October 2000 - INTERNAL VOID
It's a great honour for me to welcome INTERNAL VOID here at Cosmic Lava. INTERNAL VOID is part of the inspiring MD/CD heavy scene. After eight long years they finally return with their second powerful album 'Unearthed'. Check out additional infos in the detailed interview I did with the whole band. Thanks to Greg Anderson for passing over the questions.
It's great to welcome INTERNAL VOID here in this webzine! Before we start with the details, give us a short insight in the early days of INTERNAL VOID. You're a part of the legendary Maryland Doom / Heavy Rock scene. When was the band formed and who's in the current line-up now?
ADAM: Internal Void was formed in the fall of '87. Basically it was four guys who shared an intense love of music and wanted to create their own. Today's line up is Kelly Carmichael (g), JD Williams (v), Adam S. Heinzman (b), and Ronnie Kalimon (d).
The Maryland scene remains a good ground for heavy rock and doom bands like IRON MAN, WRETCHED, HEAVY SOUL, THE OBSESSED, UNORTHODOX etc. There's a friendly relationship and mutual respect among each other, while some musicians played in several bands. The current line-up of SPIRIT CARAVAN is a further proof. When you look back at the 80's/early 90's what do you think about that scene, and what makes it so special?
ADAM: I think the MD/DC area in unique in the sense that you have a high number of musicians in this area with similiar musical backgrounds. There are many of us that got into this scene with a deep passion for bands like Black Sabbath, The Obsessed and Pentagram, as well as many other heavy 70's influences. When you look at the number of bands that hava come from this area, it's really one of a kind.
The first songs from INTERNAL VOID on Hellhound Records were 'Internal Void' and 'Peace Song', which can be found on the 'What The Hell! compilation. Have you ever released other tracks before that compilation and how did you get signed by Hellhound Records? Is it true, that Wino was the man who introduced the Maryland bands to Tom and Mike (Hellhound label bosses)?
ADAM: Actually, it was 'Internal Void' and 'Nothing But Misery'. Those songs came off the 'Voyage' demo which we released in '91. We had done one earlier demo in '89. It was self-titled but soon came to be known as the 'Smokestack' demo, due to the cover photo. When Wino got involved with Hellhound through Saint Vitus and The Obsessed he basically introduced Tom and Mike to the good music the Maryland bands were playin'. Obviously, they liked what they heard.
I still remember that your debut album 'Standing on the Sun' received a lot of good reviews from the commercial metal magazines here in Germany in 1992. One magazine wrote that this album was the one, which they had expected from Saint Vitus after 'V'. But also the doomheads loved it. Why didn't you make a tour in Europe after the release of the album? Some other bands from the Maryland scene have been on tour here in the early 90's, and the people were "prepared" for INTERNAL VOID. What happened?
ADAM: Believe me, Internal Void was "prepared" to go!! On three seperate occasions we were told that a tour was "in the works" only to have it fall through. The last planned tour was cancelled just two weeks before we were supposed to leave!! You can imagine we were all VERY angry by then.
How was the reaction for the album in other countries, like for example in the USA? Who did the release in the USA?
ADAM: We received positive reactions from all areas. 'Standing' was released on Nuclear Blast America in the US in the summer of '93.
How was the support and promotion of the label? Today a few musicians like Dan from Count Raven has no good words about Hellhound Records.What do you think? Why did you never record a second album for the label?
ADAM: There are not too many good things I can say about Hellhound. In the end, we were happier to no longer be involved with them.
What do you think about 'Standing on the Sun' when you look back now? Do you play songs from that album today?
ADAM: 'Standing' is a good album. It's the best material we were doing at the time. In some ways it was a turning point for us. It was kind of the end of a long journey, we had been together for 5 years already. Shortly after its release we started feeling the need for a new direction or fresh sound. We didn't want the next album to be 'Standing on the Sun'. Those feelings are part of what lead us to part ways with our drummer (Eric Little). We still play 'Devil in Drag' and 'Desolate Cemetary' comes and goes from our set. Hope nobody is disappointed we don't do more.
What happened in the years after the release of the CD? Did you play shows and wrote new songs or did the band break-up?
ADAM: We continued to play gigs and write new material. For a couple of years we changed drummers quite often, trying to find "the drummer" that we knew Internal Void needed. Once Ronnie joined the band we knew the search was finally over!!
