TBT: 2010 Interview With Ben Falgoust of Goatwhore!
Dec 22, 2010
How has this tour been doing so far?
It’s been good, man. I mean there’s been four shows so far. We missed St. Paul [Minnesota] because we had a problem with our van. So, basically this is the 3rd one for us. It started in Pittsburgh [Pennsylvania], Chicago [Illinois], St. Paul [Minnesota], and we actually were lucky because yesterday was an off day to go from St. Paul to here [Denver]. So, even though we didn’t get to play St. Paul, it kinda helped out because we got our van back yesterday fixed, and drove here, which was a pretty lengthy drive. We were in Wisconsin, so it was a 15-16 hour drive, or something like that. But, you know, we’re determined, so we go after it.
Over all, the shows have been really great. Watain’s an unique band, with what they do and everything, so it’s actually pretty cool to tour with them. I saw them– this is the third time they’ve toured the U.S. and I saw them in New Orleans on their second tour, it was this little small place that smelled really bad because of–and it was, I think it was more during the– it wasn’t as cold then either. I mean, the cold helps the animals not just rot so fast, you know. (laughs)
But they’re a unique band, with what they do, so it’s awesome to be out on tour with them and everything in this kind of situation. Like I said, it’s really early in the tour, so you can’t be like, “I have all of these fuckin’ creative stories about the tour, you know, because we’re only a few shows in. But so far, as far as turn-outs and response, it’s been really good.
Carving Out the Eyes of God was released around this time last year, how would you say this album has done compared to your previous ones?
I think it was actually a really good step for us, I think we went into this record too a little different as far as our attitudes and everything. We didn’t really care– we didn’t go in thinking, “Ok, we have to beat A Haunting Curse.” We weren’t really one of these bands that wanted to be like, “Oh this record’s going to be better than the last record.” Like every cleche thing that’s said by every band. We went in and we did a lot of stuff that we really liked and we incorporated things– ideas of things that we grew up on from thrash metal, to death metal, to you know– I mean, of course Celtic Frost is a huge influence for Goatwhore, but beyond that I think we were expanded more, and the fact that Sammy [Duet, guitarist] and Zack [Simmons, drummer] now have been together jamming for a while.
Once you get two people, three people, four people all in a pocket together, you start to get that flow back again. When you shift members out, you change something, you change the whole layout of the band and everything, so everybody’s got to fall into place again. And Zack [Simmons] and Sammy [Duet] work together really well and we have James [Harvey] now as well, I mean, he’s– when we do the next record, it’ll be his first record, but he blends in really well with Zack and Sammy with writing and everything.
We’re working on some new stuff as well for the next record. So we just went after things that we were influenced by, things that we really enjoyed, and we kinda wrote for ourselves, in a way. Nothing against fans or anything, but it’s not always trying to please everyone, you know? You�ve got to please yourself as well in this situation. The outcome actually– I think all of us were surprised at the outcome of the record, just like the production, all the songs came out and everything, and it got a lot of really good feedback. We didn’t even expect the feedback that we got from it, so it turned out really well, overall.
We focused on a lot of things; like, there were a lot of times where with guitars with a lot of metal records nowadays, they’re really like, mixed back, and drums and vocals are so up front, and we want it like traditional metal records, where the guitars attack and that’s the reason why it was metal, because of the guitar tone and everything, so not so much that it buries everything else, but that it has this attacking thing and everything else kind of falls into with it. So, it’s something we were really after when we went in.
The thing about it too, working with [Erik] Rutan already before that, we were all comfortable with each other and we knew how things were going to work. We were doing a lot of pre-production before we went in Carving Out the Eyes of God, which we never did before where we demoed songs and sent them ahead to Rutan. So, he kind of knew the material before we even entered the studio; so, as an engineer, he was familiar. We were coming in with almost like he was a member of the band, so there were a lot of things we changed and it kind of helped the whole production of doing the record.
As you said earlier, you’ve been working on some things for the next album, how do you believe it’s going to turn out?
Umm…Well, we don’t have a ton of stuff, we just have pieces here and there, some full songs, we can’t really– it’s almost like, we can’t even determine if they’re (laughs) good enough or not to ourselves because we’ve been on the road so long. It’s like, we get home, we might be home for a week or to, and we go, “Ok, well lets spend a few days feeling around with new stuff, throw it around and everything.” And then all of a sudden, you’re reversing the next set for the next tour, and so we’re like, “Ok, and then what?”
