Deicide - Wounds That Won't Heal

By Thrash-Head

So here’s the scoop. It’s January 7th, 2004, and I have just woken up with the absolute MOTHER of all hangovers. Reason being, is that my date of birth is January 6th, 1983, which therefore made yesterday my 21st birthday. Of course, I celebrated my 21st the way most people celebrate their 21st around here…I got completely shitfaced! Now for the real fun part, though, which I will lay out for you…

Fact #1: I have woken up with the mother of all hangovers. (When you get older, you'll be able to handle your liquor better-->
Fact #2: I have woken up at my ex-girlfriend’s apartment, which is about 15 minutes from my house.

Fact #3: I have woken up at 2:42 pm Central time.


So, I do my damndest job getting dressed and getting home barely in time to grab the phone before the answering machine picks up. I hit the record button on the recorder…and off we go, discussing the new Deicide album, new label, new side projects, and blah blah blah…

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: Ok, first question. How does it feel to be on a record label that actually gives a shit?

STEVE ASHEIM: It feels great, lemme tell ya, ‘cause we know all about having a record company that actually don’t give a shit about ya. I mean, that went on for years over there with Roadrunner. It’s an interesting thing, ‘cause recently, I think it was Monte (Connor, President of Roadrunner--Mality) had heard a copy of the new record. He dropped us an e-mail saying “hey, the new record’s great! What was the matter with the last two records? Boy, I don’t get it, what’s the problem.”

Me and Glen both took the time out to send him an e-mail saying “you didn’t give a shit since 1994!” All he gave a shit about was Machine Head, Fear Factory, and Type O Negative, y’know…all these bands that came and went pretty much. Maybe they’re still out there, but now all those bands are complaining about Roadrunner saying “Hey, we got screwed! We got left behind!” It felt good to let that guy know what the deal was and say “hey, when you have a record company that gives a shit it makes a big difference, and you guys didn’t give a shit.” It feels good having a record company that cares. They [Earache] wanna push ya, they want you to do well.

WC: When it was announced that Glen was going to be doing vocals on the new Vital Remains and that he was going to be a full-time member, a lot of people in chat rooms and gossip boards wrote you guys off saying that Glen was going on to a different band and that Deicide was breaking up. What were your initial reactions when you found out he was gonna be in that band?

SA: I kinda thought the same thing. I was like well, there can’t really be a Deicide then ‘cause what are you gonna do? Replace Glen Benton? I can’t see that as going over too big. We woulda just gone on, us three [being] the main musical aspect of Deicide. We woulda just picked up a new name somewhere and went on doin’ our thing. We woulda still had the main Deicide sound in whatever it woulda been called. It’s still up to him. If he wants to go off and do Vital Remains, it’s up to him. I’m sure not gonna wait around for him to finish up whatever he’s doin’ so that I can get back on the road; I’ll do whatever the hell I want to or have to do. (Sense a little acrimony here,anyone?--Doc). As far as when that dropped, no one was too happy about it. Why would we be? As far as Vital Remains goes, I don’t think they’re too happy about it. They had a record come out [“that kicks fuckin’ ass” ? Thrash-head] that they didn’t have a chance to tour for because Glen was out on tour with Deicide. I mean, what’d they do…two shows? They did a Metalfest that sucked from what I hear [“it didn’t” ? Thrash-head], and they did a two-show engagement in Mexico City where they only played one show ‘cause they got screwed on money. I think that Vital Remains thing was pretty much a flop for all of them.

WC: It almost sounds like you don’t necessarily know if Glen’s gonna do Deicide anymore?

SA: Well, he has plans to tour for this new record, and he did the new record, but I’m not inside his head; I don’t question him. It’s really not my business if he wants to go do another record [with Vital Remains] but it is my business if he wants to do a Deicide record or tour. So that’s all I really concern myself with: Deicide, not the life of Glen Benton.

WC: On to the new album. I haven’t yet been able to hear the whole thing, but the few tracks I have heard have been quite excellent, just as uncompromisingly brutal as one can expect from you guys. What do you think really sets this album apart though?

SA: Well, I think that it’s definitely a new era of Death metal as far as speed and brutality. I think we’ve moved into that new era. Plus with being on a new label, it’s sorta breathed new life into Deicide as far as us being psyched about putting out a record, knowing that we have the support of a record company that wants it to do well just as much as we want it to do well. All those elements combined, it made the album really mean-sounding; definitely fast. I think we retained some of the Deicide catchiness, but it’s kind of a new catchiness. The riffs and chunks aren’t quite as…I don’t know that the word is. Not quite slow, ‘cause we were never really slow, but I think a lot beefier and a lot meaner. There’s definitely a mean, angry sound in there. And always, back down to the evil origins of what Deicide is all about, as far as lyrically-speaking. Also, in the past we haven’t really gotten sounds for our records that we’ve been satisfied with. Like “Legion,” everybody says it was a great album but sound-wise, I don’t think any of us were happy with it. I dunno if it was over-E.Q.ed in the guitar sound or something. Definetely a brutal album, though. As far as “Serpents” [of the light], I think we coulda had better guitar sounds for that record. I think “Insyneratehymn” was definitely a quality sound but there was something in the guitar sound that our guitarists weren’t too satisfied with. “In Torment In Hell” was just kinda a rush job, and as far as that was concerned, the songwriting aspect itself…we just kinda threw the songs together pretty quick just to hand it into Roadrunner just to say “here it is, be done with the whole thing.” This album, we had the support to take the time and make it right, we had the money to take the time and make it right, and I think this time everybody was pretty satisfied with the production. But the record still isn’t actually finished. You’ve heard advance copies of it but we’re still mixing it so the finished record will sound a lot better. I mean, they postponed the release date because of the mix. They didn’t want something that they could just throw out onto the market, they wanted it to be right. They want us to be happy with it.

