The four hundred riffs of Bludgeon
Being in touch with Bludgeon for several years and recently having their debut album “Devoted To Lunacy” reviewed, it is time to ask Zach White some questions.
Please give us a brief introduction of yourself and your bandmates?
Hello Twan! First up I’d like to say hello to you again, it has been a long time since we spoke, I’m guessing it goes way back to the Myspace days and possibly before that even! Ok so Bludgeon is created by Tim Lee on guitars and Chris Mansfield, and Myself Zach White on vocals. The music is written by all of us, sometimes together but also separately. We all use guitar pro and send ideas back and forth before jamming them out at Chase Studios together and seeing how it sounds. Lyrics and concepts of them are pretty much exclusively written and created by me, but more of that later on.
One day you start listening metal. What was the band you got in and how did you get in touch with metal?
Me and my brother Zeth were listening to it with old friends and family before we even knew it was a genre so to speak. We just accepted it as music and I would say Iron Maiden is the band. Music to me then had no boundaries like it does today. As brothers we grew up together listening to bands like Deep Purple and Santana because our parents listened to it, so we would on a regular basis listen to stuff like Iron Maiden and Guns N Roses and it was just music to us just a natural way of life. As I entered my early teens I was already into thrash metal , bands like Slayer and Sepultura were two of my faves. I still listen to them both to this day, as does Zeth. My mum is still into music also, It’s a family trait.
But what I guess you really want to know is when I got into the same style of music that Bludgeon creates today. I can tell you for certain that it was around 1992/1993. I know that I consider it to be one of my favourite records ever and the first death metal sounds I ever heard was Deicide “Legion”. That record gives me goosebumps when it comes on. It’s the perfect record and it changed my life the day I heard it. I still own the cassette I bought it on from a local second hand record store to this day. It is a prized possession. I clicked immediately with it both musically and as an ideology.
I was at a friends house that night after buying it, I had just watched Hellraiser 3 and put Deicide into my walkman, that intro with Benton reciting and the animals crying out, I was just in awe of such blasphemy.
The band started in 1994. Long time ago and do you remember the reason and excitement to start a band? Do you also remember the dreams you had back then? Are some of them came true?
I think I met Tim around 1995, it was early in the year I remember because we met up through a mutaul friend who we was also both playing with on and off there was a few rock metal bands that were revolving doors, you know how it is! The reason for wanting to be in a band for me anyway was to be creative, I was already writing lyrics for many years before I started Bludgeon. Not all of them would have been suitable of course but that was my main reason. I have always been artistic in one way or another and my childhood was spent watching and hearing my parents play guitar and harmonica most evenings. Music is definitely in my blood.
I used to dream alot about being in a band it was something that was always on my mind, and has probably really held me back in certain aspects of life, like a career and also possibly to an extent with bening married. Music has always to me anyway been more important than those things. Dreams I would of had back then and I guess even now would be to play on a stage outside, and it was for many years to play on stage at the London Astoria, obviously that wont ever happen, but seeing great bands there like Slayer and many others was just magical and something I definitely fantasized about alot. I’d say a few dreams have come true yes, from releasing demos and our album, to also playing live with some of my favourite bands and even things many people would cosider to be nothing, like seeing people wear your bands tshirt at gigs or ask you for a picture. When people do things like that to me, like I still do to many bands it makes me happy, It’s a big compliment that people take an interest in your art.
After 2 demo’s you recorded an EP which later was re-released on a split. This marked your name in the underground scene. But what does the underground mean to you? And what makes a band or fan underground? And how do you parents look towards the underground scene? Maybe they visited a show?
