Monday, February 4, 2013

Saurian Jihad: An interview with Shelby Lermo of Apocryphon


Around what age were bitten by the metal bug and who was the culprit?

It was about 1994, and the culprit was a dude at my high school named Joe Allen. I had actually known Joe since early elementary school, and he turned out to be one of the few Hessians lurking the halls at Eureka High. Anyways, I started getting into punk and hardcore and stuff my freshman year, but all of the sudden Joe came along and dropped copies of Cannibal Corpse's "Butchered at Birth" and Deicide's "Legion" on my ass. At first, I didn't even understand what the fuck was going on with the vocals and the blastbeats and shit, but it didn't take long before the sheer nihilism of death metal surpassed all other genres as my favorite. I had heard stuff like DRI's "Thrash Zone" and "Master of Puppets" and shit before my exposure to death metal, but those albums never really hit me as viscerally as the harder stuff did. Honestly, my taste in metal hasn't evolved much in the last 19 years.

Can you tell me a little bit about Cretaceous and what led to the demise of that band and the rise of Apocryphon? 

Cretaceous was a fun band, but we were never designed to go very far. We were a 3-piece thrash/death band based around one joke/gimmick (all of our songs were about dinosaurs, cryptozoology, or cataclysmic events), and after a couple years, things got kind of stale (for me, at least). Apocryphon was born out of a desire to focus more on composition, complexity, and lyrical diversity--it was a very conscious decision for me to move the songwriting process from the practice space to my own living room. Between the break-up of Cretaceous and the formation of Apocryphon, I spent a 
summer just sitting with a notebook and a tab book actually WRITING, 
whereas before, I had just written riffs AT PRACTICE, and sort of mashed things together as we went along. Cretaceous songs were written for one guitar and two singers, but the fact that Apocryphon's stuff is for two guitars, three singers, and a sample/noise board makes things vastly more complex and rewarding. And I'm stoked on the dudes who ended up in the band, they're all really talented and bring great ideas to the table.

How's the reception been for the self titled -ep-?

So far, so good I guess. I haven't read any BAD reviews, haha. We got a pretty decent review in Decibel, although most of the reviews I've read focused more on the cool packaging than the music. It's funny to read reviews sometimes, like sometimes writers hear stuff I never would've guessed. I've read at least 3 or 4 reviews that compare us to Gigan, yet if I listen to Apocryphon and Gigan back-to-back, I wonder what the fuck they're talking about?!?! I mean, I take it as a compliment of course--I think Gigan is a great fucking band--but it's just funny how one's view of one's own music is distorted through the creative process. I'm very thankful for the reception the band has had in general so far, and I'm stoked to see where we end up in the future.

I noticed you guys tapped Autarch (-aka- Farron Loathing) for the cover art. How did that come about?

Farron was a friend of a friend (namely Sean, former writer for Illogical Contraption), but through last 2 years or so, has come to be a personal friend of mine as well. He's a great fucking guy, and his skill as an artist and vocalist is nearly unsurpassed. He actually directed his first video just recently, too, for the title track off of his band Lightning Swords of Death's new album "Baphometic Chaosium". I highly recommend checking that shit out. But yeah, Sean initially hooked me up with Farron, and I couldn't be more satisfied with the artwork he produced for us.
Actually, Sean, Farron, and I (along with my friend Laurie in NYC, who used to play in Orb of Confusion as well as Mutilation Rites) are working on a top-secret long-distance blackthrash thing, and although the going has been pretty slow considering all of our busy schedules, everyone should keep an eye out for something materializing out of that project sometime this year.

All right, let's talk a little about the mighty Illogical Contraption blog. How did that come about and what were your initial intentions?

Wow, "initial intentions"? I don't think I really had any, to be honest. Back in mid-2008, I got pretty addicted to both Cosmic Hearse and Metal Inquisition, and Illogical Contraption was just sort of my amateur-ish attempt to blatantly steal the concepts from those two sites and pass them off as my own, haha. I had no idea where it was going when I started, it was really just a way for me to kill time at a point in my life when things were kinda slow. Over time, more writers got on board, and IllCon became sort of a conduit for weirdos worldwide to exchange information and ideas. I've made several "IRL" friends through my writing on the blog, and I've been approached several times times by readers in other cities when I've been on the road. It's pretty amazing to me how this dumb little website ended up in so much real-world interaction, and the crazy shit I've been exposed to because of it. The podcast (which we've been doing for just under a year and a half) has been a whole other trip unto itself, and has resulted in plenty of real-world weirdness as well (hanging out in a backtage dressing room with just Cory and all of Gwar's stage prosthetics was a particular standout).

What are your thoughts on the current state of metal, what with the advent of technology, especially in regards to social media?
To me, it's a real double-edged sword. It's awesome to have such unprecedented access to so many bands and labels, to basically be able to hear ANY band, at ANY moment, at the click of a button. But it's TOO MUCH. I've become sort of bored with most metal, and it's a direct result of the complete deluge of music I've submerged myself in since the onset of the whole file-sharing craze. There's something to be said for the days when bands were still a MYSTERY, like all you knew about them was the weird pictures on their albums and their shitty lyrics. It's crazy to think about, but more often than not, I'm bummed out when I get connected to my metal "heroes" on Facebook or Twitter or whatever, it's kind of like the magic is gone once you see they're just another doucher that says "LOL" too much and communicates primarily via emoticons. It makes me long for the days when all I got was a grainy black and white picture of a dude in a cape on the back of a record, and how your imagination got to sort of "fill in the blanks" back then.

Name three album you would take with you into the afterlife:
1) Boston's 1976 self-titled debut album
2) Queen "II"
3) Suffocation "Effigy of the Forgotten"

What does the future hold for Apocryphon and Illogical Contraption?
Oh man, lots of stuff. Apocryphon has a split album with this great East Bay band called Fabricant coming out in March (via Horror Pain Gore Death), and we're hard at work finishing songs for our first full-length, which we hope to start recording this summer. We have shows in SF, San Jose, Sacramento, Eureka, Portland, and Seattle coming up between late March and early May, as well as a spot at Festum Carnis out in the mountains by Lake Tahoe at the end of April--it's this huge metal fest on a campsite in the middle of nowhere, and it'll be headlined by one of my favorite bands, Absu. We've also got new shirts and vinyl on the way, and we're looking to do more West Coast/Southwest touring later in the year. I know it's a completely "standard" thing to say, but I'm really stoked on our new material, and I think it's definitely a step up from anything else we've done so far. I've also just started composing songs with another band, sort of a witch-y/doom-y project with current and former members of Grayceon, Giant Squid, Owl, Walken, and my old band Dalton. So look out for that, too.
As far as the blog goes, it's getting a complete re-launch/re-boot in the very near future, we'll be moving off of Blogspot and simplifying the layout while adding several new features. Illogical Contraption has been largely dormant for the last couple months, as my focus has shifted more to the Tumblr page and the podcast, but I'm sure that the re-launch will put things back in motion, and allow us to connect with a whole new generation of freaks and weirdos. The podcast/radio show is moving to a new station and time slot mid-February as well, and our new setup will give us the ability to broadcast on FM radio AS WELL as streaming/podcasting via the internet. I'm super pumped for both moves, and I'm aiming for the website to switch over at the same time as the radio show. So yeah, facelifts all around.

All right Shelby, many thanks for your time, any last words? 
Thank YOU, sir.
Last words? Uh... Don't be an asshole? Be cool to people? Something like that.

Check out Illogical Contraption here and here and check out Apocryphon here.

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