Paul Campbell of the legendary 'AAAARGGHH!!!! Magazine' recently told me that in the late 80s, when the first Death Metal demos were starting to come through "I heard Exmortis after Death, Morbid Angel and Autopsy - Exmortis was the 4th (in that order)". Sadly, although totally deserved (Check out some of their tunes below and on youtube), misfortune meant that Exmortis never caught that wave. The band has however released a strong new mini album. Read more about Exmortis in the in depth interview below with Brian Werking.
|Exmortis current line up|
BW) Well, it’s pretty much a piece of work as a tease to what’s to come this year with a full length release probably in August/September… What can be expected is True American Death Metal the way it was done back in the late 80’s to early 90’s. I’ve always written all the music for the band and will never stop doing so. It’s simply Exmortis. That’s all I can really say about it. It sounds like its own style and not like 95% of these bands coming out these days getting their influences from the generations before them. Exmortis was on a wave of Death Metal that soared across the planet with the biggest band being Death. At the time bands such as Autopsy, Immolation, Revenant, Goreaphobia, Suffocation, Nihilist, and countless other were just getting started. At its recording, I was the only member of the band so I’m the sole person playing all instruments. I’ve always played guitar and bass and also have always done vocals for the band with the exception of the “Descent into Chaos” demo. It’s funny because I learned how to play drums on my own with about a year’s practice it wasn’t hard to put together some music. Most of what you hear is me playing but for some of the most complicated stuff, I had to program. You see, I used a Roland TD-5 drum set for triggering analog drum samples. Now don’t get on me for doing this because most bands that you don’t even think use triggering use it. I can attest to that. Everything was recorded here in at my house in my home studio and sent off to be mixed and mastered by Javier Fernandez Milla at Room 101 Studios in Spain.
You can obtain a copy of this CD by going to either of these websites: http://www.exmortis.us/merchandise.htm
You can listen to a sample of an entire song from this CD here:
2 - From the research I’ve done, in the mid/late 80s Exmorits were one of the key underground bands in the embryonic demo tape trading days of early Death Metal. Many of your peers from that era have gone on to become what are now (or were) the big names that genre. Also from said research it would seem that due to bad luck and missed opportunities Exmortis missed catching the wave those bands did. Looking back, do you regret those missed opportunities? Where do you think Exmortis might have been now if you your fortunes had been better? Alternatively, what positive things have happened for you over the years that might not have If Exmortis had taken off back then?
BW) There are no regrets as far as what happened. It was unfortunate that it happened the way it did but you really have to chalk that up to bad luck. We were just getting into the prime of our time when we broke up but shit happens and that’s the way we ended up. Well, if Exmortis would have stayed around then I could see us being at the top of the heap of bands like Cannibal Corpse and Morbid Angel. There is no doubt in my mind what so ever. Positive this that happened throughout the years were going back to school for a degree, getting a really good paying job, getting married and having a child. None of this stuff would have happened if Exmortis would have made it to the top. With the way these bands at the top need to make money, I’d hardly ever be at home to enjoy my family. That’s mainly why I want Exmortis to be underground forever. However fortunate or unfortunate the name becomes, I’ll always be doing what I love to do and without sacrificing my home life that I’ve built throughout the years.
|Promo photo of the original Exmortis|
3 - For a time in the early 90s there was another Exmortis formed by ex-member Chris Wiser. That version of the band released a demo called “Butchers of the Urban Frontier”. What is your opinion on this version of Exmortis? “Butchers...” was supposed to be re-released on the “Darkened Path Revealed” CD but then wasn’t. What happened there? How is the relationship between you and Chris Wiser now?
BW) This is something that I’ll probably be asked time and time again but that version of Exmortis was just another version. It carried the Exmortis name because Chris bought the trademark for it. At the time I really didn’t give it any thought. Even now I don’t think it as being a true Exmortis representation but it is part of the history of the band so it cannot be dismissed. I liked the music but I really wasn’t into it that much. I at the time and now do not think it sounds like Exmortis. Chris told me that he didn’t want it to sound like Exmortis so there you go. It’s an Exmortis demo that didn’t get published on the discography “Darkened Path Revealed” because Chris didn’t want to have anything to do with it after he heard the production Juan “Punchy” Gonzalez did for it. I think he did a great job for what he had to work with. But, I do think the original productions sound more brutal and not as clear. So, after creating a master CD and adding it to the layout and insert we had to remove it which slowed production a bit. That’s okay because I still think it sounds good even without that demo. There really is no relationship between Chris and I anymore. Everything was cool up until he heard the production for the CD. He wanted to have it re-mastered by someone else and I flat out told him not a chance. After all I’d already paid to have it re-mastered. Anyway, that’s enough with that. We don’t talk anymore.
