I have no desire to do release after release and produce the same shit over and over…
Not a band to rush out a release for the sake of it, Australia’s Destruktor will release their second album – and other than an EP in 2014, their first since 2009 – on 24 July 2015. Their song-writing skills and their musicianship honed, the band is tighter than ever and Opprobrium is a seriously ferocious piece of work. Here, mainstay Glenn talks to MR’s Jason Guest about the new album, the band’s progression these past few years, how the band compares to the band of their early days, their label (Hells Headbangers) and the piss-weak metal that its creators dare to call art…
Thank you very much for taking time out for this interview and congratulations on Oppropbrium.
Cheers man, happy to answer. I haven’t done many interviews in the last year or two. I’m sure soon I’ll be swamped, and won’t have time to scratch my balls, but you got in early.
It’s been six years since Nailed. Why so long to write, record and release new material? What’s been happening in the Destruktor camp?
Firstly, I am a quite picky with what we present, and fortunately I have two members by my side that understand why we take our time. There are probably a number of reasons for our time between releases. Firstly, I don’t play guitar to write riffs very often, I just let it take its natural course. I have no desire to do release after release and producing the same shit over and over. There is enough crap saturating the scene, and we get more satisfaction out of one killer recording, than three compromised, inferior recordings. We enjoy catching up for a couple of drinks, talking shit, smashing out some extreme metal and getting out for the occasional gig. It’s something we get enough out of without catering to the masses.
As far as what has been happening, we have been waiting for the album to come out, and so we played a gig for the first time in 6 months in Melbourne as a dual album launch with Abominator. Now the album will spread before we head to Cleveland in September to play an exclusive gig at the Hells Headbash Fest. We are really looking forward to it. It is the biggest gig we have ever played, and my first time anywhere further than New Zealand. After this we will look at a few gigs in Australia, and begin the writing process. We have very little new music written, so it’s pretty much a blank canvas at this stage.
What did you want to achieve with the album? Were there any specific goals that you set yourselves?
I guess the aim was to have a shorter album, with a bit more attack. We didn’t think about it too much as it doesn’t need to be forced. In the back of my mind, I was hoping we could come up with something that was an improvement on the last album, and I think we have managed to do this, and early reports suggest I am right. The other thing I was very conscious of was the mastering, as Nailed was mastered too low in volume.
Does it mark a progression since Nailed?
Yes it does. Firstly, as mentioned, it is mastered much better this time. Whilst the performance across the board is superior to Nailed, the bass and vocals I think have the most notable improvement. That’s the difference with having Brad on bass, instead of me doing it as I did on Nailed, and spending more time going through the vocals. I also think Opprobrium is more dynamic than what we have done it the past, and it shows off pretty much our full repertoire to date.
When writing, did you have an idea of how you wanted the tracks and the album to sound or did it evolve as it was taking shape?
Very much the latter. I have probably covered this a couple of questions ago. Despite the fact that we wanted it to be a bit more attacking, it can’t really be forced. We are never scared to use black, death, thrash and even doom elements, and if it is within those realms and sounds good we will utilise it, and craft it into a song. Sometimes a song may take a few years to actually be totally satisfied with it. On the other hand, a large portion of a song can be written on the spot. It is rare, but it does happen from time to time.
What are the lyrical themes on the album? And where does inspiration come from – music, books, movies, etc.?
Themes vary from song to song, it is no concept as such, but the title Opprobrium fits in with the music/lyrics to pretty much all the songs. There is always some war, death, suicide, violence, hate, and disdain to religion, and it is a mix of fantasy and reality in all honesty. Inspiration comes from various forms. Some lyrics can be a little more personal, but not so often. Other lyrics come from everyday thought, news, views, music, feelings and anything else you can poke a stick at.
How did the band approach writing for the album? Do you write separately, do you collaborate…?
Whilst I write most of the riffs and vocals/lyrics, the music comes together in the rehearsal room. All 3 members contribute in one way or another, not just playing the instrument like a robot. Brad (bass) wrote the lyrics to a couple of songs, played a chaos lead, wrote a riff and does the backing vocals live. Jared (drums) is pretty creative, and a lot of the dynamics are due to him, and he has written a couple of riffs in the past. He is a great drummer, and his ideas help make the songs what they are. This line up has been together for about 7 years, and is the strongest we have been. Opprobrium is a representation of that solidity.