The underground is like a big family! Of course I dont have rose tinted specatacles on when it comes to the scene, there are always going to be detractors or people who you don’t see eye to eye with thats just natural. But generally the bands we play and meet with alongside the promoters and everybody behind the scenes are cool people. For example Pitti Bellum from Metal Messiah radio has been playing our stuff alot! I don’t know her, a mutual friend told me to look at her setlist as she had one of our old tracks on it from the Split CD, and I was taken back that she was so into the band. I got in touch with her about sending over the new CD and she responded that she had already bought it! I was shocked in the best possible way! Thats underground and it’s dedicated too! I will always try and support people like that, it’s really cool of her. The underground to me is anything that is metal really. Lets face it aside from nu metal and trend based bands which I would like to add are not metal and I fucking despise. Most metal gets no mainstream actual radio airplay, it survives through its fanbase and thier dedication to it, this is an artform that refuses to die. Its legions are tattood, travel the world, spend vast amounts of money collecting memorablia, and pummel the shit out of each other for fun at shows, the underground is pure love and dedication brother. And yeah my parents have come too see me play any times, unfortunately my father is no longer with us but he came to watch me play numerous times, and my mother came along just recently again to a hometown show on our album launch back in November.
Played with several big names on stage over the years. Mention some names and what were memorable shows and why?
Yeah we have, some real icons of the scene. Was amazing to tour the UK with Vomit Remnants and Godless Truth, that was three shows of absolute madness. Was really cool as Keisuke and the whole band stayed with Tim Lee and got drunk for what I think was the first time for some of the members of that band. Tim yet again got to corrupt people! Hahaha Up in stoke on Trent on that tour the pit got so crazy for Vomit Remnants that people spilled out of the venue through a fire exit but just continued pitting in the street untill they could get back into the venue! Amazing to watch!
Ah man some big names and also some real genuine salt of the earth people like Spawned From Hate who we recently did a few dates with. The Spawned guys also put us up in their homes, they didn’t have to do shit like that, it’s beyond the call. We appreciate it guys!
Yeah Defeated Sanity we played with a couple of times, in our hometown and also in London. The London show stood out though, we played well, had a good stage mix that night and were all excited to see them play as we knew what they were gonna bring to the table as always, Defeated Sanity are the most crushing and talented band in Europe for me right now. Also Mortal Decay, Brutus, Despise, Viral Load, Beheaded, Goratory, Lots of very cool and brutal bands we have had the pleasure of sharing the stage with, my mind has gone blank but there is alot of killer acts.
Bludgeon consists of vocals and two guitars. Using a drumcomputer to complete, is it a bless or a sin?
Doing live shows with a computer, do you agree that it is not sounding spontaneous? I mean, you have to push start/stop every time. And how does the crowd react to this? And with several show you must have some sleazy backstage stories to share with us!
The machine we are just used to playing with, apart from the couple of times I got onstage with Vomit Remnants to do backup vocals, I have never even sung with a human drummer! It’s actually an alien concept to me! If a drummer approached us about playing for Bludgeon we would definitely consider it, but how many drummers can actually play material as fast as we have written? The chance of it happening is a dream we let die many years ago, and we we not prepared to give up ourselves or compromise our style by playing half the speed. Pushing the start button is just in our control instead of waiting for a drummer to count us in. I look over to Tim or approach him, ask him if hes ready to go, we are normally talking amoungst ourselves a bit onstage anyway. It probably sounds as alien to you as it does to us having a drummer! Haha
I think the crowds have been good to us, people generally know what they are getting when the come to a Bludgeon show, I guess the phrase ‘Our reputation preceeds us!’
As for backstage sleeze, well I guess that stuff has and does happen alot to some bands, there has been a few instances in the past with members of the band that I wont elaborate on! I can say that once when we played in Bradford before I’d even done my set and was loading in the gear and before we even played, I got approached by a woman who I had never even spoken to, who asked ‘If she could lay across the onstage drumkit so I could eat her pussy!’ There must have been something in the beer that night because I heard that people were fucking on the floor behind the bar! Bandlife eh!?! Hahaha
Twan you’re a devil fishing for this information! Haha
It took 24 years to release your debut album. Was it a pain to write the songs, line up problems or what?
