An Interview With : Sammy Duet (Goatwhore)
1st May 2015, 12:19
Posted by Tristan
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Walking down to Camden’s own charming dive that is The Underworld I am on my way to a fantastic show, consisting of some of metal’s most intriguing bands, each delivering their own brand of metal. Waiting in the dingy corridors, I’m taken backstage, which for now is in a quiet state. Fast forward but a couple of hours and the frantic running sense of urgency will be paramount. Though if there is one person that would be relaxed in a state of chaos it would be Goatwhore’s, Sammy Duet. We sat down to speak to the guitarist about Constricting Rage Of The Merciless, his past in Acid Bath and some of the bands plans later in the year, seeing perhaps another record on the horizon sooner than we might think…

Goatwhore

The Metalist : Having released Constricting just shy of a year ago, how have the fans been reacting to the record so far?

Sammy : It’s like eight months roughly? Really good! I’m really surprised to the reaction for this record because its a very nasty record. I was afraid that it would have been a little bit too much for some of our older fans, y’know what I’m saying? They’re eating it up apparently everybody has been telling that this is their favourite one so far, so I guess we’ve done a good thing this time!

You’ve said that it’s pretty nasty, but I thought that there was a kind of melancholic feel to the album…

There’s definitely some sadness in that record, there were some hard times some people were going through when we were writing that record so I guess that kind of came across, really feeling despair and sorrow it kind of came through in some of the songs for sure.

Now I’m not sure if I’m going to be pronouncing this right, Schadenfreude, what exactly does that mean?

It’s a German word, that means to take pleasure in someone else’s suffering, so like if you see somebody trip on the ground and bust their head on a bottle then thats Schadenfreude haha!

Brutal. You’ve been working with Erik Rutan for almost ten years now, what has made you stick with him and what made you go for his sort of insights with Constricting?

Because we’ve worked with him so much in the past  we’re so used to working with each other that it’s really really easy. He knows what we are looking for and we know what he expects of us as well. Instead being with some strange guy that you have never met before and it’s kind of awkward. To me when I’m recording an album its a very personal thing, its almost like getting naked in front of someone you don’t know. It kind of feels like that, but with Erik I could get naked in front of him and be comfortable haha! It just works, he knows what we’re about and what we look for and he gives it 110% ever album he he makes it better and better than the last one. It’s easy working with him, its not easy working with him but we know how to work with each really well with each other, I guess is what I’m trying to say.

Is it more that he gets the best sound production wise from you guys?

He does that and he really pushes for us to play our best on the records and not abuse the technology to fake our way through a song. He actually makes us play through the song completely, its kind of an old school mentality. If we did a record that had that kind of cut and paste and everything was absolutely perfect on it, it wouldn’t come across. It doesn’t work for this band, y’know what I’m sayin’? We’re not that kind of band where everything has to be perfect. We like it a little bit more raw and kind of loose.

Oh completely, I think that you can feel the organic, traditional death metal sound. What theme’s are explored on the new record? You’ve got a lot of Satanic imagery in the new record, am I right in thinking that “FBS” means fucked by satan?

Yes it does!

I thought so! Have you upset anyone in the past with that kind of thing?

We try to haha! It’s provoking a reaction out of someone and if they get upset, then so what its proving to them that they’re alive. We tend to stick around with the dark  stuff a lot you know with the whole satanic kind of thing, with the black magick and death magick, just try and be as brutal as possible.

Previously you were in Acid Bath until the accident happened, are there any similarities between both Goatwhore and Acid Bath?

I don’t really think so, this is a completely different band from Acid Bath. I don’t know how to explain this, I guess there’s still somewhat of a little influence from the stuff that I wrote in Acid Bath. I guess you can kind of still tell its just embedded in me, its there I can’t get rid of it haha! 

That’s not a bad thing though! When you were setting up Goatwhore did you have a particular direction that you wanted to go in or was it a more organic process?

Well, actually this was going on whilst Acid Bath were still together. Goatwhore were going on under a different name but it was like a fun thing for me and a couple of my friends to do together. We just wanted to start a heavy fuckin’ band y’know what I’m sayin’? Then Acid Bath broke up and then I was thinking why don’t we take this seriously, we already have a thing going, why not just go with it and see what happens.

I think its been going pretty well! 

Haha yeah man!

You’ve recently announced an extensive US  tour in the summer with Ringworm, Black Breath, Theories. Are there going to be any more tours this year?

It’s gonna be sick, probably so. We’re gonna see what’s going on.  Ben has to go home and have a little surgery on his leg after that US  tour so he’s gonna be laid up for a while. I’m imagining yes, but if not then we’re just going to be working on the new record, we’ll see what happens. Right now there’s nothing coming up just a few things but you never know what might pop up!

