By Dr. Abner Mality

Milwaukee Metalfest 2004 was one of the most disappointing and dismal metal events I've attended, but not a total washout.  I got to smash a TV set and almost incite a riot when Nasty Savage's set in the parking lot (or "second stage", as it was billed) was cut short, I saw a blistering set from the all-black metal legends Stone Fury and I got a vintage Hellhammer T-shirt dirt cheap courtesy of the Serbian dude working the Barbed Wire distribution table. But most important of all, it was my first live encounter with SKELETONWITCH.

Everybody who saw them that day knew this band was destined for greater things. Playing an unholy mixture of thrash, black metal and straight up heavy metal, even back then they had a presence that grabbed you by the throat and choked the shit out of you. Now we move on to 2011 and the band has become one of the leaders of the new American metal scene, with a new record "Forever Abomination" under their belts following two previous classics "Breathing the Fire" and "Beyond the Permafrost".

So it is time for Skeletonwitch to cross paths with Wormwood Chronicles once again! I ventured deep into the castle of the Witch to speak to Scott Hedrick, who had much to relate concerning the band's new release and their total commitment to the metal world. Listen now and take heed!!!

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: Greetings and hail! The style of Skeletonwitch seems to be pretty fixed. Was there anything you wanted to do differently on "Forever Abomination" that you didn't before?

SCOTT HEDRICK: We always want to the make the best fucking heavy metal record we can.  And we’ve found the best way to do that is to not limit ourselves or force ourselves to do anything specific.  Don’t make it more complicated than it is.  In addition we did give ourselves more time than we’ve had in the past which made a huge difference. 

WC:  It might just be me, but I seem to detect more of a black metal influence on "Forever Abomination" than "Breathing The Fire". Do you agree and was that a conscious decision?

SH: I tend to agree, but it wasn’t a conscious decision.  It’s just how the tunes turned out this time.  Clearly we’ve always been fans of black metal and that side seemed to force its way to the front a little more this time.

WC: You've got a new drummer in Dustin Boltjes formerly of Demiricous. How did you acquire his services? Was he your first choice?

SH: We’ve known Dustin for years.  We toured with his band Demiricus a long time ago and have always remained friends.  He actually was our first choice but we decided not to contact him because we’re such good friends with his bandmates that we didn’t want to be the assholes that “stole” him from our other friends.  But once HE contacted us, it was all over! (laughs)

WC:  The new drummer is the first significant line-up change you've had in a while. What does Dustin bring to the table and how quick was he to catch on to the Skeletonwitch style?

SH: The guy is an animal! Dustin brings years of experience behind the kit in a multitude of different bands.   He also brings passion, drive, and hunger.  He plays harder and with more energy than any drummer we’ve ever played with.  It did not take him long at all to catch on because he was very familiar with the Skeletonwitch sound.

WC:  "Forever Abomination" is produced by Matt Hyde, who has worked with some real heavy hitters. What was it like working with him and how did his approach differ from past producers?

SH: It was amazing working with him (and his engineer Chris Rakestraw).  He understood what Skeletonwitch was going for and was able to help take what we were doing to the next level sonically. We knew it was going to be good when we showed up and he had an army of Les Pauls and Marshalls! (laughs)

WC: I don't get lyrics with my promos but I get a feeling by looking at the song titles on "Forever Abomination" that it is a concept album, that one story is being told. Is that right and if so, could you tell us more about it?

SH: Chance writes all the lyrics so I really can’t answer that one. 

WC:  Skeletonwitch's songs have always seemed to be about demons, monsters and warriors. Is it pure escapism or is there deeper meaning to what you write about?

SH: The songs probably mean different things to me than they do to Chance who writes the lyrics. I know Chance has always said that heavy metal is an escape for him (as it often is for me), but who is to say that the monster isn’t a metaphor for something more significant or “real” if you will? Letting everyone interpret the lyrics for themselves is all part of the fun.

WC: You guys have toured a lot with 3 Inches of Blood and the bands seem to kind of be "blood brothers". Tell us more about your special relationship with these guys.

SH: They fucking rule and we have a killer time on the road with them.  Pretty simple.  We definitely plan on doing some more touring with those guys in the future.

WC: Has the way you guys compose songs changed over the years or do you do things pretty much the same way you always have?

SH: Pretty much the same.  Nate is the main songwriter.  He’s like the chef, I’m probably the sous chef (musically) and we’re all in the kitchen.  Everyone has input but Nate always lays the foundation.

WC: You guys have one of the craziest touring and work schedules out there. Is Skeletonwitch the full time job for everybody? How do you keep your sanity with all the heavy duty touring?

SH: Skeletonwitch is a full-time job for us.  It is top priority in all of our lives.  It can be tough at times, but we really love our job.  It’s the best one I’ve ever had. (laughs) Beer definitely helps maintain the sanity.

WC: How would you rate the current American metal scene? Is it healthy? How does it compare with Europe?

SH: I give it a 10! It’s great.  There are good and bad shows, just like any city in any country.  Just like life anywhere, you know? Europe and the U.S. both have thousands of die-hard metal fans.

WC:  What's your favorite city to play in?

SH: Athens, Ohio

WC:  How do you see the Skeletonwitch sound evolving in the future?

SH: I suppose I could see us opening things up a bit and getting a slightly more grandiose with the arrangements, but the core of Skeletonwitch is always going to remain the same.  Fuck, take a band like Maiden, or Amon Amarth, or whatever.  Are you REALLY going to be surprised by what they do? NO! Are you going to love it? YES!!!!

WC:  Are there any side projects or bands you guys are involved with outside the band? Any artists you would like to collaborate with that you haven't yet?

SH: No.  We’re not really the “collaborative” type.  We don’t desire guest vocals or guest guitar solos or any of that shit. 

WC: If you could invite any three people from history to dinner, who would they be?

SH: Wow!! That’s a tough one! Napoleon, Socrates, and Billy the Kidd.  I’d turn it into some “Bill and Ted” shit! (laughs)

WC:  What are your tour plans for "Forever Abomination"?

SH: Tour like fucking animals! Hopefully we’ll get to Australia and Japan. 

WC:  What's the last CD/record you got just because you wanted to check it out?

SH: Russian Circles “Empros”

WC:  What's the last gig you checked out just because you wanted to?

SH: Lucinda Williams at Stuart’s Opera House in Nelsonville, OH

WC:  Is there any "Spinal Tap" story of crazy happenings that you could share with us?

SH:I just don't want to incriminate anyone! (laughs) We all have our share of fuckups though! That’s for sure. 

WC:  Any last words?

SH: Thanks to everyone who has supported the band in anyway! We truly appreciate it and do not take this shit for granted!