Friday, February 5, 2016

Band Interview: INFERNAL DAMNATION

INTERVIEW WITH OSCAR OF INFERNAL DAMNATION

What was the idea behind naming the band Infernal Damnation? Is there an intended statement about religion (or rather the misuse of religion)? Or does it just fit the band’s music?
Initially yes we wanted to name our band something that was really blunt in the sense of stating our points/views behind religion, but we also wanted to have a name that was unique and really spoke about our music, which really is what lead to the direction we have taken over the years. At the start we wanted to make evil sounding music mostly that would give you chills and an eerie sensation but after progressing I wanted the name and music to revolve around everything that we found obscure and dark that goes beyond the simple satanic perspective of ‘fuck god and fuck religion’, as much as I love writing material like that. I also like the idea of having the name resemble many different damnations and hells that we as humans can create for each other. The band started back in 2005, we had various times when we broke up and resurrected having the chance to change the name but I always held to it and never budged even when all original members had exited because I believed that my music and the name were one. The music is made to take you on a journey into a dark void or realm that you can explore as far and deep as you possibly could allowing yourself to unlock hidden beings and stories of ancient mythos. The name to me goes with the history of this band more than the music, we have had so much crap and lineup changes and just random uncontrollable bullshit that it is really a surprise why I still have kept it going as far as I have. So to me Infernal Damnation is my personal hell that I have gone thru with this band and the need to keep feeding the dark entity but also what we believe and want to spread with certain views. There are many bands that are anti religion and god so I don’t think we have the need to be part of that. I believe we could support that idea but without being so obvious about it (not that we aren’t already). Of course the influence by other bands has always been there and being a teenager listening to Death’s Scream Bloody Gore for the first time, checking out “Infernal Death” and thinking to yourself that would be the sickest fucking name ever, but then you also have to think how many others didn’t think the same so we scratched that out. But we did lean towards that at first too. So basically there is not just one meaning/ideas behind the band name but many. Infernal Damnation is the world we live in the world before and the world we have created. The music is just its soundtrack.

How does each member of the band view religion in general? These days we have radical fundamentalist Christians and radical fundamentalist Muslims preaching hatred for anyone who don’t share their beliefs.
In general we all have different views in religion really, but we all agree that religion is a complete fucking waste and the root of all insanity. There is no right or wrong way of being but just being true to one self and knowing right from wrong, that fucking simple. As far as the whole radical movement that is all it will be. A bunch of power driver assholes that want to be right and will do anything in their power to make that belief a reality. In my personal view to each their own to me it’s all about relation really, with a higher or lower power good or bad what the fuck ever. There is no need for any organized group to tell you how to live how to feel or how to be its all common sense. Religion is just a really gnarly horror novel. I’m not going to say I believe in one god all mighty and powerful but that there are entities and beings with power and knowledge beyond our grasp...yes I believe so.

Why do you think there have been so many wars over religion throughout history, in one form or another?
Perhaps it’s just really that hard to grasp a concept that there is more than one explanation for. Before organized religion came into the world we had different entities and deities for certain issues, it was a melting pot of different views and beliefs but then you start having groups seeking power and hierarchy in the world slaying everything that stands in their way. Eventually there will be a time where all these extremist fanatics finally destroy each other and our world can truly move forward.

In what ways has the band developed their lyrics beyond just saying ‘fuck god and fuck religion’? Was this a gradual progression for the band or was it more immediate?
I am a believer of Goetia and Grimoire so it was a gradual progression with time in my studies that I learned to say what I wanted to say with what I wanted to use. The songs are like tales or nightmares that I had as I was taking voyages within myself discovering certain areas that I knew existed but didn’t have the right keys to open. Like I mentioned we all have different religious views but we all believe in the downfall of an organized religion that is murdering the world with its blinding cancer.