Oh yes, I've noticed somehwhere that he's now in the band! Please, tell us more about it. Why is a new drummer in the band?
ADAM: Our drummer is now Ronnie Kalimon (x-Unorthodox, x-Iron Man). I can't really say he's new since he's been with us for almost 5 years. As I said earlier, after 'Standing', Kelly, JD and I were really lookin' for something new and fresh. With Ronnie as our drummer, we have definately achieved that! We are four equal parts and four strong musical forces.
I think, that there a lot of 70's Hardrock influences in your sound. On the new album you play a cover version of an old song from Stray. You've also recorded Blue Cheer's version of 'Parchment Farm' and 'Murder Angels' from Death SS. Do you play this cover versions live and what are your favourite bands from the 1960's/1970's?
JD: Internal Void has always had cover songs running through our live set rotation. When Stray's 'After the Storm' came up, we enjoyed playing it and the crowds loved it too much not to perform it almost every show. We've also done a few Blue Cheer tunes because we love'em! We haven't unleashed 'Murder Angels' live yet, but we have the perfect show picked out to do it!
But there also a slight influence from old Hardcore Punk bands like Discharge or Amebix to discover in older tracks. Have you been in Punk in former days
JD: I think there is a definate Punk influence in Internal Void. I played bass in a couple Hardcore bands before grabbing a microphone. Real Punkrock is one of the few forms of real Rock'n' Roll, just that much more pissed off.
How functions the process of songwriting within the band? Do you rehearse very often?
JD: Not long ago I was thinking about this same question. It occured to me that we have two styles of writing songs. Either Kelly, Adam or Ronnie come to practice with an almost complete song, to which we all add input, or somebody just plays something and the others go "what's that?" I usually have some ideas I've been working on and we go on from there.
Ok, so far. Let's take a look at the current situation. In mod-October 2000 Southern Lord Records will release your second full-length 'Unearthed'. I think, that the album include all your trademarks. But in comparison to the good debut this time the songs are much stronger and well worked-out. Please, what do you think about your work and where do you see the differences between INTERNAL VOID in the past and today?
JD: You are 100% correct!! All the members of this band were heart and soul on 'Unearthed'. We are proud of 'Standing' and the response we've received from it, and this record we feel gives an even wider view of our musical spectrum.
As on your debut, you've worked together again with Chris Kozlowski, who once again shows that he's is one of the best producers/engineers when it comes to heavy doom-soaked rock. When did you meet him for the first time and is he also mixing your live sound?
RONNIE: I knew Chris in High School as an aquaintance. As musical interests grew we became closer and he began recording Asylum (pre-Unorthodox) in '85. I knew then how serious he was about quality in sound and recording. He does our live sound when time permits (even on a busy schedule he finds the time). It's always nice when you're doing a show and Chris shows up! You know you are in good hands.
ADAM: The rest of us met Chris in the late 80's. It was through music and the beginning of Internal Void that we all became friends. We'd also like to mention that the basic tracks for 'Unearthed' were recorded at Hit 'n' Run Studios run by Steve Carr. Steve is a good guy who we've worked with before in '91 on the 'Voyage' demo.
Does 'Unearthed' include only brandnew songs or have you on eof them released in an earlier period, maybe on a demo?
ADAM: With the exception of 'After the Storm' and 'Seek the Truth', all the songs on 'Unearthed 'have been written over the last few years with the current line-up. 'Seek the Truth' is actually an older Internal Void song. It was written around '89-'90 and has almost been included in our live-set. It was never on any demos. I guess it just took us a while to get the studio version that we liked! HAHA!
I really like the lyrics from 'Standing on the Sun', especially songs like 'Warhorse' or 'Unclean Spirit'. Who writes the lyrics and do the play an important role in your music?
JD: Lyrics are very important. I think everybody, musicians and fans alike, sooner or later take a song or record they like and think "What are they saying?". I myself have found quite a few words of wisdom to use in some of the lyrics I have come across. I guess I write a majority of the words and the rest of these guys always have great things to add. Sometimes a whole song, sometimes just a line or even a song title.
While listening to the new album, it seems as if Wino is also one of your main insperations. Can you agree and how do you see his role in the history of doom-driven heaviness?
