Saturday, August 4, 2012
Spiritual Evocation: An interview with Paul of Deteriorot
Alright, at what point in your life did the seed take root and you realized that metal was law? What was the "cherry breaking" experience for you?
It's probably a combo of so many moments in my childhood. I remember seeing a Motley Crue Video "Looks That Kill" when I was 9 or 10 Years old and thinking that BC Rich guitar is just so darn cool looking and wishing I knew how to play metal music. When I was 11 or 12 and I saw the album artwork for Iron Maiden "Live After Death" and had nothing else but that album play for 2 months straight. Not long after around 12 years old my friend who lived downstairs played me the Ride The Lightning album from Metallica and I first listened to Fight Fire with Fire. The moment I heard the calm intro burst into the explosive guitar riff opener, I was blown away and thought I never heard anything as heavy. Metal was definitely ispirational for me to become a musician. My mother bought me my first guitar for Christmas when I was 13 years old. It was a brown Flying V
What were the events that led to the formation of Mortuary and what were the reasons for the name change?
My best friend at the time and guitar mentor Renzo Tellez had helped me advance my skills by introducing me to Death Metal and European Thrash Metal acts like Sodom, Destruction and Kreator. We wanted to form a band in 1988/1989 We met a guitarist and drummer Rob and Kevin Nichols. I had to then switch to bass in order complete the band. It was a compromise I had to do in order to have the drummer join, the brother guitarist was a package deal. And they were great guys and we had some good chemistry. By this time in 1990 I felt the music I was playing in Mortuary was no longer relevant to my newer inspiration, so I then decided to re-tool our sound and just change the name as it was now a whole new band with a totally different sound to Mortuary. Just a different band completely.
Deteriorot has always reminded me a bit of Bolt Thrower as well as the early Finnish/Swedish bands in terms of the low tuned, "chugging" style of the guitar riffs and sound. What were your influences in the early days and what were some of the bands/albums that you guys were digging back then?
Underground Metal Music had changed so much from 1988 to 1990. Now you had bands downtuning and the introduction to the Earache Invasion had opened up lots of inspiration from bands like Bolt Thrower, Entombed, Carcass, Morbid Angel, Cathedral. We were totally into demos from Abhorrence, Funebre, Xysma, Demigod, Demilich. So much cool underground music at that time was so exciting.
How did the relationship with 'Drowned' come about? Were you happy with the way it all played out?
I had met a friend who was in a band called Emaciated and he had advised me to contact Dave Rotten. I sent Dave our Demo 92 and he replied and was interested in releasing a 7" ep and do a 3 album deal. Very pleased how the ep came out and had brought us alot of new Euro fans. That ep still has it's cult following.
You guys seem to have went on a 7 year hiatus. What went down during this time and what is your opinion of the death metal scene during the mid - late 90's?
We were getting ready to record our In Ancient Beliefs album arounjd 1994 and by then Dave Rotten had told us about his label Drowned and they shutting down. It was a huge dissapointment and it was hard to get our other members motivated to rehearse. Everyone's spirits were crushed and it was just hard to get the guys together for practice. It was weird. No one had ever said we are leaving the band or we are breaking up. Everyone just kinds drifted apart after a few months and just went their separate ways without a word. I don't have much of an opinion on Death Metal from mid to late 90's. I just did not like anything around that time.
In the beginning of the new millennium you guys returned and not only released a new demo but your debut full length through Repulse as well. What were the events that led to this upsurge in activity?
Around 1999 me and drummer Jon Brody had been talking on the phone and talking about old times. We then got together and had a few practice sessions and then we talked about what if we tried to come up with a few new songs and try to record and complete that album we wanted to do in 1994. It sounded like a great idea, so the first person I contacted was Dave Rotten who now had a new label Repulse Records and he was into the idea and sent me a contract. Within 6 months we completed the album, had a full lineup and started being active again for around 3 years.
Again, after the release of The Faithless demo, you guys went back into hibernation mode for almost a decade. What happened here?
