TARTAREAN DESIRE WEBZINE
This phone interview with the drummer Dave Culross of Malevolent Creation was done by Everburning in July, 2004.
Malevolent Creation is set loose once again! The new album Warkult is amongst us and it sounds more brutal than ever before. The band also has a lineup that looks stable with many well-known names in. I talked to Dave about these things and got many interesting answers from him in this long interview. You can hear why he thinks now is a good time for Death Metal, why Nuclear Blast is better than Pavement, why Death Metal should go radio instead of pop music and many other things. After you do the reading be sure to catch the band somewhere live this summer!
Your new album is even more brutal than the previous one, and if you could spare a few words about it, how have you succeeded to have it like that? Also, some more comments about the record and any reactions on it so far?
I would have to say that my first reaction concerning the record and its brutality was pretty much like what you already said. I was shocked, so to say. I sure had some expectations of MC to be brutal but some of the riffs I have heard are going back to the old style of band, thrash, and it was really good to hear it, refreshing. We all had pretty high spirits and were excited. I was also very glad to hear that the guys are so positive about me getting back to jam with them. I think this was a mutual enthusiasm, which you could tell by the way album turned out. I heard the music where I think I could give my best and that was good.
I see this album, Warkult, is about war. I also heard often about Malevolent Creation members saying that they are fascinated with war, why this topic?
When it first started with MC we were into brutal stuff and so, but as time progressed we got into this war thing since we didnít want to speak about gore, religion or anything like that. We wanted more of neutral stuff. Itís a subject you can touch and you can relate to.
I wanted to know whether any of you have had first-hand experiences with war?
As far as other members are concerned I canít talk about them, but I had friends, not necessarily family, who were in war. And I, as far as I am concerned, am just a drummer, and I donít write lyrics, but war themes fit my playing in a very good way, since my drums sound like machinegun fire! Itís really cool. (haha, now we are talking! ĖEverburning)
What is your view on this modern terror issue like Al Quaeda, NY WTC buildings, Madrid trains, Iraq everyday car bombs and so onÖ? What is MCís stand on these issues? This also is some kind of war, and I am afraid we will see more and more of itÖ
I would say parallels with MC are that we just try to talk about things. Not necessarily promote them in some way, saying they are good or bad. We donít want either to chastise anyone. We want to talk about the situation. Itís ok if someone wishes for world peace, but there will always be someone who will think other solutions are better. And, itís often connected with religion, as it is frequently the number one cause for conflict.
You are a new (again) member to the band's line up. Can you comment on these frequent changes of members? I must be honest and say that I have had difficulty to keep track of names and whoís in and out.
The first thing to know is that this lineup is most probably the most stable weíve had. It feels great having Kyle in the band. Heís a great singer and a trustworthy person. Heís never got into any drug problems while we are on tour, which is a thing that might easily happen. He also has a great voice to top it all off! So, the other guys in the band, Rob, Phil and Gordy are great too. I have been jamming with them a lot during the years and there was never any real problem. So, when I was invited to join the rank I felt great! I just had to make sure that I wonít have too much commitment since I have a son and run my own business and it would be too much to try to work it all as full time. My son and my personal life now have priority. But, Death Metal, the music that I am into since I was 15-16, and I am 29 now, is an important part of my life. I quit Malevolent Creation the first time since I wasnít able to survive by only playing Death Metal. There was almost a recession in Death Metal, so to say. A lot of stale records were put out, and I felt it was time in my life to move on to something new. I felt I wasnít doing much to improve myself. I was relying on music to do the job and now I rely on my own personal abilities and myself when it comes to earning money. Now I have a woman I am engaged with and have a son. I am much more limited when it comes to some stuff. I think the situation is pretty similar with the other guys too. We are all grounded and things have changed with our lives, compared to the first albums. But, I still think this lineup will stick together for an album or two more, at least.
Is this Ďrevolving doorí policy, members wise, having good or bad influences on the band, in terms of creativity and song writing?
It can have both good and bad influence really, depending on who the changing members are. In my case, they were happy with the previous drummer, Justin, but were more enthusiastic about having me back in band. I think it was like a spark that helped make this album better. For me, to see Kyle is back was very good. No questions asked, I know itís gonna sound very brutal! This combined with a good label being behind us makes me think everything will go great for us this year.
You mentioned drug use and abuse. Do Malevolent Creation members use drugs and which ones (if yes)? Does the band have a unique stand on this issue?
I have to say that drugs became fewer amongst members of MC, since we got older and with more responsibilities in our lives. Now is even more difficult to find time to do it, let alone desire it, because of all these things that are going on now with each one of us. When I first started touring I was 19 and was different than now, not having a family to go back to it was easier to drop dead from too much drugs. Now I have people at home that care about me and whom I care about, and I wouldnít even think to do things that I have done in the past. By no means is any MC member a drug addict! We do some weed now and then and drink some alcohol now and then. Everything is under control and in moderation. We also donít want to harm our performance, which has happened in the past. We want to go on stage and give our best to the audience, not to show some alcohol, or drug influences on us.
Ok, I am glad to hear that. I have read in a magazine that the first two albums of MC are the ones who sold the most so far. Can you confirm that this is true even today?
As far as I know this is true. It has to do with a couple of reasons. First, the time and era they came out. They were much more landmark and monumental for the genre. There wasnít this much of Death Metal records out when "Retribution", or even "The Ten Commandments", came out. And the other thing that had a lot to do with sales is the fact that Roadrunner was behind them. Over the years while we were on Pavement we didnít get enough of boost or support we needed. Being on Nuclear Blast we are getting that push we need and want again. So I think the new record should make solid sales, looking at the revival of the scene and Death Metal. If the label support remains as so far I think this album will do pretty good. We could sell the same, or even more, than with the first two records.
