the red death


THE RED DEATH is a new band from the U.S. and I´m sure that hardly anyone of you heard of them before. Because of their promising debut album "External Frames Of Reference" on Metal Blade Records I decided to do an interview with drummer Graham. I think he has to offer some pretty interesting answers, so enjoy.

Hi there! Please tell me who´s answering these questions and what is your role in THE RED DEATH? 

This is Graham and they call me the “drummer”.

I have to admit that I never heard of THE RED DEATH until I got the promo-copy of “External Frames Of Reference” which is your second album. Your debut “Aftertaste Of The Emaciated” was released last year. What happened after the release of “A. O. T. E.”? How did you get in contact with Metal Blade Records? 

Well, we put out “Aftertaste…” with Crooked Halo Records (a very small label from a neighboring town) with the intent of touring as much as possible on it and then maybe finding a mid-size label to put out a full-length for us later on down the road.  It just so happened that, during our first tour, we stayed with our friend Metal Jake Faber and he knew some of the people at Metal Blade.  He dropped a line to them and suggested we send a press kit out to them.  So we sent that bad-boy out with absolutely no expectations of hearing anything back other than maybe a “Yeah, you’re okay.  Good luck.  We don’t want anything to do with you” from Metal Blade.  Around mid-August of 2004 we were offered a contract and we all nearly pooped our pants at the realization of who was offering us what.  After about six months of contract negotiations we signed with Metal Blade and here we are…

What are the main differences between “A. O. T. E.” and “External Frames Of Reference” in your eyes?

In reality six of the ten songs on “External Frames of Reference” ARE the “Aftertaste…” EP.  What we did is write four new songs to add to the EP in order to make a full-length debut for Metal Blade.  So I guess the real question is, “How do the new songs compare to the EP?”.  We feel the new songs (“Synchronized Worlds”, “Silent Machines”, and “Frames of Reference”) are much more progressed and mature than the songs from the EP.  Both “Silent Machines” and “Frames of Reference” are more technically proficient songs with more of a straight-up death metal feel to them as well as a more pronounced Swedish thrash influence showing through on those two songs.  We feel the new songs are a good indication of where our new material will be going when we start writing for our next album this fall/winter.

How have the reactions toward the new album been so far?

So far, so good.  We haven’t heard anything negative after posting up one of the new songs online and people at shows have seemed to like the new stuff even though they’re unfamiliar with it.

I think it´s amazing how many new bands step into the light every time some musical type gets higher attention. So this time we have that “Metalcore” (I use this term just to keep it simple) phenomenon. There are a lot of “Metalcore” releases every month. As a band that fits that term in my eyes, have you seen some signs of people getting tired of “Metalcore”, yet (Be it magazines, fans…)?

People are definitely getting tired of ‘metalcore’.  I mean shit… WE are getting tired of it!  We understand that we fit the metalcore tag, but we offer other elements and influences to our music than just a speed metal riff followed by a cheesy breakdown solely to ‘get the kids moving’ and sell some merch.  Unfortunately, as with any type of ‘underground’ music that gains a bit of mainstream notoriety, you’re going to get a lot of watered down music that’s made for the sole intent of selling records and looking cool; rather than trying to push musical abilities and musical boundaries.  We hope to progress as musicians and songwriters with every album, rather than write the same album over and over again.

Is it a surprise for you that “hard” music got so big during the last years? I still remember getting shit for listening to bands like Guns n´ Roses or Maiden more than 15 years ago. But I always thought that popular bands like Papa Roach weren´t too far from that Newschool Hardcore sound of the late 90s. So I think it came as no surprise though I think it´s strange. What do you think?

When I was in high school I never got too much shit for what I listened to but people certainly saw me as the ‘weird kid’ in my class.  (I guess I got lucky!)  Basically the mainstreamed music industry is always looking for some new sound to exploit and make a bunch of money off of (see: grunge in the early 90s).  So it was only a matter of time before they decided to use metal, I suppose.  It’s kind of cool in the fact that it offers an actual possibility for a career playing metal for some lucky people, but it’s also a bit unfortunate because you tend to get a lot of copy-cat bands. 

What are your main influences? Do you have your roots in the Hardcore-scene or would you say that you´re a “true” Metal band?

My main influences are Jimi Hendrix and Van Halen.  I literally grew up on those two groups and, subsequently, their drummers are my two biggest influences.  All of us in the band have our roots in the hardcore scene but love so many other types of music and consider it all to be an influence on how we play.  So I guess to all the other ‘true’ metalheads out there we just aren’t good enough for them to like because we have hardcore records in our collections… Sorry, guys.  We are a metal/hardcore band, though.  I think it’s important to make the division between “metalcore” and “metal/hardcore”.  You can have elements of both metal and hardcore without being lumped into one specific genre, such as metalcore.

