Incantation made decisions from the gut

Please us a short introduction of yourself?
I’m John McEntee, and I play for Incantation and Funerus. I also run Ibex Moon Records. I also like just being a metal head and supporting the underground scene. I’m married and have three Akitas. 

So finally Incantation releases their latest work through Ibex Moon Records. Is it hard for artists to start their own label? What about distribution, and tour management comparison with the other labels you where? Do you ever mix feelings with business?
Well, yes releasing your own stuff is a lot of work, especially if you really want to do a good job and have it done professionally. Most people don't realize how much work is put into this. I spend an enormous amount of time working on the label and I'm still a extremely backed up with work. I'm fortunate enough to work with a lot of really great people in the music business that have given me great opportunities. We do have really great worldwide distribution at this point. I have worked with many different labels for Incantation and have learned a lot from them, good and bad things. Of course not everything every label does I agree with. But there are also labels that have done really great things for Incantation and I have learned a lot. I think my experience as a band member and a businessman makes things a lot better for the bands on my label. I'm not a huge fan of the music business in general, but I understand how things work and try my best to help out all of bands that I work with. Yes I do mix feelings with my decisions; sometimes you have to make decisions from your gut. Then if they are good or bad you must live with them.

Are you guys taking some sort of break right now or are you working on a new album?
No, we are not working on a new Incantation, at least not for quite a while. We want to make sure once we do another album it will be because we want to, not because we feel obligated. We will be releasing some rare releases and stuff like that within the next year or so. And we are recording one new song for a horror porn movie that Kyle  is doing. We do have a short European tour coming up this month. Besides that we are just doing a few Festival dates throughout the US and Europe.

You are probably by far the death metal band with the highest number of different line -ups throughout its career. Has this influenced Incantation in any manner, positive or negative, musically or creating opportunities or obstacles in the industry for the band? And why does this happen with Incantation? 
Yes we've been through a lot of lineup changes over the years, but I think this kind of problem is inevitable. Through most of the 90s and 2000s we did a lot of recording and touring. Playing this kind of music is not always easy for everybody because there is not a lot of money to be made playing death metal. But to say there is any one reason for the line up changes would be devaluing everybody's input in the band. People are different and have different reasons for leaving the band. For me it's been a great opportunity to work with a lot of different people. And of course along the way I've learned a lot from all these experiences. If you look at the list of people we've worked with I think anyone would be honored to be in my situation so I feel very fortunate.

After all these albums and keeping it in the very same style since 2001, do you think your that your earliest works got the best of you? Do still feel like you keep on pushing the limits of extremity? What are the elements indicating that the band is not burned out musically and lyrically after "The Infernal Storm"?
I'm happy with all the material we have released, some more than others, but overall everything really means a lot to me. I feel that we have pushed the limits of death metal quite a lot over the years in one way or another. But we don't like to follow any rules. We do things the way we want to do things because at the end of the day we need to enjoy the stuff that we do. I see no reason for us to change our style at any point in our career. I think we've always done the best job we can in whatever situation we were in. And I enjoy playing songs from the early days till today. We did suffer a little bit of burnout after the release of Primordial Domination, only because we have been working so hard for so many years. We needed a break to really appreciate all the work we've done. But at the moment we are not in any rush to do anything severe with the band. When we do something next it'll be because it's the natural instinct that we feel needs to be done.

Since Black Metal, lost its monopoly and Death Metal returned over Europe's market, it seems that Incantation on the contrary with other old east coast bands didn't benefit much from this while for example Immolation, Suffocation, Cannibal Corpse seem to have increased their popularity after year 2000. If you agree with this, what would you say may be the causes?
Yeah I guess; it's hard for me to speak for other bands. I know them and I know they're all doing real well in Europe, but I really don't know how they were doing in Europe in the 90s. I know for us after the year 2000 we started to get more opportunities to do tours in Europe. But I think true death metal fans will stick with us in the good times and bad times; this is not music for the trendy.

It is said that Craig Pillard left the band initially due to musical disagreements. Was it purely a musical thing (because there isn't much difference in DOM's and Incantation's music)?
Yes there was a big musical difference I would say back around ‘94 when Craig left the band originally. And it was the right thing to do for him to leave. There is no reason for him to play in a band that he is not happy with or feel true to. It was great to work with him and we did some awesome stuff together. But in time people change, and both of us had to move on. I do think it was the right thing for everybody to do. Even though obviously it would've been nice to be able to keep things going, if things don't work they don't work. But since then we did do some live shows together with him on vocals along with some of the other members from that time. And it was a lot of fun and it's great for both of us to look back on the music that we created and to be able to enjoy performing them again. I've just seen Craig a few months ago and he is doing really well and I know he's playing with a few really killer bands at the moment. So look out for them.

