maybe if I was a journalist or a critic, that’s one thing, but because I’m also a musician in the scene, it’s like, who am I to say?
Do you have a last comment to throw in?
Um [pause] well, try to stay true to the scene. Don’t buy into this new politically correct term for heavy metal called “hard music,” which is supposed to encompass all the many styles of heavy metal. Heavy metal, it seems like it’s also dead, y’know? The underground bands now, to me, are the ones that play traditional heavy metal, like Paul DiAnno’s band, Killers, and the new Exciter album. Don’t be afraid to just like heavy metal. Me personally, I hate all that other shit. Seattle sucks, still. ■
*They tried to, anyway, as it turned out.