Interview with Blake Harrison from PIG DESTROYER (@pigdestroyer); Playing CMJ 10/18
And now for one of the most intense bands I’ve ever encountered. I don’t know where some people get the ideas or ambition to write this stuff, but I’m sure glad bands like Pig Destroyer are out there. Tantamount to sonic genocide, this 4-piece Baltimore/DC based grindcore group is one of the spazziest, heaviest, and down right brutal bands on the extreme metal circuit today. Simply crushing.
Signed to the ever-impressive Relapse Records (surprise), I caught the band opening for Eye Hate God on a boat during CMJ a few years back, and somehow made it out alive. Not that it was a violent show or anything, but vocalist J.R. Hayes’ tormented screams, in combination with the destructive attack of drums, and guitars, made it seem like the band was summoning an otherworldly force to wage war on the audience. Victory was declared, and they got me.
Getting ready to release their HIGHLY anticipated new album, Book Burner, on October 22nd prior to decimating one of Brooklyn’s finest venues, Public Assembly, during CMJ 2012 in just a few short weeks, I’d wager a guess that this one is going to blow the roof off of any enclosed structure it comes across. The band also has a new hitter behind the drums, ex-Misery Index’s Adam Jarvis, and he is as quick and aggressive as they come, because he has to be. I got in touch with Blake Harrison via email to discuss the new record, their upcoming (and all too rare) live appearances, the inspiration behind their songs, and what they eat for breakfast… I’m going to switch to that diet soon.
G- Hi there and thank you very much for taking the time to speak with Live High Five! Introduce the members in the group if you would.
B- I’m Blake, and I play the bleeps and bloops, Adam Plays the drums, JR on vocals, and last but certainly not least, Scott on guitar.
G- So I caught you guys on a boat a few years back, and it was one of the craziest live shows I’ve ever experienced… What, if any, are your typical pre-show rituals, and how do you manage to channel so much energy into your performances?
B- Hahaha, I thought that one was terrible, but, nothing really. We just kind of hang out and drink. The music winds us up.
G- Pig Destroyer is certainly not a pop band, though I think I’d be great to see you guys performing outside a Justin Beiber concert. What do you typically base the content and focus of your music and lyrics on? Can you give us a few examples of some of the topics you explore in your music?
B-Despair, isolation, alienation, you know mainstream topics like that, some, it really depends, it’s not something that planned really, what comes out just comes out.
G- You are getting ready to release Book Burner via Relapse Records, and it has been a while since Pig Destroyer has released new music commercially. Where did you record the new album, and who did you have behind the boards during production? How do you feel about the new release, and do you have any favorite tracks we should listen to?
B- We recorded this past spring at Visceral Sound, which is Scott’s basement. It was a great experience. Scott handled everything really, down to the mixing and mastering. It’s a lot easier recording in the comfort of one’s own environment.
G- Pig Destroyer has been around since the late 90’s and has played several shows to support your releases, but it seems now that your tours are pretty sporadic. Will the band be going on any lengthy tours to support the new album?
B-No, this is a pretty frequently asked question. We all have day jobs and families and what not, so it’ll still be little while of us playing little stabs wherever we can.
G- Since I put it in the intro, what do you guys eat for breakfast, by chance? Should we assume a healthy dose of bacon, or are you guys all vegetarian/vegan by chance?
B-No, quite the opposite, we’re all meat eaters, and wouldn’t have it any other way.
G- So what is the writing process like for Pig Destroyer, and who in the band typically comes up new music? Do you have a primary songwriter, or do you write music more organically through jamming during rehearsals? How long will you focus on a new track before you feel it is representative of your sound?
B- Scott usually comes up with the riffs, and sometimes he programs the drums. We tweak from there, then Adam changes what he wants, JR adds his vocals and I come last.
We don’t waste too much time, if it’s not working, we kind of drop it and move on.
G- Pig Destroyer is about to head to the UK for the first time in 8 years, and those shows are going to go over very well. How does your reception abroad compare with your performances in the states, both in terms of how you play and the audience reaction?
B- It’s kind of hard to tell as we haven’t done much outside of the US. We have played the UK before and it should be a pretty good time. It seems we do ok, Brutal Assault was a lot of fun.
G- Are there any bands or artists that you are currently listening to, or any groups that you feel our readers should know about if they are fans of extreme metal?
B- Blacklisters, Cloud Rat, Afternoon Gentlemen, Weekend Nachos, Black Sheep Wall, Asthma Castle, (and) there’s a pretty good metal band called Slayer.
G- What do you feel is the craziest or most memorable show that Pig Destroyer has played to date, either your best personal set, craziest audience reaction, or most interesting event? Where was it and what was it like?
B- The show on the boat you mentioned was pretty nuts. Open-air drug use, fights, kids stage diving off of the second floor.
G- Lastly, since it’s a relatively small genre with a very devoted following, what advice can you give some of the young, up and coming bands everywhere who want to make it in music, on the road, and as a professional performer in extreme music?
B- You have to do it for the passion, learn to eat passion, because that’s what you’ll be able to afford.