Back in 2009, When All Became None, the debut album from Coffinworm was dropped like a bomb in the midst of the extreme metal scene. The band from Indiana was putting together elements of black metal, death metal and sludge, making their music a devastating mix. Now, Coffinworm release their second full-length, IV.I.VIII, and the whole world becomes a little bit darker. Scene Point Blank caught up with guitarist Carl to shed some light on the band and their new album.
Scene Point Blank: Hi guys! First of all, thanks for finding the time to do this interview. It is much appreciated. So, would you like to introduce the band?
Carl: Sure, this is Carl answering. I play guitar. Dave on vocals, Garrett plays guitar, Todd plays bass, and Chubbz (Josh) plays drums.
Scene Point Blank: How would you describe the leap from When All Became None to IV.I.VIII? Would you say it was the next logical step for the band?
Carl: I think it was a big leap from When All Became None. We went through a lineup change with Tony leaving and me moving from drums to guitar. Chubbz came into the band and elevated what we were able to do before. I’m more of a punk drummer and Chubbz plays with a lot of tom and cymbal accents. He can also blast his ass off and has great feet when it comes to double-kick patterns, so having that foundation for the new material was a big leap. We definitely aimed to push the music and arrangements to a higher standard on IV.I.VIII and I think we achieved that. Once we got to the studio and did the basic tracks, though, we layered tracks with all manner of instruments on top to make the album as thick as we could. Piano, synth, acoustic guitars, banging on pieces of metal, fucked up noise, whatever sounded like a good idea…we went for it.
Scene Point Blank: It has now been a few months since the album has been released. Are you happy with the response that it got?
Carl: Most definitely. Hopefully people are digging it and it continues to reach more people that haven’t heard it yet. The vinyl will be out in a few months, so that should bring some attention back to the record again.
Scene Point Blank: This is the second album that you release through Profound Lore. How would you describe your relationship with the label?
Carl: Profound Lore has been great. Chris believed in us before we’d really done anything as a band, other than finished our demo and played a small handful of shows. It’s been great to work with him and we thank him for enabling us to realize the vision for both of our albums.
Scene Point Blank: Your music is very rich in terms of the different genres that coexist within it, including black metal, death metal, and doom. Does each member of Coffinworm brings in a part of the sound of the band or are you all into all those different genres on the same level?
Carl: It’s almost always a collaborative process, so everyone has a hand in each composition. Usually one of us has a riff or a basic structure together that we bring to practice and we all build on it from there. We all have varying and eclectic tastes, but everyone in Coffinworm has common ground in those genres you mentioned.
Scene Point Blank: A couple of years back, two members of the band (yourself and Dave) appeared as guests in the latest Von album, Dark Gods: Seven Billions Slaves. I am guessing you are big fans of Von. How would you describe that experience?
Carl: Indeed. That was such a cool experience to be a part of that record. Venien had followed us on Twitter and I sent him a direct message. We spoke back and forth awhile and he told me he’d been listening to When All Became None. He asked us to contribute to a song on the Von record and we were honored to take part in that.
Scene Point Blank: As far as I know, Sanford Parker (Minsk, Corrections House, and more) recorded and mixed When All Became None and the new album. In my opinion he did a hell of a job, retaining the dark sound of the band but also presenting all the elements of your music accurately. How was it working with him?
Carl: You are correct and he did do a hell of a job both times. Sanford is a friend first and foremost, and someone we trust. He knows what we sound like and is an incredible engineer and producer. He’s also very easy to work with and unafraid to try weird shit. On IV.I.VIII there were so many tracks after all the overdub sessions that I was shocked he was able to make everything fit. Those recording sessions were the best I’ve been a part of yet, and I’m still blown away by how the record sounds. He really upped the ante this time around.
Scene Point Blank: Was the recording and mixing process easier the second time round, since you knew Sanford well enough from the production of When All Became None?
Carl: Definitely. We were also better prepared this time around and had been playing the bulk of the new material (at least in practice sessions) for about a year, so most of the kinks or changes were completely worked out. The songs had enough time to fully bake on this record and we went into the studio with a pretty solid idea of what we wanted to achieve.
Scene Point Blank: Which studio did you use for recording the album, and can you also tell us where was IV.I.VIII mastered and by whom?
Carl: IV.I.VIII was recorded at Earth Analog studio in Tolono, IL, owned by Matt Talbott who played guitar and sang in the band Hum. It is an incredible space with a killer live room, great in-house gear, a Sphere console, and the overall vibe is very relaxed. There are living quarters and a full kitchen on the premises. It was very easy to work there and as far as the sounds go, I think the record speaks for itself. Tolono is a small town about 10 minutes outside of Champaign, IL, which was nice to not be in a big city like Chicago or even a college town like Champaign. The record was mastered by Collin Jordan at The Boiler Room, who also did the mastering for When All Became None. He does excellent work.
