An Interview With Scott Hedrick of Skeletonwitch!

An Interview With Scott Hedrick of Skeletonwitch!

You’re currently on tour with Children of Bodom, how has that been going so far?

It’s been awesome. We’re on the road with Children and Black Dahlia Murder and the shows have been killer. There have been tons of people at the shows, the crowds have been crazy, most bands are really nice, and so are their crews– you never know what to expect when you start a tour, how everything is going to run smoothly, if the people are cool, if they’re like — you know, it takes a lot of people to make everything run smooth and put everything together to go without a hitch. Bodom and all their crew are exceptionally nice, like down to earth people and made us feel really, really welcome, and are bringing out tons of kids to the shows.


You’ll be going on tour again after this one with Children of Bodom, right?

Yes, we stop with Children of Bodom, and then we’ll do another tour where The Black Dahlia Murder headlines, we do direct support, and Trap Them and Toxic Holocaust open; and that’s also a US tour. Then right after that, we go to Europe for about a month, through part of November and part of December, and we do a co-headliner with Goatwhore and Toxic Holocaust, all three of us are going to kind of rotate the headlining spot.


That should be awesome!

Yeah, I know! I can’t wait to get back over there. Then we have a little bit of time off for the holidays, like a couple of weeks, and then we have some more stuff in the works and it looks like it’s going to start in January, but it’s too early to say for sure yet. But, we’re not going to stop anytime soon, that’s for sure.


Are you going to be expecting anything for these next couple of tours?

I just hope — I don’t really expect anything from them [the crowd], but I do hope a lot of kids come out to the shows and I hope they have a good time because we have a good time playing and doing what we do. We do this because we love it and hopefully, that translates into them having a good time. But, I don’t really expect anything from them, I just hope they show up, hang out, bring a few beers, bang their heads, have a good ass time with all the bands on the tour!


Since you guys have been touring almost non-stop over the last year or so, you’ve probably seen many different metal scenes; which has been one of the best you’ve come across, so far?

It’s hard to say best. But, since it’s very recent, the Canadian shows that we just did, were absolutely crazy. We played in Montreal, Quebec City, Toronto, and Kitchner, and all of the shows were slammed full of kids and they just went crazy. From the first note that we played, to the last note that Bodom played at the end of the night, they were just fucking insane! I wouldn’t say that there’s a best, but that just sticks out the most because we just played those shows last week. And actually, after tonight’s show, we go back up into Canada and do maybe 5 dates in Western Canada to places that we’ve never been before, like Vancouver, Winnipeg, Edmonton, and Saskatoon. We’re really looking forward to those dates.


What has been the best experience you’ve had on this tour?

Mainly, the experience in general because we get to go to so many different places, meet so many different people. As a metal fan, growing up listening to metal, I never thought I would find myself, for example, in Switzerland playing a show in this cathedral. I never thought that would’ve happened, you know? There’s just a lot of different moments along the way where you kind of pinch yourself and go “holy shit! Wow, I’m really lucky that we get to do this!” It’s kind of just the fact that we’re able to do it so much is really the best experiences — we’re able to keep doing it and I’m just like “holy crap, we just keep going, this is great!” We just keep working hard and every once in a while, kind of pluck our heads up out of the trench,look around, and go “holy shit, look where we ended up,” and then go right back down into it and keep going.


You guys have a new CD coming out October 13th.

Yes we do. It’s called Breathing the Fire, it will be our second CD from Prosthetic Records, and we recorded it in Seattle with Jack Endino. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with him but, he’s done a lot of cool stuff, he did the last High on Fire record, Death is this Communion, he did the last 3 Inches of Blood record, Valient Thorr record, Immortalizer, some older stuff like Zeke and The Accused. He actually did the very first Nirvana record, Bleach. He’s an amazing guy and he’s done so much different — so many styles of heavy music, from metal to the grunge sort of stuff, a lot of punk stuff. He’s an awesome dude and we spent about 3 1/2 weeks with him in Seattle recording on this new record and came out with something killer. It sounds really organic, really natural, and kind of old school in that way, but it also sounds huge, and that’s what we wanted to do. We wanted to achieve something that sounded really big, but natural at the same time, not so computerized and contrasted; kind of achieved modern, because it is a modern record in 2009; not to sound overly copied and pasted and done on the computer; a little more organic, and I think we achieved that with Jack. So, we’re really proud of our new record and hope everyone will get a chance to check it out.


What is the most exciting thing for you guys about the release?

