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Acheron (RIP) – Interview

Posted in Acheron, death metal, interview with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 27, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

In light of Acheron’s recent break-up, we have decided to reprint the interview we performed with them last year.  Formed in 1988, Acheron has been a seminal act within the death metal scene.  Acheron was known for their outspoken Satanism and their no-bullshit approach to the death metal sound.  A farewell tour has been announced, though.  So, don’t miss your chance to see them live!  And without further adieu, here is the interview in its entirety.  RIP ACHERON

Members of the Pantheon crew (Max, Adam, and Ryan) interviewed Vincent Crowley and Kyle Severn of the legendary death metal band Acheron this past November at their show in Madison with Cardiac Arrest and Myiasis. Transcribed from audio interview.


M: I heard that your new album The Final Conflict – Last Days of God is a concept album. What’s the basic story or message behind the album?  And have you ever done a concept album before?

V: Basically, it’s about a new age where all the major religions, which we call the holy trinity – Judaism, Islam, and Christianity – have been in control for so long.  We try to show their true hypocrisy. And there’s a secret society which has throughout the years been keeping [opposition] at bay to [consolidate their power]. So they feel it’s time to just let [the other religions] fight amongst themselves and get rid of them in a lower arena.

We’ve done a concept before.  The first album we did was called The Rites of the Black Mass and that was of the actual black mass. We also did an album called Those Who Have Risen which is concept of the group called Hekal Tiamat which is a temple of the vampire. It explains what vampirism stems from.

A: What were your primary influences for this concept?  I mean, it’s a pretty epic concept…what did you draw from to come up with this idea and put it all down?

(Some talking between Vincent/Kyle)…Life!  Everything around us.

V: I actually started writing some of the songs 10 years ago after the Those Who Have Risen album.  And I just felt the tension, ya know?  We kinda put this on the backburner and I moved up to Columbus.  And then, when 9/11 hit, it was like…wow, I should’ve put this album out a couple years ago!  And that’s kinda the basis of that.  When 9/11 came along, how many people really even looked and saw people who were Islamic around very much?  You very rarely would see that.  Now it’s like, every street corner. It’s almost funny because I think people are so politically correct that they don’t want to associate Islam with the “bad” Islam.  The fact is, religion is poisonous.  And we let it poison us.

K: …uh…Yeah! (everyone laughs) We did a big interview for a DVD recently and that’s become somewhat of a dumb joke between us.  He (Vincent) goes off on something then it goes to me and I’m just like…”yeah.”  It’s like, what else do I say, you know?  (Laughs)

M: For your new album, the cover has this creature on it. What is that, a Cerberus? Is there some symbolism in that?

V: Yeah, absolutely. The three-headed wolf is the beast that destroys the religions.  If you notice on the cover, each head has a collar with the religious symbol around it and there’s an “X” through each one.  The 6’s on the head represent the beast destroying it.  The Cerberus… it’s ironic, we weren’t going for that. It’s ironic with Acheron being a Greek mythological region. But, it just fits.  It works real well.

K: (pause)…Uh…yep.. (everyone laughs)

M: I noticed your first 4 albums have an intro every track.  What was the reasoning behind that and why have you stopped doing that?

V: The original reasoning behind the intros was to get that ritualistic feeling and the atmosphere. But the fact is, a lot of metalheads want the meat right away.  They want the punch in the face.  So, even though I wanted to get the occult feel to it, we thought okay, we did this for 10 years…let’s do something else.

K:  We also didn’t want to change the style except to bring a little more agressiveness. After we did the Wolfen Society side project, which just kinda balls-out/in your face, we wanted to make the band more “meat and potatoes,” thrashy, aggressive. That’s more of my style.  I don’t play all that fancy drum shit.

V: (laughs) He does, he just won’t admit it. If you just listen to the new style, we have a lot of elements from the past albums. We have sporadically added keys. The first decade was more of the ritualistic part of Acheron, this is more of the philosophy: the more Satanic, in-your-face lifestyle.

A: You guys took 6 years between albums. What was going on in those 6 years that made you decide to release the album after all that time?