WC: Did you guys record at Morrisound again or did you seek out a new studio this time?

SA: Well, we had heard rumors about a couple other studios around. To be honest though, as far as convenience and also expenses ? because we’d like to keep expenses down in areas that are under our control ? studio-wise, Morrisound is up there in cost, and they are a good studio, but extra stuff that you figure would be included in the studio that want to charge you extra for. We went into the B room, where we probably shoulda been in the A room just because of scheduling. We all live relatively close to Morrisound and we can commute there and be home at night, instead of flying 4 or 5 guys out to a studio and having to put them up in a hotel and pay for meals, it’s cheaper to fly one guy down and just pay for his meals. Expense-wise, we do what we can to keep it down. Morrisound is still a good studio, but who knows where the next studio will be. The producer, Neil Kernon, said that he favors a studio out in Texas called Sonic Ranch, because it’s got an awesome vibe and their A room is cheaper than Morrisound’s B room. Plus, they provide you with meals and housing, but yeah, we’ve yet to see where the next record will be done, dependant on budget and all that other logistics stuff.

WC: Is there a reason why your albums are usually so short? I mean, it just seems like all your albums are right around a half-hour long.

SA: We’ve considered putting out something longer, and usually in the initial stages of writing songs, for this record even, we had around 11 songs and that woulda put it around 35 or 40 minutes, but in the process of writing we kinda edit the songs as we go along. Long songs tend to get boring, you hear a part too many times it tends to get boring, you have too many songs on the record and some start to sound the same. I mean, I’ve noticed it on long albums that I’ve heard, where I’m going “ok, enough of this part, let’s move on, it’s getting quite monotonous.” I mean, as you said, most of our albums are a half-hour long, and that’s what people should expect out of us, because as we write, we edit and we cut out weak stuff and we cut out weak songs. We only wanna put the heaviest riffs [on the record], and we don’t wanna burn people out on them, and we don’t wanna burn people out on our songs and we don’t wanna burn people out on us. Less is more as far as my experience. It may be short on time, but it’s about quality, not quantity.

WC: Right, you don’t wanna burn people out and you wanna leave them wanting more

SA: Yeah, you gotta leave them wanting more! If a band wants to put out a 50 minute record, good for them, but I betcha they drag on with the parts, and not to mention you got like 15 minutes of intros and bullshit just fillin’ up time. So if you take out that stuff you’re basically left with a 40 minute record anyway. Deicide wants to put out half-hour long records, and we’ve been doing it this long so people should come to expect it. I wouldn’t think that an experienced Deicide listener is going to expect a 60-minute record, unless it’s a live record, which I think that when we did that record [“When Satan Lives”], that was a 50-minute record or something. Even then, I’ll betcha people turned it off halfway through.

WC: Personal question: a lot of people tend to regard you as one of the originators of the death metal drumming style as it is today. How do you handle the fact that all the drummers tend to idolize you?

SA: Well, it’s weird, because I know that when we first started death metal was kinda a brand new genre of music, and blastin’ wasn’t all that prevalent, just with a handful of bands. Napalm Death, Morbid Angel, there were some punk bands that were blastin’, and then Deicide. As far as getting crazy with double-bass, I just like to do it in an effort to keep everything as heavy as possible at all times. One thing I like to do is try to integrate the double-bass in there to match the guitar chops. As time has moved on, death metal is now becoming an accepted and legitimate form of metal. So when I see drummers say that “oh, you’re a big influence” and this and that, I just take it as they’re just kinda bein’ polite, ‘cause I don’t know how serious they are. I don’t consider myself any kind of innovator or drum hero. The people that I grew up listening to, I respect in those same terms. I mean, I still thank ‘em and I’m polite about it. I mean even drummers out there today that are big like Derek Roddy are saying “Dude, you influenced me,” and meanwhile he’s out there smokin’ up the set and he’s saying that I influenced his playing? It’s highly complimentary and probably just too much for me to handle on a personal level and I just they are being polite and bullshitting me, basically. But like I said, if it’s true, then hey, I appreciate it. If they are just being nice, that’s fine too. I don’t really hold too much stock in it.

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