Interview with Tarquin – guitars, vocals
Interview by Kira Levine
Hey and thank you for your time. What inspired the band name ‘Basement Torture Killings’?
We knew from the very start of the band that the theme was going to be around murder and slasher movies etc., originally, we were just going to call the band BTK after the serial killer of the same name. Although we realised quite quickly that there were several other bands called BTK, so we decided to come up with something that fitted around those initials. The first song we wrote was influenced by Fred and Rose West and obviously, they committed a lot of their murders in their basement, so it just came from that really. I think our old singer suggested and it seemed like a good name for what we were creating.
When did you first start playing music and realise that you wanted to join a band?
I’ve been playing guitar since I was about 12 or 13, but even before that, I had a love of music and things. I used to play air guitar to Top of The Pops in the early 80s to Adam Ant and Status Quo etc so I always loved guitar. In my early teens I started getting into hard rock with bands like GNR and Def Leppard that quickly moved onto Metallica, Slayer, Possessed, Megadeth and in time I discovered Death, Carcass, and Morbid Angel, etc. By the time I was 15 or 16 I was totally obsessed with all things metal and was desperate to be in a band.
Were you given any words of wisdom from other musicians before starting out?
One piece of advice I was given early on was to make sure you play live as much as possible as one gig is worth a 100 rehearsals, I think it was a good bit of advice really as it’s only through playing live that you really get to hone your skills as a musician.
What advice would you give yourself now looking back?
One thing is to make sure that you check everyone is on the same page with what you are trying to achieve every so often. Being in a band can be demanding and impacts your home life etc if three people want to be touring all the time and the other person doesn’t it can cause conflict and issues. It was one of the things that lead to our first line up falling apart, so it’s important to check in occasionally.
The other thing I guess is just to keep on playing and working at it, you get many more knock backs than yeses, so you need to develop a thick skin and just keep on doing your thing.
How would you describe the music of BTK to prospective listeners?
Our music is fast and aggressive old school death/grind with dual vocals. We have never really tried to do anything particularly unique; we just play the music that comes naturally to us and what we would like to listen to. I’m not sure that we sound like anyone particular band, but I guess we fit in a niche alongside bands like Exhumed, Impaled, etc.
What can fans expect from your latest release ‘Lessons in Murder’ that sets it apart from your previous ones?
The big difference in this release is that this is the first time that we have ever really done a concept album, the whole thing is presented as an audio guide for wannabe serial killers with each song serving as a lesson to the budding murder. The lessons are around things like victim selection, body disposal, taunting the police, and things like that.
The other difference is that I think we have a more diverse range of songs this time. This was the first time we used clicks and that enabled us to work on the pace of the songs, we felt that the songs kind of blurred into one on the last album and key reason for this was that they were at a similar tempo. There are also some riffs that are a little bit different stylistically which I’m not sure we would have used previously. One of my favourite riffs on the album is the verse riff in Objectification and I really don’t think we would have used that on our prior releases.
1. Armchair Psycho Or Pure Predator
2. The Three-Step Hit Formula
3. DIY Store Murder Kit
4. Exercising Your Dominance
5. Erotophonophillia (Lust Murder)
6. Public Displays of Aggression
8. Resolving the Body Problem
9. The Pen Is Mightier Than Another Splayed Corpse
11. The League of Extraordinary Killers
When it comes to producing new music or lyrics, where do you gain inspiration from?
Lyrically it normally starts with a theme/story idea and then I just keep working developing it until the full lyrics are there. I tend to play the song over and over and work on the rhythm of the vocal pattern and then start dropping in words that fit, it’s all very trial and error.
The music is written in a similar way in that it’s very organic, I write a riff and then play with it until I get the next one and the next, etc. We aren’t a band that really jams stuff from scratch in the studio, I normally write a song and our drummer learns it and then we just bash through it until we are happy with it, often we will change parts and make tweaks, etc.
I guess the elephant in the room is that horror movies and true crime serve as our principal inspiration for lyrics. I watch a lot of serial killer documentaries and read a lot of books on true crime. We don’t really write songs about the killers but have written songs about crimes that they could have committed. With this album, it was a little different as we knew it was going to be presented as an audio guide so we worked out on what lessons should be presented and then started to write the lyrics to fit.
Are there any bands or musicians that inspire you as an individual?
There are lots, I am a huge Metallica fan and I would say that Kirk Hammett is really my primary influence, but bands like Carcass, Morbid Angel, Deicide, Death, Cradle of Filth, Slayer, Possessed, Megadeth through to newer bands like Exhumed, General Surgery, Haemorrhage have all played a huge part. Outside of metal I really like Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, I find Nick Cave very influential even though musically we are worlds apart. Suede, Faith No More, and Therapy are also bands that I have had a long-term fascination with.
How would you describe the current UK metal scene?
Overall, I think it’s in a good place, but it is also very fragmented. Years ago, people just went to see good bands it didn’t matter if it was a Black Metal, Death Metal or Thrash band everyone just went to shows. Now you have a lot of cliques, I put on a mixed bill show early this year with Internal Bleeding, The Infernal Sea and some other bands so a real mixed bill and a lot of people complained because it wasn’t just a death metal or black metal bill. I found that little sad.
That said though we have a lot of good underground bands and they tend to help each other out, there isn’t really a lot of ego and people tend to support each other so that’s a good thing. Overall the standard of bands is high I think.
