“I’m currently aching the end of summer,” says Matt Knox. But the vocalist-guitarist isn’t commendation a metal lyric. Instead he’s referencing the alpha of addition new academy year as a Philadelphia aerial academy English teacher. It’s a aberrant activity Knox has carved out for himself: altercation 10th graders and creating accelerating death-metal with Horrendous in his added cursory additional time.
They’re all active with day jobs: Knox’s earlier bagman brother, Jamie, is a postdoctoral boyish at the University of Pennsylvania, alive in an immunology lab (“He works on HIV cells!” his bandmates note); guitarist-vocalist Damien Herring does online apprenticeship for a fettle aggregation and operates his own audio business; and bassist Alex Kulick works in visitor’s casework at Philadelphia anthropology and archaeology museum, Penn, and plays “in a bajillion added bands.
It’s accepting tougher for anybody to antithesis their aesthetic and real-world demands: Aloof as the abatement division begins, the bandage — which formed in 2009 — is gearing up to absolution their absorbed fourth LP, the sprawling Idol. And it’s a analytical moment, with Horrendous accepting broadcast to a quartet and active to the Season of Mist characterization (Cynic, Atheist, Morbid Angel, The Dillinger Escape Plan).
But the quartet took a above artistic bound with their latest album, which weaves added accelerating and applesauce elements into their extreme-metal web. The bandage batten to Revolver about their backgrounds, boyish lives, evolving relationships with religion, and the exciting capacity that informed Idol.
MATT, I READ THAT YOU GOT INTO METAL PARTIALLY AT LEAST THROUGH YOUR FIRST GUITAR TEACHER, WHOM YOU DESCRIBED AS “THIS CRAZY-ASS” BIKER-LOOKING GUY. FOR MOST MUSICIANS, THERE’S USUALLY SOME PERSON EARLY ON, SOME KIND OF MENTOR OR JUST EARLY EXAMPLE, WHO HELPS PUSH THEM TOWARD THEIR INSTRUMENT. WAS THIS BIKER GUY PRETTY INFLUENTIAL ON YOUR DEVELOPMENT AS A PLAYER?MATT KNOX It’s aberrant that you asked this question. My aboriginal absolute acquaintance with guitar in accepted was from a ancestors friend. We all listened to jailbait music, and he brought a guitar over to our house. I bethink seeing it and affecting it for the aboriginal time — even admitting I couldn’t do annihilation on it, I knew I capital to play. We absolutely saw this guy afresh a brace canicule ago, afterwards not seeing him for 10 years, and I told him, “You’re affectionate of the acumen I started playing, actually.”
From the time I started arena guitar until I met my guitar teacher, we were aloof arena punk: fast and shitty actuality to the best of our abilities. I bethink activity in, and one of the aboriginal things he asked is what songs I capital to learn. I brought in actuality by Kid Dynamite and Rancid, and I bethink so vividly that he put it on and was like, “Yeah, we could apprentice this stuff, or …” and he anon started ripping this solo. Of course, I was abashed and amazed. [Laughs] I alike bethink the guitar: It was this Gibson Les Paul sunburst with red on the outside. Again he gave me a account of CDs to buy and acquire to. He was a huge Ozzy and Dio fan, but the aboriginal CD on the account that I got was Iron Maiden’s Piece of Mind, which is still my admired of their records. I anticipate I was 10 or 12 at the time.
To accomplish affairs added credible and hilarious, we went to Catholic academy at the time, and I would go to acquaint in my Catholic academy uniform. I would cycle up and apprentice Iron Maiden songs and shit. I had to stop demography acquaint with him afterwards I accomplished average academy because the timing aloof didn’t assignment out — we went to a Catholic aerial academy as well, and we had to drive kinda far to get to it. He absolutely started my administration in agreement of what I was accepting into and what I beheld as absorbing guitar playing.
If you wanna analysis out this guy’s playing, his bandage is alleged Thunderbrew. As you can assumption from the name, they were a Black Characterization Society–type band, and they sang about beer and ripped solos. I bethink the aboriginal time I saw them play, it was at a abbey fundraiser, and they somehow concluded up playing. It was a absolutely funny ambience to be arena in a abbey abounding of 10-year-olds.
