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December Wolves    
December Wolves
Upon first listen to December Wolves' latest album 'Blasterpiece Theatre', one would never guess music of such intensity would come out of the United States, let alone Boston, MA. But just because December Wolves hail from Beantown, don't expect another hardcore band turned Gothenburg. In fact, the Wolves have bucked the trend of accessible, melodic metal and delivered their fastest, most brutal album to date. The Metal Update had a chat with founding members Brian (guitar) and Devon (vocals) about their latest violent slab of blackened horror metal, as well as their use of technology and their controversial video for "Porn Again Christian". Shortly after this interview was conducted, December Wolves announced that they are breaking up the band. Brian and Devon, however, plan to resurface in a new project called Graveyard Disturbance.

METAL UPDATE: December Wolves has come a long way since the beginning. What were your initial intentions as a band before the recording of the first demo?

BRIAN: To make a demo.

MU: To make a demo?

B: To be like, "Cool, we made a demo."

MU: It was definitely a different vision at that time, right?

B: Yeah, but it wasn't a specific vision. It was just a bunch of kids that wanted to make a demo.

MU: It was more mid-paced black metal.

B: Oh yeah, definitely. Black metal was a huge influence, but black metal, as far as it being super mysterious, had run it's course by '94. The bands that I loved back then, I still love now - most of them. As far as wearing the paint, we never personally described ourselves as a black metal band. We never tried to sell ourselves as one. We never wanted even one ad to be put out that says that. It's obvious that you have your influences and people have to describe a band. They have to call it one thing. But in no way do I not like black metal because I love black metal. It's hard to describe that to some people. They don't understand it. It's hard to say, "I love black metal but we're not from Norway and we haven't burnt any churches down yet." It's hard to come across that way.

MU: No need to corner yourselves.

B: We never never, never expected to be on a label, let alone somewhat of a big label. I'm not sure what our intentions were. People leave the band and it basically comes down to a couple of core members of the band, me and Devon. We've kind of taken it to what we want to hear. The new record is probably the most musically sounding black metal record we ever did.

MU: What made you progress into what you are doing now?

B: Just being into extreme music in general. We all want to come across as something somewhat original. But the basics of it were to make something that was completely extreme and not melodic and not what is popular right now. You always need comparisons. There's definitely bands that have been my favorites since I first started listening to black metal and death metal which goes way, way back to when I was young. I'm not that young anymore. There are influences, but I think we take them to another level. People on the label will usually try to sell records that are compared to something.

December Wolves

MU: How and why has the band changed since 'Completely Dehumanized' and why did it take three years to complete 'Blasterpiece Theatre'?

B: We tried to do a couple of different lineup things and while everyone was pretty cool, we didn't really rely on anybody. It just didn't really work out. We tried to do the live thing which we're really not into at all, which brings us back to the black metal way of things, sort of how Dark Throne doesn't play, which I can understand why they are like that. It took a couple of different things. We tried to do a live band. It was kind of fun for a while. We rehearsed all the time. We wrote a lot of material within that time, which was six to eight months after 'Dehumanized' was released. And then we went through a spot where we didn't do anything. We just stopped rehearsing for about a half a year. We didn't rehearse at all. A lot of time spent was just dropping everything and not worrying about it for a while. We didn't want to just repeat ourselves. A lot of bands do that. They probably make somewhat of a living because they put out a record every year. We do it for ourselves. It's stuff we want to hear, so we're really not about timing or anything. It would have been a little bit nice to put something out sooner, but it probably wouldn't be the record that it is if it came out a year ago. We're pretty happy with everything. We just took things the way they were coming at us - the way things would come out the best - the way we could come up with a vision of what we wanted the songs to be. The best way to do that was to use programming, which was actually mixed with live drums on the record. It's very meticulous the way the production was done. It took a while, but we're really happy with that. This time it was in our hands. I produced it in my studio. We're pretty happy with it. It is somewhat of a natural progression. At the same time, it's almost going backwards. In some ways it's where a lot of bands, as they put out CDs get more accessible sounding and I think we are less accessible than the last one. It's not what people expect.

MU: What different technology was used this time around? There is definitely a lot more samples thrown. It has a much different vibe than the last album.

B: The last one was recorded half analog, half digital. This one was all digital. Completely different guitar amps, different guitar. A lot different of a writing technique. A lot of the riffs are similar to stuff on 'Dehumanized' but this is so much faster and has a different sound. Just the method of the studio. It was a completely different studio set up than the last one. This was like full digital, multitrack.

