Interceptor - Interview


Do you miss that feeling you got as a teenager when you were watching live videos of all your favorite 80's metal bands for the first time? Do you really wish to see bands once again tear the stage apart with their primitive heaviness and evil rock ‘n roll, revolting against musical consumerism and revive what was once crucial in both the New Wave of British Heavy Metal and Thrash Metal movement? An exemplary band that really throws you back in those days when wild bands like Venom, Tank, Metallica, Slayer and Exodus were really on the rise, is the South Carolina based black/heavy/speed metal band Interceptor. After 2 years since their inception, they released their highly anticipated debut full-length album "Tales Of Mayhem" via Motorpunk Records, showcasing some violent heavy metal action with a bulldozing sound production that sounds like an overheated jet engine. These guys became really popular with all the youths that are into oldschool metal, and after a while they started looking at Interceptor as a Phoenix that arose from the ashes to bring back those sacred traditions. A week after the album had been released, I had the pleasure of talking with vocalist/bassist Blake "Bulldozer" Arenvurst and guitarist Johnny "Reaper" Faiella, regarding the release of their debut album "Tales Of Mayhem', the overall feedback that they got, as well as their initial goals as a band when they started out in 2022. Stick around, grab a beer or two and inject yourself some dose of violent heavy metal.

Vladimir

It's been few weeks since the album has been released, how are you guys feeling about it? How has the fan and critical feedback been for you?

Bulldozer: I mean the fan feedback has been great so far, people are digging it, the records have been almost sold out on Motorpunk Records, so people watching this, go get yours!

So, it's been already sold out in just one week and I still see people posting that album on social media, whether it's on Facebook or Instagram. So, I wanted to ask you guys this really quickly about the making of "Tales Of Mayhem", this album really stands out to me because I was always a big fan of first wave black metal, and of course a lot of the NWOBHM, and this album really kicks ass because it's got a lot of that old 80's necro sound production, can you guys tell me how did you get that specific sound?

Bulldozer: Well, a lot of that comes from using Marshall amplifiers, that's the big thing for the tone, we didn't wanna just sit there and use modern micing techniques, we didn't want to make it sound big and empty in the room, so we put the microphones few feet away from the amps. We do all that, and then we made sure to get a fine tape sound after we recorded it on GarageBand, because we don't wanna spend bunch of money on real DI's, we just wanted to make use of what we got and GarageBand has worked with me before. But obviously with that you get kind of a clean sound when you just use that, so we ran it through tape and then spit it back out, and it sounds old, it sounds like it came from tape.

Reaper: We originally wanted to record all three of us together, but with Tyrant living in Tampa right now, we couldn't really do that, so we recorded all tracks separately, which wasn't ideal, but it got the job done.

Bulldozer: Yeah, he recorded his drums in a home studio in Tampa, which we've never even figured out where it was, so that's why we just credited it in the album as a "random home studio in Tampa", and then right after that I recorded everything here in my home in the garage, bass, vocals and guitars, we just ran it real quick. The final drum recordings didn't get done until three days before the release of the album, mixed it all that night.

It's funny because I originally thought that Tyrant was present there during the recording of the album, because everything sounds like it was recorded on place. It's just got that demo quality, like I already said before that it has that first two Venom albums, as well as their demo tapes, because you really sound like you guys were all there in one room, recording that whole thing together. When you were recording that album, did you feel like some kind of presence there in the room, that something was going on?

Reaper: I mean, I haven't even met the guys since after the album was recorded, so we didn't record to his drums, we recorded to the demo drums that were just programmed, and he recorded after we put them in.

Bulldozer: Some of them we did record over his drums specifically, but then the last bit, the studio time gut put off, because the guy recording it had stuff to do, so first few checks we recorded over his drums, and then the other ones we just had to go program some drums and then go overlay his tracks over ours, you will have to guess which ones they are because I don't think you can't hear too much of a difference.

I really see that you guys are pretty much going back to the old days when people weren't frustrated to have as perfect sound as possible. I had this issue lately, for the past couple of years, that the US metal scene was talking too much about originality, and also about having as much of a polished sound and music, there is a lot of pretentiousness going on here and there, and when you guys showed up it was pretty much like you were basically saying "Fuck you!" and then just kicking it right up with the ass with the album it came out. Would you agree with that?

Reaper: That's it, that's what it's all about.

