DECEASED "Dead and Loving It!"

Interview by Dr. Abner Mality

Mr. King Fowley is the kind of interview subject guys like me lick their chops over. The man can TALK! And talk in a vastly entertaining way. The longtime frontman of DECEASED never hesitates to say what is on his mind and say it with conviction. For proof, check out his critique of Metallica later on in this article. Plus, the dude is a living encyclopedia of classic heavy metal, hard rock and AOR who can dredge up obscure bands and facts with Sherlockian ease.

King has good reason to be excited these days. After almost six years of silence, a new Deceased full-length entitled "Surreal Overdose" is ready to hit the metal scene and after hearing the promo, I can tell you humanoids that you better invest in asbestos underwear, because your ass is gonna get scorched by dark, melodic death metal done he way only Deceased can do it. Think of a cross between "Supernatural Addiction" and "Fearless Undead Machines" and you'll be close to the impact this release delivers.

So it was quite a pleasure to chew the fat with King not only about "Surreal Overdose", but about his other projects October 31 and Doomstone, what metal band should have made it big, which one did make it big but shouldn't have and many other diverse subjects. Get ready,'re gonna enjoy this one!

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: Thanks very much, oh mighty liege of metal, for taking the time to speak to me today! (laughter) The one question a lot of us have is, what kind of shape are you in these days?

KING FOWLEY: (chuckles) I'm hanging in there, man. I been through a lot. Actually, right now I'm kind of hoarse because I just finished putting down vocals on the new album last week and I'm still trying to get my voice back. I've actually got everything but one song done and I'm fuckin' tore up! Healthwise, I'm OK, I'm really good. Basically, in 2002 I had the blood clot in my lung and then in 2004 I had the stroke. It was all some kind of birth defect, I was born with some kind of clotting issue.

WC: Thankfully, it wasn't related to lifestyle.

KF: Yeah, years ago I did all that kind of crazy crap...cocaine, PCP, all that kind of nonsense. I gave that all up in the late 80's, actually but I drank until about 2002 and I'm a big guy and I eat a lot and I run around crazy,  but I've always had good blood pressure, blood sugar. My cholesterol's fantastic, it was nothing to do  with any of that, surprisingly. I'm ready to roll, ready to get back out there and play some more!

WC: Are you back to playing drums and doing vocals both?

KF: Well, I'm doing the drums for the album only. Live, I'll just be singing. I love that so much more...just singing. I wish now I had never played drums and sang before.

WC: I saw you last year at Central Illinois Metalfest.

KF: How'd you like it?

WC: As you say, the entertainment factor was upped greatly by having a frontman who could run around and get crazy.

KF: Right. Did I look like I had a blood clot?(laughter)

WC:  No, but I wondered if you were ready to keel over!

KF: (laughs) No, it was fun! I had a great time. I've always been such a hyperactive person and for my butt to be stuck on that drum stool for 20 years! Man, so many times, I just wanted to get up and go and the guys would say, "you're playing so fast!" It was probably because I was so anxious to do more than I was beyond what I could do, sitting down.

WC: And it's also one of the hardest things in the world to do. To do extreme metal drumming at a high pace and keep your vocals steady.

KF: Yeah, that was weird. When we started playing in the 80's, I actually didn't sing, because I didn't have the ability yet. Then about 1988, I started doing vocals at parties and stuff. Then, almost overnight, I can do this easy now! It suddenly became so easy  for me! And that continued all through the 90's...probably the high point was around 95 when were we doing shows for "Blueprints For Madness". I was doing shows with Deceased, my side band Doomstone and then another band I was helping out with, Abominable. I would be one stage for like two and a half hours in these hot little clubs and it felt right. But once I did October 31 and went to Wacken in 2001, I started singing on stage without drumming. That was the first time I ever sang by myself in front of anybody and it was actually in front of 20,000 people.(chuckles)

WC: That had to be a baptism by fire. Being a singer/drummer  puts you in elite company. The guys I think of are the late Barry Stern and Dan Beehler.

KF:  Right. Barry from Zoetrope and Dan from Exciter. Yeah, there are a few guys who can do it. Proscriptor from Absu does a hell of a job, Chris Reifert of Autopsy does a hell of a job. I also thought of Peter Criss from Kiss and even Don Henley from the Eagles. And of course Grand Funk,too. Gilmour from Triumph...we could be here all night talkin' singing drummers! I so much prefer being out front and being able to get in people's faces. A 280 pound man just fuckin' lunging at you every 30 seconds can get pretty crazy quick.

WC: I did see you back when you were behind the kit and the contrast with last year when you were just singing was very noticeable.