We’ll be at a venue and Sammy [Duet] will have his rigs set up and play a few riffs from it, and yeah, it’s good, but you can’t really grasp the feeling of it just yet; you need to sit in a room and go over it and go over it and feel it out and everything. So, I’m not really sure what it is; I know we’ve got a lot of pressure on us because of the way Carving [Out the Eyes of God] came out, but I think too, we’ll kind of push that off to the side, and we’re just gonna do like we did when we wrote Carving [Out the Eyes of God] and just go after stuff that we like. And we’re pretty picky ourselves, we’ll tear things apart and re-put together songs, or have a song that’ll pop up out of nowhere that’ll be something that we’re into. It’s just time, basically.
What is going on with Soilent Green?
It’s there… It’s just that everybody– I play with Goatwhore, Tommy [Buckley], the drummer, also plays in Crowbar, and Brian [Patton] also plays in EYEHATEGOD, and EYEHATEGOD has been doing stuff. Crowbar just recorded a record and they’re going to do a tour coming up for a couple of weeks, and they’re record comes out in the early part of next year . Soilent [Green] is going to do some fests in Europe in April and then I think after that, we’re going to start doing some shows and stuff through the states, and finish up working on some new material.
Goatwhore is known for the high-energy live shows… When you record your albums, how do you capture the raw presence you guys have while you’re on stage performing and decipher that into the studio?
Umm… That’s actually a good question… Ummm… Because too, if you kind of go back to all of the Goatwhore records, I don’t think we really captured the way we are live until recently with Carving [Out the Eyes of God], you know, just like tone and the way it attacks and everything. I think it has a thing to do with too, being really comfortable the studio, and you kind of fall into that pocket where you really get into it because it’s hard, you’re in a little booth or whatever, you’re doing you’re trick, but I got to the point where when I was doing vocals for Carving Out the Eyes of God prior to me actually starting to record the vocals, like the week beforehand, I got [Erik] Rutan to set up a mic in the room and just let the reel play all of the stuff that was recorded and basically rehearse over it. You know, go over it, get used to it, get comfortable being in the room.
We had never done that before and Rutan’s like, “That’s a cool idea.” Because at the end of the night, I’m dropping all of the stuff from the computer into a drive and let the tape roll, and you can sit there, go over it, break yourself in, and when you don’t feel like you can do it anymore, you can just stop. It helped out, it helped because what happens is, when you’re in the studio, the singer’s pretty much the last one that does his stuff; so when you’re in there for five weeks/four weeks, you’re pretty much about the beginning of the fourth week or somewhere in there when you start your stuff. So, there’s a couple weeks or so beforehand when you’re not doing anything.
By doing that, it made it more comfortable, and when you’re in there, it actually– I can’t really just attack it the way it is in the live setting, you’ll never be able to do that because you have the energy of the crowd and everything as well with that, but I felt way more comfortable this time because it almost sets you up and prepared you. And so, I could get into in the booth when I was doing everything and I just enjoyed it a little more.
When you’re on stage, how do you transform into the person you are now to the person you are destroying the stage?
It depends, sometimes I’ll have a beer before I’ll play– I don’t really drink a lot, but every now– like, recently, I started drinking like maybe a half an hour, or an hour before, just like a beer or something, but usually it’s just like, I could still be running around doing stuff and then right when I– five minutes before we start is almost like it shifts, it’s like a mode, and I just go into that mode, and that’s where it is.
And it’s funny because sometimes we’ll be out on tour and a guy in the band will be 20 minutes before we play and it’ll be another guy that’ll be like, “So, you ready to play?” And I’m like, “Not yet.” But it’s kind of weird because you’re like…Wait, we play in 20 minutes, and you play in 15 minutes, and you play in 10 minutes; and it’s like, no it’s not, it’s like right when I step on there and it’s ready to go, then I’m ready, and it just takes off from there. It’s a whole different thing. It’s kind of weird, it’s like, I don’t get into this thing where I’ll sit in a room alone or other things you can hear about other bands and they get in this “mind-frame” and it’s almost like it changes right there, when it’s time; it shifts. And this is what it is, this is what has to be done at this time.