MU: Was it all done on computer?

B: A lot of it was done on computer. It was all put through a computer before it was put to tape. It was put through digital wave files so that had a lot to do with it, but we just went with it. We kind of figured we'd knock around a couple of ideas and then we just decide on something. We did demos for ourselves. Rather than be halfway about anything and worry about what people were going to say, we just went ahead and did it.

MU: How many official members are in the band now?

B: As far as official members there's me. There's Devon who is Smails on this record - there is a different lyrical approach, which is explained on the website. There's Tim on the other guitar and a guy by the name of JaBa who did the programming. He's sort of an honorary member. He obviously did a lot of work for this record and he's with us for all the records we are gonna do. We're already working on a new one so there won't be so much time in between records. So, it's actually somewhat of a solid lineup. As far as live and stuff like that we're just not sure. There could be some surprises coming out pretty soon as far as the whole state of the band and everything like that. But regardless of anything that happens, it will basically be a continuance of the sound of 'Blasterpeice Theater'. It will be coming out soon - hopefully within a year or so.

MU: Why did you take on the new name identities on this album?

B: Just to go along with the concept of the whole thing. We didn't do a photo shoot for the inside of the CD for the same reason. It's just to go along with the concept of the CD. And when I say concept, it's not a definitive concept. It's not like it's 'Operation Mindcrime' but the overall feeling of being bleak, discordant stuff. We kind of wanted to keep that whole thing. It's more like a cast of characters played on the record than just a couple of guys. You know what I mean?

MU: It's all artwork. It's all entertainment.

B: Yeah. A lot of its very horror movie themed and we just wanted to stay in that. We just figured it would be something that would play along with the whole outcome of the record. It's a thing for this record. It's not set in stone. Who knows if those names will pop up again, but those are the guys that played on this record.

MU: I know you've always had trouble with drummers and what not. Is that part of the reason for the using a drum machine?

B: Well yeah. That's the point I was saying in that we basically found what we were going to do and went with it. Rather than fake the fact that we didn't use a drum machine, we just tried to make it all work together. We had some drummer problems. It's not even that some of them left, anything they did or some of them weren't good enough or anything like that. We might be on a label, but for someone to want to play in a band that doesn't really play out and the concepts that we use, a lot of people usually aren't that interested. The person that did the programming, the guy JaBa, he actually played drums with us for a while with writing all the stuff. He played all the live drums to get himself connected. And he's a really good drummer, but he started putting all the songs together. He started programming them all and then we were just like, "Wow. This sounds really cool." So we stuck with it. It's really fast, but if you've heard some of the top drummers in the world, it's not faster. There are drummers that can play that fast so we kept it in the range. The thing is JaBa can play the drums that fast. We mixed it up, too. That's why it doesn't sound completely drum machine-like. It took a long time to do it, but we mixed live drums and programmed drums. So, that is kinda why we get that sound. None of the demos are with a drum machine. It took a long time, but we're pretty happy with the way it came out. We're going to continue to do records like this. We also have someone on the side that can play the drums if we decide to play out.

MU: How do the samples tie in with the music and the lyrics? Where do the samples come from?

DEVON: As many people may have guessed, we avidly appreciate the underrated world of horror films. It just so happens that some of the elements that we incorporate into our music can coincide with some of the horrifying images that we see on the screen. The samples contribute to the music being brought to life while simultaneously solidifying the already realistic foundations. . . And it sounds fucking sick.

MU: Where have you developed your philosophical viewpoints? Do you follow any specific philosophies or religions or have you developed your own?

D: I believe in what I see. . . That's about it. I'm too critical to take what other people say at face value. I would never be satisfied enough with anyone's opinions that I would join, or follow their belief system. I know that they'll never believe in mine.

December Wolves

MU: The band claims to be centered around the theme of death. Why is this?

D: It's unfair to say that we're "centered around the theme of death." I'm more inclined to think that death centers around us. We're just victims of circumstance.

MU: What about the world fuels the hatred that the band portrays? Is there any hope for the human race?

D: Who knows what will happen with the human race? I'm willing to bet that the world won't end in my lifetime. So, if I leave no lineage behind, what happens to the world and the human race after I'm no longer a part of it would never be my concern.

MU: How did the December Wolves video come about?

