Interview with Bible of the Devil!

Photo by: Steve Rosenwinkel

Bible of the Devil is an interesting and brutal rock-band hailing from the US. With a large piece of originality and traditional rock influence, they’ve slowly but surely introduced their own brand of rock. Since they started out in the late 90’s they’ve managed to release five full-length albums and have played in most venues, both in the US and abroad. In May they’re releasing their sixth studio album titled For The Love Of Thugs And Fools. I got the opportunity to interview two of the guitarists of this band, Mark Hoffman (vocals, guitar) and Nathan Perry (guitar, vocals) about their influences, when they opened for Kyuss Lives!, what they like to do when they’re not playing music and much more.

Have you been playing in any other band before Bible of the Devil, and where did your career as musicians really start off?

M: – My mother taught piano lessons since I was a child, so naturally I started playing music that way.  When I decided I was too much of a tough guy for piano as a teenager, I picked up the guitar.  I played in a few bands in high school and university that never really went anywhere.  I have been in Bible of the Devil since the band’s inception in 1999.

N: – I’ve been a fan of rock music as long as I can remember in my life.  I’ve been playing guitar in rock bands since age 14 or so.  I’ve been in plenty before BotD but few of them had any lasting impact or even recorded anything. I am not a founding member of BotD but I’ve been in for about 10 years.  My other main band was winding down after nearly 7 years, and I was frustrated with that band’s lack of forward momentum. I wasn’t sure what to do next, but I was hanging out with Mark and Greg a lot and they needed some help, so it seemed like a natural fit for me to join up. Obviously it worked out, I’m still here!

What kind of bands do you enjoy listening to and what bands would you sincerely recommend to people?

N: – I finally got a decent turntable and as a result I’ve been on a record buying spree. I find I don’t purchase a whole lot of current records though. I like the sonics of the stuff they put out in the 70s and much of the 80s. As far as recommendations, pick up Reaped In Half by Boulder, Creatures of the Night from Kiss, and Supersonic Storybook from Urge Overkill. The new High Spirits record is good too. That’s where my head is lately anyway.

M: – I’m pretty stuck in the past as well, with stuff like Thin Lizzy, Roky Erickson, Judas Priest, and Rainbow always in heavy rotation. At the same time, I also dig more current bands like Slough Feg, High Spirits, Zuul, Valkyrie, Graveyard, and The Devil’s Blood with loads of soaring guitar and great vocal melodies.

You’re releasing your sixth album in May named For The Love Of Thugs And Fools, but in what way will it differ from the other albums and how do you think the band have developed since you gave out the critically acclaimed album Freedom Metal?

N: – I would say for this new record that we paid more attention to making the songs as lean as we could. The record is informed by our various heavy metal influences, but the song craft probably owes a lot more to simple, classic rock styled song structures. But we did try to do a few things out of our comfort zone, such as, dare I say, “danceable” drum beats and different feels for songs than what you’d usually expect from us. It felt like a major departure from our usual style as we were putting the record together and recording it, but now that everything is finished and mixed, it is a different animal. It clearly fits right in as a Bible record, even though we didn’t approach it as such.

M: – There is the same attention to big guitars and hooks, but I’d say the vocals were a lot more of the focus this time around.

According to your site, your new album will be much of a wrap-up of the time you’ve spent together and of what things you’ve encountered on your way. Will this be one of the last ones you release, or is it just explanatory for anyone that haven’t followed you since way back?

M: – That synopsis more means that it is a round-up of the events and characters we have encountered since the last full-length. Most of us have had some weird and traumatic shit happen in that time. I don’t think we will ever declare any release one of our last, because you never know what may happen in the future.

N: – It isn’t like we covered “My Way” or anything. The songs are a bit like little case studies of the people in our lives. But everyone has people such as these in their lives and should be able to relate to lyrics of the songs. Unless, of course, you are a total bore and spend all of your time in your room in front of a computer; in that case you probably don’t know anybody interesting. As far as future releases for the band, I see no reason why we wouldn’t have another few records in us, I personally don’t have any reason to stop writing songs with these guys.

This question could be a cliché one, but when I interviewed Mike from Slough Feg, he told me that you hadn’t gotten the recognition you deserve. How is it that you’re not more well-known considering your great musicianship?

N: – That’s very kind of Mike, whom incidentally has not gotten the recognition he and his band deserve. We have gotten a lot more recognition than a lot of bands. As far as why we are still firmly an underground band, it could be a lot of different things. Not to congratulate ourselves too much, but it is not easy to keep a band together this long. We are on the 4th record in a row with the same lineup, how many bands can say that? We have sacrificed a lot to make this work.  We have done a lot of work on our own and we’ve never really felt uncomfortable with the choices we have made and kept a pretty high level of integrity towards what we do, but this band has always been difficult to “market.” Maybe we’re too classic sounding for the punk people, and a bit too melodic for the super hardcore metal guys, and too heavy for your typical “college rock” fan? It’s too bad everyone is so segmented in what they allow themselves to listen to. It’s lame.