I have to say, I really do– I enjoy playing live a lot, whatever it’s 30 minutes, 45 minutes, an hour, whatever tour we’re on, but there’s so much about it. Even if it’s not a really packed show, big show, we’ve done shows that’ve been in some small towns where there’s 25 kids, 20 kids, whatever, you know? I still get on stage and I do the same thing as I’ve done for a packed audience because it’s like, this is the reason I’m out here; this is the reason I’ve done it from the get-go, was to play the music and be into it. I guess the day where I’m not really into it and step on the stage and don’t have that urge, then that should be the day when I should stop and just let whoever else move into. Not saying necessarily move into my place, but another band, with the same kind of style move into this terrain, or whatever, so it’s one of those things. It’s not like this thing where I pump myself up and I’m like, “Oh I gotta get this going!” It’s just a step into it and it takes off from there.
How did your passion for metal start?
You know, when I was younger, I listened to a lot of stuff from like, metal to punk to hardcore, everything. I went to a lot of shows and it was always like an intriguing thing to me, it was always interesting. Also, when I go see these bands, and then you see them roll up in a bus, in a van, or anything, and I was like, “Wow! I’d really like to do that! It’s pretty fuckin’ cool looking.” Even though when you get out there, you realize a lot of things are a lot different, you’re stuck in a vehicle with 4-5 other guys and you learn about people a little more in those situations. That’s what makes a band too, because when you go out, and if it don’t last, you knew that it wasn’t the right thing, but if you can sort your differences out and keep moving, it makes it happen.
It was one of those things and I got into a band when I was like, 16-17 and then it was just with some guys and we were jammin, and I used to play guitar a little bit. And then, I started singing for this band, Paralysis, and we put out a CD, on this label, Grindcore Records, and it was when I was 19 or something like that. It was like a “cookie monster” death metal band. And then things kind of crumbled with that, and I joined Soilent [Green], and then Goatwhore got put together by Sammy [Duet] and Zak [Nolan], the old drummer. It used to be Kilgore, but they changed the name to Goatwhore, and Sammy got his jaw broken in some kind of fight in Baton Rouge [Louisiana], and then I stepped in to help out with vocals and stuff, and then from there it just kind of stuck with Goatwhore, and then we kind of moved from that. So, it’s been a while, so I’ve been doing it, I ain’t going to say how old I am, but I’ve been doing it for a little while. (laughs)
I’ve been doing it for a little while! And you know, this is a perfect example too, there’s not a lot of money in it [touring], I mean, some bands like the Lamb of Gods and Slipknots, things like that, yeah. They make a lucrative career out of it and it’s awesome. I mean, if we could do that, it’d be great. But a lot of times we go out, we might make enough money to cover a month or two of bills, rent, things like that. But when I’m home, I work a job and everything, you know? And it’s fine, it’s a shift and everything, but it’s like, after a while of being at work for maybe a month or two, I’m ready to get back out here and fuckin’ do it. Even though the money isn’t there and I know I’m going to lose in a sense, and when I get home, I’m going to have to bust my ass again to catch up. Sometimes you feel like, “Wow, there’s so much going on, and I feel like I’m working so fuckin’ hard.” But, when you get on that stage and you play and everybody’s having a good time and everybody’s pumpin’ fists, going fuckin’ crazy, you’re like, “This is what it’s for. This is the whole thing, this is what makes up for the damn nights of being up working ten hours a day, going into fuckin’ practice after work and just doing it and doing it and doing it and coming out, and this is what happens.
I mean, if we never ever get to the “Lamb of God level” or anything like that, but we do something and a lot of people appreciate it, I guess, it’s unique in it’s own way, and you had a good time, I think it’s awesome.
It sounds kind of addicting, in a way.
It is, in a sense. You know, it is because it’s fun. But I guess that’s maybe a better addiction than me being addicted on some kind of drug or some shit like that. (laughs) But yeah, it’s got a small addiction to it, I’d say… Like sniffin’ markers or something (laughs) or gasoline! (laughs)
I know you’ve talked about horror before in the past… How much of an impression would you say that horror in general has an impact on Goatwhore’s music?