It seems sometimes history repeats itself. Same thing happened with Repulse and now this label was also shutdown and they had sold the rights to WWIII to release it in the USA. Not long after that we had a gig scheduled to play at the North Carolina SnakeNet Metal Radio Metal Fest and our drummer backed out 1 week before the show, 2 days later I found a replacement to fill in for the show just 5 days before the gig. Alot of it was miscommunication and childish. Jon had said to me if I find someone for the show to go ahead, he won't be offended. He just can't make the trip and he's sorry. Then the day before the trip now the bass player and other guitarist said they were not going either. None of it made sense. So once again, the drummer does not want to make the trip, he says if you find someone else that will fill in then go ahead, but when I find someone else to help us out on such short notice, he apparently gets pissed and does not say anything to me about it but vents about it to the other members and they go along and refuse to go. We had a committment to perform, we had fans that had were travelling from all parts from the South to come us. It was going to be our first performance in the South. I was not going to disrespect our fans by not going. I think it's wrong for musicians to have that attitude and cancelling was not going to be an option for me. Last minute, day before the trip I am teaching the bass lines to another musician who agreed to do a favor.
In 2010 you came back and released the successor to 2001's 'In Ancient Beliefs', 'The Faithless'. How does it feel to probably be the only band to have released material on all three of Dave Rotten's labels? (haha)
I guess I never realized we were the only band, I guess besides his own band Avulsed. That is pretty cool to know. I would keep releasing future releases with Dave too.
Lots of things have changed throughout the last 20 years. many different trends have come and gone. With this, there seems to be a newfound appreciation for the more "decrepit" and obscure death metal of old. What are your feelings on the current state of death metal?
You are asking the wrong person. I really don't listen to anything past 1995/96 or so. I work all day and come home usually at 9:30. I see my wife and daughterm have dinner and watch some TV for 30 minutes then I am in bed again. The last thing I am thinking about is Death Metal. I listen to metal when I am in my car taking my daughter to school and going to work.
Have there been any new bands that have caught your ear?
Italian Band "Voids of Vomit".
Name 3 albums that you can't live without:
Slayer "Reign in Blood"
Black Sabbath "Paranoid"
Metallica "Master of Puppets"
Whether people realize it or not, there's always been a common thread in the sound of the New Jersey death metal bands, from Incantation to Symphony of Grief to Solemn, etc... Something decrepit and rotten sounding. What are your thoughts on this? Is it a conscious thing or is there indeed "something in the water"?
Well it has to do with all those bands just knowing each other when we were 16 years old throug 21. We were all just so tight together and we liked and disliked alot of the same bands. The closest thing I can describe it to is like having an accent. Like the way people from NY and NJ talk a certain way compared to folks in the midwest or the south. I knew most of my friends or myself did not like Cannibal Corpse, we prefer Death and Bolt Thrower and the Finnish and Swedish Death Metal bands too. So alot of all of our sounds were just different interpretations of these influences. It rubs me the wrong way when some folks are just ignorant to this and describe DETERIOROT as being influenced by Incantation or Immolation. We were just all listening to the same bands and wrote Heavy Death Metal which has it's blended sound which is wonderful. NJ/NY Death Metal I believe is a great sound that just did not get as much attention as Florida and NJ/NY has alot more depth and feeling to it. I mean C'mon listen to some Cermonium and you'll know what I am talking about. Their stuff is way better than any Monstrosity or Malevolent Creation album.
I understand that you relocated down to North Carolina. How do you like it?
Love it! People have been really good to me here and I love the weather. Not having to deal with the snow anymore is fantastic!
Have you experienced any culture shock?
Probabaly every day still lol!
I myself have relocated from up North down to Alabama and one thing that kills me down here is the lack of good Italian food! Are you having the same dilemma over in NC?
No, not at all. you have to come see me in NC then. Granted, there is not a Pizzeria in every corner like I had in Paterson, NJ. But there is alot of great places that I go to and they are always from NY or NJ. I have around 5 NY Italian pizzerias within a 10 minute drive. And in Charlotte which is 20-25 minutes from me, there is at least another 3 or 4 places that I have been to. In fact the best Fried Calamari I ever had was at Hawthorne's Pizza in Charlotte, NC.
Alright, back to Deteriorot... what does the future hold for the band?
I'm working on material right now for our next album. I am working with a local drummer and we are coming up with some good stuff. I look to be in the studio by Summer next year 2013. I'm sure Dave would want to release it on Xtreem and he is my first choice to present an offer to.
Alright Paul, many thanks for taking time out to do this! Any final words for the damned?
I just want to thank everyone for your kind words and support over the years. Thank you for taking the time to read this interview. Thank you Joshua for making time to come up with these interview questions. My offer is always open to you whenever you want to come to NC I will take you out for some Pizza! Jersey Style