KF: I wish I'd always did it. I'm gonna be 43 this year...back when I was 20 something, could imagine what I would have been like back then?

WC: Well, things happen they do for a reason, though...

KF: You're right, I might have been so over the top with my craziness back then that if anybody would have had an issue, like a heckler, I woulda went straight from somebody's ass! (laughter)

WC: What's the new Deceased sounding like?

KF: I was actually listening to it right before you called. I'm downstairs trying to get everything together for the last lyrics. It's very...I don't know what the word is, what is the word...I don't want to say "extreme". It's very over the top.  We've done so many different styles. You go back to when we were young kids and did "Luck of the Corpse", the songs were very fast and simple. You go to the next record and also the EP "13 Frightened Souls", it was more of the same but part, slow part, lots of catchy stuff. When we got to "Blueprints", we really started to experiment on that one. We started throwing riff on top of riff on top of got weirder. On "Fearless Undead Machines", we scaled the music back a bit but then we did more of a concept and got more into the thrash pocket. When we get to 2000 and "Supernatural Addiction", which is my favorite Deceased, you've got the horror tinge to things with more mid-paced stuff and a lot of melody to it. In 2005 and "As The Weird Travel On", it was the first time we ever had real, REAL studio production and it started to show. We brought more heaviness to the vocals yet we kind of laid back a little bit. It was fast in parts but it also had a a lot of layering to it. This new one is VERY fast. There are 8 songs. 7 of them are full fledged songs, one of them is just a guitar piece. The record runs about 46 minutes. Of those 7 songs, I'd say 5 of them are extremely fast, one of them is mid-paced  and one of them is a combination of fast and slow. So there's a lot of speed to it. I almost want to say there's a lot of hyperactive stuff going on. When we recorded it, I put the drums down because I didn't do that on the last one. The other guys were going, goddamn, you're playing fast! I said, I want the album to go to tape like our live style, I don't wanna lay back and then double time it when we play live, which is kinda what we did with our last record. It's very fast, I can tell you that. It's a lot less chorus-friendly, this time. It's a lot more riff upon riff, just killing you with speed and over the top vocal brutality and a lot of guitars jumping around. There's a very nice mix so far. It's going to be very easy to mix. The word I really want to us is "vicious"!

WC: Would you say it's progressive as well?

KF:  You know what, I actually wouldn't say that. The most progressive thing we've ever done is "Blueprints for Madness". That was the one where we put 56 riffs into a five minute song. Nothing repeated itself, nothing came around. This new one just hits you with riff after riff after riff, but it's continuations of riffs, coming back to riffs, alterations of riffs already done.  It's more like an over the top bludgeoning this time.

WC: Sounds good to me!

KF: A lot of people are going to be surprised. I think a lot folks expect us to be mellowing out because we're in our 40's.  This one is actually the most vicious record we've done since "Blueprints for Madness".

WC: Do you find yourself being motivated by the same things that drove you in the past?

KF: I guess I am. To me, it doesn't matter what year it is. The music I'm into, I will always be into, where it's something as extreme as Repulsion or as mellow as The Carpenters. I like a lot of different stuff, so do the other guys in the band. Mike is taking in some new stuff, he likes stuff such as Opeth, but at the end of the day, we all listen to the classics. We're still talking about Maiden's "Killers" or Saxon's "Strong Arm of the Law". It's all the ones we grew up. It's just the sincere drive we have to make the music we love, not to please anybody else. The people who have supported us...I don't like to use the word "fans", because it sounds kinda egotistic...the people who enjoy what we've done, whether it's all of it or some of it, they'll still be there. I was talking to a guy online earlier to day and he was asking, "what are the vocals like, because you always change it around? Do you do a lot of screams on this one?" I said, I actually don't.  He's like, "oh no, don't tell me that!". Well, I told him, you can scream when you wanna hear screams! I told him, it's very heavy, very vicious. The vocals are in your face. I don't wanna say guttural, I don't wanna say brutal...all the stuff that's been said a thousand times before. It's not like that, it's Deceased. We're not trying to break any new ground, we're just trying to do our thing in 2011. A lot of these songs were written as far back as 2005. With people leaving the band and things changing in the last few years, we've had a lot of time to arrange and change.

WC: Do you still agree with being labelled a death metal band?