There’s different horror movies that probably influence it– like, it’s more– I don’t think it has to do with maybe the music, but maybe some of the writing and stuff like that, the lyrics, because there’s a lot of unique horror movies out there from old, to new stuff. Even in different cultures. I’ve come to the terms where American cinemas have gotten kind of lame and then you find out that they have all these great movies in all these different countries coming from Japan, China, over seas, Europe, and things like that; their ideas are kind of new. It’s funny too, because the American market has grabbed on and been like, “Oh, well that’s interesting!” And then they redo it. But it doesn’t quite touch like it was originally done. But it starts to make you think, different cultures have different ideas of the basis of fear and the haunting and things like that, and the way their beliefs are in things, and it’s cool to see the different ideas and everything. I don’t mind the subtitles and everything, its got its uniqueness to it as well, but it’s cool because it does and generates a thing in your head to give you different ideas and everything to chase down stuff.
You’ve also said that you want to use Dantes Inferno to inspire your lyrics?
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I have a book at home, it’s thick, it’s all of Dante’s Inferno, illustrated by Gustave Dor. That story just in general is fuckin’ amazing just because it touches a– I’d say all these people with the Bible and everything, it’s like why don’t you get rid of that and read something like that [Dante’s Inferno]? Because it’s more, to me, ground-breaking and deeper and the ideas of things, is just like, layers of Hell and all of these other fuckin’ things, it’s very unique, man. I don’t think it influences me more now because I’ve used so much in the past with it, you know? But I’m sure I go– every now and then something kind of pulls up from the past because it never leaves you, you know? You kinda dig back or you go back to it and find something you really never noticed before, as well. There’s a lot of books too I use to write lyrics, like art books; where I look at the art and the imagery gives me ideas in– like, there’s this one guy named Wayne Barlowe, he does some crazy stuff, and he did a book on his basis of Dante’s Inferno, and it’s all art. It’s really fuckin’ unique, man. You should pick it up. Even like artists, like photography stuff, like Joel-Peter Witkin, it’s really disturbing stuff. But sometimes, the images– I just kind of drift through them, but sometimes they catch me and they give me an idea, and I can write like a paragraph about it, so sometimes just a book with pictures create kind of an element as well. And then you kind of run off with it in your own kind of idea.
What songs were influenced by Dante’s Inferno?
Ummm… Probably a lot of things like earlier stuff like, Sky Inferno, Baptized in a Storm of Swords. Baptized in a Storm of Swords from Funeral Dirge [for the Rotting Sun] was a lot of mixture of Dante’s Inferno and also like a personal thing when I was– ’cause I was in an accident and I was in a wheelchair, I went through nine surgeries, and there was like, it’s intertwined with ideas I kinda fuckin’ created when I was in the hospital, kinda like disturbing kind of things about being in the whole hospital regimen and going through surgeries and things like that. And then also Joel-Peter Witkin stuff too, ’cause he’s got– he does this really crazy photography stuff, and a lot of it’s pretty disturbing, but there’s some aspects of it that, that– I can’t explain it, man.
They’re unique and beautiful in a fuckin’ odd way, (laughs) but they conjure up a lot of thoughts that kind of fill in for really good lyrics, as well. So, I got a lot of variation in how I do my lyrics, like from looking at art stuff, to photography stuff, and reading stuff, and also researching stuff; ’cause I’ll research a lot of things, like within religious structures, within Satanism, within you know– I’m not going to be like this person that leaves out an element.
Usually I’ll take organized religious structures and I’ll make puns of things and songs about them as well because I have this bad– I guess a hatred with organized religion, you know? When I say that, I just don’t categorize like, “Oh, we’re going after the Christians, or whatever.” I don’t like any kind of religious structure. It’s– to me, it’s like a crutch. I think mankind is a better brain than that actually to deal with that, you know?
It trips me out that in this day-in-age that’s so advanced to what man is, still embraces that so much. It’s kind of confusing, man’s making phones smarter than people, at this point. You know, smart phone is smarter than the person, in a sense, that’s using it. But, man can’t get over the idea of keeping religion so close and everything. I mean, I understand that some people need something because they fear death and they fear what’s going to happen in the after-life, but I think the concern is what’s going on now, and not what’s going on then. You should care about more the people around you, and what’s going on here. I know it’s weird because I’m being positive and I play in an evil band, but it’s the structure of things. It’s almost like, “Are you so blind to see that you’re worried about that, when you should be worried about everything now.”