M: – The fan base we do have is extremely loyal and supportive, so we are grateful for that. As for recognition, well I guess our style of music is not exactly topping the charts right now, at least in the United States.

What do you guys prefer to do when you’re not playing with the band?

M: – I try to make time to see the good bands that ARE out there, watch baseball, cook, travel a little bit, get laid, and the glamorous part, work.

N: – I have another band I play in, Knife of Simpson. Other than that, I guess sleep!

If you’d get to choose, what band would you like to do a split with in the future?

M: – The Devil’s Blood. Then again, a lot of people might buy it thinking it is Black Metal and get pissed off.

N: – Kiss.

When you’ve been out playing, what would you recall to be one of the best shows you’ve ever done since you started out?

N: – I had one show on my birthday at the Empty Bottle in Chicago, opening for Dead Moon many years ago, I recall that to be one of the best. Probably for all of the wrong reasons though!

M: – We opened for Kyuss Lives! in Chicago to the biggest crowd we have ever played for recently. That was cool just in terms of the sheer number of people there. Other than that, playing with Slough Feg at Spaceland in L.A. a couple years ago was pretty epic.

At what venues will you be playing in the near future?

M: – We are about to do a big, raunchy turn around the Midwestern U.S. and down to Texas in May. There will of course be the requisite local appearances in Chicago, and then we are looking forward returning to Europe this Fall.

Do you have any last words of wisdom?

M: – Use tube amps and never, ever wear shorts on stage.

N: – When the river runs red, take the dirt road.

Here’s Bible of the Devil with their song The Turning Stone:

You can find them over here:

Homepage: www.bibleofthedevil.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/bibleofthedevil

MySpace: www.myspace.com/bibleofthedevil

Label: www.cruzdelsurmusic.com

Contact: botdmusic@gmail.com & bible_of_the_devil@yahoo.com

Interview with Mike Scalzi from Slough Feg!

With a name taken from the villain Slainé from the 2000 A.D. series, Slough Feg has been around for over twenty years. They are still going strong, releasing a live-CD named “Made In Poland“, with help from the hardcore fan Jacek Lesniewski. Before that they released their newest studio album in 2010, named “The Animal Spirits“. It’s gotten some raving reviews, but also some mediocre ones. I got the opportunity to talk to Mike Scalzi, the singer and guitarist of Slough Feg, about his scepticism of the music industry, the song Free Market Barbarian, his take on the new metal scene, what he’s got in store for the future and much more.

Hey Mike! Could you tell us what you’ve got going on right now and for the near future?
– Right now we’re writing songs for a new album. We’ve just finished negotiating a contract with Metal Blade Records, so this album, when it comes out, probably not in another year, will probably be released by Metal blade. We’re going to play on Keep it True festival in Germany in a couple months as well. Just flying over for that one show.

There’s been a lot of good reviews on your latest album “The Animal Spirits”, but have there been any bad reviews? And what do you guys think about it yourselves?
– Of course there’s been some bad ones, or at least some mediocre ones. I like the album, quite a bit actually, but it came out a bit tame, a bit controlled. I think the next one will have to be a little rougher around the edges. The better you get as a band, the more you run the risk of sounding polished and sterile. I want to avoid that.

What is your take on the music industry, after entering the 21st century? How was it back in the 80s and what do you think about it now?
– I don’t know much about it. It’s a business that has nothing to do with music. It is all advertising and it’s much more important what you represent and what you can do to help sell other than music. The more original you are the worse you will do. Period. It’s all about selling to a pre-established demographic of kids—- the so important part is to look and sound like something that already sells. In the eighties, well, I’m not really sure what the business was like back then, I was just in a band—– I was a teenager. I think once MTV came along a whole other side of the business opened up, based on looks and trends, not music.

What do you think is good about the metal-scene today, and whats really bad?
– Um… it’s pretty terrible. People listen to garbage. Literally. Most metal today literally sounds like a garbage disposal. I suppose if you like that it’s fine, but why not just turn on your appliances and save yourself the money?

Have there been any band recently that you’d really want to do a split-CD with? Or is it out of the question?
– I like Christian Mistress, and Skeletor (both from Northwest), of course our brother in arms Bible of the Devil continue to put out great stuff, despite their lack of recognition for it.

