Interview with vocalist and drummer King Fowley
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: January 6, 2013
Death Metal straight from the cold grave!!! That's Deceased, one of America's true underground Death Metal pioneers and the very first band to sign a deal with Relapse Records, back in 1991. The band's debut album, Luck of the Corpse, released in early 1992, was immensely well received worldwide and has sold more than 20,000 units to date.
Deceased have released many quality records (The Blueprints for Madness, Fearless Undead Machines, Supernatural Addiction, etc.), that have all been lauded by Metal fans all around the world. Over the years, Deceased added more traditional Heavy Metal elements to their songwriting giving them a unique sound like no other band. There's no stopping in sight and, in fact, Deceased just signed a deal with the infamous US underground label, Hells Headbangers. The band's 7th full-length studio recording, Ghostly White, is scheduled for a spring 2013 release and is set to include an epic 15-minute track.
Besides a new Deceased record, there's also a massive autobiography of King Fowley in the works, in which he covers nearly everything about his life and band, both the cheerful highlights and some of the uglier episodes (King has already knocked at the Grim Reaper's door a couple of times, in case some of you weren't aware of that). You can keep updated about this project by following the news from the publisher, Burning Horse Media.
The following interview with King himself, isn't about this forthcoming book. but about matters related to Deceased's forthcoming album, Ghostly White, the possibility of the first Deceased DVD, Digital Graveyard, a new album by King's other band, October 31, Bury the Hatchet (also to be released on Hells Headbangers in 2013), a possible US tour with Finnish Heavy Metal legends OZ and King's own views about today's Metal scene. Read on...
Luxi: Long time, no talk, my friend! How's it going? Life still keeping you busy, as always? How was your Halloween this year, by the way?
King: I'm fantastic bro. Been busy as ever playing in the bands and living life to the fullest. Halloween kicked ass, went to some spook farms with friends and enjoyed many a horror movie viewing night. Things are fantastic!!!!
Luxi: I have noticed that the Metal pride of Arlington, Deceased, has been playing quite a lot of gigs in the past few months. Would you say this has been a busy year for Deceased?
King: It's been great! I live to play shows. I'd play every single night of the year if I had the guys that could as well. I am a workaholic so it's never enough for me but we've gotten out and done a bunch (of shows) this past year. In the past a lot of work schedules and other priorities have minimized gigging but I make it a point for the guys to know we have to get out and play, play, play, and we have. They love it too, don't get me wrong. It's just life puts a lot of cookies on the cookie sheet, at times.
Luxi: Is there more demand for gigs than you are able to handle these days?
King: Yes! I get asked for gigs and shows from promoters all the time. I hate turning any of them down. But, at times, I have too, due to other commitments from other band members. The live version of the band is in such top form, I've never been happier. Longtime supporters have been coming up to me frequently saying "this line-up is the best I've ever seen." That means a lot to me as we are all very into it and really working hard to deliver the goods!
Luxi: One of the bigger events for Deceased this year was New Jersey Death Fest Vol. 4, with many other bands. That event took place at Hartleys Bar and Grill in North Arlington on October 19th and 20th (2012). How was the experience for Deceased?
King: We had a hell of a lot of fun. We always do! We were less "extreme" than most. We're from the 80's days of Speed, Thrash and Death and a lot of the band today are exclusively "1,2,3 arghhhhhhhhhh!!!" We have melodies from past Metal masters in our repertoire which, to some, isn't "Death" enough. But others get what we do and we had a great crowd for our set!!!! We got a lot of cheers for it! Playing live always is good. It is experience and folks get to see where we come from and we aren't "hidden" in the studio! Live, Deceased is pretty fucking over the top!
Luxi: You have been doing gigs mainly in your home country for the past months, so I was wondering whether this is about to change in the near future?
King: Nothing is in "stone" at this time. Anyone overseas that wants to help us do the European tour, we'd love too! I get an occasional offer but more flakes and bullshitters that fade away. We'd love too. Maybe you can help Luxi? :) (let's see about that later – Luxi)
Luxi: Have you done any shows where you played one of your albums from start to finish, like many bands seem to do nowadays?
King: We haven't! We take from all eras and records when assembling a set list. We like a great mixture of it all. Our shows are usually a solid hour. Maybe someday we'll do the complete Fearless record. People ask for that all the time! I'd love to do it with the full album stage show. One day we must!!!!
Luxi: What about cover songs; do you still play them? I remember you did some Voivod songs in the past?
King: Yes, we've played "Black Metal" from Venom as the closer at almost every show in the past 5-6 years. It's a song everyone in attendance can get behind and it's a great cheer to the "golden era" of the music and style we grew up with. We sometimes play covers from Voivod, Kreator, Cromags, Ramones and Mercyful Fate. It all depends. We're actually adding and subtracting cover songs now for 2013 show playlists!
Luxi: If we start talking about new music you may have composed since Surreal Overdose came out in May 2011, is there any news on that front? Is your new material going to follow the same recipe featured on the Surreal Overdose album? By that I mean highly energetic straightforward Metal with absolutely killer hooks, riffs and melodies done uncompromising Deceased style?