How did you come to adapt Goetia as your belief system? How much study and research went into it?
I grew up in a loose Roman Catholic household, meaning that my parents allowed me to explore and try to find answers to my questions instead of just brushing my questions aside as teenage rebellion. Me being the curious person that I am wanting to know more about certain stories and people that my parents praised I kept finding things that made more sense to me to accept than just a plain ol' ‘god is god’ and that’s it. My studies started when I was young and first learned how to read Tarot, later my mom would become a confirmation teacher for a church so we would discuss the gospel in depth and she would try to answer my questions and instructed me to explore the word of god so I started with the book of Enoch which led me to the sixth and seventh books of Moses. I started discovering really interesting stuff which led me to books like Simon’s Necronomicon and my all-time favorite gospel in the Al Azif and grimoires in that subject with connections to Saturnian necromancy, blood ceremony and the whole Cthulhu Mythos. These all really interested me as much as the Enochian Magik system. So my studies have been all over the place both fictional and non fictional that eventually have no "proven" truth but is all based on belief. I guess it’s just really hard for me to accept that there is nothing beyond and that things are just that basic and simple.

From all your studies, what connections have you discovered between your Catholic and Occult teachings?
None and all’ the Catholic gospel is the same as any other. Once we all chose to see beyond that then we can all see the connections between all religions and the true word and history of our planet. There is no one god, there is no one right way, only two paths and we are all born integrated in the one that is rightfully ours. We just need to embrace it.

How long have you studied the different versions of eternal damnation as told by different religions? How and why do you believe that people have held on to these ideas for this long?
I would say that I have studied maturely for about two years now but previously it was just reading and looking at what I wanted only. As a child I had always been exposed to it either by stories my family members would tell us to scare us at night or strange encounters I had growing up in Mexico City. I found that most include similar deities and recently have been looking at ancient civilizations and have been trying to lean more into the whole hollowed earth/secret space war than my Goetic studies haha but I believe that with each different version of hell it’s like piecing a huge puzzle together. There are tons of scattered information that at first seems really bogus and fictional but sometimes the craziest shit can be more real than you imagine. People need to believe in something man, no one can go all their lives with not believing in anything. Even the atheist believes in an eternal damnation, not like a religious fanatic would but with a sense of not wanting to fulfill something they believe they really have to do in order to have everlasting peace whether in heaven or before they go extinct.

Have you heard the accounts of some people who claim to have seen hell and returned to tell about it? How much weight do you think these accounts carry?
It all varies really. I think once you start hearing all the blabber about God and Jesus, especially Jesus, that’s when I call bullshit. I do believe that one can accomplish a certain voyage without having to die per se haha, but with the right tools I think it’s possible. Ancient science was nothing but witchcraft and if you really want to be non skeptic about your shit think of it this way. If Tesla was able to build a machine that opens up "portals" to other "dimensions" don’t you think in a very ancient "primitive" way such thing could easily be mistaken as a "hell portal"? But then again that’s all fictional stories with no "real" valid proof. I think that if you did go to such a place, you did escape and then you completely 180 that’s fucking retarded hypocritical humanistic bullshit move on your part.

What sort of strange encounters did you have while growing up in Mexico City? Could they be describes as paranormal?
Growing up we encountered certain beings and witnessed certain incidents that I still can’t explain and still frighten me to this day. One in particular I can admit to is my fear of clowns, I witnessed this person dressed as a clown looked like a clown but his face was just not fucking the way it should be; it was blurred and fuzzed around and I felt like he knew I was looking at him. But this was from a far distance I’d say like fifteen feet from my front window. What made things more fucked is that he looked blind walking down the street but he wasn’t really walking. He was floating; he had no feet. He was just moving down slowly with a dirty sack on his back. Once I noticed he had no feet and he was flickering and buzzing slowly I knew that was not my imagination and I bailed balls. Other things would be hearing about witches flying over the hills on our way home fighting with each other and you could see the sparks in the sky, hearing a weeping woman in an abandoned river and seeing what I could simply describe as shit from scary movies. So it was as much paranormal as crypto/mystical. It gives me good stuff to write about basically.