When it finally gets out there and we start getting feedback from people about it because over a long — there’s a certain period of time we’ve worked on the songs, rehearsed them and stuff, and wrote them and all that stuff. There’s just so much — we’ve been hearing new songs, playing new songs, practicing new songs, we’ve been recording songs, and have spent so much time on that, and getting the cover art together, getting all the pieces to the puzzle together, and all that hard work and time eventually will — you know, we’re like “damnit, isn’t it out yet already?!” We want people to hear it! People who’ve heard of the band and people who’ve never heard of us before. We can’t wait to just get it out there so people can check it out and start getting feedback ’cause you know we’re fans of metal, first and foremost, that’s why we do this ’cause we just love metal. So, we’re always excited to hear what people have to say about it. So, it’s just finally getting it out there, because we’ve been sitting on it for so long and we’re so familiar with it and no one else has heard it. (laughs)


Which song(s) are you most proud of on the new album?

Um…Not really any one in particular. I mean, I’m pretty pleased with all of them, to be honest. Not to sound (inaudible), but I mean, I don’t think anyone should release a record if they write one and they go “well, the first four songs are fucking kick ass but the last five — I don’t know, I kind of sigh within,” you know? We don’t have that mentality, if it’s not up to the caliber. We’re all very happy with it, the songs get us stoked about metal and we like the riffs and you know, if it was something that we wouldn’t want to listen to, then we wouldn’t put it out. So, I’m pretty stoked about all of them and just to see which ones people will latch on to because inevitably, it seems like a few different songs off of each record become the queen of the (inaudible), I guess to the fans and metal-heads in general. So, it will be interesting to see but, I’m doing to playing any of them. I like ’em all.


Did you guys work with any other artist for this CD?

It’s just pure Skeletonwitch, that’s all you get!


What about the next CD?

We’re a pretty tight-knit group. I mean, we work well together and we never really thought about bringing anyone in. We made the best Skeletonwitch record that we could, we just went for it.


If you could work with another artist though, who would you choose?

Oh! That’s really tough! That’s a really tough question. It depends on what kind of track we’re doing and stuff. I mean, I would LOVE–any of us would love to work with King Diamond. All of us are big Overkill fans, especially Nate and Chance. They would love to have Bobby Ellsworth do something from Overkill. And, I’m a massive Judas Priest fan, so if Kenneth Downing ever wanted to do anything, then call me up, I’m down! (laughs)


Explain to me how you think you have evolved since Beyond the Permafrost to Breathing the Fire.

I would say just being on the road so much and touring, we’ve become tighter as a band as musicians. And, also I think the song endings are more cohesive, I think we’re kind of finding our sound a little bit more, the Skeletonwitch sound — I don’t know how you’d describe the Skeletonwitch sound but, I can tell when I hear it, when we’re working on music, I’m like “Oh, that’s awesome! That’s perfect!” I think it’s just a more cohesive set of songs and maybe some of the stuff we did in the past that was more blatant Iron Maiden style harmonies and things that are, not really a cheap shot, but it’s really easy to throw in some harmonies here and there and be like ‘Oh yeah, here’s the heavy part, here’s the more melodic part,” you know, a lot of bands kind of — it seems to me that, although I can’t speak for the whole band personally, there are a trend of bands doing a style like, “ok these guys sound like At The Gates, now here’s what they sound, now there’s a bunch of Iron Maiden harmonies. I think that with our song writing, it’s a little more — maybe if they’ll listen to the album a couple more times than the previous stuff, maybe more will jump out at you right away, it’s a little more subtle, I guess I could say.


How did you guys come up with the CD artwork for Breathing the Fire?

A guy by the name of Andrei Bouzikov did the artwork. He actually did the artwork for the last two Municipal Waste albums, and Cannabis Corpse, which is Phil’s from Municipal Waste side project and he’s done a bunch of underground, punk, and hardcore bands, and stuff. He’s a very talented guy and someone brought him to our attention and we got a hold of him and gave him the title and the track listings and told him what we were thinking like, “hey, we would like to see this on the cover.” He was totally down. I think he really, really knocked it out of the park. I couldn’t be happier with the cover, I mean it’s pretty fuckin’ brutal, it’s pretty metal. You look at the cover and you’re pretty sure, you know, that the record isn’t going to be too nice. (laughs)


Have you guys been working on a music video or anything?

Actually yes. We just shot a music video in New York, the day before we started this tour in Providence, Rhode Island.


For which song?

It is actually, at the risk of getting my ass kick from the other guys and the label, I’ll wait until they release it ’cause I’m sure they’ll raise hell if I release too much information like who we did it with and which song and stuff, until we’re ready for it! (laughs)


What was one of the most frustration or difficult issue you had while writing and recording Breathing the Fire?

