The more we got into metal, the more we got drawn to the extreme side…
With new album Entheogen released earlier this year, in replacing three members, Costa Rica’s Corpse Garden proved that the problem of such a significant change was for the better. Here, MR’s Paul Castles talks to guitarist Federico Gutierrez on a few matters: the new album, its production, the artwork, the band, their love for metal, and how this new beginning for the band bodes well for the future…
Hi guys, thanks for talking with Midlands Rocks. I really enjoy your new album Entheogen and was not the only music critic to give it a good write-up. You must be pleased with the response you’ve had to it so far?
Cheers! Thanks for having us! Yeah! The response has been quite amazing actually. A lot of positive reviews and a great, and unexpected, support from metalheads across the world.
How long had you actually been working on the material – was it all new stuff?
Yes, all material was completely new stuff. We began working on the songs in mid-2012 and finished them off at the end of 2013 plus arranging and finishing up details. Recording took place in the first half of 2014 so you can say the whole thing was worked on over two years, give or take.
Did everything go smoothly in the studio – any unexpected problems?
Not really! Everything went really well in the studio. Just a lot of hard work and trying to expect always more from our own performance while recording and a lot of experimenting.
How influential and helpful was your producer Juan Pablo Calvo?
Juan Pablo is a prog-rock/prog-metal musician aside from being a producer and sound engineer so this creates a different perspective and take on our music. He is able to see things that we do not see. He also was able to help us tweak and understand effects, synths and keyboards that we used throughout the album and how to use them right and not over do them. I think he was the sixth member of Corpse Garden in this record, he added in another perspective which is always helpful.
The album has some great cover artwork by Alexander L. Brown – what can you tell us about him?
Alexander is a very talented artist. We came across him because he did the artwork for French band Svart Crown and when we looked at his other work we just knew we needed him on board. We handed him the whole album concept that our drummer Erick conceived. He created the artwork out of his own perception of the concept and it turned out to be just perfect. It really creates an impression and also lures the audience to take a listen since it has its own energy and mystery.
Satanath Records are releasing lots of good stuff at the moment, but how did a band from Costa Rica hook up with a Russian record label?
Yes, it’s funny since at the time we were being managed by this British guy and he was sort of on the lookout for labels but Satanath wasn’t on his list. Somehow they got a hold of our music and they went straight to us and said that they wanted to release our music, so I wouldn’t know! You would have to ask them how they became aware that our band even existed!
We are really grateful with Satanath. They did something that is not happening in the industry right now which is taking risks with bands by believing and trusting in their music. I think the guys from Satanath took a risk with us and they did not care we were from Central America, they trusted in our music and they wanted to support us and for that we are very grateful.
How would you compare Entheogen to your 2012 debut Burnt by the Light?
Both records are completely different. At that time we didn’t know what we wanted out of all that, but now we realized that we needed to create something different, to develop the band’s style into something unique so we focused on that. We may have not accomplished it yet, but I think this record really is the first step into that new direction we want to get on.
Did you all grow up as fans of old school death metal, like Morbid Angel?
I think not, I believe we all sort of progressed into death metal and extreme metal. These things are like a ‘calling’ perhaps, like you are drawn to it by life itself but I don’t think any of us started listening at first to bands like Morbid Angel or Death but definitely, the more we got into metal, the more we got drawn to the extreme side of the genre.
Would there be any other significant influences on Corpse Garden?
Of course! While creating this album we started to listen more and more to other types of music aside from metal with hopes that some of it would stick or maybe we would be able to discover how to make unique music since these guys were making some revolutionary music at the time. We listened a lot to progressive rock both legendary and contemporary: King Crimson, Genesis, Pink Floyd, Swans, Radiohead, Mars Volta, you get the picture.
After that release the band underwent a number of line-up changes – Is there in some way a feeling that Entheogen is a whole new start for the band?
Yes! Like I said before, this is a new beginning for us, not just because of the line-up changes but because we now are aware of what kind of band we want to be and that knowledge is what drove us to create this record and it certainly is what is going to be guiding us on our next records.
As a unit do you feel the five members of Corpse Garden are now ready to really raise the flag for Central American death metal?
I never really seen this band as a reference for all the bands from Central America, we just try to do our music and enjoy our instruments and music. But if in that process we manage to draw any attention to the heavy metal music of the area, we are more than happy it’s happening!
How have things been on the road promoting the new album?
We haven’t got any chance to do many gigs so far, because Costa Rica is such a small country, this is also a reason why there is no ‘life on the road’ in this side of the world but we are trying to put up some shows around and hopefully try to tour some of our neighbouring countries.
How challenging is it for a Central American band to visit Europe?
Very challenging, very. There is a lot of money and logistics involved to leave the country to tour in Europe or any other country or continent. First, you need to get the dates and organize the tour and usually it is really, really hard to get a booking agency to want to make shows for a Central American band. Then you need to come up with the money for the plane tickets and the costs of the booking agency. I’m not saying it’s impossible but it certainly requires organization, to buckle up and start saving money that is left from paying regular bills and planning the thing.
Any chance that we will see you in the UK?
We honestly don’t know. We have plans to tour Europe next year; hopefully we get to stop by!
Many thanks for talking with Midlands Rocks – Just highlight what the second half of the year has in store for Corpse Garden?
Well, we have planned to do a couple of shows around Costa Rica, Central America and hopefully Mexico as well, and we hope also that more people get to listen and know the record for this second half of the year.
Thanks a lot for your support and for providing this space for the band! Cheers.