BODYFARM – Steady The Scourge
Certain styles never fall out of fashion. For my tastes, European death metal is one that I’m finding just as much appreciation for now as I did during my heavy tape trading years of the late 80’s and early 90’s. The low tones, the deep growls, the aggression, the shifting rhythms and tempos, the combination when done brilliantly leaves an impression not soon forgotten.
From the Netherlands I recently had the chance to take in the second album from Bodyfarm entitled „The Coming Scoruge". Reminding me of the early years of Grave and Entombed along with a side order of Hail of Bullets, it’s great to hear newer bands willing to write in that old school style for the new generation to treasure.
Sending out a series of questions to guitarist/ vocalist Thomas Wouters, he happily answered my queries and be prepared to learn more about this four-piece band, currently performing on a series of festivals across mainland Europe.
What were some of your first musical memories growing up? Can you tell us about the journey you took to discovering hard rock/ heavy metal – and where you eventually developed a taste for the death metal scene?
My first musical memories are songs by Dutch singers like Herman van Veen and Boudewijn de Groot. That’s from my very early childhood. The first time I got in touch with real metal was when I was about 10 years old. I bought Metallica’s Master Of Puppets with all the money I had. I loved it and listened a lot to old thrash metal and speed metal that time. My love for death metal developed pretty late. I was about 20 years old I think.
How did the formation of Bodyfarm come to be in 2009- did any members know each other from previous bands they had played in? What were the early rehearsal sessions like- did you guys jam on some familiar covers or start right away to compose original material?
In the early rehearsal sessions there was only Quint (drums) and I (guitar/vocals). We started composing material right away since we wanted to start a serious band, not some kind of cover band. During the recordings of our first EP back in early 2010, Bram joined on guitars. Quint and Bram played together in a hardrock band before. Our former bassplayer Mathieu joined back then as well, and we knew him from a local band.
Can you give us some details about the self-titled EP you released in 2010- how the recording and songwriting sessions went for this material, as well as what you think of the overall outcome of the product?
It was composed by Quint and I in only a few weeks. Harry van Breda, who is now our new bassplayer, recorded/mixed/mastered it, and delivered the bass for it. I was a first timer on death metal vocals back then, and I think I did pretty good for someone who’s only been doing it for a few weeks. Haha. Anyway, during those recordings our other bandmembers joined and we were ready to hit the stage. The EP was self-released and never picked up by a label.
You would sign with Cyclone Empire -were there any other label deals on the table, or did Cyclone Empire seem the right fit for Bodyfarm?
Well, we were „signed" to Abyss Records (USA), but a US-based label releasing a band from Europe is not good for both parties. So we decided to go with Cyclone Empire since we’ve heard a lot of good stuff about them. Offcourse there were other labels we could go to, but It’s hard to find a label with a powerful distribution department. Cyclone Empire has a good distro.
Your debut album "Malevolence" came out in 2012. I’m curious to know if the time spent between your EP sessions and album recording showed a sense of improvement playing wise in addition to the seasoning you may have gotten when performing live in front of audiences?
Well, we weren’t newbies to our instruments when we started this band, but this type of music is really demanding when it comes to skills. The music must be tight, loud, and interesting. With every live show we gain experience we can use to improve the live act.
The new album is "The Coming Scourge" – and it’s classic European death metal all the way with a raw, in your face production quality and naturally low tones to keep things very primal in my opinion. How do you compare the two albums Bodyfarm has done to date- and what are some of your current favorites from the new album?
Thanks! For me it’s very hard to compare both albums. For example: Malevolece is pure old school death metal with a very raw sound. The Coming Scourge on the other hand, is more polished and way more heavy. Also the songwriting is better on the new album in my opinion. The Frozen Halls is a good example of what we did on The Coming Scourge. We weren’t afraid to blend some other metal styles into the old school death metal. We used some Doom and Black metal influences as well, and they’re pretty clear!
Who came up with the cover concept on "The Coming Scourge"? Is there a lot of back and forth discussion to get things just so- and how important do you believe are the visual elements when it comes to death metal?
Juanjo Castellano from Spain came up with the artwork for The Coming Scourge. Me and my bandmates are aware that it’s very important to have good artwork that really let’s you stand out of the mass. That’s why we’ve chosen to get another logo that’s more readable. Offcourse we could have done a pink album cover. That would really get us out there, hahaha. But we wanted the artwork to be beautiful as well, so we’re very happy with this.
You are currently playing a series of metal festivals in the fall and winter of 2013 across Europe- how have the shows been going so far? How do you handle the differences between playing in festival settings and when it’s a show held in a small club/ bar setting?