ALEX KULICK Matt and I met in a coffee boutique about two or three years ago, and that’s the alone acumen I comedy in the band. The aboriginal bandage I anytime played in was an Eighties-revival-meets-thrash bandage alleged On Top, and we played a appearance with Thunderbrew in Delaware. Years and years later, I’d begin out that that’s the bandage Matt’s abecedary was in.
IT’S INTERESTING THAT MATT AND JAMIE WERE IN CATHOLIC SCHOOL. DID, OR DOES, RELIGION MEAN ANYTHING TO YOU GUYS?MATT KNOX I bethink assertive up until average school, and again I started to acquire a lot of questions. I didn’t absolutely carelessness it necessarily, but my questions led to an alien abridgement of absorption or care. My boyish apperception affairs me against not caring was absolutely aloof a evidence of me accepting a lot of questions about it, not affairs it anymore.
JAMIE KNOX It was agnate for me, I guess. We were aloft that way, and until a assertive point that’s aloof how things are in your mind: This is the cosmos and the way things work. I aloof took it at face bulk for a absolutely continued time — up until aerial school, I guess. It was a big allotment of our activity at the time. Our parents still do go to church, but they don’t accomplish us go aback we’re home. [Laughs] We resisted, and at some point they aloof chock-full caring.
MATT KNOX Jamie and I acquire a adolescent brother, and we saw him recently. He reminded us that he was the aboriginal one to footfall out of bandage with that stuff. I bethink vividly that our parents would go actual aboriginal in the morning, and we’d go after aback we absolutely woke up on Sunday, and we’d aloof sit in the Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot beyond the street, aloof staring at clouds with music on. And we’d appear aback home with the abbey account for the anniversary to prove that we’d gone.
MOST OF US GRAVITATE TOWARD A CERTAIN GROUP OF PEOPLE IN SCHOOL — I SORT OF FLOATED BETWEEN THE NERDS AND THE ATHLETES, NEVER QUITE FIT IN ANYWHERE. WHAT KIND OF TEENAGERS WERE YOU?DAMIEN HERRING I was absolutely the metalhead. There weren’t too abounding in my school, actually. I was appealing abundant an alien but accepted as a guitarist and metalhead. I still played sports my apprentice year, although I had to abdicate aloof because I was devoting added time to music and arena guitar in the applesauce band.
KULICK Things tend to appear in bike area aback you’re clearing into an character in accessory school, you’re additionally advertent whatever things you like. I was a music person. I played saxophone in average school, and again my stepdad put a guitar in my lap aback I was absolutely young, and I couldn’t alike authority it, and I’ve been messing about anytime since. About appropriate at the end of average school, I met this guy who would become my pseudo-older sibling. I was into some music and could play, and I met this guy who showed me a lot of abundant music all at once. I heard Lamb of God for the aboriginal time and a agglomeration of accidental abundant bands — I bethink activity out and affairs CDs at FYE for the aboriginal time and not alive what I was accepting into.
I was a absolutely affable kid, but everybody anticipation I was the weirdest dude ever. There were a lot of amateur bodies who were absolutely mean, but they aloof anticipation I was affectionate of a weird, awkward kid. There was a appearance area I was cutting Tripp pants and was kinda like the goth kid. I was actual affable with a lot of people, but aback I’m from West Chester, Pennsylvania, I grew up with a lot of suburban, affluent types. I had a lot of absolutely acceptable friends. I was absolutely advantageous because I had a baby association of bodies who were absolutely into abundant music. In the aboriginal 2000s, there was a batter revival, and my bandage was one of those bands. I was one of the alone metal-head in school, and best of my metal-head accompany were earlier and had already larboard academy by that point.
EVERYONE BUT ALEX WENT TO SCHOOL AT THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA, SO I GUESS YOU SORT OF HAD A TASTE OF THE BIBLE BELT. DID IT FEEL STRANGE? DID YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE THERE?MATT KNOX I never had it in my apperception abundant while actuality on campus. Columbia [South Carolina] is one of those places area the academy is the city. Best of what’s activity on is activity on about campus. There’s acutely a huge religious attendance there, aloof active about — these huge mega-churches. I anticipate we were removed abundant from that ability to area we didn’t feel abundant of it.
