The Gehenna miscreants spill their guts a bit about their many talents, releases and projects that they are spewing forth as we speak, or have been involved in at one time or other. Clearly they love what they do and that’s why they do it and I’m honored to be able to enjoy their creations as much as bring them to others. These guys have been doing this music stuff for eighteen years now, and really know how to keep it real and simple, so crack open a cold one and check them out if your up to it.
Hey guys! You’ve been busy men with all these bands and releases, so I couldn’t resist a brief interview about some of what’s in the works now with you and you’re many creations. For starters Mike (Apocalypse), you were one of the founding members of Gravehill, and now those original line-up recordings are being released on 12” through A389 Records in July, how did Gravehill get started and were these tracks ever released at one time, or are they completely hidden until now?
Mike Apocalypse: Gravehill was formed by myself, R.T. Thorgrimm, and Shane BastardDemon in 2001. We wanted to capture the feel and sound of the death thrash bands that influenced us so much early on in our lives. The only real intention with Gravehill was to harness all of our collective talent to create the most ugly and violent music possible. We rehearsed for about a year and recorded the songs for Practitioners Of Fell Sorcery. We released the demo as a cassette and CDR, with about fifty copies of each that were passed out to friends and fellow thrashers. We also sent a few to some record labels. It was a huge success. We received five rejection letters from record labels who decided it was “too primitive to market and distribute” and praise from diehards like Mike Abominator (Gravehill’s current singer) who said “it was too fucking primitive for wimps”. Financially, Practitioners… was also a massive success and it netted us a collective total of half a pack of cigarettes, nine free beers, a couple bowls of weed, and six soft tacos. After a fire in our rehearsal studio and more drug-related hijinks, R.T. decided to focus on Morgion. BastardDemon and I put our focus into a new band, Devil and getting high. A few years later, R.T. and Mike Abominator wanted to reform Gravehill and we were cool with it. The main thing BastardDemon and I wanted was for Gravehill to move on and write new material. They did, and R.T. and Mike Abominator have released some killer records. About six months ago, R.T., Shane and I talked and decided we wanted to give a proper release to Practitioners…, but we wanted to wait until we found the right label to release it. When Dom from A389 Records approached me about it, I knew we had the right label. We’d already worked with Dom and he is honest and more than fair. Dom really cares about all of the releases and puts a ton of hard work into the label. I knew he would do everything to make the release special. R.T. and Shane agreed and we went forward from there. But pretty much prior to this it was near impossible to get your hands on a copy if you didn’t know any of us.
Aside from anything Gehenna-related, and Gravehill, my main summer interest is the latest psychedelic-doom project Witch-Lord, anything psyche/heavy/doom attracts me to it like a tweaker to shiny objects and mirrors. If it’s okay with D.C. Grave, tell us a bit about that project and how it came about?
D.C. Grave: Witch-Lord, like most of the music we create is born from necessity. Without some forms of release, purpose and expression some of us might be dead or in prison. Witch-Lord was born early in 1998 under the name Neptune‘s Daughter. Before the huge trend of stoner rock, a small handful of bands were taking cues from The Melvins’ Bullhead album and the band Sleep. Not many bands existed after the “grungy, hippy doom of the early 90’s”. We had to play this kind of music. It is an extension of Gehenna and our other works, which take on powerful lives of their own. We are at the mercy of the creative forces behind what we do.
Outside of Witch-Lord, and the ongoing Gehenna, you (D.C. Grave) are also involved in releasing an 80’s punk 7” under the moniker Penetration Panthers, which I’ve sampled already and it’s solid and authentic stuff!!!! Are these projects outside Gehenna looking to be a one-time thing for shits and giggles, or are there potential plans to see where they go and keep them up if it seems fit to?
D.C.: Penetration Panthers want you to fucking party hard, always have and always will, end of story! And…the only things our cult does for “shits and giggles” are: take your money, take your drugs, take your women, drink your booze, eat your food and tell you to go fuck yourself….by the way these are also the only things we do for free.
Ahh, you’re my kind of people! Outside of a necessary love of music, how the hell did you guys get started doing all this stuff?
M.A.: There were a lot of contributing factors, besides music, that were key elements in our growth and development as musicians and beings. Poverty, crime, boredom, anxiety, loneliness, depression, etc. But I think that the most important thing was skateboarding. It’s what really molded all of us into who were are and brought us together before we ever played a note of music. The very first day I was in California, in 1988, I met Holbo who was the first guitarist of Gehenna. The first sentence I spoke to him was “Do you skate?”. The second sentence was “Let’s go skating.”. It built our friendships and helped us to learn to be independent and fearless. D.C. can elaborate on that one.
