In the vast world of extreme music, there are those individuals that seem to leave no stone unturned when it comes to keeping themselves (and the fans) super-busy. Having held duty in the ranks of countless bands including Nachtmystium, The Gates Of Slumber, and most recently, Apostle of Solitude, it could be said that Iron Bob Fouts is a “renaissance man” of sorts in the way of musical endeavors. Whether it’s onstage or behind the scenes at his Basement Rage Studio, it’s clear the guy knows how to get things done right. Forbidden Magazine caught up with Bob recently, and he brought the hammer down on everything from his earliest days in the Indianapolis scene, to his departure from The Gates of Slumber, his current home as bassist for Apostle Of Solitude, and tons more. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!!
Hails, Bob!! First off, I must say…huge props for most definitely being one of the busiest people I know, when it comes to music, man! Can you recall what first sparked your interest in the more extreme side of music, in turn contributing to everything you’ve achieved to this day?
Cheers, Nate! Yeah, man, my Dad’s record collection…really my Dad, aunts, and uncles were all big music fans. I was turned on to Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, Captain Beyond and stuff like that at a super-early age and really connected with the “heaver” classic rock stuff right away. By the time I was, say 8 years old, I was getting Kiss, AC/DC and Ozzy records for birthdays, holidays and whenever I could talk a family member into taking me to the record store (remember those things?). As far as the “extreme” stuff goes, it was just a very natural progression from being an Iron Maiden (still my favorite band of all time) metal-obsessed pre-teen, and then hearing Ride The Lighting for the first time. One of my uncles was a janitor at a high school and found the tape. I remember him coming into my room and throwing it at me saying, “You like this kind of garbage, right?” (laughs). Of course, from there it was Slayer and all the thrash stuff that led to punk/hardcore/crossover stuff that led to the very beginnings of black metal, grind and death metal. I loved all of it, and of course still do to this day. Those days are totally responsible for me becoming a musician and actually, one of my uncles was/is a drummer, so he was my first “in-the-flesh” role model of sorts, I guess you could say. I went to tons of shows back then as well, starting in ‘86 and then the more “underground” stuff starting around ‘87 like Megadeth and Slayer which of course led me to hardcore shows, checking out local bands and all that. I started playing drums in my first band in 1990, Dead Dizney (yes, with a “z”)(laughs), which was a hybrid of thrash, crossover and some melodic punk/hardcore I guess. I was fifteen when I played my first show at Woodruff Place Town Hall with that band. I remember one of our friend’s moms got us super-drunk and my snare drum ending up on my lap at some point during our set. Good times. Fat Sammy (About The Fire) was in that band as well, and if it were not for us meeting as teenagers, there is a good chance I would have never done anything serious at all. I was hanging out with shitty kids that were gang members and stole cars and all that. I didn’t even have my own drum kit when we first started hanging out and jamming. Once I met Sam and that crew, it was all about playing, practicing five times a week and writing songs. In a way, it totally saved me from being an absolute shithead. He was so good and already had all these amazing songs and tons of cool riffs. He really inspired me to get it all going. We recorded a couple demos and played some shows. That band lasted a few years. A few more bands followed.
While all largely lying in the “heavier” side of the spectrum, the list of projects you’ve been involved with still varies quite a lot from one to the next (example: About The Fire (R.I.P.) compared to say, The Gates of Slumber). How would you describe the task of stepping into the different roles, so to speak, with the different projects you’ve been a part of?
Yeah, I just dig a bunch of different stuff, man. From melodic punk and hardcore to ghetto blaster-recorded, trash can black metal. As long as it has conviction, some depth and passion, I can get on board with it. I don’t think I would be happy just doing one specific style or genre forever. I have always appreciated having some variety to all the projects I’ve immersed myself in over the years. It’s still the same way with my current, active projects. If I dig it, I dig it I guess. As a musician and drummer, I take influences from everything so I think, in a way, I developed my own style which is something all “musicians” strive for. I think that just comes with time and experience, touring, woodshedding and just being open to new things. Since I was always into different types of stuff, I might think of some things that a “genre-specific” type person might not…like playing a cool death metal-influenced lick in a punk song or going totally “Bonham” on a slower black metal riff. People that have followed me through all the different bands have told me that no matter what style I’m playing, when they hear it, they can tell it’s me pretty quickly. That’s the absolute biggest compliment you can get, in my book.
