at: 21th, February 2017
"Being scared made me feel alive. I loved the adrenaline rush I would get when Freddy Krueger appeared on the screen to torture the children on Elm Street. The mystery involved with horror films appealed to me at a very young age. I wanted to tap into the other side, the darkness, the beyond.
1. Being a "young" band, Tell us about your evolution as a “musician” and getting involved in the scene. What is your opinion on the underground nowadays?
My father had me listening to Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Alice Cooper, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, Thin Lizzy, and Iron Maiden, among many, many others, before I could even talk. He took my cousin to his first show when he was eleven to see Deep Purple back in 85.
My cousin has been heavily influenced by my dad’s example, and they both have ridiculous amounts of music. They both have extremely diverse tastes in music as well. I followed their lead by listening to all kinds of bands, and projects from all eras and genres.
Metal, punk rock, grindcore, and industrial are my favorite types of music, but I also listen to classical, jazz, outlaw country/folk, classic rock, indie, underground hip hop, electronica, and darkwave. My dad always said variety is the key to life.
I had a friend in fourth grade who played the trumpet. I was fascinated by it so I picked it up when I was nine. I started playing guitar when I was twelve. I started getting involved with the scenes in Denver and going to a lot of shows when I was fourteen. Friends and I would jam here and there, but it wasn’t until my early twenties that I really started getting serious about recording.
I had been listening to black metal for years at this point, but it wasn’t until I met Ed ‘Antihuman’ Spero at a local record shop called ‘Black and Read’ that my ears would hear more black metal than I could ever have imagined. He showed me some songs he had done along with a phenomenal screamer named X for a project they called Marks of the Masochist. They invited me to write and play songs for a new album, and our split with Enecare from Ireland came out in February, 2009. It was my first official recording.
It was after this that I started recording the songs that I had been writing and playing for years for a project that I would eventually call Surreal Demise. It was at this point that I really started focusing on my music.
Honestly I don’t have much of an opinion on the underground. I pretty much stick to my own and focus on my work, but I will say that there are a lot of newer bands putting out great music that I like, and there are classic bands still putting out great material as well.
2. Although I'm really cautious when it comes to a "one man band", I must admit that, in your case, I was really amazed by the final outcome. Why did you decide to play all the instruments, instead of forming a regular line up? Is it a matter of total control of your music?
Well thanks! I appreciate the kind words. I decided to play all the instruments because I already knew how each of them would sound in my head and I just needed to get it done.
I have this music in me that needs to come out. I have these words that need to be said. It’s a force taking on its own identity; my brain child if you will. I am not at all opposed to working with other musicians in the future though. It would be exciting to see what music could come from a collaborative effort.
3. Have you been influenced by any non-black metal bands? How did you come to realize music is your passion?
Those are excellent questions. I have definitely been influenced by non-black metal bands. For example, the creepy talking style vocals on “Lupine Fury” are inspired by Ogre from Skinny Puppy. A lot of punk rock elements are observed in my music as well. Lyrically I’m very influenced by Danzig. As I stated earlier, I have a very eclectic taste in music, so I draw inspiration from many bands in many different genres for my music writing, but Emperor and Blut Aus Nord are my biggest influences.
From the time I was nine playing school concerts, and participating in competitions, I knew this is what I’m meant to do. I love playing and writing music. It has always been my biggest passion.
4. Where do you think all this interest for Supernatural Horror, Elemental Power, and Otherworldly Dimensions comes to you? Were you raised based on such principles, or you discovered everything at a certain point?
Firstly, when my mother was giving birth to me, both of our hearts stopped from complications and we both had to be resuscitated. I died as I was being born and was brought back, so technically I’m undead, haha! I would say I’m a zombie, but I haven’t eaten anyone yet.
My father raised me on Batman and Dracula, and my mother loves horror films and Halloween. Some of my best memories with her were decorating the house for Halloween and watching scary movies. As a mere child I discovered that I liked the feeling of being scared because it seemed kind of like the forbidden fruit.
Being scared made me feel alive. I loved the adrenaline rush I would get when Freddy Krueger appeared on the screen to torture the children on Elm Street. The mystery involved with horror films appealed to me at a very young age. I wanted to tap into the other side, the darkness, the beyond.
I was simultaneously becoming very interested in history as well. My younger sister and I lived with an aunt and uncle in the south when we were kids and they took us to museums and civil war reenactments, and this really sparked my curiosity for history and why the different cultures of the world have the traditions they do. My thirst for knowledge would evolve into a love for mythology, science, metaphysics and the occult, on top of history and horror.
