Interview: Full Of Hell
Our normal feeling is to kind of hold our breath before a new album drops, to see the public outcry or the shitty reviews, but they never really came this time. It was great.
Having released last year’s collaborative effort with The Body in One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache to great acclaim and then, their own Trumpeting Ecstasy album earlier this year as well as touring the records, you might expected Full Of Hell to take a bit of time off. The band however prove that there’s no time like the present to release their vital music as they are back with another album with The Body. Ascending A Mountain Of Heavy Light is another slab of brilliance from the two bands and another must hear album. Following a successful European tour, we caught up with Full Of Hell vocalist Dylan Walker to hear all about the new album with The Body, the recent tour, festivals, films, working with Kurt Ballou and Merzbow, touring with Max and Igor Cavalera and Immolation and more.
E&D: Your new album with The Body, Ascending A Mountain Of Heavy Light is out soon. How was the experience of making the album?
Dylan: It was really fun and a positive experience, just like the first time. The difference this time was that this was our second attempt to create something as one unit, after putting the first record out and with many miles of traveling together behind us. So it felt even easier.
E&D: You worked with The Body on last years brilliant One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache too, was it different working in the new album or did you feel comfortable with the process as you’d worked together before?
Dylan: It was more comfortable this time around. Not that the first time wasn’t, but for us, working with The Body after a long tour together made it that much easier to communicate and work with what we had.
E&D: Were you fan of The Body before you worked together?
Dylan: Personally, I was a huge fan. That was why I initially contacted Lee to tour together. I think once we’d met and started becoming friends was when they suggested the collaboration. It’s very exciting as a fan to get to sit in the studio with a band you admire and help them create a record.
E&D: Does Ascending A Mountain Of Heavy Light differ in sound and vibe to One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache?
Dylan: I think that the same principles are at play here. We took more chances this time. We felt as though the first one was a bit of an easy listen (which was intentional). We wanted to lay the ground work the first time around. With the second one, that first statement has already been made so we were able to explore a bit more.
E&D: It seems that despite the differences in the two bands sounds that you are a perfect match. Would you say that’s the case?
Dylan: I would agree. I actually find that bands with stark difference tend to compliment each other much more than two bands that sound kind of the same. It’s like our preferred tempos are so far in opposite directions that they almost overlap at the extremes.
E&D: How did the two bands get together in the first place?
Dylan: I contacted Lee by phone years ago about playing some shows together. I was a huge fan and I just wanted my band to get involved with them, in any way that we could. It was really funny how quickly we all hit it off. We did a big US tour together as separate bands and the rest is history.
E&D: Will Full Of Hell and The Body play the new album live together at any point?
Dylan: We don’t have any immediate plans to play this album together live. We’ve talked about it, and maybe someday we will. The door isn’t closed by any means!
E&D: What about hitting the road with The Body again?
Dylan: We have no fully realized plans to tour together again in the near future, but it seems almost certain that we will. Those guys are some of our best friends and we will take any chance we can get to do it.
E&D: How was the European tour you did earlier this summer?
Dylan: Our European tour this year was amazing. We really had a great time. To be honest, it kind of made me want to visit and tour over there more often. The shows were good and we were able to travel with bands we liked and do quite a bit by ourselves, which was also nice.
E&D: You played Obscene Extreme festival, how did they show go for you?
Dylan: We’ve wanted to play OEF since we were pretty young. We hold the festival in high regard, so we didn’t go in with any specific expectations. The set was a blast. People stage diving and dancing on stage, naked men in costumes! Would do again.
E&D: You played at Roskilde too, how was that experience experience? Obviously it’s not just a metal festival. How did your set go down?
Dylan: Roskilde was an interesting experience in an entirely different way. I think it’s really cool that Roskilde chooses to book extreme bands like us, Trap Them and Neurosis, because I don’t think our bands are generally used to that kind of treatment. The bands were VERY well taken care of, very good food. The mud was two feet deep in some areas, but it was a blast. Very surreal to play our set whilst a radio rock band plays over the hill. I remember thinking, “oh yeah, I know that song. I hear it 10x a day on the radio at home.” The audience was very into it, I don’t think it could have gone any better.
