Phone interview conducted on October 16, 2010.
This was a challenging interview. Paul’s New York accent was pretty thick and he spoke kind of quietly so I had trouble understanding him. Unfortunately, I waited quite some time to transcribe this interview, so at this point it would be kind of obnoxious to try and contact Paul to try and clarify some of his answers. At any rate, here’s what I could make out:
WULF: Thanks for taking the time to talk to me on here. I’m really, really digging your new album, “Triumvirate”. People around here are really digging it as well, which is cool too. Anyway, I’d just like to start off by asking you how the reception is on your end so far?
PAUL: So far, so good. I’ve looked at a couple bad reviews here and there, but yeah so far the reviews have been pretty good. The only downside is that a lot of the…well, I guess for reviews (there’s been) a digital package (with mp3s) and the only downside of that is that our lyrics are our strong point in this band, but it seems here and there (there’s been) a picky, bad review, or you know, an honest review of someone that doesn’t care for us too much, but a bit more of the (most negative) reviews that take digs at us and our background don’t really focus on what the band is than what they’re hearing on the outside. I guess that’s a (this) day and age thing, I suppose.
WULF: Yeah, I was reading in Decibel at how you guys were talking about that, about how some people were sort of dwelling on the past as far as you guys used to play in Kill Your Idols which was more like hardcore and people were focusing on that as opposed to focusing on like, the music of Black Anvil.
PAUL: Yeah, that’s probably just a creative copout, a starting ground for conversation. I understand with a newer band, history helps. There’s a lot more (focus) on that than the actual product that’s being reviewed. There’s a couple specific reviewers in mind (that didn’t like it), that (were like), “this is nothing more than metal riffs and this and that” and…it’s a little more than that. It’s a little complex. It’s not a Rush record by any means but there sure is some complexity to us, there’s more than meets the eye. It may take the listener to sit down and read the lyrics and think a little more to understand but I wish there was a little more emphasis on that aspect. The exception to (those negatie reviews), is so far so good.
WULF: Yeah, that’s one of the downsides, since I do a radio show, is that most of the labels now do digital promo copies as opposed to sending us a hard copy, and so unfortunately since I don’t have a hard copy I was looking online for lyrics and I couldn’t find any, but it wasn’t totally exhaustive just because I could already tell what you guys were saying from listening to the album, which was good too. It wasn’t just so…a lot of times with metal it’s hard to make out the lyrics, but with you guys I felt it was easy to make out, which was good too for coming up with these questions. But before I get to that, I have a question…for this album, did you have a personal favorite track? I like the whole album, but I’d say the standout track for me personally was “Angels to Dust”. I don’t know why it stood out more than the others, maybe because it’s fast but also I really like the melodic part in the middle and then it gets really doomy. So that just really got me. What about you?
PAUL: I think that was one of the “hookier” songs. That’s up there for me, but overall I’d say I couldn’t choose one. The flow of the record from beginning to end was strategically put together and I feel really accomplished creating the record, so it would be hard for me to just choose one. I’m a fan of the overall product.
WULF: What about recording-wise, was there a track that was more difficult to record than any of the others, that maybe you guys had more of a difficult time trying to nail in the studio?
PAUL: No, we (inaudible) tracking-wise, for the most part.
WULF: Alright. Now, I’m not going to focus on this, this is just one question, but I understand you probably get asked this a lot, but you guys used to play in Kill Your Idols and it was more hardcore, and now you’re playing black metal, and I’m just curious as to what facilitated this sort of switch? Were you guys always into black metal, even in the hardcore days?
PAUL: I’ve been into metal overall since before I even played hardcore. I really dove into black metal I’d say mid to late 90s was when I really like…dove deeper than the obvious choices. The Bathory and Mayhem records. I realized there was more. At that point I definitely looked deeper and found a lot more. (inaudible)
But these days I still find stuff and research because of my love for music and aggressive music, but hardcore in New York is different than (the stereotype), straight-edge kids and (inaudible), it was a pretty tough scene and that’s what drew us all to bands like Agnostic Front, Terror, Sick of It All, and Kill Your Idols was a product of that upbringing.
