Saturday, September 29, 2012

Exalted Deeds Done Dirt Cheap: An interview with Bill Zebub

At what point in your life did you realize that metal was going to be taking up a large portion of it? Who was the band that made you into a believer?

I have always loved metal.  Perhaps the point when if became a big part of life was when I picked up a guitar.  What I mean by that is that practicing music takes up time.  Shortly after that I had a radio show so more of my life was music-related.  As for which band really did for me, I would have to say "Mercyful Fate" because it was so different and stimulated my imagination



I understand that you have always had a taste for the doomier side of metal. Back in the 80's, doom bands were rather far and few between. Who, in those early years, did you turn to in order to cop your fix?

The first doom band I heard was "Candlemass".  One day I took a chance on a Peaceville music sampler, and I heard Anathema and My Dying Bride.  That made me actively seek out more music that was like that.  There is a rich variety of doom styles.  I enjoy the lifeless cold doom of "Skepticism", the ebbing flow of "Shape of Despair", the atmospheric sadness of "Esoteric:, as well as the heavenly operatic soprano in very early "Funeral'>

At what point in the game did you start to notice the "gayer" things in life?

I am not sure what thou art trying to ask, but I didn't start calling things "gay" until I heard a girl use that adjective.  It matter not when I used that word, for I made the same observations before that. A rose by any other name is still gay.

What year did you decide to come up with The Grimoire, and how did that come about?

1992.  I had lost my radio show and I needed something to fill that void.  I have always enjoyed helping people to discover new music.  Mere conversation could not have the power that a radio show has, so my only outlet was a fanzine, a simple photocopied stapled-in-the-corner thing for 5 issues, before it developed into newsprint.  It was originally going to be called "Grimoire of the Deluxe Cheese Sandwich".  For the past couple of years I have been considering making a movie called "Fanzine Editor" which depicts that early era, fictionalized somewhat, but a story that might entertain.

My favorite thing about reading The Grimoire was seeing what bands were going to be decimated each month in the reviews section. Did you find that writing negative reviews was a more liberating endeavor as opposed to coming up with something positive to say?

When I worked on the first issue I wrote a review while I was drunk.  I never meant to print it.  I was mad at myself for getting drunk on the night that was meant to be the first official work night for the fanzine.  I listened to an album and hoped to be competent enough to write something.  But that album was bad.  It made me angry.  I was going to throw it in the garbage, but I wrote a short insulting review first.  The next day, a friend found it and laughed so hard I thought he was going to get a stroke.  I told him that was just a joke review, and he begged me to print it.  After some thinking, i realized that it might be fun to write reviews like that, but it is cowardly to have the last word in my own magazine, so I sent a copy to the record company to show the band, and I offered the band to write whatever rebuttal they wanted, and I would print it right after the review.  This was my rule for a while - I wouldn't publish a bad review without giving the band a chance to respond.  But after the fanzine became popular, bands wished to get a bad review just so they could write a rebuttal.  The rebuttals started getting fake.  What I mean by that is, for the first few issues, the rebuttals were actually threats.  The bands didn't write them to get printed, but my legal loophole was that "anything you write will get printed" so their threats and insults showed the world who they really were, ha ha.  When the threats started being fake, I decided to let that part of the magazine die.

What is the current state of The Grimoire?

Tower Records went bankrupt, and before they did, they ordered triple the amount of mags, and then didn't pay for them.  At that point the fanzine had become a magazine, all glossy, so each issue was very expensive.  Losing that much product fucked me for a while.  I released a tabloid style issue that was distributed for free, and I am considering doing that again on a regular basis, but movies have really started to take over my time, and the website suffices for now.

There was a rather revealing interview that you had done with Craig Pillard, years ago. I had seen it on the Grimoire website back in '06, I believe, and had went back to read it agin but noticed that that along with a host of other interviews and reviews were taken down. What was the reason for this and is there any chance of you putting that stuff back up?

The web host pulled the plug on me and wiped out the site.  So what you see now is a little-by-little salvage operation.  I wish I could devote more time to it, but I am writing, editing, and filming movies constantly.

You've been involved in "low budget" film making for quite some time now. How did this all come about and are pleased with where you are at currently?