Bulldozer: Absolutely, I loathe the modern production, it steals away from music, especially metal. Metal is supposed to be something that is raw and scary sounding, it's supposed sound like a fucking motorcycle, peeling out on your fucking face. It's not supposed to sound like clean and pristine, like all these shitty modern metalcore and nu metal bands that record their music videos in like a white room, just kind of hanging around with no amps and stuff. It's not what metal is supposed to be about, it's not supposed to sound like you are playing through a glass window, it's supposed to sound like you are playing in a big empty stadium or a giant cave, that's how it's supposed to sound.

That's like the very big human factor that's been taken away after everything became so digital and processed after so many years. You are definitely right about the fact how everybody records their music video, it's always like in this one studio room where there is just like no color, no amplifiers whatsoever or anything, it's basically like they are trying to make a rap music video, but instead you just pun on some guys with guitars and goofiest haircuts possible. I think if you guys come up with a music video, it would be like a weird VHS recording that would be a nice throwback.

Reaper: We definitely have plans for that.

Bulldozer: That's the plan, we plan on recording maybe three or four, hopefully withing about a month or so, probably will be released in about a month or so, hopefully within a month we can start recording them and then get some stuff done. We want to show off the kind of aesthetic that we wanna replicate in our music videos, because we have little promos here and there that do a decent job, we show the people the kind of aesthetic we're about. You know, full-length music videos, those will kind of take it down.

Also, on the other side I have to say that this album is met with a lot of simplicity, but there is a lot of catchiness to it as well with the riffs. It's not like one of those instances where you can just hear the album and say that it's trying to be something but it's not anything, because you have headbanging tunes like "Slut", "Wehrmacht", the title track, the self-titled track, even "Witch's Dance" and "Into the Hellmouth" as well. You got very nice solid material on here, but I really want to know, where you having challenges while you were making Tales of Mayhem?

Reaper: Well, the drums was probably the main one. The reason we didn't get them until three days prior was because Tyrant actually recorded all the drums good, but when we were finally mixing it, we realized that couple of songs were not recorded to the right demos, so we had to scramble and really get into this guy's ear to make him record it before the album had been released.

Bulldozer: He had to go back in the studio about like 9/10/11 pm one night, so it was like the last-minute thing.

Reaper: That's probably the only mishap. Well, for me though actually, the solo to "50 Megatons", that one took me a real long time to record it, I just couldn't do it. Blake said it sounded good, but to my ear it didn't, so I recorded that probably about 15 times before the final take.

Those are the kind of difficulties you face as a guitarist, because you want to nail that solo right just to get that real feeling, it doesn't have to be perfect it just has to be right.

Reaper: Yep.

I really wanted you ask you guys about the whole background of Interceptor, what were you guys initially planning to do as a band, what kind of goals did you have as to what kind of sound or energy did you want to resonate through the music?

Bulldozer: Yeah well, so, when I originally started Interceptor, it's funny enough, because "Into the Hellmouth" is the remainder of what we started as. I loved thrash metal, that was my favorite genre, like '87 was the best year, so when I started Interceptor I wanted to sound like Persecution Mania, I wanted to sound like Power and Pain, I wanted to sound like Kill ‘Em All, straight thrash sound, but at the time too I figured I really also dug this game called Ace Combat Zero that was on a PlayStation 3, it was a jet-fighter game and it was one of my favorite games growing up. I wanted us to be themed as like an Ace Combat, not exactly by the game, but an air combat type of themes, like all our songs are about fighter jets and arial combat and stuff, that's what "Into the Hellmouth" was, it was our first song like that. The demo was pretty different from the album version, but that was kind of the one remainder of what we wanted to start out, it was fighter jet themed thrash metal and slowly our sound kind of traveled back in time a little bit, and here we go with the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, speed metal and first wave black metal sound. The thing is, I feel like we've pulled from good few genres, I see thrashers that like our music, I see the New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal crowds that like our music, we got black metal fans like our music, and our music ends up on Black Metal playlists. So that's why I say we're just "violent metal", because at the end of the day you see videos of us playing onstage, we're pretty damn violent thrashing around.

That's one of the things I remember, how I actually discovered you guys, someone posted a video with a caption "POV: You came to the Interceptor show", and it was you Blake shredding that bass like crazy, I went like "Jesus Christ, this guy is fucking nuts!".

Bulldozer: Actually, the thing about that show, Tyrant recorded that video before he was in the band. He was a fan, he came down to Tampa, this was when we had "Double A" and "Poltergeist" in the band. We played in Tampa, it was a great show, and Tyrant was down there, he was actually a fan at the time and he's the one who got that video with a few others, and he made it look that it was real wild in there.