D.C.: We’ve been growing up as street rats, thieves, outcasts, ect. and deemed useless in society. Some of us forced to live on the run and grow up too fast. If the forces of nature and the universes didn’t collide and put us together our paths may have been that much darker in life, being dead or even more time spent in jail. Our perspectives and philosophy are drawn directly from our life experiences, no false tales are told.
Because we are not musicians, we care not for fashion, music and popularity! We are a cult of dogs, we are a cult of gods, we are the protectors of the seven lands…and the seven crowns… of the seven heads…of seven kings.. held on high worship….in infamy!
I can relate to that all too well, it’s definitely a great influence on art and music. I always get amused when people only want to stick to one thing because they are “ fill in the blanks” and that’s their identity, but that’s total bullshit. When I hear and learn about other people branching out from just a style of metal, or metal in general into other styles like heavy psyche/prog/hardcore/experimental/power electronics, etc. and creating tons of stuff as they go, it’s really awesome. What are some of your interests musically and how’d you get to be “diverse”?
M.A.: The one element that everything I listen to has to have is guts. Music has to be bold and confident and daring. That’s what inspires me to write different types of music. I’m drawn in a lot of different directions but most of what I like seems to stem from Detroit. David Ruffin, Nolan Strong, The MC5, The Stooges, Negative Approach, DJ Assault, The Dirtbombs, Guilty Simpson, Invincible, The Left. Detroit, Michigan is like the mecca of style and class, where punk originated, rock and soul were perfected and ghettotech blew out speakers. I feel lucky to have been born there.
DC: Diversity happens on its own. We’re not linear beings. But I don’t see much diversity in our music anyway. It’s all from the same roots. All of the music and bands we’re creating are what influences me. I’m influenced by Fog Specter, Guerilla, The Bad Larry‘s, Dealing With It and Mother Fucking Titty Suckers and all of the things we make.
I’m an old acid house/Detroit Techno head, that stuff grabbed away from metal for a few years along the Chicago Wax Trax label and then I landed in the realm of the more extreme and the noisey/apocalyptic industrial/power electronic from Europe. Are there other projects outside these mentioned that are linked to you guys, or ones your thinking of doing in the future, even if it’s just a thought?
M.A.: I’m working on a couple of different things right now and getting a lot more interested in expanding my horizons even more. Parallel Hells (with DJ Saurus and Aspect McCarthy), Lesser Key (a sort of Witch House/Dark Wave/ Electronic Noise project with my friends Javier Vanhuss and Hope Guzzo) and a project called Black Sun Valley. I’m also doing series of screwed and chopped/dragged and drugged mixtapes featuring all of our bands. The series is called Cult Of The 7 Crowns. Morgan and The Chief are in Violent Ruler. Their LP is out and it’s killer! Also I’m working on a project called CRWL, and a project called Morgue Drawers.
D.C.: We have Rich Bitch Records, Rock Cocaine Records, Die High Designs, Get Fucked Up Productions, and Outsleazed Fest, just for the production side of things. As far as music goes we’ve always been doing it and we’ll always be doing it.
I haven’t checked them out yet, but Mickey Featherstone is in a black metal band, Sangraal (?) and the Discreet Dolls band. What’s to say about some of those? I’ll have to check them out for sure.
Mickey Featherstone: No comment. Idiots that read Metal Maniacs would never understand anything about these bands.
(I have to laugh, at that one…thankfully this will be posting elsewhere. Although it’d be a hoot to see how many babies cry and bitch about that comment, they love to bitch at interviews). I’ll have to check out the Cult Of the Seven Crowns series and there’s also an upcoming re-issue of the long sought after Gehenna 7”, Land of Sodom, but now as Land of Sodom II with bonus tracks and including a bonus cd, Upon the Gravehill. Gehenna has been around for sometime, and has a well-deserved reputation, so how did that 7” re-release come about?
M.A.: It’s actually rerecorded vocals and a little bit different mixes of what was on the original 7″ was. The Land of Sodom / Upon the Gravehill cd is a remix of those two records. The original pressings both had slight errors. The music was mastered pretty badly on both. Now the music blends together so the songs run right into one another. It presents the music in a more harsh way than the first pressings. It’s more relentless sounding now.
I’ve been informed that you’re also in the process of writing a new Gehenna LP, is ther anything to say about that one yet?
M.A.: The new Gehenna LP is going to come out on A389 Records. We’re still in the writing and recording process. It’s been a long process but that’s do to a few outside things that happened like my computer getting stolen etc. We wanted to have it done and out by the end of the year but we’ll see what happens.
A389 is an amazing label and I’m stoked to be able to work with them by choice and not through some annoying third party. I’m looking forward to the continual onslaught of noise you lads produce, so let me crack open a cold on in your honor and say thanks!
photos by: NoCeiling Photography