Sunday, August 12, 2012

An Endless Pursuit for a Satisfying Pain: An interview with Craig Pillard of Disma

At what point in your life did the desire to listen to something heavier come into play? What were some of the earlier bands/artists that caught your ear in the early years, metal or non?

When I was about 7 or 8 years old at my grandparents house in upstate NY listening to my uncles Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, David Bowie record vinyls... Those records are what influenced me as a kid and I still love listening to those records to this day...  

I know that you had a couple of different projects going on back in the mid/late 80's such as 'Nocturnal Crypt', 'Desecrator', 'Carnage' and so on. Could you tell me a little bit about this time in your life?

I was quite an isolated pre-teen and teenager with tons of rage that found comfort in playing my guitar and drum/keyboard, so during those years at my mothers house in my basement bedroom I would cassette boombox record songs that i would play live. At times these projects/songs/ideas would change to different ideas and titles. It could only be played by myself with me screaming through the air, playing my guitar and using my big toe to change sample beats on the Cassio keyboard all at the same time! So for a good couple years thats how I would get my aggression out by myself with no one to jam with. And yes I still do have those horrible cassettes. 

What was the metal scene in Jersey like back in those days?

A big thrash/punk scene as I remember with local Jersey bands like, Gargoyle, Fantom Warrior, Instant Death, Cyanamid, Lethal Aggression, etc. all great garage bands!! 

Could you tell me a little about Putrifact?

Putrifact started while I was still in my last year of high school in '89... on the weekends I would drive from Whitehouse Sta. to Patterson to play with Omar, Art, and Victor in Art's fathers basement.. It was the first real band that I felt a part of and will never forget those guys. 

Alright, the inevitable: How far back did your relationship with the Incantation guys go and what were the circumstances that led to your joining the band?

While I was still playing with Putrifact, I had met John McEntee at one of our shows and he gave me his Incantation 4-song demo. Shortly after that we started hanging and I remember helping Incantation get to a local show with my van. Then Bill Venner lost interest and I had replaced him as a guitar player only. Will Rahmer at that time technically was still helping/in Incantation as the vocalist. Then Will had parted ways to focus on his band Mortician. I then took over vocals as a result, all this happened toward the end of '90. 

I remember years ago, shortly after the release of the second 7" (Deliverance...) hearing about a split album that you guys were going to do with Amorphis. What was the reason why that didn't happen and were you pleased to see it's eventual release in the form of the 'Blasphemous Cremation' -ep-?

Those 2-songs on the "Deliverance.." 7" were actually used from the same recording that was meant for the Incan/Amorphis split. The main reason for this NOT happening was as I remember John felt it would hurt rather than help our recording, so we decided with Relapse to do the 7" and then a full length instead of the split. And yes im very pleased it finally came out as "Blasphemous Cremation" CD/Vinyl. 

I've always been curious, especially after listening to Womb and Disciples of Mockery, aside from performing the vocals, how much of the actual riff writing did you contribute to 'Onward to Golgotha'?

I wrote all the lyrics for and some of the riffs in these songs: Golgotha, Blasphemous Cremation, Rotting Spiritual Embodiment, Christening the Afterbirth, Immortal Cessation, and Deliverance of Horrific Prophecies... the other 4 songs on the album where from the demo days.. 

 How much of the dank and cavernous sound of that album would you attribute to 'Trax East'?

I would say our shitty equipment contributed mostly to the "Onward.." sound as well as John's persistence to Steve Evetts our engineer to keep adding low end to the guitar mix... after a while I think Steve just gave up and said whatever.... 

I've always been curious as to why Ronnie split. What were the circumstances that led to his departure?

Ronny was absolutely an amazing bass player probably the best Ive ever played with! He was probably the smarter one of the band to leave when he did... He and John just couldnt work together anymore... not much more to say on that. 

Could you tell me a little bit about the writing process for 'Mortal Throne...'? How involved were you with that?

"Mortal.." was a totally neglected masterpiece that was disgraced in its so called final mix after Jim and I had left the band... hence the reason for the later limited release of "Upon the Throne of Apocalypse" which is the rough mix version of "Mortal Throne.."
I had contributed a lot to this album with all the titles/lyrics and a bunch of riffs in songs like: "Emaciated Holy Figure", Essence Ablaze, The Ibex Moon, Blissful Bloodshower, and Abolishment of Immaculate Serenity. I felt this album deserves a proper re-mix and re-release, maybe someday it will have its proper justice rendered! 

At what point did you and Jimmy decide to beat feet out of the Incantation camp and what were your reasons?

Jim had expressed to me in '93 that he was extremely dissatisfied plating in Incantation anymore... so he left and fortunately came back to record "mortal Throne.." temporarily since he did not want his creativity to those songs go to waste. Then in the summer of '94 after a show at the wetlands in NYC I had told John I was leaving the band. The main reasons for me was the lost chemistry between Jimmy, Ronny, and I along with John was not there anymore, as well as the total lack of communication between John and I was to the breaking point... I knew the band was Dead! 

How did the idea for Disciples of Mockery come about, and even though I'm pretty sure where the name came from, could you elaborate on that as well? 