Is there more information you can provide about the flying witches and weeping women you have seen?
Without sounding like a complete nut, no haha. We were driving on a highway like a country hillside road. It was really late; a bit over midnight. I can remember laying my head down along with the other kids in the back seat of the car then hearing fast movements like something was making a lot of wind but all in different directions. Not wind, just the noise it would make. Then I remember the grownups talking and it was not right to overhear adults talking so we all ignored it and tried to get some rest. About fifteen minutes later I remember being told to not get up to not pick my head up for anything in the world, to just stay still, so I listened and we could hear in the distance laughter and screaming with from what I could tell sparks falling like embers and just driving faster and faster. Never really talked much about it after that till years later when my mother brought it up one night. I wish I could know more but my grandmother passed last year and she would probably be the only one that could or would tell me more, so that’s that. As far as the weeping women, I encountered that one night in a town off Mexico City. The only information I could provide about these accounts would me my own and of others that have encountered these or other things. There are tons of things that hide in the shadows many things that we humans chose to ignore or just are too stupid to admit. Most of it is based on belief and others are on encounters but I know that if I had to pick I would have rather been one that believed in this crazy shit instead of thinking it was all real haha. Like I said it gives me good shit to write about.

In what ways have your paranormal/crypto-mystical experiences been inspirational to your lyric writing?
It’s been like an output really. Not everyone can and will believe in all the crypto tales and mystical stories the world has to offer. We all base everything on fact and physical evidence so putting it all into my music really helps me release it and allows me to lay it down in a platform that won’t drive me insane just yet. I like putting it in stories. Makes it less real. That is my belief of course.

Being that you first heard Death’s Scream Bloody Gore as a teenager, why has this album remained a personal favorite?
As a matter of fact it still is. It was also a gateway to other killer albums like Seven Churches, Consuming Impulse, Rides The Moonstorm and so much more that really helped mold the sound that I wanted to go for with my music.

What about the other classic albums you cited as inspirational help you develop your guitar sound? Would you say this sound is all your own as a result?
I would say it was and is very influential in the development of the sound we have now, but like I said we are trying to progress further with our songwriting. Of course we will never forget and include the basics and classic sound that makes us who we are. That Swedish death metal sound will always be a heavy influence.

How much equipment did you have to go through before settling on gear you could work with to get your sound?
I personally used anything I could get my hands on when I was writing the material. My "rig" consisted of a Line 6 Stack on the insane settings with a little bass and reverb on, but then after leaning a bit more those went away. I started out using a crate combo with the death metal DOD pedal. Haha shitty raw crunchy sound, just trying to get that Necrovation/NV2002 crunch. I wouldn’t be able to say the exact setup we use at the moment, but live we use a crate tube stack and it sounds fucking bitching. Equipment wise Infernal has always been on the low side of things so we played with what we had and used what we could.

What made you gravitate toward the albums you mentioned while commercial styles of metal were more popular?
I of course grew up listening to all the commercial crap, and at one point like any other metalhead went thru a period of "shame metal". But we all grow up and want to expand our musical horizons so that is exactly what I did. The internet helped a lot when it came to this subject, I could search a band that I liked and then there would be bands on the side that you could check out because it sounded the same or they were influenced. I started discovering really good death metal along with really shitty death metal and I grew to really like the Swedish sound of death metal, the rawness and aggression of it, but also the melody and cleanliness that you heard in the songs. For instance when I heard Dissection’s 'Retribution: Storm Of The Lights Bane' album I instantly fell in madness with it and had to try to make that sound with my music. Of course also including what local sounds I was influenced by. Another thing that was key to it was growing up in Maywood. Being a metalhead in Maywood/Bell you automatically are a Slayer fan and Show No Mercy is your bible. Members of Slayer went to Bell High School; they actually had a killer mural of Tom Araya in the lunch area. I’m not sure if it’s still up but Slayer were also a huge influence in discovering all the European death metal/black metal bands and sound. I was exposed to many musical styles actually, because I did not attend Bell High School but San Pedro High School so at one side I had all the L.A. thrash buds showing me bands like Deathrow, Nasty Savage, Massacre, Sodom, Dark Angel and so forth but then on the other side I had a really sweet taste of death metal like Decapitated, Disgorge, Impetigo, Vader, Morbosidad, Carcass and hardcore punk influence thanks to the South Bay kids from Gardena, Torrance, Carson, Hawthorne and Lomita. My high school was extremely multicultural so my musical voyages where a killer melting pot of various musical styles from all over and its subgenres.

