Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Interview with Vokill of Burn Victim and Hades Mining Co. by Dave Wolff

Interview with Vokill of Burn Victim and Hades Mining Co.

In 2018 your vomitcore/grind band Burn Victim released a live album to commemorate their twenty years as a band. This album was independently released and recorded at the Quail Lounge in Phoenix, Arizona on November 16, 2018. Describe this show from your point of view and explain why the band chose to release this show on a full length?
I got the call earlier in the year from the guys letting me know the twenty year anniversary show was in the works. They wanted to make sure I was going to make it out for it. I’m currently living in New York and the band is in Arizona. I was super excited and got a plane ticket and made plans to fly out about a week before the show so we could jam on the set a few times. 
The show itself was fantastic. It had been a long time since I was last in Arizona so it was great getting to see the guys and a bunch of friends I hadn’t seen in a while. The place was packed and we had a blast ripping through the set. 
We decided to release it on our Bandcamp because it had been since 2005 when the last release came out which was the “Baptized in Gasoline” album on Redrum Records. The set contained two previously unreleased tracks “Doom Radio” and “Count The Skulls” so it was great to finally get those out.

We did an interview in 2016 and we talked about you moving from New York to Arizona? How long were you there and why did you relocate back to New York? Is Burn Victim still active?
Aside from 2018 for the anniversary show, the last time I was in Arizona working with the band full time was 2002. I had to move back to New York for personal reasons. The band is still active and always looking ahead. Obviously living across the country from each other has its challenges but we do what we can as opportunities present themselves.

How does living in New York compare to Arizona at present?
I was born and raised in New York so it’s my home but I also loved living in Arizona. It’s an amazing and unique place. I made some great friends there and got the opportunity to play in some amazing bands. I’ve thought about going back to Arizona but nothing set in stone. I’m currently playing in New York’s Hades Mining Co.

Were there music stores and independent record outlets you frequented while living in Arizona? How much rare material did the record outlets have?
There were some cool record stores I used to go to. Eastside Records being the main one. They had tons of hard to find vinyl and always had new releases by many of the small indie labels that were around at the time. There was also Tracks In Wax that was pretty cool for finding used records. There were more but those two were my favorites.

Why was there such a long gap between your releasing “Baptized In Gasoline” and your releasing your live album?
Will Rahmer of Mortician released “Baptized” on his label and that was a really awesome thing to have happen for the band. We rode that wave for a long time, haha. Releasing the live album was a no brainer because it had been such a long time since we put out any material. Living across the country from each other makes traditional writing and recording methods difficult so when the time came for the anniversary show we just took advantage of the situation.

How long has the band been in contact with Will Rahmer? What about “Baptized” convinced him to release it through Redrum Records? Has the label given Burn Victim a decent amount of exposure in the extreme metal industry?
Aaron (guitar/vocals) had contact with Will. In 2004 Burn Victim opened up for Mortician at a show in Phoenix. I had already moved back to New York so I wasn’t active in the band at that point in time. Burn Victim had returned to being a two piece after I moved. Burn Victim was originally a two piece when they formed in 1997. I joined in May of 2001. Will was impressed with how ultra-brutal the band was for a two piece that he offered to sign the band on the spot at that show. Being on Will’s label definitely gave the band exposure that it wouldn’t have gotten without that support.

Was that Burn Victim’s only time performing with Mortician, or were there other dates you shared with them? Who else did the band perform with while you were a member?
We played with Mortician on a couple of different occasions. We performed with tons of other bands on some metal fests in Phoenix. Couldn’t even begin to name them all. Some of the bigger bands we played with were Anal Cunt, Six Feet Under, EyeHateGod, and Dying Fetus.

At which festivals in Phoenix did you appear most often? Are they still active today, and did you establish any long term friendships with other bands when performing there?
There were many shows and a few metal fests put on by Metal Devastation Records, a music store in Phoenix. We played a bunch of those. Unfortunately I don’t believe they are actively promoting shows anymore. We made good friendships with a lot of people and bands along the way. Most of the bands from back then are not together now.

Was the exposure the band received through Redrum mostly with fans of extreme music, or labels and distros besides?
With Redrum we were able to get our music into other labels and distros, which helped get the band get recognition we would not have gotten otherwise. I believe Redrum sold out of “Baptized” and our 7" EPs are also both sold out.

