Saturday, May 8, 2010
Interview with Steven Rathbone of Lair of the Minotaur!!
LAIR OF THE MINOTAUR OFFICIAL MYSPACE:
I realized when typing this up that I kind of implied that The Gaslight Tavern in North Lawrence is a bad venue to see live music. That's definitely not what I meant, as anyone who has seen a show there knows that it's a good time. However, I still think that it was kind of awkward for a Lair of the Minotaur show just because it was so small. Anyway, if you haven't been to The Gaslight, don't be discouraged from seeing music there or hanging out or whatever. It's a cool place! I meant no disrespect!
Phone interview conducted on April 21, 2010.
WULF: I really like your new album, "Evil Power", but unfortunately the track that is my most favorite (song), "Let's Kill These Motherfuckers", I can't play on the air. It's not very radio-friendly.
But I love the album, it's really balls-out, kick-your-ass (stuff), I love it. But my first question for you is how has the reception been so far for this new album on your end?
STEVEN: It's probably been the best out of anything we've released so far. It seems like people so far are really digging it. It's definitely a little bit more like stuff off our first and second records, and we just went along with the concept of the last record, "War Metal Battle Master", (which) was about Ares, the god of war, and about a very peaceful time turning into a very violent one and all of our songs are about Greek mythology. So just went along with that story, and now this record is kind of like a party after the battle. A victory party, if you will. So that's why the songs kind of represent that. Very celebratory, anthemic type of sound.
WULF: Yeah! Well, I kind of get that feeling from looking at the photo shoot for the album, with the big minotaur dude and everything. I thought that was really awesome, and it definitely seemed like it was a very fun shoot and it's a very fun album also. I guess you could say that about "War Metal Battle Master" also because the video for (the title track) was absolutely nuts. Unfortunately right now I still have not seen this new music video (for the title track off of the new album) yet, but I've heard it's really awesome. For "Evil Power", what would you say is your personal favorite track on the album?
STEVEN: I would probably either go "Death March of the Conquerors", that one is one of my faves, "The Violent Iron Age of Man"...but that's kind of the way we write the albums, to not put in much filler. We've been playing pretty much all the songs from the album live and it's been like that with all of our records. There isn't a song that we've recorded that we haven't played live at some point. We try not to fill the record full of filler and that type of thing. I think people who listen to us feel the same way. It seems like a lot of people are saying something along those lines, saying it's one of those records that you just "put on", you know? You don't bounce around from track to track.
WULF: Right, right. I've seen you guys live twice now and it's always been a blast for sure. I'm in Lawrence, Kansas...I know that you guys have toured a lot and so I don't know if those shows (in particular) stand out to you, but anyway it's definitely a very fun live show. I'll get to your touring aspects in a second, but I'd like to know-- when you were recording for this new album, was there a song in particular that stands out to you that was a little more challenging to record than the others?
STEVEN: No, not really. When we record, we basically record like we're playing live. Then we'll go back over and record, like, a second guitar track, and then do vocals. But we don't do a lot of tricks, we don't do triggers or anything with the drums. We want to keep the songs very raw, and so most of the songs you hear on the album are first takes. There's a couple we did two takes on, and outside of that we want it to sound like it's a band playing and not a machine.
WULF: Right, which is definitely the feeling I at least get when listening to a lot of these newer death metal bands.
STEVEN: It's so crisp, it's got the same production value of like a fucking Janet Jackson song, you know what I mean?
WULF: That's something that I hear a lot. I have two buddies who are drummers, and one of them really, really likes the really crisp drumming stuff and he says it just sounds like a machine, there's no feeling, and the other guy really likes that style, so I guess there's a market for either one.
STEVEN: Oh, totally. I know there's people out there and it's like it's all they crave, that really...efficient type of sound.
WULF: Well I would say you succeeded with this new album. It's a really good word that (you used) to describe (it with), "raw". It definitely sounds very raw, but I had no idea a lot of that stuff was done in one or two takes. I didn't know that you guys didn't use any triggers and so that's awesome, that's quite a feat, for sure. OK, so you guys are playing some shows and you're on tour, where would you say as far a Lair of the Minotaur audience goes, which cities would you say are your favorite to play in? Which has the most consistently crazy shows for Lair of the Minotaur?
STEVEN: It seems like anywhere outside of our hometown, Chicago.
STEVEN: Basically. I don't know if it's like a "hometown" thing...we usually have decent shows and good crowds that come out, but it's kind of like that thing where you know so many people and everyone's like-- "yeah, get off the stage, come drink with us!"
That kind of thing. But shows that we've done over in Europe were definitely way, way over the top. It seems like their enthusiasm for music kind of blows away what's going on in the States. It's a nice thing.
WULF: That's something that I've heard a lot, actually, is that in Europe, especially for metal it seems, bands get better treatment as far as venues go, and also it seems the shows are bigger...there's just more metal fans over there. I don't know. I wouldn't know. You've been over there so (you've seen it).