I didn’t know there was a mural dedicated to Tom Araya at Bell High School. But I have long known he gives good interviews, breaking the stereotype that metal heads are all mindless idiots. How often have you read interviews with him?
I really like his interviews actually, especially when he makes his "Dad" voice; haha really soothing. I find it really funny how he is a religious man in a very anti-religious band, but I totally see it does not bother him and I think that’s fucking rad. Proves my point of relation over religion. I believe the last interview I heard was one where he was talking about being a dad and more of his personal life than the band. I like hearing shit like that from other musicians; it really brings them to a same plane as other bands like us to relate to them in a long run. It really gives me hope that if I love doing what I do it does not matter who or what gets in my way as long as I achieve my ultimate goal.

If you had to choose a single album as your all-time favorite, which would it be and why?
You have me by the balls on this one. It will definitely be a tie between dissections "storm of the lights bane" and benedictions "killing music" I say that because those are the two albums that I literally can blast from start to finish and not ever get bored of ever. But even so there are so many others that I feel bad not mentioning. But those two are right there at the top always.

How many changes in lineup has the band experienced since 2005? Is your current lineup more or less stable at this point?
We have had 15 drummers, 4 guitar players and 3 bass players I believe and if I forgot then I apologize. I would say so yes, even though we drive each other crazy at times it’s safe to say it’s been really stable for these four years or so.

Were any demos or rehearsal tapes released featuring former members of the band? How about full length releases?
We have previous demos and ep's we released before "Raw Rehearsal Demo" ‘07, "Cast Down Into Hell Demo" ‘09, "Invocations Of The Dead Demo" ‘09 all self-released and "Ancient Evil EP" 2010 released by TMR. We have also been featured in split tapes and little released small productions. We also released a split tape with Yaotzin called "Dawn Of A New Dark Age", a killer underground tape for any collectors released in Sweden.

How much circulation did your demos and split with Yaotzin have? Which of those received the biggest response?
The demos didn’t really do much circulation besides the backyard shows we were playing at the time and friends that we would give to. Yaotzin did a few circles in Europe in the underground scene; not much of a buzz but enough to get our name out there. I’d have to say getting some recognition from the Euro bands and some radio play in Portugal has to be the biggest response for those releases.
Were you in contact with Yaotzin before the release of your split with them? How did both bands come to be included?
I had heard of the band before so I kinda knew who they were. I heard they were looking for bands to be part of a split with them because they were splitting up and I decided to get in touch. They are a really killer black metal band everyone should check out if they haven’t.

What is the band’s present lineup, and why were there so many lineup changes before the band stabilized?
At the moment we have me on vocals, Hunter on bass, Faust on guitar and Robert of Miasmic on drums. That is the lineup we are using for playing live, but before we released our album it was me on vocals and guitar Faust on drums and Hunter on bass. There are various reasons we have had all these lineup changes and I can honestly say they all have been for personal reasons minimal to actual musicianship. I will be honest with this and say that the Los Angeles music scene is more than a scene of playing a role other than proving you can be that role. There are tons of alcohol/drug induced madness and some people are in it for the music and others for the fame. This band has never been in it for the fucking fame or to stand under a certain flag which is something Southern California is deep in check when it comes to its underground metal scene. Don’t get me wrong there is a shitload of killer bands out there. Now that we have had members in Infernal for a short or long time span, I respect them for what they do. But sorry we care more about sounding good than looking good and this is not for ALL the bands in L.A.; some, not all.