Is Burn Victim the only band signed to Will’s label or have other bands done likewise? How would you describe the amount of support that exists between bands and labels at present?
Some of the bands I personally dig on Redrum are Fecal Corpse, Psychotic Homicidal Dismemberment, Carnivorous Vagina, Chainsaw Surgery and Bestial Devastation to name a few. As a fan of extreme metal I think Will has done a great job releasing some of the underground’s best, most brutal bands out there. The label has been pretty consistent in offering up the most crushing death and grind on the planet.

What led to you joining Burn Victim as a third member, what were the original members aiming to do by finding musicians to work with, and how well did you fit with them?
My joining Burn Victim was unexpected when it happened. In the mid-90s Aaron and I were in another band (Tomsk-7) together before Burn Victim. Near the end of that Aaron and Trent had formed Burn Victim. After T7 broke up those guys continued on with Burn Victim and I joined another grind band called Mouthbreather. We played a lot of shows together at the time. On this one occasion we were both playing a show and Aaron and I had planned on riding together. I showed up at his place and we were hanging out and loading up the gear and he gets this idea to have me sit in on the last song of the Burn Victim set that night. I was into it and Aaron says let me call Trent to make sure he is cool with it. He runs the idea past him and Trent agrees BUT with one condition. That was I agree to join full time. I agreed on the spot and that’s how I ended up playing bass in Burn Victim. 
Shortly after that Lord Balsac moved to Phoenix from Cali and also joined on additional vocals. It was a fucking powerful line up and we all fit in well together. Everything just fell into place and yielded the tracks for the split with Filth. We also played some killer shows as a four piece. Unfortunately that was short lived as Balsac ended up moving back to Cali. At that point we just carried on as a trio.

How many releases did Tomsk-7 and Mouthbreather come out with? Are any of them still available for curious parties to check out?
Tomsk-7 had a few split 7" records out and a bunch of tracks on various comps. Bovine Records, Slap A Ham and Satan’s Pimp Records were some of the more notable labels we worked with. Mouthbreather never really released much other than a demo. Everything sold out but I’m sure you can find copies on the net for sale.

How much material has Burn Victim released altogether, and how much of an impact has the band made on zine editors in the States and other countries in the world?
The first Burn Victim 7" EP “Vomitcore” was released on Alien Autopsy Records in 1999. It was followed up with a split 7” with Filth from Australia in 2002 on Continuum Records. This record had the expanded line up with me on bass and Lord Balsac (Agents of Satan) on extra vocals. After that was “Baptized in Gasoline” in 2005. Most recently a couple of Bandcamp/online only releases (“Peel the Flesh Back” and “LIVE!!!!!! METALHEADS MC”) in 2018. I’m not sure how much of an impact Burn Victim has made on zine editors. We are known worldwide and have a cult following so that’s cool. We appreciate everyone that has ever supported us along this journey.

Who in Burn Victim penned most of the lyrics and what were they usually written about?
Aaron writes all the lyrics for the band. Subject matter varies but it’s mostly gore, death, perversion, stuff like that. One look at the song titles will tell you all you need to know.

Being that Burn Victim has been active since the late nineties, how much growth have you seen in the grindcore genre for all this time? Today many subgenres of grindcore have appeared including goregrind, pornogrind, deathgrind and cybergrind.
The grind scene has exploded worldwide since the 90s. At this point in my life I don’t keep up with all the new stuff out there. There are so many bands and subgenres. To me that’s a great thing and if you are into grind you definitely have a wide variety of bands to keep you interested and to check out.

What genres have you been listening to lately? Do you think social media and streaming outlets have led to an overflow of bands, making it harder to tell good bands from not so good bands?
Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of 80s/90s thrash and early death metal. Laaz Rockit, Cannibal Corpse, Autopsy. All that stuff never gets old to me. I don’t know that there’s an overflow of bands. I think it’s more a case of bands becoming more easily accessible due to the internet. As far as what’s good and not, I can only speak for my personal taste. A band one person hates will be a band another person loves. It’s all in the ear of the beholder.

What do you consider the other pros and cons of social media and streaming?
Social media is like anything. It’s as good as you want it to be or as shitty as you want it to be based on how you use it and what kind of experience you want from it. Bands having the ability to reach people is always a good thing as far as I’m concerned.

What has Hades Mining Co. been up to since your last interview?
The band was pretty active from when you interviewed us through 2017 then we had our drummer quit. It was the better part of a year before we found a replacement. We played a few shows in 2019. We have been on hiatus since then due to Covid that has pretty much fucked everything up for bands.

