Malevolence have been a part of the Auckland and New Zealand underground Metal scene for over 20 years now. Playing a style which incorporates Death Metal, Grindcore and crusty punk, they have remained a strong and consistent throughout their existence. This interview is with Daryl Tapsell, the man who has been around since the beginning.
This interview has also been published at: www.13thfloor.co.nz
1) Apart from yourself, what things have remained consistent in Malevolence since it's formation in 1992? What has changed since then that you didn't expect or intend for it to?
I think it has all changed since then. I started writing for Malevolence straight after Blackmass imploded (becoming Spine), and after 3 years of death metal, I wanted to do something with clean vox - kind of the heavy riffing and "tremming" of grind/death but with lyrics you could understand. Initially, (being young :)
I had this concept of extremely challenging and offensive lyrics that people would hear, rather than read on a lyric sheet. Unfortunately (being young :) I drifted off into other areas of lyrical content (naive metal style story-ish lyrics) so that concept never really saw the light of day. The band kind of fell apart in early 94 after a few gigs as the lead guitarist started getting into jazz and the bass player wanted to be more like Sepultura (as was the fashion at the time).
Julian joined in 1994 (answering a misprint ad in the Trade & Exchange for "Ass Player wanted") and brought the crusty punk side in to our sound, and I started reverting to my roots vocally - death growls and screams. It was an odd time in the Auckland scene (1994-98) as there were few (if any) active death metal bands - just a lot of Sepultura/Pantera style death/thrash. I joined a crust/grind band - Diswomble - which Julian was forming with some others guys, at the same time as he joined Malevolence, and the most active extreme scene was the punk scene at the time, so we ended up playing heaps of punk shows. There was a lot of cross over as heaps of the crust punks got were into grind (called "hardcore" back then before basketball shirt wearing straight edge breakdown fools took over the term :) and early death/black`metal (in fact the people I knew with the best collections of metal vinyl were punks!) This was the "Fuck The Lord" era for us - many ciders ago now :)
Members came and went, but I think everyone added to the evolution of the band. The core of Julian and myself is the constant throughout. When a guitarist left we became a 3 piece until a guitarist came along that we thought would add something, and when a drummer left we usually had a replacement within weeks, so the constant for me has been Malevolence in my life instead of the other way around. We have seldom had any downtime in the last 18 years :)
The lineup at the moment is the strongest by far with Ben joining in mid-late 2005. His approach to drumming is very complementary to the songs - relentless - and it drives us forward. I mentioned evolution earlier and I think that really typifies Malevolence. It has been a process of evolution - some mutations and evolutionary dead ends, but natural selection has pared it down to what it is now and we are stronger for it. We're about to release a new album and I think it captures that perfectly.
Daryl - guitar and vocals
2) Which conveniently leads to the next question: Tell us about this new Album. What should people expect? What will it be called? How will people be able to get hold of it? Could you please name and describe a few of it's key tracks?
Well the new album has been in production since late 2010. It would have been out earlier but we recorded the first 8 tracks and it turned out to be 15 minutes long (first world grind problems). We had released 2 EPs prior to this so I wanted to do something that broke the 30 minute barrier. That meant writing new material and, due to our process, road-testing new material. I think its important to get the songs thoroughly "broken in" before recording - we are predominantly a live band after all, and to capture that sound we need to have played and developed those songs on stage. So it was all recorded in 3 sessions over late 2010 - Early 2012 and has ended up being 15 tracks and hitting the 30 min target. Mixing took more time to gel the 3 different sessions together sound-wise - it was recorded live to analogue tape so the basic rhythm tracks were slightly different for each session, depending on what mics I wanted to use on the day, but it has been completed for a while now and (at time of writing) we're just waiting on Grindhead in Sydney to release it. I've been a bit picky about the sound as I don't want a plastic "modern" sound to it, and I want dynamics in the recording (remember those albums that you could play on 10 and it didn't sound flat and crushed)
People should expect a recorded experience that captures our live sound - relentless, crushing and bleak. As one punter put it ..."like being attacked by a jaguar while someone throws drums at you" Key tracks eh... There are a range of songs on here mostly written since 2008. All first recordings except for "Bleed" which was originally on our Fuck the Lord re-release demo CD in 1999. It weirdly fits in well today though, being about global economic tyranny. The album opens with Digitize - our live opener after the intro "Approaching Monster" fades up. I guess I like the newer tracks on the album (don't you always though). "The Adversary" I am pretty happy with as it contains one of my favourite lines to sing "an anti-theist the antithesis of everything that you believe" - as you might guess it is a call to atheists to be more proactive and intolerant instead of reasonable. "Butchered" is a remembrance to Matt from Backyard Burial. I wrote it on the plane to his funeral. Chased Through The Woods (By a Rhyming Dictionary) is a piss-take of paint-by -numbers, juvenile Gore/Grind, which contains another favourite lyric "...Taped a glock, to my cock, nine millimetres in her box".