Yeah, I’d definitely have to agree, based on my own outlook and experiences, that developing a broad musical taste is the way to go in life, ha! Anyone worth their salt in doom-oriented circles should know that you were a part of Indianapolis doom juggernaut, The Gates of Slumber from 2006 to 2010. If I may ask, what circumstances brought about your departure as the band’s drummer?
I first want to say that I really had a killer time with TGoS. We did some amazing shit together, in my opinion. But basically, it just came down to the realities of being in a full-time touring band…especially one that was willing to go out on tour no matter what the (financial) deal was, which seemed to be the case more often than not. We did some great runs through Europe and the States on some nice support tours and things were going pretty well. Then I had an issue come up at home that I needed to tend to right after our Euro shows with Cathedral in May of 2010. TGoS had a U.S. headlining tour planned weeks after, and I just had to step out and tell them to get a fill-in or whatever was needed. I needed to be home with my wife and family at this time, and that was the bottom line for me. And to be honest, I was not that excited about the idea of doing another full U.S. run right after we just hit the same markets on the Weedeater tour a month before, so there was a bit of tension there. I guess my stand point, even though I was fine with them getting someone in to carry out the tour commitment, is that they really did not seem to give a fuck about what was going on with my family or myself for that matter. That really hit home with me and started to brew while they were out and I was at home just doing the regular job thing and trying to get some bullshit resolved on the home front. I’m not gonna lie, there were disagreements and little tiffs on the previous tours, but I always saw that as totally normal. When you’re cooped up with people, best friends or not, for months at a time…sometimes you say things you really don’t mean out of sheer frustration from the road or a given situation. So basically, after that tour, Karl called me and we just thought it was best for both sides to go their separate ways and that was that. Then not long after, they were still in need of a drummer and I suggested to Jason that they should give Clyde a call. I talked to Clyde over Instant Messenger, as he was living in Richmond, Virginia at the time, filled him in on what was up, and told him I thought he could be the man for the job. I’m sure certain people would never admit that I found my own replacement in the band, but that’s pretty much the way it went down. Glad it worked out for them. Karl and I are cool and Jason and I will always remain very, very close. There is no stopping those two…you gotta give it to them for that! I definitely miss it sometimes, and I actually offered to come back in at one point not long after. It just didn’t work out and I’m fine with that. I’m very happy with the stuff I have going on right now, and wish them the best. They are still one of my favorite bands today. Hell of a fucking band for sure! Very proud of the records we did together.
You recently switched from drumming duties for the likes of TGoS and Nachtmystium to your present spot on bass with the Apostle Of Solitude guys. How did that union come about?
I just got this random email from Corey, our drummer, asking if I might know of a bass player as things were changing around for them line-up wise. I thought about it for a second and said, “Well shit man, I’ll do it!” (laughs). I always liked AoS and thought Chuck was a very, very underrated songwriter. And we were all friends anyway with the exception of Steve, who was just coming in as well. I never realized how cool that cat was until we started jamming. So it’s now a pretty tight-knit group of dudes that are on the same level. No drama, just a lot of doom! (laughs) I was also excited at the prospect of stepping out from behind the kit on more of a regular basis. I still love playing the drums and I’m sure I will always be considered a drummer by most people. I mean, after twenty years being the drummer in who knows how many bands, it’s hard to shake that for sure…and also to be looked at seriously doing anything else, but again, I was up for the challenge and have always played bass and guitar at home, so it really just fell right into place. I went out and got some decent gear and that was that.
Speaking of AoS, what lies in store for the near future for the band? Recordings, live destruction?