All of your albums have been released on vinyl except "Mortal Throne Of Nazarene". Why is that?
I don't think that's true, I don't think Diabolical Conquest was released on vinyl, or Blasphemy. We are working on doing Blasphemy on vinyl in the next few months. As for Diabolical Conquest I really don't know why it is not released on vinyl. But I think it should be.

What about, theory and skills, is that all constraining or liberating to you?
I don't look at theory and skill as an asset or disadvantage. There are some riffs that sound better when they are more theory-based and some that don’t. Good music does not have to go by any rules. We play what we want, how we want to, and what feels right to us. It's all about the feeling of the riffs, not the notes themselves. As long as the song expresses the feeling that we are trying to make come across the song is a success.

Back in 2006 you sounded very excited about the selection of "Uprising Heresy" for a skateboard commercial soundtrack? Do you think that sort of thing was suitable for Incantation as a promotion, or flattering for the band?
I wouldn't say I was excited about the song being used for commercial. It was just something interesting to us. It’s very strange and unexpected that a band like us would be used for a commercial. It really doesn't bother me either way if our songs are used for commercial purposes because we don't write them with that intention. We just write the songs and if somebody wants to put our songs in a commercial have a ball.

Back in 9/11/2001 the great loss of human lives moved the persons in Incantation as well. Numerous bands where speaking various views. What is Incantation's impression on
a) who and why did these attacks.
While I think it's pretty obvious that Muslim religious fundamentalists attacked us on 9/11, but they have been attacking us for many years and this was just the time that they've had their greatest success. My opinion is, like all people that are religious fundamentalists, they are brainwashed by their God, and this makes them dangerous and very stupid people.

b) on the following of "Americas war against terrorism" 
Well, I don't disagree or agree necessarily with the war on terror. I do believe that there needs to be repercussions for people that commit terrorist acts. I think any country in the world needs to protect themselves in how they see fit. But I do believe if any country makes a decision to go to war it must be to win a war. And unfortunately it seems today that most people can't make up their mind if they want to fight a war or not fight a war. We need to make a decision one way or another and go with it.

c) on the past US foreign policy with the Islamic countries now under US occupation?
Honestly I really don't care about the well-being of these Muslim countries. I really don't know what the right thing to do is. I do think the world would be a better place if we didn't buy our oil from religious lunatics. When people mix religion, money, and politics things are always a mess.

In your lyrics you present views of Babylon as the "mother of abominations" and Satan as an entity who has an interest for the human kind. Why still use this in fact Christian upbringing view, where Satan is the savior of the wicked and the enemy of everything nice?
Well, I feel that a lot of the problems with religion and religion fundamentalists come from Babylon. Most religions can be traced back to Babylon in one way or another. And as we already know modern-day Babylon is still in conflict. So I think the parallels are quite interesting. And I think the false gods of the time of Babylon is still part of the cancer that is causing problems with the three main religions of the world.

Most people in the scene are irreligious but at some point they "water down" and get married in a church, baptize their kids there later on etc, "for the kids, for the bride's family" etc. How much choice does someone really have to not participate in this social "musts".
Interesting question. I don't necessarily think that if somebody participates in some sort of religious ritual or standard means that they are religious themselves. I think people know within themselves what is true and how they feel. If somebody does not believe in God or considers themselves a Satanist I don't consider them being a hypocrite for walking into a church. It might not be somebody’s favorite place to go, but as long as you believe in your heart what you believe in who cares where you're at. I do understand how the stuff can come across as being hypocritical. But for myself I don't consider people showing respect to their family and friends as being hypocritical. I do feel that things should work the other way around too, if somebody is not religious or a Satanist or something like that you're friends and family should respect you for your beliefs. My main beef with religious people is when they try to shove their religion down my throat. I feel that is offensive and condescending.

Thoughts on this so called this Neo-paganism?
I really don't care about this. Whatever people want to believe in is fine with me. I have nothing against paganism, I just don't spend my time concerned about it.

Any unspoken thoughts you want to share with the readers? Or any other topic you want to shout out or even the future plans for Incantation.
Well for incantation we are doing a European tour this month. Then we are doing a few festivals throughout the year like the Maryland Death Fest, Central Illinois Metal Fest, Obscene Extreme, Stonehenge and Kaltenbach. I am also keeping busy with my other band Funerus; we are working on our second album and we hope to have it done before the summertime.

Last rites?
Thanks everybody for the support and thanks for the interview.  Check out my label And keep real death metal alive.