I must say you are very good with answers. I was preparing for a Ďone sentence answersí situation, but this is far better. Thanks for this. Speaking of the label and their support to such a prominent act as Malevolent Creation sure already is, could you tell us what is most important to you from it?
The most important thing I need from label is to be able to call and tell them Ďhey we need more advertisements in the pressí or so. Itís important to see your stuff out there, to see that the label is doing its job. To see itís getting on proper radio shows, you are getting on the road, interviews are getting lined-up all the time. Itís great to see the label struggling to help the artist sell more copies, than just holding to what there already is. The main problem with Pavement was their bad distribution. NB has great distribution. Offices all over the world and also the money behind it is bigger that behind Pavement. Another important thing is to see that people working at NB are so much more a fan of the music, than those at Pavement. I think there were only a couple of people at Pavement that were into the music and everybody else were just ordinary employees. Even the president of the company left such an impression on me. He is supposed to be a fan of the music but I can't honestly say I have the impression he was positive with Malevolent Creation. I can tell by the way people at NB are talking to us, and by looking at what they are doing for us, that they really support us.
The band was started in í87 and the 1st demo was sold in about 100 copies. So, tell me, would you like to go back together with the band to that period and why?
A couple of reason for sure would make me go back to that period. I would like to see that enthusiasm that was present on the Metal scene in the US at that time. There was still a big fuzz about the Metal underground and new bands. Whereas there are a lot more bands now and many donít sound fresh. Still, I am happy with the way things are. The audience is more experienced and itís easier to tell what bands are good and what are average ones. I think itís making a trend again. Good Death Metal bands are getting more and more attention now. So, the answer would be that I wouldnít like to back to í87 or so, since I believe we have good times ahead of us now.
I know that Malevolent Creation had huge problems with censorship in almost every country and that some religious groups in the US also have attacked you. Do you still have these kinds of problems and how you deal with Ďem?
We have been trying to stay away from artworks that might get censored. We want our albums to be ok for any shop wherever in the world to have it. Still, the title has a lot to do with it and the way the artist interprets it has a lot to do with it. Concerning the other part of the question I really am not too sure about it.
But, does this mean that you made some compromises? Have you limited yourself in expression, so that now your covers and titles are less offensive or brutal in order to be featured in more stores and avoid censorship?
We still wanna have covers we feel are deserving the title of the record. Having offensive covers is not the prime part of expressing yourself. We just donít wanna make another reason for our records to be hard to get for people who love to listen to them. We donít need to have an offensive cover cause what lingers inside can be more offensive than any cover!
I know you made some techno, hip-hop remixes. Your sound engineer, right, did them. What is your attitude towards these kinds of music? Recently I heard that Trey from Morbid Angel likes hip-hop. What about you? If I may say, these two cultures differ so much from Metal that it looks really hard to mix them and get a proper result.
Basically it was the sound engineer, a guy who was recording guitar. At that point in his life he was very influenced by this music for some reason. All this was completely his decision. He re-did a few songs and showed them to us. We thought it would be a good idea to show the world what came out. Still, it was completely Erikís (sound engineer) idea. We respect him for what he did, it is cool. But, that is not Malevolent Creation. My attitude, I believe that whatever anyone is doing is not to be knocked down by someone. I totally respect any musician for the fact that he is one. Until he does something disrespectful. Still, I think a lot of music is not used the way it could be.
This question now concerns things mainly happening several years ago, but not terminated now either. In the mid nineties there was obvious a division between two brother scenes, Black and Death Metal. In one corner there were people who listened only to Black Metal, and in the other those who preferred Death, although I think they were less exclusive. Although this division is not so visible now, what do you think of it? Is it good to have it?
I donít think that a division like that is any good! They are both (music scenes) based on the same, or very similar, foundations. And, I could say that there are so few people who are into these extreme scenes compared to popular music that there is no reason for divisions. Itís all based on the same concepts. Small differences in vocals, or use of keys, or riffs shouldnít be a reason for rejection of one of these two. Like you said, there is less of a division now and thatís good. Thereís more crossover with vocals and styles and thatís good and thatís the way things should develop. We should try to create more radio playable music and put more of it on the air.
Wait, wait, I must interrupt, why do you say that Death Metal should feature more radio playable things in it?
I think that music that is on the radio now should go underground and that Death Metal is not getting as much attention as it deserves. I am a Metal head, always been and will be. I love extreme music and thatís the thing I want to play.
I know you had a few side bands; whatís happening with them?
The only side band that will be doing any activity now is Hate Plow. Now we have to concentrate on Malevolent Creation since we have a new record out. But, we all talked to each other and agree to make a new Hate Plow record, but itís a matter of time we donít have at this moment.
I noticed while talking to you two things that look a bit opposing one to the other. First, your new album is more brutal than the previous ones, more extreme, and on the other hand you are speaking about reaching more fans, like having albums that are able to be sold in any shop, or playing large festivals rather than small gigs. Can you tell me how you think these two fit together? Usually extreme material means less audience, it looks like you disagree?
Like I said, the trend with heavy music is that itís coming back. We have always played what we want to play and we are not compromising our style just because of the fact that something is becoming a trend again.
Ok, I know I drained life out of you with such a long interview as this one. But, just a last message to the readers of Tartarean Desire and to your fans all over the world?! Thank you!
I am very happy with the trend of the fans really getting into heavy music again! I think this enthusiasm will kick the underground ass. AndÖ keep it upÖ sick!
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