Interview with Black Totem

Interview with Spit Poison – Lead vocalist and Bedpan – Guitarist.
Interview by Annalisa Orlando

Buy Album Here: https://blacktotem.bandcamp.com/
Band Website: https://svartrecords.com/product/black-totem-ii-shapeshi<ing-lp/
Bands Social Media sites:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BlackTotem666/
Instagram: @black_totem_band

Could you tell us your band origin story?

I and the drummer Tony Cash founded Black Totem as a guitar and drums duo in 2008 if I remember correctly. We had played in an instrumental doom metal band for a brief while in the ’90s, but that project didn’t go anywhere. We happened to move to the same city on the Finnish West coast called Turku and decided that it was time for a new band. It sort of got started from us going regularly to a heavy metal karaoke club every Wednesday for some years and realising our need for a more familiar type of musical expression.

Is the songwriting process divided equally between you? What strengths and weakness do each of you have and do you feel they complement each other well?

I write all the lyrics and a lot of the riffs, but we arrange the songs together. Our lead guitarist Sam Hate is responsible for a lot of riffs, too. Lately, our bass player Wera Wolf has also come up with some wicked melodies and riffs. And of course, Tony Cash occasionally invents some riffs, too.
Sam Hate is a guitar god, who comes up with leads that really pushes my buttons and the same goes with Wera Wolf’s basslines and Cash’s drumming. I don’t see weaknesses in our chemistry, only strengths.

Could you give us a quick summary of the vibe you were aiming for in this record?

Well, Samhain is one of my favourite bands of all time and I was bummed out about the direction where Danzig took his material after parting ways with Rick Rubin, so I guess I wanted more of that Samhain type of music to exist in this world. It’s a selfish choice, but there aren’t many other acts that have created anything with those vibes. On the other hand, I’m a big fan of both 80’s hardcore and doom metal as well, so those genres influence me in song writing a great deal. And blues of course. When I got my bedpan guitar blues was the thing I wanted to do. I was in a dark place then and felt a deep connection to the blues. I wouldn’t call us a Samhain copy or tribute, because our material has other nuances going on, but the influence is undeniable.

I noticed you have a real liking for leather pants and bullet belts as a band fashion choice. Is there a ‘stylist’ in the band? Was it a collective style choice?

I’m the stylist, haha! I’m a concept lover and I can’t stand bands who don’t think about their appearance and wear the same clothes on stage as they do at home. I think a rock band should be theatrical on some level, you know, create a complete world for the listener. It’s a show and you have an audience, so you should act accordingly. In my opinion not thinking about these things is lazy craftsmanship and many times a boring thing to watch even if the music’s good.

Which are your influences when it comes to both aesthetics and your sound?

Horror and western movies, goth culture, black metal aesthetics to some degree, shock rock, punk, doom metal. A whole lot of dark influences.

Are you guys fans of more classic and vintage rock tropes?

I love me some Sabbath and Dio and the occasional 70’s Scorpions, so absolutely.

Do you like to inject humour and fun into your music, or would you prefer your music to be seen as more serious?

I’m unable to do anything 100% serious. I’m a dark fucking joker like the devil himself.

What song on the record brought you the most satisfaction to hear completed?

Maybe Warlock because I wanted to prove a point about making a catchy song based on a single riff.

If you could go back in time and collaborate with an artist from the past, who would you choose and why?

Screaming Jay Hawkins without a doubt. He was probably the first recording artist to bring horror to the stage and to his lyrics and in a hilarious way, too.

Your video to the track “Dead Meat” is really something, complete with cowboy high kicks, demonic line dancing, powerlifting and beating your guitarist with a sledgehammer. What was the creative process behind it? What is the song about?

Well, the song is about a cursed forest where human flesh eating demons reside and when we started writing the script to the video with the director Artturi Rostén I immediately wanted the visual content to be different from the lyrics. So we spent some time trying to come up with a metaphor for a cursed forest and ended up with the iron forest, namely the gym.

Could you tell us about something that someone would be really surprised to know you into? Britney Spears? Watercolours? Taxidermy?

Well, I’m also a drag queen superstar called Carlotta Moore. So Black Totem is my exercise in hyper-masculinity.

Carlotta Moore

What do you feel are the biggest music genres in Finland right now?

Pop, mainstream metal and shitty rap music with dance floor appeal.

Deathrock was born in the U.K.; is there a thriving deathrock scene in Finland or are you guys trailblazing solo?

Not really. As you probably know from the metal bands per capita meme with the map of the world on it, Finland has the largest number of metal bands globally, but we also have some legendary punk, hardcore and d-beat bands that are worshipped all over South America and Asia. I’d say we’re swimming in a nice pool of filth with a lot of other pleasant perverts.

What’s your favourite piece of fan feedback about your music?

That we should never apologise for what we’re doing.

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