King: We have a title for our next full-length; Ghostly White. We have the seven new songs named and we are writing/creating them now. A few new titles are "The Shivers," "A Palpitation's Warning" and "In a Quiet Town." The "vibe" of the songwriting leans more toward the Supernatural Addiction record; haunting and a lot of production this time. Still fast when it needs to be but with more hooks and more melody. Surreal was a ferocious record for us and really was go, go, go with speed! It was time for that with us. Now it's time for this!! We did write two new songs for compilations this year, "Torn Apart by Werewolves" and "The Luck of the Corpse," both out now. Those were raw as hell and simple short tunes. We wanted to do that for the releases. I promise you it is 500% Deceased! We hope to have it out late in 2013 on our new label, Hells Headbangers.
Luxi: Have your songwriting methods changed at all since you recorded Surreal Overdose? Has anyone taken more responsibility for the actual songwriting, trying to make sure the album will come out in 2013?
King: I try like to hell to keep the process moving forward. Then there's that cookie sheet that holds 24 but has 28 cookies on it shows up :) . Work, family and other things can slow it down. But I'm on it. We won't in anyway rush something out just to say it's out. Deadlines are more reminders of what we are shooting for than anything else. Proper songs only happen when they happen. Sometimes they pour out like water sometimes they pour out like cement. Bottom line, we are doing our best to get new material together and release the absolute best Deceased record we can make as soon as we can!
Luxi: Do you feel that songwriting becomes harder over the years; because you try to top everything you did last time? It surely isn't always easy to reach perfection, if you know what I mean.
King: I am the biggest critic of our material. I arrange it all while Mike Smith writes most of the riffs. We all arrange and get it how we like it then we sit on it and I look for the next level of the song and see if it passes. The third level is if it stays fresh and great, to us, and then we let it be finished. It takes a lot to make the song. I try not to over analyze them, but it's got to be strong forever, not for an hour! Creating new tunes can be a challenge because you get ideas and, after being a band almost 30 years, you start to repeat, at times, and I don't like that. I find ways to change it up and make it more its own thing every time. That means a lot to me and I know the guys feel the same way!
Luxi: What are some of the essential elements in Deceased's songs that will always be a part of this band's sound? Feel free to start throwing some superlatives in... ;o)
King: Speed, melody, noise, memorable, heavy, odd, simple. We put it all into a box and shake it around! We are an out of control rollercoaster that somehow never falls off the track! It's the adrenaline and strength that we love about Metal music. We go for the kill every time, every song. It's our musical epitaph and it's got to be the absolute best it can be or we've only partially achieved our goal!!!
Luxi: It's a hard-boiled fact that every album Deceased has released thus far has been praised by the fans and media. People tend to say that Deceased has yet to record a bad album. What's the band's secret?
King: Staying true to yourself whatever you do. The fact is we still do it because we love it. A lot of bands get caught in ruts and go through the motions. Fuck that! I started this band and NEVER will I let the band be half-assed in any way. As I mentioned earlier on playing live, when we get on stage we will be 100% prepared and give our absolute all. And that goes hand in hand with the new material we write and then record. I will spare no time to make the newest records we produce as professional and complete and memorable to us first and to all others next in line. We must be happy first. If we can cheer what we've done and stand proud, then perhaps the folks that follow us can do the same. We always do it from the heart and dedication is all we know. Without that we have nothing. We're wasting everyone's time, starting with our own!
Luxi: Deceased's last album, Surreal Overdose, was released on three different labels. Do you expect your next release to see the same treatment: one label doing the CD version, another releasing it on vinyl?
King: We have signed to Hells Headbangers for our next record. They will do it in all formats and they have really been professional and cool guys to deal with in the past on other projects, so it was a no brainer. Patac Records helped out tremendously on the Surreal Overdose record and we love them and thank them for being there for us. We've been fortunate to work with a lot of friends and labels over the years. Relapse and Deceased parted on less then amiable terms in the end, but we do thank them for believing in us in 1990 when not a lot of folks did! It went south but we've all moved on. Here it is 2012, soon 2013 and we're getting offers all the time to help us out with releases and promotion and just overall support. We couldn't be more thrilled, happy and lucky to have that on our side! Cheers to all for this and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts!!
Luxi: Surreal Overdose was recorded at Assembly Line Studios. Will you record your next album there, or have you already looked some other studio?
King: We are considering the options. We love Kevin and Assembly Line Studios. We've done the last two records there but it might be time for a change just to not stay the same in sounds, but you never know. We might go back to Oblivion Studios where we did the Supernatural and Fearless records. We love Mike and that studio, too! We'll see how it goes! I can tell you this; I will be producing the new album on my own and the guys have given me free reign with the new material. In the past I've kind of silently produced or co-produced most of our stuff anyway. But this time I'm going to really try and push us to the wall harder and more intense than ever. I'm doing pros/cons on the potential studios in my mind right now!
