Indianapolis, Indiana’s beloved and blackened sludge demons of otherworldly doom annihilation, Coffinworm, are the hell-raisers your priest should’ve damn well warned you about. For those that somehow have yet to be initiated, the band’s full length, When All Became None, simply owns your filthy soul and there‘s nothing you can do about it. It’s been a little over a year since Forbidden Magazine first had the massive honor of speaking with the band’s vocalist, Dave Britts, so we figured it was a perfect time to touch base once again. This time around, guitarist Garrett O’Sha dishes out the dirt on the band’s future recordings, connections to the writing of Aleister Crowley, sharing the stage with Eyehategod, and more!!
First off, hails once again, man! It’s been just over a year since Forbidden Magazine first touched base with Coffinworm. What are your thoughts on the band’s musical growth, line-up changes and experiences since then?
Well, the most obvious change occurred when Tony left the band last summer. We had some out of town gigs booked at the time, so we went ahead and played them as a four piece. For the first time in my life, I was the only guitarist on stage. It was nerve-wracking without the “safety net” of another guitarist, but I think we did alright. When we got back home, Carl moved from the drums to guitar and a long-time friend of the band, Josh Schrontz, took over the drums. There was an extremely brief period of adjustment while Josh and Carl were learning the songs, but when we emerged from the practice room, we were stronger and tighter than we’ve ever been as a live unit.
As the original plans for a split with Unearthly Trance were shelved, word is that Coffinworm will be doing a split with Fistula and have previewed some of that new material live. How has the writing for the new stuff compared to that of say, what’s heard on When All Became None?
Writing is definitely moving along a little faster, since the our sound is more defined at this point. When we were writing the first album, we were still searching and trying to figure out what worked and what didn’t. We weren’t even consciously writing an album, really, just enough songs for one. It can take a long time for us to actually complete a song. If everybody isn’t 100% into it, it gets trashed, no matter how long we’ve been working on it. Our new drummer, Josh, is actually a killer guitar player as well (probably the best guitarist in the band, truthfully), so he has been making some contributions in that area too. At the moment, we’re just trying to sort through the flood of riffs and make sense of it all, while remaining conscious of creating a cohesive vision and atmosphere with this next record.
The release of When All Became None was definitely a monumental occasion. When will the masses be able to sink their teeth into a new Coffinworm full-length?
It’s hard to say at this juncture. We are still deep in the writing process, as well as active on the live front. We’re trying to have the record written by the end of this year though, so hopefully sometime next year? We haven’t discussed it with Profound Lore yet, so I really can’t say with any certainty.
The band’s iconic inverted cross logo has become not just the amazing identifier for the band, but a branding of sorts for many among those in allegiance in the Indianapolis metal scene and elsewhere. How does it feel to see the band’s mark etched into the flesh of so many followers?
Speaking not only as a member of the band, but the designer of that mark, I think it’s fucking awesome. I think it’s great that so many people identify with what we are doing. I’ve seen that thing on people who don’t even live in Indiana.
Speaking of Indy, what words do you have for the state of city’s music scene? Where do you feel Coffinworm fits into that picture?
We have an absolutely killer scene here, and we’ve gotten an unreal amount of love and support from the jump. Most of the diehard metal folks in town are over 21 and there aren’t too many all-ages clubs here (not to mention, the best house show spots are long gone), so we mostly play bar shows. “The kids” are coming around though and there’s a lot of crossover between the metal, punk and hardcore heads here, so we play at the local DIY collective (The Dojo) when we can.
On that note, how would you compare the local live environment to the appearances Coffinworm has made elsewhere?
While venturing into the outer-regions is exciting and we have definitely had some incredible experiences on the road (such as the insane response we got opening for Unearthly Trance in Brooklyn last summer), there is nothing like playing to a packed house in our own city. There’s just this collective energy that I’ve never felt under any other circumstances.
It has been stated before that the band’s name is linked to the writings of the one and only Aleister Crowley. Could you shed some more light on the moniker’s origin and connection to the band‘s sound, for inquiring minds?
