Saturday, May 22, 2010

Interview: Brodequin

Brodequin are one of those bands that I completely expected not to like based on what I had heard from some of my jaded acquaintances in the metal world, although I later luckily tossed caution (and their advice) to the wind and checked out this trio of brutal death extremists, discovering a new favorite in the process. After becoming obsessed with the band's last major opus, the torture-addicted "Festival of Death", I was inspired to contact vocalist/bassist Jamie Bailey and apply some of my own interrogation techniques. He was kind enough to indulge me...

As far as I know (and I only have the lyrics to the Festival of Death album here before me) Brodequin mainly limits itself to describing either methods or means of torture and ritual killing or historical events that are celebrated for a particularly cruel character - events or movements that also gave birth to many of these same instruments of pain. When exactly did you decide to limit yourself in such a way? Is this the official "theme" or "meaning" behind Brodequin's contribution to death metal - just an elaboration upon or celebration of man's cruelty to man? What fascinates you the most about machinery of pain and abuse? Have you set for yourselves a goal of cataloguing every known method of torture, every instrument of interrogation and execution?

Yes that is true, we mainly focus on historical techniques and machinery from the medieval period through the Inquisitions and really up to modern day, although our lyrics have yet to touch on modern day practices. I guess it would be the "theme" of the band, it helps us stick out from the other bands, but as far as it being a celebration of man's cruelty I think of it more as a learning experience or a warning of what people will do to each other when society not only says it's ok, but the state promotes such behavior. It's equally interesting that as technology advances so does the ability to increase pain and [prolong] the life of your victim so that they may endure more punishment as the process goes on. I have a fairly large catalog of torture devices and I am always looking for more information on such equipment, after about 100 unique pieces of equipment they are pretty much the same with small differences - mainly because of geographical reasons.

An interesting comparison is drawn in your lyrics between the torture methods of Christian societies and groups within the Catholic church and then pagan or pre-Christian icons of power...for example the song "Torches of Nero" details the torture and execution of Christians, which places it in stark contrast to other lyrics that mainly deal with the cruelty and bloodlust of Christian executioners. Would you say there is an underlying message or moral theme behind your lyrics that seeks to undermine the humanitarian ideals of religion by highlighting the hypocritical acts of torture and savagery it has always indulged in? Is Brodequin an anti-Christian band? Is this concentration on Christian material just an inescapable side-effect of detailing methods of torture, since the Christian churches have been so fiendishly inventive in that industry?

Although it is true that the Christian church is absolutely number one in the expertise of torture and execution, I thought it was important to mention in "Torches of Nero" that the christians were not the only ones that had skills in the realm of torture. I think that if given the chance that any religion for the most part would try to extinquish any other or any non-believers through what ever means possible including going back to the days of torture, there is evidence today of religious groups executing each other over their beliefs. When dealing with torture it is impossible to not mention the christians because they were so good at it, which consequently isn't a compliment. Brodequin is not an anti-christian band, we just dont have any use for organized religion whatever it may call itself. As for an underlying theme I think its important to note that although I am fascinated with Torture and its instruments that torture itself is not a useful tool, under enough torture a victim will confess anything that he is asked to, guilty or not, just to stop the abuse, so therefore the information gained cannot be seen as valid...but yet people still do it.

Your lyrics are also interesting to me because of the way they are written...the fact that they appear to be isolated images or details of movements and acts, separated into individual fragments within each song that sometimes do not even appear connected to each other. Instead of being set within a traditional songwriting framework of choruses and verses they are masses of detail, loose assemblages of phrases that are either descriptions or summaries of narratives...in songs like "Gilles De Rais" they coalesce into a historical biography that communicates a picture of a character and psychological intent mainly through particulars of one man's torture obsessions. How do you write your lyrics? Do you sit down with a definite structure in mind for the song, or are you trying, at first, to just concentrate on the details of your subject that you find the most inspiring, the imagery and descriptions of action that you think are the most important? Many of your songs appear to be short summaries of things you may have read, books or articles or historical accounts - how much research does the band put into its lyrics? Are you trying to draw your audience into historical study - would you like to see them look into these subjects on their own, inspired by your research? What comes first, the lyrics or the music? How is each section of music matched to the lyrics?

When I write the lyrics I first decide exactly what the subject matter is, for example with "Gilles De Rais" I read quite a bit of text on him and his crimes. The next thing is I just [to] start writing lines about what I have read in no particualr order, they are just notes at this point, then I start trying to visualize what it may have been like to witness what he was doing and put myself in his place and the the place of the victims, what may be in the room or what they could possibly have been thinking. I put a lot of research into each song I write so that it may inspire people to research these [subjects] on their own, or just history in general and to make sure that the lyrics accurately describe what the song is trying to portray. I have had a few people tell me that they started studying medival history because of our lyrics and I think that's great, it just brings a greater sense of understanding not only to our music but to the world in general. But as for the music or lyrics, they actually coincide with each other for the most part, and we listen for what we think is right when matching music to lyrics.

I read in another interview with your band that you (someone in the band, I can't remember who) consider your particular brand of death metal or goregrind to be the "ultimate form of music" - can you tell us why? Describe, if you can, why Brodequin's form of metal is the most satisfactory to you, and what Brodequin is doing to fill out, explore, and set standards for this genre. What does Brodequin offer that other bands can not seem to match? Why should a reader listen to your band instead of another? What makes your band stand out, what makes it original? Is goregrind the future of death metal, the way that you want the entire death metal movement to turn towards? How is this subgenre an advance or evolution beyond other types of death metal?