You tour pretty extensively, its nice to see that you will be headlining. I saw you with 3 Inches Of Blood, was that the last time you played The Underworld. How does it feel to be the headlining band of such a great line up? I often see you supporting bands but not actually headlining. 

It feels good y’know It’s going to be fun y’know! 

As you do so much touring how do you remain composed between shows, surely it can be a bit much sometimes with the hectic schedules! 

Yeah, I mean you get used to it after a while. Sometimes it’s really hard, sometimes you just get fuckin’ tired, you jut try and get as much rest as you possibly can when you can basically! 

You’ve been going for twenty years now and have such a fierce reputation performing live, what makes you have this effect?

I think that we really concentrate on trying to play the best that we can, that’s first and foremost. There’s a lot of bands out there, you go see them and they’re flawless live,  but they are boring as shit to watch. I think that we want to kind of combine the two of them, very energetic live act but actually play very very good. We try to pride ourselves on being extremely tight live but also extremely energetic. If you want to hear perfection then go listen to the record! When you come to see a band in the live setting you wanna be entertained, you wanna have fun with the band, y’know what I’m sayin’?

Goatwhore it kind of tiptoes between various genres, you’ve got your black metal and your death metal there’s also a kind of hardcore spirit to it.

Definitely, not really a hardcore sound but there is, we are influenced by a lot of hardcore , but  like you said, a hardcore spirit definitely! 

That’s fantastic though, some of the best shows I have ever been to have been hardcore shows. It’s important that you have the spirit of hardcore especially when you play live! Moving on, it seems that mainstream media is getting more savvy about metal and about Goatwhore itself. Did you see last year when the American Sherlock, Elementary, played “Baring Teeth For Revolt” 

Hahaha yeah man it was pretty awesome! They mentioned us again recently actually, like maybe last week, sometime recently. There was a sheet of something, list of evidence his favourite bands and Goatwhore was on there! Somebody over at Elementary must love Goatwhore! 

How did it feel seeing on a major TV show?”

It was definitely, it was definitely an interesting feeling haha! This is on national fuckin’ television, theres millions of people that just heard our name and our music! 

And in the same sentence as Carcass aswell!

Oh yeah man haha!

In terms of the song writing process, is it more of a collaborative effort? Is there one person that has all the ideas and then you kind of work around that?

It depends you know, sometimes I will come with an entire song completely done and give it to the rest of the guys and say “well what do you think?”. Either they will be like “oh yeah its great, don’t fuck with it anymore, its fine” or they will be like “ah it’s shit lets change this and change this” and then other instances where Zach will come up with a drum beat, let’s do a beat like this and we will just jam on it until we come up with a cool riff that goes with the beat. Then there are other instances where either Ben or Zach will try and hum a riff to me and I will try and transcribe it to the guitar what they’re humming. It’s all different types of things, sometimes I will play a riff with Zach and we’ll play it fifty billion times until we find a second part that sounds good. So it’s different shit every time, there’s no set formula I won’t show up with an entire song and say “this is the way it goes”. Everybody has their input at all times. 

Ah ok, it sounds like a very organic process. There are a lot of bands these days that can be too mechanical with the way that they put songs together, do you jam a lot?

I agree 100% yes, we’re constantly jamming. We just go into a room and me and Zach will just come up with something and play it over and over and over, it might be the same structure and the same riffs, if you play it enough times little things change here, little dynamics change. 

That’s always been one of the things I have liked about you guys, I remember when I first heard “Apocalyptic Havoc” and my brain exploded! How do you get that buzz saw guitar sound though?

Hahah! It’s all in the hands man! No but really, I use a pick up called a Seymour Duncan Black Out Metal HB2 its not the regular black out its another one and its voiced really fuckin’ nasty. I love that pick up, it’s awesome. You plug that pick into a clean amp,like a Fender twin it will still distort the Fender Twin, it’s a fuckin’ monster pick up but its not for everyone. That helps, the way I set my controls on my amps definitely has a lot to do with that. Normally when I’m at home I use Randall amplifiers theyre know for being chainsaw sounding amplifiers!

This is something that you might have thought about or you’re yet to produce, will we be seeing a live DVD at somepoint? 

It’s possible but the problem with that thing is that our first two records were released on a different record label than Metal Blade. If we did release a DVD then it would have to be exclusively the songs from the Metal Blade releases I mean it would be awesome to do that!

It would be a cool twentieth anniversary idea maybe?

That would be pretty cool! You never know its possible!

