Interview with John Wren from BOTTOMFEEDER; Played @ectsunami Fest

As a 4-year old child with a terrible babysitter, nothing traumatized me more than watching an arrowhead pierce and carve out the neck of Kevin Bacon in the first Friday The 13th. I swear I was afraid of the dark until I was 15 or so, but hey… We all have our qualms. Odd as it may seem, I’ll always have a sentimental weakness for hockey mask clad psychos with homicidal tendencies, at least in movies. So, when I saw Bottomfeeder’s demo 7” at East Coast Tsunami, sporting the classic era yet personalized movie cover, I could not resist.

Hailing from Newark Delaware, Bottomfeeder tore the roof off of E.C.T. Festival last weekend. Though I had zero idea who they were prior to entering the venue and watching them perform, I was immediately struck by their powerful, crushing delivery, rife with dropped and chugged riffs, gut-wrenching howls, and incredible breakdowns. There’s something about hardcore, man… I can’t explain it, but it’s not necessary anyhow. You get it, or you don’t.

Currently supporting II, on Get This Right! Records, I think this band has a great shot of becoming one of the next big acts in the underground hardcore scene. Slipping my card to their drummer post-set, I was happy to get a response from vocalist John Wren to discuss the group’s formation, influences, and experiences in the hardcore scene. And take note: If you see a rad shirt at a band’s merchandise booth and they tell you they only have a few left, believe them and buy it while you can.

Interview:

G- Hi there and thank you very much for taking the time to speak with Live High Five! You guys were great at East Coast Tsunami! Introduce the members in the group… Who is everyone, what do they play, and where does everyone come from?

B- It’s myself, John Wren (vocals), Len Carmichael (guitars/ Hammerhead, ex-My Turn To Win), Vince Seifert (drums / ex-Dead And Buried), Kevin Markowski (guitars/ ex-Dead And Buried), and Joe Boccuto (bass/ Antikythera, ex-Set Ablaze, ex-Black Dahlia Murder). You also saw Pat Henry (Swashbuckle) help us out with guitar duties at Tsunami Fest.

While we bill ourselves from Newark, DE because that’s where we started, we actually span 3 states (Jersey, PA, & DE). Rather than say something stupid like we’re “Delaware River Hardcore” we just stick with the roots.

G- How long has Bottomfeeder been a band and when did you first get started? What got you guys into hardcore music?

B – Bottomfeeder started in the summer of 2010. After the break up of Vince and Kevin’s previous band Dead And Buried, they weren’t done with making music and were sitting on some riffs and total songs that would have eventually been new D&B material. They knew that I had been in some bands that never really did much before and that I’d been trying to get something started at the time. They hit me up to give me a shot. Funny thing is due to the crappy PA system set up we had at our practice space, they never really got to hear my vocals until we recorded the demo. I’m glad I still made the cut. HAHA.

Next came Joe. We obviously needed a bassist and he heard about what we were doing. He initially joined stating he didn’t know how much he could commit due to his death metal band but would help us out for as long as he could. 2 years later, he’s still killing it with us.

Len joined the band last. Originally, we had no plans for bringing on a second guitarist, but when we recorded the demo with him, he pretty much told us he was playing with us as soon as we moved the practice space a little bit closer to where he lived. Before our first show, which was about a month to a month and a half after the demo was released, he was in the band and the lineup has been the same ever since.

I got into hardcore through metal, so none of the early punk stuff every really meant anything to me. I saw Biohazard at a very early age, but it wasn’t until I was given Earth Crisis’ Destroy The Machines by a good friend of mine that I had any real clue about the culture. Because of them, I went to a handful of shows and checked out bands that were thanked in the liner notes. The atmosphere was what hooked me in. There is a passion within hardcore that is not replicated with any other music.

G- So Bottomfeeder is from Newark, Delaware, and you are the first band I’ve heard of from that area. Can you tell me a bit about where you are from… How is the scene and how are the responses at your shows?

