Recently when interviewing a lot of bands, I have been asking about old school aesthetics and how a lot of releases today are being released in cassette format once again. For us old gits who remember the days of tape trading way back in the late 80s and early 90s, it was exciting times and for me being a teenager, eagerly awaiting the postman to see what demos were arriving at my doorstep. The responses from the bands of today have made me revisit my cassette collection and look at the underground bands of yesteryear and I wondered where they are now. One particular band that I had many fond memories and gigs were from Aberdeenshire called Inextremis, who along with friends Korpse, were Scotland’s premier death metal bands and had the best chance of making it. While that sadly didn’t happen with Inextremis who disbanded in 1995, they left their mark on the underground scene and are still talked about to this day. I recently caught up with vocalist Simon and talked about the old days, bands they toured with, 50p entry for their first gig and how they recorded their songs on a 4 track.
First of all, thank you, Simon for taking the time to answer these questions for our readers at Moshville Times here in Scotland. Take us back to the beginning and tell us how Inextremis was formed?
Inextremis was formed by myself in early 1989.
Inextremis was formed in 1989 and you self released your first demo Flight of the Soul Hungry in 1992. Was it a case of taking a few years to find the Inextremis sound or was it difficult for the band finding somewhere to record?
Initially we took a while to get a settled line up and to begin to write our own songs and find our own style (albeit with influences from other bands etc). As well as being in Inextremis to begin with I was also in a band called Darkest Hour (which was more thrash). I was asked to join Darkest Hour by Croffy who I’d met through the local scene. Danny and Andy were also in Darkest Hour. We all played together for a couple of years (playing gigs in and around Aberdeen) with me having Inextremis as more of a side project. Myself, Croffy Andy and Danny were all listening to more death (and myself death and punk) and we all wanted to do something more edgy and heavy. In around late 1990/early 1991 Croffy, Andy and Danny joined me in Inextremis and Darkest Hour split up just shortly after that. We actually recorded a demo in the church we practiced in on a 4 track machine that we hired (for free!) from the local library in Aberdeen That was in 1991. This demo (known as 6 tracks of grinding death) was by mail only (we had flyers offering tapes to people who had enclosed blank tapes or who had enclosed £1). Once we had sent out quite a few tapes we decided to go into the studio and do a proper demo – Flight…
Following on from that, how often were the band able to meet and where did you record?
We rehearsed at least once a week (sometimes more – e.g. if we had gigs coming up/were about to go into the studio). We recorded Flight…, “Lies of Memory” and our unreleased tracks at The Mill Studio near Crathes, Aberdeenshire.
What was the point you were trying to put across with Inextremis? What were your lyrical themes?
The lyrics were written by myself. I was pretty political and generally wrote about issues that I was concerned with that were going on in the world/life issues etc. A couple of songs were more personal (e.g. about a friend’s suicide – which affected the band as he was friends with us all). I was probably quite influenced by Napalm Death, musically and lyrically. I used to write to Barney from ND quite a bit and met him a few times (I followed ND/Obituary on all their UK dates in ’92). He was pretty supportive and politically aware/great bloke.
Once the demo was recorded, how did it feel to have a demo cassette ready to sell and for people to listen to it? You all must have been extremely proud of the demo.
We were really, really pleased to have something that looked and sounded professional available and to be able to get what we were doing out there. I for one was really proud, and I know the rest of the guys were too.
I think the demo was £2-3 or something and I still have my copy. How far from your native Aberdeen did you have to send the demo out to and did it amaze you how word of mouth travelled about the band?
I think it was £2.50. Apart from the UK we had lots of interest in Europe (lots from eastern Europe – this was at the time when the Berlin wall had come down and lots of countries were re-adjusting to those events. Some in these countries didn’t have much money so I think I must have given around 100 away! We also had letters from South America, Australia and more.
Following on from that, being part of the tape trading days must have been something special. At the pinnacle of Inextremis’ career, how many letters and demos were you sending out each day?
