Interview: Full Of Hell

Over the years, this kind of sound was in the pipeline for a long time, so it was particularly fun for me to write because, structurally, it was a little bit different and a little more fun as a vocalist.

Those purveyors of a truly intense grindcore/metal hybrid, Full Of Hell have just retuned with their phenomenal new album Coagulated Bliss. A record that sees the band exploring new realms with their sound, which takes in so many influences along the way and the results are utterly sublime. To celebrate the release of the album, Gavin Brown had a great chat with Full Of Hell vocalist Dylan Walker to get a proper insight into Coagulated Bliss including looking at the album’s lyrics, artwork, and special guests as well as what Full Of Hell have planned for the rest of this year and working on their recent collaborations.

E&D: The new Full Of Hell album, Coagulated Bliss is out now. How excited are you for this album to be out?

Dylan: I’m actually a lot more excited than I would have guessed I would be at thirty four. Ten years ago, I would hope that I would still be passionate at this age, but I just never really knew how it would feel going into a career that’s long! I’m more stoked about this one than then a lot of the other ones to be honest. Feeling pretty juiced. I think a lot of that comes with perspective, and age.

E&D: Was it fun exploring where the sound of Full Of Hell can go even further on this record?

Dylan: Oh, yeah, dude, That’s a thing that I ended up experiencing every time we make records. Over the years, this kind of sound was in the pipeline for a long time, so it was particularly fun for me to write because, structurally, it was a little bit different and a little more fun as a vocalist. Seeing Spencer, our guitar players vision, really come to life finally, I really feel like on a personal level, he’s hitting an area that he always wanted to be playing music, I don’t think it’s a seismic shift or anything, but internally, it’s more in the pocket of where we’ve been trying to go or wanting to, for years,

E&D: Did you feel it was the right time to do it now, with this record?

Dylan: Yeah, I think because, honestly, our last solo LP, when we were talking about it on paper, we wanted it to be like this one. But timing wise, we weren’t there for whatever reason, because all this stuff’s pretty natural and authentic, the way we go about it. There’s nothing really that gets forced, I think we just turned the page, and were able to push forward into something new. We knew we had to start toying around with other stuff we loved and move forward.

E&D: Has that always been the case with Full Of Hell, with your music constantly moving forwards?

E&D: Yeah, definitely. I mean, from moment one, Spencer, and I just wanted to make a band that sounded like all of our favourite bands. A band that we would have fallen in love with when we were kids. I don’t listen to our records very often, looking back at all, but when I was listening to the masters for this one, I was just struck thinking like, Man, I would have loved this record so much, it would have just blown my mind as a kid! That’s literally all I all I ever wanted, to stay true to that mission, and because I think we didn’t box ourselves in growing up doing the band, like how we presented it, I think we’re kind of afforded a lucky opportunity to mess with the formula a little bit, and I don’t think it’s very jarring to people. I think we’re really lucky to be able to be in that spot.

E&D: Do you also feel this the most eclectic album that Full Of Hell have done to date?

Dylan: Maybe, yeah, It’s hard to say but I feel like all the pieces are there. I feel like it ticks all the boxes, it’s just presented in a slightly different way. I think the musicianship stepped up all around. I guess it would be the most eclectic, because I think these guys, myself included, we’re getting better at trying to articulate what’s going on in our heads and what we want things to sound like. There are a lot of easter eggs in the audio, and in the performances, that nod to a lot of what we love that isn’t extreme metal, so I think that’s a fair thing to say.

E&D: What inspired the lyrics to the songs on the album?

Dylan: Whenever we get album art done, it’s usually a pretty personal experience. We tend to work with a lot of people that we’re friends with or fans of, and the guy that painted this album has been friends with with us for a long time, he knows who we are, he knows where we’re from, and all of that. I was having a conversation with him, before I started really writing much and before he started painting, and he told me that as a father and being in my 30s, that it was time for me to come home and write a record about where I’m from and what I really know, which, honestly, I’ve always written about personal experience and what I know and what my peers are going through, but I just think that the approach being a little more direct and more focused, it felt really inspiring like, I was really feeling juiced. It was really easy to write the record for me, when I decided that Brian was right telling me to kind of do that. I think a lot of the experiences on the record are actually pretty universal.

E&D: Have you have any feedback from people from where you’re from at all?

Dylan: No, not really. We’ve had feedback from friends that we respect musically. Even further, I often find that metal lyrics are treated as more of a placeholder with a lot of people, maybe when it’s out, people will look at it a little closer, but you know, I don’t really expect people to be reading the lyrics. I think the average listener, that might not be their bag, so it’s kind of yours to put the work in and figure out your level of involvement. But no, I mean, I haven’t heard anything. I live around a lot of old folks and meth heads and stuff, so they’re not gonna pop on Full Of Hell. They’re probably not streaming music!