How much does a band sell themselves short by caring more about how they look than how they sound?
If you care more about how cool you look or what band shit you will wear if you are debating over leather or fucking denim. Bullet belt or gauntlets boots or tops tight or lose what the fuck ever dude you are fucked! I really suggest all the bands reading this forget all I have said as crazy and retarded as it makes me look this is the fucking money comment. PRACTICE! Practice practice practice!!!!! The player makes the instrument/band not the fucking look! Or your friends! Nor all those drunk fucks pitting nonstop for you guys either. if you could see how many bands feed off just one show with a miserable 30 people attendance all drunk in the pit for a cover song... That’s maybe pushing reality but it happens! I have seen players go from shit to gnar and others stay or get worse the huge difference was practice! Being in a band is totally not about being cool or getting fame, bitches, drugs etc. It’s about fucking doing what you love and pushing hard as balls to accomplish it. Going on tour to have your band be heard in god knows what area and hope that the next time you return there it gets better and better. To know that what you are doing. No one else would because who the fuck wants to live on a day to day basis just for mere satisfaction of knowing you are doing what makes you happy. The more you drift away from all that the more you become the problem and less of the solution.

Not many people realize that being in a band is not all fun and games; there is a lot of hard work involved. Especially if you’re playing extreme metal which people still write off as beating the shit out of your instruments and screaming into a mic.
It’s really fucking annoying, haha, in a really fun way though. I think it needs to be half of what you have altogether if you really want it. I have seen and heard of people that practice while taking a shit so I think it takes out tons of energy it’s like having a job but you don’t get paid. For me personally it is a bit tricky because since I am furthest to the rest of the members I can’t practice regularly like they do and the guys practice constantly like machines made to shred. We all try to keep as busy with practice as much as we can, we also have other projects or things that we use that help us keep lose.

Does the band do any cover songs alongside original material while performing? If so, what bands have you covered?
On the last dates we did we included a cover of Nunslaughter’s "Smell The Burning Churches" because we really fucking like Nunslaughter; they’re probably one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen. Normally we do not cover songs. We might do one during rehearsal but nothing serious like recently. We felt it was right to pay tribute to some of the coolest dudes we have met and to one of our favorite bands.

Are there other bands you would consider covering during your performances?
Between me and Faust we have discussed doing some GG Allin or possibly some Slaughter (Canada) but we are just being fans trying to hear what we love. It would be really fucking sick to do some Mercyful Fate but I can’t hit those vibratos and it’s that or nothing. Maybe we will do something in the near future.

How often does the band practice each week? How do new songs come to be written during your practices? Do you often do cover songs during your sessions?
None at all. We normally don’t practice unless we are recording or getting ready for a show. At least that’s how it is at the moment due to the distance. It doesn’t mean we are not busy and practicing individually. We all have individual projects that keep us busy and we really work well together when we get down and hammer shit so for now that’s our practice method as a band. Before we used to all be situated in Los Angeles. Faust lived with me and we practiced daily for at least two hours a day. Even with that we still had other projects with each other that we practiced and worked in/for so it was always a constant practice for one or another band. At the moment the process for new material has been me and Faust sitting individually writing down riffs and certain rough songs. It’s been a longer process but we want the next release to really fucking kill. When we jam out together we usually go over what we have and make up songs and certain parts to tracks we already have in mind. Like just farting around the snare drum. We have never really covered a song at all besides just us warming up, being silly, doing shitty versions of Enter Sandman or Judas Priest and Exodus but nothing full and serious at all. The last thing we decided to cover was for Jim Sadist and that’s it.

Indicate how long you have been writing lyrics and explain the songs you based on your paranormal experiences.
Not sure, I considered my lyrics short stories, really simple bullshit. But lately with the new material for the new release I have sat down and processed my lyrics out more in depth. Decomposed Hordes is a song based on a very personal experience that led me to challenge and question certain aspects of my belief system which ultimately fucked with my perception and drove me insane for a good while. Case 666 is based on a real story but not mine, it is a demonology/exorcism case that someone I knew was part of. The whole "Into the Crevice of Obliteration" album is a connected story with little stories inspired by a few events that I and others lived. Sabbat is a track inspired by a really haunting Halloween night when I was growing up.