V: (to Kyle) You can answer this.  I hate talking about record labels…

K: There was no plan to take that long of a break. Black Lotus had us for 3 records. When we did Rebirth we already had around 75% of The Final Conflict written and done. Then Black Lotus had problems and they folded.  They didn’t tell us right away.  And finally they’re like “well, we’re done, we’re not a label anymore” and we’re like fuck, you know?  Now we gotta search. Nobody was interested. We weren’t asking for a ton of money.  But, we need the recording costs taken care of and expenses and whatnot. And nobody was willing to fork out any money. This is right at the time the digital shit was hittin’ real hard and record labels were taking a hit. It wasn’t til we were like, well let’s just demo it and shop it around. That sparked some interest. That showed the style that we were going for. I think the demo did its job. We did get kinda lazy, but I mean we got discouraged a little bit. We think Rebirth was a good record and it didn’t have any US distribution.

M:  None??

K:  Naw, not like it was supposed to. Black Lotus was going under; we didn’t know that, so everything just started funneling out. We tried to get on some tours and properly do the touring for it. We went to Poland for that record but really minimal stuff. It was just kind of a bummer. And I was real busy with Incantation, you know, shit I was doing Funerus at the time too. It’s just we wanted to do it, but not go out and lose our asses. We’re not a new band that can afford to go out and do that.  I’m not doing that for free.

V:  In the end, it paid off because we were more pissed.  (laughs) We went in there, we had the right attitude, we had a label…

M: So, you could kind of fuse that anger into the album?

V: Yeah absolutely. It’s funny, people listen to Rebirth and then the new album and people say “wow, I like this new one better!”  And Kyle and I think Rebirth is a good album, too!  But there’s just something about this new one that punches you in the face. Maybe it was taking a little bit of time and not letting the industry dilute what we really thought about the metal scene.

M:  So you mentioned that you didn’t have any US distribution. This is interesting considering that you’re a US band.  Do you find that you have a better audience, especially live, overseas than you do here?

V:  Absolutely. You find our stuff in obscure mom and pop places or catalogs. It’s hard to get that push in the states. Most of us have always been bigger in Europe and other countries.

K:  This record should help close that gap between now and the next record. This record was released on Displeased… come to find out they don’t really have US distribution either. So, we think ok, your album sells the most in the first 30 days after release, even in the first three months and it’s like fuck, there’s no US sales. And when we’re getting tons of mail from people saying that they’ve gotta pay an outrageous import price to get it from Displeased, we can’t have this again.

V: We purposely talked to Ibex Moon about doing a license deal and we’re sweetening the package. I mean, our fans are gonna get a cheap price for a lot of stuff.  I think that really shows that we’re not doing this for a bunch of money. We’re trying to get it out to our people. We’re trying to do it so we can go do tours. Bookers at clubs want to see it in stores. Plain and simple.

K: Being that Ibex has a good US distribution, we figured that’s what we need to get it out there. So like you said, to sweeten the deal we went ahead and shot a video and we added over an hour’s worth of video footage on the making of the record. Everything from in the studio and then some interview stuff.  We threw in some live shows that we did from Brazil too.  That’ll be available for the first 1000 pressings. The preorder is on the 10th of November and the release date is the 23rd.  But we’re working on doing some full tours, just trying to do some long weekends and hitting some festivals.

V: We really need to get the fans to be proactive. They gotta start talking to the magazines, they gotta start talking to the clubs and saying they want us.  We played Chicago last night and I talked to a lot of people that were like “Why have you never been here? We want you to come”.  Well, you’ve gotta tell people you want us to come.  It has to be the whole support system like it was back in the day. Morbid Angel and Napalm Death…they didn’t just become as big as they were due to nothing.  It was a very close-knit network of people in the scene that didn’t do it for money, they did it because they love metal. We have to bring that back.

K: And the bands gotta work together. Cardiac Arrest is doing these dates with us and they’re fucking good guys.

M: Yeah, they sound damn good!

(Unbeknownst to the interviewers, the drummer for Cardiac Arrest has been sitting behind us.)

V: The drummer is very sexy. (everyone laughs)

K: Oh yeah, look at that sexy guy.  And he loves Jesus!  (he’s wearing an “I love Jesus” shirt).

M: I’m pretty young.  How is the scene back then compared to how it is now?  Is it a lot shittier now?