KF: I always have and I always will. I'll tell you why. When I was coming up and I was a youngster, bands like Metal Church and Cirith Ungol came out and those were considered death metal at the time. Death metal then became very became guttural, it became down-tuned, all that stuff. That was part of it, that was a more extreme version of what the earlier bands were doing. What we are doing with heavy metal music is speed, intensity, dark lyrics. To me, it's all the morbid side of things, we always take the left hand fork in the road. When we do that, it gives it an aura. That aura is really missing from death metal. I don't find a lot of stuff that people call death metal to really be death metal. It just doesn't come across as death metal to me if it's gurgling, muddy, purposely down-tuned stuff. That's not the school we're coming from. Yeah, we're gonna have bits of that and of course, the regular joe who doesn't know anything about metal could hear Metallica, Slayer, Repulsion, Impetigo and Deceased all in a row and say that all sounds like noise to me. Even though all five of those bands are different!

WC: I'm an old school dude who's pushing 50...

KF: You might be the first person to call me that's older than me!

WC: I've considered myself a fan of heavy music since 1973.

KF: Kick ass! So you know the Heeps, you know the Purples, you know the Sabbaths and Zeppelins and the lesser known stuff like Bloodrock.

WC: I still listen to all the same stuff I grew up with, but unlike most folks in my age bracket, who all stopped their musical progression around 1983, I still keep up with new things.

KF: Right, you're not afraid to experiment and branch out...

WC: Well, I'm a huge fan of stuff like Boston...

KF: Right, absolutely! Love that first record...eternally classic!

WC: But I'll also listen to stuff like Repulsion. I dig that extreme sound as well.

KF: That's cool, you appreciate it for it what is. You understand what each band is striving to do. Of course, Boston and Repulsion are not in the same category yet they're both cool for what they do.

WC: Well, I can tell when somebody is just jumping on a bandwagon...

KF: I go out and play shows and I wear my Pat Benatar T-shirt or my No Doubt T-shirts. I love a lot of New Wave and poppy stuff because of the hooks and a lot of people laugh and say, that's so funny you wear that. Like it's a joke. No, I like this stuff for real!

WC: That's like kids that wear an Iron Maiden shirt to be ironic or some dumb shit like that.

KF: Yeah, exactly. "Here's my obligatory metal shirt!" Phooey!

WC: Do you still keep up with your other projects like Doomstone and October 31 or are you pretty much focused just on Deceased these days?

KF: Doomstone has always been something of an oddball. I think that came together in 1990 because we were waiting for Mark and Mike to come to Deceased practice. We were at this buddy's house jamming and kind of laughing at the time at how black metal had become so egotistical and all about image at the time. We just wanted to mock it. It was kind of like a Spinal Tap thing for an hour but then we started really writing tunes and we thought, "this is pretty cool!" It had the vibe of the old bands we grew up with like Fate and Venom and lesser known stuff like Exorcist's "Nightmare Theatre". We were having fun with it and it became a band. We literally put together a $300.00 demo and put it out on my own little label. People really took to it so we decided to play live. We went out on stage with painted faces and spitting ketchup and be stupid, but have real music to go with all the stupidity. It wasn't done to get popular or anything like that but people really dug it. I guess they dug the riffs because everybody wanted us to keep playing. We got an offer to do a record from the guy from Nosferatu Records, who gave us $5000 to record. That was CRAZY! Deceased was striving to get ahead and we had just signed to Relapse and now here comes Doomstone! That kinda fell apart, but we came back and did a second record. We changed a lot of the players on that second record  We had this running story that somebody had killed the singer on the first record and threw him off a bridge...just bullshit. All the black metal bullshit that goes with that stuff. Doomstone's not around right now, but one day I'd love to do something with it again just for fun.

October 31, on the other hand...we hadn't played in 5 years until last October. We put a fest together, me and this guy Hi Wang, an Asian friend of mine, and we brought together bands for something called "Defenders of the Old", which took place in Baltimore. It was October 31, Tyrant, Sentinel Beast, Ares Kingdom and Blood Feast. That was the first time we played with each other in 5 years and we loved jamming together. We decided we wanted to do a new record and we're hoping to do it this year. It's called "Bury The Hatchet". I've got the song titles and ideas in my head. It's just a matter of me and the main guitarist, Brian "Hellstorm" Williams getting together and doing something with it. As soon as this Deceased record is done, which should be in about 3 weeks, there are a lot of things on my table that I want to get to. I want to get the Deceased DVD that I've been promising people for years, the "Digital Graveyard", put together. I want to the October 31 record out, I want to get out and play live. I want to get out and DO things. It has been a challenge for me, Because of my stroke in 2004, I didn't play drums on the last record. My left side is damaged from my stroke and I'm left handed. It wasn't that bad in the studio this time, we had some issues with the bass drum pedals, but that would have happened if I had had my stroke or not. That's why I don't play live...I can actually go pretty well live but then for a second or two, I can lose it and that will fuck you up. But the drums are done, the vocals are almost done...we just need to do mixing and we're done with it! It comes out on our label, Shrieks From the Hearse. We started that label a couple of years ago and put out the "Fearless Undead Machines" double disc as our first release. We're just doing it on our own, we had enough of Relapse Records all those years ago. They just became a big headache, too much business and not enough friendship, a lot of bullshit. We can't deal with that, we're grown men. We don't need somebody to give us a bunch of bullshit on the other end of a phone.

