Trench Warfare - Interview
Once I finished reading the review we have on our page and listening to the tracks from the album "Hatred Prayer" I wanted to find out more about Trench Warfare. Jay and Tony were up for answering some questions so here it is, an interview with two main guys from this awesome band from Texas in which you can find a lot of things about the past, the present and some about the near future of Trench Warfare. (Big 'thanks' goes to Alex for the review of the album and help with some of the questions, Horns Up Dude!!)
Thank you for taking the time out to do this interview with MetalBite. How has the summer been treating the most violent and extreme bestial death black metal band from Texas?
Tony: It's a blazing inferno. That's for sure. This summer has been quite eventful as we recently had our first gig of 2019 with the almighty Infernal Conjuration, Cruciamentum, and The Chasm. We are preparing for another live onslaught in Chicago for Gospel of the Serpent Fest in November.
'Hatred Prayer' is already getting an enthusiastic reception. With it raking in the high ratings and good notes it's probably bringing an evil grin to your faces. Did you ever expect to receive such positive feedback?
Tony: From our beginning we did not expect to move this far along. It's not that we did not believe in ourselves as a band, but it was more along the lines of our focus being in creating the music that we love to hear and doing this because we love it.
Jay: We create expressive, dark music for ourselves first and foremost, but we are pleased with the excellent reception from critics and fans. We appreciate that others are able to connect with our music. The motivation to make intense, hateful music would remain even if we were the only people on earth who liked it. Without intending to sound egotistical, I think our music is killer and unique, but I am a little surprised it's received this kind of attention this early. I assumed people would catch on to us after a few more releases and few years further down the line.
During the recording of "Hatred Prayer" were there any major disagreements? I ask because 'Young Lord,' 'New Lord' and 'Astral Projection' appeared disconnected from the rest of the material on Hatred Prayer because of the death/doom and thrash metal approach.
Tony: In terms of music writing, no. There was a minor gripe between Jay and I in terms of rerecording some songs but nothing major. "Young Lord" is not a Trench Warfare song. It is a cover by none other than hardcore punk legends Poison Idea. In addition to our metal influences we are strongly influenced by hardcore punk and d-beat hardcore. Prior to writing, Jay, Lee, and I discussed doing Slayer's "Hardening of the Arteries," Sodom's "Pretenders to the Throne," and I believe Bestial Warlust's "Blood and Valor." Jay and I opted to cover a song that was less than likely covered before thus we went with Poison Idea's "Young Lord" which came from their demo day's compilation album, Darby Crash Rides Again. It is one of my favorite songs by them.
"Astral" and "New Lord" came about wanting to experiment with slower tempos and a more spacey feel to it and repeated listening of various notable death doom bands during the writing phase of Hatred Prayer. Anything I'm listening to heavily manifests in my playing.
Jay: As Tony mentioned, we're on the same page in terms of songwriting. We just butt heads at times because one, that's inevitable with any serious band; and two, we're both hard-headed assholes. Ha!! but seriously, that lends itself to a healthy and productive working relationship.
Too many bands in the realm of blackened death and bestial black metal play things too safely, which is ironic considering that this kind of music is supposed to be dangerous and outside of the norm. So yes, the hardcore punk cover was chosen because bands of our ilk typically don't consider such bands to cover. And Poison Idea is a band that Tony and I have enjoyed for years. Our influences are vast. I'm perfectly fine with stating that I love Deiphago and Duran Duran. If anyone has a problem with that, they can cry on social media about it while I steal their women.
In addition, songs "Young Lord" and "New Lord" sound recorded in two different times or studios; the production differed from that of the rest of the album, what's the story there? Can you tell us more about the recording session?
