Friday 21 February 2014

Interview time with Killwhitneydead

I have been a long time fan of Killwhitneydead and their brutally brilliant sample laden metal. Having released their last album way back in 2007, I had begun thinking that I would never hear new material. Thankfully the gods are kind and the boys behind the band are coming back with what sounds to me, likely to be their best album yet.  Vocalist, Matthew Rudzinski took some time to chat about their downtime, upcoming album and how things have changed within the scene. For fans of the band and anybody new to their music, be sure to give it a thorough read!

Listen to their brand new single off the upcoming album and let the 'Demons Consume' you while you check out the interview.

1. Let's start with the basics, could you introduce yourself and the band?

Hello, I am Matt and I am the vocalist and band ringleader.  The rest of the band at the moment is just Kyle Odell on guitar and album production. We had some help from a few studio friends along the way.

2. What was the main reason behind starting the band and why the name, is there an actual Whitney in your lives?

The main reason back in 2000/2001 was just an idea I had to try and start a studio project with some friends who at that time were in Bloodjinn and Heartscarved.  That never got off the ground and two of the guys from End Of All wanted to try something and what came of that was the first EP, Inhaling The Breath Of A Bullet, that was released in 2002.  I really had an urge to just make sinister sounding music with eerie movie samples interlaced throughout the music.

There is an actual Whitney and I used to work with her.  The band name is actually just play on the old phrase “kill whitey dead” but I changed one word and pushed it all together into killwhitneydead.  It was something different at the time and it stood out and got people’s attention which as simply a studio project, we needed.

3. Did you ever expect Killwhitneydead to become as successful as it has?

No, never.  It wasn’t until I hooked back up with a couple guys from Bloodjinn to work on Never Good Enough For You (our second release) did we understand the hype that was building.  Since I had deliberately hidden our identities from the start there was no real way to interact with people except via the band’s AIM account and emails.  Yes, old as crap I know!  But that is how we did it back then.  I talked to people all the time online as the singer of KWD and added to the myths we had already created with the elaborate band back story of causing riots and going to jail all the time.  But, once the word got out we had a new album coming the hype just kept growing and with the advent of Myspace we rode the wave until the release of So Pretty So Plastic, which we released just 10 months after NGEFY.  Something we could never do today.

4. I have always found it hard to classify your music, due to all the samples I feel it deserves a better term than -blank-core. What do you call it?

Metal.  We have hardcore tendencies for sure because I grew up as part of both scenes in the late 80’s when everything was growing and expanding and meshing.  So it’s just in my nature, but when asked what we are it’s all just metal.  People can classify us however they like, that is their business and their prerogative.  We just make music we enjoy making and that is M E T A L.

5. Speaking of the samples, you must ace the pop culture category on Jeopardy. Could you share with us the typical process behind the inclusion of one, are songs written around a sample or are they found to fit?

(Laughing) My wife beats me all the time in Jeopardy. 

But seriously, I write the song lyrics first normally and put it to the music I am given.  In the early KWD days I had lyrics written for years before starting the band. I just wrote stuff and kept it for that “one day” scenario.  However, in more recent time I write stuff once given the music. So when the lyrics are done and I see where things can go, I then filter through my sample database of ideas and see what might work with the song’s lyrical content.  I used to keep note pads of ideas, but I have since become more high tech than that and use an Excel spreadsheet.  I have probably 500 ideas cataloged away that I haven’t used yet.

6. Enough with the past, I hear you have a new album coming out! What took you guys so long?

Well, the main hold up after the release of our albums in 2007 was just touring and the guys in The Demonstration (who were also in Killwhitneydead pulling double duty) working on their own album which took precedent over any KWD stuff since we had just released 2 new albums at one time.  But after our summer tour in 2009 we took a break and then in May of 2010 we played what could be our last shows ever.  I just dissolved the band after those shows.  It really wasn’t fun anymore and I just wanted to step away and take break.  I love the fans and all they have done for us, but I wanted to not let the band rule my life and it was starting to become that.  So I ended it, or so I thought.

Enter Kyle Odell in late 2010 and he mentions he has 10 completed demos and asks if I would like to work on them with him.  The next era of KWD was born.  I wrote all the lyrics in about 2 weeks and we started recording in January of 2011 then BOOM!  Life happens.  When you aren’t in a touring band and you have jobs everything just seems to pile up and prevent you from getting any work done on an album, or at least in our case it’s how it went down.  Kyle and I both got married that year and so on and so on.  But, it was finally finished a couple months ago and it’s ready for release.

7. I've heard that Suffer My Wrath steps away from the old style and creates something more alluring, could you perhaps touch on this and explain how this album differs?