V: When we liked a band and wanted to get in touch with them, we had to physically write them.  If you liked a European band, you had to write a letter, send it, and wait for a response. If someone wrote you, you had to give them all of your information.  It became more of a personal thing.  It wasn’t just “buy our cd.”  Where now, it’s like you could communicate with us, but it’s more like “I can talk to this guy in a second.”  There’s no personal touch to things anymore.  To this day, if a band comes out with something, I want the cd.  I want the lyrics.  I want the photos.  Now we get fans going, “the album rules! we downloaded it for free!” (everyone laughs) It’s like ”uh, thanks man!”  I understand people are low on money and stuff.  But every cd that you don’t buy that you like, there’s the chance that that band won’t record again because the label will say “you’re not selling albums, you’re not gonna do another album”  I’m not saying you shouldn’t check it out and see if you like it, but if you do, buy it!  If you really like it then support those bands.  Because this ain’t no money making machine, its something that you do from the heart.  We’d rather play in front of 20 hardcore fans than a bunch of trendy guys that don’t even know who the hell we are.  Sometimes that’s hard to do.

K: But at the same time, I love playing for new kids who don’t know who the hell we are though too and then they end up liking us.

M: To kinda transform their taste?

K: Yeah, it’s what every band shoots for.

 

V: We played in Columbus recently and we see these young kids doing some “kung fu theatre” and it’s like what the hell’s going on here? (everyone laughs)  And it’s like, well they’re getting into it so whatever.  And we got the one’s on the side who are just watching and its like “as long you guys don’t fight each other and just watch the show, it’s cool.”

K: I guess to answer your question, the scene goes in circles through different eras.  I mean, we’re talking when the band started in the late 80s, that’s 20 years ago.  A lot has changed over the times.  I didn’t even start playing until the early 90s, 91/92 myself and that’s when death metal was really friggin big.  All the Swedish bands were getting super popular, the bands from the new york/new jersey area, and all the florida death metal scene.  It was just friggin huge.  It was just a wave from everywhere.  It was really strong until the mid to later 90s and then the black metal trend kinda came in, still a big scene, but it hurt the death metal scene a little bit.  Then you get in the 2000s and it seems like its gonna come back and its still not bad.  I really think people are fucking lazy sitting in front of the computer.  I personally think too many people are sitting around jerking off to porn.

V: Hey!  There’s a time and a place!  (everyone laughs)

K:  Well, wait till you come home from the show or something.  At least go out and try to get laid and maybe pick up a metal chick.  We know there’s probably not chicks but at least try you know.  (everyone laughs).  That’s the thing, incentive is out the fucking window.

V: There just needs to be a unity.  There needs to be support for this music.  And the fact is that years ago, people listened to our type of stuff.  And they were like, this shit is intense, this is like bizarre, this is over the top.   It’s not like we’re playing Winger and all of a sudden, 20 years later, they’re going “God, theyr’e wusses over here.”  We can still stand up next to these new guys.  It’s not like we’re not hitting everyone in the face just like everyone else is.  And I don’t mind the newer bands, I just don’t like trends.  I don’t like it when one sound comes out and 15 bands are just the same thing.  That’s just what I don’t like. But if you like metal, you like fucking metal, go out and go to the shows, you know?

A:  I know it’s kinda early and the album just came out, but is there anything in the works yet?  Do you guys know what your plans are for the next year/two years.

V: Well, I’m going to India and I’m gonna help out the homeless people…  (he and everyone laughs).  Did you actually believe that?  No, we’re actually working on new stuff right now.  Our goal is….sometime next year?

K: Well, we have touring plans for the spring of next year.  There’s a possible European tour in Feb/March and a states tour after that.  So, we really hope that happens.  We have been writing new stuff and we have a few new things.  It would really be nice to at least be demoing a good portion of the record by summertime of next year.  To get in the studio in the fall, we’d really have to be busy writing over the summer.  It could be possible to do a Spring release.  If we could at least get a Fall of 2011 release, we’d have to record early in that year or the end of next year.  But we need to set a goal and be like okay, this is our deadline.  We don’t really work like that, but we don’t want to waste the years.

V:  There will not be a 6 year wait.

K: Yeah, that’s for sure.  I mean we already got a few tunes and Vince has got a lot of riffs.  I’ve just been busy with a lot of stuff.  We just don’t get to practice that often.  But when we do, we try to make the most of it.

M: Concerning your side project, Wolfen Society, I noticed you haven’t released anything in that for 8 years or something.  And it says on Metal Archives that it’s still active.  Is that true?  Do you guys have any plans to continue with that at all?

V:  We’ve been talking about this for 10 years.  You know, Ahriman is doing Dark Funeral.  He’s been busy.  And Ricktor, our guitar player, is in prison right now.  (laughs)  He’ll be out in 6 months.  Actually, right before he went in he told me, “when I get out, we gotta do the new Wolfen Society!”  Would we do it again? I’d be up for it.  But we’ve been saying that for the last…6 years on and off.  I don’t see it happening, but who knows?

