Pig Destroyer interview – 2001

Originally published in ‘zine issue #25, 2001

Pig Destroyer logo

Brian Harvey plays drums for Pig Destroyer. He joined the band before they (being Scott, J.R., and Brian) recorded their first LP, Explosions in Ward 6. After that the band did a picture disc, which also came out as a split CD with Gnob except without all the samples, a split 7” with Isis, a split 7” with Benümb which has yet to be released, and now the second full length, Prowler in the Yard.

A basic conversation a person has with a musician can start with finding out how he or she first picked up an instrument.

“It was back in the day. My friend, he liked the drums, so he started playing, this was back in maybe fifth grade. Hung out with him through sixth grade, like, ‘Hey, the drums are pretty neat,’ and he got a nice new Tama set. Went over to his house, beat on it, playin’ on it like a fuckin’ retard. [He] got me into drums and he was into metal, all the old school metal, and that’s it. Started playing drums from there, started taking lessons a year later. [I got my first drum set] prob’ly six months after I started taking lessons. It was a Christmas present. It was a little ghetto, uh, I don’t even remember what the name of the drum set was.” These days Brian has a Pearl set and plays Zildjian and Sabian cymbals, Promark sticks, Pearl heads, and DW pedals.

It’s also interesting to discover a musician’s source of inspiration, whom he or she initially wished to emulate.

“I’ll tell you a hundred percent straight-up it was listening to Slayer. Slayer did it for me. My friend’s house, he was another drummer, I’d go over there. He had a drum set set up in his room. He had, like, three huge super woofers and he’d play Slayer as loud as he could and we’d play along to it. That’s how I learned speed metal, and that’s where it all started gettin’ fast. Up till then it was, you know, Metallica, Megadeth, and all the basic shit. So yeah, Dave Lombardo, he did it for me, got me right into the speed metal.”

Sometimes with bands, one person is the leader and takes care of everything and the rest of the members can just coast. One wonders if this is Brian’s philosophy of being in a band.

“Not at all. But that’s been the luxury of my situation through the two major bands I’ve been in. For Enemy Soil I was a weedhead like a mafucka, so I’d sit back, get zooted, everybody else’d take care of everything. And in Pig Destroyer, I’m not a weedhead anymore, but Scott and J.R. have, y’know, the connections, the hookups, they communicate better than I do, so they just handle all that stuff and I don’t see it as a problem. I’ve done little things here and there. But it’s a typical scenario drummer. I’m the drummer. Fuck the drummer in the ass with a rusty pipe, that’s how that goes. But I enjoy it. I mean, if I had the contacts and connections to set up shows and all that stuff and had all my email rollin’ and all that, then I’d do it, ‘cause I enjoy playing shows. I love playing live; that’s my favorite thing to do. Studio recording, can’t stand it, but I do it anyway. I hate it because I think it should be as perfect as it can, even though they never come out that way.”

Musical contributions are divvied up differently. Scott will sometimes demonstrate drum ideas to Brian.

“He will definitely give me some suggestions on drum beats, just as I will every once in a while on guitar. I’ll be like, ‘Try to play a riff like this,’ or helping out with a bridge to something. As for J.R., he just sits back and says, ‘That sucks, I don’t like it,’ or ‘Yeah, that rocks,’ which is good, because he’s the tiebreaker sometimes.”

“I used to be fucked up all the time, recording or playing live, and that didn’t work out.”

Pig Destroyer has an unusual way of composing and recording due to their unique situation, either writing the music to a song on the spot and recording it and adding the lyrics and vocals later, or writing the entire song together and recording it together.

“For Prowler it was a big mixture of both. About 50 percent of those songs were written within a day and recorded within a day or two, y’know, polished up, little things put in here and there. And the other 50 percent was we had them written for weeks and weeks and worked on them a lot. It goes both ways. It’s not necessarily whether we like doing it that way, it’s just the way it happened, which is the way I believe it should be. Music should just come out. It’s a soul thing, y’know? You feel it. If you’re in the middle of recording, and we’re like, ‘Hey, we need something in here, another song,’ because our songs are basically really short, [and] we need filler, we just write it on the spot and record it. But hey, filler is good!”

Pig Destroyer is not above purposely inserting blast beats into their songs, however, forcing the issue.

“Yeah, definitely I will admit that some of that went on. The first full-length was pretty raw grindcore, y’know, for the most part, and we felt somewhat obligated to hold that reputation up. But Prowler, it just didn’t come out like that, and there’s a lot of blast beats in there that we were just [pause] y’know, they sound good to us, but there’s a few songs on there that we were just like, ‘Alright, we need to write a fast song real quick to put some fast stuff in here.’ But then on the other hand, a lot of them were written naturally.”

Brian Harvey of Pig Destroyer performing live

Some Pig Destroyer fans may not be aware that the band was, shall we say, not entirely sober when they played some of their more high-profile shows.

“Me personally, I used to be fucked up all the time, recording or playing live, and that didn’t work out, so over the years I’ve adopted a strict policy of not getting high or drunk before I play a show. After the show, the minute that [last] snare hit or tom hit or bass drum hit hits, that’s another story.”

Having heard that, a Pig Destroyer listener would be curious to know if there’s a band policy where this is concerned.

“Absolutely not. Everybody’s on their own. Scott usually has a few beers before we play, because, y’know, he usually gets little butterflies, just like me, but being the drummer, being the most physically demanding part, it doesn’t work out to get high or drunk because I’ll play ultra shitty.” ■

Photo: Brian Harvey performing with Pig Destroyer (D.U.)


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