The tape trading was brilliant in so many ways. Around the late 80s early 90s I was probably going to watch a couple of gigs every week. At these gigs we would hand out flyers advertising Inextremis tapes/offering swaps with other bands/Fanzines etc and generally getting the message out there. I can remember going up and down the queues outside gigs at The Venue in Edinburgh, Garage/Cathouse/Barrowlands in Glasgow, handing out flyers. There used to be a section in a magazine called Metal Forces which had a contacts section for those wanting to trade tapes etc. At one stage I was getting 15-20 letters a day. Most bands were wanting to get their music out there, do gigs where they didn’t stay and generally the scene was a great way to do this. Our first gig outside Scotland was when we did a swap gig with Acrimony (I’d met Stu and Dorian at a Cannibal Corpse gig in London – we swapped demos and vowed we would play together). They came to Aberdeen and played with us to ‘our’ crowd and we then went down to Swansea and we played with them to ‘their’ crowd. It was so good we ended up organising the Celtic Invasion tour of 93 where we toured the UK together.
What can you tell us about the promo release in 1993? Was this for a select few people before the release of your debut single?
We had written some new songs and we thought we would see if there was any interest from record companies.
I must admit, it was the single “Lies of Memory” that was my favourite release from Inextremis. It had my two favourite songs with “Crush” and the title track on it. It must have been a proud moment having a vinyl release with your songs?
I personally had always wanted to release something on vinyl so yes that was a particularly proud moment.
How had the lyrical theme on this release changed from that of the first demo?
Well, “Crush” was about fighting fascism/Nazis. “Lies of Memory” was more about how we recollect things differently/misconstrue from how they actually were and how politicians and others can (and do) do so deliberately for their own gain.
How were the songs constructed within Inextremis? Were there the main songwriters in the band or was Inextremis a band where everybody contributed to the songs?
Usually, Croffy, Danny or Mark would have a riff or Andy would have a particular drum beat and they would bring it to rehearsal. We would then basically jam/see what came (in terms of natural time changes/additional riffs/drum fills/whatever). Sometimes I would have a lyrical idea and bring that to rehearsals and then that would get people working on ideas (sometimes that could influence whether a song had a particular feeling to it). One of the things I loved about Inextremis was it was generally everyone who contributed. There are songs where one person perhaps had more influence/ideas but then the next would be someone else and we all had a say in the arrangements (e.g. some songs perhaps started with riffs in a different order than it began).
Influences from first demo to the last recording had obviously changed. Do you think this may have brought forward the demise of Inextremis as people were moving onto other forms of music?
We were also trying to do different things musically as well as listening to different things. We were together 6 years and were also looking at different things in life. I don’t think it brought us closer to the end as a band to be honest. We never really spoke about trying to sound like anything in particular.
Were you getting tired yourself and Inextremis had reached the furthest it was going to go?
To be honest I think Inextremis came to a natural end. I was in my final year of University and was trying to do my final year (pretty much every holiday I had we were either in the studio or on tour). Mark had visa issues and had to go back to Australia. We had a great few years together, had fun, met great people and enjoyed making and were proud of the music we made. However, it was fun (for me) because we didn’t have to make a living out of it. At a point you begin to think is it? We could perhaps have tried to do it part time etc but sometimes it’s better just to say, that was great but all good things and all that.
Who were your influences as a vocalist? Was their someone in particular that you looked up to at the time?
Barney from Napalm Death, Nick Holmes from Paradise Lost, John Tardy in terms of death metal. I was also (still am) a huge fan of The Young Gods and in particular the French vocals (the inspiration for “Chemin De La Vie” from the Flight… demo). I also liked the DIY nature and aggressive vocals of punk.
I feel that death metal in particular is at its peak once again since the early 90s. What do you think about the death and extreme metal scene today? Have your tastes moved away from death metal?
I’ve got to be honest, I’m not really familiar with any ‘new’ death metal or extreme metal bands (after the mid-nineties). I still love that type of music and if I heard something that I liked then great but I’m just not familiar as I once was. If I attend any death/extreme gigs then it tends to be the older bands that are still on the go (e.g. I saw Cannibal Corpse in Toronto 4/5 years ago as I happened to be there and then 3/4 years ago I saw Obituary in Paris and then ND and Master in Brussels). Currently I’m mostly listening to Spear of Destiny (I had a couple of their CDs in the 80s) and Theatre of Hate (same). I think Kirk Brandon is a great singer/song writer. I still go to the Lords of The Land and other gigs too.
What would you say is a highlight of your career being part of a band?
Meeting people, playing to people (particularly when they know your music) is an amazing feeling. Travelling to places that you most likely wouldn’t be going to. The release of our demos and particularly the 7” single “Lies of Memory”.
