– Hello, thanks for taking your time, hope you are all healthy over there. Has the whole pandemic situation affected the band’s activity and the work surrounding the release of the new album in any way?
First off thank you much for the interview and the support. Yea we did have some shows booked that were to coincide with the release of the record, but obviously that didn’t happen. We do have some scheduled dates to go play a show and record it live. Hopefully we’ll be able to get that out in September.
– SHED THE SKIN was originally born as a tribute to BLOOD OF CHRIST after Tom Rojack’s passing. How did it evolve into a full-time band?
Yea that is correct. Duane Morris and Matt Sorg had ask me to play drums for a remembrance show they were putting together and play Blood Of Christ songs. After that Matt and I really enjoyed jamming together, and both of us wanted to keep playing that Blood of Christ style of tunes, which was just the style of death metal we grew up on, so it was a no brainer for us to create a band, the name was taken from a BOC song. We originally just wrote the 2 songs and was happy to put a 7” out, now we are 8 years later and just released our 3rd studio record.
– All of you are veterans that have played (and are still playing) in different bands. How do these other bands affect what you are doing now with SHED THE SKIN? What do you bring here from that experience? Not just in sound terms, but in terms of experience as musicians and songwriters.
Being veterans in the scene is what helps keep this band functioning for sure. We literally get together for one practice before we play gigs, and for recording Matt and I will get together for one weekend and work them out, then usually record them the next time we get together, obviously there’s homework to be done, but everybody knows what their job is and it just gets done. Also there are no egos, or issues amongst us, we are all great friends that enjoy jamming together. We are too old for bullshit!!!
– You have recently released your third album, “The Forbidden Arts”; how are you feeling about it now that it’s done?
We feel great, its a great record, and everything about it looks and sounds great. Also so far every record we usually have the music recorded and then it takes about a year before it comes out, the artwork is so amazing and James creates it all by dots, so it takes forever, but we haven’t minded waiting, so when it does finally come out its such a relief, then we start it all over again… hahah
– Once again you teamed up with Dan Swanö for mixing and mastering duties. I guess after working with him so many times the process may be smoother. Why do you rely on him so much?
Yes Dan has really dialed in on our sound. If its not broken, don’t fix it!!! Dan is also so easy to work with, it’s such a pleasure.
– I guess it works for you considering there’s (among others) a Swedish DM influence in your sound. How easy is to make something varied without straying from your traditional Death Metal path?
Yea the Swedish sound comes from Blood of Christ, Tom always liked that Swedish sound, and Matt is a big fan of Carnage, Dismember, Entombed, so when creating the riffs its gonna rub off, but the music just comes from all the DM influences from that early 90’s time period, lots of Trouble, Autopsy, Impetigo. We aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel, but we also are not blatantly trying to rip off any bands, we just find a nice mixture of all of it.
– What other things do inspire you? In music and outside of music.
Horror movies and horror movie scores, and of course the day to day bullshit helps get the aggression going.
– You also worked with James Bulloch again for the cover artwork. What does this main figure represent? And what’s the link between the artwork and some of the lyrics on the album?
There’s no link between the lyrics and the artwork, if there seems to be its all coincidental. Chuck Sherwood (bassist and lyricist for Incantation) writes all our lyrics before he sees the artwork. For example he already gave us lyrics for another 10 songs and we have no idea what we are thinking for next cover art. The main Priest figure just kinda came about, James mainly came up with the first album art for “Harrowing Faith”, that was easier because we could play on the album title (which we had before the art was done), then from there we just kinda came up with the Priest Shedding his Skin. The poster that is the “We of Scorn” artwork and “The Forbidden Arts” that comes in the LP was all supposed to be just the We of Scorn artwork, but James only had a portion of the “ The Forbidden Arts” art done at the deadline time for Scorn, we decided to save it and he would have a jump start for the 3rd record. Which then I think had adding additional ideas, like the faces in the art are actually our faces, he had us take pictures of us yelling and screaming and he drew from those.
– So what are some of the themes on this record? And how do you translate them into sound and ambience?
Its all satanic and horrific themes. They are actual stories from different religions, and some are just dreams Chuck has. None of which has much to do with the music. Matt and I build the songs first, then Ash places Chucks words in the songs.
– In fact I believe “The Forbidden Arts” sounds darker and more consistent than your previous releases. Have you found your own sound here? Or is this a constant process for a band?
You know we really didn’t realize it so much when writing these songs, but Matt has said he feels like he has found our style now. First 2 records were kinda all over the place in terms of writing, but now we have a flow, and these new songs we are working on definitely have the flow of Forbidden Arts.
– All this about “The Forbidden Arts” being said; how would you describe it in just 3 words?
Pounding Death Metal!
– There’s now an obvious resurrection of old school Death Metal. Is it easier to get out there due to the growing interest or the fact that there are a lot of bands doing this makes it harder?
Yea I’ve definitely seen the increase of kids getting into “Old School Death Metal” these days, I think its great for us older dudes who had a part in creating that term “Old School”, its about respect and finally getting it. I think ultimately its helping us, because even though the scene may be flooded with new bands, at least shows are happening and gives us a chance to show these new kids just how metal is written and played!!!
– What’s different from the 90’s scene now there’s this obvious resurgence of the old school aesthetics even among younger generations?
I think just the obvious, back then it was new and fresh and we’re just creating a heavier style of music than what we grew up on, not really having a title “Death Metal” just yet. Now sure kids are still trying to do that today, but really where do you go from there, playing faster doesn’t mean it’s any more extreme. A few bands get it, but most new bands just don’t get that feeling when creating.
– Are there any new bands into the style (or similar) that have caught your attention?
Undergang, Necrot demo, Skeletal Remains are a few new bands to me that are really awesome. Then there are new bands from old goats as well like Kurnagia, Vadiat, Surgikill, The Primitive, Churchburn that are newer in the past 10 years that are killing it!!!
– I think we all already know Metal tends to be a quite nostalgic «community». When Simon Reynolds researched on the cult of retro on «Retromania: Pop Culture’s Addiction to Its Own Past» he wondered if: “Is nostalgia stopping our culture’s ability to surge forward, or are we nostalgic precisely because our culture has stopped moving forward and so we inevitably look back to more momentous and dynamic times?”. Applied to the Metal world, what’s your opinion? Do we use to look back because we feel there’s something missing on most of today’s music?
I think we look back because there was great music made and newer generations just want to hear it.
– And finally; what’s next for SHED THE SKIN? How are you going to promote the album in these uncertain times?
Well just like most other bands, we must rely mainly on the internet and social media. we are going to record some live audio/video shows for the world to see in hopes to sell physical media, and we will keep forging on creating and recording new music.
– That’s all from our side, thank you once more for answering our interview. If you’d like to add some final words; feel free to do it.
Thank you again for the interview, so glad to have outlets like yours promoting and supporting metal… That goes for all your fans, if you want keep hearing bands put our music you like, get out there and support them, buy their records, and if you have a record store in town go to the store and buy it, thats what we had to do, its all part of the experience of finding that new record, or new band… 666