Lyrically it’s different than this but we had a different vocalist, so that was his contribution. There wasn’t much of a (inaudible) for me other than…it was a pretty natural stepping stone. Kill Your Idols broke up and in time after that Gary and I were doing a band called Deathcycle which was a project he started, which was heavier punk. It was tuned a lot lower, and after we put out a couple records it was tuned lower and lower and experimenting with heavy tuning, there’s a lot you can do. But for us I feel like there’s a wider range or variety with low-tuning. It kept getting heavier and heavier. It just sort of stuck. It was something that we had discussed for years, but being that (playing in a band takes up so much time), there’s never enough time for a side-project. A few years later, with (Deathcycle) no longer in existence, (inaudible)
WULF: Well, and so, I’m kind of curious, do you feel like Black Anvil is a part of this new emergence of the U.S. black metal scene? I know that USBM has been around for a long time, but there’s this sort of new emergence of this new sound and it’s a little more experimental like Wolves in the Throne Room or Nachtmystium, and I was wondering if you felt that Black Anvil was a part of this scene or are you guys something different?
PAUL: Not at all. I don’t feel like we’re a part of it at all. We’ve toured with Nachtmystium, Blake is a good friend of ours. I compare myself to them more than anyone else, but I don’t feel like we fit in with the average scene. And it could be just me, but I feel like we’re on a different page and our music (and lyrics) are rooted from a different place. I just think we stand alone. Not on a pedestal, not above anyone, but I do feel like we sort of have our own thing. Seeing the upbringing in this band in the last couple of years…I feel like we are a completely individual unit…functioning–
When it comes to different scenes and who’s who and what’s what.
WULF: Well, another thing I’m not too familiar with because I live in the Midwest is…what is the black metal scene like in New York? I mean, I know that New York death metal is really big, and of course hardcore and punk, but what about black metal though?
PAUL: There’s no scene to me. My scene is in my fucking iPod.
You know? That’s where my scene is. But there is a scene, I mean, bands come and play. Triptykon and 1349 played in New York a couple days ago. I was out of town, however, I’m assuming the show was decently attended. I’ve played shows with different bands, I’ve gone to shows, there’s a scene. There’s definitely a metal scene. I don’t know how much of an underground there is though, because I am personally not a part of it. There’s definitely a cool, hip aspect to it these days which I have no affiliation with whatsoever. Those people mean nothing to me. But it even seems like that has sort of come and gone. It’s not completely “in” to go see this band or that band. It’s over when people find something new. But there’s a pretty big metal scene, you know? It’s hard to nail down, but it’s there. In the big picture, it’s there.
WULF: OK. I’ve been to New York once, but it was a long time ago, and certainly not when I was listening to metal, and so that was just something I was kind of curious about. OK, so more about the album, for “Triumvirate”, the album cover, I feel, is really badass. It definitely captures the music perfectly, I feel. I was wondering, who is the art by? And how did you pick out this particular artist?
PAUL: He also did the artwork for our first record. He does some notable (inaudible) as well, and I’ve just been a fan of his artwork for some time and I contacted him while we were writing the first record. Pretty great artist.
His company is Metastazis.
But he’s done some work for Antaeus, Ulver, Nachtmystium…I’ve got a good amount of respect for him, and Averse Sefira–
WULF: Yeah, I know Averse Sefira.
PAUL: Yeah, he’s done phenomenal artwork for them. I constantly go to his site and look at his artwork, and I finally looked him up and asked if there’s any interest, and he wrote back. He had a brief six or eight months that (he was spending) living in New York and I got to know him well. And (the artwork) for this record just came out phenomenal. The LP especially, I don’t know how he’ll top this.
He’s definitely a genius and the ball was all in his court. I gave him the music, gave him the lyrics, and he heard it from demo stages until the finished stages, and we said “hey man, let’s see your job”. He really created something powerful.