Let’s see…we are playing one more live date this year with The Atlas Moth, Ken Mode and You Will Die here in Indy on the 25th of this month. After that, we are going to take a couple months off from the gigs and really get into writing the next record. Man, everyone is really excited about it and we already have a brand new one that was pretty much the first collaboration with the new line-up. It’s already one of my favorite songs I’ve ever been involved in creating. It’s so killer that all of us are bringing things to the table riff-wise, melody-wise, arrangement ideas, and all that, so that’s very refreshing for me as well. We have our captain, no doubt (every band needs one and your normally lost without them, in my opinion), but we are all free to bring in whatever we want and if it’s good enough and we are all feeling it, we will give it a go. No egos and it’s a total democracy in terms of the new music. So the plan is basically to write the next couple of months and get the material for the next record ready. We will more than likely demo a couple as we go and maybe pass that around a bit. At this time, we are not 100% on who will be releasing the next one, so we need to get that part squared away as well. After that’s taken care of, we can figure out when and where we will be recording and have a better idea of when everyone can expect to see the new AoS record.
What’s new with Basement Rage? New projects lying in wait to slaughter everyone’s asses?
Let’s see here…I just did a Livermortis full-length a few months back. Killer,pissed-off hardcore punk in its purest form. That was really fun. I think they are going to be using some of it for a split and the rest to press on LP. I could be wrong though (laughs), have to ask them. I also just did a new demo for Off Balance that was also a ton of fun. Some of my oldest friends and in the current line up so good times for sure and we made a nice, raw and heavy-as-fuck demo together. I have Late August starting a twelve-song session this week and in mid-October, I have the reformed, o.g. gods of Indy grind, Radiation Sickness coming in to record their first new materiel in over a decade. That one is going to be really special. I grew up with those dudes and they were very responsible for me getting into the underground scene back in the day, so it meant a lot when they came to me about doing their new recordings. Other than that, I will be finishing up the new Steel Aggressor record as well. We decided to bring a new vocalist on board on this one, so we took some time off from that project a few months back. The music is pretty much completely done and laid down. We just need to get the vocals going and of course, the mix. Should have it wrapped up by January. The twelve-inch should be out, again on the Storm Spell label, by next spring. That pretty much takes the studio up ‘til the end of the year. I’m hoping 2012 will be the biggest year for BRS so far! Bands, as always, get in touch!
The world lost a true-as-fuck soldier to the cause with the passing of Jared Southwick, guitarist for The Dream Is Dead. The recent memorial show (feat. Harakiri, Whiskeytits, Coffinworm, Legion, and Chinaski) showed just how much of an enormous impact he made. As you were a friend and collaborator in annihilation with Jared, what are your thoughts?
I’ll be completely honest man, it devastated me. Jared had been one of my best bro’s since the late 90’s. The dude was just an absolute staple in the underground music scene, and it was just an unreal blow to a ton of us. I don’t think I have ever know a truer person that never wavered his convictions and had this unbelievable drive to be involved in this scene…and make it the best it could be. He never gave up on things like bringing bands through even though five people might turn up and he had to go walk to the ATM at the end of the night, or making sure if he was out on the road with you that you were being treated fairly by the promoters and not getting fucked around. He held his true friends so close and wanted only to see the most out of all of us out doing bands and going on tour and pushing as hard as possible. I think he touched more people than he would even know, man. A true warrior of metal, through and through. It’s just horrible to think something as simple as having some drinks brought him down at the end but like many of us, he had his demons. I saw them first hand, as did a lot of his close friends, and it’s just another reminder of how fragile this existence can really be. Everyone wanted to help but I don’t think any of us knew how and again, most of us deal with our own demons on a day-to-day basis. I know I have learned to never let things slip through the cracks again when you see a friend heading that way, and try not to be selfish for one fucking minute and do your best to extend a hand. There will never be another Jared Southwick, but we can all learn a bit from him and continue with his passion for this out of respect of his life. Putting together the memorial show was not a “Hey, look at me, I’m throwing a pity party” or “Look how much I care, I’m cooler than you” ego trip. I wanted it to be a celebration of all the things that dude loved, and for it to be a tribute to all the great things Jared did for us and lived for every day. It was just an added bonus that we, as a community, were able to raise some scratch and help out the family. I feel it was exactly the type of show he would have booked and would have been so happy to be a part of. Everyone raged so fucking hard, man, and all the bands killed it. After the show, so many people came up and said, “You should make this an annual thing!” and as long as it would keep the same vibe and show the same support and respect for the bands, I would be happy to try and make that happen and keep celebrating the life of one of our brothers. One of the best I’ll ever know. I love you and miss you, J-Rock!