I have always loved nature too, and have always felt a deep peace and feeling of tranquility in the woods, the mountains, and by water. I eventually learned about my Viking and Celtic ancestry and a lot of things started coming together. Wolves and ravens have always been my favorite animals, so you could imagine how excited I was when I learned about Odin’s wolves Geri and Freki, and his ravens Hugin and Munin. I started attributing my love for storms to Thor, and my love for fishing to Frey and Njord.
With all this being said, it is no surprise that black metal would have such a profound impact on me when I found it, as all the things I mentioned above go hand in hand with it. I was a very angry teenager at the same time, so it felt very natural to me. I definitely identified with the Satanic, anti-Christian, and occult philosophies of black metal, along with the nature worship, the mysticism, the misanthropy and hate, and anger. I felt mesmerized at times when I listened to it. I felt transcended. I hate Christianity and all of western religion for that matter and can proudly say I have never been baptized. So with all I have experienced with these matters, I would say I was raised on such principles, indeed.
5. Could you tell me something about the process of making "Open The Veil". . How long time it took to record it and in what manner you wrote ideas for this material?
I actually started writing the songs on “Open the Veil” when I was about seventeen. I always wrote songs on guitar and eventually developed a plethora of tunes to work with. I essentially kept these on the back burner once I started working with Ed for Marks of the Masochist, but he taught me enough about the recording process that I eventually started recording my songs on my own. I realized I was a novice (and still am) at this whole thing, but I still wanted to do it all myself.
Unfortunately I never spent too much time behind a drum kit, couldn’t afford one, and lived in an apartment, so naturally, I programmed my drums. I took recordings of real drum samples and imported them into an older program to put the drum tracks together.
Once I had the drums written, I rendered them into wav files and imported those into the recording program I use. I started recording rhythm and lead guitars over them. Eventually I saved enough money to buy a used bass from a friend and recorded the bass tracks over the guitars and drums.
Lyrics came after that, and would prove to be the longest and most difficult process of the writing stage. I’m a bit of a perfectionist. Every riff and bass line had to be on point, and it was no different with the words I would choose to scream over the music. I tell elaborate horror stories in the songs for the most part, and write them in a poetic fashion, so I spent a lot of time on the lyrics.
“Lupine Fury” was the last song I needed to finish lyrics and record vocals for. I remember the night I did finish the lyrics was on a full moon, which is symbolic since the song is about a werewolf. Not long after that, I took a day to record the vocals and had a perfect session. All of the screams, growls, and creepy talking vocals were one and done takes. I was very satisfied. At the end of the session I began to back everything up on an external hard drive, and it was then that my laptop at the time decided to take a giant shit and crash right in the middle of the process. I was devastated. I had most of the drum tracks and music recordings saved on another disc, but I had lost a lot of work with the crash. It took me months to find a company that could actually recover the data on the hard drive and even then, it was only fragments. Fortunately, enough was recovered that my perfect session and other work was saved, but I would spend hours and hours piecing every song back together with wav files. It was a nightmare. Just as I had died at birth and was brought back, my first album, my first brainchild, almost died before it even had a chance to be heard.
After the writing and recording process, I would embark on a then unforeseen adventure deep into the rabbit hole of music mixing. At this point Ed had moved out of state, so I went to a music studio in Boulder where I met a very talented music engineer named Anna Frick. She shared her wisdom with me, and really taught me a lot about the whole sound spectrum with frequencies, panning, decibel levels, spacing etc. With her advice, I was able to bring depth to my songs with different techniques and plugins she had suggested. Despite my amateur production, for me, I felt like it was coming to life.
Shortly thereafter, I met a local music DJ in the area named Rex Buchanan. He and I sat down a couple of times and he showed me some excellent programs for mastering. After a long but fun process of trial and error, I had mixed and mastered my album. Although the production is very amateur and the sound is primitive, I feel like every instrument has enough space to be heard, which is good enough for me.
Rex also helped me with the albums art layout. I drew my own logo and found a painting I wanted to use called “A kísértetek órája - The Ghost Hour” by Mihály Zichy (1880). I feel like it captures the essence of the music perfectly. After tightening everything up I decided to release “Open the Veil” on Halloween, 2016. No other date could be more fitting.
6. What would you say inspires your songwriting, as in topics or emotions?
For topics I will say horror, occult, history, mythology, nature, life experience, and women. For emotions I will say hate, despair, and sheer rage on one hand, and pride, passion and impulsive excitement on the other.