4 - Continuing on with the "Darkened Path Revealed" demo collection CD. Could you tell us exactly what this is made up of, how it came about and why people must obtain it? Also the merchandise page on your website features a CD called "Unhallowed Grave" what is this exactly?
BW) The Darkened Path Revealed CD is a re-master of all the original demos, an EP and some compilation songs. I added some intermissions between the releases just to separate them a bit and clear your mind before going into then next. An outro to the CD was produced as well. I can’t really tell people they must buy it because that would be like shoving it down their throat. But I can say that it’s a great piece of the history of Death Metal that cannot be heard anywhere else. Hahahaha… The Unhallowed Grave CD was produced because people wanted to hear something new from Exmortis so I asked everyone I knew to pick a favorite song from each of the releases and send them to me. After I tallied them all up the final picks for the CD were made. So the premise of the CD is a fan favorite compilation. I also added a few other Exmortis songs into the mix to make it interesting. At the end of the CD is a sample of what was to some in the future by the newly rejuvenated Exmortis.
5 - The Exmortis band history talks about two unreleased demos,
“Collapsed Soul” and an untitled 3rd 1990 demo that only had drumsand guitar tracks recorded. Has or will anything ever become of these? What music/songs did they contain?
BW) The Collapsed Soul demo was some songs that myself and the late Giles Weiss recorded at my apartment in Pittsburgh. They were never professionally recorded but we were thinking about doing so. In any case Giles went on to perform vocals for Chris’ version of Exmortis. The 3rd 1990 demo is one that was never completed because we opted to record in a more expensive studio and we could only complete little at a time. Unfortunately time ran out for us and we broke up so it never got released. These were mainly new songs that we played live. Well, the next release on Xtreem Music will contain all of those songs plus a lot more new material. Basically music that only a select few that saw us live heard.
6 - I recently discovered a band from the late 80s/early 90s called “Derketa”, who were the first ever all women Death Metal act. Not long after that discovery I also learned that Sharon Bascovsky of Derketa was once your wife. Without going into the the personal side of that part of your life, What do you have to say about the Derketa of the past and the recent reformation of that band and the new album they are currently working on?
BW) We actually met when Exmortis played a show in Pittsburgh and started dating. After the band broke up I decided to move for a fresh start. About a year went by and we got married. That didn’t last too very long though… Anyways, we had our good and bad times. Derketa’s old material was great in my mind. Without going into detail, it made me think about metal in a whole new way. It was a surprise but who’d have thought metal would be this brutally heavy coming from a couple girls rehearsing in a basement cellar. Anyway, I still play some of the stuff from time to time and I still like it. Old School like no other… To be honest with you, I haven’t heard anything they are working on currently but it’s bound to be brutal. Their resurgence into the scene proves to you that metal will never die.
7 - You also have/have had another project called “Shockwerks”. Could you please describe “Shockwerks”, why you started it and what it’s current status is? Where can we hear this or get hold of any releases?
BW) Shockwerks was at one time very serious and comprised of music which style sounded as droned classical/soundtrack like. Kind of like the band Zombie but quite different in many other ways. It’s hard for me to explain what it used to be because as far as I know there was nobody out there doing this style at the time. There were quite a few demos released throughout the years but nothing that anyone would publish besides the couple of songs used for the compilation CD titled History of Things to Come by Growing Deaf Entertainment out of Holland. There were a couple of companies interested in it sound for one movie and one creepy television show but neither of the projects actually happened. That’s when I decided to go back to school and my focus was on that for the next couple of years graduating with a 3.8 GPA I must say… Anyway, Shockwerks is still serious to me. As serious that I’ve been planning on writing new music for another upcoming release that was supposed to happen in 2011 but has now been pushed back to 2012 at the earliest. This time the style will change a bit to make it more commercially acceptable but I’m not planning on doing anything with it other than releasing it. I also plan to continue my drone/soundtrack sounding music but this time under my own name and start marketing it towards indie film companies. I think it has a shot at getting in a couple of films at least.
8 - Watch this youtube video from start to finish: http://youtu.be/iEeMJgV75nQ Then give a detailed description of what you most enjoyed about it?