WULF: Yeah, I think it’s really cool. It definitely grabs you. But anyway, I was looking on your Myspace page and I noticed that you have an upcoming tour with Goatwhore and Watain. Those dudes definitely have a reputation for being pretty nuts on and offstage, or at least Watain does. Goatwhore, they seem offstage that they’re kind of nice dudes, I don’t know about Watain. I was wondering, in all your years of playing in bands and stuff, who is the craziest band that you’ve ever toured with?
PAUL: The craziest band I’ve ever toured with…I wouldn’t call them crazy, per se, like in a wild way, but I’ve actually played in Madball, I filled in for their bass player for a good handful of tours. I lent a hand to them. But by far, they’re a band that’s not to be fucked with.
WULF: Yeah, I’ll bet!
PAUL: They’re some of the best people I know, but you know, all “crazy” goes out the window when you’re rolling with a band like them who you don’t want to see that crazy side.
WULF: Yeah, East Coast hardcore shit isn’t really to be fucked with, so–
PAUL: But yeah, crazy? I’ve seen all sorts of crazy but reality is what’s most (inaudible), but with a band like Madball…I’d put my money on them any day. And no disrespect to anyone else, but…you know.
WULF: Right. No, I got ya. So with touring, what is your favorite place as far as cities, where would you say is your favorite place to play live? Where did you experience the best Black Anvil fans?
PAUL: I would say New York. With this band we haven’t made many rounds, we did some sporadic dates for the Marduk tour, we did the West Coast and East Coast with them. Canada’s actually awesome, Montreal is a really great city. But for now I’d say Philly, New York, Montreal…like, East Coast. Virginia…Richmond has a great scene.
WULF: Yeah, I’ve heard Montreal mentioned a lot. I don’t remember who I was talking to but they mentioned it as the “Metal Capital of the New World” or something like that. I’ve never been there but I’ve heard the metal scene is really good.
PAUL: Yeah, it’s a pretty strong one.
WULF: I’m just kind of jealous because being in the Kansas City area, we have good shows but it’s nothing compared to the East or the West Coasts, do you know what I mean? Or Montreal for that matter.
PAUL: I was told this tour was supposed to hit Kansas City before the cancellation of Behemoth.
WULF: I know! We were really, really excited, and then unfortunately there was the news of Nergal and so it looks like they’re not going to be coming around here…well I guess the whole tour…
PAUL: Yeah, there’s been a lot of re-booking involved. So we’re hoping that we’re on it, but yeah it’s been a lot of work to line that shit back up. We were looking forward to it.
WULF: Yeah, that was going to be really awesome, seeing all of you guys. OK, so my last question is, because I know we’re running out of time here, but there’s a lot of really good Youtube footage of you guys playing live, and I was wondering about your plans for the future. Obviously you guys are going to be going out on tour and recording new music, I’m assuming, eventually. But what about, given all this footage, are you guys ever going to release a DVD or anything like that?
PAUL: Definitely not in the near future. In the near future there are definitely no plans for a DVD release, but maybe down the line it would be something that’s cool. If we have enough stuff to be released.
WULF: Some of the stuff I’ve seen online, at least on Youtube, looks really good. I think it’d be cool since I haven’t seen you guys live to see you guys on a DVD.
PAUL: There’s some really good footage of me on Scion Rock Fest. I don’t know if it’s actually released. I wouldn’t call it “pro-shot” but it’s pretty damn good sound quality and video quality from scion rock fest. I want to see all the bands from our venue. It should have two or three clips up of Absu, us, I forget who else…Liturgy maybe? But there’s definitely some good footage from that show floating out there.
WULF: I’ll definitely check it out! A lot of bands don’t come to our area, so sometimes in order to see bands live I have to resort to the internet. Which is cool, but it’s not a true substitute for the real thing. Anyway man, I know we’re out of time so I just want to end by saying thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me. Good luck on your tour, and hopefully we’ll be seeing you guys in the Midwest here in the Kansas City area sometime in the future.
PAUL: Yeah, hopefully we’ll see you man.