Interview: Blight House
The world is shit and we’re circling the drain so you might as well get loud and weird about things.
Blight House, the Charlestown, Rhode Island gore loving, grinding death metal maniacs have just brought out their latest album Blight The Way and it is a horrifically brutal record with the blackest of humour seeping through. Gavin Brown caught up with Frank Lloyd Blight and Frank Owen Gorey from Blight House to hear all about Blight The Way and talk about all manner of horror related topics in a gore soaked interview.
E&D: Your new album Blight The Way has just been released. Have you been pleased with the reaction to it so far?
Frank Lloyd Blight: People are giving us a chance, which is more than we were expecting. We’ve received mostly positive feedback and even the negative stuff has been entertaining. No one has thrown garbage at us yet, so that’s a win.
Frank Owen Gorey: We try to be interesting, challenging, and sometimes frustrating for fans of extreme metal, so it would be disappointing if we had unanimous praise. But, based on the reception so far, it’s clear that, if you’re the sort of person that likes this stuff, this is the stuff you like.
E&D: How did the creation of the album go, and did it all go smoothly?
FLB: It’s been a long, slow process. It’s been 5 years almost to the day since our last album Summer Camp Sex Party Massacre. We try not to rush things and tend to work in little bits and pieces. We started working on this album prior to the pandemic and once that hit, everything came to a stop. When we finally came back to the songs, we were in a different place and changed things around. Different arrangements, different tones, different themes. Despite all of the chaos of the world, we work very well together, so ultimately, it was as smooth as we could make it.
FOG: We’ve worked together on various music projects for almost 15 years. By now, we know each other well enough, and have a process worked out, so that, at least between us, everything is smooth.
E&D: You’ve got a few guest appearances on Blight The Way. Can you tell us about them and what they bring to the album?
FLB: Ron Varod is a longtime friend. During the particularly dark time of the pandemic, I reached out to him and asked if he’d like to do something for the record. We didn’t give much direction and asked him to send whatever he felt like doing. What came back was a sort-of psychedelic madness bred from lockdown which fit perfectly with our brand of off-kilter insanity. We also have guest vocals on two songs from Glumi uWuhammer. We literally know nothing about Glumi. After the release of our last album we received an email with tracks from Glumi who took it upon themselves to add their vocals. It was haunting, but somehow catchy takes on all our songs. We didn’t know what to do with the tracks and they didn’t want anything in return. When this album came around, we reached back out with a few tracks. Within an hour, we had their vocals that you hear on the album. It’s like if someone took Babymetal and stuck them on Obscene Extreme Fest. It’s weird, unique, and unlike pretty much anything else you’ll hear.
FOG: I don’t have one of those wild trem bars like the real lead guitarists do. I’m also not great at pinch harmonics or most other typical metal flash. So when we felt like the track needed that touch, I had to outsource it. It’s a total waste of Ron’s talent, but we’re grateful for it.
E&D: Who would you love to guest on a Blight House album in the future?
FLB: I’d like John Carpenter to throw some synths over a song. Or David Lynch going on a non-sequitar rant.
FOG: I’d ask Werner Herzog for a rant before Lynch, but either would be solid. Some leads from Dan Mongrain would be equally epic.
E&D: Have you ever had any negative reactions to the brutal lyrics in your songs?
FLB: Not yet. I think most people can’t understand them thanks to the vocals, but we also like to let listeners decide exactly what the songs are about. Not everything is straightforward and can be interpreted in different ways. If you think it’s brutal, you’re right. If you think it’s funny, you’re right. If you think they’re dumb, you’re also right. It’s kind of a like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” story with riffs.
E&D: Did you always want to have that element of black humour in your music?
FLB: Death metal has been in a weird place for a few years where people either take themselves too seriously or everything is a joke. We’re trying to get somewhere in the middle. How many times can you write a song about killing someone or a zombie eating brains? Why not try something different? We’re big fans of horror movies and the horror world is full of so many different monsters and creatures and stories. Explore those different themes and have fun with it.
FOG: We’ve also been viewed as “political” in some ways. We certainly find grim humour in American politics and play with some of the ridiculousness that’s always oozing from our culture. If you don’t laugh about it, you’d never stop crying.
E&D: Who did the brilliant artwork for Blight The Way?
FLB: Misha Mono did the artwork for Blight The Way and honestly, it’s way too good for the music it accompanies. We gave him a basic outline for what we were thinking and he completely knocked it out of the park. It’s as beautiful as it is horrifying.
FOG: Misha did the new logo too. We’re very pleased with the classic look and can’t wait to see it on a shirt.
E&D: Would you say this is your most intense but also eclectic music to date?
FBL: We’re all over the place on this album, but in the best way possible. If you don’t like one song, the next one has something different. We’ve injected more groove into this one which helps make for a different and engaging listen.
FOG: We also didn’t try to stick to just one guitar tone, vocal style, or anything like that. Keeping a sort of median in mind, we made some songs sound more blackened or stoner or slam or whatever else feels right for the piece.
E&D: It’s been five years since your last album Summer Camp Sex Party Massacre. How has Blight House changed as band since then?