Yeah agreed Twan it did take an extremely long time for us to get “Devoted To Lunacy” to a point where we were satisfied with the outcome. We had the album fully written and recorded back in around 2006 , we were using a guy from a very famous band to mix the album but as his band got bigger and bigger he lost interest and lack of time to complete the job. I did eventually get the money back from him so there was no hard feelings from that perspective, but he did waste a year of our time . In that era we also had other band members join us and leave. The average time frame for a new member has been around a year to learn the songs for a live set, so there is another couple of years lost teaching people the music. Plus guitar pro wasn’t either invented or being used by us at that point. Everything was on sheets of A4 paper and alot of it hand written also. Learning brutal death metal from pieces of paper like that is archaic and time consuming, guitar pro is a total game changer. So yeah around 2007 Chris Mansfield joined the band. I had seen him play with his old band ‘Under Bleeding Eyes’ a couple of times at local shows. I approached him and asked if he wanted to jam with us guys back in probably 2005, he actually declined the offer and I gained alot of respect for him just because of that. He showed a loyalty and integrity towards his band which is a very rare trait thesedays. So After Chris joined me and Tim Did a few shows with Chris. His first show with us was in Manchester supporting Waco Jesus and Sacrificial Slaughter, not a bad introduction into the fold! After a while and the music we had written earlier aside from just a couple of songs that we changed slightly, we basically re-wrote the whole album. Every single song aside from ‘Erogenous Catamenia, and ‘Dreaming Of The Meathooks’ is newer material. Chris had a massive influence on us as a player. Tim before Chris joined only really had the option of playing rythm stuff, and Chris is a total shredder. So it freed Tim up to also do some lead work. It coloured Bludgeon in a way that many people probably wouldn’t of seen coming from the humble beginnings of the band. The actual chemistry of the band is pretty well balanced, Tim and Chris definitely do a major percentage of the writing, I chip in a few riffs here and there and also write some of the drums and all of the lyrics.
Topics on the album like necrophilia, incest, episiotomy or taxidermy. Where in heavenly fathers name do you get those inspirations from? What is your favourite source? Is there a subject what twists your stomach into nausea?
When I was younger I spent alot of my time either in the library or at a very close friend of mines bookstore. It was completely awesome in there, he kind of feels like a father figure to me and we have a very cool relationship even to this day. So sure I was influenced by the masters of Gore and sickness Cannibal Corpse, Broken Hope, Gorgasm and Devourment, but from a very young age I would read alot of literature about serial killers and of course watch films about them. There were a few times where I even shocked myself a bit with my lyrics. One song in particular ‘Omophagic Cravings For The Pyrolosis Infested’ where I spoke about the killer returning to his victims because he wasn’t satisfied just with killing, many years after writing that song I watched this documentary on the FBI about serial killers and they said that killers often did this. I hadn’t read that before, so it was just what came from my mind when I imagined what a killer would do and wrote about it in a song. I was a bit like yeah maybe I’m a little fucked up too! Also I like my lyrics to be intricate if possible, to match the music but also to be not just ‘I wanna kill you’ Style, but to be beautifully grotesque in a way that’s a little more unnerving. I want to make people think about what’s going on in the words and music, we have painted a picture thats also audible and I love immersion and hope people who listen and read will too.
The internet has opened up a can of worms in regards to be desensitised, we’ve all seen the videos clips of people being hacked to death and murdered. It’s not even shocking anymore, so I wouldn’t say anything about what you mentioned really makes me feel sick these days.
So how was the recording going? Did you record at home or in a fancy studio supplied by Permeated? Facing problems with creating the right atmosphere?
The whole album got recorded by Tim Lee at Slaughterhouse Studios or Chase studios as the more delicate of his clients would know it. So technically it was recorded at home, but on professional equipment and using correct and modern methods. Tim has invested alot of money and time into sound engineering and his home studio, the album is testament of his abilities and what was achieved in him doing that, know he is very proud.
Everything was tracked on bass by Chris and the the majority of the guitars also, whilst Tim was doing the editing and sorting out the songs using Logic. I used a regular dynamic microphone to do the vocals, I really find condenser mics and pop shields to be very unnatural, it’s like screwing a chick with a condom on, just never feels right! Haha
The whole recording atmoshere was great, there wasn’t pressure or time restraints to get things completed, only by what we put on ourselves. It makes a big difference to how you perform to be able to do it at your own pace with members of the band, instead of using somebody who doesn’t really care much for your material and just cares about a pay check instead.