E&D: Did you always want this record and your past records to have a cathartic nature to them?

Dylan: Yeah, definitely. I mean, that’s what it is for me. That’s what I’ve always gotten out of it. It’s hard for me to recognise those things. It’s hard to have a perspective of the self as you grow, ideally you become more self aware and know your place in whatever it is that you’re doing. This is a really important thing for me, always has been. So finding my place in that has been really important and recognising exactly what I get out of it. Looking at that, then it’s easy to find ammo to write about, because if I can identify the impetus of all of this, at least for my personal thing, and it is really cathartic. It’s like pure electricity. It feels good. So I try to channel try to channel that.

E&D: You’ve got a couple of guests on the album in Ross Dolan from Immolation and Jacob Bannon from Converge. How was it working with both of them and what do they bring to their respective tracks?

Dylan: It was really easy. We’re really good friends with those guys, and those guys are our heroes. Immolation is my favourite death metal band of all time, especially at this point. It actually increased when we met and toured of them, because discovering how they operated and how humble they were, and how unbelievably crazy sounding they were after playing in the band for decades together, it’s something really special. We look up to those guys. They’re like big brothers to us. Ross was very easy to work with. He was very chilled. If I’m in a band for that long, I can only hope to my core that we could be half as cool as Immolation on a personal level and a professional level, so that was an easy one. Jake is the same way. I look up to Converge, we put Converge and Neurosis in the same boat as far as American bands that are pretty extreme and dabbled with the metal world but are very DIY and clearly punk rooted. We’ve had other guys from Converge on records in the past but in particular, but when I heard the riff for the song that he’s on, it sounded to me like some classic Converge shit so I just thought it would suit the song and the same thing with Ross. That part was Ross to me as soon as I heard it, but yeah, it was positive, we always just have our friends and people we look up to on the record, so it’s never anything but excellent.

E&D: What your favourite Immolation and Converge albums?

Dylan: Close To A World Below and Failure For Gods, they’re the essential Immolation records. I’ll say that newest Immolation record is actually unfuckingbelievable!  My favourite Converge is probably You Fail Me but I really liked the Agoraphobic Nosebleed split, and honestly, I love Jane Doe. No Heroes came out when I was pretty late on in high school. I was entering adulthood and was actually able to travel for shows, and I saw the No Heroes record release tour. That was actually the first time I ever even got to see them live because I live in the middle of fucking nowhere. It was like a bomb went off. I can’t really express enough, those guys are pretty inspiring and Immolation is just true artistic darkness, it’s just incredible. The riffs are fucking oppressive. They just like set a blueprint, and there’s a lot of guys, actually, the more I learned from that wave, that are still just cool as fuck on a personal level, they’re very chill. They’re about what they’re about. They’re just there to rip it and write music. It’s nice for me to see older guys that we look up to, that have the right intentions, and really put it out on stage.

 

E&D: It’s inspiring that both Immolation and Converge are still killing it on record and on stage.

Dylan: That’s what I’m talking about. Not only are they still going, but it’s just so fucking crazy sounding still. I love those guys so much, it’s very impressive. I look up to that very much.

E&D: Who else would you love to have guest on a Full Of Hell album in the future?

Dylan: Oh, man, basically, you can pretty much look at anybody that we’re friends with, or anything that we’re listening to and there’s probably a chance we’ve considered wanting to have them on board. I always thought it would be interesting to do something with Michael Gira from Swans, maybe. Justin Broadrick was another one from me, we actually have him on a song for a record that just went off to mastering and he’s remixed stuff for us before. I just want to have my inspiring friends on records.

E&D: Can you tell us about that record with Justin Broadrick?

Dylan: Yeah, without saying too much, we did another collaboration not with him, but with a friend of ours. It’s actually kind of a dub record and he’s on that with a bunch of other people. We’re putting it out ourselves, so it takes a little longer, probably later in the year I’m hoping. We thought it would be fun to follow up a record like Coagulated Bliss with something a little more challenging and it is definitely a more challenging record!

E&D: Who else are you working with on that album?

Dylan: Theres our friend Alex Hughes, who played in the band Hatred Surge. He’s on it a lot, and we have a friend named Taichi, who plays in the Japanese band called Endon. We’ve been really into those guys for a long time. Taichi had a whole song too, and it’s so fucking sick. I’m excited about that one too.

E&D: You’ve just done an amazing video for the title track of Coagulated Bliss. Can you tell us a bit about the video and the images contained within?

