On their recent UK tour promoting new release Blood for the Master, Danny Heaton caught up with Goatwhore‘s axeman Sammy Duet to pick his brains about life, conservatism and the weather. As a more than welcome change of pace to the usual seedy backstage environs this interview took place on an actual tourbus. With seats.
OneMetalThere is a definite punk edge to much of your material. Although your metal influences such as Celtic Frost, Bathory, Venom etc are fairly well documented, I’m curious as to what your punk influences are.
SammyWell, to an extent Venom and Celtic Frost were playing off of the old punk sound anyway, but we’re definitely influenced by Discharge. You know the older crust punk kind of bands that did like D-Beat kind of stuff. There’s also a big Motorhead influence that creeps in there every now and again. We just listen to anything that’s really mean sounding, whether that be punk, black metal, thrash metal, death metal. Anything that really negative sounding! But definitely Discharge as far as that punk edge goes.
OneMetalThere has been something of a recent explosion in US Blackened acts such as
Nachtmystium, Skeletonwitch and Toxic Holocaust. Would you say you had a role in generating this scene and if so, what was that?
SammyWe kind of do fit in there, but then again we kind of don’t. The whole Nachtmystium thing as well as bands like Wolves in the Throne Room are more geared to an artsy kind of black metal crowd. Those artsy fans do not like us at all! I guess we’re too pissed-off sounding for them. We’re really more like being hit in the face with a chainsaw as opposed to being hit in the face with a napkin. But we fit in more with the whole Skeletonwitch and Toxic Holocaust thing. Although we kind of don’t fit in there either because those bands draw fans that are more about thrash metal, and don’t want to hear a band doing a blastbeat. We take influence from everything, from fast to slow and all that crap in between. We just kind of take everything and just do what we do. So, we just kind of occupy a space in between and it’s hard to put us into a genre really. There’s people that class us as black metal, death metal, thrash metal, and then you break it down even further into blackened death, blackened thrash etc. But we fit anything, or rather we don’t fit anything, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.
OneMetalBlack metal is notoriously associated with Norway as opposed to the USA. So far as I’ve been able to tell you’ve never actually visited the ‘black metal homeland’. Is there a reason for this and do you plan to play there in future?
SammyWe played out there maybe once or twice, and they were good shows. We have a certain Norwegian influence on us, but it’s not so apparent. We’re influenced by the older Norwegain bands like Darkthrone, older Satyricon and older Immortal. But, you know it’s not like we set out to sound like a Norwegian band, because we’re not. We’re very far from being a Norwegian band, hell we’re on the other side of the world, you know? It’s kind of hard for us to sing about ‘Grim and Frostbitten kingdoms’ when we hardly ever have any cold weather!
OneMetal[laughs] For sure, although you’re not without your fair share of bad weather.
SammyOh yeah, we certainly get the wet side! Hey, maybe we should call ourselves flood metal! Or instead of frostbitten black metal be like tidal wave flood… urm black metal!
OneMetalSure, something like that perhaps! Speaking of which, as a band you have had more than your fair share of adversity. What is it that motivates you to carry on?
SammyJust because this is what we do. It’s why we were put on this Earth. It sometimes gets…how can i put this? It gets hard, you know sometimes, but i feel that this is what we were put on this planet to do. Plus an extreme love for heavy metal.
OneMetalWhat has your impression been of playing Europe thus far? Is there a marked difference between playing the US?
SammyWell I love the UK, I find that out of all of Europe the UK’s the one that gives us the most love. I think you guys have more of a fascination with the New Orleans bands like Eyehategod and Crowbar, you know we’re all tied into that kind of thing. Other parts of Europe don’t have as much of an adoration for the Southern bands. In Germany for example they like it, but there’s not that same feeling there.
OneMetalSo is there anywhere you’d really love to tour in the future?
SammyAnywhere! [laughs] Anywhere and everywhere that’ll have us. That’s the point of all this, you know to play wherever they’ll have you. That’s what you aspire to when you start playing in a band, to put out a record and then play live a lot. I mean you have some guys these days who you’ll have to email them an essay saying how elite black metal you are, then they’ll send you a map of where their cassette’s buried in a forest somewhere and there’s only like two copies of it in existance! That’s not the point for me, play as much as possible and be heard. How else can you spread your message? I mean the attitude of some people is just ridiculous. But i guess i’m just getting old and getting to know the world. I grew up in my momma’s garage you know? But people don’t realise that there are true horrors in this world that are a lot more scary than any ‘Lord of the Rings’ book might have in it.