E&D: Do you prefer to play the big festivals or to do your own shows?
Dylan: At the end of the day, I prefer our own shows. That’s where we started and where we will end. The festivals are very rewarding though. My preference is a balance between the two.
E&D: You did a UK tour too. How was that experience?
Dylan: The UK tour was perfect. We toured with a band called Unyielding Love and our friends in Famine. Unyielding Love is a nice mix of black metal, grindcore and noise. Famine is a perfect grind/powerviolence style band. The shows were excellent. We have a lot of good friends in the UK, and we’ve always been fortunate to find success when we go there. We are all looking forward to the next time.
E&D: Did you play a lot of material from your latest album Trumpeting Ecstasy?
Dylan: We have been playing a lot from the new record. However, when a band like ours is playing half of a new record, that’s still only like 10 minutes or so. So, our set is still full of a lot of older material. We do enjoy playing the stuff the most, though.
E&D: How has that album been received so far?
Dylan: My perception is that it’s been extremely positive. I honestly feel like we are really fortunate. Our normal feeling is to kind of hold our breath before a new album drops, to see the public outcry or the shitty reviews, but they never really came this time. It was great.
E&D: Do you think that this is the heaviest album you have done so far?
Dylan: Maybe? I think so. It really depends on how you perceive heaviness. I felt like The Body collaboration last year was pretty oppressive in a heavy sort of way. We definitely tried to make Trumpeting Ecstasy a back to format ass beater.
E&D: You worked with Kurt Ballou on the record, what did he bring to the Full Of Hell sound?
Dylan: He brought a giant but crunchy production, subtle advice that never felt overbearing but was hugely valuable, and he lent his skills for the bass on one of the songs. It was a good experience. We are hoping to work with him again, for sure. We come from similar places and I think he understands us pretty well.
E&D: You’ve got the phenomenal Nicole Dollanganger on the album, how did you get together for her to be on the album and what is it she brings to the song she performs on?
Dylan: We met Nicole online. Spencer found her through Grimes’ label, and we were surprised that she was a fan of the band. As soon as I heard her voice I was an instant fan, myself. Her voice is stellar and she’s an extremely talented writer. She was down to collaborate on the record right away, so I sent her lyrics and the drum stem that Lee Buford had made for us. She sent us a few takes and it was really easy to piece together. She brings a color to the record that none of us ever could. When I hear that track I’m still blown away by her performance. She killed it.
E&D: Aaron Turner, Nate Newton and Andrew Nolan also guest on the album. It must have been a thrill getting musicians of that calibre helping out on the record?
Dylan: Of course it was! Nothing beats the feeling of involving people you admire on your records, and furthermore, when those people become friends. I think they each bring something very important to this record.
E&D: What inspired the making of Trumpeting Ecstasy?
Dylan: Sonically? I’m not sure. Thematically, it’s inspired by a species at odds with its host planet, cancer invading a healthy cell. The artwork was Mark McCoy’s direct interpretation of the titles and lyrics.
E&D: Are there any plans for the follow up to Trumpeting Ecstasy as yet?
Dylan: There are always plans. We are working on a lot right now. We hope to record a new LP at the end of next year. Time will tell!
E&D: A sample from legendary director Werner Herzog kicks the album off and there are samples from Ben Wheatley’s tremendous film A Field In England on the album. Is it safe to say that you guys are big film buffs?
Dylan: No, not at all. We are simply fans. I wouldn’t pretend to know a lot about film. These struck a serious chord with me, though and I felt they needed to be included. We do watch a lot of films, of all kinds and are always open to new things. Just not “film buffs”.
E&D: Are these samples crucial to the feel of the record?
Dylan: I think they help to flesh out a very important aesthetic and idea throughout the record. So in a way, yes they are crucial.
E&D: Have you watched any films recently that you can recommend to us?
Dylan: I just watched A Dark Song, which was directed by Liam Gavin. It’s about a mother who wants to speak to her dead son one last time, so she employs an occultist to perform a long form ritual to do so. It was very good!