Dylan: Yeah, sure. Our friend Will Mecca made that video, he’s another guy we’ve known for a long time that I really wanted to involve in the band on some level just because it’s just another friend who’s got a really cool approach to his medium of art. He lives in northern Texas. It’s kind of like a desolate prairie area, really rural and like where the record is about. It’s pretty onpoint and basically, when I was talking to him about the video, I kind of just let him go and do his thing because you we tend to hire people knowing what they do, and we don’t want to tell them what to do. His work always reminds me of Harmony Khorine. Gummo, the film is a huge deal for me. It was such a depraved but benign view of an economically fucked American town in the middle of the country that it just stuck with me and I think is really applicable to the record. Will was kind of cut loose and shot a bunch of people he knew just doing some everyday shit. I really liked how it turned out.

E&D: Gummo is an amazing film and the soundtrack is fantastic as well!

Dylan: Oh, yeah. It actually introduced me to so many bands like Mortician. I heard a lot of stuff for the first time on that soundtrack. Not just heavy stuff, that’s when I first discovered that Madonna was cool! You just sometimes need a little different lens to look through to get it.

E&D: Can you tell us a bit about the stunning artwork for the album that you mentioned before?

Dylan: Yes, the painter Brian Montuori who we’ve been friends for a long time, he actually grew up in the Maryland area. So most of the scenery is set in this town that the rest of the band lives in, Ocean City. I live in the middle of Pennsylvania, in the woods. Honestly, Ocean City is on the beach, but I live in a forest so the general vibe is pretty much the same between our towns. Brian really had a good in person memory of the town itself that we wanted the record to be set in. We sent him a lot of pictures and he kind of guided the narrative for the record to begin with, before we sent him these photos, before we knew it was going to be in Ocean City, him telling me what he felt like I should be doing as an artist kind of propelled it forward and we’ve had that experience a few times over the years. It really makes I think, for a better end product when it’s presented collaboratively. He knew what the record was about. He had all the lyrics, he had all these photos, we had a plan, and beyond that he was given the freedom to do whatever he pleased and presented how he wanted to present it. So there’s a lot of little nods in the album art to the stories on the record, and to like locales in Ocean City, and a little bit of Pennsylvania. It’s kind of one of those things where I think it rewards the close listener and the person that might read the lyrics and then kind of ponder over the imagery a little bit. I don’t think it’s too opaque but it’s all super tied into everything on the record, which I love. It’s super important to me.

E&D: You are taking Coagulated Bliss on the road with Dying Fetus, 200 Stab Wounds and Kruelty. How excited are you for this and are you starting the tour as soon as the album is released?

Dylan: Yeah, actually the second show of the tour is the release day. The smartest thing a band can do, at least from my perspective, is to tour right when it comes out. It’s kind of like the best way to do it. Fortunately we’re on a label called Closed Casket that is agile. I’m pretty aware of what makes a good record and what is an effective way to put a record out because some of these bigger labels, there’s too many people involved. It’s kind of a machine, whereas Closed Casket tailor it to what the band needs it to do. We were able to set a release date once we figured out when the tour was happening. So yeah, I’m excited because it’s all ramped up there, and that’s a good time to go on tour. I’m also interested because I’ve been in Dying Fetus crowds, and I know 200 Stab Wounds and I know the Kruelty guys, and I know the crowds like come for them. I’m interested to see how our music is taken by those people. Over the years I’ve noticed it matters a little less, the more we tour because people will come out,  metal crowds will come out to see different kinds of metal but we could be confrontational with these people too. It remains to be seen, but overall I think it’s gonna be really positive. We’re really stoked. It’s a pretty crazy lineup.

E&D: Will Coagulated Bliss form a big chunk of your live set?

Dylan: I don’t think so, maybe four or five songs. It’s a full length for us, but it’s a rather short record as they always tend to be. There’s like four or five songs in the new record in the setlist but it’s a fifteen song setlist so it comprises a chunk, but we always have to draw on different eras of the discography. It gets funnier as it gets older because there’s so many songs. We have our go to that we just love to play, but there’s an internal debate as to what’s going on the set We do try to tailor it a little to the tour, whether it’s to make it more confrontational, piss those people off, or egging them on a little bit in a a positive way. This time, we’re trying to lean into it a little in a good way, but we’re psyched to have those songs in the set. They’re really fun to play live, that’s the most important part to us, that entire record is really fun to play.

E&D: Are you looking forward to touring  with Thou in Australia and New Zealand as well in the summer, and will you do any of your collaborations live?