The idea and name was first utilized at a show well documented in the August '99 issue of Metal maniacs by Tomas Pascual. The show was the '94 Deathstock festival at the Wetlands in NYC. Jim, Ronny and I went under the name Disciples of Mockery and had been booked to play as an opener for John's new and improved Incantation. Tomas P. was under the impression that we where a new band that will be performing new original songs... I had even omited the lineup of D.O.M. to Tomas who also booked the event. We had performed a set of all Incantation songs flawlessly as a 3-piece... The crowd was suprised to say the least as well as John who had to go on soon after us. All I can say about the 'new' Incantation at the time was shameful and could only do 2-songs live before walking off stage... bittersweet...yes...and on video..somewhere. Shortly after that show, Jim,Ronny and I had dropped the name D.O.M. and started a 2-bass guitar doom band called Womb which had lasted a demo and a bunch of shows long... Then the name D.O.M. re-emerged with the 3 of us jamming together with another guitar player Mike Boyce. We then did a demo in '97and a full length CD in '99 called "Prelude to Apocalypse"...doing a bunch of local shows in support of that release, then disbanding in 2000. 

I understand you were caught up in the throes of addiction for a spell. How far down the rabbit hole did you wind up during this time?

During and after the Womb years I had lived in NYC for about 3 years and acquired a bad liking to the big H. When I moved back to Jersey in '97 it had saved my life I think... The experience and the depths that I had explored most people would never recover from, Ive seen it first hand... for me it was a struggle and an endless pursuit for a satisfying pain that I had eventually overcome by sheer willpower and many a detox. 

Did you ever find yourself feeling hopeless or did you figure that you'd eventually pull through and return to a life of "normalcy"?

Most of my life I was hopeless and did not care what had happened to no, even in those days I had no understanding of 'real life' or 'normalcy'. I don't think I will ever come to know or understand those words even now. 

Do you feel that your experiences throughout this time have made you stronger of will and have given you a greater perception of the world around you? 

Perception of the world is only understood by the insane in my opinion... also who defines 'sane' anyways? The self afflictions that Ive undertook through the years has made me what I am now... strength is a matter of perception... the power of 'will' is what endures. 

How did the idea to form Womb come about and what was the inspirational vibe to create that sound/feeling?

Ive always wanted to try a 2-bass sound, but to play them like overgrown guitars... The sound that emanates is quite bold and dark if executed properly.. ie one bass playing rhythm and the other lead harmonies over the rhythm parts.. After our departure from Incantation, this new concept of mine was finally realized and to this day I love the idea. 

I understand that you have strong feelings in regards to racial pride/heritage. Could you elaborate on this and shed some light on the Sturmfuhrer project as well?

My political views are very misconstrued... I love military/political history and always have.. to create a sound that brings people back to a time thats uncomfortable for some is not my problem... All extreme music is fair game in my opinion, and to be limited to one or so ideas because of fear of offending some people is NOT true art! 

How did your involvement in Evoken come about and how much involvement did you have in the creative process for the album, 'Antithesis of Light'?

It was an absolute joy and honor for me to play bass with my friends in Evoken... at that time in '06 Evoken needed a bass player so I jumped at the opportunity and started jamming with them on bass for about 2 years which included the recording of "A Caress of the Void" album... not Antithesis, which was before i stepped in. Then shortly after we recorded 'A Caress.." I began writing/recording my own material for my other project Methadrone.. so then I departed on good terms in '08... I had minimal input writing with Evoken, I just wrote my own bass parts in some of the songs and did keys on the last song Orogeny from "A Caress of the Void". 

Even though everyone makes a big deal about the musical scenes in Sweden, Norway, Florida, etc, I always noticed that the New Jersey/Tri-state area has long had a rather decrepit and rotten style bubbling beneath the surface with bands such as Symphony of Grief, Incantation, Evoken, Heirophant, Solemn and Deteriorot among many others. Do you feel that there is a "regional" sound among the Jersey bands and do you feel any sort of camaraderie with the bands from your area?

Being in multiple bands throughout the years here in NJ id have to say theres a strong comraderie between me and some of the bands for sure.. As a 'regional' sound goes, id have to say no. The great thing about most good bands from the area is they have their 'own' sounds rather than a 'regional' one in my opinion. 

How did your involvement with Disma come about?

Ive known Bill, Daryl and Randi for years in fact played with them in previous bands/projects. A year after they had formed as Disma I had joined in on vox only after they had asked me a year earlier to join. I was busy recording/mixing one of my Methadrone albums, that had hindered my entering a year previous.

What are your feelings about the current state of death/doom metal and are there any bands out there that have caught your ear lately?

Personally I wouldn't be able to put a fair response to that since I have not kept up with the current scene really... lately the only 'metal' I've been digging is some of the new Morbid Angel cd because of the obvious Laibach influence...  

I know that you do not listen to metal exclusively. Who are some of the other artists whose sounds you've been enjoying as of late?

I dont listen to much of anything anymore, but when I do its usually Swans, Laibach, Jesu, Hans Zimmer soundtracks.... 

Any chance of some new DOM/Womb material and whatever happened to Ronnie?

I would like to do a Womb full length sometime, I feel Womb was never completed as a project... A nice full length release would do it justice I think. As far as D.O.M. I have no interest in re-forming that project, I believe that idea is now moot... Ronnie is a really amazing artist and it would be an honor to jam with him again... unfortunately his summoning with Jim and I have fell on deaf ears which is a shame... Maybe one day we will even hear from him, for he is truly missed, and possibly lost forever.. 

Alright Craig... many, many thanks for taking time out to do this my Brother. Any last words for the dying and the damned?

Thanks a million Josh for the stellar interview all the best to you... and I'd like to thank everyone who has and supports my many musical journeys, and of course Disma!

Check out Disma here and here



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