I would say, maybe just time because we toured so much, we didn’t have a lot of time at home. So, it took a lot of extra work on everyone’s part, just to be ready for the recording, and to tighten everything up, and finish the last little bits; like, for Chance to finish writing the last few lyrics, for me to finish writing the last guitar leads that I did and stuff. I couldn’t be happier with how it came out. But, there was definitely a minute with a little crunch, it was like, “shit! You know, we’re on the road so much, we got to find time to work on it.” That being said, it still went really smoothly. But, if I had to say one thing, I guess it’d be the fact that we were so busy on the road touring for the last record that we really had to cram in getting this one ready, whenever it was that we could do it. (laughs)


Do you guys have any other plans after you release this CD, besides touring?

Um…No, not really, just more and more touring…Touring, touring, touring, and then of course we’ll start writing some songs and working on material for the next record. We’ve already got some ideas, and some riffs, and stuff like that. That’s what we love to do and we pretty much live on the road and love it. So, we hope to stay out on the road as much as possible, and keep supporting the record, and keeping ourselves out there. Maybe we’ll end up doing another video and other small stuff like that. But, really the main plan is to just tour the record and maybe get to some new areas. I’d love to go to South America, I’d love to tour in Japan; we haven’t done that yet either. So, maybe we’ll be fortunate enough to go to some more countries and places that we haven’t been yet.


Skeletonwitch has been considered a part of the “thrash revival era” — what do you think about that?

I don’t know — I don’t see our band as part of that, honestly. We definitely have thrash influence and we like thrash a lot, I certainly won’t deny that. But, I think that there’re a lot more elements to Skeletonwitch that I don’t think are in a lot of those thrash revival bands. I mean like, the black metal and death metal elements that occur in the music. Like, death metal groove, blast beats; just mechanically there are a lot of things that I don’t think even occur, that people view as the “retro thrash thing.” But, I think that we’re a thrash-y band but, I don’t see us as a part of that, you know? We didn’t get handed an Exodus costume; here’s your big white high-tops, here’s your 80’s thrash outfit, like the white high-tops and denim vests and then all of a sudden they’re pretending we’re from the 80’s and writing thrash albums just like all of those classic bands did. I mean, we have tons of respect for those bands for Exodus, Nuclear Assault, Kreator, Sodom, and Demolition Hammer, and all of those bands. We love that stuff and since they do it so well, it’s like why even try to do exactly what they already did, you know? Bring something new to the table, kind of respect that. You know, at the time what they were doing, it was new; and now I think more bands should do — I enjoy it when other bands bring out elements in and take it somewhere else, rather than just doing what those bands did.


Being one of the guitarists, you have to have a different kind of energy on stage, compared to the vocalist. So, what exactly do you do in order to get your audience into your music?

Play sweet riffs! (laughs) Headbang. It’s pretty simple, I think; I hope that the music drives people more than the — I mean certainly, we give it everything we have on stage, we don’t just stand there. You know, it’s boring to go see a band and you don’t want to go to a live show and basically look at five cardboard cutouts.


What kind of impact does Skeletonwitch want to make in heavy metal?

I hope it’s — heavy metal means something different to every person, to us,(inaudible) at the states, it makes us forget about all of the bullshit that may be going on in our lives. Even a lot of political bands that may have some of ideal system or belief system and they’re trying to (inaudible). We specifically, intentionally stay completely away from that. We want people to just have a good time, enjoy the music for what it is, and have it be a release and an escape for maybe any of the bullshit that is bothering them, you know? You could be having the worst day of your life and every once in a while you can put on a certain song on a certain album, and then (inaudible) into it, you’re like, “Fuck yes! This is what I needed, I really need to hear Die by the Sword by Slayer and damnit, (inaudible).” Hopefully, it’s that people will dig the music and it just makes them stoked about being into metal and (inaudible) their life some way and it’s meaning for to them. Hopefully, they gain something from our music, rather than take away from it.


Before I conclude this interview, is there anything else you would like to say or mention?

The last thing I would like to say, is just thank you to anybody who supports the band and it may be hard to get to a show, or buy a CD, or (inaudible) send us a message online, you’re just kind of pushing us along because that’s what keeps us doing what we do. I mean, we do it because we love it and in the end, we’re all metalheads. So, that support from the metal community is key to keeping metal going. So, I would just say thanks to any and everybody who helped us do what we do. And, check out Breathing the Fire, it comes out on October 13th, on Prosthetic Records!


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