TARTAREAN DESIRE WEBZINE
This interview with the guitarist and band founder Rick S. Scythe of Usurper was done by Bruno Zamora in October 2003.
Let me get it straight to the parallels that I, the interviewer, never like bands of the same kind saying rather “bad” things to each other. Anyone of you knows that Rick and Frank (Warhammer) likes throwing stones to each other’s faces when asked what is their opinion on such things, like Hellhammer and Celtic Frost – for example. Of all the usual, I can afford to ask the concerns of bands like Pentacle since I would be very positive to see some good remarks about the subject that will be given by the interviewee later on. However, I could be far delighted to ask more bad things than receiving more bad answers! So, I will no longer touch the stream of burning red wine in the case of the Warhammer booklet and Sycthe as the only last name to appear on it. There are just more relevant things to be discussed… and though, that I really forgot asking why is it that the new Usurper CD doesn’t sound good like their very first one… hm…
It seems that USURPER had been to Necropolis for almost 5 years now. How is it going with you an the label since I've heard there will be a new album coming this November 2001? Will you say that USURPER is staying with Necropolis until the very end?
No, actually we have just left Necropolis Records. Things weren't going well with them at all for the last year or so. When we signed with them in '96, Necropolis was a label that carried only the most elite, totally extreme metal. Now, unfortunately, most of the good bands have left, and Necropolis seems to want to push their sublabels like DEATHVOMIT, and FUELED UP more than they want to push the bands that are on his original label. Plus we were having problems with the lack of distribution they had in the US. There just wasn't any. They barely sent out any promos for "Necronemesis", and then they stopped printing the album after only 2 pressings. It was just time for USURPER to leave the label. But we don't hold label president Paul Thind responsible for all the problems. He was actually the one guy that supported us as much as possible over the years, and if it wasn't for what Necropolis had done for us in the beginning, things might be a lot different for us right now. He was always there for us when it really counted, but his staff was just a bunch of idiots! They made it difficult to get much done at all.
On "Necronemesis", KING DIAMOND guested on it. How does it happen? Did you personally approach the king to do some lines on that song? Did you tell him what should he do on his line or you just let him do the singing in his signature spine chilling vocals? How do you feel that KING DIAMOND appeared on one of your albums? Is he a fan of USURPER? Who will be the next guests to appear on the upcoming album?
KING basically appeared by accident. We were booked in the same studio that he was using. We were supposed to start recording "Necronemesis" 2 weeks after KING DIAMOND was done recording "House of God". KING wound up going way over his scheduled time, and when it was time for us to enter the studio, he was still finishing mixing. The studio owner called Rick Scythe and asked him if we would mind putting off our date by 2 days. We are all huge KING DIAMOND/MERCYFUL FATE fans, so we had no problem with doing the guy a favor if we could. But, before Rick could even answer the studio owner said that KING would be willing to do some vokills on a track to repay the favor. Of course we were going to take him up on that offer! Rick had already written the lyrics to the song "Necronemesis", and knew what part would be the ultimate for King to sing over. He showed him the lyrics in the studio, and that was it. King reworded one line so that he could fit it in with all the harmonies he was doing, and it came out great. A total honor for us. I'm not sure if there will be any guests on the next album. Like I said, that time with King, and Proscriptor from Absu, was a total fluke. We didn't set out to look for anyone else to be on the album, it juts worked out that way. Maybe something like that will happen on the next though. Who knows.....
On MILWAUKEE METALFEST XIV, don't you have any problem with Carcass Chris, since that is his performance with USURPER? How far/difficult for him to learn your songs on a rush or did he already know your songs? Why? Is he a permanent member of USURPER now?
Yes, after recording on the next album, Carcass Chris will be an official member of Usurper. Up until now he has just been the "Live Guitarist", and has played the MetalFest show, a show in New York, and toured with us for a month in Europe when we opened for Cradle of Filth. But he has worked out "adaquately". He did have to learn a lot of songs in a hurry, and even though it got confusing sometimes, he did pull it off when it counted. But he's slugged it out with us for the last year and a half, so I think its fair to say that he is an "Official Member".
On your press sheet, it states there that you've done shows with Cradle of Filth. I've noticed that the name "Cradle of Filth" was written in CAPITAL LETTERS. Can this indicate that you're proud to have a show with this band? Did it affect USURPER? Did you receive disgust from your fans because you've done a show with a sell out band?
The capital letters were used like they are for any band. For example, in this interview every time you mention our band in a question, it is in capital letters. "USURPER". So that is the only reason the capitals were used. But to answer your question, we were just as proud to tour with them as with any other band. Those were great tours. Not because we sold tons of merchandise or albums, because we didn't, but because we got to party with people who like USURPER, and we got to play as intense of a show as we could for those people. Sure, it raised a few eyebrows from some of the fans, but it didn't really matter. USURPER doesn't give a shit. We had several opportunities to play and tour over the world in the past few years, with several different bands. We have done the ones that we wanted to, and we didn't do the ones that we didn't. Whether it was Cradle of Filth, Enthroned, Dark Funeral, Sadistic Intent, Thy Infernal and the others...we don't care. The idea is to play killer shows for your fans, and that's what we do every chance we get.
I think USURPER now achieves what it wants to achieve. Since then, appearing on a wide range magazine like Metal Maniacs lift the band's "career" among the others. My question is: Are you still answering your mails from fans and independent fanzines worldwide? Or do you have a fan club now or people to answer your mails for you?