Tony: You are correct. There were two recording sessions over the duration of several months. Initially, Hatred Prayer was supposed to be a four-song split album including "Hatred Prayer," "Twisted Lies of a Wretched Pedophile" (renamed "Behead Muhammad"), "Astral Projection into the Shapeless Abysmal Void" (shortened to "Astral Projection"), and the Poison Idea cover "Young Lord." We initially recorded the four songs in the latter part of 2016 for a split entitled "Path to Triumphant Perversions." The split fell through; however, Peter Mestre from Vault of Dried Bones Records contacted us and spoke with us about doing a full length album several months later. With four recorded songs already, we opted to record additional songs. The demo seemed to be doing pretty good, so we decided to re-record "Decimate Legions," "Evil Shall Triumph" and "Blood Cleaning." I wrote the remaining songs: "Spare No Wrath," "Axioms," "Barbarous Temperament," "New Lord," and "Sate Thy Lust." The recording process for the newer songs began toward mid-summer of 2017. I actually rerecorded "Hatred Prayer," "Behead Muhammad," and "Astral" however we used the original drums from the initial recording. This was a rather long process, but it was worth it!
Jay: Peter from Vault Of Dried Bones was a fan of our music since our demo, so we were glad to be in discussions with him about a release. He asked us to write an album, but Vault Of Dried Bones shifted focus to be more of a distro and to exclusively release his own projects. So, with the full album completed, we later signed a contract with Transcending Obscurity Records.
The new cover differs stylistically from the first demo and split. What is the story behind the new one and the title?
Tony: The cover for the demo contained our old logo. Initially we only planned on being a recording band only, but our demo was better received than what we expected. We discussed cover art possibilities for the demo but just opted for the logo-only cover. The artwork for Hatred Prayer sums up our belief that religion is worthless. I, up until the last decade, was caught up in that bullshit and often followed without much question. But the more I began to question what I was taught it became quite clear that the righteous are only reading from a fictional script and they had no insight of their own.
I turned my back on religion and despise its wretched nature. I value Man's Will. By our own hands we destroy or create. Hatred Prayer is basically a curse (figuratively) against this mindset and religion. The album cover shows the symbols of major religions beneath the feet of a dead army symbolizing its defeat when one thinks for themselves.
Jay: This album is an attack on organized religion as well as upon the filth that we all encounter in society, regardless of class, creed or kind. And without wanting to get into politics, Tony and I are both extremely against this modern-day obsession that so many people have with identity politics. This way of thinking is for the weak. The strength and path of the individual is what matters. We are all ultimately responsible for our own successes and failures. Tony and I agreed that all of this meaning, intent and outlook is encapsulated in the phrase Hatred Prayer, which we chose as the album title based off of the song title and lyrics of the album's closing song, one of the release's most negative tracks, for sure.
Hatred Prayer can be perceived figuratively. For me, I mean it literally. The lyrics and music are intended to harness negative energy and send it through our enemies like a spiritual dagger. Let them rot, now and forever.
What about the sounds of the galactic battle that start and finish the album, where is that sample taken from?
Tony: The sample was created by Greg Watkins, the same guy who recorded all three releases. Initially I wanted to use the sample from the very beginning of Terminator 2, the opening battle scene, however we wanted to avoid a possible copy right infringement thus we opted for Greg to create a similar foreboding intro and outro.
In what ways did serving in the army influence the music featured on Hatred Prayer? Would you be kind to share with us your position within the United States army?
Tony: Truth be told, not much really with exception to the photo of me in a Conqueror shirt, ACU pants and holding a MK 19. The influence for Hatred Prater predates my enlistment and would resume once I got out of the army. While in the army I primarily jammed out by myself and didn't really pursue recording seriously until after I got out of the army in 2008. The majority of other soldiers in my unit were into more mainstream music thus there was no one suitable to start a band with while I was active duty. One thing to note was that I met George Stewart from the band Abysmal during my first deployment to Iraq in '04/'05. We are still in contact to this day and working on a project entitled Phalanx Inferno. I was a 92Y, a supply clerk, and became the supply sergeant when I promoted to Sergeant in late '04 or early '05. I was stationed in Fort Hood, Texas - 1st Cav Division. I was proud to serve my country and proud of those in the past, present and future who also do the same.
Jay: I think Tony tends to be modest about most things. He's faced some intense experiences as many soldiers do. And that's what amuses me, that someone like Tony has spent a significant amount of time directly involved in war, unlike some of these people who have only engaged in keyboard warfare but speak as though they're hard asses. Some of these fools are in bands, more concerned with posing with swords and shields and wearing makeup than they are with making good music. They are, quite literally, posers.