BW) Man, I’ve seen shit like this before on YouTube. It’s probably some of the sickest shit I’ve ever seen. At this time I’m heating up some food to eat and thinking about how it must smell in that room. I saw one video that someone poked a small whole into what I could only say was a giant zit and the white nasty pustule infection was hanging from his neck like it was a 24 inch piece of spaghetti then it start hammering out like it tore the whole open. This guy needed to have stitches afterwards I’m sure. Go to YouTube and do a search.
9 - Please tell us about the tracks you did for the Dwell Records
tribute albums in the late 90s. What songs did you record? How didthey come out? Is there anywhere we can hear them?
BW) Well, I recorded a total of six songs for six different CD’s. Not all of the music was Death Metal though. Unser the Exmortis name I did 3 songs “Death – Baptized in Blood”, “Morbid Angel – God of Emptiness” and “Ministry – Breathe”. Under my other project band name Shockwerks I did 3 more songs “Kraftwerk – Man Machine”, “Marilyn Manson – Man That You Fear” and “White Zombie – More Human Than Human”. They were all fun projects although I think I spent just about all my spare time recording them. I spent probably about a month on each song. If I could go back and fix a few thing I would though. You can hear the songs at the following link
At the moment I have only 5 of the 6 out there but will upload the other probably before you read this.
10 - Also at the time of writing the 10th anniversary of the passing
Chuck Schuldiner has just occurred. Could you please say a few wordsabout him from your perspective and what he means to the existence of Exmortis?
BW) It’s funny you should bring this up because I did an interview a short time ago that was released by Metal-Rules.com. If you’d like to read the entire interview about many musicians’ views (Chris Reifert, Terry Butler, Jeff Becerra, Danny Lilker, Mike Browning and countless others) about Chuck go to this link and you can read the entire thing.
It was released on the anniversary date of his death and here’s exactly what I had to say:
01. When was the first time you heard Death (or Mantas, pre-Death), and do you remember what song it was? What initial impact did it make on you?
BW) The first time I heard Death was when I was in high school. It was 1986 when I finally heard the Infernal Death demo (Which was released in 1985 I think) and wow, it blew me away. Even though it was a rehearsal demo it was the song "Infernal Death" that I heard first. In 1986 I had only heard bands like Slayer and Possessed. From then I heard nothing more from Death until the Scream Bloody Gore Album was released.
02. Did you ever meet Chuck in real life? If so, what was he like? If you never got an opportunity to meet him in person, what would you have said to him?
BW) Man, this is a hard one because I wanted so much to sit down and talk with him on a one on one basis but it never happened. About as close as we ever got together was walking through a crowd of people and shaking hands while on the move going other directions. I was surprised that he even knew who I was. I could only think it was because of the band Exmortis and the photos in the fanzines from that time. At that point in time I had still not realized the impact Exmortis had on the general crowd. I was a kid that only knew Chuck as the kind of person I wanted to be. An idol of sorts you might say. He was a man that believed in what he was doing in life and had a mission to fulfill it.
03. What is your personal favorite single Death album / song, and why?
BW) My favorite Death Album of all time has got to be Scream Bloody Gore. No other compares to the shear Death Metal it represents. In my opinion, it's one of the greatest accomplished Death Metal albums in history. It's funny but my favorite Death song changes from time to time because I like them all... Right now I've been listening to Suicide Machine a lot. That song just hit's home with me. It's technical guitar riffs and the Lead is just classic Chuck... He always had his own style and while the average person can't hear the difference in song writing from year to year I can surely do so. As far as I'm concerned, when they went more technical, the Death style stayed in tacked. I love to listen to any of his songs and as a technical guitarist and vocalist myself I understand his thoughts and creativity. In hind sight, I look back and wonder why I didn't move to Tampa sooner to get to know some of the guys from those early days.
04. (For musicians only) What kind of things did you appreciate about Chuck as a musician? How did he influence your playing, approach to your instrument, or song-writing??
BW) This is an easy one, hahahaha... I appreciated Chuck for what he stood for. His ambitious nature inspired me from the first time I heard Death. It's almost like he never stopped to take a break. From what I understand he was always thinking about what needed to happen next. That's the approach I took in the early days and it seemed to work out well. Although I was influenced by a lot of other bands I was drawn to Chucks style of writing guitar riffs. They were always generic but yet technical in mind. One that you would remember easily and that's what sells records. People love to here repetition as well which I incorporated into the Exmortis style. Not that other bands weren't doing this already but I really felt it was important to do. It didn't hurt that some people called me little Chuck in demo reviews and interviews for Exmortis. hahahaha
05. What do you make of the lasting impact that Chuck has made on metal?
BW) Well, he accomplished a lot in the Death Metal genre. As far as a lasting impact, he will always be known as the godfather of Death Metal by anyone who knows their history... I think he will continue to influence musicians in the future with his song writing. But, There are some (a lot) bands out there that took Death Metal to a level that was (is) to me not Death Metal. Sub genre after sub genre... Personally, I do not like the cookie monster vocals that a lot of people are into. Anyone can pick up a microphone and grunt into it and nobody would ever know what they were saying. Chuck would turn over if he only knew. Hell, I'm turning right now in disgust.