Luxi: When will we, the die-hard Deceased fans, be blessed with a box set containing some exclusive material that can only be heard there and nowhere else? That would be a superb idea, especially for longtime Deceased fans that have been there for you since the very beginning...
King: Well I'm not sure! The Worship the Coffin box set, from China's Area Death label, was pretty neat. It contained demos and the early history of the band, pre-Deceased tunes, etc. etc. That told the story early on. I don't really know if we'll ever have anything that I'd call "exclusive"! To me it's all out there now!
Luxi: I must admit that Deceased do have quite a roster of albums, EPs, compilations, splits, etc. released during the band's career. What disturbs me quite a bit is I don't see a Deceased DVD in your catalog yet. Do you have something in the works, DVD-wise?
King: I have literally over 300 hours of shows, parties, goofing off, and interviews. There's been talk of what has been known as Digital Graveyard since probably the early 2000's! One day it will happen. It keeps just going "back burner" because of all the other stuff! It's got to be done right and I'd like it to be unique with its own originality to it. I've got some ideas that I'll keep to myself for now. But it WILL one day happen!!
Luxi: What has happened to the 2-CD release, Cadaver Traditions, which Area Death Productions was supposed to release? Has it been postponed or has it been completely deleted from their catalog already?
King: It is coming. I'm preparing it now. I want more new cover songs on it and finding the time to learn and record those has been tough. It is 100% happening. It'll be jam packed with all our cover songs spanning back 25+ years. It's everything we've ever done and will include new stuff too. On a guess, March 2013; look for it!!!!
Luxi: You told me some nice stories earlier about how your son has killer taste in real, old school Metal. When will father and son unite on a Deceased release? Will this be a reality some day?
King: Yes! He screamed on the "After the Bloodshed" remake in 1997 at age 8. Damn good, too!! He and I have talked about forming a band where he sings and I play drums. He wants to do a traditional type Rock/Metal band à la early Michael Schenker Group meets Tank! He's a good singer and I'd love to have a band with him. I'm sure as far as Deceased is concerned, he'll again appear at some point when the timing is right!
Luxi: What motivates you to keep Deceased going?
King: Dedication and love! It's my life. I have now divorced because I can't slow down from the Metal music and all the time it takes to do it right. I have given my life to it and always will! It's the one thing outside of my family and dear friends I love more than anything! I have lost zero passion for it in all of my years!!!
Luxi: What about October 31? It's been almost 8 years since the band's previous record, No Survivors, was released. Any activity for that band lately?
King: Yes! We also signed to Hells Headbangers Records. A new LP, Bury the Hatchet, is being written and will be out in 2013. That will be recorded at Assembly Line Studios. We just played Day of Death in Buffalo New York as well as Maryland Death Fest earlier this year and went over great at both. I love that band and those guys too! We took time off to do other things for a while but we are back now to create new material as well as gig out. A tour with OZ from Sweden is also in the works for the United States in 2013!!
Luxi: What are your views about today's Metal scene and it becoming more commercial and mainstream all the time?
King: It's up/down and round and round. It's got the good, the bad, and the awful! You just drive around the mess and hold on to the good stuff. I've seen a lot in my years and it is what it is. You've got die-hard "lifers," posers, and those in between. All you can do is like what you like and keep on trucking!!! I personally wish more bands/artists would pay more attention to songwriting and stop just hacking out really sub-par material. A lot of it sounds like no effort at all was put into creating the tunes! And for me, the tunes are what it's all about!!!
Luxi: One last question and we are done; what is your wish for Deceased in 2013? A new album out, gigs and/or tours, Deceased's own "Luck of the Corpse" beer for the liquid markets, a Deceased jogging suit available for the serious sport freaks, etc.?
King: I just want to keep on doing what we do. Writing quality Deceased material, gigging as much as we possibly can and seeing all our friends everywhere healthy and happy as we go from town to town! There's no ladder to climb for us, no time frame to do it all in. We just keep on keeping on year after year after year after year! THAT'S what it's always been about to me!!!
Luxi: That's it for me, King, so let me thank you for getting this interview done and wish you and all the best with your future endeavors in life. If you want to throw in some last words to conclude this session, then be my guest...
King: Luxi THANK YOU sincerely for the decades of support you've given me and the band. You are a true friend and a great person. I wish you well!
Upthetombstones.net is the website. Kingdoomstone@yahoo.com is the email! Anyone reading if you need to get in touch, by all means do! Love for a European promoter to take the bull by the horns and bring us over for that still elusive European tour! Wishing everyone great winter holidays 2012 and hope to see you all somewhere someday for a smile and a sizzling, brain melt! UP THE TOMBSTONES!!! :)
|Other information about Deceased on this site|
|Review: Behind The Mourner's Veil|
|Review: Fearless Undead Machines|
|Review: Zombie Hymns|
|Review: Inject the Ugliness|
|Review: Supernatural Addiction|
|Review: Surreal Overdose|
|Review: Ghostly White|
|Review: Thrash Times at Ridgemont High|
|Interview with vocalist King Fowley on November 7, 2014 (Interviewed by Luxi Lahtinen)|
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