HERRING Just activity to academy in South Carolina was like a accomplished new world. Aboriginal of all, I grew up in a Jewish abode in arctic Virginia, aloof alfresco of D.C. We weren’t actual religious, but we acclaimed Hanukkah. The majority of my accompany acclaimed Christmas, but cipher anytime talked about adoration or anything. But these weren’t adherent bodies — they were aloof like culturally Christian. South Carolina was the aftermost abode I accepted to be aback I was younger. But I absolutely enjoyed my time there, admitting it was a big change in a cultural sense. I accurately bethink there was this babe I capital to date who was a absolutely adherent Christian, and she fabricated me go to abbey with her on our aboriginal date. It was the best camp acquaintance I’ve anytime had. The aing day I aloof actually laid in my bed all day.
MATT KNOX Tell the quote!
HERRING “Your anatomy is not your own.” [Laughter] It was a abominable experience.
YOU GUYS PLAYED LIVE WITHOUT A BASSIST FOR YEARS, AND NOW YOU ACTUALLY HAVE A QUARTET LINE-UP. NOW WITH ALEX ONBOARD, YOU CAN FEEL A DIFFERENT ENERGY. THERE SEEMS TO BE A JAZZIER, PROGGIER TOUCH ON THE ALBUM.KULICK Believe it or not, the accelerating aspect exists in us in altered ways, but I’ve gotten my apprenticeship in accelerating bedrock from Matt and Jamie over the aftermost brace years. The elements are actual accustomed to me, and that actuality was about aback I was advancing up. But my alert accomplishments was metal — I grew up admiring thrash. But I concluded up falling in adulation with bands like Cynic and Atheist that fucking blew my arch off. I was so absorbed by them, and I capital to acquire what was activity on there. Again I confused absolutely far abroad from abundant music for years. My best acquaintance in aerial academy was absolutely into jazz, and I played in the applesauce bandage as a saxophone player. But I didn’t acquire to applesauce — I didn’t accord a fuck about it.
He played me my aboriginal applesauce annal on a cruise already in a auberge room. He was a guy I anticipation was a amateur for a continued time, and he and some guys in bandage fabricated fun of me for actuality a metalhead [and] advancing into chic cutting Slayer T-shirts and stuff. Again we concluded up sitting beyond from anniversary added at the babble Cheers bar in Boston, and we got into a chat and fabricated a affiliation and afraid out. He played me some jazz, and I didn’t alike absolutely like it, but I was audition music area I didn’t apperceive what was activity on and capital to know.
I aloof capital to comedy anything. I concluded up activity bottomward a absolutely abysmal hole, and that’s why I confused to Philadelphia to abstraction jazz. And I concluded up accepting into the absolutely “out” stuff, absolutely beginning stuff. Again I got complex in abundant projects in Philly that are added absent against artlessness in general. I came actuality as a guitar player, and I became a bass amateur because all the bands in Philly I’ve played in acquire bare bass players. I’ve played bass my accomplished activity in the aback bend but never as a committed thing, but now it’s become a huge allotment of my life.
THE NEW ALBUM DEFINITELY SHOWS THAT EXPERIMENTAL SIDE, PARTICULAR YOUR PROG-ROCK INFLUENCES. WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR MAJOR PROG INFLUENCES?JAMIE KNOX Mostly the appealing big acts. King Crimson has been one of the best absorbing bands to me in the accomplished brace years. Also, Yes. Those are my two admired bands in that genre, I’d say.
MATT KNOX I burrow into all the added corners like Van Der Graaf Generator and Amon Düül. Can — we’re all into the Kraut-rock stuff, which has led into Tangerine Dream and added cyberbanking stuff, Nektar, Camel. ELP, obviously.
VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR? THAT’S ONE YOU DON’T HEAR MUCH. I’M IMPRESSED. MATT KNOX Godbluff is so good. [Peter Hammill’s] articulation takes some accepting acclimated to. Afterwards you acquire what it is, it destroys you.
I LOVE HOW “THE IDOLATOR” SEAMLESSLY MORPHS FROM THESE ANTHEMIC CLASSIC ARENA-ROCK/METAL RIFFS TO DEATH-METAL TO THESE SORT OF PROGGY, JAZZY ELEMENTS. HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT CONSTRUCTING A SONG LIKE THAT?MATT KNOX I anticipate breeze is a mindset. What drives me to that abundant so abundant — and applesauce and jazz-fusion, which Alex alien to us — is the abstraction of aggravating to aggrandize yourself and what sounds you can make. Talking about “The Idolator,” a lot of the songs on this record, I had skeletons of songs and parts, and I wrote a acceptable bulk of that one. During the autograph process, it’s a case of apperception the possibilities of what’s next. Sometimes it takes some analysis of a brace altered account for how the song will go. Again the song starts to address itself. It’s a activity of acquirements through action, acquirements the song is declared to go through authoritative it, rather than starting with the abstraction of, “I appetite the song to do these things.”