A lot of Metalcore bands with a Hardcore background like Heaven Shall Burn or Cataract support the Straight Edge Lifestyle in one way or the other. Do you think that there´s a connection between Metalcore and Straight Edge or is this whole Straight Edge thing in Metalcore overrated?

That’s a pretty interesting question I never really thought about…  I suppose you’re going to find a lot more people calling themselves straight edge that are in metalcore bands since the roots of metalcore are so closely tied to the hardcore scene.  For us, we are not a Straight Edge band.  Josh (guitar) is straight edge, and will continue to be so, but he’s not some meat-head nazi about it.  To me, straight up metal has always been about drinking beers and getting messed up and throwing the horns to your favorite record; so, for all the people who never had anything to do with hardcore at all the whole straight thing is probably a little odd to them.

This year will see a lot of reunion tours in the Metal and Hardcore scene. Accept are playing some festival shows, Bold are back together, Killing Time will play “CBGB´s” and in the summer we´ll see Insted touring Europe . What are your thoughts on (old) men getting back together for one last show/tour?

It’s crap.  Bold broke up in fucking 1989 or something.  How can they consider themselves to be anything close to relevant in today’s metal and hardcore scenes?  I find it amusing that, since metal/hardcore/heavy music/etc. are starting to gain mainstream notoriety and make a few people some money these old bands are [coincidentally?!] getting back together for a few reunion shows and tours.  Carry On, although not an ‘old’ band by any stretch of the term, are already having a hyped-up set of reunion shows that are GOING to make them a lot of money.  I mean, it’s great that those guys (like Bold, Killing Time, and Insted) are back playing music that was so influential to today’s bands, but I really question their sincerity with the reunions.  I suppose a positive way to look at it is that maybe some kids will get to see some of the music that influenced what we’re hearing today.  It’s always good to be aware of where heavy music came from and where it’s going.  So props to that, I guess…(I don't get you, now do you think reunions are cool or not cool? - Stefan)

Which band would you like to see if you had the chance to?

Oh jeez… I can’t pick one band!  There are a lot of semi-current bands that have broken up that I’d rather see instead of an older band from the ‘80s.  But I’d have to say Black Flag, Dead Kennedys (with Jello, not some imposter), MK Ultra, Disembodied, Death, Assuck, and last but certainly not fucking least – AT THE GATES, “Slaughter of the Soul”-era!

What can you tell me about your lyrics (The promo-copy doesn´t contain the lyrics so I´m curious about that)?

Paul would be best to answer that but he’s probably off eating tree bark or something… So hopefully he’ll be pleased with my answers.  I can actually talk about the lyrics to “Aftertaste of the Emaciated” (the song, not the whole EP) since I wrote them.  That song is about how the mainstream media (whether it be magazines, TV, radio, the internet, whatever…) reinforce such a hard to attain, and unhealthy, image of what beauty is, and should be.  The whole point of their standardized image of beauty is to make people feel like shit about how they look in order to buy Company A and Company B’s stupid, useless product to ‘enhance’ that person’s image and help them attain that idea of beauty that’s been instilled into us.  Sadly, because of how important a lot of people feel reaching that standard of beauty is, there are a lot of negative effects on the bodies and minds of those who try obtain that image.  Anorexia, bulimia, among numerous other afflictions, plague the public.  Everywhere we look or listen we’re told we’re too ugly, too fat, too skinny, our hair isn’t thick enough, etc. etc. So that song is about rejecting the idea that everyone has to look a certain way to be beautiful.  What ever happened to accepting people for who they are?  Not what they look like? (Good point. I was actually listening to Battery lately and their song "Why is she in pain" that deals with a similar topic - Stefan)

As for the rest of the lyrics Paul is very interested in philosophy and metaphysics and a lot of his lyrics tend to reflect his pursuit of knowledge in those fields.  The lyrics to “Twilight of the Idols” were inspired by Friedrich Nietschze and his writings.  He still hasn’t returned from whatever dark abyss he traveled to, otherwise I’d have him explain his lyrics...

Where will you be in 5 years? What are your expectations and dreams regarding the THE RED DEATH?

We plan on writing some quality records and touring our asses of over the next five years.  We have no ambitions of climbing the ladder to super-stardom and being all over TV and shit, we just want to pay the bills with music (hopefully) and write some good records that we’d want to listen to on our own time. 

Last Question and one of my favourites: Your thoughts on the following?

     - Cro-Mags – Age Of Quarrel

fucking CRUCIAL!

     - Emo

fucking DUMB!

     - Kickboxing

if you’re talking about the real sport then it’s badass. 

     - Gothenburg , Sweden

Mecca to all metalheads

     - Mascara

belongs on girls, not 17 year old boys playing shitty music

     - Fred Durst


Okay, that´s it! Thanks a lot for your time! Any last words?

Thanks for the interview and keep your eyes peeled for our new album, “External Frames of Reference” out April 19th, 2005 on Metal Blade Records!