SCUMPULSE “When Things Were Rotten” 

By El Chief

Scumpulse’s debut LP “Rotten” took me by total surprise. When I got the assignment, I was expecting an output that I was going to have to tunnel through in order to find things I actually liked. But what actually happened was that I was blown away during my first listen through. And at some point during my second session I knew that I was hearing a band demand the spotlight in the way very few acts are capable of doing.

Mainly due to a severe time zone difference (Scumpulse hails from Scotland, and I live in San Diego), the following interview was conducted over email during the last week of Februay 2018. The responses from the band are presented verbatim, just as I would for an in-person interview. The only edit I made was to add the last name of the responder.

WC: One of the things I find most interesting about Scumpulse, is the inability to pigeonhole the group into any particular genre. It seems "crust punk" is thrown around most often to describe Scumpluse, but how would you describe your style to people who have yet to discover you?

Matt Dean: Thank you very much, that’s really nice to hear! It’s black metal with a strong undercurrent of crust punk. Sonically it leans more towards to the black metal side of things, not to say there aren’t any crusty as fuck passages, but the attitude behind it is pretty punk.

Andrew Tactus - Black metal with d-beats.

WC: Not too many bands have musicians gifted enough to play across multiple styles, and Scumpulse are not only one of those supremely talented groups, you find a way to blend the varied approaches mid-song. What's the thought process when crafting the songs, and do you ever say "well, that last one sounded like punk/black metal/etc., so this one should sound like..."?

Ross Necro: You’re very kind, thank you! I’ve never been able to write that way though. I’ve always been jealous of proper musicians who can sit down and decide “I’m going to write a song that sounds like that” and make it happen. No, I just sit and play and whatever comes out, comes out. My only quirk is that I generally have to finish a song in a single writing session or it gets abandoned. I’ve always felt that stitching ideas together from different sessions never flowed as well as something written complete when in the moment. It’s frustrating though; my laptop’s filled with half written songs I’ll never go back to!

AT: I sometimes add my own two pence when it comes to structuring/transitions, but Ross has been in charge of pretty much all of the riffage and songwriting so far. Magnus does a good job of adding leads/solos here and there, which sometimes add a new flavour too.

WC: With your first full-length, "Rotten," you hit the ground at full sprint. I'm not sure too many Americans understand what the push for Scottish Independence from the UK is all about (outside of "Braveheart" of course), but it's clearly an issue important to the band. Care to enlighten us on the battle for a free Scotland?

MD: That was an actual real kick in the balls for us. I really thought we had that in the bag; I’m still not sure how it happened as the feeling on the street was we were in for a sure win. To make things clear, this has nothing to do with hating the English and everything to do with us being a very small nation, smaller than the population of London even, and when we vote for something England doesn’t vote for our voice gets lost. We just want to be heard. We need to be able to make our own decisions that suit us. Scotland really is a different country from England. Plus, Theresa May is a scabby cunt.

AT: Fuck the Tories & Brexit.

WC: Summer festival season will soon begin in Europe. That's something else most metal fans here in the U.S. aren't used to. Do you have any of those gigs already lined up? Is there a dream festival Scumpulse wants to play?

MD: Not yet – If there are any promotors out there hit us up haha. There are loads I’d love to play but Obscene Extreme and the Netherland Deathfeast are the two that I think would be cool as fuck to play.

AT: I'd personally like to play Netherlands Deathfest just because I'd like to see the bands that play. Usually a cracking lineup.

WC: What about touring plans here in the States? Anything in the works in support of "Rotten"?

MD: No, nothing as of yet. We would love to come over; hopefully it will happen in the near future.

WC: I believe "Rotten" is actually a gem, one of those records that will stand the test of time. Which albums were you listening to during the writing sessions?

RN: Matt had gotten me heavily into hip-hop around the time Rotten was being written. I went off metal for ages, pretty much all I was listening to was a shit load of G-Funk.  Dunno how much influence that had like. Never heard Snoop spit over a blast beat.

MD: The words were mainly written stuck behind a desk at a crappy job. I think that place had more influence than any records I was rocking at the time. Honestly, fuck work.

WC: Not only are the riffs and beats incredible on "Rotten," but the mastering is one of the cleanest I've heard in some time. Walk me through how Scumpulse developed its final sound on the record, and were you ever tempted to succumb to the lo-fi approach favored by most independent artists now?

AT: I think a lot of the production's sound came from what I like to listen to. Lo-fi is great in the right places, but I think it wouldn't suit our music (although I don't think this album sounds squeaky clean either). We've always had a sort of DIY approach, which can make the recording process a little more comfortable, and meant everyone could spend time getting things right when I was recording them. When mixing the album, I felt like I had learnt a lot from doing the first EP, so it was just a natural progression from there. I think it's good to make the most of what you can do at the time sonically, so that's what we did. Sometimes it does bother me if I've not cleaned something up in a mix, but maybe that will change. As far as the mastering goes, the loudness war is very slowly on its way out due to streaming services, thankfully, so I didn't feel the need to go too loud with it, and kept the dynamics intact.

WC: There was a 4-year gap between the "By Design" EP and this year's release of "Rotten," what happened during that time frame to cause such a lengthy delay, and how much did signing with Gore House Productions last October help with the creation and release of your first full-length?

AT: The album was finished by the time Gore House got involved, but they've been a huge help in getting the album heard and promoted, and we're looking forward to working with them more. The gap between releases just seemed to happen without thought.

MD: Just life getting in the way, the way it does.

WC: What were the biggest lessons learned during the "Rotten" sessions, and how soon before you'll get to work on the follow up?

AT: The recording could probably be done in a much quicker way. That's something we definitely learnt from this album. I've recently been recording and mixing a bit more organically rather than clean, so the next one might sound a bit more like you're in the same room as the band. Who knows when the time comes though.

WC: As I write this, "Rotten" is not available to stream on Spotify in the U.S. (I don't have Apple Music, so forgive me if it's available there). Is streaming something that's going to happen at a future date, or are Scumpulse taking a stand against streaming services, like Tool--just to name one major band that makes fans buy a physical product?

AT: We should probably get that looked into, as it's on Spotify over here. We're fans of streaming, and any other format for that matter. As long as folk are happy, they can listen to it as they want.

WC: Again, thanks for indulging me with these questions, and I really hope to catch Scumpulse live in the near future.

MD: Thanks dude, hope to see you there!