If you take that video and the whole performance, including your highly anticipated debut album, even here in Serbia fans were asking when is the album going to come out, everything kind of exploded all at once, I just kept saying to myself "Damn these guys are more Venom than Venom is today", like you know what I am saying?

Bulldozer: Oh yeah. The thing is we don't want to necessarily want to capture one band sound. I mean, Venom are one of our biggest influences, but we also take influence from bands like Tank, Motörhead of course that was a real big one, also Warfare, even Carnivore here and there, and little bit of Iron Maiden with some stuff, and other bands too, I mean like "50 Megatons" was inspired by Ted Nugent, and "Slut" was inspired by AC/DC. Some people immediately just write us up like "Venom clones" and yeah, we were pushing a bit too close to that, but the thing is we're trying to go towards our own sound, while sticking to the rawness and the power that Venom had, the rock and roll sound, that just evil rock and roll. I think with what we're doing right now, we're on track to fully develop into our own thing while still sticking to the raw heavy metal classic sound that we got.

That's one of the things I actually mentioned in the review, that you can tell that there is more stuff than just Venom, you can tell that there is stuff like Tank, Warfare, Angel Witch and of course Discharge and GBH from the hardcore punk stuff, because let's be honest that's one of the things that basically built the foundation of this "violent heavy metal sound" that we would be calling today black metal or as first wave black metal as it is. The part about being labelled as "Venom clones", I actually read a review from some other guy on the Metal Archives that basically left a 0% while stating that.

Bulldozer: That guy right there, man let me tell you about this guy. Every post that we make, every post that someone makes about us, every comment that we make, every comment that someone leaves about us, that guy right there, his name is Zach and he goes by his name as Slam on TikTok. He's our biggest fan, he comments on every single post, reply, comment, everything that mentions us, and in all honesty, we're thinking about sending him an Interceptor product package, just for his dedication to always replying to anything that mentions us. That review was not a serious review, he just hates us that much for his own personal reasons. If you go look at the other reviews he's left, he's left 90% ratings on Lorna Shore and other deathcore bands. He's got a personal vendetta, because I am pretty sure I insulted the deathcore bands he likes in the past, he took it way too much to the heart and now he's just being a baby about it. But no, I appreciate him very much for always having the dedication to reply to every single comment and post that mentions us, including our own.

Damn, I mean that part where you said that he's really into Lorna Shore, honestly that band has been so overblown and so hyped to death that it makes me go "Fuck off!", because I didn't listen to bands like Hellhammer and Sarcofago just so Lorna Shore can be considered as one of the primary black metal acts in the 21st century, even though it's got nothing to do with black metal at all. It just has some elements of it, but it's still metalcore/deathcore. When I saw who that guy is and saw that he's into slam and grindcore, it's no wonder he doesn't like Interceptor hahah.

Bulldozer: Exactly. That's goes for a lot of people too because at the end of the day, when I look at our fans, for the most part they're real headbangers, they're keeping it true. The people that hate us, I go look at their videos and the videos they're making, they're the guys that are in those big 2000's jeans, like triple X T-shirts, sitting there and doing like rap photos, but they're slam fans and nu metal fans. At the end of the day, I don't care, I don't want those dudes to be our fans. You know, if some bands are too afraid from alienating some people, I say that's not who we want to be our fans, I don't want people to be looking at them like "Yeah, it's an Interceptor fan right there dude".

Reaper: I'd rather have a hundred loyal fans, than a thousand fans who just follow you on TikTok and come at your show to just look the other way, like the guys standing at the bar and just chill.

That's one of the things I really hate about social media when people feel really entitled when they say that they are into that band, just because they jumped on the hype train. About people at shows with caps, shorts and everything, whenever I see a guy like that, I can't imagine him climb onstage with a band. When I interviewed Bobby of Pentagram, he said that every time he sees a guy like that, someone like that looks more like he's on his day off, like how is anyone supposed to take that seriously, there is like no stage presence whatsoever. Imagine like fifty or a hundred of those bands onstage, honestly you have to be very low minded level person to be into that, but of course with Interceptor, like I said there's a lot of kids here in Serbia like 14-, 15- and 16-year-olds that really dig you guys. They are really getting into this stuff and honestly, I can't recall seeing local kids be into a band that is just coming up and they are really digging this stuff. It's not like "Oh this band sounds like Venom and it's cool", they are like "These guys fucking kick ass", it's honest.