K:  It’s gonna take the initiative for those guys to really step up because there’s a lot of talk.  The only reason it happened in the first place is because of Vince.  Vince contacted everybody.  We were all into it, the timing worked out.  And we made it happen.  Stuff was already written for the most part.  You know, with Ahriman, Ricktor and Thomas, those guys just added their own personal touches.  But the structures, me and Vince got down.  We just feel if we did it again and we wrote the structures, it would just sound like Acheron.  You know, at one point, some tracks on the latest record were originally meant to be Wolfen Societys songs.  Until we realized that was kinda the direction we want Acheron to go.  So, if we do a new Wolfen album, we want some riffs, some structures from Ahriman.  It’d be friggin great because I’d like to hear something not black metal written by him, something that would fit more with Wolfen.  Wolfen is more death metal I  guess.

V: Ahriman is a death metal fan. He’s not like one of these black metal people who only listen to black metal.

K:  But, he really contributed good with his black metal style of playing.  It was really cool the way he added it over the stuff that Vince wrote.  So really, I just need him to write something and send it to us.

V: I guess the best thing to say is it ain’t going to be the same EP we did.  It’s going to be a whole different thing.

K: Yeah, it’s a project.  We’ll make whatever the hell we want.  If we wanted to come out with a friggin country album…little Johnny Rebel or something.  (everyone laughs)  It would be cool, but will it happen?  Probably not?  I’m down for it.  I know Vince is down for it, but Ahriman’s in Sweden.

M:  Yeah, I was just going to ask how it was working with a guy from Sweden.

K: He flew over and stayed with us a couple times, same with Tommy.  We all just put our own money and time into it, just to get together.  We’re all friends.  It was cool.

V:  Riktor and Tommy, they’re in the hellfire club.  They’re from Wisconsin, originally.  So, they had a trip too.  Its not like it was down the street, it took a lot of effort just to do that little EP.

V: And with the budget labels give nowadays…

K:  Unless we could hook up something with Regain.  I mean, they’re dishing out some money.  Throw us some airfare and studio costs, and we’ll take care of everything else.  Screw it, fly me to Sweden, I’ll take a vacation.

M:  What are you guys listening to, out of curiosity?

K: The Born again demos.  Black Sabbath, born again.  Unreleased track and the unmixed versions of that record.  That’s what we were listening to on the way here today.  Love that shit.

I just listen to everything I grew up on.  We listen to a variety of stuff, old school rock and roll, heavy metal.  ZZ top…

V:  I like everything from death metal to classical to southern rock, which Kyle loves me playing.  Old school outlaw country we love that.

M:  You guys fans of Bathory at all?

V: Oh yeah, of course.  Bands like Bathory, Celtic Frost, Destruction, Kreator, Sodom, Hellhammer, that’s what I grew up on.  Venom was like the whole beginning of everything for me.  Death, I still listen to them just as much as I did back when I was a kid.

M: That just reminded me, didn’t Richard Christy drum for you guys at one point?

V: He played on an album actually. He played on our ‘Antigod, Antichrist’ album.

M: Have you been keeping up with his Howard Stern things?

K: We talk to him.

V: Yeah, not saying we approve…(laughs)

K: Myself, I’ve personally known Richard for a long long time, back when he lived in Springfield, Missouri.  It’s just cool that he’s doing what he wants to do.  Back then he was living in his warehouse playing in Public Assassin.  Then he made the move to Florida, jammed with Acheron, and jammed with a bunch of bands.  Then he got Death and then he kept progressing and he always did little movie skits.  Always was into those parodies, and he loved doing that shit.

V:  One thing about Richard, too, I have to tell this story…this is a classic story.  He is so down to earth, the nicest guy, and he’s a brutal drummer.  We did a tour with Dark Funeral in Mexico.  He’s going to love that I’m telling this…what he does on Howard Stern ain’t gonna match it.  I was in the back with the Dark Funeral guys and he was up with the keyboardist at the time, Aaron, and they’re talking.  We were all just talking in the back, drinking and shit.  Richard just stands up and goes, “Well its official!” And we’re like, “What Richard?”  And he goes “I just shit my pants!”  Ahriman goes “Is he joking?” [Richard’s] like “I thought I was gonna fart, but it came out all mushy.”  That tells you Richard in a nutshell.

M:  I think that’s a pretty good ending right there!  Thanks a lot guys.

V:  Buy the album!

http://www.myspace.com/acheron

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