Brian Livoti: I don’t know about the “forward thinking metal” thing. Did you make that up? It sounds like some tagline those pretentious fucks at Hydra Head use to describe themselves. “Thinking man’s metal”. Give me a fucking break. I don’t care how artsy a band pretends to be. Does it shred? Does it excite you? That is all that matters, EVER, as far as metal is concerned. Like you are less intelligent for enjoying Agent Steele more than Isis or something. I don’t need clove cigarettes to prove how highbrow and smart I am. Fucking gay. But Willowtip rules. Jason and Vinny have been nothing but excellent to us, and they are the perfect label for us to be on. And I am not even talking about our label mates or their roster, which is also, as you’ve said, very well rounded. Willowtip just fits us, and our situation perfectly. We cannot tour and have no desire to do so. Jason has not once pressured us to do anything, but has offered any of his resources if we decided to do so. And that is what makes him and his label so cool, for all of his bands. He is immediately responsive when we need him, and non-existent when we don’t. All he asks from his bands is a solid finished product that they, themselves are happy with, and that is it. He gives his bands the space they need to do whatever they want, and never attempts to interfere with how they operate. Jason would never ask us to sound more like Aris, just because they sell more CDs than us. And the same thing would hold true if we sold more than Arsis. He understands that leaving it all up to the band is the only thing that generates creative, exciting new ideas. And that is why Earache licensed their catalog. Willowtip now has what Earache used to have, and desperately misses. Once a label gets too popular, the business side kicks in, and everything they release is now in terms of what fits the formula of sales. And that will sink the quality of bands on any label. The same thing happened to Victory and Roadrunner. Once vital, exciting labels, now processed poop. Jason still runs his label like a metal fan, and as long as he continues to do so, it will always be on top.
Scene Point Blank: What track are your most proud of that you've done so far?
Brian Livoti: “Swept From All Existence” is my favorite song we’ve done to date. I cannot really explain why, but it just stirs my emotions around every time I hear it. The lyrics are specifically about how the years of love and happiness, along with all of the benefits of both, can be washed away by the outcome of one tragic mistake. “Irrevocable Change” touches on the same subject, but doesn’t get me going nearly as much. Maybe it is the monstrous buildup and breakdown towards the end that does it. Who knows? All I can say is that it really pushes my buttons whenever it is on, and I cannot stand still when I hear it.
Scene Point Blank: Book/film/record/experience that has most influenced your life:
Brian Livoti: I guess it would have to be Def Leppard’s Pyromania, because that was the first cassette I had ever bought, and my gateway drug into metal and heavier forms of music. Fuck I still love that album. But maybe it is The Number of the Beast, as I bought that soon afterward, and that is a little bit darker. But after I heard Angel of Death, absolutely EVERYTHING changed, so I’d have to say that without Reign In Blood, there would be no Watchmaker. I still listen to all three of those albums regularly.
Scene Point Blank: I really like the artwork for your records and know that you are the responsible party. Do you have a portfolio online or a gallery where people can check out more of your work?
Brian Livoti: Nope. I just don’t have the time for that. I bought the URL for brianlivoti.com, but never did anything with it. I am easy enough to find though, and anyone who has wanted me to do work for them has had no trouble with that. Metal art is like the music for me. It is just something I do to escape reality for a bit, and is done mostly for my own pleasure, so I’m not going to stress out about making sure my work is constantly available for everybody else. I have no interest in doing this for a living. Plus, I find that doing work under the directions of others completely and utterly sucks. Even if the work is for my friends, or for bands I really love, there is always a time in the process where they want to take control of the art somehow, even though they know shit about it. It sucks the fun right out of the whole thing, and makes me not want to even bother. If I did this for a living, I would have to create work for bands that potentially fucking blow – like Ed Repka for 3 Inches of Blood. I cannot even imagine how it must feel to get this kind of treatment from a band you despise. Again, I just do things for other reasons than most people do.
Scene Point Blank: There's been a couple pieces I've checked out, where your assessment of the New England metal/hardcore is less than kind. What aspects/trends bother you the most and why? Also, what band do you feel is the best to ever come out of the New England area?
