Tuesday, February 27, 2018

A Ripple Conversation With Underground Hero Steven Kerchner, Part 2





I love Super Black Object but they are sadly no more. What happened? Also, what made you form the band to begin with?

After a hiatus from working together in Ol’ Scratch, and prior to my introduction to LORD's line up, this was a project that brought Will and I back into the same creative sphere. We initially had a more doom laden approach in mind, but after switching the line up around, both with members and position, we approached the project as a cathartic bloodletting in homage to the raw and primitive black metal music we loved. We had decided the band would create only for a period of time and we recorded the ‘Rituals of Blackened Perfection’ album during the winter of 2009/10. We believed what we had created had served it's cathartic purpose for us and trying to force a continuation of that wasn't our desire, believing it would fall short in honest intensity. I had approached Will about the idea of a new SBO record in the fall of 2016 but I ended up founding Tumba Carcomida instead and the plans for Hopekiller continued to grow. I don't believe there will ever be another SBO release.

You mentioned Tumba Carcomida as a project in the works. How's that coming along?

Tumba Carcomida was a short lived death metal project I was involved with. I played the drums and did some backing vocals for us. We recorded a four song demo EP that I'm extremely pleased with and additionally we were able to make a video for one of the songs. The video entailed some running around a graveyard sans shirt, covered in blood, dragging a burlap sack around. It was a lot of fun to shoot and I'm also extremely stoked about how that turned out. At this time, however I no longer have any desire to pursue focus on Tumba Carcomida.

You and Willy have been partners in crime for many years now. Both of you have been in several bands and still are in several other bands together. How do you keep it going? Is it the diversity between the bands, your chemistry or both that fires you up?

Willy and I have done quite a few things over the years; SBO, Ol Scratch, LORD, Absent Sky, Hopekiller, etc. We are as brothers and we definitely have a common chemistry that smooths the process of working with each other. Easy to say we work well with each other naturally, then combined with years of working together, we understand each other very well – which certainly aids in the creative process. The same can be said of Todd as well and it's huge blessing to be able to create with both Todd and Will simultaneously in LORD.

Todd Wuehrmann, who you just mentioned, is someone else you have worked with for a long time. First in The Seventh Gate and Palkoski and now in Lord. How have you guys kept up this long running partnership?

Todd and I first met at a basement show in Mclean, VA. I barely recall this, but he reminded me of it the first time that he came over to jam with and try out for The Seventh Gate in February of 2005. Our (The Seventh Gate’s) first show with Todd was a free show at the Exxon station across the way from the infamous “toilet bowl building” near Tysons Corner, VA. It was a spectacle you see, not many walk into a gas station convenience store expecting to find a smoking friendly (filled) environment, a crowded (by attendees) selection of aisles and a metal band drenched in blood playing in front of the coffee maker and slurpee machine. Todd has been a lifelong friend and companion ever since we first became friends and bandmates. We’ve collaborated on innumerable projects together and I consider him to be one of my closest and dearest friends. He and I are committed to making music together so long as we shall be alive. May that be a long time!

How do you approach songwriting? Does it differ depending on the band or do you approach the same way? And where do you get your inspiration from?

It definitely depends on the band and within that individual group dynamic exists another plethora of creative methodology to sculpt sound together. When it comes to playing a traditional sit down drum kit, I enjoy playing as fast as I can and really pushing my limits. For the auxiliary kit, I am typically playing along with another seated drummer, answering and responding to that active dynamic. Lyrically, I always choose to draw upon something I am passionate about.  For me to find the voice to have a true impact is being made, it is critical that the voice is saying something meaningful and means what is being said. On the upcoming Pain Tank album, a large chunk of the lyrics are based on atrocities happening in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The current LORD album spans a lyrical quilt of Armageddon by capsaicin, erosion of ecology, installation of pipelines, perpetual genocide and modern slavery for western “goods,” philosophy on living and leaving a lasting mark, racism, assimilation via mutilation, temptation and perversion, out of body into spirit interaction/experience and suicide. 

When balancing multiple projects I closely examine not blurring the lines lyrically between what's happening and strive to make each thing stand independently of any other project. Lyrics aren't the only tool I use to make different projects stand independently, as setting any kind of creative restriction may also be inspiring. For example, in LORD there is no vocal style I won't explore, however in Pain Tank there is a methodic and intentionally conscious decision not to use any clean vocals, thus encouraging the project to embody a different expression.

Some of your bands are on your own label, while others are not. Why the split? Is it easier to be on someone else’s imprint?

Most projects are self-released by default through Heavy Hound. Human Services was something I joined up with after their birth, so we did our own thing and already sort of had an independent (of Heavy Hound) thing going on. Pain Tank was initially a project that Tony Petrocelly had started and asked me to become involved with so naturally the default also wasn't Heavy Hound. Since Pain Tank originated with him and he had Edgewood Arsenal going on it was released that way. For both of these projects I had a backseat to some extent with the layout of the album so yes, there was less responsibility and therefore more flexibility to focus on other projects, in some cases being released or recorded simultaneously. It was enjoyable to work with others that I had an initiative in artwork planning and project finalization, as it frequently something I have taken care of over the years. I thoroughly enjoy this process of artwork planning, creation, etc but with multiple projects going on, being the passenger on this ride gave me an opportunity to redirect focus to other projects as well as balancing aspects of my personal life.

When and how did Heavy Hound Records come about?