Sure, whenever you have a different songwriter come to the plate they are going to bring their influences to the table and Kyle did just that.  He had 10 fully arranged songs ready to roll.  I just had to write lyrics and do what I do and they were done.  The material is far more thrash influenced which was a huge influence for me and really got me pumped to write and scream again. However, the biggest challenge for me was working within Kyle’s arrangements which are far more organized than anything KWD has done in the past.  So it was a challenge for me to take the KWD lyric model and adapt it to a verse/chorus/verse style of writing AND keep it interesting for the listeners who were just used to a barrage of stuff we threw at them before. 

8. Was there a specific reason for the change or was it simply time to "grow"?

Kyle coming on board was one of the main reasons, but going back there was a reason I ended the band in 2010.  I wasn’t having fun and I have always had this kind of selfish attitude in regards to KWD that is “if I am not having fun doing something, then why do it?”  So when it was no longer fun and we had kind of hit a wall I just walked away.  It was going to take something special for me to come back and Kyle light a spark for me again, but bottom line is this “evolution” is a long time coming and was a much needed catharsis for KWD to even continue, honestly.  I had no problem ending it in 2010 when I did.  We had released 5 albums, toured the entire country 4 times and done far more than I had ever expected to accomplish with the band.  I was completely happy and, more importantly, content ending it in Charlotte. Thankfully, Kyle helped bring the beast back to life and in turn write a new chapter for the band and it’s fans.

9. I noticed the album artwork is missing two iconic Killwhitneydead features, blood and women. Is the change in order to compliment the album also who is the artist behind it? 
Again, this change was necessary because of several reasons; the first being “why beat a dead horse to fucking death, right?”  We had done the bloody imagery to death.  I thought we had empowered enough women already through our imagery and if they hadn’t got the message from our artwork, well, there isn’t much else we could do, right? (Laughing) Let someone else take a turn at it. 

Secondly, and most importantly, we had a new musical direction on our hands and it needed some new imagery. So I decided on some artwork that might turn some heads.  I am a HUGE fan of Frank Frazetta and when we began work on this new album he had just passed away, sadly enough. So I thought the new song lyrics (Tyrant Enthroned and Sound The Alarms especially) fit a big battle concept like he is best known for creating.  The kicker was I had recently hooked up with Steven Cobb (the artist) again whom I went to Jr. High School with and it turns out he is also a big Frazetta fan and we decided to pay homage to one of the best artists ever with the new KWD album.  I think our “tyrant” turned out great!

10. Are Killwhitneydead fans the kind that stay for life or do you think this album may put some of them off?

I think for the most part they stick with us.  But we went into the making of this album knowing it might turn people away.  That is the risk any artist takes when you have released as many albums as we have.  Fans get comfortable with what they know and when you shake that up the first reaction is confusion and then a divergence can happen.  Some fans accept it and enjoy the new direction they are presented with and others simply reject it and move on.  It’s a process we are aware of and accept.  We aren’t here making music to please everyone, we never have been. We make music that we enjoy, as we always have, and if people enjoy it as well then that is even better.

11. With a release date of June, 2014 will be half over but do you have anything else planned this year, perhaps a tour to support the album?

We have absolutely no plans.  We talked about some local NC shows last year, but we haven’t talked in a while.  The goal was to get the album done and released and let the fans soak it up.  With it being so different we need to see how the fans take to it.  There is no point planning a tour if they hate it and it doesn’t sell because no matter how much they love your old material if the new stuff leaves a bad taste in their mouths they are done with you.  It sucks, but that is how it is these days.

Touring for me takes serious planning and scheduling now that my reissue label, Divebomb Records is up and running full steam and cranking out releases regularly.  Taking two months off means the label is down for 4 months because of the way the industry works with street dates and advance deadlines.  If I was 20 again and had no responsibilities or a mortgage I would be touring all the time, but that just isn’t the case with me turning 42 this year. 

12. Do you believe the metal scene has changed in the seven years since Nothing Less, Nothing More and Hell To Pay dropped?

Completely, we have been wondering how we would do with releasing our first album since 2007.  I mean this day and age bands are cranking out albums every year or year and a half and here we are rolling back into the game after a SEVEN YEAR hiatus from new material.  We definitely have the deck stacked against us, but again, it’s totally different when you know what lies ahead of you rather than it being a big surprise.  Are we going to sell albums like we did in 2006?  Probably not, but as long as the fans are digging what we are doing that is reward enough.

13. Speaking of the scene, what are a couple current bands you love that you believe deserve more exposure?

Power Trip, Iron Age and Illuminati.  Check them out.

I appreciate you taking the time to sit down with us, do you have anything else you would like to add to your fans?

Thanks for letting us talk about the album and the band, we appreciate it!  I guess the fans just need to take note we currently have the new album available for pre-order here:

We haven’t toured since 2009 and normally coming home from the road we would have money to press up new merch and do what we do, but we don’t.  So we are running this pre-order campaign to help raise funds to press all the merchandise fans would want.  Think of it as a KWD Kickstarter minus Kickstarter.  You pre-order merchandise and then we go and get it pressed up and send it to you in a few months after the campaign is over.  It’s a win/win for everybody!  Thanks.  Hail and kill.

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