Brian Livoti: The best band to ever come out of New England is Siege. That cannot even be disputed. Although Nunslaughter comes in pretty friggin’ close. As far as the aspects and trends that bother me the most in New England are concerned, it all just comes down to one thing – Mass Concerts. These are the douche bags who put on the Hardcore Metal Festival in Worcester, and the sole reason why you know who bands like Killswitch Engage are. They have a monopoly on all of the larger venues in the Massachusetts area and they hate our fucking guts for reasons never revealed. Maybe it is because we do not suck their collective dick, and let’s face it, that is the only reason anyone becomes a promoter – for the whole power thing, I don’t know. Maybe it is because I openly, and rightfully, talk shit about all of the gay metalcore bands that they push towards stardom. Maybe it is because on the rare occasion where we’ve shared a stage with any of their bands, we’ve completely wiped the stage with them. Who knows? But whatever the reason, they have continuously blacklisted us from any event, club, publication, etc. that they have their fingers in, meaning pretty much ALL of anything in the established metal community in Massachusetts. You write for Lambgoat right? Why don’t you try and get this interview up there and see what happens? They love pretending we do not exist. But fuck it. As much as the situation here completely sucks, there is a very large backlash towards it that has been building for years. There are a lot of really good bands out there that have defied the established mould and road for success around here. And we’ve seem to have done very well despite their efforts, so perhaps it is all for the best that they suck balls.
Scene Point Blank: What are your thoughts on the differences (both pro and con) between the metal/hardcore communities and their respective offerings in the 70's, 80's, 90's and now? Which one do you feel best emobodies the spirit of underground music, if any?
Brian Livoti: Jesus fucking Christ man, you’ve already got me writing a book here. I’m from the 80’s, so I am completely biased towards that. The 90’s are almost completely disposable. And the 70’s? I don’t know man. There isn’t much from the 70’s in my collection. Even the pop music in the 80s was better. Duran Duran were a boy band? Fuck it, I’ll take it. RIO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Scene Point Blank: How exactly is Paul a "ghetto fucking bee keeper" if you don't mind me asking?
Brian Livoti: He keeps bees and is from the ghetto. It is a completely literal title. You should see him with a smoke pot and a mesh hat. Rad. But he’s also the guy who is responsible for the chaotic, bee swarm guitar riffs that you hear on all of our releases. It isn’t a Watchmaker song until Paul brings in the bees. I think the ghetto thing came from the fact that Paul used to only wear No Limit Records shirts exclusively. When he was a metal director at a local college radio station, he’d get tons of promo shit from all record labels. Nobody passes up free gear, so he rocked it for as long as they’d send it to him. If I drew a cartoon of Paul right now, I’d draw him in a Silk the Shocker shirt. With a ghetto blaster. And a Quiet Riot mask on too.
Scene Point Blank: What do you do for work and what do you enjoy outside of the band?
Brian Livoti: I create animations and illustrations for the courtroom. Mostly for patent trials, but we also do some criminal and some personal injury stuff too. The non-criminal presentations are for huge companies that you’ve all heard of, but I cannot talk about them or I will go to jail. But we make tons of reenactment pieces and become so ingrained into our clients’ cases, that without us and our work, they would lose. It almost makes you feel like your artwork and creativity serve a purpose, and that you are fighting for something. Maybe not anything worthwhile, since it is mostly all corporate bullshit, but it can still be very rewarding anyways when the results come in. Everyone here knows about Watchmaker too, so that is cool. Some other places might not have taken too kindly towards an employee with an album called Kill.Fucking.Everyone. That seems to be the motto around here though, so I am safe.
Scene Point Blank: Any plans to tour this year, either domestically or internationally?
Brian Livoti: Nope. No money or time to tour. Maybe if somebody actually paid for us to do so, we’d consider it. But everyone seems to want us to play for free, so fuck it. Unless it pays for itself, we won’t have any part in it.
Scene Point Blank: A quote from Werner Herzog appears in the booklet of "Erased From The Memory Of Man": "The common denominator of the universe is not harmony - It's chaos, hostility and murder." Would you say this paradigm fits you best, both personally and musically?
Brian Livoti: That is why I put it in the liner notes. It’s not like it is one of my favorite movies or anything. That Grizzly Man was a complete shit head. But the quote summed everything up about us in a nice little sentence that I wish I thought of. Plus, we didn’t have a quote to use for this album and that one seemed as good as any.
Scene Point Blank: Greatest compliment you've ever received regarding Watchmaker?
Brian Livoti: Having the drummer of Siege approach me at a random club and tell me how much he loved the new album. Hearing one of the guys who invented what I play say that he’s been listening our album a lot was stunning to me and I had no idea how to react.
Scene Point Blank: Anything else you'd like to add?
Brian Livoti: No. You’ve pretty much given me carpal tunnel already. I better not see some queer, abbreviated interview, or I’ll have Paul bring the bees (and the ghetto!) to your doorstep. Behold the metal smudge pot!
Interview by Kirby Unrest for SPB.
Graphics by Matt.