Who is the drummer you found as a replacement for your former drummer, and how has he worked into the band so far?
We knew a guy from some mutual friends/bands. He started filling in for our former drummer in 2018. At that point the current drummer was taking some time off for family issues. After a while it became apparent that he wasn’t coming back and we offered Boz the drum chair and he agreed to join. He is a great drummer and has a unique style that blends free jazz with heavy rock. Things have worked out well and he’s always excited to play and do shit.

How much of an impact has the pandemic had on underground music when it comes to performing and releasing new material? Going back to social media, are more bands streaming live performances since Covid hit? How is this helping matters?
I can only speak on my personal experience with Covid and its impact on my bands. It’s definitely taken its toll. I am in the same situation as pretty much everyone else and having shit shut down really sucks but it’s out of my control so I’m just riding it out like everyone else trying to stay safe as possible. I’m sure there are bands streaming live performances but I haven’t personally watched very much. Again I think it’s great and anything that can help keep bands alive and moving forward is a good thing. Who knows when society will be able to return to normal? Maybe this is the new normal.

How has social media been working for Hades Mining Co. since I interviewed you last, especially in the midst of the pandemic? Has the band officially released anything since the 2016 interview? If so, how much have you been able to promote it?
We have had a bunch of limited run releases come out since 2016. Some split tapes, comp tracks, cd eps. We most recently put out a full length CD titled “Neutered Masses” on The Child With No Name Records. All of our releases are available on our Bandcamp. The labels have all done a great job of promoting the releases and supporting us. 

Has Hades Mining Co. considered arranging performance streams since the beginning of the year? Where did you perform when doing shows in 2019 and how would streaming be an improvement as far as remaining active?
We have not streamed any live shows and don’t have any plans to do so anytime soon. In 2019 we played some local (Rochester, New York) shows as well as a few Buffalo shows and a Toronto show. You can find video of our live set from Buffalo on 4.26.2019 on Youtube. It was in support of Waves Crashing Piano Chords last ever show and it was insane. It’s worth checking out for sure. 
One of the coolest shows we played in 2019 was with the Murder Junkies. It would have been better if GG Allin was still around but it was still really cool meeting those guys.

Was 2019 Hades Mining Co.’s first time playing with Murder Junkies? At what club did you and they perform and how did the audience respond? Who else has the band recently played with?
That was the only time we played with the Murder Junkies. It was at a place called Photo City Improv in Rochester, New York. We opened and there wasn’t a ton of people there at that point but it got more packed as it got closer to the Murder Junkies’ set. Aside from that we just played some shows with local bands.

How do you think the pandemic will affect the industry of underground music toward the end of 2020 and into next year?
It’s so hard to predict how the pandemic will affect the scene. I wouldn’t be surprised if 2021 was pretty much like 2020. All I can say is this shit sucks and it has taken its toll. However I am hopeful when things do return there will be a renaissance of sorts.

In our last interview you mentioned label distribution in France, Poland and Brazil. Has the band expanded distribution to other countries in the last three or four years?
Our reach has expanded thanks to the labels from other countries and our country that released our music: Rotova Porojnina Records (Ukraine), The Child With No Name and Noise Carnage Records (Poland), Scaglie di Rumore (Italy), Craniophagus Parasiticus Records and Morbidly Hip (Canada), AxRxLx (Germany), The Scalding House Records, Serious Business, Trashfuck Records, Syrup Head and Bullshit Noise Prods (USA). Thanks to all of them for the support.

Is the search for new labels to distribute your releases still ongoing? Which countries do you want to expand into next?
I don’t actively search out labels. I used to years ago when I was trying to get the band on the map but not anymore. If anyone is interested in working with us, they contact us. Honestly I’m not sure where we would expand to next. We are easy to find online for anyone in the world. Maybe if Elon Musk and SpaceX gets to Mars we can tag along for the ride.

Is there any new material coming out from Hades Mining Co. this year or next? Or any releases of old Burn Victim material?
When I can get back out to Arizona, Burn Victim will be recording some material but no specific release plans at this time. Hades Mining Co. has recorded some crap recently and some of it is going to a dude in the Philippines for a comp titled 'Noise Is For Fuckers?'. No plans after that but if anyone is interested in working with either band, please contact us.

-Dave Wolff

No comments:

Post a Comment