Mostly it is about futility in many forms. It's called Relentless Entropy which is a lyric from the penultimate song - "Life Machines".
It's out through Grindhead at some stage so I'm guessing it will be available through the online store www.grindheadrecords.com. Obviously at our shows as well on CD and I'm guessing other media as well. We'll probably hit the road on this one too depending on when it is released
3) You mentioned the late Matt "Blaps Warmonger" Hall and his band Backyard Burial, of whom Malevolence released a split album with. What would you like to tell us about Matt, your involvement with him and Backyard Burial?
We had a pretty long involvement - Malevolence started doing the annual Punkfest in Wellington around 1996 so we became regular visitors to the Wellington scene. Ryan (from Backyard) was in a few punk bands as well, so I knew him through that scene (got to know him better when he hitched around the entire country for the Brutal Truth tour in 1998 - so did you I guess :). I have video footage of the first Backyard show I saw (in 1999 I think) at Thistle Hall on Cuba St in Wellington. I talked to Matt after the show and we kept in touch ever since. Obviously Backyard and Malevolence played a heap of shows together over the years. Matt and I also shared similar interests such as home brewing, recreational substance abuse and screaming, - he was generally a GC. He had a depth of character often missing in the metal scene. Just before his untimely demise he was coming up to Auckland regularly for work training so we'd always have catch up. You mentioned the Split CD which was pretty much his idea - 3 original songs + a live track + a cover each, and he thought of the image too - a grinder chewing into Aotearoa. The other members of Backyard are doing various projects at the moment too - well worth looking out for from what I've seen so far...
4) On your website (www.malevolencenz.com) you’ve made the entire Malevolence back catalogue available for download. If someone reading this who had never heard you before where to go there, what would you recommend they download first and why?
I recommend they download it all and decide what they like - I like it all but hear the parts that aren't quite where we wanted to be (if that makes sense). As i said earlier it has been evolving slowly over time, so if you want to hear us now, I'd recommend the new album (there are rough mixes of about half of it available on the site). We do resurrect the odd song from other albums live every now and then but we're not quite ready for the greatest hits tour :) We're still writing (in fact working on another EP right now) so we play the current stuff more than the back catalogue. I put the catalogue up after finding pirated copies of our stuff out there - I figure you might as well get it from us. Immediately after I did it I saw 3-4 blogs linking directly to it rather than going to some tedious download site.
We have always had a DIY attitude, probably fromour connection with the punk scene. I'm an audio engineer so the recording part just takes my time, Julz is a printer, and taught me to screen print back in the day so even before piracy we were giving away our product. To this day at shows/online our merch and cds are cheap - we don't have the same overheads as other bands so we generally have older CDs for $5 & T's for $25. We often play for expenses only and any profit simply goes back into the band - I read Fenriz explaining why they he still works at the Post Office in Oslo and he said he didn't want to live off music because he felt it would make him start writing for popularity and money rather than just doing what the fuck he wanted. I've always thought that was very cool.
Besides which it's almost impossible to live off original music in any genre in New Zealand - too small a population base. I've probably ranted way outside the bounds of where you were going with that question eh :)
|Ben - Drums|
5) Lets talk about your role as an Audio Engineer. You have your own “Back Door Studios” where you have recorded the like of Witchrist and Diocletian. You are also a tutor at an Audio engineering school and have been abused by Glen Benton from that shitty fuckin band Deicide. Tell us a bit about these things and any others worth speaking of.
