– Hi Sharon, thanks for your time. What’s currently going on with DERKETA?
Thanks for sending it! We just released the “In Death We Meet” CD so we’ve been busy with getting the orders out for that. We also have a new drummer because Terri isn’t able to play live shows anymore due to her work, so we’re working in Mike Laughlin, who played drums with Creation is Crucifixion and Cattle Decapitation. We’re going to start playing shows again this August. Then later this year we’re going to release the “In Death We Meet” recording onto vinyl.
– “Derketa” is a mythological goddess of death, which I guess you made reference to with the “Death Goddess” compilation. Why did you think that name was suitable for the band?
Back when Terri and I were struggling to come up with a band name, a friend of ours Jeff Cherep had mentioned that we should name the band Derketa. He explained that he read about her in the Conan series and she was the Goddess of Death. It just seemed to fit since we were females writing and playing death metal.
– You formed the band with Terri, and in fact nowadays, except for Robin Mazen, you are still keeping the original line-up. Have you been in contact throughout these years?
Well, like I mentioned, Terri is no longer going to pursue Derketa so the original lineup was only for the album. We were hoping she would change her mind but she gave it some thought and didn’t see how it would work with her, being that she only gets a week off of work each year for vacation and we want to go to Europe to play some shows. She decided its best if we find another drummer so that she doesn’t hold us back. That was really upsetting to us but we respect her decision. Robin actually was going to join Derketa back in 1991 on guitar, Mary was on bass then, but it was right when Terri and I were at odds with each other and broke up the band. When Robin heard that Terri and I were going to get together again to do the record, she talked us into reforming to play live shows, except with her on bass and Mary on guitar. Terri and I stayed in contact on and off throughout the years. It took me about 5 years to talk her into recording again, im happy that she did record with us.
– And how is everything going with Robin? How did you meet? As if I’m not mistaken she played with Terri and Mary on SLAG-9. And talking of which; how do you think has the fact of being now a 4-piece affected the band’s sound?
Everything is going great with Robin! Of course she doesn’t live here so she has to fly up for practice and shows but we’ve managed to make it work. We met Robin through Paul from Cynic, and yes she did play with Terri and Mary on Slag-9. As far as us now being a 4 piece, its made a huge difference. Mary is amazing on guitar and has really brought in a fullness that Derketa was lacking. She puts in harmonies and notes that have enhanced the songs, makes them more interesting.
– You are now, again, a so called “all-female” band, though not always has been like this. Was this something you were looking for?
No, the only reason we were all female was because back then it wasn’t easy to get into a death metal band with the guys. Terri and I were friends and when I told her I wanted to start a band, she said she wanted to as well. Don from Nun Slaughter was actually our first bassist but then he met Mary, who is a bassist, and thought it would be interesting if we kept it all female. Of course now we are no longer all female, but Mike fits in great with us. Very laid back and down to earth.
– In fact you are the first all-female Death/Doom Metal band. Was everything easy for you since the beginnings? And how and why did you form DERKETA?
In the beginning it wasn’t bad for us at all. The demos got around through tape trading and not everyone knew we were females and just liked the music. Once the word got out that we were female, it brought on some appeal. We formed Derketa because I was playing guitar and its only natural when you play an instrument to start to write your own songs. It just seemed like the natural thing to do.
– During the 90’s Terri formed MYTHIC and Mary followed her. You kept on going with DERKETA for some time until the band just seemed to fade away. How did you live that period?
I started playing bass in Eviscium and that took up my time. Once Eviscium stopped, I wanted to get back to recording Derketa but wanted to do it with Terri because we always had a good musical chemistry together. Like I said, it took about 5 years to talk Terri into playing again so I just hung tight until she said lets do it.
– You also worked for some time with EVISCIUM with Mark Mastro, who by the way designed your logo. How do you now recall that era?
Those were fun times!!! Theyre a fun group of people to be in a band with! We’re actually going to reform to record the songs that we never got around to recording. I think we have about 8 songs to record. Its sounding like it might happen sometime this year so im excited about it. I really like Mark’s writing and these songs I think are better than the ones that are out there. Itll be fun revisiting Eviscium again.
– In fact I read some time ago you were working or supposed to work with ROTTREVORE, but couldn’t find much info about it. Would you mind to shed some light on this?