At the time of recording the album even up until it’s completion we were an unsigned band. We had spoken to a few labels including Permeated who had been interested in us for a long time.
Once we had the music layed out to what we wanted we sent it off for re-amping and mixing at Ritual Studios by the coolest of dudes Sam Turbitt. He did an incredible job and we highly recommend bands to use his services.
The album is out now for over a month and how are the reactions so far? Our review was very positive. What were your own expectations? Is it too soon to ask if you would do things differently when you would re-record “Devoted To Lunacy”?
The reactions so far have been incredible, I knew when hearing the material in the studio that we had a good record, but I am biased of course. When you hear other people say it though that’s what really matter and so far 99% of what I’m hearing is really positive and we couldn’t be more happy to finally have the record out. People like yourself and other peers when they voice their opinions on what we created in a positive light or even objectively critical make all the hard work worth it.
As for my own expectations I kind of try not to fantasize about what people might say, you don’t want to build it up too much in your mind, but it is hard when your friends come to the studio and blow you away with comparisons that are so complimentary.
As for things we may do differently, we did discuss a few of them and for the next record there are a few avenues in recording techniques that we are going to use instead, and yeah for sure there are things we would change but what artist wouldn’t, it’s natural and healthy to be critical of your own work. We wont make you wait this long again for more Bludgeon material. We have already made a few new songs towards the next release.
Beside promoting the album what are the plans for 2019? What is on you dream list? And what do you hope to achieve with the album?
I guess from here on out it’s to try and play as many shows as we can in support of the album, we all really enjoy playing it live, it is alot of fun. Dreams for me would like I said earlier to be able to play on some larger stages and festivals, not that I don’t like tiny bars and clubs, I have seen some of my best gigs in places like that. You cannot beat the feeling of being onstage though especially when the sound is good and everything is flowing as it should. On november 1st we played our first show in our hometown in five years, it was quite a small affair really but felt so good to be back up there blasting out some sick death metal.
As for things to achieve with the album, just getting it out there after all the adversity it took was more than enough, now it’s out there for people to hear it’s in their ears and out of our control finally, that was a massive weight off of our shoulders.
Next to the band you would like to have a normal life. What do you do beside the music? And what other things do you like to do in your free time?
I would say all three of us have normal lives outside of the band, the other guys both have families of their own to look after also. We all work hard with regular jobs, so in a way I guess we all play hard when it comes to music. This is our passion and our art, but also through music where we escape from everything and just get primal and brutal. It’s cool to be able to do that for me anyway when the stress of everyday life is around.
Outside of music I have normal things that most people do, like restaurants and hanging around with friends. A couple of my hobbies would reptile keeping, I have a small collection of boa constrictors that I’ve had for many years. Reptiles have always fascinated me since I was a young child, I have kept them on and off from the age of about ten. I have a pair of Indonesian Candoia Aspera boa’s, really cool little creatures that can be fiesty as hell! I have to watch them kill and eat on a regular basis, nature is brutal. Getting tattoo’d and pierced would be another, I have around forty tattoo’s and maybe ten piercings left now. A shout out to Liorcifer and big Tony Van Mierlo for some of my latest ink.
Most likely I forgot to ask an important question so do any self promotion to close this little interview. Last rites to the readers?
We would all like to thanks the fans first and most importantly would not only preordered the album but hounded us to release it! All the people who come out to shows and wear our shirts, it’s really cool of you and it is very much appreciated by the whole of the band. We put alot of work into this and hard work pays off sometimes it seems! When you have four hundred riffs on an album that takes a long time to write and people are noticing it also, some of the comments and feedback I’ve recieved has been incredible. Big thanks to Mike Majewski and konni Lurhring for both participating on the album too! Both of those gentleman absolutely crushed it as always. If you haven’t heard ‘Devoted To Lunacy’ yet, please read the review by the mighty BRUTALISM, you know these guys know their shit when it comes to music so check it out! Thank you Twan for the cool interview brother!