Interview with Zack Simmons of Goatwhore


“A war against God fought through your eardrums”

Interview by Jason Guest

Hi Zack. Thank you very much for taking time out for this interview and congratulations on Constricting Rage of the Merciless (reviewed here). Can you tell us what you wanted to achieve with Constricting Rage of the Merciless?

First of all, we wanted to get on the two year schedule between albums rather than our usual three year gap. We set a deadline for ourselves and turned down a couple tours so we could focus and hammer these songs out. Musically, we set out to do what we always have; write the best album we can.

How does it differ from Blood For The Master? Does it mark a progression for the band?

There are certainly elements from Blood… as well as all the other records but I see this new album as its own monster. It’s got more adrenaline and aggression going on and it’s also a lot darker overall. It has always been a very natural progression but I think this album is a lot more varied and has some interesting mood shifts.

Goatwhore – Constricting Rage Of The MercilessWhen you were writing for this album, did you have an idea of what you wanted it to sound like or did this take shape as it was being developed?

It all fell into place as we went along. In the back of our heads we always know what we have to do. It starts out as a kind of primal urge and just unravels over time to become what it is. We’d go back and forth with arrangements and riffs until they all felt right.

How long have you been working on the material?

We started writing during breaks from touring for Blood For The Master. I’d say it took us about six months off and on. Whenever we’d get burnt out we’d take a break and focus on something else.

What inspired the album title and what does it mean?

I’m sure if you asked each one of us you would get a different answer. To me it’s sort of a metaphor for the band itself. The constant need to keep pushing forward and working hard when there seems to always be something pushing back against you. It also touches on our contempt for organized religion in that aspect as well. A war against God fought through your eardrums. Might accomplish more than killing people, right?

Goatwhore spend a lot of time on the road. Did you road-test any of the tracks? If so, which? And how did they evolve?

We played two of the new tracks at our New Year’s Eve gig in New Orleans right before we went into the studio. They were already finalized as far as the structures go. We also played a new song on our last tour with Behemoth in the US and it seemed to go over really well. I’m looking forward to playing any and all of the new songs live.

In the promo material, Falgoust said that “emotions clash when [the band] write”. How does this conflict impact upon the writing process?

It’s a productive, creative conflict. It’s mainly just how we interpret each other’s ideas and how we develop those ideas into songs. We all collaborate and feed off each other to make ripping heavy metal.

Also in the promo material, Duet said of the riff-writing process, that it feels “like the last one was more you know, ‘let’s drink a bunch of Jack Daniels and start a bar fight.’ This album is a lot more psychotic.” Could you elaborate on that?

I agree with that. I guess this album would be to mix all that Jack Daniels with a lot of Jagermeister, break the bottle over your head, then burn the bar down after the fight! There’s much more of a ruthless, bloodthirsty vibe on this record.

You worked with Erik Rutan again for this album. What did he bring to the recording process and to this album in particular?

Erik really went above and beyond on this one. He’s really in tune with our sound and what we wanted to accomplish with this record. We had a bit more time in the studio and really took advantage of every second to get the best tones and performances possible. He worked his ass off until the day the album was due to the label.

Has his approach changed in any way since you’ve been working with him?

No, and that’s what I love about the guy.

Why did you choose to record analog?

It seemed like the right thing to do. The sound is incredible and it brings a vibe and human element that digital recording tends to kill. It sucks that analog recording is becoming a lost art because there is a lot of integrity and honesty versus the trickery in the digital world.

Technology has become an increasingly dominant part of recording in recent years. Has this had a significant impact on musicians and metal?

It’s had a huge impact for sure. It’s made things so easy to a point where a lot of people have become lazy and apathetic. You don’t necessarily have to be a master at your instrument to have it sound like you are and it sucks when musicians use technology as a crutch instead of putting the work in. It has its benefits but some people overuse it for the wrong reasons.

What’s your view of the internet and its impact on music?

It’s got its pros and cons but I think for extreme metal it’s very beneficial since radio and TV don’t normally touch this kind of stuff. Honestly, I was never in a signed band when the internet wasn’t a huge force in the industry so I couldn’t tell you if it’s negatively affected me, personally. It’s definitely a great way for people to find out about different bands, and if they don’t end up buying the record, hopefully they come out to a show and support.

What are your tour plans for Constricting Rage of the Merciless? Will we be seeing you in the UK?

Looks like we’ll be busy for quite a while on the road, which is a good thing. We are planning on touring the UK and Europe in November/December. I’m sure those details will be released soon.

What does the future hold for Goatwhore? Early days I know as the album is yet to be released, but is there more music in the works?

Goatwhore - Band 2014 1There are always ideas flying around. I’m sure we’ll start putting some things together when we have some time off the road. We’ve already got two or three songs that we didn’t get to finish before we went into the studio for this album.

Thanks again for taking time out for this interview. Do you have any closing words for our readers?

Thank you! Hope to see you all in November/December! Cheers!