Monday, October 15, 2012

Come Fourth the Swarm: An interview with Dave Suzuki and Ray McCaffrey of Churchburn

(Question for Dave) First off, I've gotta ask... what made you decide to split the deserts of the West to come out to New England and what is your opinion of the "Land of Lovecraft"?
Dave : The one and only reason for me leaving Las Vegas 
was for Vital Remains. After living here for 16 years now, I've grown to 
love this region and Rhode Island especially. Lot's of history to be 
found in these parts. 

Ray, you've previously worked with 'Procreation' and 'Rancid Christ' from out of Rhode Island. Could you tell me a little about your experience with those two bands and what led to the dissolvent of each?

Man…PROCREATION was my first REAL band experience. It was the first band that started me down the road with my love of playing this music. A bunch of great guys and we wrote a bunch of great music. Pretty brutal for its time, but of course I’m pretty bias HA HA HA HA HA. PROCREATION came to an end because we were all pretty young at the time. Some in the band were not really ready for the grind of playing all the time. A couple of us went on to do other things. Our singer Dan went on to sing for a great band local band HEADROT. That, of course, led me to RANCID CHRIST. RANCID CHRIST was a fucking blast. We wrote some really down right evil fucking music!!! With RANCID CHRIST I got to play some of the best shows in my life!!! We got to open for Autopsy, Incantation, Morbid Angel, Etc... But just with Procreation a couple of the guys were just not ready for the type of commitment that was needed to really bring it to the next level. It was at that time we kind of went our separate ways. 

Could you tell me a little about the formation of Sin of Angels and that band's current status?

SIN OF ANGELS was formed in late 2002 by me and longtime friend Josh Maher. We started fucking around with some ideas of what we wanted to do and that led us to bringing in another friend and old band mate from RANCID CHRIST, Todd Laskowski. Todd had just got done playing guitar for WARHORSE a year earlier and was looking to jump back in the music scene again. For me personally, it was great to work with Todd again. When Todd and I got together we could really turn out some tunes!!! He just had a natural knack for the heavy. SIN OF ANGELS was born. The name of the band was actually the title of an old RANCID CHRIST song. Todd, Josh, and I started to write a Ton of songs. All the songs but one that you hear on our first disk “FROM THE ASHES” were written by us three in the early days. SIN OF ANGELS would go on to have a boatload of lineup changes over 8 years together. Josh kind of came and went a couple of times… Todd would come and go a couple of times… but the last line up we had Dave Booth, Josh Maher, George Radford, and myself was probably the most solid and had the best dynamic. As of right now SIN OF ANGELS is kind of on a “Hiatus” until further notice…. 

Oddly enough, the two bands that came to mind when I first heard 'Churchburn' were Desolate and Warhorse from Massachusetts. Obviously there are differences but there is also a vibe similar to those two bands. You (Ray) have also worked with Grief as well. Would you say that the low tuned/ultra heavy sound of these bands is an approach inherent to your area?

Ray: thanks for the compliment. Those bands are great company to be compared to. I do think there is a very particular vibe that comes from the New England area. It’s a very dark, angry, oppressive vibe. Just with any part of the country you have certain vibes but here in New England it has always just been very different. Doesn’t matter what style Death metal, Doom, Grind, Punk, Hardcore, etc… it always seems to have a darker edge. I guess you could attribute it to the cold brutal winters where there was nothing to do but drink and write music HA HA HA HA. In SIN OF ANGELS we used to have a t-shirt that read on the back COLD NORTHERN DOOM. I always thought it was fitting for the area. Whenever we were on the road it kind of became a mantra. We would start setting up to play and people in the crowd would throw up the horns and yell “COLD NORTHERN DOOM!!!” It was pretty cool. And I think it associated the band with the area of the country we came from. The New England area.

(To Dave) I'm sure there are many out there (myself included) who'd like to know what led to you bowing out of the Vital Remains camp. Care to elaborate?

Dave: Not really...but I didn't "bow out" of Vital Remains. It 
was just in their (Vital's) best interest to let me go. It is what it is. 
Though it took a while to get back into music...I never stopped 
playing throughout the 4-5 years I was gone. Now I'm focused with 

Obviously the differences between Vital Remains and Churchburn are night and day. How long have you desired to bring the speed down a couple of notches?

Dave: I've always loved slow heavy music. But back when 
I first joined Vital, the whole mind frame of Death Metal was to be fast 
and brutal. Once my days in Vital were done, I had a lot of time to 
discover new bands..old bands I overlooked...and most of it was 
slow, sludgy, just fucking heavy bands. I had the chance to play 
guitars for Sin of Angels for 1 show during a tour we were doing 
together and it was refreshing to just step back from all the speed 
and keep it in low gear. 

