Interview: Skeletal Remains

We wanted to make this record as heavy as it could be, and I think we accomplished what our goal was for this record.

Skeletal Remains have just released their brutal new album Fragments Of The Ageless and it sees the band growing ever stronger with their razor sharp death metal assault and further proves why the band are so deserving of the plaudits they have gained so far. Gavin Brown caught up with Skeletal Remains drummer Pierce Williams who told us all about Fragments Of The Ageless as well as discussing all manner of death metal related topics.

E&D: Your new album Fragments Of The Ageless is out now. It has been four years since your last album The Entombment Of Chaos, how does it feel to be back with this album? 

Pierce: It feels great! This is my first record with the band, and I’m extremely proud of the album we were able to create. I think this is some of the most brutal material the band has to date! 

E&D: Was the making of the album a smooth process and can you give us an insight into how it went? 

Pierce: I think it was as smooth as it could be, considering the fact that we all don’t live in close proximity to each other. We were extremely busy the last two and a half years with a heavy touring schedule, but Chris and Mike would mainly write the riffs while we were not on the road. Brian and myself flew down to L.A. for a few days at a time and help out with writing and jamming new ideas. Being in the same room while writing was a very collaborative process that led to certain songs being my favourite because we all had something to contribute. Living in different states, however, file trading was mainly how everything was “finalised” before the time came to record everything. I would get sent the songs as they were completed with a drum program. I’d learn the song, record it with my ideas, and send off demo versions of my real drums for any critique and changes they wanted. While I was learning and tracking the songs in my studio, I was completely oblivious as to where vocals and guitar solos would be placed. So, when I heard the mix for the first time, it was a nice surprise and really cool to hear how everything came together. 

E&D: The album has received nothing but positive feedback. Do you feel that Skeletal Remains are stronger than you have ever been with this new album? 

Pierce: I think the music within this record speaks for itself in that regard. In my opinion, I think this is the most ferocious record the band has put out to date. Minus the interlude we added, there’s no drop within the musical intensity. Every song is packed with undeniable explosive energy. We wanted to make this record as heavy as it could be, and I think we accomplished what our goal was for this record. I think this latest work showcases our growth as musicians and as a band. There’s a few new ideas we’ve come up with that were never really present in previous releases such as; odd time signatures, synth/ambient noise within a song, a mixture of clean guitars under distorted guitars, and a few “progressive” elements throughout. 

E&D: How was it working with Dan Seagrave on the cover of Fragments Of The Ageless

Pierce: It was awesome! he has so many legendary covers for so many albums that I love and grew up listening to. It was really cool to see his process from first rough sketches, to the colour ideas, to final painting. I absolutely love what he did for the cover, it set the tone for the whole record. The painting itself was inspiration to a handful of songs during the writing process. 

E&D: What are your favourite album covers that Dan Seagrave has done in the past? 

Pierce: That’s tough! They’re all awesome! If I have to pick 3 absolute favorites though, I guess I’d have to say, Effigy Of The Forgotten, Erosion Of Sanity and Ten Commandments.

E&D: You have done a brilliant video for the album track ‘To Conquer The Devout’. Was the anti-religious imagery in the video fun to film?

Pierce: I wouldn’t have a clue! The anti-religious shots were all done after performance shots. The video singles we shot for this record were the first time I’ve ever done a music video. 

 

E&D: You also did  brilliantly brutal videos for the tracks ‘Void Of Despair’ and ‘Relentless Appetite’. Can you tell us about those videos and the inspirations behind them? 

Pierce: Glad you like the videos! Lyrically, ‘Void Of Despair’ was inspired by old tales of sailors getting lost at sea and eating their crew mates in order to survive. Instead of taking place in the vast oceans here on earth, our story is set in the cold depths of space. The video clearly represents what the song is all about. It was fun to play drums in a space ship! We filmed this video and ‘To Conquer The Devout’ in the same day, it was an extremely tiring day to say the least, I wasn’t expecting to play each song 20+ times straight! ‘Relentless Appetite’ was the final video we shot the very next day. We drove out to some ranch in the hills of California. We were on a time crunch as we had to get our performance shots done while there was still sunlight. I like the grainy look of the video, having almost that b-horror type visual style with a shaky camera and gritty definition, it fits the vibe of what we were going for. 

E&D: What are some of your favourite metal music videos of all time? 

Piece: It’s really hard for me to think of one that stands out in particular because I didn’t grow up watching too many. One of the first metal video’s I remember seeing though, was Morbid Angel’s ‘God Of Emptiness’ so I’ll just go with that one. It’s one of my favourite songs’ from them.

E&D: Are you looking forward to your album release shows with Morta Skuld and Oxygen Destroyer? 