Dylan: I’m excited. We’ve known those guys forever, we love them so much. Everybody’s  busy, so it’s really hard, those guys live in a different part of the country, so we don’t get to see them that often. We’re all really good friends, so it’s just one of those things, they’re part of what I consider to be the scene that we’re actually a part of, because I don’t really consider us to be part of the death metal scene of a grindcore scene or any of that shit. But we’re part of this sort of clique of Thou and The Body and all those people, so it’s cool to be able to look forward to that, and it’s in such a special part of the world that it’s hard to get to. We’re really pumped. We are playing a place down in Melbourne, that’s called Make It Up club. It’s like an old improv jazz club, if you’re on the stage, it has to be improvised. That’s the only rule. We’ve done shows there a couple of times, they’re really fun. Full Of Hell has a show book at the  Make It Up club on that tour. Thou isn’t on the show, but I know at least a couple of them will be playing with us live. It’s not going to be like a traditionally written record, but there’ll be some kind of plan or whatever. Last time, we did a show there, we were all naked, and there was a blacksmith that played percussion with us during the set. He brought a bunch of scrap metal from his scrap yard, and we strung up a bunch of chains and metal bars and kettle drums, and everybody was wearing costumes, just beating each other up. It was pretty chaotic. It was exhausting but it was cool!

E&D: What are your touring plans after that and have you got plans to make it over to the UK this year?

Dylan: Not this year, the UK is one of our favourite places to go to in the world. Ever since we first came in 2011, it’s been so amazing and so special every time that it’s really important to us to not overstay our welcome. I just want it to remain special when we come over, but yeah, if we’re coming across the pond, we’re going to the UK, like even if we never went to Europe again, we would come to the UK. I don’t have anything booked firmly right now, but definitely in 2025 We’re coming back to the UK, we just wanted to take a little break from Europe and the UK for the moment. It’s just one of those things, We do three months a year and it’s really hard to prioritise, we usually have to pick and choose where we’re going to go. This year Asia, Australia and New Zealand got the pick you know.

E&D: Full Of Hell released albums with Gasp, Nothing and Primitive Man last year. How was the experience of working with those great bands?

Dylan: It was awesome! With Primitive Man, we’re like the same people basically, we wrote it in the studio and it was so easy. I wrote the lyrics with Ethan in like an hour. And like, they’re, I personally feel that they’re great. I’m very proud of them. It wasn’t rushed at all, we are on such a similar wavelength that it’s like writing with yourself. I feel like it’s very drab and dismal. The split with Gasp, that’s one of our favourite bands of all time. They’re part of the early wave of powerviolence in California. Very psychedelic, you can totally tell that we’re inspired by that band just based on their old records, and their current records are amazing, too. That was a labour of love and it was very fun, very easy. We put it out ourselves and people were really responsive to it. I think a lot of young kids caught on to Gasp because of that, and  that’s a pretty sick OG band to be into. They’re not as well known as Man Is The Bastard, Crossed Out or Infest, but they’re a part of that clique, too. They’re really interesting, so that was a proud moment for us as fans to be able to do that. The Nothing collab, I felt like last year was a perfect yin and yang for me based on Primitive Man in the beginning and Nothing at the end. It is really dark and sad too, but it’s just presented in such a different way. It was a new challenge. It wasn’t frustrating or anything like that at all because there’s actually a lot of similarities between us and Nothing. We’re really big shoegaze fans, and that whole wall of sound is pretty applicable to Full Of Hell as well. My Bloody Valentine is influential to Full Of Hell and Nothing, we actually had a pretty similar approach but it was cool for both bands to work with each other. I was excited to sing stuff that wasn’t blasting, and the atmosphere was just completely different. I actually was able to sing on the record, which was something they pushed me to do, which was really fun for me. I felt like it tested the waters as to what we could do, and still have it feel genuine to people. I think people like it, and that was some nice proof for me that we could do whatever we want, pretty much at least for my taste, and I couldn’t ask for anything more.

E&D: Have you thought about any new material at the moment and are you constantly working and having ideas about your music?

Dylan: Oh, yeah, dude, Spencer just sent a new song yesterday, he never stops writing. I think it’s just who we are, and I think part of it’s because of who we’re influenced by, like I mentioned earlier, Man Is The Bastard, they’re a great example, super enormous discography, the dude never stops working. It’s literally just, that’s how you act if you’re in a band. That’s just how we think and  those are the bands that influenced us, and  that’s just how we are as people. We also feel, COVID was like a big illuminator with this. It’s really important, because we got lucky enough to have people pay attention to our band, that we need to respect and take advantage of that opportunity, because it is a privilege. Why would you be in a band and not work on music? We ask ourselves that internally all the time. I find that with a lot of walks of life. Success generally only comes from people that are dedicated to a point where they would rather go down in flames than give up. You know what I mean? They don’t need the success necessarily, it’s good, but they’re just wired to do the thing, and we’re fortunate enough to have found the thing where I feel like we’re wired to do it. We were  writing a lot. There’s probably half an LPs worth of riffs already for a solo LP. We talk about collabs and stuff, too, and the side projects are always writing music, too, so those guys are always writing, it’s an exciting thing because there’s always eggs in the baskets.

Photo by Zachary Jones

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