You grew up on old school thrash, death metal and grind; early Napalm Death, Brutal Truth, Sodom, Possessed, Hirax and so on. How is it that those bands had such an impact that people still appreciate them into their thirties and forties?
I think that people just continue to listen to the things they grew up on, and the people that grew up during this type of music's early stages are just growing older. I'm not quite 40, I’m only 35 but “Dookie” Dave (drums) and Wade Vandegrift (vocals) are in their forties and definitely still listen to extreme metal. It’s not a phase you grow out of; it’s something that sticks with you.
Did you expect the bands you grew up with to last this long, have the vast impact they had on music and amass huge cult followings?
Maybe not the huge cult followings. It’s kind of cool to see that with the internet and all these bigger festivals now in the US that an obscure cult band from Finland or wherever can come over here and play to massive crowds of people. People are always going to want some kind of aggressive release, now especially.
How much did death metal and grind fill the void left when thrash bands tried to be more commercial and faded away for a while?
I think that death metal and grindcore filled a void where people wanted to hear extremely heavy, ugly music as opposed to the more commercial thrash that was going on. There are always going to be people that share an affinity for the far extremes of anything, whether that be music or film or art. Commercial music is intended for the masses, extreme music is intended for the outsiders, the people that don't want anything to do with what the masses think, say, or do. It fills a void for the people that aren't satisfied with the status quo.
How much have the death metal and grindcore genres progressed and matured since the first bands began recording?
Like anything, it evolves and progresses as time moves on. I tend to like the old school death metal and grindcore bands because that is what I originally connected with. I can appreciate bands blending new things in but the kind that I like still has that old school foundation. That being said, there are bands obviously like Gorguts and Ulcerate who have taken things to a whole new level and are speaking in a whole new language. Bands like that interest me quite a bit.
What era of death metal and grindcore does Sun Descends Black capture in their songwriting?
I would say the late 80s, early to mid-90s-era death metal and grindcore bands are the ones we all share a predilection for as a band. Albums like the first Brutal Truth album, "Slumber of Sullen Eyes" by Demigod, the first few Napalm Death albums, "World Downfall" by Terrorizer, "None So Vile" by Cryptopsy, etc., etc.
What is the local scene in Little Rock, Arkansas like and how much contact exists with scenes across the US and the world?
The Death Metal scene here is very small; next to non-existent. There are a couple of new bands that have cropped up here lately along with us, so we'll see where that goes. The metal scene here has historically leaned more towards the sludge side of things, with bands like Rwake and Deadbird being from the area. The sludge/doom scene has always been alive, but some of the other styles of metal come and go. There are stalwart Death Metal veterans Vore in Fayetteville (Northwestern Arkansas) that have been playing extreme metal since I was a kid first going to these shows. Part of the reason for starting this band was to build up some kind of death metal scene here, since not many others are currently doing it.
Are the other Little Rock death metal bands interested in building more of a scene? If Vore is well known across the US, would they work with you toward that goal?
Yeah, we know the guys in Vore. We are in the early stages of these bands coming back around here. We will be playing an all local death metal show next month with newer local bands Pantheon and The Weeping Gate. There is an audience here that is hungry for this type of music, so I think it will continue to grow. Sometimes it takes a few people to take that first step and a chain reaction starts. We'll see what happens; it’s a small town but I've seen some magic happen here.
Has doom and sludge been active in Little Rock as long as death metal? Are there black or goth metal bands circulating there?
Doom and Sludge has been one of the few vibrant metal scenes here. There has really only been a very small death metal scene here since the beginning and often times, none at all. It is a small town, so the genres are more mixed usually at shows. Ash of Cedars and Nightspake are a couple of black metal bands from here, but there are not really any active bands doing that style.
Is Little Rock home to indie labels or zines that help promote underground music, or do bands have to look elsewhere for exposure? How do local clubs and music papers regard the bands?
It’s a small town so the local clubs and music papers are generally friendly to the metal scene. It hasn't always been this way, but now more than ever we have support. The venues and music scenes are mostly run by people that all know each other, so there is a collective support for heavy music in general for sure. There are no labels or zines here at the moment, but maybe someone will pick up that torch if the scene can grow. Show attendance has its peaks and valleys like anywhere, but right now it’s mostly good.
Does Sun Descends Black get to do interviews with zines outside Arkansas? Name some of the zines that featured the band recently.
So far the only interview we've done has been for Decibel's website.
Tell the readers some more about this local death metal show next month, and where on the internet they can look it up?
It’s happening at Vino's Brew Pub in Little Rock Saturday November 9th. It will be The Weeping Gate, Pantheon, and Sun Descends Black. All newer death metal bands from the area. Pantheon has only played one show so far as have we. See www.vinosbrewpub.com or search Facebook events for details. We have known some of the members of The Weeping Gate and Pantheon for years, I'm sure we will play many shows together in the future.
Your debut EP released last July has some dark elements, even atmosphere similar to Norwegian and Swedish black metal. Was this intended when you entered the studio?
The black metal elements I think just seeped their way in naturally. I also play in Ash of Cedars and Nightspake, which could've on some level influenced the darker, more black metal elements of the songwriting. I think the darker toned elements just come more naturally to me when writing. Ash of Cedars has an EP available from a while back, but the band is not very active. Nightspake is releasing a new album soon.
Where can people listen to the EP Ash of Cedars released some time ago? How many releases will Nightspake have out with the new album and will it be available on streaming sites?
How much distribution is your debut EP getting since its release? Do you distribute it independently or through distros?
So far it has been locally distributed, we self-released a small run of tapes and have only a handful left for upcoming live shows. Guttural Topics (a record label/zine based out of Florida) will be releasing the EP on a cassette re-release as well as a Digipack CD early next year. The label got in touch with Dave and it went from there. We can only hope for the best in any case.
Discuss the songs on the EP and who penned the lyrics. Where does the inspiration to write come from? As far as you know, do your listeners relate to your songs?
The lyrics were written by Wade our vocalist. He's a big horror movie buff and Dave is into war and apocalyptic themed stuff; that is what Wade draws from.
List the songs and explain what each of them are about? What horror movies did Wade base his lyrics on?
The songs are “Prelude to Extinction/Apocalyptic Design,” “Desolate Earth,” “Turning Point,” “Beginning of the End,” “Sculptures of Death,” “Wither” and “Graveworm.” I can't speak for Wade on the lyrics for each song, but they all involve themes of nuclear destruction and societal downfall. End of world scenarios and such. Some others are more horror based, exactly what movies I'm not sure.
Who will be doing the artwork for the re-release and digipak editions of your EP? Is the packaging going to be the same as the first release or different in any way?
Christophe Szpajdel did the logo artwork for us. We will likely use the same layout. Dave has known Christophe since the 90's death metal tape trading scene days, so he got in touch with Christophe and got the logo done. We have additional art that will be used in the future for a long sleeve shirt design that Christophe created. We will likely work with him again in the future, but may also try a different artist for the next release to keep things fresh.
Where outside Little Rock do you plan to play shows? Are there new projects you want your listeners to know about?
Our drummer Dave isn't in a position to tour so we are a bit limited on what we can do live. Mostly local and regional, but we are definitely open to one-off shows outside of the state. As far as projects, Dave's Death Metal band from the 90s, Shredded Corpse, will be having some of their music re-released early next year on Guttural Topics in the Digipack CD format. We will have these available at Sun Descends Black shows as well as our Bandcamp merch store when they are available. I also have a progressive sludge metal band here called Sumokem that I play bass and synth in. We will be releasing our new full length early next year as well. You can hear Sumokem at this Bandcamp link.