I think having a military background adds to the seriousness of the music; and given suggestive themes of 'Behead Muhammad,' 'Barbarous Temperament' and 'Spare No Wrath,' would you agree personal feelings may have greatly impacted the record? Personally, I love it when music has a deep meaning and/or the musicians explore their emotions through the music.
Tony: Yes, personal feelings, experiences, etc. Although I wrote the lyrics for "Decimate Legions," "Evil Shall Triumph," and "Blood Cleansing," my main mode of expression is through my riffs and what I am feeling at the moment. It could be emotions or being influenced by listening to a band. Sometimes riffs come to me in dreams, or when I am nowhere near my guitar and must repeat the riff in my head until I am able to pick up a guitar.
Jay: Generally speaking, I'm a very passionate person about anything and everything I do in life, and this is consistent with my approach to music. It simply has to be meaningful. Trench Warfare is a vehicle for negativity, a channel for catharsis. I need this canvas for expression in order to maintain my sanity. Sure, I obviously enjoy doing this in many ways, but writing and performing isn't always "enjoyable" per se. Like a snake shedding its skin, it can be painful, unpleasant and uncomfortable at times. But it's simply necessary, and the ugly nature of the process is beautiful in its own way.
Also, would you be willing to give some detail into the contempt you have for society as it stands?
Tony: The decline of rational thought and lack of accountability. There is too much blame placed everywhere but where it should be, with oneself.
Jay: I concur wholeheartedly with Tony. I have incredibly negative feelings toward humanity, predominantly because of us falling short of what we can be as a society. I despise lazy people, and I'm sure we have all encountered people who are deceitful, vile and rotten to the core. I think I do on a daily basis. I could go on to no end about my disdain for people and society. I have felt this way since I was a child. I am not a full-blown nihilist. I can be upbeat and very loving, to those who deserve it. Some people say I'm always smiling. I'm a happier person because of Trench Warfare. The music is an opportunity to express and, to an extent exorcize, my negativity. People are garbage. I'd rather hang out with animals nine times out of ten.
In an ancient interview for Transcending Obscurity you talked about not actively looking for a label and ended up releasing an album with them. It seems that at the end they've kept an eye on Trench Warfare, how is the cooperation going?
Tony: As for me, and I'll let Jay speak for himself, I do this for my love of extreme metal music and want to offer my efforts up to anyone who would listen, be it 5 people 500 or 5,000. We are thankful Peter, initially, then Kunal took an interest in us. Kunal has been very instrumental in promoting us.
Jay: I concur with Tony, and I couldn't be more pleased with Transcending Obscurity Records. It's a fantastic label with some impressive bands including some people who are the forefathers of death metal like Master, and Nattravnen features Kam Lee of Mantas/Death and Massacre. Some other bands on the label that have captured my interest are Drug Honkey, Paganizer, Crawl, Feral, Depravity, Temple Koludra, Henry Kane, Rudra. And Down Among The Dead Men is killer. Dave Ingram from Benediction and Bolt Thrower is their singer.
Is "being a responsible adult with jobs and responsibilities" (as you stated in the same interview) help in building Trench Warfare's fame, or does it get in the way?
Tony: While we are getting noticed I wouldn't say we are famous. Our priorities are growing as musicians and writing better albums with each release until we decide to call it quits or expire. I wouldn't say having jobs and responsibilities would help in achieving musical notoriety as there are well known and established bands and or solo projects who achieved success on their merits alone and are definitely less than responsible. There are various other factors that catapult a band be it luck, excellent musicianship, off stage antics, great live performance, etc. In some ways having a full-time steady job can be a hindrance as it limits the amount of time, we could spend touring but in the same aspect it helps to finance various expenses associated with making music.
Jay: Sure, it's cool that we're getting noticed. We believe our music is solid and worthy of being noticed, but we aren't chasing rock star dreams. Above all, we do this to express ourselves.