Reaper: That's great because people's perspective of metal has been jaded for the last 20 years, what it used to stand for and what it used to be was just angry people wanting to kick your ass and shit like that, but now it's just like you said, people with the baggy jeans, it's just not the same. It's great that there's young kids that aren't falling into that type of metal, they are staying true to what it used to be, it's great that there's young kids still out there that are liking that stuff.

Bulldozer: I've had people tell me "Oh your fans are kids", I am like we're kids too, we're 18/19 years old, most of our fans are from 14 to 16/17, that's like the majority of our fans we've noticed, and that's the thing. We would rather have these kids that are banging their heads, like so what, they are practically our peers, we would rather have these kids that are practically banging their heads than just some old bald guy sitting up there and doing the Benito Mussolini.

Reaper: Those are the guys that are gonna be our long-time fans. When they listen to us as kids, they are gonna listen to us as adults.

Bulldozer: Yeah, they'll be able to buy our records, unlike the old dudes that are gonna die too quick hahah. We'll be around.

I have to say that even if these kids aren't into vinyl, at least you can expect at some point that they will pick up a vinyl on a gig and they'll take it home, but when you see those guys at the big shows, the bigger bands that we're not into, you will almost never see them buy a physical copy, although they might buy a shirt. There is something really so special when you hold that physical copy in your hands, and it's not like when you have that album downloaded on Spotify, because you don't touch the cover, you don't see the band pictures and everything, that's one of the things that got me into collecting vinyls at the age of 20, because I wanted to really feel it. That's the human factor of it, and that's something you don't get that much from contemporary bands, you only get that from oldschool metal bands like you guys.

Bulldozer: That's right. That's the thing I've noticed. While record sales are back on the rise again, it seems like metal bands don't like to sell the most records and cassettes. Actually, we've sold a higher percentage of the cassettes than we have the records, whether that be just because it's cheaper or whatever, but I think people like to hold the music in their hands. These days, like you mentioned, digitally you just get to look at it on your screen and that's it, but with the physical music you get to hold it, you get to hear it, you get to look at everything inside, you get to see the band, and sometimes what's cool about is that you don't get to see all that much about the band. You don't go to social media where you see every single thing, you see the image that they gave out, and you're not like "Oh man, this guy, he lives here and he does this for a job", you just say "That's that guy, he plays this instrument for this band and these are the songs he played on", and that's it, that's the image you have in your mind. All the while you can almost feel closer, knowing them not on a personal level, and knowing them from what you see on the record, than you do from social media and just digital music.

I think that's very ensuring and a heartwarming fact when you see kids do the same thing when they buy records, it really throws you back in time, when people were actually wanting to connect with the band as much as they possibly can. Nowadays, people can connect with the band just because they have social media. I think that there is something much more magical when you buy that record and you take it home, it's like the DNA imprint of the band that's sitting in the corner of your room alongside that album cover. It's not like when you download the album, you can basically erase the download after a while when you get bored of it, but when you have it on vinyl or cassette, you're like "Hmmm, I haven't listened to this one in a while, I could take it with me an put it on my record player and that's it". Honestly, I really have to wonder what kind of stuff you guys can come up with next, because this is like you said, a violent and wild heavy metal record, and I can only see this getting more violent and wilder than it was the first time. With the demos it was gradually building up, and once the album came out, it's really taking shape, almost like a final form. What are you guys currently planning after this album's been out for some time?

Bulldozer: Well, I know we've got the Gulf tour, we're just doing four dates across the Gold Coast in the United States, we're in Tampa, Pensacola, Lafayette/Louisianna and Houston, and it's all spots where bands like us are around. For each one of theses shows, we've got, at least for the most part, oldschool sounding bands, because we want to stimulate the rising scene for that as much as possible, because there are so many bullshit bands. We've played with great bands, very nice fellas, but it is not our scene sometimes at all. We've played shows with some guys that sound like one of the bands at our local church, like a local megachurch band, and they were metalcore bands. It was just strange stuff, I figured we might as well just get people out there that are the real true fans, rather than just getting some random folks just standing there, we don't want those kinds of people at our shows out front. We want all the kids banging their heads, we want everyone to be out there just going wild, going crazy, we don't want like people standing around. I figured this next record that we'll come out with, hopefully we'll get it out within a year just because I like to keep a solid flow of music coming. It's gonna be heavier and faster, but when I say heavier, I don't mean we're gonna bring up seven string guitars and do breakdowns, none of that crap, I just mean the power that you feel through the music. I'll tell you what, stuff like Withcfynde, they are about as heavy as AC/DC, when you think about it in the modern heaviness terms, but at the end of the day, they are heavier than bands like Slipknot or like Lorna Shore with their breakdowns and stuff like that. People sit there and go like "Oh Lorna Shore is so heavy", I am like "No, bands like Witchfynde are heavier than that", just because they got the rock power to it, that's what it's about. So, we'll just keep putting out music, we'll just keep putting out evil rock and roll.