OneMetalSo let’s talk about the new album Blood for the Master. This record seems like you’ve put your foot back on the gas in comparison to Carving Out the Eyes of God. Was this a conscious decision?
SammyNot really, we just kind of felt it out. there were a lot of tracks on Blood for the Master that got thrown out, because that kind of thing didn’t feel right, or the time didn’t feel right for it. So we went for extreme, but still tried to keep the same vibe as Carving, but make it sound more pissed off. There’s a lot more attitude in it, more so than trying to make an artistic statement let’s say. You know, we’re quick and to the point, no fucking around, just like an ass whooping should be!
OneMetalSo how far does each record mirror what the band is feeling at the time of recording?
SammyYeah, I’d say that each record reflects what we were feeling. With the first one we were just kind of finding our sound I guess you could say, but it had a certain fire about it which you can hear. The second one has more of a doomy sort of influence. There were some things going on in our private lives and we weren’t in a good place, so that’s reflected in the record. There’s just such a doomy, dismal, sad feeling to it. Then A Haunting Curse came out and we were just out for blood on that one. It was just angry from start to finish. Plus we had just got signed to Metal Blade and a lot of poeple were screaming ‘sellout’ at us, so we made a conscious decision to just go ahead and write the most extreme record possible. As far as speed and intensity go, that one was just on ten the whole way through, fucking blastbeats in every song. So on Carving we figured we didn’t want to get pigeonholed as kind of a speed band, so we brought in a whole lot of other influences on that one. But on Blood for the Master as I said we wanted to take the vibe of Carving but just go in an angrier direction with it.
OneMetalBeing from the South have you ever had any groups expressing outrage at your name or work?
SammyOh yeah. there are a lot of people who take the whole Christian thing very seriously and at total face value down there. The whole Pentecostal movement, you know peole that have convulsions and claim it’s God speaking to them, and hold snakes and shit, then get bitten and die! It’s like where was God then? ‘Well he chose to take that person’ they’ll say, but it’s just like ‘you shouldn’t be playing with poisonous snakes!’ But, yeah there’s a lot of deluded people in that whole area who devote their lives to it thinking they’ll go to heaven. I hate to tell them otherwise. But who knows, I didn’t come back from the dead, so maybe I’m the one who’s deluded, but for now I’ll stick with the man downstairs.
OneMetalSo has anyone specifically targeted you?
SammyWell only one show actually. I believe it was in San Antonio, Texas, it was us another American black metal band called Thornspawn and we had protestors there. Everyone was throwing bottles at them, because the law states that they can’t come within a certain radius of the venue. That didn’t stop us launching stuff at them though! It was absolutley ridiculous. When they realised that no one gave a fuck what they were doing they just left. Plus I think they got kind of scared when we started throwing things at them!
OneMetalWell they did right, you are the spawn of Satan after all! Ok, so time for a generic question; what’s your philosophy on life?
SammyWell it changes a lot, along with my moods I guess. As of right now though, my philosophy is ‘have a good time until you can’t have a good time any more.’
OneMetalThat sounds like a Goatwhore-worthy work ethic! So what are you listening to at the moment? Any new picks?
SammyWell of course I’ve been listening to a lot of old Celtic Frost and Venom. I recently discovered this band, but then I found out they’ve been around for a while, called Tyrant (http://www.metal-archives.com/bands/Tyrant/494). They’re kind of like a cross between Bathory and Hellhammer it’s really heavy shit. Also a band from America called Midnight (http://metalbandcamp.com/2012/02/midnight-satanic-royalty.html), they’re really awseome and another band from Germany, who aren’t necessarily black metal, but have a lot of black metal influences called The Ruins of Beverast (http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Ruins-Of-Beverast/75558420058). They still do really dark stuff but in a unique kind of way. That’s about it for the new stuff. I’m just an old jaded man, listening to my old records constantly!
OneMetal[laughs] So what would you say the future holds for Goatwhore?
SammyWell a whole lot more touring. We’ll come back here and tour some more, then tour the US some. Hopefully towards the end of next year we’ll be able to start writing a new record, but we’re not really talking or thinking about that at the moment, we’re just concentrating on what’s happening now.