Pierce: Absolutely! I’m so stoked to be playing shows with these guys, both are awesome bands and great dudes! I’m excited to play the new material live, about half of our set will be all new songs. This is one of the longest set I’ve played with the band, and it’s a BRUTAL one to play! This is also the first time we’ll be experimenting playing to a click track live, mainly for ambient/noise backing tracks throughout a few of the new songs. I’m eager to see how the crowd reacts to the new material, should be a good string of shows!

E&D: Are you looking forward to playing the Milwaukee Metalfest in May?

Pierce: Yes,  we are all very honoured and stoked to play such an awesome festival! 

E&D: How did your tour with Suffocation, Incantation and Stabbing at the end of last year go and what were some of the highlights of the run? 

Pierce: That tour was one of my favorites I’ve been a part of. Everyone got along and everything went so smooth. No drama, no bullshit. Just a great time all around. A couple highlights of the shows were Toronto and Portland. The crowd was absolutely BONKERS throughout the entire night for every bands’ set. Those were my favorite shows from the tour, Portland being my hometown, did not disappoint with the crowd turnout being sold out… that’s always an amazing feeling as a performer. Meeting and hanging out with such legendary bands as those guys was also very surreal. If anyone told me in high school I’d be touring with Suffocation/Incantation one day, I would have laughed and called them a liar. I also met one of my favorite metal drummers, Kevin Talley, at the San Antonio show. That was a huge honor to meet that guy, I learned a lot about metal drumming trying to mimic his playing as a kid growing up.

E&D: Did you play any material from Fragments Of The Ageless on the tour? 

Pierce: Yes, we played ‘Void Of Despair’ and ‘To Conquer The Devout’ in our set. I think the crowd reactions to the new songs were overall positive. They’re fun as hell to play live. I really love getting in the groove during the second half of ‘Conquer’. It’s just so rhythmically based with awesome sinister guitar melodies that give me that “drummer’s high” when playing it.

E&D: What have been some of your favourite tours that Skeletal Remains have done so far and what made them so memorable? 

Pierce: As I mentioned earlier, the Suffocation/incantation/Stabbing tour is my favourite I’ve done to date. All the tours we’ve done have all been fun and memorable in their own ways. Touring Europe for the first time was a highlight for me as well, being something that I’ve always wanted to do since I was a child. The hospitality for musicians in Europe is beyond exceptional and is something I hope one day Americans can adopt for traveling artists. Playing a different country every single night is a really humbling experience. Meeting and hanging with the locals is always fun.

E&D: Who would you love to tour with in the future? 

Pierce: TOUGH QUESTION! So many bands!! Would love to tour with Cannibal Corpse, Vader, Hate Eternal, Dead Congregation, Immolation, Ulcerate just to name a few…

E&D: What has been the best death metal show you have ever been to? 

Pierce: Another hard question to answer! Cannibal Corpse has always put on a great show every time I’ve seen them. In more recent memory, I’d have to say the Cavelera brothers playing early Sepultura was one of the best things I’ve ever witnessed. They were incredible and played an absolutely flawless set. I grew up a huge fan of Beneath The Remains. Seeing it performed live made me feel like a kid again, singing along to it, and to actually feel the raw energy they were creating within the room was a special moment for me that I’ve never really felt during any show in my life so far.

E&D: What are the three most influential death metal albums of all time for you? 

Pierce: I feel like my music taste changes depending on what mood I’m in everyday. It feels almost impossible to just narrow it down to only three records… but, for the sake of this interview. Dissection – Storm Of The Lights Bane (some call this black metal, which I get, but I’ve always considered this a melodic death metal masterpiece). Death – Human. Cannibal Corpse – Tomb Of The Mutilated. I abused the living fuck out of my ear drums blasting these albums as a kid. 

E&D: What are your favourite death metal album covers? 

Pierce: First 3 Cannibal Corpse albums (Vincent Locke), Literally anything from Dan Seagrave, Leprosy (Ed Repka), Blessed Are The Sick (Jean Delville), Upon Desolate Sands (Eliran Kantor), Arise (Michael Whelan). Too many to name!

E&D: Who, for you, are the next breed of death metal bands coming through? 

Pierce: Three of my personal favourites in no particular order: Vile Rites, Laceration, and Oxygen Destoyer. I like these bands A LOT, they are all very impressive to watch and listen to. 

E&D: Skeletal Remains have some amazing pieces of merch. What are your favourite ever pieces of death metal merch?

Pierce: My favourite piece of merch I had for any metal band was my Storm Of The Lights Bane T-shirt. It was an original pressed shirt, and older roommate I lived with gave to me as a gift. That album is one of my favorite records ever made and I wore out the shirt because of my love for that record. I still have it lying around in storage and sadly can’t wear it anymore because of how tattered it is. As far as pieces of merch go, I’m mainly a shirt/sweater kind of guy and that’s generally what I buy when I go to a show. I’ve seen bands with pipes, grinders, and other weed smoking paraphernalia that I think is cool, but I mainly always go for a shirt or something else I can wear. If a band has a hat I like, I’ll definitely buy it.  

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