I like the fact that you mentioned Witchfynde, because I always looked at Give ‘Em Hell as one of those quintessential NWOBHM albums, because it's heaviness through intensity, and I always think that a lot of people don't take that term "heavy" the right way, because I always said that there has to be like a nice balance of intensity and the musical suspense that keeps you on edge. I think it really is more effective than a breakdown, because with breakdowns I can imagine almost any band doing that, but the way how a band like Witchfynde throws those kinds of moments in their music, it's very occult and atmospheric as well, and it has a genuine feeling. About being as heavy as AC/DC, I mean you are right, I mean I think they basically come from the same cloth and I wouldn't be surprised if they wanted to go heavier in that term.

Bulldozer: Yeah exactly, what you mentioned about the atmosphere, that is a big part of our music. Not just our music, but music in general. These days you listen to a band, especially with black/speed metal bands, so many bands do not get the atmosphere and the aesthetic down. Bands like BAT, they got the right idea, but they don't have the right execution of it, because yeah, they are playing the black/speed metal, but they do not have that atmosphere at all. They are trying to play stuff but with Slipknot kind of production and atmosphere, like it is so modern and clean, and the problem with that is the modern record labels, because we got buddies in similar bands and they wanted it to sound raw, and then Metal Blade told them "No, you have to make it sound clean so you can appeal to a more mainstream audience". These big record labels that were once bastion of real true metal, all they are doing now is just stimulating sterile and overproduced crap that doesn't have the same atmosphere, when literally all they are doing is just taking away from the music and they are taking away from the fans that would truly enjoy the music and then giving it to all just mainstream people that are like "Yeah, this is kind of cool man, I am now gonna go listen to Slipknot now".

Reaper: You can play all the right notes, but if you don't have the right atmosphere, you are not taking somebody to a place that they are not in. When someone listens to our album, when somebody listens to "Wehrmacht" or something, they feel like they are in the middle of a battlefield, and that's what we want it to be. It's all about the atmosphere, because you can't just play the notes and rob them of emotions.

Exactly, because I think that's the problem with consumerism in metal nowadays, it really destroyed the human factor of it. You mentioned Metal Blade, it really is like that. You have like a nice band catalog over there, but on the other hand you have those bands that really just seem like they want to appeal to a wider audience, just because of the production side of things. That's one of the things why I don't like the fact about great bands doing their albums at Andy Sneap's studio, because as much as I love the early stuff he did with Sabbat, I don't like his production, it's very sterile and it's like they are trying to make the perfect record from the production standpoint, not from the performance standpoint as well. I think that people should really feel the heaviness of the riffs as they are, not the way how it's produced, and I think it's really impossible to revolt against that. But the fact that there is always this cult underground movement, standing up for itself, it really brings hope because these guys don't care that much. We are all simple people, we don't care about these things, we just want to have fun. That's one of the things that I really like a lot about you guys and your fans and anybody else who is getting into bands that are in the similar vein as Interceptor.

Bulldozer: Definitely!

It's been really nice talking to you guys, I really hope we'll get a chance to share a beer and see you perform in Europe, I would really love to see you guys because I think it's gonna be very wild. Are there any final words you'd like to leave for all the fans?

Bulldozer: Go buy Tales of Mayhem before it's sold out, that's the biggest one. Stick around, because we have a lot of stuff coming, we'll be coming to Europe.

Reaper: Where metal only gets more violent.

Bulldozer: Yeah, where metal only gets more violent, like he said. Stay heavy!

Reaper: Don't conform to the Metal Blade standards.

Bulldozer: Yeah, don't sit there and play your music all crappy, play your music loud and play it raw, play it rude, go and smash beer cans on your face, stuff like that. Don't be like one of these modern pussies.

Reaper: Do what real metal was intended to do!

Entered: 7/8/2024 4:14:39 PM

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