Ah yea, Chris Weber reformed Rottrevore but Mark didn’t want to do it. Chris had asked if I would take over on guitar and I had agreed to do so, but at that time is when Derketa was working on the recording. They wanted to hit the studio to record 3 songs plus play some shows and there was no way for me to learn their songs, plus work on the Derketa recording. So I had to tell them that I wasn’t able to do it. I don’t know if you’ve heard the new Rottrevore but the songs are a bit complicated!!! When Chris started showing me the songs, I said are you joking!! It was going to take months for me to get up to speed on playing his stuff, it’s a completely different style than what im used to playing. They found another guitarist and I enjoyed watching him struggle to get up to speed on the songs! Chris is a serious guitarist/song writer, a few levels up from my writing style!
– And now you are finally back. What prompted your comeback? It seems to be lately a huge interest for the band, in fact DERKETA is considered a cult band. Has this surprised you?
It was just the fact that I had these songs written and wanted to get them recorded. I was going to record the album 10 years ago but it didn’t feel write doing it without Terri. I was working with the drummer of Nun Slaughter but he lives 2 – 3 hours away and its just a pain to drive that far for practice. Plus he doesn’t really have the patience to play doom and I was worried that he might want to change the tempo of the songs. Originally it did surprise me that Derketa is considered a cult band but then when I think about it, it seems that any band that came out in the mid/late 80’s is considered cult. I think cult bands really just translate into being old!
– After over 20 years you have now released your first full-length album. How are you feeling about it?
I am extremely happy with this release and the response that were getting from it. Some of the songs were written back in 1991 so its good to have them recorded finally and have them out there. I wasn’t sure if people were going to be into it because the genre has changed so much over the years. Its comforting to see that people really do like the older style of death metal, I feel that I can relate more with the current scene and look forward to getting more releases out there.
– After listening to the album I’d dare say you haven’t aged at all. What does this style have that keep you feeling passionate about it?
It just makes sense to me With me, I just go with whatever comes out and I don’t put too much thought into it. I think if you start analysing your stuff to death, then youre going to lose the basic feel that you started with. I don’t want to compete with any band out there, I just want to trust my instincts of the ideas when they are first formed. And of course, doom death metal to me is the best of both worlds, theres something about that genre that can really capture you in and I dont have a desire to write any other style of music. I don’t think I could really. The desire is not there.
– And is it easy to keep the old spirit alive? As the production sounds really old school so, how was this process like? Who took production duties?
No, it wasn’t easy at all. We first attempted this recording back in February of 2011 but I made the decision to walk away from it and start all over at another studio. We played the songs a little too fast and the tempo was the main concern. Another concern was not being able to mic our amps and to use computer amp modelling. I spent 3 hours one day just trying to find my sound and got frustrated with it. So we scrapped that attempt and went to Logic Bomb studios in October of 2011, which is just a basement studio. Everything was sounding good but I wasn’t happy with my guitar sound. So I spoke to another engineer and I re-recorded my guitars at his studio. He was going to take over on the mix but we couldn’t agree on the drum sound. He wanted to trigger the drums and that sound just does not fit us. Some engineers want to follow the “today standards” and im not real sure who makes those standards, but im not into those sounds at all. Triggered drums are so distracting to the songs, I wish bands/studios would stop doing that. So I had to walk away from him completing the project, and took my retracked guitars back to Logic Bomb and we finished the mix there. There are some things that were not 100% happy with but we ran out of time to get the recording out for our release date. We plan on correcting those issues for the vinyl. Mainly just the snare sound, the kick drums need to have more of an attack to them, and the guitars need to have a warmer fuller tone. As far as production, it would have to be me, Mary, Rickey Budway from Logic Bomb and also Jimmy Dofka who mixed the vocals and the guitar tracks.
– You’ve chose to self-release this opus. What made you took this decision? What could you say are the pros and cons of this?
Yeah, it was just the fact that its not hard to do as long as you’re willing to put the money in yourself. Most labels out there offer bands 20%, and I don’t think that is fair at all. I think it should be 50% after costs. Then theres the trust issue if theyre pressing what they said they were going to press. We didn’t ask around or even entertain the idea of finding a label. When we started discussing it, we all agreed that we would just do it ourselves, and take full control of the outcome. The pros are that you know EXACTLY what is being sold, what is going to which distro, and the band profits fully after our costs are recouped. And then you have money to make up more merch versus having to go back into your own pocket. The cons are that you have to come up with the money, and put the time in to promote and mail out the orders. I don’t really considered that a con though because im enjoying it all. Its just like the old demo days and youre in touch with the people that are buying your CD. If a band decides to go this route, I definitely recommend signing up with Stamps.com to weigh and stamp the mail yourself. It saves loads of time, and all you have to do is drop the already paid for mail off at the post office versus standing in line and having them go through them one at a time. I think more bands should try self releasing. And now with everything online, its very easy to promote your band. You just have to keep on it and realise that people have a short attention span so you need to always be out there reminding them that youre there and this is what you have going on. Don’t look at it as if it’s a chore.