Heavy Hound came about when I was booking a weekly metal show at a local bar and wanted to be able to offer the bands that came through this sort of full services offered platter; venue, low cost studio time and a represented collective of bands releasing music through the Heavy Hound name which would benefit from the elements of mutual promotion and distribution. I had found the joke of Satan Rock Records to be more long lasting and misunderstood, and much like changing the name of the band from The Seventh Gate to Palkoski, I found the title of Satan Rock to be incredibly juvenile and misrepresentative. Just about as fast as this idea started to be implemented I found the venue was closing down and my immediate access to local bands at a frequent rate was diminished into yesterday, leaving the Heavy Hound label to basically be a vehicle of self-releasing music that I was involved with. I was able to record the band Xeukatre from Baltimore and released a cassette for Kohoutek, those are definite highlights from Heavy Hound's history that are outside of my creative involvement. The name Heavy Hound is a dedication to my dog at the time, “Heavy,” as well as a statement of dedication to seeking out heavy music. Without the intended collective support going into the label it became that vehicle for self-releasing music.

Pain Tank appeared almost out of nowhere and took me by surprise, indeed! How did this band come about?

In late spring/summer of 2015, I got in touch with Tony Petrocelly about contributing tracks from LORD and Palkoski to a compilation of local bands he was organizing. Once submitted, he and I continued talking, and he offered that I complete some instrumental tracks he had been sitting on. After recording vocals for these five songs, we had no intent of pursuing the project, until one night I found the disc in my truck. Whilst driving around I enjoyed to myself some death metal karaoke to the demo we had done and suggested to Tony that we could form a line up and perhaps play a few shows. I had known James for a long time and we hadn't ever really collaborated and I already knew Chris may be interested due to his response when overhearing the demos.  We got together and immediately the chemistry allowed for the creation of songs that would be released on our first album, which was recorded entirely live at Trepan Studios by Tony. Currently we're sitting on about 60 songs that are hopefully destined to be recorded on and released as our follow up to ‘97, 901, 726 Confirmed Kills’.

What's Hopekiller about?

Hopekiller is a very new project that Will (LORD, SBO, Absent Sky, Ol Scratch), Tony Petrocelly, Jeremy (Coke Bust, Last Kid Picked and Wallbreaker) and I are working on. I'm playing the drums and we're playing some fast grindy hardcore songs that will be a lot of fun for us to play. It's still all very fledgling at this point, so there's not a lot to comment on just yet. If all goes according to plan our 4/5 song debut should be available early in 2018.

You have a solo project in the works. How is that taking shape?

This is currently in the planning idea stage. I had originally set out to begin focusing on this in November of 2017 {however being at the end of October currently}, it just doesn't seem likely I'll be starting this on time. It's still something I intend to carry out, but timewise it will take a backseat to other projects I am currently active with; LORD currently recording a full length, Pain Tank pausing (during the LORD recording) before recording a full length, Hopekiller gearing up to record the debut EP and producing the new Absent Sky album. 

You are also helping Willy Rivera on his solo project, Absent Sky. In what capacity are you assisting him?

Will is recording the new Absent Sky record with me here at Heavy Hound HQ. I'll be appearing on the record alongside numerous other guests, playing some drums and contributing some vocals. I'm honored to be a part of it, both as pilot behind the board and as a contributing musician.

From a very personal point of view, your former band Ancient Astronaught is of particular interest. Not only because it was the "odd one" out being more of a stoner band, which differs a lot from your other bands. But also because I got to do guest vocals live with the band as well as recording a very rough demo version of the song 'Slo Burn'. A great experience indeed which allowed me to see up close how you work off stage so to speak. Why did you form this band?

Steve and Skip and I wanted to continue being creative together after the final Ol’ Scratch hurrah and we were all familiar with each other creatively from a history of different projects. It's always important to me to keep projects sounding different from one another. I was interested in playing some different kind of drums, otherwise most enthusiasm regarded speed, haha. Knowing that slower doomy kind of riffs are normally paired with sparser styles of drumming, Ancient Astronaught brought a busier drum sound to the table. Oh man! Having you be a part of Ancient Astronaught and was a true honor! It was really something fantastic having you write Slo-Burn with us!!!
I’m a little fuzzy on the details, but I do recall that the band was formed after Ol’ Scratch’s final show. (We probably discussed it and made plans prior to the last show, but didn’t get to jamming until afterwards.) It was a way for some of the members to continue making music together in the same vein, yet on different instruments (mostly). We released the first EP and then had an entire full length ready to record, however after a short stint on the road in August of 2011, the ship crashed so to speak. I have the full collection of demos from the unreleased album, which would of course include ‘Slo-Burn’, the track you were on and performed with us.  Matt Le Grow from Admiral Browning and JD Williams from Internal Void were other guest contributors as well.  I had a tremendously fun time working on these songs and it’s truly a shame that the album wasn’t ever released and is very unlikely to ever be released.

Our conversation is coming to end unfortunately but it’s been an immense pleasure talking to Kerch about what has been, what is now and what the future might hold. There are so many prolific musicians out there working relentlessly for very little, or no, accolade whatsoever. This knowledge made our talk even more enjoyable because these fighters rarely, or ever, obtain the recognition they duly deserve. And if you think about it, Kerch is only one of tens of thousands artists in the same situation. It would be stating the obvious that the current popular “scene” should simply disappear and take with it, its horrible plastic fantastic dispensable junk, and subsequently open the door for real music. As things are this is wishful thinking, so it’s better to rejoice that if one dig a little bit beneath the surface, artists like Steven Kerchner will appear before you unravelling treasures of the greatest kind.



Current bands

Lord
Pain Tank
Hopekiller
Solo project


Selected former bands

The Seventh Gate
Palkoski
SBO
Ol' Scratch
VOG
Ancient Astronaught
Born To This
Lost It
Human Services 

-Swedebeast

2 comments:

uncle said...

Interesting, Steven.I have a greater understanding
and appreciation for what you do.

Anonymous said...

I'm very fortunate to know and have worked with Steven.

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