WC: It certainly sounds like the period right now is the calm before the storm.

KF: It definitely is. I think this record is gonna shock people. I think a lot of people are expecting it to be laid back and melodic as hell. It's not as horror themed as people seem to think it's going to be. A lot of these songs have do with real things, the way the world is now. The first song "Skin Crawling Progress" has to do with the way the world has really fucked itself over. People want to bitch about the way things are, but at the end of the day, we've done it to ourselves. Greed is the worst thing in the world. I can't think of anything personally more horrible than greed. People killing their children for money...THAT'S the real horror of the world!

WC: The greed mongers are closer now than ever before to running our country...

KF: You got it, you exactly what it's about. We have another song, "The Traumatic", which is part fictional but sadly part's about this lady that keeps giving birth to children but she's nuts. She has children but she kills her children. Sadly, it happens. My son was telling me this is really a downer record. I was like, yeah, because horror is a downer thing. It's only horror because it's shocking.

WC: It's more horrible because it's like a documentary...

KF: Exactly. It touches home.

WC: I grew up in the 70's, when there were movies like "Soylent Green" and "Rollerball"....

KF: I know all those movies well. I was watching "Soylent Green" just last week.

WC: We're on the verge of living in it. People don't realize that we're already living in a dystopia.

KF:  We are. You're right. We're a big cauldron just astirring.

WC: A lot of it is due to misuse of technology.

KF: Yes, that's what "Skin Crawling Progress" is about. We're always stabbing ourselves in the back. We want to blame everybody else. Why don't you look in the mirror?

WC: I know you're considered one of the great mavens of classic heavy metal. Let me ask you what you consider to be the most under-rated band? The band that didn't get their due?

KF: Well, the band that should have got their due but they didn't keep together enough to get that due was Warlord. Warlord's "Deliver Us" is absolutely  positively one of the greatest records in the history of heavy metal. When that six song thing came out in 1982, it was just so ahead of its time.  It was beating people like Mercyful Fate at their own game, it was just so good, but they could never get their shit together. They couldn't keep a singer, Metal Blade was just starting out and had no money and then Mark Zonder the drummer went off to Fates Warning to do his own thing. That's a US band that should have made it. As far as something that could have and should have made it...Rock Goddess! The all-girl band Rock Goddess was a fantastic band for me. Hard rock/metal...they had the songs, they had the look, they had the energy. That band to me is the greatest all female band ever. That's a band that should have made it!

WC: I've always been a champion of Manilla Road.

KF: Manilla Road's fantastic, too. We actually tried to get them for "Defenders of the Old" this year but it didn't pan out. Those guys have been through thick and thin, back to the days of Roadster Records.

WC: I've been lucky enough to talk to Mark Shelton and he's a real cool guy. You could talk to him not only about classic metal, but old sci fi, TV shows, comics...

KF: Yeah, the old days...back when they made good movies! Isn't it funny? We can sit through John Carpenter's "The Thing", which was all done with claymation and effects by Rob Bottin. They do it nowadays, it would actually look worse than it did then.

WC: Going back even further to the original "Thing", your imagination would fill things in even more.

KF: Absolutely! James Arness!

WC: This might be kind of a hot button question, but who would you say is the most over-rated band? Who got more praise than they should have?

KF:  That's an easy one for me...Metallica. I find them to be half-ass crap, no record a classic, very few genuinely good songs. My whole life, I will never understand their popularity. And that goes back before they became popular. I'm not one of those guys that once something becomes popular, I can't like it or I'm jealous. It's nothing to do wifh that. I bought "Kill 'Em All" when it came out, I was into the speed factor. I put it on and said, this is like fast Priest, except it's lacking what Priest had, which was songs. I thought the playing was miserable, the drumming on it was stupid...yeah, I thought, of course they have their own unique kind of riffing...for the moment. But when they played fast, I laughted out loud. I thought it was boogie rock, it sounded like bad fast Nugent to me. I just couldn't get it, couldn't get into "Kill  'Em All". I would say to this day, there are just four songs from "Kill 'Em All" I even like.  You get to "Ride The Lightning", "Creeping Death" was the only song I could ever like from that. The only reason I continued to listen to that was because I listened to everything metal back then. You get to "Master of Puppets" and people think it's one of the gold stars of heavy me, it's lousy. It's crap, it's silly, stupid, pompous, shit.