7. As black metal has germinated and sprouted, it has achieved a commercial viability that could not possibly have been foreseen when the art form was taking its first steps in Sweden, Germany and South America.. Do you believe that there are principles and ethics in black metal that should not be violated?
Even with its commercialization, there are elements of black metal that will never be exploited. Elements that can only be understood by opening the darkest recesses of the mind. The mainstream majority do not realize the power of exploring this art beyond just casual listening, and do not understand the harsh truths expressed within it. Black metal is one of the most brutal and unapologetic forms of music ever created. Nothing will ever change this. Nothing will ever change the fact that a number of the black metal musicians screaming about hate, murder, and revenge against Christianity, have actually practiced what they preached.
I have albums from black metal bands all around the world who are extremely obscure and unknown, but have produced some of the best music I have ever had the pleasure of listening to. It is one of the purest forms of self-expression. While I don’t agree with too much commercialization, I think no matter what, black metal is forever underground.
As far as principles that shouldn’t be violated go; I will say, Satanic or not, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism have no fucking place in black metal. Period. This principle was established from the start, decades ago and should always be observed. When I heard about this supposed Christian black metal, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Un-fucking-believable.
8. Do you think there is an actual philosophy associated with blackmetal? And if so, why is it there are so many bands out there that do not seem to be following it..that they are more into just being into black metal because it is "satanic"?
I was shittin’ diapers when Mayhem put out “Deathcrush”, so I know my place. I’m not going to stand on a soap box and talk about what “Trve” or “Kvlt” black metal is and should be. Compared to the ones who founded it, my opinion doesn’t matter.
To answer your question though, I think there are some things I can say; we know that when it was first starting, black metal was Satanic and anti-Christian, and that was essential to the genre. There were however, some bands that were not singing about Satan that still shared some of the same ideas about misanthropy, war, isolation, mysticism, paganism and nature worship, existentialism, nihilism and so on. So I think black metal philosophy involves a lot of ideas.
I haven’t sang about Satan directly in my songs thus far, but that’s not to say that I ever won’t. Some of my lyrics certainly are blasphemous and anti-Christian though, and there will be a lot of that. For the most part, I tell horror stories, and that’s that. I’ve even taken to calling my music Horror Metal.
9. Have you ever considered enlisting members to handle the various instruments in order to perform live, and if not, why not?
Yes, absolutely. If the opportunity presented itself and the circumstances were right I would certainly consider playing live with a band.
10. Do you feel that you are a part of the local extreme scene or are you more related with bands from other countries? Which bands are “like brothers” to Surreal Demise?
When I was a teenager I was heavily involved in the punk rock/grindcore and metal scenes here in Denver. There are a lot of amazing musicians and fans in Colorado that appreciate a wide variety of music and are great supporters. Through the years though, I’ve kind of lost touch with the scenes as I have focused more on work, and putting my music together.
The one man I consider a brother is Ed Spero who I’ve already mentioned a few times. He’s responsible in many ways for creating the black metal scene in Denver way back in the 90’s with his band Misanthropy and other projects.
In my late teens and into my early twenty’s I was living in complete chaos. My living situation was shit. Drugs, alcohol, sex and violence was everyday life. A number of friends died way too young, and it was horrible. I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. Ed pulled me out of my dilemma and got me on my feet. He showed me a new path. He got me a good job, taught me how to record, and showed me how I could get my own music going. I am forever grateful to him for all his help.
11. What are some of your interests, occupations and hobbies outside of composing sick music?
I’m actually very passionate about my career as an electrician. I like building things, fixing things, working construction, and knowing how things work. Electricity fascinates me. Nikola Tesla was a god among men.
My biggest passion right behind making music though, is in practicing Kenpo Karate, Shaolin Kung-Fu and Jiu Jit Su. I love martial arts and the traditions involved. Health and fitness, and hiking the Rocky Mountains have become important to me as I’ve gotten older. I also like to meditate and read runes.
My other hobbies include shooting guns and fishing. One of my favorite pass times is going to the lake and slaying fish. They’re fun to catch and good to eat!
12. Well, my pal, that´s all for now, thanks a lot for your co-operation. I hope you enjoy this interview.. Some words you like to add?
Yes, thank you for supporting metal bands and musicians. I have certainly enjoyed this interview and I think your contributions to metal music are tremendous, from the magazine/webzine, to pod casts and compilation CD’s. It has been a pleasure to work with you. Hail Painfucktory!