B – Delaware as a whole tends to get lumped together. It seems that when it comes to every other state, they care specifically what city you are from. But in Delaware, it’s like we’re all from the same place. Doubledealer, from Southern Delaware, is a phenomenal band. We are fortunate enough to get to play with them roughly every 6 months, which coincidentally seems to be whenever one of us has a record release show. Dead And Buried, Hard Response, and Boy Sets Fire all came before us, and that about rounds it out for me and my knowledge of the more known Delaware Hardcore acts.

As for our response in that state, it’s fairly decent, but we tend to do our best out in Lansdale, PA. As far something that is fairly local to us, no one reacts better than there. We’ve had the pleasure of playing that area 3 times and we’ve killed it all 3 times.

G- You guys are currently signed to Get This Right! Records, and have a record titled II out, along with a demo 7”. Are you currently working any new releases right now, and what are your plans for heading back to the studio or on the road? Anything currently in the works?

B – We always seem to be writing. Before we recording the demo, we already had the song “Anonymous” from the EP written and were playing it out. Due to our relaxed practice schedule and a pretty steady diet of shows, the writing comes in chunks. It seems every practice we have at least a new part to work with. As of right now there are no immediate plans to get back into the studio. We’re only sitting on one completed song and some good ideas. There is a small chance the new track that entitled “The Gods Of Carnage” may end up on a planned Stereokiller.com Compilation if that project every gets its feet off the ground.

Since our record just came out in August, we’re going to take our time and write songs that we’re proud of before we head back into the studio. Nothing is worse than when a band rushes it and puts something out half-assed. An audience can almost immediately tell when that happens, and I don’t want to ever do that to those that dig us, or even ourselves for that matter.

For the “road” so to speak. We all have full-time jobs, so serious touring is most likely never going to happen for us. I mean, if Roadrunner Records wants to offer us something ridiculous, then who knows. But the chances of that happening are pretty slim.

We’re happy with playing a show or two a month, and the occasional weekend out. We just were out in Detroit over Labor Day weekend and it was killer. We’re all kind of amped to do it again, so when the time is right, we’ll be packing up a van and hitting the road again to play Weekend Warrior.

G- It’s obviously super heavy, but can you tell us a bit about your tunes and where you find the inspiration to write new material?

B -Inspiration seems to come from whatever a particular band member is listening to at the time. It’s odd. We’ve pulled ideas from metal acts such as Pantera, Slayer, and Sepultura to hardcore bands such as Merauder, Martyr AD, and Ringworm. The whole “next All Out War” thing was never intentional, but we’re enjoying the compliment.

In my mind, bands like A.O.W. and Earth Crisis did the heavy hardcore right. Modern day metalcore is too safe and pop-like. We wanted to play the blend of metal and hardcore like the bands we grew up listening to in the late 90’s, rather than the cookie cutter nonsense that is found in Hot Topic. We hope we’re achieving that.

G- HAHA That’s right… I did hear a few folks mention you guys as the next All Out War! Hell of a compliment, if you ask me! What would you say is your favorite Bottomfeeder song, or what 1 song would you give to someone whose never heard of your group before, and why?

B – Every time we write something new, I always say that’s my favorite song, but that’s probably the case with every band. If I had to choose just one track, I’d say “Fall Of The Tyrant” off the demo would be my favorite. I think that song gives you the best idea of what we’re bringing to the table. There’s thrash, blast beats, your typical hardcore two-step, and a Crowbar worship breakdown. To go back to your inspiration question, I would say this song is a good way to answer that.

G- Hardcore is often a highly political form of music, and we are in the midst of an election year… How does Bottomfeeder feel about politics/president/scene, and does the band purport any particular political or social message with your music?

B – Politics is a topic that I, as a lyricist, only barely dig on the surface with. While I’m pretty liberal in my beliefs, I’m not really thrilled with either of the choices this year. Topics such as Gay and Reproductive Rights are important to me, so speaking for myself, I’ll probably end up voting for the devil I know, than the one I don’t. As a band, I’m not sure what political affiliation they align with, or if they even care for that matter.

