Scar Culture - Interview
After reading Billy Milano’s description of Scar Culture, which says no more and no less but "Fucking brutal", I’m wondering what else really can I say here? While coming from different cultural backgrounds and musical influences, the four New Yorkers seemed to find a perfect recipe to blend death metal with grind and hardcore. Aggressive and brutal but with a crispy clear production, "Inscribe" is definitely going to open many eyes around the scene and make Scar Culture mentioned in press around the world as a rookie candidate of the year. Without a question they are on my list... I had a chance to get more detail on the band up to this point progress while talking to the man in charge of vocal destruction, Pheroze Karai, and here’s what he had to say...
Tell us the history of the band that’s behind "Inscribe" that I must admit is one of the best debuts of the year...
Thank you, I appreciate that... We started around the fall of ’97, our guitarist John was in a band that was kind of like thrash and basically he wanted to get heavier, play a heavier style of music. So, he and the drummer from that band decided to form another band. Duke, our current drummer came in to one of the sessions, got behind the kit and he started playing drums and old drummer took over the vocals. They put an ad for a bass player and got Frank but then the singer left the band so they put another ad. At that time I just moved to New York so I answered the ad, they gave me 3 songs to write lyrics so I did and we took it from there. Originally we were called Scrape and we played our first show with Brutal Truth in January of ’98. We recorded a demo and just started playing a lot of shows with that. That demo went really well for us we probably got rid of 4000 copies. We started getting mails from places like Sweden where we had no idea people were listening to us out there. So, we decided to go ahead and record another demo that would be pretty much for press and radio. After recording that we decided to use our own money and record full-length album, before we were sign to anything and than use that to shop around the labels and Century Media picked it up.
How did Billy Milano get involved with Scar Culture?
A friend of mine told me that Billy was looking for bands, so I sent him our second demo. I followed up with an email, he looked into it and wrote me back that saying that listened to it and he thought it was really really good, really fucking heavy. His only thing was that he never produced a band like us. Most of the stuff he’s done was like Madball, Agnostic Front or bands like that; he’s never done a band as heavy as us. He made that clear to us and we said all right let’s take a chance. He set the date and we went for it. The staff at Blue Meanie Studio really helped us out; they had a lot of good input on mixing and production.
It seems like after that everything started to fall into a place. For how many albums is your deal with Century Media and how did it happen?
What we did was after we recorded the album I put together a press package to shop to labels. I made a list of record companies and I sent it everywhere. I sent it to every metal label around I even sent it to major commercial labels [laughs] just to see what people would think and to start the name recognition going. There were a few labels interested but no one contacted us until few months later after Steve Joh from Century Media. We started talking to CM, I called Billy and asked him just to put a good word for us at CM for verification. That’s how it basically happened. It took a long time to negotiate our deal [laughs], they wanted a lot more albums from us but we settled on a three-album deal. They sent us back to the studio to record more songs, got all the paper work going and the rest is self-explanatory.
To "Inscribe" we go... Let’s start with the very interesting cover, what exactly does it represent? What is that scale or whatever it is?
The figure on the cover is a... when I was talking to the artist I gave him the lyrics and I said there is not one thing that stands for anything and why don’t you just talk to me and kind of get the vibe out of that, out of our conversation. Out of that he got the main vibe that was a human, vibe very much about the human nature. So, what you kind of have is like this close-up of an eye and the figure, the scale kind of figure that you can’t really tell what it is and that was kind of the intention, as well as kind of baby’s face in the reflection of the eye. We wanted it to be so you can’t really pinpoint what exactly it is about but you can still have that feeling from it and we basically just wanted to present the human aspect of the band.
What strikes me the most in this album is its power and aggression combined with perfect touch of groove elements that make me want to bang my head for the whole 40 minutes. Who’s responsible for the music side of this band and how does the writing process work in Scar Culture?
The majority of the music is written by John, our guitarist. He comes in with a lot of riffs and a lot of ideas to the practice. Primarily him and Duke, our drummer, will sit together and start piecing together the songs. Then Frank and I will help them arrange it and once in a while we’ll come in and write separate parts but the basis, the blueprints for almost every song we write comes from John. Lyrically and vocally I do all the writing.
A lot of bands fall short during the production process where "Inscribe" sound simply perfect. Did any of you have any experience with studio environment?
Actually, I went to college for music recording for couple of years but I stopped after two years so, I know a little bit how the studio works and I know what to look for. Prior to this I don’t think John or Frank have done any big recording and I know that Duke had. That’s pretty much that, I know my way around the studio but when the time comes to actually record an album I saw the Blue Meenie studio and I knew we were in good hands because I knew what they are capable of doing. They were very professional but and the same time very relaxed.
Did you know exactly what sound you wanted to achieve and are you satisfied with the final result?
We are very satisfied with the final result. What we told the studio and Billy while we were recording was that we wanted to come across as raw, very aggressive and powerful but at this same time have a lot of dynamics to it cause I always fell that that’s missing in a lot of heavy metal music. We wanted to make sure that it was clear and you could hear everything and nothing was lost in the mix so you could hear the intensity and emotion behind the music.
It looks like everyone has a tough time giving your music style a label. How would you describe the type of music you perform?
I’d pretty much say it’s metal. Generally people want to label everything they can and in the end it makes it easer to find and accept but we have so many different influences coming into the band that I really don’t think it’s anything more than just really brutal and very emotional music. If someone asks me what it is I usually just say it’s metal.
Are the lyrics as important as music or do they go on a second plane?
Personally speaking because I write all the lyrics, lyrics work hand in hand with the music. Lyrics are very important to me. Like I said, we are very emotional, honest band and the only way we can express it is by writing honest music and I try to do the same with my lyrics. I spend a lot of time on them and I put a lot of thought and energy while writing them.
What are the main topics of your lyrics and do they in any way relate to the album’s cover or title?
Completely. The album cover and title was inspired by the lyrics. Like I said, our cover artist all he had to work with was my lyrics and our conversation. As far as lyrical topics I really don’t want to go into details because they are very personal for me but I can say that I write from my personal standpoint, from experience and the general theme of my lyrics is of a human nature. Almost everything on them has to do with me, and when I relate to something else it all boils down to a human nature.
Of course except Faith No More’s ‘Surprise! You’re Dead!’ Whose idea was it, yours or record label?
[laughs] It was our idea. The record label wanted us to make the album longer so we went in and recorded three more songs, one ours and two more covers. One of the covers, which is not on the album, was ‘Wolverine Blues’ by Entombed and that’ll probably be released on one of the special releases somewhere but I don’t know exactly where and when. As for Faih No More ‘Surprise! You’re Dead’, we are all big fans of Faith No More and I’m probably the biggest one; I love Michael Patton and everything he does. He’s a great vocalist. The song... we just though it was different, not a lot of bands cover Faith No More songs and this song really fit with our style and we decided to go ahead and do it.
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