Your new project, Chrome Waves, also featuring Stavros Giannopolous of The Atlas Moth, seems to be shrouded in a bit of mystery at the moment. I can’t wait to hear that shit! Care to shed some light on it?
Sure. Well, I guess it’s just now getting to the point that there is reason to talk about it (laughs). It’s been in the works for close to a year and its finally getting mixed next month. We should have it out in December. I guess to fill you in a bit on it, it started back in ‘09 when I was out with Nachtmystium. I did a couple tours as there live drummer and Jeff Wilson (there guitar player at the time) and I became really good friends. We had bumped into each other before over the years, but on the tours I guess we gained a mutual respect for each other musician-wise. Fast forward a few months later, and we were just talking on the phone or some shit and one of us said “Hey, we should do some type of project together.” By that time I was back on the road with The Gates of Slumber and Nachtmystium had another drummer due to scheduling issues between the two bands. Jeff and I still wanted to play together, so once we were both home from tour, he came down and we starting writing and recording some ideas. Then, one of us would have to go back on tour or I’d have another band in the studio, so we had to work around all that. Every time we would get a break, Jeff would come back down for a few days and we would continue so it took a good eight months to get it all together. After we had a couple done musically, so we gave it to Steve, who did some scratch vocals at home. Then, we finally got to finishing all the music a few months back. We got it all to Steve, but he was ass-deep in the new The Atlas Moth record so we kinda had to wait for that to be done before he could start the Chrome Waves stuff. But yeah, Steve heard the very first demos we did and was pretty much down immediately. His vocals are now completed so we just need to get the damn thing mixed, which has been another hold up…waiting around for certain people (laughs). It’s really cool stuff though, and if you’re a fan of maybe Assassins-era Nachtmystium mixed with I don’t know, maybe Deftones minus the nu-metal parts with brutal vocals, you will dig it…probably doesn’t sound like that at all though. (laughs) I’m horrible at trying to explain it. I don’t know, it’s pretty trippy with lots of atmosphere. It still has a bit of a black metal feel but also more grove, and not as much blast. It’s the first time I’ve done bass and drums on the same project, so I think the rhythm section on it should be pretty tight and interesting. (laughs) We should have a preview track and more info very soon, so peep the facebook page and blogspot.
Most definitely! Can’t wait to hear it, man! Looking back through all the shows you’ve played…with every band you’ve been a part of, what time(s) would you say are set apart, as being your personal highlights?
Man! A huge one just happened last weekend, believe it or not! There is a band from the 90’s called Samiam from southern California that I have been a huge, huge fan of forever, and they don’t really play much in the States anymore. they are not an “extreme” band by any means…more like an East Bay melodic punk band that pretty much turned into a straight-up rock band. Anyway, I saw them in Louisville back in the summer and discovered an old friend of mine from Indy (Charlie Walker of Split Lip and Chamberlain) was playing drums with them. So, we end up talking with the guys after their set and I asked Charlie, jokingly, if I could come up and play a song with them next time. I had some drinks in me, so when he said, “Sure man, next time!”, I was like, “Yeah, yeah, whatever to make the drunk metal guy go away.” (laughs) So anyway, some friends and I went up to see them in Chicago last weekend and I ran into Charlie. He asked me for a smoke and I again, jokingly, asked about coming up and playing. This was a few hours before the show and he was just like, “Go for it!”, so I got to play one of my favorite songs with them in front of a packed house in Chicago and didn’t even butcher the song! I would have never thought in a million years that I would get the chance to do that. So that was just fucking amazing, man! It’s even on YouTube. (laughs) There are defiantly many others though…like playing with Misfits, touring with In Flames and Nevermore, playing CBGB’S on that tour and it being completely sold-out back in the Burn it Down days. My first time in Europe was really amazing with Reverend Bizarre (their final tour), headlining Doom Shall Rise in Germany, doing the Keep it True Festival, Damnation Fest in England, seeing my mother’s birthplace and hometown of Glasgow, Scotland and getting to play there, watching Electric Wizard destroy 1,500 people all at once, Ireland always! Selling out the Underworld in London and playing with fucking Angel Witch, getting to watch Church of Misery every night for two weeks, touring with bands I look up to like Cathedral and Pentagram, and sharing a tour bus with them. Doing a full U.S. tour with Marduk, and I also have to say the show for Jared was right up there too. Fuck, man, the list goes on. I’ve been very lucky to do these things and don’t take any of it for granted, but it does take hard work and some sacrificing for sure. Being able to do those things all comes at a price and most “normal” people would not understand…a lot of financial uncertainty, being away from you family and loved ones, sleepless nights and horrible fucking hangovers. But goddamn if it’s not worth it, to me at least. I hope there are many more to come.