Do you believe that your band lacks any influences? If so, what musical influence would you like to incorporate in the future and what influences have you incorporated recently?
– I don’t think that at all. I think the influences should be pretty obvious. MAIDEN?! If you don’t hear that one you’re deaf. Queen, Lizzy, Sabbath, Saint Vitus… need I go on?! Lately we started to sound almost psychedelic. I’ve been listening to a lot of old underground psych. There’s some fantastic stuff.

You’ve also released the “Made in Poland” live-cd. Will you be releasing a DVD in the near future? Seems like there is a need for that from both fans and enthusiasts?
– If you want to see a DVD just turn on YouTube. I don’t plan to necessarily release one. Maybe someone else will though. Made in Poland turned out pretty good, kind of a rough night for us but I think the spirit is there.

Which new bands have you listened to recently that were just jaw-droppingly good? Or have you found any new band that gave you just that same impression?
– Like I said, I’ve been listening to old psych, like “Pretty Things”, not the greatest name, but a great band. Lots of old Yes, Kinks, stuff like that. Funny how every time I get this question I come up blank, and then later I say—-“oh I should have said that album”. Seems like these days bands are not given the money and support, meaning they really don’t have the time in the studio, or in their life in general, to make great albums. It’s a terrible shame. Good bands seem to always have two other jobs and very little money to go into a studio—–leaving no time in the studio or out to really do what it takes to make a great album.

In the old days a record company had the money to support a band, to give them time to really be artists. Now the bands that get all the money to make records make shit for some reason. I guess because the only people given the big money are making shit in the first place, and the bands wanting to do something good don’t get the big breaks. So they end up rushing a production just to get an album out, and don’t have time to relax and get creative. All of the creativity is gone from big time rock and roll——all we have left is the underground—-but like I said, there’s no time or money.

What would be your favorite destinations to travel to, if you could, right now?
– Probably either Russia or Ireland. I’ve been to Ireland and love it, I’ve never been to Russia but I am fascinated by it.

I’ve always wondered if the song “Free Market Barbarian” was meant to be ironic or if it’s a mirror of a liberal standpoint?
– Um, well… it’s supposed to be a funny title, but the song is actually about what I’ve been ranting about during this interview. If you listen to the lyrics they’re about the current state of the music business.. “all the products on the shelf, bland and sterile..” that’s exactly how I feel about modern music. Everything is a third-rate repeat of an old inspired idea. It sounded fresh in 1975, but it doesn’t anymore. People are really fooled by it too — suppose someone in marketing realizes that old Bruce Springsteen albums are really selling well again and have been re-issued multiple times —– then there’s some talentless kid from Orange County who’s brother in law just happens to own stock in Sony, gets a guitar and starts singing about the Jersey shore and belting out lyrics that would have been unoriginal in the seventies, about girls in cut-off jeans and lying on cars smoking grass, greasy haired guys and bla, bla, bla.. and the whole thing sounds about as soulful as an algebra textbook, but represents all of the cultural signifiers of mid-seventies Americana to a level of mathematical perfection for all advertising and marketing purposes, giving the listener a sterile, flavorless synopsis of the cultural icons as represented on TV, Coke commercials, etc. from that period.

So the “musician” has exactly what the business man needs: a bulleted list of selling points—– a product that points at certain pre-established, heavily tread upon ground that has a very low chance of failure, since it’s been tried and tested 1,000 times over on TV, Magazines, Movies, etc., and of course by the Boss himself who made the original back when it was fresh and inspired. So the kid gets the deal and gets and makes the record, and producers make sure it sounds as seventies east coast as possible, but just slick enough not to turn off any of the buying public, and it sells a billion copies. Maybe it’s no one’s favorite album, but people buy it and forget about it a couple of years. The kid ain’t ever gonna be a rock star, but he has a good run of it, and the business profits and goes to the next thing. I believe that’s pretty much the way it works. There isn’t a conspiracy going on, of anything, it’s the way business has always been run—– but that’s my point, it’s no longer a creative art form, it’s simply a business and nothing more. Once an art form becomes a big seller, the artistry is over. That’s true with anything.

Will Keep It True XV-festival be the first pit stop outside the US? I’m also wondering if you’ll ever be visiting the Nordic countries, like Denmark, Finland, Norway or Sweden?
– Not quite—–we’ve been to Europe seven times. Including a trip to Norway in January 2010. Hope to be back in summer this time, so we can actually see some of the country!

Keep on doing what you do, I wish you the best of luck!
– Thanks.

Here’s Slough Feg with the song “Free Market Barbarian” from the album The Animal Spirits:

You can find them in these places:

Official Webpage: http://www.sloughfeg.com/

Official Forums: http://www.borninblood.co.uk/forum/viewforum.php?f=156

MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/sloughfeg

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Slough-Feg/353494474400

Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/Slough_Feg