Well it is "Blackdoor Studio" - not quite ready for that name change yet :)
It harks back to the DIY ethic really - can't afford to go to a studio? I'll just do it myself and that's how it started. Blackdoor is my project studio (where all my money goes to die). I do tracking, mixing and mastering for various projects. The nice thing about having a project studio is I can pick and choose projects I want to work on rather than running a commercial operation. I do stuff outside the metal/punk genre but the majority of the projects I work on are in that vein. As an added bonus Malevolence use it for our practice space. I do work at a polytechnic running an audio engineering course by day and while I haven't personally been abused by Glen Benton (apart from having his awful bass playing inflicted on me:) I was abused along with every other sound tech on Deicide's tour through Australia and NZ. Apparently it's part of his act - like hating Christians - He doesn't really mean any of it :) It’s probably a metaphor...
6) When I first met you when Malevolence played support on the 98 NZ Brutal truth Tour, you were wearing Nuns habits and womens underwear on stage. What happened there? What are you stand out memories from that tour?
The nun's habit started as a drunken tour joke (that potentially went too far :)
On tour at Punkfest around 1996, a couple of us ended up drunk in a toy shop (as you do) on a Saturday afternoon (if I remember rightly there was a nephew's birthday or some such excuse). Weirdly we found two lycra costumes - a nun and a french maid. There was no other choice for us - we wore them out of the store and played in them for the rest of the tour - it just kind of escalated from there :) I liked the confusing imagery of a nun playing grind, and a guy playing extreme metal in drag :) and the softness of women's underwear :)
Actually I took the nun's habit out of the cupboard for Antichristchurch's Satanfest in 2003. In my defense - Birdflesh :) Speaking of which, if anyone has a copy of "Demo of Hell" I'd be keen for a copy - Had one courtesy of Kra'zine in the early 90's and someone nicked it - awesome demo…
Ahh the Brutal Truth tour - so many good memories. Good guys. They stayed at our house when we returned to Auckland and hung out having BBQ/booze times. I remember playing Palmerston North (at Stomach) and this crazy motherfucker in a wheelchair who spent the night rolling at full speed at the stage and diving at us while we played ,then launching himself back on to his chair in the pit amongst everyone else going crazy - I remember worrying at the time that he would get trampled to death - but he was invincible. I think we gave him a t-shirt after the show.
I got the whole band to autograph odd things. I still have a copy of the book "deliverance" that is signed by Rich Hoak - I found out he was from Georgia so it seemed appropriate - he wrote "nice panties dude" - I was hoping for "squeal like a pig :) Dan lilker signed a poster I had of him just wearing cut offs on stage with Nuclear Assault (from "Power Metal" magazine) - everyone was giving him shit for it. I got Gurn to sign a toy plastic guitar that made really annoying sounds - but I ended up giving it to him to take home to his kids - I suspect he played it too much on the plane because the band split after that :) Speaking of autographs - Half of them couldn't be bothered doing signings so we all too turns pretending to be in Brutal Truth and signing shit randomly. Kevin was signing everything with "I (heart) cock - Bob Dylan" so that's a genuine Kevin Sharp. The funniest time was at Real Groovy where I was signing albums with Kevin (I think the rest of the band was in a van getting stoned as shit) and he signed someone's album and the guy said "What the fuck - you're not in Brutal Truth" to him. We just cracked up.
There are a few photos on their" last" release "Goodbye Cruel World" - of course they have reformed now (no Gurn - might have been that plastic guitar)
That was a great tour...
7) There were a few other international tours where you played support after Brutal Truth. Care to mention a few low and highlights from those?
Well… Straight after Brutal Truth we toured the country again for the release of the first full length, "Almost Like Something Completely Sinister". Soon after that we toured with Impaled Nazarene. Again we wound up the tour at my house and several hours of brutal drinking occurred. Not too many memories of that tour worth sharing as it was very quick, - 2 shows really if I recollect correctly. I remember Mika, was involved in a car accident which soured his experience somewhat. After that we toured with Atomizer - (PS Caught up with Saundies in Melbourne last time we played there) which was a barrel of laughs through the country. We toured with Pungent Stench in 2003 as well, which was amazing for me - being a fan for so long and then getting to see them for a heap of shows. I think around that time we decided that other bands needed a chance to play shows :), and to be honest as much as I love touring and catching up with people on the road, there are only so many times you can tour NZ on the bones of your arse and see it as a good idea. So we scaled back the frequency of shows and tours. When Ben joined at the end of 2005, it gave us the chance to hold back and write some new material - we had gotten to the point where we were playing all the time, and maybe learning a new song every 3 months or so which gets very boring for us - I have quite a short attention span :). So not really answering your question - that is a lot of ground to cover. The "low-lights" are mostly forgotten (and as the old Tremeloes song says "even the bad times are good") and the highlights of touring is the process itself and the people you meet along the way - In fact the highlights would definitely be the people - We've made some good friends on the road.