– Last year on your website you stated you weren’t happy with the initial recording, so you decided to start all over. Why weren’t you satisfied with that initial recording? And how did finally take you to create this new “In Death we Meet”?
It was mainly the tempo of the songs, we played them too fast. It was my fault really. I started the songs off too fast without realising that it really took away from the mood of the song. For example, the song Goddess of Death is 10 minutes long. On the first recording it was about 7 minutes long. It was one of those things that you start double guessing yourself, thinking 10 minutes is a bit long for a song! But when you speed it up, its just not right. Plus I don’t think we played to our best ability. We definitely made the right decision in just walking away from it, practicing more, getting everything more solid. In the past I wasn’t happy with the recordings but everything was so rushed that I was talked into just letting things go. I learned from that and didn’t want to repeat doing that again, and just play it until it is right. Otherwise I would never truly be happy with the release. Being a song writer, that was important to me, to accurately capture my thoughts. When we recorded the last time, I was real careful with the tempos. It all seemed to work out.
– I think this album goes in the same vein of your earlier releases but, how could you describe it in just 3 words?
Hmmmmm, that’s tricky. That’s not my 3 words either! Maybe “honest death doom”.
– And do you think if you have released this album back in the 80’s/90’s it would have been similar? Both the final outcome of the sound as the overall response.
Yes, I do. I don’t think music goes out of style. If it works, it works, it doesn’t matter the year.
– From Queens of Steel we have always tried to let people know women are equally capable of playing Metal music. Even though many people respects and admires female Metal musicians doing their own thing, into this world people tends to illustrate differences between both genres instead of highlighting similarities. Have you noticed this during your career or as a Metal fan?
I think women should be equal in the metal genre. They are in every other genre!! It’s a bit arrogant of metal guys to think that they are only capable of writing dark or extreme music. Look at Ann Rice, shes a female horror writer and is respected. Whats the difference between writing a horror book versus horror music? Its not a gender aspect at all, its what comes from within. Theres a lot of men and women that share common interests, that is a known fact. Christ, there are even men that can cook better than women! I think if you do what you want to do, and do it the best that you can, you will have respect. One thing that I would recommend to the other women out there is don’t try to compete with the guys. When people try to compete, then it becomes forced. Just do what comes from within and don’t worry if it will be accepted among the men. If youre true to yourself, it will show and youll have respect from both men and women.
– And how do you think has evolved the role society uses to give women into the Metal scene? Do you think there’s still discrimination into this world?
There would have to be because theres discrimination everywhere. Discrimination is a fault within a person, thinking someone isn’t as good as them for whatever reason. I don’t pay any attention to it, that’s there issue not mine, but I do think that women are more accepted in the metal scene these days. Theres so many of us, and the ones that were there in the beginning are still around. I think we’ve proven ourselves that we don’t care if theres discrimination towards women in metal. We’re not going anywhere, either like it, or don’t. Either way, it doesn’t really matter cause were still doing what we want to do. They can remain grumpy about it all!
– Finally, what are your near-future plans? Are you back to stay?
Yes, we are back to stay!! Unfortunately without Terri but the rest of us are in it for the long haul. We want to start playing shows to support “In Death We Meet”, get the vinyl out, play Europe, South America and wherever we can go to. Then we’ll get back to the studio for the next release.
– That’s all, thank you once more for answering our questions. If you want to add some final words; feel free to do it.
Thank you for taking the time to write up this interview for us! If anyone is interested in what were up to, you can either find us on Facebook or go to our website, www.Derketa.com. We have an online store now so buying merch is a little more easy. And to all of the women out there into metal, never feel intimidated by the guys. Trust your instincts and do what feels right to you. If you want to be in a band, do it!! Theres nothing like writing and playing music, its incredible really. And to the guys out there that may have a problem with girls in metal, im sure youre a better cook than we are! Just sit back and enjoy whatever people have to offer, it all works out in the end. Stay thirsty my friends!