7) How much of an influence would you say Lovecraft has had on the psyche of those who are drawn to the allure of the macabre (be it film, literature, music, etc.) in your area?

Ray: You know sometimes I take for granted all the rich history that New England has to offer. Especially dealing with the macabre, supernatural, mystical, etc… I am always reminded of it when I have friends in bands that are on tour that come through and the first thing they want to do is for me to take them to Lovecraft’s grave. I live literally 3 min from where he is buried. It’s not until we get to the cemetery that I am reminded and appreciate the impact he still has on people even till this day. So I would say he is very much alive in the hearts and minds of the artist who seek him out for inspiration. HE IS PROVIDENCE.

Dave: Sorry to say, I'm not a reader at all...but I know his 
writings inspired countless horror authors, bands and movie directors 
of today. Not only in this region, but all over the world. The 
imagination he had back then (early 1900's), it's just beyond me. It 
shows how important Lovecraft was to those, when they gave him his 
own gravestone at where he's buried. 

Personally, I've always felt that slower, heavier music sounds much more sinister and evil than constant blasting and tempo changes. While I do need my fix on occasion, it tends to grow tiresome after a fashion. On the other hand, doom, or similar styles of music, has the power to really drive the message into your head, leaving you to ponder the outer limits of your imagination. Would you agree that "slower is better"?

Ray: I don’t know if slow is better I think it’s all in the taste of the listener. For me personally I love the slow and low. I love music you really don’t have to think about. The best bands in the world for me are the one that grab me with their riffs and my head just starts moving automatically. My two all-time favorite bands in the world are AUTOPSY and WINTER. Two great bands that I believe show that example. Very riff driven and just pummeling!!!!

Dave: For me, it depends on what type of mood I'm in at 
the time. Like you, I need that fluctuation of styles to keep the musical 
brain on its toes. But definitely the slower stuff works more on a 
subliminal level...almost getting you in a trance like state...especially if 
you're wicked buzzed. And that's what Ray and I are looking for 
when it comes to the music of Churchburn. 

Churchburn, without a doubt, possesses one of the heaviest and most ungodly guitar sounds ever. What equipment are you using to conjure fourth such aural blasphemy?

Dave: Well, my equipment is currently in storage we had to borrow some amps to record these songs. 
We used a Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier and a old modified Marshall 
pre amp...all in thanks to our friends Josh and Ed (more name 
dropping). Truthfully, I didn't think the sound was heavy enough 
during the recording. But with a little help from our engineer, Kris 
Lapke, he created that wall of doom that you hear on the new songs. 
In my case, I heard it everyday, so it's hard to judge your own 
recordings. But it's great to hear that compliment. This whole project 
was recorded in the house I live in. How we got this sound is beyond 
me. It confirmed to me that it doesn't matter where you go to 
record. As long as you have a good engineer who gives a fuck at 
what he's does and is good at it, you don't need these elaborate 
studios, to waste ten's of thousands of dollars, to get a great product. 
My opinion. 

What is currently in the works for the band as far as label interest, fourth coming material and touring/shows are concerned?

Ray: right now the priority is writing some more killer tunes and rounding out the rest of the lineup. Dave and I are also excited to say we just signed with DVS Artist Management to handle our business side of stuff which is nice because that means Dave and I can just focus on the music!!! Also we plan on doing some killer shows in 2013!!! 

Dave: Yeah, we just got signed to DVS Artist Management a few 
days ago. I'm hoping they can push us to levels unknown to us at the 
moment! I'm currently thinking of material to write. Working a full 
time job kill's your motivation to be creative. But we're planing on a 
debut album sometime next year. Due to financial responsibility, 
touring is not an option at this moment too...mostly due to both of 
our work places. But there will be Churchburn shows on the horizon. 
I'm looking forward to playing these songs live. More importantly, 
Shawn McCoy (former Confessor guitarist) will be playing rhythm/solo 
guitars for Churchburn when we start playing shows.

Name three albums that would accompany you on your journey into the afterlife.


Dave: 1) Confessor - Condemned 2) Corrupted - El Mundo Frio 3) Fleshgod Apocalypse - Agony

Alright fellas... many thanks for taking the time to do this. I truly hope that Churchburn sticks around for a while as your music has undoubtedly stuck a chord in me and it would be a shame to see yet another great band come and go. Any last words for the dying and the damned?

Ray: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us and help spreading the word. Dave and I are really excited for what the future holds for this project. We going to try and release nothing but the heaviest and most sinister music we can. Cheers!!!!

Dave: Thanks to those people who have checked out 
Churchburn. We appreciate all the feedback on our Facebook page 
and other forums out there. To those dying and damned...let our 
music be your funeral dirge...keep it heavy. Thanks to you Joshua for 
the interview and taking notice of Churchburn.

For more info check out Churchburn over at Facebook


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