EXHUMED – The Saw has Returned
In 1990 Matt Harvey founded a band he called EXHUMED. He was 15 years old and could not have imagined in his wildest dreams that EXHUMED would kept it going now 21 years later. The band was very productive from day one until 2005 when EXHUMED more or less were put on ice. But the band’s ice age didn’t last too long and now EXHUMED is back with their sixth fullength entitled "All Guts, No Glory. " They demolished all opposition in this year’s Inferno Festival in Oslo and when the possibilities for an early chat with Matt Harvey appeared, I struck like a rattlesnake.
How was it to start up again after a break of about 5 years and how was it to start writing songs again?
It was a lot of fun. I didn’t really put all that much thought into it, to be honest. That was probably a good thing because I wasn’t thinking about how much work we had ahead of us at the time, haha! It was really a lot of fun getting into writing Exhumed songs again. There was definitely a learning curve, though. I hadn’t written anything that heavy in quite a while, so it was almost like I had to re-learn our style. It was really fun approaching it from that perspective, because it felt really fresh and new again, a totally different vibe than where I was 6 years ago.
The songwriting; was it something you were doing when you had the break?
No, although a couple of songs, "Death Knell" and "As Hammer To Anvil" were written back in ’05. I ended up doing a lot of re-arranging on "As Hammer…" and really tightening it up to fit with the other new stuff we were coming up with. I did get together with Col (Jones, our original drummer) a few years ago and work on a couple of things, one of which became "Funereality" on the new record, but again, there was a lot of re-writing that went into whipping it into shape. Everything else was new, and in fact we came up with more than enough songs for the record – we had seven or eight tunes that didn’t make the cut for the album, and four bonus tracks. It was a very prolific five to six months there!
"All Guts, No Glory" is a great album with a fairly modern old school sound, if you know what I mean. I’ve had the pleasure of listening to it for a few days already. Was the sound something you work a lot with when you recorded the album?
I definitely had a sound in mind when we went in. I’m really tired of the modern production style where everything is so up front, and the drums are so prevalent. I really like a more organic, open type of sound, and I think that’s what’s really missing amongst a lot of records coming out these days. I basically wanted it to sound like the production on "Ride The Lightning", with a lot of reverb, a lot of open spaces between the instruments and a HUGE guitar tone. I think we really succeeded in getting that sound and I’m really happy with the sound overall, which NEVER happens, ha ha!
The variety is great on the album, although everything is for best spirit of Exhumed. There are some parts that are almost on the edge of what I call the non-existent Swedish melodic death metal genre. Is it a lot of experimentation when you’re in the studio?
We had been doing pretty detailed pre-production beforehand, so there was a pretty good idea of how everything should come out by the time we went into the studio. For the first time, I was able to record ideas at home and work with a drum machine and email everything to the other guys, so we had fairly complete sketches of how everything would end up. The solos were a bit more improvised and off-the-cuff, but the songs themselves were already pretty tightened up.
The new album will be released as a very special Super Deluxe Sawblade 2LP. Who came up with this idea and what can you tell us about this very special vinyl?
I think W.A.S.P. came up with it first, ha ha! Relapse had talked about doing some different versions of the album on CD and vinyl, and when they came to us with this concept, we were super excited to jump on it. Basically, it’s the 11 album tracks, plus four bonus tracks on two saw-blade-shaped LPs in a gatefold LP sleeve with an exclusive red T-shirt design. I cannot wait to get mine, personally. It’s gotta be the coolest thing we’ve come out with yet!
6 years ago, you released "Garbage Daze Re-regurgitated", an album consist of cover songs only. Why?
It was supposed to be kind of a stopgap release before doing a new album, and help us start working with a new line-up. But the line-up didn’t really gel, so we ended up breaking up after it’s release. I was always dissatisfied that "GDRR" was our "last" release. But it was kind of a fun project to work on, even though that was a really frustrating time for me in general.
What were the reasons for your choice of songs on that album?
Well, we’ve always listen to a lot of different stuff, and are influenced by a lot of different stuff, so I wanted to show some other sides of the band there. At the time I was definitely ready to go in a slower, more melodic direction, and some of the songs reflected that, like the Zeppelin cover and the Pentagram cover, etc.
I can imagine that it must have been fun recording this album. Is it any stories you would like to share with us shy and very polite Norwegians?
It was pretty fun, as we did it in a home studio, kind of just recording after work here and there, but it was also kind of a drag, because I was halfway through the record when Mike Beams quit the band, so Wes was recruited toward the end and basically just did the solos and stuff. It was all recorded in bits and pieces really, was a bit weird.
This album was released on your own label Parasitic Twin Productions. According to the info I could find on the internet, "Garage Daze" and Insanity "From the Grave" are the only releases that are released on this label. What happened to the label? Have you put on ice or does it still exist?
I haven’t done anything with it it at all since 2005. I have become a lot more realistic about how much stuff I can actually take on these days. It would be great to work on a label, but right now I have my hands full with Exhumed and Gravehill, and trying to get working on a new Dekapitator album as well.
What about the EP "Parasit Bastard" that you released last year? Was Exhumed becoming a cover band, hehe?
That’s a bootleg actually, that compiles all the covers from different releases. I just found out about it a week or so ago, haha! We do a lot of covers, though. I think they’re a lot of fun, haha!
It’s a song on "Parasit Bastard" which differs very much from the rest. Why the hell did you decide to do a cover of Madonna?
Col and I were always Madonna fans, and we just did this as a joke years ago. It kind of became an in-joke with us and we thought it was funny. I think we recorded it in 1996, typical juvenile sense of humor, haha!
Exhumed did the first gig in 7 years when you played at the Inferno Festival in Norway. I was at this gig and had a great time, thank you for that. I have also seen live clips from Neurotic Deathfest and there were not much that indicated that you had a new drummer and it was 7 years since your last gig. How was it for you to play live again?
Glad you enjoyed yourself, dude! That’s our job! It was great to play live again. To be honest, once we started playing, it felt totally natural and there were no nerves or anything at all. We focus more time on stage and energy on playing the songs rather than telling people our life story or whatever. I think that the internet is great for getting information to people, whatever they want or need to know about us is out there. The shows are just for having a good time and raging together.
How was it to play after Immortal when you more or less understood that most of the audience would choose to go home rather than come down to John Dee and experience the gore of Exhumed?
Well, if we could have chosen our slot, that wouldn’t have been the one we would have picked, but I was pleasantly surprised at how many kids came down and filled up the room. We were very stoked on the reaction we got in Norway and it was a great first show back for us.
How did the rest of the dates in Europe go? Did you have good crowds? Was it good to be back on the road again?
Europe was killer, a lot of fun getting to places we haven’t been in years and seeing old friends. It was great to be back on the road. I’ve always loved touring and getting to see new places, new faces every night. So as long as people want us to come out and play, we will keep doing just that.