STEVEN: Yeah, I don't know. It's hard to gauge because so many shows are so different. You play with different bands and that kind of thing. It seems like (this is) a general association (but) I don't know if it's because there's so many bands touring, (and in a) bigger city like Chicago or New York or that kind of thing, every night there's a multitude of shows going on. You'll be at some show and it just seems like people are kind of despondent to the whole thing and looking at their cell phones. It's like, "why'd you even come out tonight?" That kind of thing.
But luckily we attract a certain type of fan. People that are in it for the music. I think people that know when they hear a band like us that we're not trying to do what's popular, we're not doing this just to make money or be in a popular band. It's because we love this music, and I think people respond to that. That's definitely one of the comments we get from people. They'll be like, "wow, I've been waiting for a band like this. Why aren't there more bands like this?" kind of thing, and we feel like we can kind of fill this void.
WULF: Yeah! Well I feel like a band like Lair of the Minotaur has a lot more character, it seems, than your generic deathcore whatever. But anyway, I was curious about your new label, The Grind-House Records? I'm not really sure...is this a new label or are there other bands (on it)? For some reason I wasn't sure and (thought) maybe it was you guys, like your own label?
STEVEN: Yes, that's exactly what it is. Actually, it's a partner company from a business I run which is a website called The Grind-House. We sell movie posters and t-shirts focusing on the cult hit stuff for sci-fi and action-type stuff. But basically what happened was that our contract was up with Southern Lord and this is something that we've wanted to do, to start our own label. I approached Greg Anderson from Southern Lord about this and he was totally into the idea when I told him I wanted to do this, and once we started talking about it he said that they would be into doing a distribution deal and so we signed a distribution deal with them, and they've been great with us. But we just kind of wanted to, for lack of a better term, take the bull by the horns, and try to control things on our end a little bit tighter. It's been a cool experience because all the other albums that have come out have had a lesser role with the handling of the promotion and sales, and to have such a hands-on aspect is cool because you can mold things how you want it to be and make sure things are being done right and all of that.
WULF: Yeah, definitely man. I didn't know that about The Grindhouse, I'll have to check that out! I'm glad also to hear that it wasn't a complete split from Southern Lord, but it was amicable and you guys are still partners in that respect. OK, anyway I know that we're running close here on time and that you're probably really busy, but my last question is: so far, as touring goes, which band would you say, is the craziest band you've ever toured with?
STEVEN: Wow...with this band or do you mean other bands?
WULF: Well, I mean, whatever.
STEVEN: Well, I was in another band called 7000 Dying Rats, they've been around for awhile, and we toured with Anal Cunt back in '95.
WULF: Oh! Uh-oh!
STEVEN: Yeah, and that was back when they were dangerous. That was definitely quite an experience. All the shows would get shut down before they would start and that type of thing. It seems like now like even the most insane, crazy, Satanic black metal bands (are) basically just like any other dudes, sitting around, drinking a beer.
No one's burning churches down or doing all these crazy things...destroying hotel rooms...
WULF: Anal Cunt were the real deal then?
STEVEN: If they could get inside a hotel room.
WULF: That's awesome.
STEVEN: We like to have a good time, we're cool with people, we don't try to destroy people's shit just randomly, but we've found that most of the tours that we're on, we're the barbarians.
WULF: Yeah, well the first time I saw you guys it was kind of weird because you guys played at The Gaslight Tavern in Lawrence--
STEVEN: You were actually one of the 20 people that were shoved in there?
WULF: Well, you know, it sucked because like (while) it was a really cool show, it was the first time I saw you guys, and for some reason since you guys were on Southern Lord at the time I thought you were going to be a doom band, so then when you guys started playing fast I was like, "oh!" You know? "Shit!" Then I wished you guys had been outside on the patio because it's a little better, it was just an awkward way to see you guys at first, so that's why when you came to The Replay the second time I saw you guys it was a lot better because The Replay is a better venue for thrash than where you guys were stuck (before) at The Gaslight.
STEVEN: It was probably one of the smallest places we've ever played.
That was a fun show though, it was really cool.
WULF: Yeah, well I hadn't ever heard you're music before, so it was the first time I ever really got to check you guys out. I wanted to thank you, also, for coming through Lawrence those times, because not a lot of metal bands come through here.
STEVEN: We actually came one other time, with Boris, as well.
WULF: I know! I couldn't make it to that show, I was pissed. I don't know what was going on, there was something (I had to do), I don't know... I was pretty pissed off I couldn't go to that show, everybody said it was great so. Well anyway man, that's all the questions I have, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me. I know I missed you the first time you called me so sorry about that. But I just want to say have a great show tonight and hopefully we'll be seeing you guys coming through here sometime soon.
STEVEN: Alright, cool man. Thanks a lot.