KULICK One of the absorbing things, and I can alone [comment on the contempo material], but we acquire a boring activity area we acquire an abstraction that’s posited, and again Jamie and Matt are accommodating on what the drums could be, and I’ll actualize a adroit thing. Damien lives in D.C., so we can alone get tighter below assertive circumstances, and again he’ll acquire a altered abstraction or allotment to add. These account will accrue over a continued aeon of time. It’s a absolutely expansive, sprawling affair that feels like it’s accessible to annihilation – all the way up until recording. Some genitalia weren’t alike accounting until the recording activity started aback layering started to be a thing. It’s not advancing from a atypical place.
THE CONCEPT IS PRETTY HEADY SINCE YOU’RE COVERING SOME PRETTY DEEP STUFF — PERSONAL DEMONS AND EXTERNAL, MONSTROUS FORCES THAT GNAW AWAY AT OUR SPIRIT. HOW DID THAT CONCEPT DEVELOP? DID SOMETHING SPARK IT? AND DID EVERYONE CONTRIBUTE TO IT?MATT KNOX It 100 percent emerged. Talking with the added guys a lot and accomplishing accounting interviews through email, I’ve accomplished that we’re all about investigating this allotment as abundant as anyone abroad is. It’s so all-consuming and astronomic that it took me a footfall aback to assay it and anticipate about it. I don’t anticipate anyone set aback with this abstraction about an all-embracing theme, and through the activity of autograph things started to appear together. I started to apprehension all these access and assorted means of feeling. It was guided by what I and we were activity in the moment. Perhaps because art can’t be afar from the adventures we’re accepting at this moment in time.
WHEN I READ THE BAND’S LITTLE MINI-ESSAY ABOUT THE ALBUM COVER AND THE LYRICAL THEMES, IT IMMEDIATELY MADE ME THINK OF HOW THE WORLD REVEALS ITSELF TO BE UGLIER AND MORE DESTRUCTIVE AS WE GET OLDER. YOU REALIZE THAT THINGS THAT ONCE SEEMED SO ORGANIZED AND WELL-MANAGED ARE ACTUALLY CHAOTIC AND EVIL. YOU ASSUME, OR AT LEAST I DID WHEN I WAS A TEENAGER, THAT POLITICIANS WERE AT LEAST MOSTLY GOOD, THAT THEY WERE TRYING TO DO WHAT’S RIGHT FOR THE PEOPLE. AND THEN YOU REALIZE MOST OF THEM ARE JUST POWER-HUNGRY AND REALLY ONLY CARE ABOUT THEMSELVES.MATT KNOX That is a lot of what it was for me — aggravating to accommodate the actuality that I capital to address lyrics that were contemporary and mattered but not aloof aing the credible of things. I capital article that akin the abyss and complication of the music. As abundant as I would adulation to be in a jailbait bandage that screams actual actually about what’s activity on, that doesn’t feel appropriate for this music. I capital to dig deeper: “What’s below the credible of these things? What’s ambuscade central of them? What gives acceleration to them? What are these abysmal affections and belief and histories?” I approved to access my lyrics from that angle.
KULICK I hadn’t accomplished it at the time, but attractive aback at the almanac from the macro to the micro, you acquire aggregate from actuality that some metal/death-metal bands would accede the best alien things for that brand — hyper-syncopated rhythms, harmonic and adapted agreeable that’s a little altered — all the way to double-bass on 2 and 4, a absolutely advancing riff, fast tempos, advancing vocals. And it was additionally like that in our lives: We stumbled aloft this affair about our centralized and alien idols and these armament amidst us and aural us.
Not all of this happened during the apperception of the record, but I consistently anticipate of them as cosmically angry in some fucked-up way: All our lives acquire gone through these adverse changes. Matt has a new job and has been challenged by himself and his environment; Damien aloof awash the abode he’s accepted aback he was a kid. Also, the bandage aloof went on this aboriginal all-embracing bout over the accomplished brace years. From the centralized to the alien — if you’re absolutely affiliated to article you’re alive on, these access become apparent, whether you apperceive it or not.
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