When it comes to the message, I’m kind of all over the place with my ideas. A few songs like “Deadbeat,” “Suburban Warzone,” and “Anonymous” are strictly personal to me and were a way to exercise my demons, so to speak. If people can identify with those songs and release their rage with me, that’s awesome. The rest of the songs contain a bit of social and/or religious commentary.

Oh, and we have one song that is total nonsense in the form of “The Slasher.” I think it’s good to have at least one moment where you don’t take yourself too seriously.

G- Can you tell us a bit about what your writing process is like, 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?

B – We don’t typically have a formula when it comes to writing. It’s more of a collective effort. Kevin tends to come to practice with something that he’s been working on. He and Vince will bounce some ideas off each other about what type of drumming should go with it.

Len is like the conductor; he has a knack for arranging a song so that it makes sense or tweaking a part so that it is better or that it flows better for the song. When Joe adds bass to it, the song can take on a new life depending what he comes up with. When it comes to the music, I’m typically just a person to say whether or not it sounds good. Being that I don’t play an instrument anymore, I can’t contribute in writing much other than thinking what type of part would sound good and then digging through my music collection to find an example.

When a total song is completed, I’ll add my lyrics last. We typically record all the practices when we write new material to not forget it. This helps me out greatly as I can beat a song into my head to put together a good vocal pattern. Occasionally while writing lyrics, I can come up with an idea or two to change parts of the song.

G- Can you give us a few examples of any bands or artists in particular that influence your style? Who do you typically like to listen to, and are there any acts you think we should know about?

B – I think I pretty much covered this earlier, but the biggest influences on us are bands like All Out War, Pantera, Slayer, Earth Crisis, Ringworm, and Sepultura.

I tend to be pretty all over the place with my music selection. While the core of my collection leans to the heavier stuff, I’m someone that can find something I like in pretty much all genres. Even country has Charlie Daniels.

Recently I’ve been listening to a lot of Nailbomb, Pitbull, Wu-Tang, Vader, Deftones, assorted black metal, and I always find time to listen to my favorite band ever in White Zombie.

I think people that check us out are pretty familiar with the bigger bands that serve as our inspiration, so I’d take this time to promote some of the newer or smaller bands that I love listening too or sharing the stage with. Everyone should check out Rock Bottom, Doubledealer, Empire Of Rats, Carrying The Fire, Pleasant Living and if you aren’t familiar with Dead Reprise or Knuckledust from Europe or Sand and Numb from Japan, you need to be.

G- Are there any bands or artists that you hope to share a bill with in the future? What would be Bottomfeeder’s dream lineup or tour?

B – For the band, I think All Out War is definitely the big one. Earth Crisis would be a dream show due to the amount of inspiration they’ve had on me on a personal level. Ringworm, Merauder, and (for shits and giggles) Slayer would be other bands we’d love to share the stage with. We’ve been fortunate enough to already be on shows with Biohazard, Agnostic Front, Terror, and First Blood that we’re not going to be making demands anytime soon about who we play with. We just want to thrash.

G- What is the craziest or most memorable show that you have played to date? Where was it and what was it like?

B – Tsunami Fest was easily our biggest show and we got an insane reaction, but our show out in Detroit will probably stay pretty close to the top for me. It was our first show far away from an area that our friends couldn’t travel too and was going to be a real test to see if anyone gave a damn about us. We received a really positive reaction from the kids out there and that meant a lot to me. Not that I ever doubted us, but it was definitely a boost in the confidence department.

G- Lastly, what advice can you give some of the other young, up and coming bands like yourselves who want to make it in music, on the road, and as a professional musician?

B – Making it in the music business is a very hard thing to do. For every one band you see on MTV making millions off their songs, there are a couple hundred bands that never do anything more than make a demo, play a handful of shows to 20 people, and fade away. I think the biggest thing is to keep it fun. We’ve always said that the second the band stops being fun, we’re done. We’re not going to force it. As long as you are having fun, nothing else really matters.

www.stereokiller.com/Bottomfeeder

www.facebook.com/bottomfeederhxc

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