When I was 18 I was given a video camera as a gift, and I constantly shot skits and public stunts.  One day a scream queen told me to make a full movie.  I made the first "Metalheads" as a practice movie, hoping to one day be good enough to have a company pick it up, and that day came much sooner than anticipated.  My practice-movie was acquired for distribution.  I'm happy about my current status.  I have talked to other indie directors who seem ashamed of their situation, but being indie is actually cool.  I make my own rules.  I can explore anything I want and I can depict things in any manner that I choose.  Luckily, there are enough people who support me.  Most people hate my flicks, but I think I prefer that.  I'd rather have a smaller following composed of cool people.

Metal has obviously changed much since the 80's and 90's. What are your thoughts on the current state of the genre and do you feel that the pros outweigh the cons in regards to the advent of the internet, or is it the other way around?

I'm not really sure if metal had changed much.  I don't pay attention to things that I don't like, so if there are any drastic changes that are negative, maybe that is why I don't agree with you - I don't see negativity.  The Internet has made it easy to cheat bands out of money, and it's killing them.  Some bands can generate money in other ways, like touring and selling merch.  I just like to tell people to buy music that they love, and to commit theft for music that they just like.  I live by my words.  If a record company sends me a promo that I love, I go out and buy the retail version.  The Internet has also killed printed items, like cool fanzines.  But having a website enables me to reach people who would not ordinarily be able to buy a print version.

Three albums that you cannot live without:

MERCYFUL FATE:MELISSA
MERCYFUL FATE: DON'T BREAK THE OATH
ELEND: LES TENEBRES DU DEHORS

You've scrutinized many musicians within the inquisitors chambers throughout the years. What were among your favorite interviews that you conducted?

I have always enjoyed Phil Fasciana from Malevolent Creation.  In his first interview we talked about the word "nigger" being in one of his songs.  It was a funny interview.  When his next album came out he tried to hint to me that I should lay off the racial humor, but I didn't get the hint.  Cognitive dissonance.  After it was over, he told me that they got into a lot of hassles over it, especially in Germany.  When I hear stuff like that, I always ask, "Where was the outrage when the Nazi's were in power?"  It takes no balls to show outrage these days.  Anyway, when I interviewed him a third time, he began the conversation by saying, "What's up, nigger?" I sent an advance copy to Nuclear Blast to show how hilarious it was, and they requested that I pull the interview, which of course I would never do.  Phil left a message on my phone that the record company was thinking about dropping the band.  Gay!  I had been doing racial humor for a while, and I know that mature people either find it funny, or they just dismiss it.  I am suspicious of people who become drama queens.  They make sure to be public in their outrage.  It almost makes me think that they're covering up something.  

I'm certainly not a religious nor am I particularly spiritual yet when I look around me, I cannot help but think that we are in the final stages of playing ourselves out as a species. What are your thoughts on this?

I think that every old person thinks that about the previous generation.  I think that this era is pretty damn stupid.  When I first went to college, my tests were very challenging.  I've returned to college, and the tests are mostly multiple-choice.  I have talked to friends who have become teachers, and they cannot flunk black kids because it is considered too traumatizing, so they end up in high school with a 3rd grade reading level.  I am developing a science fiction story that addresses some of these observations.  In the animal kingdom, the retarded don't survive.   In the human world, they are nurtured.  Actually, a lot of people who should really die off are being preserved.  I see that as a burden.  Now let me make clear that these are just things that I am putting into a story.  There is no data to support any of what I have just said.  I'm just doing what I said that I like to do - to explore ideas without any fear from an investor or boss.  Here's a way to leave the subject on a positive note.  The more shitty that people tend to become, the easier it will be for you to find the cool ones.

Are there any newer artists/bands that have caught your ear as of late? Any suggestions?

I was going to say "Shape of Despair" but they are not exactly new.  A recent album that kicked my balls one by "Satan's Host".  They have the singer from Jag Panzer.  It's a perfect album.  It has not left my stereo.

How does one go about obtaining back issues of The Grimoire?

One does not.

What does the future hold for Bill Zebub?

I will probably be dead within 5 years.  

All right Bill, many thanks for your time. Any final words?

That question should be left for the day when I stand blindfolded in front of a firing squad.

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