If you could eradicate any one trend in music, what would it be…and why?
I’m not sure what “the kids” call it, but whatever that horrible metalcore-sounding shit is that has the pitch-correcting, horrible clean vocals (with the vocoder) and the stupid, happy keyboard parts? What the fuck even is that shit? Someone needs to tie those little fruits down, tape headphones to their stupid fucking heads and make them listen to Nunslaughter for six weeks straight, starving them at the same time. (laughs) And any of that X-103 (Indianapolis, Indiana mainstream radio station – ed.) sound-alike bullshit has no worth at all. Stupid, fucking apartment complex lifegard rock, for stupid asshole Affliction t-shirt wearing dumbasses. Watered down, shallow, soulless, untalented garbage. For the lowest common denominator of white people. Hate them.
While on the subject of peaks and so on, how do you see the overall world of extreme music today, for better or worse?
Over-saturation would sum that up. Are there tons of great bands nowadays? Yes, but way too many in general, in my opinion. Maybe it’s just the old, jaded, dickhead in me but, man, how do you even keep up these days? Lots of thrash, more doom bands than ever. Black metal? Fucking tons! Now the old style of stripped-down brutal death metal is coming back too? Most of which I like but fuck, how do you keep up? How do these bands tour when they are all competing for the same small amount of underground supporters and fans? It’s crazy but really not a bad thing, just frustratin, I guess. I will say though, I have never seen so many chicks diggin’ the brutal shit than nowadays, too. I mean seriously, I saw Morbid Angel in 1990 and there was definitely no big-breasted heavy metal mamas sporting cut up Venom shirts that expose half a nipple. Not all the girls go to shows like this, of course. And I’m not complaining, and I am definitely not trying to sound sexiest or some bullshit. It’s just the fucking truth. Maybe dudes in extreme bands are better looking these days (i know I’m an ugly bastard)? Maybe it’s just not as taboo and offensive to women these days? Who knows, but cheers to all the single dudes out there now days that can actually date a girl with similar tastes in music and all that. They were definitely way fewer and far between back in the day. I think it’s an awesome thing! You go girls! Happy to have you around these days. (laughs)
Anything else you’ve got brewing that inquiring minds should know about that we haven’t touched on?
I think you covered it all, man. Get back at me in a year and I’m sure there will be at least one or two more things to talk about. (laughs)
Well, I think that about does it for now, man! It’s sure been a pleasure and on behalf of Forbidden Magazine, I thank you for your time! Any last words for the salivating masses?
Thank you, Nate! Your zine is awesome and I wish you nothing but continued success with it. Cheers,brother! We should have a beer soon. Also wanna thank all the hometown Indy people for the support at the show a few weeks back. It was way beyond expectations for sure, and rest assured all your donations went directly to where it was needed. And on behalf of the Southwicks, I want to thank you all as well. I will be picking up the slack with some booking as well so get out and support the bands, our underground community and causes! Hails!
slider photo by: Kris Arnold