Scene Point Blank: What inspires your lyrical themes in general?
Carl: Dave relates real life experiences to his lyrics with black humor intertwined, but they’re left to the listener’s interpretation. He’s always said he wants that exchange to be a dialogue rather than a monologue.
Scene Point Blank: What is the meaning behind the title IV.I.VIII?
Carl: It’s a personal meaning wrapped into numerological form that we decided not to publicize.
Scene Point Blank: The cover artwork is very interesting. If I am not mistaken it depicts the classic concept of the ouroboros (snake devouring itself) but instead of a snake there is, what I can only describe, as a coffinworm in its place. How would you say that this concept ties in with the new album and with the band in general?
Carl: It ties in with the new album and where we were as a band 100% at the time we were preparing the material to hit the studio. Something of importance with the ouroboros on the cover is that the tail is not being swallowed; it’s not fully connected. Scott Shellhamer did an amazing job on the artwork. The cover is a large format painting and I was blown away by the detail after seeing it in person.
Scene Point Blank: If I am not mistaken you are located in Indiana. Forgive my ignorance, but is there an extreme music scene over there?
Carl: Yes, we are located in Indianapolis, Indiana. There is an extreme music scene here, although it ebbs and flows. There are a handful of active bands at the moment.
Scene Point Blank: Who are some of the bands currently active and what is their general style, in terms of sound?
Carl: There's a pretty wide variety of active bands, but here are a few:
Sacred Leather are my favorite band in Indy right now, combining first-wave black metal a la Mercyful Fate, Venom, etc. influences with early death/thrash tempos and d-beat. Major vocal influences from Bulldozer. My other band Kvlthammer has played several shows with them and they always kill it live. A cassette demo is coming out soon and they're working on songs for an album now.
Conjurer are also good friends that we've played with many times and are probably the heaviest band in Indy. They combine a lot of elements from Floor/Torche (specifically the lowest string tuned an octave down), rock ‘n’ roll song structures, lots of guitar effects pedals, and big fuzzy riffs. Live they are always on point. They recorded their full-length with me earlier this year, which is incredible. The demo that's currently available does not do their sound justice, but watch for the full-length.
Black Goat of the Woods are good friends of ours and we've played many a show together. Great mix of primitive styles, mainly in the black metal/death metal and doom realm. I recorded their 8-song EP a few years ago that Dave released on his label, Necrology Records.
Apostle of Solitude are a doom institution in Indy at this point. Great dudes, killer band. They've gone through some lineup changes in the last few years that really upped their game and the new material is easily the best stuff they've ever written. Cruz Del Sur is releasing their forthcoming album, Of Woe and Wounds, and have a track streaming here.
Nuclear Hellfrost are from Fort Wayne but play Indy regularly. Killer black metal with insane blast beats. They've released a handful of splits/EPs and I love all of it, but my favorite is still their first demo. The drummer/vocalist, Andy, also runs Eternal Warfrost Productions and plays in Hemdale and the excellent grindcore band Nak'ay.
Radiation Sickness have been back at it for a few years now, playing a mix of death/thrash metal and grind. They released their first new material in 20 years on a split with Fistula a few months back.
Scene Point Blank: I know it is a bit early to ask, but do you have any future releases planned?
Carl: Not at the moment, although we did record a song during the IV.I.VIII sessions meant for a split release with another band from Indianapolis. We’re waiting on them to record their material, but hopefully it will see the light of day by 2015.
Scene Point Blank: Have you discovered any bands lately that you enjoyed and would like to share with us?
Carl: The new Drowned album Idola Specus is probably my favorite death metal record so far this year. There’s a killer new band here in Indy called Sacred Leather who play some punky Bulldozer worship and have a demo coming out soon called Hunger In The Night. I was late to check it out, but I’ve been listening to that last album by In Solitude, Sister, a ton lately. Brad from Morgue/Absconder has a new band called Wrist that just released a demo, playing dirty speed metal ala]Venom, and on that note the new Midnight record is sick. I was recently turned onto a band called Symptom from Boston who play Japanese-style raw punk/d-beat. I’m eagerly awaiting the new Bolzer EP and the new Pallbearer album.
Scene Point Blank: As far as I know you guys do not tour that often, but do you have any future gigs planned?
Carl: At this time, nothing outside of the Midwest.
Scene Point Blank: That’s all Carl! Thanks again for finding the time to do this interview!
Carl: Thank you for your interest! Cheers!