I think that it's the ultimate form of music because as a musician I have never played a style of music that's more difficult to master, just from a speed factor alone. We actually have substance to our music both lyrically and musically, I cannot think of many other bands that offer what we do as far as a complete package. If a reader wants to listen to music that deals with porn-grind or lyrics talking about some other 4th grade mentality bullshit then by all means they should not listen to us, however if a reader would like to expand his/her mind by listening to some intense music and intelligent lyrics then we are the band for that. I do not think goregrind is the future of death metal, too many bands coming out now are playing slower and more "hip hop" feeling riffs, a lot of bands coming out now I expect to have a DJ in the band.

You recently replaced your drummer, didn't you? Can you tell us what happened with this relationship...why was Chad Walls ejected from the band? Who is your new drummer? Does he bring something to Brodequin that Chad lacked? Was he involved in any way with the writing for the new album?

Yes, we replaced Chad due to personal reasons, and problems with practice. He has been replaced by Jon Engman, [who] brings a sense of freshness to the band and is the fastest drummer I have ever played with...plus he has a good sense of what we are trying to do so he has great ideas for the band, and everything has been working out perfectly. He had several contributions to the new album which should be out this July/August.

Let's talk about the specific details of your recordings. I first listened to Brodequin, like a lot of people, because of the reputation "Instruments of Torture" had gained for you through its extremely caustic and raw production. What lessons did you learn from that first recording that you applied to your second, "Festival of Death"? How did you approach, for example, the guitar or drum sound when recording the second album that changed the final result, that gave you something different from the first record? Are you satisfied with the sound on "Festival of Death" and do you think it is an adequate representation of your goals, of the band itself? If you think it can be improved upon (or was), please tell us how. Do you think the changes in production techniques you have used mirror the evolution of the music itself? Do you believe that production methods, the creation of a particular "sound" on a recording, can be as important as the music itself - that it creates an atmosphere for the listener that is as important as the music is for communication?

I personally like "Instruments" better than "Festival" from a recording standpoint. That was another problem with Chad, we had to go record where he wanted to, and that's the type of recording you get. I am extremely grateful to the guy that made those recordings because it helped gain us our fans, but I feel that the new album is easily the best recording that we have ever had. We were able to record everything the way it should be so I think that fans will really be into the sound of this one, and yes I think that the atmosphere it creates goes hand in hand with the [entire] listening experience for the listener.

Speaking of your new album, I believe you just finished recording it...how did the recordings sessions go? Are you satisfied with what you captured on tape? What can Brodequin fans expect from this new material, how is it different from what has come before? Am I correct in guessing from the title ("Methods of Execution") that this new album will even further refine your theme of torture/interrogation tactics and machinery? Where was it recorded? In this recording session, what details of the production process did you change? How will the final result be different from your last album? Does the "Prelude to Execution" EP point out a new direction for the band, something that will be now followed up on (as the title of the EP suggests)?

Thats great that you noticed the "Prelude to Execution" link, that's exactly why we chose that title. The new Brodequin album is in a new direction than the prior albums, with the new drummer everything changed for the better - the songs are much more interesting and flow smoother. We recorded the album in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, at a place called Asylum Studios. The guitars sound heavier, the bass tone is much more attacking, [it has] an overall thicker sound...this is the best album that we have ever put out.

I have a few questions about Liturgy, your project with ex-Disgorge vocalist Matti Way. First of all: how did this project come about and what was its initial inspiration? How is the music written - who handles each instrument, and what is the songwriting process like? How do you rehearse or plan out your material? How does Liturgy differ from Brodequin, and what does it offer you that Brodequin can not? Is there a difference of lyrical themes or a contrasting concentration on other lyrical subjects? How does Liturgy differ from Cinerary? Where was "Dawn of Ash" recorded and who was involved in its production? It says on your website that both Brodequin and Liturgy will be playing in Europe soon - who else rounds out Liturgy and allows you to play live? Was there ever talk of Matti Way just joining Brodequin? I'm assuming he was an inspiration for you, in terms of your vocals...

Matti and I have been friends for around 5 years now. After it was apparent that Cinerary wasn't going to be doing anything anytime soon we decided to do a project called Liturgy. It's basically everyone from Brodequin plus Matti on vocals. Because he lives in California, Mike (guitarist) wrote the music and sent tapes to Matti and then we would start writing lyrics and matching it with music. The entire album was written and recorded in 6 weeks, it was also recorded at Asylum Studios in Milwaukee. As for rehearsel we played once with Liturgy as a complete band before the Fuck the Commerce festival in Germany, and we rehearsed for one week before recording the CD. Liturgy deals mainly with the works of various christian scholars and of St Thomas and how they are not included in the Bible, how...although they are supposed to be the actual words of Christ they are not recognized by the church, which is very interesting. Matti was in fact a major inspiration when I was first starting out so it's always fun to work with him. I don't see Matti joining Brodequin - which is fine with all of us, because we all enjoy playing in Liturgy as well.

Well, that's all I have at this time to ask you...please let our readers know how they can contact you or find more information on the internet about your projects. Does Brodequin or Liturgy have any touring plans outside of the Fuck the Commerce Festival in a few weeks? When will we see the release of "Methods of Execution"? Thanks for your support and for answering this short interview...

Thanks a lot, it was my pleasure! Anyone can reach us at:

www.unmatchedbrutality.com
www.brodequin.com
www.liturgy666.com

We have no tour plans at the moment...just festival appearances at Fuck the Commerce and then at Obscene Extreme in the Czech Republic in July. Our new album should be out this July/August!! Thanks again.