What most people don't realize about touring is it has long periods of boredom - the show is 45 mins out of each 24 hour period. You just get up early, wait to get to the next venue, wait for soundcheck, wait to play, pack down, sleep, repeat.
|Julian - Ass player|
8) You’ve played in a few other projects including Masters Of Metal, Black Metal Sabbath, and Diswomble. Can you please tell us about those. Are there any others to tell about?
Diswomble was the first side project, which happened soon after Julian joined the band, so round 1994. It was Julian's crust-grind band really, but at the time we were just thrashing around writing punk and drinking to much :) - Good times! At the time I was also in a band called Lagerwerfer, which was me and Spencer from "The Warners" doing some drunken drum machine stuff. Malevolence, Diswomble, Pig Benis and Lagerwerfer (or a combination of them) would often play shows together and we all knew each other and hung out so it was a cool little scene. There were other side projects like "2 Days Old" and "Jesus Fucked & The Latter Day Sluts" that lasted only a few shows.
Prior to Masters of Metal, Spencer, Zakk and I were in a little holiday project band called "The Lucky Book Club" which was an idea that Devon from "All You Can Eat" came up with. Basically he was on holiday, and wanted to form a band and record a 7" in every country he was in. We wrote and recorded 4 songs but I don't know if they ever saw the light of day - I have a copy on cassette somewhere. After that the Book Club went back to our normal bands for a few years until 2003 when Spencer got in touch with me about drumming in Masters Of Metal - As it turned out Zakk was in it too so it was a bit like a reunion. Masters of Metal is really just a bunch of us playing 70's and 80's rock and metal - It's part comedy - as we dress up and act like we are playing arena shows, but we are quite serious about performing the music well and making sure people have a good time. We have pretty much limited it to a single show per year around Xmas.
Around 2003 Nich asked me to sing in his band, Prisondethfux, which at the time was him and Nathan (then of Backyard Burial), and programmed drums on a laptop. We only played a few sporadic shows, and put out an album "Drink It Down" as well as a few compilation appearances. Nich joined Malevolence on second guitar around then too.
Black Metal Sabbath is an idea that Heath (Skuldom) had been talking about for a few years as a concept: Black Sabbath songs in the style of Norwegian Black Metal. Originally it consisted of me, Heath & Will from Skuldom, and Phil from Vassafor and we did one show and one rehearsal demo. Phil buggered off overseas, and we wanted to keep it going so we eventually recruited Kimball from Anno Domini Mortus, to take over on bass. We're thinking of putting together a show at the moment.
I'm also currently in a punk rock "supergroup" called Scumbeat, which is me and Bev from Garagefodder on Guitars, Dave from Missing Teeth/ the murderchord on bass, and Boot from Sticky Filth on drums.
I'm not the only one in side projects though - Ben is also in Vassafor.
Julian may be the only sensible one among us these days - sticking to the one band :)
9) A while ago you talked to me about the idea of re-recording some of your older tunes which are still crowd favorites in your live set. Could you tell us a bit about that and when we might see it? What other ideas or plans you have down the pipeline that we could look forward to?
I have often thought that there are a few songs that developed further after we recorded them and it might be cool to re-record those songs but I am also wary of revisiting the past. We are always working on new material and it is always fun to record something fresh. So I think about it from time to time but I don’t know when or if it will happen. The latest incarnation of this idea is just choosing 2 or 3 songs to round out an EP.
Things in the pipeline? We are self-releasing “Relentless Entropy” on limited edition vinyl (just waiting on the test-pressing now) which is a nice way to end 2013. We are playing a festival in Wellington (Beyond The Black) for New Years, and opening for Primate at the end of January 2014. So more of the same really - more recording - more shows...
10) Any last comments?
Thanks for the interview and supporting the underground scene. See you on the road!