No, we are still a underground band, and we always will be. We answer all the mail, and we don't have a "fanclub" to take care of that shit. Being in bigger magazines is fun to look at, but it really doesn't affect the metal fan that much. Someone isn't going to decide that they like a certain band because they saw a glossy picture of them in a magazine his mother can buy in a grocery store. Its the music that really does the talking. So we could be on the cover of fucking "Rolling Stone" and it wouldn't matter that much. Its still going to be the same elite group of freaks that are into a band like USURPER. Our music has remained true to ourselves over the years, and that is all that is important.
DEENA DASEIN quoted Rick Scythe as the "Billy Corgan of Underground Metal". How did Rick feel this comparison since Corgan is mostly considered as a homosexual loser by majority of Underground people? Is it flattering or what?
Actually, we all about died laughing when we read that! But if I remember correctly, Rick loved it! I believe his totally sarcastic quote was something along the lines of, "Now THERE'S a chick who knows what she's talking about! Finally some goddamn respect!" Let me emphasize the sarcasm one more time!
How do you write songs or arrange them? Do you have to go to the studio to write them or do you prefer to write them in a most somber and darkened places? What is your most reaction about the CELTIC FROST comparison? Have you heard the Dutch PENTACLE? They are in Frost's veins too, what can you say about them?
Rick writes all the music, and the majority of the lyrics. He writes them all before the studio. He'll come up with the song at home, then record it on a 4 track recorder with guitar, bass, a drum machine, and sometimes vokills. Then the band gets copies of the tape and we start to learn it. He leaves it open for Hellstorm to experiment with the drums, and for me to incorporate different bass lines, but sometimes he has a very specific part he wants done certain ways. All this happens long before we enter the studio, so by the time we go in there, we are very well rehearsed, and all we have to do is belt out the songs for the album. That's the easy part! The FROST comparison is something that we have been listening to since the demo came out in '94 I guess. On the older stuff it seems a little more accurate, but on albums like "Necronemesis" I think that musically it doesn't sound so much like FROST anymore, but whatever. We don't consider ourselves a tribute band or anything like that, so whatever we are compared to doesn't matter. PENTACLE are a cool band. We got to party with them in Holland a few years ago, and that was cool. But I like their albums.
What would be the new album sound like? Will it be in the same way as "Necronemesis" or much heavier? How do you define "Heavy" for Metal? If the song is fast but having a very thin bass, is it "Unheavy"? Then, how many Black Metal bands are worth enough to be called "Heavy"? Upon playing in CBGB, do you think success will spoil USURPER someday? Many bands that play on that club seems to went commercialized and lost their Underground feeling. What's your opinion about this?
Again, we will ALWAYS be an underground band. That's just the way we are. We couldn't write a commercial song with a gun pointed to our heads! CBGBs is a shithole. Its a tiny little place. There were just a bunch of punk bands that played there years ago that eventually made it huge. But that was in the 70s! For us, it was just a show in New York City. The next album will be similar to "Necronemesis" in some ways, but there are some heavier songs working their way into the set. It will probably sound like a mixture of "Necronemesis" and "Skeletal Season". We are going back to the same studio that we did "Necronemesis" again though. "Heavy" isn't just a sound, its a way of fucking life! But, musically its that crunch. That riff that makes the hair on your arms stand up. The hook you can't stop headbangin to. You know, its fucking HEAVY! With a few exceptions, not that many black metal bands are heavy in that sense.
With regards to Necropolis and USURPER, I hope not to offend you asking such a very nasty question : But how much really is your royalty payment? Do you guys prefer cash payments or is it that your Merchandise the payment instead? Do you take USURPER as your job? Or, are you employed somewhere else? How far the "normal" people react when seeing you walking down the streets with your spikes and bulletbelts? Is that normal in the United States or what?
No, its not normal. There are only a few metalheads compared to the millions of wiggers and hip-hop fags walking around with their big baggy pants and sideways baseball hats. And even out of the few metalheads left, not that many of them wear the traditional leather jacket, leather pants, bullet belt, spikes, etc when they go out. Its just a few of us left I'm afraid.
One of the reasons we left Necropolis was because they had stopped sending us royalty statements. We are supposed to get one every 6 months, but they weren't sending them anymore. That is the only way you can find out how many records are being sold, where they are sold, etc. The money element didn't really matter that much to us, because we had always reinvested any royalty money directly back into the band in the form of touring expenses, etc. But Necropolis wouldn't even show us what we were selling, and that was pissing us off. But no, we have never been able to live off of the band. We all sell drugs and have been forced to turn to a life of crime to survive.
Any of you racist? What can you say about "NATIONAL SOCIALISM" being use with European Black Metal now and they call it NS Black Metal? Do you know any American Black Metal dealing with the NS elements? Do you think the legacy of Adolph Hitler will soon prevail by the propaganda of these bands?
There are a few American NS bands out there. The problem with most of these NS bands is that the people in them are of the exact same heritage and decent that if the Third Reich was still in operation, these guys would all be in an oven somewhere! But whatever. If a band believes in something that strongly, why shouldn't they incorporate it in their music. Its funny when people get so offended by this. Did everyone forget that this is fucking Extreme Metal? The point is to sound completely extreme! There's not much further you can go past absolute racism and socialism! All these "true satanic" bands call for the extermination of all the Christians in every song, but if someone starts calling for the extermination of the Jews, everyone gets hurt feelings! If that's what these guys want to do, then who cares. If someone doesn't like it, don't listen to Metal!
Thank you very much for your time. Please take the last space for your last words…
Thanks for the interview. Check out our unbelievably boring website at: "www.usurper-necrocult.com".
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