A lot of religions are hypocrisy, I mean, like with the Bible, any religious book, and churches, churches teach what they want; their version of what the Bible or whatever is, not really what’s in it. It’s cult-like.
Yeah, yeah. It’s not only that, too, I can’t stand that it’s still involved in politics, as well. There was always supposed to be this separation of church and state, but it’s still in there because people always concern, “Well, is our president a Christian? Is he Catholic? Is this guy running?” You know, this or that. It’s just like, what matters is what he’s going to do, or what she’s going to do, not what their religious denomination is; it’s not going to change anything. An angel’s not going to come down and sprout wings and offer us free health care for Christ’s sakes. (laughs) I could go on for days about it, but you know, you get the point. It’s like what I was saying, in Apocalyptic Havoc, we say, “Who needs a God, when you’ve got Satan?” We say, “A God.” We don’t say, “Who needs God?” We say, “A God.” Because it’s more open and it covers the terrain of everything.
How do you express your passion and emotion through your music whether it be with Goatwhore or Soilent Green?
I guess like, in the writing and then in the performing because it definitely triggers, ok so you write, you write, and you write; some stuff you write and you’re just like, “Eh, this is terrible. It’s not coming across how I want it to come across.” You know, just like anything, you go through these little trails of things, and then sometimes you hit it. It’s like I said, I jot down things pretty much all the time, I use my phone now, open notes, if I think of one line, I jot it down. If I think of a paragraph of shit, I jot it all down, and then I just let them build up, and build up, and build up, and then when it’s time to go put stuff in songs, I go through all of them and I pick out elements I think fit with the idea I’m going to write about.
It’s kind of like I plagiarize from myself, like I write all of these things down, then I steal all of these things, and I make a song with it. That’s the part where it starts to get you going. It’s like once you start fitting them in, and then you’re going over it with the song, and then you’re practicing with the song, and sometimes you come to it, and you’ll be like, “Ah, it’s just not workin’, it’s not working.”
Like, a perfect example would be, on Carving Out the Eyes of God, Razor Flesh Devoured, I had a problem with the song when I started recording it. I had all the lyrics, it felt comfortable, but then when I started going in with it, things weren’t coming out quite right. So, I was like, “Scratch it!” And then, I came back, and I changed a bunch of shit in it, and it hit and it flowed better, and then I caught onto it, the wheel just started going, and it took off from there. And then from there, you feel comfortable with it, the whole song, and when you hit the stage with it, that’s even more of the cycle and it steps even further and takes off. So it’s all like a wheel or a snowball going down a hill, and it gets bigger and bigger and bigger, and it just fuckin’ goes.
You’ve said before that music gives people a freedom, tell me how it gives you a freedom?
Well, just like anybody else, like when you come to a show, you leave all the bullshit at home, you come here and you leave whatever issues you had; you had a bad day, a bad week, it’s just not going right, your boyfriend did something stupid, your girlfriend did something stupid, anything, any kind of situation, just a bad day at work, somebody smashed into your fuckin’ vehicle, whatever. You come to a situation like this, and you leave it all behind, and you have a good fuckin’ time, you know, whatever. You get a few drinks or you don’t get a few drinks, but you come and you have a good time.
It’s the same thing, when we get in a practice room, we go into the practice room and that’s the element, at that point. And when we’re out here, that’s the element at that point, that’s what we’re doing, that’s what we’re focusing on. It’s not like we roll into the practice room, and I’m telling Sammy [Duet], “Oh, work was shitty ALL day, fuck this shit, fuck life, fuck that.” You know, it’s just like it’s in the practice room, and that’s what we’re doing, we’re focusing on the things, pretty much– it’s like a release. You’re letting it all go there, in the writing, in the music, and everything like that.
Those are all of my questions, would you like to add anything else?
I would like to say this tour is pretty much our last tour for Carving Out the Eyes of God because we really need to sit down at home and start getting on the music for our new stuff a little more, you know? We’ve been out on the road for a while, so I’m sure people have seen enough of us. It’s probably time for us to start working on some new stuff and get it done. And we’ll probably be going to the studio sometime close to late spring and early summer, somewhere up in there.