How was your first gig? Do you remember where it was and how many people were there?
My first gig playing with Inextremis was in April 1990 at a Youth Club in Banchory Academy. It was 50p to get in, there was about 70 people there, all money was donated to Children in Need and the drummer from our support band broke his arm stage diving! (we never played there again – don’t know if that was related!).
Where could Inextremis play live? What was the biggest gig you can recall playing?
We played in a nightclub called Bonkers in Aberdeen at one of the regular rock nights, they had to 1500-ish people. It was the single launch and the crowd were amazing. We played wherever we could. We played some gigs in a couple of schools as we were keen to allow younger fans to attend. We also did regular gigs in Inverness, Keith, Elgin where we got good crowds and a great reception. I think in part, because no-one really plays there so they were appreciative.
You were part of the Underground Titans tour in 1992 I think it was which I think would be a good idea for bands to do today? How was communication between bands back in the day and was this a tour that you remember fondly?
The original Underground Titans tour was in England and Wales and was the idea of Ferenc from Nightlord and Jose from Gomorrah. The other bands doing the tour in England and Wales were Incarcerated, The Reign and Decomposed. It was a couple of years after the Clash of The Titans tour with Slayer, Megadeth, Testament, Suicidal Tendencies etc and Ferenc and Jose thought that it would be a good idea to have a version with up and coming unsigned metal bands (it was a good idea!). There was a few other bands that were local to each area that would open the gig. I knew Jose pretty well and also Rich from Incarcerated, John from The Reign and also Tim from Decomposed.
I basically asked Jose why there weren’t any Scottish dates and that if there were going to be any we would up for doing them. Jose got back to me and asked if I would be up for organising some in Scotland, so I did. We played Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen (also with Korpse) and Greenock. We also got invited to do Blackpool. It was Inextremis, Skate Drunks, Incarcerated and Inversus. We then did gigs with Decomposed and then The Reign in Aberdeen. Most bands I dealt with (in any walk of life there’s exceptions) were great and wanted to help each other. Obviously, being in Aberdeen we were good friends with Korpse, who I always felt were a top band. Communication was by landline phones (before mobiles obviously) and letters. I think it would be good to do something like that again (maybe it has already?).
Was Inextremis ever close to getting record deal and who was it with?
We had interest from a few different labels but in all honesty I’m not sure we would have committed to any firm offers back then. Most interest was encouraging but let’s see what you do next.
What do you think of all Inextremis recordings now? How would it fare today? When was the last time you listened to them?
I’m still really proud of what we did. I’m honestly not sure what folk would make of it. Hopefully it’s lasted and still relevant but not really for me to say. We recorded 3 new tracks which were never released which I think were among the best tracks we did. A friend put all our recordings (1st demo, Flight… and “Lies…”) onto a CD for me about 2 years ago and that’s probably the last time I listened to any Inextremis.
What bands back in the underground scene did you like and think could make it?
I really like(d) Korpse – they did a reunion gig in Aberdeen about 3 years ago and were immense. Acrimony from Swansea, great band and we gelled brilliantly on our tour with them.
Following on from that, are there bands from back in the day that you would like to give a shout out to just now?
Korpse, Acrimony, Napalm Death, Obituary, Paradise Lost, Autopsy.
Where are the rest of Inextremis now? Do you still keep in touch?
Graeme lives in Seattle. He comes over about every one/two years around Christmas and we meet up with Andy/Danny and Fluff from Korpse for a get together. Danny lives in Aberdeenshire (as do I) and I’ve seen him a few times (outwith the Christmas time get togethers). Andy is working in the music industry in management, putting on tours and stays just outside London. I’ve met up with him a few times (when he’s been back up here or when I’ve been in London). Mark is in Alice Springs, Australia and funnily enough I’m hoping to meet up with him there when I head to Australia this December.
Simon, I thank you very much for this opportunity and I look forward to meeting you again over a pint. A fun question to end this interview. If you were a DJ and were allowed to bring 5 CDs to the party, what would they be?
- Black Sabbath – Sabotage
- Autopsy – Severed Survival
- Spear of Destiny – Grapes of Wrath
- Slayer – Reign in Blood
- Motörhead – No Remorse
Any last message for our readers here at Moshville Times?
Maybe see you in the pit! (although I’m probably too old for that now!).