Having spoken about the various different sounds that Goatwhore has, you’re not specifically black metal or death metal do you think that you are more flexible when choosing tours?

Yeah, yeah! It’s like you said, you pretty much answered the question for yourself! We could fit into any category of extreme music that we want basically. We don’t like to pigeonhole ourselves.  We take so many different influences from so many different type of music in metal that we could pretty much fit with anyone. Like you say, we could tour with Marduk and 3 Inches of Blood respectively and do well! 

That’s how you maintain a unique sound though, so many bands aim to be the next Megadeth I think it makes people too niche kind of thing. When I first listened to Carving Out The Eyes Of God, when I was eighteen, I was thinking would the band would work differently with two guitarists?

For the first record we had two guitarists.  I tend to kill second guitar players haha! We tried it in the past and it just didn’t work. They either turn into drug addicts or they go crazy, I guess I’m too hard on them haha!

Did people get too cocky, would they not stay within their parameters?

It just didn’t work out, let’s put it that way. We just decided, we’re going to stay a four piece, fuck all this drama bullshit.

Do you feel yourself that you become a better guitarist as each album goes along? Are you trying to be as technical as possible whilst remaining in the Goatwhore sound?

I dont really see myself as a technical guitar player at all. I just want to be the best guitar player that I possibly  can be. Erik Rutan definitely helped me with that, he pushed me to play extremely tight. I’m not really worried about technicality as far as guitar playing goes  at all. I just want to be extremely solid and extremely tight. 

It’s kind of an opposing sound really as it sounds so sloppy yet you’re all so tight! As I’m sure that people have said before, would you cite Entombed as an influence? What other bands would you say that influenced you?

Celtic Frost for sure, Bathory, Venom, Judas Priest definitely huge influence on us, man so many! Darkthrone as well a big influence.

I noticed that though you might be fresh and current there are some sort of eighties style licks that slip through the cracks!

Oh yeah absolutely

Having been a band for eighteen years now, how do you remain fresh and creative?

Just going even older, going for an older metal feel! It’s strange how it works, we keep delving back into the past as far as old heavy metal influencing all our new music and its making us sound current for some weird reason haha!

You mentioned that you might be working on the new album, is that going to be after this July tour?

I’m not sure what’s going on yet, Ben is going to be laid up after the US run so we’re going to take advantage of this opportunity and write some of the music for the new record.

Would you work with Erik Rutan once again?

We’ll see what happens, its too early to tell. We’re stil just throwing ideas around for the new music.

Going back to Constricting Rage Of The Merciless, do you feel that the new record has opened up many more doors for you?

Yeah definitely so, I can definitely see compared to our last record compared to this one the fan base has definitely expanded. I can definitely see that for sure! The new record earned us a whole new set of fans man!

 That’s good man! That’s what you want! Has it been a gradual process that the fan base has grown?

Yeah man, it’s been a slow steady thing y’know what I’m sayin’?

What’s made you stick with Metal Blade? Do you feel proud to be on such a prestigious record label?

Oh absolutely I’m proud, extremely proud.I’ surprised when they approached us, the first time about signing with them. I was freaking out and I was like “holy shit!” At the time we were on a very small record label they came out to one of our shows and talked to us and I was like this is insane, we’re talking to the people Metal Blade and they wanna sign us, what the fuck is going on!? They’re like a family, they treat us really well. I cannot complain about them at all, anything we might want or need they’re there for us.

You do tour all over the globe, however there are some spaces that you are yet to reach! Would you be heading out to Asia at all?

There’s no plans of that yet, not yet. 

Any Japanese tour dates?

I wish, we’ve been to Japan once before a long time ago and I wish that we could go back!

Why haven’t you? 

I don’t know, just haven’t gotten round to it man!

And to finish what album have you been listening to over this year or the last year?

Cultes Ghouls and the album is called Hymn’s Bane, its some very evil shit. It’s probably the most evil thing I have heard man. It’s probably the most evil music I have heard in my life, I can’t even listen to the record with lights off. It’s fucking scary, it’s horrifying it’s awesome. It’s like black metal, but evil fuckin’ black metal not like the forest trotting black metal. This shit is legitimately scary, it’s awesome!

Well I feel terrified myself! 

 

Though the man might craft some of the most terrifying music himself, Duet was a pure delight to talk to. It seems that the sky is the limit for this genre spanning band. After having retreated outside for a quick smoke, The Underworld’s flood gates had opened and through the throes of metal heads each lining up to be served up some of that quintessential southern blackened groove these boys do oh so well.

Y’know what I’m sayin?

Goatwhore’s new album Constricting Rage Of The Merciless is out now via Metal Blade