06. Where do you think Chuck would be today if he was still playing metal?
BW) Chuck would be at the top of the game. Many people thought he was going to loose his light after Scream Bloody Gore and all the line-up changes. I can understand what he went through completely. If what you are doing is your own creation then you'd better make sure you have the right tools (people) to help you in your quest for greatness. If music is truly your life then make it happen. In my opinion he did make it his life and is still living it today. "Open Casket" my friend and may you continue to live forever...
11 - What new up coming Death Metal bands of today do you find
exciting and why?
BW) I’m sorry. I hate this question because I don’t listen to any of these new bands. Why because I don’t like hardly anything I hear. It’s not like in the old days where everyone had their own style. Now a day’s everything sounds the same for the most part. True Death Metal doesn’t exist anymore. You have to go back to the roots of it all to really hear it.
Note: The next three questions have been written after the
initial interview was sent and after he forwarded me an advance copy
of “Resurrection… Book of the Dead”
12 - After listening to the music on “Resurrection… Book of the Dead”, it would seem to me that you’ve captured the same early raw Death Metal spirit of the original Exmortis demos from over 20 years ago. What is it that you do now that captures that feel in your new music?
BW) When I pick up my guitar, it’s just what comes out. It’s the style of Death Metal I’ve always written. It’s with me and not anywhere else. Not that I’m a great guitar player because I’m surely not, but it’s the feeling behind the music that pulls me in. Oh and I wrote those songs in a matter of a week (Easy stuff).
13 - If there was one difference between “Resurrection… Book of the
Dead” and the old recordings, it would be that “Resurrection...”has a clearer production. My assumption is that this is a result of it being recorded digitally as opposed to the demos which would have been recorded in Analogue studios? Is this correct? What are your views around Analogue vs Digital recording in relation to your music? Why?
BW) Well, most everything starts as an analog signal then it’s converted to digital. I don’t think it’s an analog or digital issue as much as its 20 years later. Technology in the music industry has come a long way. Plus, it didn’t help any that the first two demos were recorded in an 8 track studio with limited capabilities.
|"Descent into Chaos" demo cover|
14- “Resurrection… Book of the Dead” has a strong Horror movie theme.
Have horror movies been an important influence in the creation of yourmusic? If so what movies in particular and why? What other themes inspire your music?
While still on the Horror theme, I note that you’ve set up a “Horror Movie Trailers” group facebook. Care to tell us about that? Are there any obscure Horror movies that you think readers should check out that they may not have heard of? If so what are they?
BW) Hahahaha, you picked up on that huh? Horror music is what Exmortis is all about. All the lyrics spell out short stories of the horror genre and nothing more. It’s not like these thought go through my head all the time. It’s always when I’m creating. There are times that I think of a line or a song title and jot it down. So, if anyone has ever mistakenly took any of the Exmortis lyrics literally then that’s messed up. It’s all about Pain, gore and suffering. It’s my safe place… No other themes inspire the music at all. Thinking back to the days, all the Evil Dead films, all the Hellraiser films, and all the Alien films stick out to me. Anything that had the names Clive Barker, Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci, Mario Bava (the list could go on for days…) were strongly influential. Not to mention all the Creature Feature movies that came on every Saturday afternoon. I was about 10 years old and got a BetaVision VCR for Christmas. Wouldn’t you know it, I freaked my parents out with the first tape I played. It was “The Gate of Hell” US name or “City of the Living Dead” Euro name. Hahahaha, I’ve been hooked on anything scary or freaky since then. Yes, I started that page on Facebook but it didn’t really catch on to well. Anyway, there are tons of old and new obscure movies out there. You just have to know where to find them. 2 that I was hooked on back in 88’-89’ were a series of films called Nekromantik. Here’s the trailer for the first:
15 - Anything to add in closing?
BW) In closing I’d like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak to your audience. It’s been a pleasure. Thank you all for reading.
|Another promo photo of the original Exmortis line up|