Talk about the album recorded by the band’s current lineup and how much input each member had composing the songs.
The "Into the Crevice of Obliteration" album was entirely recorded by Faust, Hunter and myself. But the credit fully goes to Hunter for doing the majority of the work for this particular release. Hunter recorded all guitars and bass for this album, Faust did the drums and I did the vocals. As far as all the composing we all had a take with each track, I wrote all the material that is on the Crevice album with the help of Faust and Hunter’s input in certain parts. Faust wrote all the drum parts. The material released in the album is previous material I wrote that was never recorded the way I intended. But now with this lineup what I hear/imagine is what you guys hear/see live. With the next release Faust and myself are working on riffs for certain tracks and we already have some tracks done we are trying to just find a good time to sit and record some demo tracks. Hopefully we’ll do it this year.

Was the album recorded at a professional studio or did the band use their own recording space as many bands are doing? Which do you personally prefer and why?
The Crevice album was recorded in Ukiah Ca in a garage and vocals in a room. I have done both and personally prefer the garage recordings over a studio. It’s a bit more personal and you can take as long as you want. Makes you learn more about the process as well.

How closely do the lyrics you penned for Into The Crevice Of Obliteration represent your personal experiences? How are all the songs released on the album connected? Was it a conscious effort to merge them into a concept album?
I would say about half of the lyrics are from personal experience or personal feelings towards certain occasions in my life at that moment. The story behind the album is of the journey of a man into madness and his journey into the left hand path with necromancy. The concept was always to follow the path of necromancy in this particular release in works with Belial.

Which of the songs on your current release are closest to the band’s vision, in terms of production and song structure?
Invocations Of The Dead, Decomposed Hordes and Cast Down Into Hellfire are songs that we feel are our strongest and show just what the next release might be like. There are way more than that coming. The production is everything we wanted, we did it all ourselves; well Hunter did. I wouldn’t have gone anywhere else. We spent a good amount of time preparing this and it was a pain but the results are what we wanted. The next release will be way sick.

How much of a response has Into The Crevice Of Obliteration received from fanzines and webzines?
At the moment not much, but we are trying to change that and get packages ready to ship out for reviews by zines. Hopefully after April I can finally sit down and get that out of the way.

How many promotional packages do you plan to release in April? Is an advance download available on the internet?
Depending on how things roll hopefully we can release a good amount and place the tracks for download on our social media pages and Youtube. Now you can actually download our cover of Nunslaughter’s "Raid The Convent" on our Reverbnation (it’s free). What I normally suggest to people is downloading the album off Youtube if you know how to do that. Our focus is not to sell the music but to get it as far out as we possibly can. If you like our stuff then buy some merch, shirts or patches, we prefer that.

Can you discuss a few of the ideas you have in mind for your nest full length album? How will you go about recording it?
Obscure as fuck. We want the next album to crush the last. Me and Faust have been working on trying to give nothing but out best with the next release. There are some tracks we have that I was working on previously to the lineup we have now that I always wanted to do but never could. The material on the Crevice album was really old and as much as I love playing each track I have been waiting to push those songs aside and put newer work in. Due to the constant lineup changes it was always hard to get newer material out so now with a real lineup I could play what I really want to play and so far what we have sounds fucking killer. We do everything ourselves so the next release we are sticking with how we did the Crevice album but hopefully we do it together. Distance is a pain so gathering all of us on occasion can be a bitch.

How much traveling will all the band members have to do in order to record the new album?
I am the furthest one from them all sadly. I live in the Los Angeles area and the rest are up in the northern kvlt nation. About an hour away from each other. In total I travel about ten hours when we normally get together for anything so that is usually the huge road block but we’ve managed to make it work and it just seems to get better each time.


-Dave Wolff

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