Yes, think are going really good! We really enjoy the road trips and the crowd has been amazing so far. We don’t care if we play on a big festival or a small venue. As long as there’s people enjoying themselves we’re having a good show! The coolest show we did sow far in the release tour was playing on the Garmonbozia festival in Rennes, France. We were the first band of the day, and 5 minutes before showtime there was literally nobody in the venue. But when we started playing the first song there were 20 people. When we ended the first song there were 200 people!
Based on what I’ve seen of your interaction on you Facebook fan page, you seem to have a great relationship with fellow Dutch acts like Izegrim and Hail Of Bullets among others. What are your opinions of the Dutch scene, does there seem to be a good kinship and friendship amongst bands, fans, the press/ radio people and club owners/ tour promoters?
True! Both Izegrim and Hail Of Bullets are very good friends of ours. When we play together it’s allways great fun. I think the Dutch metal scene is very healthy but you can’t be friends with everyone. There’s allways bands with a very annoying attitude, but we try to ignore that. There is a very good clubscene in our country, but money is allways a problem. Venues don’t get funded anomore by the government, so they’re having a hard time surviving.
Who would be your top 5 artists of all time: metal or not? Also, what is the best concert performance you have personally witnessed, and what was the best performance that Bodyfarm has put on to date?
AC/DC, Motörhead, Iron Maiden, Dissection and the first 3 Metallica albums. The best concert I’ve ever seen was Suffocation in Utrecht, Iron Maiden in Amsterdam and any Amon Amarth show I’ve ever seen. Amazing live band! The shows we most enjoyed ourselves was in Turock, Essen (Germany) and Geldersch Metal Treffen in Arnhem this year. It was a sold out show in our own country.
How do you balance your musical life with making a living? I would imagine that at this point Bodyfarm is not a full time proposition, so do you and the other band members have to do a juggling act so to speak to fit everything in and not wear yourselves thin?
You’re right about that. We can’t possibly make a proper living out oft he band as it is now, so we all have regular jobs. Luckily most shows are on the weekends, so the most of us are free from work, or able to rescedule our work. Sometimes that’s a true juggling act indeed! This period is really busy but we enjoy being on the road so much that it actually gives us energy. Every gig is different: sometimes it’s totally awesome, but the gig after can be pretty shitty in comparison. But we don’t care, if there’s people in the crowd we try to give ourselves for 100%.
How would you describe the personality of each member of Bodyfarm, and what special / unique qualities or strengths that they bring to the band to make things that much stronger?
That’s a hard question. Bram (guitars), Quint and I have been playing together for 4 years now, and the chemistry is still there. I consider them as some of my best friends. When Mathieu (bass) left a few months ago it was pretty hard because we really had a lot of fun the four of us. But he was replaced by Harry van Breda, and Harry fits right in! He has the same sick humour as we do, hahaha. And offcourse we knew him allready since he recorded all of our released and has done session work as a bassplayer allready. Our strength as a band is that we allways have fun. Not only with making music, but also on the road, while having beers, or visiting eachother.
What types of goals do you set for yourselves as far as where you want to see Bodyfarm go in the next 1-3 years? Are there any particular bands you would love to share the stage with- or countries/ places/ venues you would love to perform at?
We are allready sharing the stage with awesome bands like Hail Of Bullets, Unleashed, Death To All, Hypocrisy and many more. In like 3 years we will have another album out, and we hope to play all of the big European festivals, and maybe even Maryland Deathfest some day! Anyway, we don’t have a clear plan but keep on writing music and make albums and play shows. Who knows what the future holds for us.
Any embarrassing or funny road stories that you would love to discuss with our readers?
Haha, there are so many hilarious moments. But they’re mostly inside jokes or complete bullshit. I could tell them, but they’re just not funny if you weren’t there. I hereby invite everybody to a Bodyfarm show and hang out with us after the show. You’ll get it then, we’re complete idiots.
What do you see the rest of 2013 and possibly 2014 looking like for Bodyfarm? Have the songwriting sessions started for album number three- and if so will there be any new dynamics or influences added to the mix or do you think the style of the band is pretty well established?
Yes, we’ve just recently started writing again! If there’s inspiration it would be a waiste not to use it. There one song done at this point. How the new material will sound? I don’t have a clue yet, but the core of it will allways be death metal. We still have some very cool shows this year, like Mass Deathruction in Belgium with Unleashed and Death To All, and offcourse Eindhoven Metal Meeting!