WC: I don't want you to sit there and beat around the bush...(laughter)

KF: Well, what it is is what it is, y' know. I'll say this, each their own. There's plenty of stuff that I find brilliant that other people might think is absolutely fuckin' shit. It's in the ear of the beholder, it's as simple as that.

WC: That's the absolute truth. Now, excluding the new record you're working on, which Deceased record were you the most happy with?

KF: My favorite record ever is "Supernatural Addiction", that is the style I like for Deceased. I like the melody, I like the mid-pace with hints of extreme speed and thrash in spots. It works for me, it works for my voice, it's what imagined the band would be when I started the band. It has that death metal doom aura to it, it has that vibe, that creepy atmosphere like from an Edgar Allen Poe book, that creepy "I'm watching the Night of the Living Dead in the basement" feel. I don't know the exact word for what that feeling is, but that's what I like. To continue doing that over and over and over would have gotten old. It's like I said earlier...we're never the same yet we're always the same. You can tell it's Deceased when all is said and done. The new record, it's not the same Deceased as the last one. I could put all of our records on the floor and not point to any two of them and say they sound the same.

WC: That's a difficult thing to do. There's very few bands that can accomplish that. The only one I can think of right now is Thin Lizzy.

KF: That's true, absolutely. They kept moving on. Jeff Wagner from Trouble was on Sirius Radio the other day doing a prog metal special and I liked what he said. He said, I'd rather get a disappointing record from a band trying something new than have a band do the same record 50 times. I thought that was a great quote. I agree. If I'm happy with the record, it's done. If nobody else likes and they think Deceased sucks now, then we suck to them.  We're not out to please anybody. We're just out to make the music that we started this band for. I'ts not like Kiss, where we started the band to get laid and make a million zillion dollars. We started the band because we loved music and that comes first and foremost. If people dig what we're doing, that's just an added bonus. If the chicks want to come on top of that...well, I'm married now! (laughter) If somebody wants to fall from the sky while we're playing "Shrieks From The Hearse", then hey, more power to them. But we could care less, we could care fuckin' less. It's about the music, it's about the sincerity, it's about the dedication and that's the closest you'll ever get to me preaching on anything. On being true to ourselves ALWAYS!

WC: The music business is pretty much done, unless you're churning out corporate junk.

KF: Exactly and that's a good thing! I's about time. They used to say in that "Stoned Age" movie...this is gonna weed out the faggots. There's a scene in the movie where the character says "Don't Fear The Reaper" is a pussy song. The other guy says, how can this be a pussy song, it's Blue Oyster Cult! First dude says, every band has a pussy song, it's to weed out the faggots! (laughter) But that's where we at now. It's going to separate those who did it for the love from the people who did it for the bullshit. I don't care if we make a dollar, we've never made a dollar. I've been around this business for 25 years, got a bald spot, gonna be 43 years old soon. I've been doing this since I've been 15! I don't care, it's not paying my bills. I didn't expect it to. If I wanted to pay my bills, I wouldn't write songs called "Feasting On Skulls" or "The Funeral Parlor's Secret"! (laughter)

WC: The most sincere musicians are in extreme metal because they know they can't make a dime from it.

KF: That's a good saying, too, I like it!

WC: What was the last record that you picked up just because you wanted to check it out?

KF: The last CD I bought or purchased was the new Iron Maiden. And I loved it. Of bands that I hadn't heard before but I went out and bought, I'd say Danko Jones was one I got. That was one where I heard a song and then really wanted to check the album out.  And recently I've picked up the new Raven, the new Y&T, the new Krokus....all the old timer stuff. I get everything in the CD bin, I'm a collector. I got the new Accept, which is a fantastic record.

WC: They sure had long enough to work on it. (laughter)

KF: Sure did! Peter Baltes from Accept lives about two miles from me.

WC: What was the last band or musical act you checked out live just because you wanted to see them?

KF: Let's see....hmmmmm....maybe Iron Maiden again, at Madison Square Garden. I saw Voi Vod a few times last year, one of my favorite bands of all time. I saw No Doubt a bunch of times. That's pretty much it. I'm going to go see Accept up at the Troc here in a few weeks. There's plenty of bands I want to see, it's just a question of finding the time. I'd like to see Pat Benatar. I like to see bands now that I know are going to be good live. I'll take chances on stuff, but I usually wind up disappointed and now it costs an arm and leg just to get in the door, y'know?