ADAM: I think Wino's role in Doom/Heavy Rock history is well documented and still being written as we speak. I think the main benefit to our location is that we´ve been able to become friends. And friendship can be the strongest form of inspiration.
How did you get in contact with Greag from Southern Lord? What is the difference between his label and Hellhound Records?
KELLY: Well. shortly after we mailed out some promo copies, we received a call from Greg that Southern Lord was interested in our music. From there we established this relationship. Southern Lord is very upfront with everything. With Greg being a musician it shows that not only does he know the music buisness from a record company standpoint, but he's also familiar with the effort from within a band. Which I feel has it's importance. Now on the other hand, Hellhound, not to mention any names, Mike and Tom were just plain crooks!! They had a wonderful thing going but they got greedy. Looking back, they were shady characters. A lesson learned!!
Southern Lord will release a split-7" of Paul Chain together with INTERNAL VOID. Would you tell us more about it? Have you ever thought about more vinyl releases
KELLY: Yes, this is awesome!! We have been fans of Paul Chain/Death SS ever since we first heard him. Chris Kozlowski turned us on to him in the mid '80s.
ADAM: This project was actually started a couple years ago. The guy from Flying Records first contacted us about doing it. We sent the song 'Window to Hell' and the artwork to Italy and waited. A few months went by and we never heard from the guy again. He just fell off the face of the Earth!! Then a few months ago, through our good friend Frank, we met Marco Melzi with Minotauri Records. He remembered hearing about the project and said he would speak with Paul when he got back to Italy. When he got back to Italy he found out that Paul still had the package we had sent and was still interested in putting it out!! Soon, after Greg got in touch with Marco and they struck a deal to release it on Southern Lord. With any luck it will be out by the end of November.
It's good to see, that some of the older and more original bands are still alive today. I've heard that Unorthodox is back, Spirit Caravan is amazing. When you compare the current situation of doom/heavy rock bands with the early '90's what has changed? Are you pleased with it?
KELLY: I think what all happened in the beginning of the 90's was a great thing. For us personally it was an exciting time, with a debut CD and touring with Saint Vitus made it all the more special. The Obsessed signing with Columbia was all the more exciting, it seemed the scene had finally broke through. A lot of good stuff was happening right here in our area and really, it has never disappeared since. But I agree it is taking shape in a big way these days. I feel the internet has helped spread the music to a wider variety of listeners. Overall, I think that it´s the persistance and dedication of certain bands of this style that is finally showing the world its potential!! I'm pleased to see that it is starting to get the recognition it deserves.
Do you have any plans for a tour in Europe this year or in 2001?
KELLY: Most definately!! We plan to tour Europe. No dates are in stone yet. But, it appears to be late '00 or early '01. We will arrive!!!!
Beside playing music, what are your other interests? What does inspire or influence you here in the mighty universe? How do you try to live your life (families etc.)?
RONNIE: I like hobbies that allow you to relax. Sports, sports collectibles, gardening, astronomy. I try to allow as much free time as I can for peace of mind. I also really enjoy personal time with my wife, Selina, and our pets. ADAM: I really enjoy American muscle cars! I'm a die-hard Mopar fan. I own a '72 Dodge Challenger that I hope to get on the road soon. Most of my time is spent earning a living and spending time with my wife and son.
I love muscle cars, too! At least a question that has nothing to do with music. Have you seen the movie 'Blair Witch Project' and what's your opinion about it? I just ask, because it was shot in the forests of Maryland.
KELLY: Yes, we all have seen it. Personally, for what it was I thought it was pretty cool. It left me with a weird feeling at the end, but that's about it! The town of Burkittsville is just a few miles from my house and it´s not really they portrayed it to be. Altough they have had a lot of vandalism there since the movie was released. I think it's kind of funnyb that people freak on it. RONNIE:An interesting movie. The people of Burkittsville hate it because it made their small peaceful town famous and now people flock to it.
Thanks a lot for your interesting and detailed answers! Good luck with the new album. I hope that we'll see us on tour. Maybe any last words to the readers?
ADAM: Just want to say thank you to everyone who has remembered us from 'Standing'. And we welcome any new listeners as well. We sticking around this time!! We're constantly writing new material. We promise it won't be another 8 years until our next CD!! Peace and hope to see you on tour!!