Over the course of nearly 15 years, New Orleans own Goatwhore have inadvertently established themselves as one of the most diligent and consistently ferocious bands of the 21st Century. Formin in1997 by ex Acid Bath guitarist Sammy Duet, their legacy follows a dramatic and often traumatic series of line-up shifts, injuries, hauntings, natural disasters and a series of other mishaps large and small.
Driven by a blood oath to heavy metal, and perhaps the power of Satan himself, Goatwhore forever perseveres.
In 2012 Goatwhore released Blood For The Master; this finds the band at their most unified. The 10 track 38 minute release is epic in sound, mind and execution.
Currently on a 4 band UK tour with 3 Inches of Blood, Havok and Angelus Apatrida.
I chatted to the bands lead singer Ben Falgoust prior to the bands show in Belfast.
Hi Ben,is this your first time here in Belfast?
Ben: Personally no, but with Goatwhore yes.
I was here with Solient Green ,and we played next door in the Spring & Airbrake.
The band have been going for over 15 years now, when you first started who were your musical influences?
Ben: Everybody in the band has a lot of different influences, as far as metal goes most of it being extreme metal of sorts, a lot of it being traditional metal-like Judas Priest, Motorhead, Maiden, Accept and things like that, then you move on until things started to shift a bit.
The early forms of Black Metal like Celtic Frost, Bathory, Venom and bands like that. Then the whole death metal regiment came into play Cannibal Corpse, grind bands like Napalm Death, in their early days, there was a lot of variance there.
When we started the band it was more focused on the traditional like Celtic Frost and Venom. Being young too, and simply rudimental in what we do, we broke and evolved from there all the way to now-adding in different things, and different aspects and reinvented different ideas of extreme metal that we all liked.
When starting out what was the scene like locally? Was it difficult to get gigs playing the musical style-genre that you do? Ben: It was slow at first, I think a lot of bands have a problem at the beginning. They have to get in and present themselves, everything then moves from that point on.
In the music industry its just like politics, like anywhere else, sometimes the “right” people just like yourselves, help you along in a sense.
The band has had a couple of tracks included on game releases, are the band members keen gamers, or was this part of a marketing strategy?Ben: Actually both myself and Sammy; the bands guitarist play a lot of PS3 games.
Im personally a big fan of the ‘God of War’ games only available on PS3, but we all play. Being offered that opportunity is unique, in addition to being fans of video games.
Given the apparent Satantic slant to the bands lyrical style ,is that a genuine belief-or uphold personal conviction? Ben: It is, and it also isnt, because there are different aspects to it.
Internally in the band, everybody has there own belief structure, theres nobody that’s religious in the sense of organised or conventional religion.
Certain band members were into the satanic structure a little more at certain points, then as we evolved as a band and as individuals you start to see different aspects.
Personally I am really intrigued by the darker aspects of life, the writings and literature based on that, which plays a role in the writing structure, as far as the lyrics go, the title everything then unfolds from that.
Growing up I had formed almost a hatred against organised religion because it had seemed so oppressive, trying to manipulate people, moving them ahead like sheep.
When I was growing up, and I grew up as a Protestant, we all went to church when we were younger. My parents then encouraged us to make our own options and choices.
My dad is a very strict man, but at the same time he sees that you have to evolve as an individual, to take your own path, they said ok you went to church with us, but you can now do what you want, see what you are interested in, what you believe in, and chase that.
What’s your bands musical history, prior to joining Goatwhore?Ben: I originally started in a band called ‘Paralysis’ when I was really young around 18.
I got into Solient Green, Sammy was playing in a band called ‘Acid Bath’, James our current bassist has only been in Goatwhore since the latest album “Blood for the master”, it was his first recording with us, basically he joined straight after “Carving out the eyes of God”(2009). Zack the drummer has been with us since “A haunting curse” (2006), he’s from Phoenix Arizona and James is from Florida, they come into town, we worked on stuff, the internet also can help to lay down tracks.
Sammy had started the band with a friend under a different name and it evolved into Goatwhore. We took things that we were both into-that extreme music style and evolved to where we are now.
Does the band name attract a lot of adverse reaction and negativity?Ben: I think that people generally are a little more open-minded, but you still have some negative people. Alot of this aspect within religion, within all these bands its a lack of knowledge, that’s what sometimes propels these bands into stardom and popularity, when the mass gets involved and they are attacking them.
How does Goatwhores latest release “Blood for the master”differ from their previous releases. I expect like most bands you will say it’s better?Ben: No we won’t actually say that it is ‘better’, on a personal level I think its just one more step, one more evolution of what the band does.
I never look the old records and say ‘I hate that’, most other artists want to forget the past, they are like building blocks, being in the studio to playing it live, we aren’t the ones that decides if our latest release is our best, we don’t put a weight on our shoulders that we have to beat our last release.
When we write a record like a lot of people do, we just go in with a clean slate, this is how we like to write, that is what we like to do and this is how we are going to do it.
We just grow and evolve as individuals and as a band, if people like it, they like it.
You cant control fate man, it’s just how it is.
How did the deal with Metal Blade arise?Ben: We had a two album deal with ‘Rotten Records’ and we had done the second record. We were on tour with Gwar in the US, who were with Metal Blade at the time; Excellent guys, great to tour with and what is surprising is that they get overlooked as musicians!
If you stop, close your eyes away from the imagery and just listen, they have some really cool things going on.
The Metal Blade reps were at the California show and they were interested, our deal with Rotten had ended, things worked their magic and we picked up a deal with them.
It’s different times now for record labels.
Do you feel the changes in the music industry over recent years is a good or bad thing ? ie the move to the internet?Ben: A little of both.
Its got its good points and its bad points.
Im not one of those guys who will spout off about downloading, I mean, at this point what can you really do about it?
It makes it broader and wider to get music out there, it is what it is.
Sometimes when you police something it takes away the rights and ideas behind something else with it, to create a policing structure across the internet is difficult, there is also starting to be a bit more interplay with direct fan involvement.
The removal of the label as a middle person and making the band and fans more of a connective issue, I think we will see more of that as time moves on.
Do you feel that Goatwhore have an individual sound or does it fit easily into labels or categories?Ben: When people ask what kind of genre we fit into we just say metal.
It covers across the board…more extreme metal.
You will always get people who will try to pigeon-hole you, Black,Thrash etc, we have a lot of elements that appeal to fans of different genres, being hard to define, also helps when touring, though still being extreme metal we can still go out with a diverse variety of bands.
Finally, do you think there is one song that stands out for you on the latest album, that is a favourite either to have recorded or play live?Ben: I don’t really have a favourite, I like a lot of the songs from the latest record (Blood from the master) as I do from the last record.
It’s hard to really pick one because they are all unique in the way you worked on them. They all have their different aspects and I think the main thing is have songs that you know that you play live will have an impact.
To keep the aggression going through a 45 minute set, from the latest album, all the songs have that impact to them.
We also change the set around during the duration of a long tour, keeping it fresh both for ourselves,and our fans!
Thanks for making the time to chat Ben, enjoy tonights show.
Goatwhore ‘Blood For The Master’ is out now on Metal Blade Records.