Todd, being the closest thing to a Crowley expert among us, suggested it. I don’t really recall all the specifics, but it had something to do with The Dweller in the Abyss- Choronzon (also referred to as the coffin worm) and his role in enlightenment and the eradication of the ego. I think Crowley is fascinating as a historical character, and while I have an appreciation for the occult, I don’t actually believe in magic and shit…we all just agreed that it was a striking name and the most appropriate. There are some loose references to Crowley in Dave’s lyrics, however.
The Coffinworm sound has been referred to as everything from “blackened doom” to the more straightforward “sludge”. What words would you feel best describe the band’s brand of chaos?
I suppose people have to call it something, but we’ve never been concerned with labeling ourselves or fitting into any supposed genre. We just play music that we like.
What experience would you say drew you personally to the more “extreme” or “heavy” side of the music world?
I wouldn’t say it was any singular experience, but rather a progression over time. I’ve been compelled by the power of the riff for pretty much my entire life. I remember listening to my dad’s copy of Led Zeppelin 2 at a very young age. I didn’t really understand it, but I was definitely a little obsessed with it and would listen to it in my room on my fisher price tape player or whatever. By fifth grade, Metallica was my favorite band. That was when the “black album” came out and they pretty much ruled the world. Not on my block though. We lived in the hood, so all the kids at school were either into rap or really crappy radio pop. That was when I realized I just didn’t give a fuck about fitting in with “regular” people. I was just going to be into whatever I was into, regardless of whether it was cool or not. I was having too much fun in my own little world to care. Much the same as anyone else who is into extreme music, the black album lead to ‘tallica’s back catalogue, which lead to more extreme stuff. I just went off the deep end and continued to obsessively search for heavier and more powerful music. This is still one my few joys in life- having my mind blown by some new band I just heard or saw. Or by an older album I’d overlooked.
In a Coffinworm horror film, where would your character fit into the storyline?
I’d probably be the hapless idiot who spills moldy beer or something into a crack in the ground and unleashes an unstoppable, ancient evil.
People talk about the demise of the world all the damn time. How content would you say Coffinworm are with the idea of assisting with the beginning of that end?
I don’t think society needs any help destroying itself. It’s doing just fine on it’s own. I don’t believe there will ever be a singular cataclysm or whatever; life on earth will just continue to get shittier and shittier over time. However, there are certainly times that I wish we could just get it over with in one swift blow and wipe the slate clean.
Coffinworm recently shared the stage with Seattle’s Anhedonist and I must say, both bands are setting the bar unbelievably fucking high for their peers. How did the two bands make a connection and what are your thoughts on that show in general?
A friend of ours, Adam Walker (from local slayers Kata Sarka…check ’em out!) goes way back with the singer from Anhedonist (they’re both originally from Ft. Wayne, Indiana). He’s toured with them a couple times and brought copies of their “The Drear” tape. We all loved it and were very excited when he booked a show for them in here. This band is heavy as fuck! I’m glad people here came out to see them. I’m sure they made a lot of new fans. We all just really hit it off while hanging out at the gig. They invited us to come play some shows out west with them and goat willing, we can make it happen.
How about the experience of sharing the stage with the legendary Eyehategod late last year? From where I was standing, it was a jaw-dropping pairing. What words would you use to describe that evening’s festivities?
Thanks. That shit was major for us. It was an incredible night for sure! The dudes from Eyehategod and Goatwhore were all super cool. The Eyehategod guys were way into the posters I made for the show and when, like a true fanboy, I asked if they’d sign a copy for me, they wanted me to sign theirs in return. We had a bunch of friends in the house that we hadn’t seen in a minute and we just had a lot of fun.
What else not mentioned before does the remainder of 2011 have in store for Coffinworm?
We’re looking forward to playing a few dates on the east coast in August, as well as some regional gigs. Other than that, probably just the same shit we’re always doing- working and drinking too much. Oh and we have an official website now- coffinworm.net
As always, it’s been a massive pleasure!! Any last words of graceful praise or furious hatred?
Just a quick salute to the feral war hordes for their continued support! Thanks again, Nate!
Photos by: Kris Arnold