B: That was mainly a record label type thing. We think the video is cool and everything. That song is about sex and drugs and stuff like that so it's not that far off. It came out really good. Matt Zane did a killer job, but that was something that the label approached us on. They said, "We gotta get something for people to look at the band. It will help us out a lot." And we're like, "Yeah, whatever. That's cool." It's definitely way over the top which fits with the themes. Devon and I like it a lot.

MU: Could you give a brief description of what goes on in the video?

B: Words can't describe it. It's way over the top.

MU: Have you received any negativity towards the release of this video yet?

B: I know when they first put it up, they put it on the Earache site in the UK. They basically had to take it down because in England that kind of stuff is just illegal. As far as negativity, that is the most that I've heard yet. I know that some people just don't want to even talk about it or handle it. I actually haven't heard anything really bad about it. I haven't heard anyone complain because most of the people that have seen it are people that would basically laugh and get a kick out of it.

MU: You can't really take stuff like that too seriously anyway. It's there to be extreme. What do you think about the results in the end?

B: It's cool. It's just one of those things. The record label vs. the band thing. I like video a lot, but it's just a tool for them to help them sell records. They're all cool guys and stuff and I understand why. It's cool but I look at the artistic side of it. I'd like to try and do something that defines what we see.

MU: How come you haven't played that many live shows? I think I've seen almost all your live shows actually. From even the first show with Enslaved in Rhode Island.

B: Oh really?

MU: There was probably only 10 people at that show.

B: Back then we really didn't have anything to think about. It was just an honor to be able to play a show with Absu and Enslaved in '94. But from the beginning we never really wanted to play live. It wasn't something we really wanted to do all the time. After 'Dehumanized' came out, the label was trying to get us to play shows and by that time our old drummer had left. We tried out a couple of people. They were cool, but it was just your typical stuff. We played in Salisbury and got shut off halfway through our set - three songs into it. Because of the timing issues they shut us off, but we kept playing anyway. It's so much of a hassle and Devon just hates playing live. If we ever play live again it's gonna be like. . . if you ever saw Mysitcum play, they brought a computer up on stage and they all played. It was really cool. It's a possibility that we are going to play live like that.

MU: Without an actual drummer?

B: Yeah.

MU: That would be fine.

B: We're not totally positive that we are going to do that. I just set up a practice room so we are going to start playing some songs with the backdrop of the samples and drums, see how it sounds and kind of go from there.

MU: Devon controls all the samples right?

B: Not anymore. He does control them as far as choosing and editing them, but live we are just going to let everything run so he doesn't have to worry about that anymore.

MU: Would you have to recruit session members for the live setting?

B: We probably would. We would want to do it full on. The ideal situation would be to hire on a session drummer and someone to handle the samples. Most people wouldn't be interested in joining up with a band that doesn't really want to play out a lot. I actually have some other projects going on.

MU: What are those projects?

B: I have a grind band called Trap Them And Kill Them that I'm doing with the vocalist from Backstabbers Inc. We just did a three song, three minute demo. It sounds like Terrorizer or Napalm Death. I'm actually going on tour with Backstabbers Inc. this summer as a touring guitarist. They are like grind / crust / hardcore. Staying with the extremity stuff, so I have my outlet for playing out and stuff like that. And Devon has a noise project. I'm not sure what it is going to be called yet, but he's talked about working on something. Something really harsh.

MU: So at this point you don't have any plans on touring in support of this album?

B: Nope.

MU: What are some future plans for December Wolves?

B: We are working on some new material so this one is going to be followed up in a better time frame. It will probably be out within a year. Right now we are just starting out with a few cover songs. I don't even know if we are going to release them. We are doing a Voivod song.

MU: Oh wow. Which one?

B: Probably "The Unknown Knows" just to get the wheels turning again. We're just trying to keep busy. We're definitely going to start recording again and the next one won't be as much of a departure. This time we liked the way things sounded and we are going to continue on from there. We might have something drastic going on soon, but nothing I can really talk about yet. But we are psyched up to do the next one.


review of December Wolves 'Blasterpiece Theatre'

*BUY* December Wolves 'Blasterpiece Theatre'

*BUY* December Wolves 'Completely Dehumanized'

"Desperately Seeking Satan" from 'Blasterpiece Theatre'

"Porn Again Christian" from 'Blasterpiece Theatre'





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Editor: Brant Wintersteen [ ]
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