How have the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions affected BTK?
Massively, we had quite a few festival appearances lined up for this year and they have all been cancelled which really sucks. We were also planning on doing a lot of mini-tours and again that can’t happen. We were lucky in that we managed a short run around the UK with Sublime Cadaveric Decomposition at the end of Jan and that was a really fun mini-tour. It’s true that a lot of the shows that we had planned can be arranged for next year but then we have the issue of Brexit to consider and what impact that will have on our ability tour etc. As much as it sucks however there are people in much worse situations than us and the key thing is health. It’s not ideal but we will make it work moving forwards.
Is there anywhere you haven’t toured yet that you would like to in the future?
The two places I’d really like to go is South American and Asia, I love to travel and see new places. Whilst I have been to some countries in these regions on holiday you tend to get a different experience when you are touring and go to places you wouldn’t do on a normal holiday. I would also like to take BTK to the US, but I have played there before with Thus Defiled.
What has been your favourite track to perform live and why?
I really enjoy playing The Rat Catcher live, the second riff just always seems to make people move and it’s a lot of fun. The other favourite is Human Body Part Jewellery. It’s probably the only song we have played at every BTK gig.
Who would your dream collaboration be with and where?
I have never really thought about that, I guess I would love to play with Metallica at a fest that would be really cool especially if I got to pick the set. I do have some musicians in other bands that I would like to do something with at some point but as always that would be down to timing.
Beryl joined the band about 5 years ago. How did existing fans react to the addition of a female vocalist? Do you think BTK’s following grew as a result?
I think she was accepted straight away and the key reason for that is she got the concept of the band and what BTK is. We had a singer for a year who was a great vocalist, but he didn’t understand the band and it just didn’t work. So, having someone that really got the concept was great and something we needed as a band. We have gotten bigger since she joined the band, but I like to think it’s because she’s a really great front person rather than because we have a female vocalist. She does a great job and that to me is all that matters.
Is it difficult balancing out being in a band with your other jobs/commitments?
I guess this goes back to what I was saying earlier, being in a band is hard and juggling it around jobs and families is really hard. But it’s a two-way thing, as much as work stops us from being able to do massive tours it also provides us with funds and resources to put into the band and to help push it forwards. Obviously, it would be great to just do the band but that’s no realistic for even some of the biggest bands so its never going to work for us. The most important thing is that we are all on the same page and happy with what we are doing.
If you were to pick 3 albums to be stranded on a desert island with, what would they be?
Euggh that’s a hard question, I guess I would go with:
And Justice For All – Metallica
Murder Ballads – Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds
Heartwork – Carcass
What are the pros and cons of being part of a band?
The pros are that you get to express yourself and see how your creations impact on other people. I love playing live and I love to create with others, its an amazing thing. I am also super lucky in that I really like the people that are in the band at the moment so it’s kind of a family and we get to experience a lot of fun things together. The downside is that its hard work and takes a lot of time. There is so much admin and stuff that you need to deal with also which is a lot less fun but essential. The key thing is I still enjoy it and until that changes, I’ll keep on doing it.
What genres of music do you like to listen to personally? Are there any new bands that have caught your attention?
I obviously listen to a lot of metal and especially Gore Grind so bands like Gutalax, Spasm, Rectal Smegma, and Haemorrhage. I also like a lot of Death Metal, but nothing too technical, the new Prostitute Disfigurement album is really great, I also like Red Before Black by Cannibal Corpse. I also listen to a lot of Black Metal, I really like Regarde Les Hommes Tomber at the moment.
Outside of metal, I like a lot of different things, but some of the stuff I’ve been playing a lot recently includes: Me And That Man, Nostalghia, Ghost, and Grave Pleasures are all really cool.
As for new bands, there are some really good bands on the scene at the moment, from the UK you have Foetal Juice, Crepitation, Scordatura, Party Cannon, Strangle Wire, Colpoclesis, Visions of Disfigurement, Dies Holocaustum, Wolfbastard, and Twitch Of The Death Nerve who are all doing really good things and creating great music. Dygora, Anoxide, and Total Consumption are also flying the flag in London.
Further afield I think that Brutal Sphincter is one of the most hardworking bands out there, I’d also really recommend Sublime Cadaveric Decomposition and Pestifer from Portugal. I guess lastly it’s important to call out some of the BTK spin-off bands that are doing stuff with past or present members involve, Lost Brethren, Anakim and Casket Feeder are all worth checking out.
Aside from BTK, do you have any other creative endeavours or interests?
Musically I have a couple of other projects that are in their embryonic stages, one is old school thrash and the other is more brutal death. I am also still a member of Thus Defiled although that band is on hold at the moment. I also do a lot of the artwork for BTK as well as teaching Aikido which is a Japanese martial art.
What are BTK’s plans for the rest of 2020/2021?
The key thing is to get out and start playing shows again, we are also working on an animated video for one of the songs from Lessons In Murder. We have also got the outline of some new songs that have been developed over lockdown, so maybe we will look to get those recorded sooner rather than later.
Thanks again for your time, is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
Just to say thanks for the interview and the support.
BTK’s new album ‘Lessons In Murder’ is out now! You can grab yourself a copy here.
Basement Torture Killings is:
Tarquin – guitars, vocals
Faceless Killer – drums
Beryl – vocals
Brother Kain – bass