The new boys opening up the Dreathcrusher tour are “progressive sludge” squad Herod from Switzerland. We had a chance to talk to frontman David about life on the road with four legendary heavyweights, as well as Herod’s own debut album…
Looking at the bill tonight, you’re very much the “new boys”. Everyone else has been around for thirty years or so, you’ve been a band for nearer 18 months! Tell us a little more about the band.
We’re from the French-speaking part of Switzerland, in the Alps. We all played in different bands. I’ve known Fabien for years – I also do lights for a living and I used to do lights for a band he was in. I hear people say that we play “progressive sludge”. I find it interesting, as I don’t understand all the labels. Some other people said “djent” as we make the sort of thing that Meshuggah is doing, but I really don’t think we’re djent compared to most bands of that style now.
Is Herod a three piece or a four piece band?
Four piece. We created the band as a three piece, which is why Bertrand wasn’t on the first promo pictures to be sent out. Basically we created the band and when we wanted to go live, we needed a second guitar player so we added Bertrand. Pierre recorded bass and guitar for the songs originally in 2006 while he spent some months in Sweden. He tried to put a band together, over five years, and didn’t succeed. Finally he asked Fabien (drums) and me if we’d like to work with him and they spent a year or so changing bits here and there, remodelling. After a year or so they sent me the demo and I got to work on the vocals, and then we recorded it. Up until then we hadn’t done a show!
I’ve been doing bands for twenty years now – they’ve never worked, only stayed at a local or national level – so we did it all a bit upside down, but it worked.
We did two gigs as a three-piece, but it was a little sad as on the album we have different layers of guitars. Something was missing. At first I fought against it as I thought that three on stage was better, and I argued a bit but now I’m really happy! We’ve done thirty five shows since the record came out which is quite impressive for my career! I think we’ll double the number of shows we’ve played on this tour alone.
I’ve been singing in bands since I was fifteen. I’m thirty five now. This is my life’s dream. I’ve realised I won’t be able to live off it – I have done that as a technician, but not a musician. I always wanted to do a tour, just once… I’m so happy that we’re getting to do it.
They Were None came out in April last year. How long did it take to put that together?
I would say two years from the time Pierre and Fabien started to rearrange the material. They reworked it, I did the vocals, we recorded it, remixed it a bit… then we had to find a label and then we released it.
The “sludge” genre – which you’re as close to as anything – is a fairly new sound. What were your influences as you created the music?
Meshuggah is definitely a part of it. The problem was trying to not do the same as them. Cult of Luna… something a bit more punk like Converge maybe. Bridge from Sweden, if you remember them. I know for Pierre, it’s the same for him.
Darkness is another big thing. It’s a cliché, but you often release what you need to release in this way. The sound is also from there. This isn’t as surgical as a djent sound; it’s more… sludgy and emotional. It flows. If we’d done the same songs with a djent sound it would have been a nonsense for us. I’ve nothing against it, it’s just not us.
How did you approach the lyrics?
All the songs but one were named when the demo was passed to me. I kept the names and was inspired by them and the music to write the words. That was my way of keeping a connection to Pierre’s work that he had spent all these years on.
There’s no particular theme as such but you could say they’re linked in subject matter – humanity, sadness.
How did you manage to get this slot on the tour?
I don’t know if you have this expression in English… Carcass needed some flesh for the cannons? People on the battlefield who are going to die first?
Cannon fodder? Like the pawns in chess?
That’s it. Jeff was saying “Voivod can’t open the night. I mean, it’s fucking Voivod!” I’ve been doing lights for sixteen years now so I had this connection, we’ve worked together before and maybe that’s it.
Last night in Wolverhampton was the first of the tour. Were people there to see you at the beginning?
Yeah, though last night was the shortest for us as we were on only fifteen minutes after the doors opened. Every other night we’ll have half an hour. It was awesome for us. The sound on stage was amazing. It was loud as hell so we were happy!
There were maybe fifty people at the beginning and a hundred by the end [Number easily doubled, if not moreso in Glasgow – Mosh]. Nobody threw anything which was good! Nobody spat on me! I know it’s not a given that people will headbang or applaud; if they’re there it’s to discover a new band so they’re going to watch.
It’s been a year and a half since that first album. Are there any plans for anything new?
Well it might not seem like a long time for you, by it’s quite a long time for us! A lot had happened in the band, it did work for us. We did 31 shows in Switzerland which is a lot for a small country. Tom Brumpton who’s promoting us did a great job – we were in Terrorizer, who did the exclusive stream when we released the album which was amazing for us. We’ve started working on a second album, definitely, as we still have something to say. It’s going to happen.
If you met a young band who are where you were about three years ago, what advice would you give them?
Do it with your guts. Sometimes you can try to be commercial or something and it’s not going to work. At least if you do it with your guts then you’re going to be satisfied with what you produce.