Reading all different bits scattered on the internet about the band is hard not to notice the comparisons. Does it bother you, are you embracing it or trying to get away from any influences while composing?
Tony: No not all. Influences play a vital role in shaping a band, in my opinion. Some bands are notable for replicating the style of another band. I call them the (insert band name here) worship bands. You have other bands who started off with a heavy influence from certain bands then grew and developed their own sound. We definitely have our influences but ultimately, we wish to evolve and develop our own sound.
Jay: We embrace our influences, but I think we mix them together and move forward in a way that's distinct and unique.
Let me ask you this, do you think that you're going to surprise people with the new material? What is it you aimed to achieve with 'Hatred Prayer'?
Tony: Based on some of the feedback we are getting people will enjoy it. The addition of Lee's drumming added a more authentic feel that I felt was lacking in the demo. My goal when I was writing 'Hatred Prayer' was to expand on the ideals present in our demo and improve in terms of songwriting.
Jay: We wanted to push ourselves to the max and release an album that was in line with the spirit of the demo but even more hateful and intense. We wanted to craft hateful art that sounds violent. I believe we succeeded in doing that, but we didn't go far enough.
What turned out to be the hardest obstacle to overcome while composing and recording the new album?
Tony: Creative blocks. Sometimes I would get into a writing rut, where I did not believe I was writing optimal riffs. if I don't feel it, feel the riff I in the process of writing it gets scrapped. Sometimes this would occur for days, or weeks. The main thing is sticking to it and I would persevere and get the creative juices flowing again
Jay: Writing the lyrics, and performing them, can be emotionally draining. The biggest challenge, for me, was ensuring that I was capturing the authenticity of expression while recording my tracks. I don't just go through the motions. I put myself in a certain mindset. That can be a pretty ugly place.
In your opinion, which song from the new album is the best representation of Trench Warfare and the new album at the moment?
Tony: It would have to be "Hatred Prayer." This is the first song that had a solo to it and the short lick I believe perfectly fit the song and added more dimension to the song. I thought "Hatred Prayer" would be the perfect song to conclude this album.
Jay: "Hatred Prayer," "Evil Shall Triumph" or "Blood Cleansing."
The new album has just been released. Will there be a video for any of the new songs?
Tony: I try to think a few steps ahead. We will promote the album upon its release and have albums available for Gospel of the Serpent. With the addition of a full-time lineup we have started writing new material and rehearsing.
Jay: We will have at least one video.
For those of us that will be able to experience Trench Warfare live, what is your drink of choice, what motivates you to create such explosive black energy?
Tony: I am a Samuel Adams guy. If that is not available Shiner will do. My motivation comes from my undying love of extreme metal music.
Jay: The beast from within has to break free from time to time, and that's where Trench Warfare comes into play. As far as booze, I like many things. Martinis, Guinness, Heineken, Tito's and soda water, etc.
It may be too early to ask but what are your long-term plans and goals? Can we count on more regular releases in the future? Is Trench Warfare lineup fully involved and committed to the vision of bestial/black death metal?
Tony: My long-term plan is to improve as a musician and continue to push the envelope in ways undiscovered. Jake Holmes, our bassist, is a true diehard and has been in Venereal Baptism, Condemner, and various other notable bands. He also has his own band Churchacide, who has a full-length album coming out soon. Jake has helped with songwriting for newer songs. New to Trench Warfare is Dustin Putz who has stepped up to the plate and learned all Trench Warfare songs in a short period of time and played our most recent gig. Steve Leyva is an excellent drummer.
Jay: Jake is a busy man. He has also recently joined Morbosidad. And I'd also like to take a moment to thank Nick Norris for being our live session guitarist last year. He has since gone on to join Imprecation.
But we are here for the long run, son! We aren't going anywhere. Hide yo wives!
Thank You for your time. Horns up! Last word is yours!
Tony: We appreciate you taking the time to interview us and showing your interest in Trench Warfare. We look forward to seeing you maniacs in November at Gospel of the Serpent!
Jay: Thanks for your support, Tomek and MetalBite!
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