Is there a theme, a concept, or a philosophy that underpins the album?
No. Whilst we will always be of the left hand path, we do not have a specific cause. I am very unspiritual, a total sceptic, and I guess Destruktor is a vessel to let off a bit of steam in some way or another. We are not the sort of band that you need to read between the lines. The title of the album connects to the themes very well, but there is no big story to be pieced together. It is 7 individual songs that make it our collective opprobrium.
The artwork is fairly self-explanatory, the three hanged figures representing the three major religions. Who’s the artist? And what was it about their work that drew you to them?
Mark Riddick (Riddick Art) was once against responsible for the cover art. He also did the art for our split with Bestial Mockery and Nailed. Hells Headbangers suggested him for the split, and we have pretty much worked with him ever since. With Opprobrium, he took our idea and went further with it than we imagined, the point of view he came up with surprised us, but we loved it from the first sketch. I do like the fact that his work is more traditional and not fucked over by computer trickery. It is more organic, like our music.
You’ve been with Hells Headbangers for over ten years now. How did you come to work with them? And how would you describe your relationship with them?
We have a very strong relationship that goes back about 13 years. It simply occurred because when Nuclear Storm (2014 EP) was getting close to release, Jarro left the band, and he was doing the label dealings at the time. One label was pretty slow to respond, and I didn’t want to work with the other label at the time, so I decided to push it in the direction of Hells Headbangers as I was familiar with their work, and was in close contact with Don from Nunslaughter at the time. Without hesitation, Chase offered to do both the CD and vinyl versions, and finally it came out. He has looked after us well over the years, and spreads it much further than we ever could as a band, or most labels for that matter. The relationship has only been strengthened through Opprobrium, and the Hells Headbash gig mentioned earlier. We have never shopped around, as they have always done the right thing by us, and we are not a demanding band. When the time comes, they are ready to go!
The band has been writing under the Destruktor name since 1997. Musically speaking, how does the band of 2015 compare to the band of the early days?
Some things remain the same, but we have evolved, more in song-writing ability and our ability with our instruments. There is stuff you can hear in our demo, and our first EP that has a strong resemblance to Opprobrium. We still use similar rhythms and guitar attack, and some of the crafting is in a similar structure, though we are more dynamic than the early days. Things like production, gear and time rehearsing together basically creates a natural progression, but many bands who do this forget what made them good in the first place. I would say we are still generally fast these days, but certainly less prone to using speed as our key ingredient, which has allowed more a heavier, darker aspect to infiltrate our “style”.
How does the scene of today compare to the scene of the mid/late 90s?
Heaps different, but still, metal of most kinds has a dedicated fanbase that has not dissipated over time. It has actually gotten bigger, but mainly because of piss-weak cross breed metal with bands drawing on different elements to attract a bigger fanbase, or bands that change direction in the name of (f)art. The internet has changed things forever, not just metal. It is cool to be able to check out shit on YouTube, and communicate directly and quickly with people the other side of the world, but nothing in the new age has matched getting the parcels in the mail, trading tapes and releases etc. So much great stuff comes and goes and it gets lost in a plethora of inferior shit pushed by labels that sacrifice quality for money.
What does the future hold for Destruktor? Is there more material in the works? Will we have to wait another six years for it to be released?
New material is a while away. Those that have followed the band probably don’t expect to see another album for five years. A lot is going on in life, but we may surprise with a quicker than usual follow up, but I don’t expect that to be the case. No doubt the few ideas we have worked on a little bit will turn into songs, but really, we have just a couple of riffs we have been working on. We will get to the USA, then return to Australia, play a few gigs locally, then we will look at a European tour, or work on new stuff if it’s not viable for us to do such a tour.
Are you planning any shows, festival appearances or tours? I expect living in Australia means very long journeys for gigs, yes?
If we were in Europe, we would’ve covered the joint with plenty gigs over the years, but for sure Europe is a fairly difficult tour to do when you are from Australia, and don’t have a huge amount of support. We have our finger in the pie so to speak, but we need the planets to align at the right time for us to consider anything in the next year or two. Playing in the USA for the first time is going to be wild, and that will keep me satisfied for a while at the least. We will see how Opprobrium is received, and assess from there.
Thanks again for taking time out for this interview. Do you have any closing words for our readers?
Cheers for the interview. Those into black/death metal of the more attacking and sinister nature are best advised to check out Opprobrium, I doubt you will be disappointed.