FLB: We’re older and more tired. We’re not trying to fit into one specific genre or chase a trend. No one is making a dime off this so we’re in it to entertain ourselves and hopefully others.
FOG: The longer you live, the more truly fucked up, traumatizing, and brutally life-changing experiences pile up. When I was younger, much younger than the inception of Blight House, I was more interested in reflecting those experiences in my music. The older I get, the less interested I am in using art to face those things directly. There’s been plenty of direct experience.
E&D: Who and what are the biggest influences on Blight The Way and Blight House in general?
FLB: Horror movies, pro wrestling, and capitalism. The world is shit and we’re circling the drain so you might as well get loud and weird about things.
FOG: All of that and a big bag of existential dread to go with it.
E&D: Have you ever wanted to make your own horror movie?
FLB: Probably since I was a young teenager. There’s a lot of bad horror movies out there, so the bar is pretty low. Just like with our music, I would want to explore different aspects of horror or come at it from another angle. Those are the best horror movies, where it takes something that’s well known or accepted among horror fans and putting an interesting twist on things.
FOG: I intended to study film production when I went to college. Then I realized I’d have to buy a camera and film. I also realized I wasn’t very good at making movies. So, I think I got directing and cinematography out of my system. But writing might still be worth a shot.
E&D: What are your favourite horror movies of all time?
FLB: George Romero’s original “…Of The Dead” trilogy. Those set the tone for all other zombie movies after and their mixture of violence, gore, humor, and social commentary has clearly influenced me.
FOG: The Exorcist because it was the first time I read the book before the movie and appreciated how different media can work to achieve the same effect in the audience.
E&D: What is your favourite horror genre?
FLB: Zombies. It’s really easy to make a bad zombie movie, but the few great ones are truly great.
FOG: Supernatural/paranormal. I don’t have the patience to watch a whole movie or read a whole book just to find out what small twist someone put on a generic thing like zombies, vampires, etc. Just show me something weird and build a world around it.
E&D: Who are some of your favourite horror characters?
FLB: I like characters that know what’s going on or are able to piece things together very quickly. Too many horror characters seem to live in a world where no horror movies exist so, for example, if it’s a werewolf movie, half of the movie is people going “wwwwhhhhhat’s happening?!” It kills too much movie time when we could have more character and plot development.
FOG: Yeah, likewise. I love the Cassandras. The ones who speak the truth but no one listens to. The characters who’ll say early on, “The problem is zombies. Shoot them in the head.” But no one listens, so you get another 2 acts out of the story. So frustrating. So essential. Now that I think about it, our shared love of this is probably represented in the songs we write. Thanks for the question!
E&D: What are some of your favourite ever death scenes from horror movies?
FLB: Any time the asshole character meets a grisly end. Rhodes from Day Of The Dead is probably the best example. He’s a total dick the entire movie and ends up getting literally ripped in half by zombies while screaming while yelling “Choke on ‘em!” There’s no sympathy from the audience. It’s a joy to see him die screaming.
FOG: The first one I distinctly remember is from the Friday the 13th series. I was maybe 13 years old and rented all of the available movies in the franchise one weekend. In Part VI, Jason kills someone by smashing them face-first into a tree, and as the body falls away you see a smiley face carved into the tree, streaked with blood. It was a simple break-the-fourth-wall moment that probably stands for the break between classic and contemporary horror, for better and worse, but I popped for it and still love it.
E&D: What are some of the most underrated horror movies ever made?
FLB: Pontypool is a great one. It’s a zombie movie unlike any other I’ve seen. It’s smart, tense, and brilliant. I also really like Satan’s Little Helper, a fun lower-budget slasher and Exit Humanity, a zombie movie that takes place during the Civil War.
FOG: Begotten. There’s no clear narrative. No dialog. No color. Just a robed humanoid thing pulling out its entrails in between shots of people doing something-or-other amidst other vague filth and misery. If you’ve ever been to a noise show, one of the bands probably used it for video. If you’ve never been to a noise show, you need to check it out. You also need to go to a noise show.
E&D: How did Blight House start as a band in the first place?
FLB: Frank was brutally sick and in his fever-soaked state, he decided to start writing death metal riffs. He sent me a bunch of songs and said “I need vocals for this.”
FOG: True story. However, it wasn’t out of nowhere. We already played in another band or two, so asking for vocals on some new tracks is somewhat routine for us.
E&D: Did you always want to mix the brutal death metal sound with razor sharp grindcore?
FLB: We’re not the most adept musicians so this combination of death metal and grind is what naturally comes out.
FOG: No. In my head my playing sounds like Blind Guardian or Hammerfall. Maybe if I practiced more. Nonetheless, I believe true deathgrind is the sound of ability outpaced by aspiration.
E&D: What are the most influential death metal and grind albums to you?
FLB: Napalm Death – Smear Campaign, Death – Symbolic, Dark Tranquillity – Damage Done, Carcass – Heartwork, Fuck The Facts – Stigmata Hi-Five.
FOG: Mortician – Hacked Up for Barbecue, Assuck – Anticapital, Death – Leprosy, Agoraphobic Nosebleed – PCP Torpedo.