E&D: And what are your favourite films of all time?
Dylan: That’s a really hard one. I was just talking about it recently and I can’t really say if I have a favorite in particular. I guess my go to comfort movies would be Alien, The Shining and 2001. Best movies in the past ten years though… Maybe No Country For Old Men, Prisoners and The Escapist? Like I said though, it’s hard. There’s so much out there.
E&D: What are your plans for the rest of the year?
Dylan: We just went to Japan with The Body. That was indescribable. Really, a great trip. This October and November we will be on tour with Cattle Decapitation, and everyone is really looking forward to that. After that we are going to stay INSIDE for the first winter in a few years.
E&D: You toured with Max and Igor Cavalera on their Return To Roots tour with Immolation as well, that’s a hell of a bill, earlier in the year. How was that experience?
Dylan: It was such a huge privilege. Everyone on the tour was a musician of such a high caliber, but still chose to treat us as equals. We felt really welcomed and respected. The shows were a good experience as well, we felt like we really had to play hard to appeal to life long Sepultura and Immolation fans.
E&D: Are you massive fans of Sepultura and the projects that they have done?
Dylan: Absolutely, life long Sepultura fans. I don’t know where to begin. They are important to us and so many of our peers.
E&D: Igor has remixed Trumpeting Ecstasy as part of his Mixhell project, did that come off the back of that tour?
Dylan: Yes, it did. I suggested it to Igor on a whim one night and he was all about it. Mixhell is Igor and his wife, Laima. She did such a killer job with the remix as well.
E&D: Have you got any other artists remixing songs from the album and will that be released in the future?
Dylan: The Mixhell remix is actually one part of a four part thing, which was exclusive to the Japanese CD release. I think I will upload the remaining 3 soon. The others were done by Andrew Nolan (Intensive Care, Endless Blockade), Limbs Bin and Ben Chisolm (Chelsea Wolfe). They all turned out really interesting and cool.
E&D: Who else would you love to remix one of your songs in the future and which song?
Dylan: I’d love to give a song to Justin Broadrick. Maybe Tim Hecker or Vessel.
E&D: What has been the most memorable tour that you have ever done?
Dylan: That’s a hard question. It’s been 8 years of what feels like repeatedly feeling like we accomplished something important. Internally, at least. The Body collab tour was pretty memorable. We just did a nice long DIY US tour, our way. It was really successful and it felt cool to see what we’d built in action.
E&D: Who would you love Full Of Hell to tour with in the future?
Dylan: Neurosis, Napalm Death, Cannibal Corpse, Swans, The Melvins, Immolation (again).. I could list on for days….
E&D: You did an album with Merzbow, how was that experience and what was he like to work with?
Dylan: It was nerve wracking for us, looking back now. We had no experience collaborating, and suddenly this absolute legend wants to work with us. He’s very kind and deep. He taught us to be open to improvisation and to work in the moment. The record itself was stressful to make. We were concerned with every decision we made. It was a good learning experience though!
E&D: How did you initially hook up with Merzbow?
Dylan: Masami performs live pretty often with a drummer named Balazs Pandi. He is a drummer of the highest order. Totally ripping. We met him in Brooklyn and he brought us up to Masami. Balazs is another person who is nowadays among our closest friends.
E&D: Who else would you like to do an album with in the future?
Dylan: That question is unanswerable for me right now. I don’t know. We never intended to do any collaborations, but couldn’t turn down such cool opportunities. We’re open, so I guess we’ll see if anything ever comes up again.
E&D: What music are you currently listening to?
Dylan: I’ve been listening to a lot of Mariee Sioux, she plays folk that’s got a traditional Native American sound. Also been revisiting Naked City a lot, Silver Mt Zion, Endon and Intensive Care and Maxo Kream.
E&D: Are there any new bands that you can recommend for us to check out?
Dylan: Endon, the most incredible band on the planet. They are from Japan. Seriously, the future of extreme music. Also, Intensive Care, Black Iron Prison, Limbs Bin, Unyielding Love, Artificial Brain, BRAVEYOUNG and Friendship!