August 2004 - BEATEN BACK TO PURE
It's doesn't happen often, that bands have the technical ability and creativity to add something very new and inspiring to the world of Metal and/or Rock. BEATEN BACK TO PURE are belonging to this rare groups, who are leaving musical boundaries behind just to create a combination of styles that goes far beyond any accurate describtions. To those, who thought that this five-piece is just another sludge band BBTP's new album "The Burning South" is the next proof that they are wrong. The previous one "The Last Refuge...." was the first exciting step, although I still love the outstanding debut "Southern Apocalypse", but with "The Burning South" BBTP have recorded an album that will become a classic. Here you find everything; from aggressive southern metal to doom-tinged riff-mastery in combination with quiet sensitive parts shifting into pulverizing mid-tempo thrash metal breakouts. Once again, vocalist Ben Hogg shows the world that he's one of the most unique vocalist. No matter if he comes up with brutal earth-shuddering growls or switches over into a cleaner melodious style - one's for sure - he rules! So it was the second time for me to talk with Ben Hogg about music and life, and once again you can expect an informative and entertaining interview!
Hey Ben! As I checked through our fist interview I noticed, that is was straight after the release of the debut "Southern Apocalypse" and to my shame we missed to do an interview after "The Last Refuge..." Anyway....let's talk later about it, but at first it's time to lose some words about the new album "The Burning South". It's still a positive surprise for me how the group manage to top easily every previous release, although the other two albums are still brilliant. How would you compare the new one with the predecessors?
Fuck man, thanks for the nice shit to say. Man, I guess it stacks up strongly. You're one of the first to hear it outside of our friends and shit. They're all fuckin dicks, so it's tough to guage shit off of them. All I know is I like it a fuckin lot. I think it lives up to it's title of southern and burning. You get what you pay for around here, goddamit.
Once again "The Burning South" is the next proof that a term like Sludge makes no real ense as far as BBtP is concerned. You've worked out your very own style that is based on Metal and Southern Rock (my simple opinion, bro!), but there's more to discover. I hate this term "progressive", but for me BBtP are very progressive. Do you see yourself as innovators, without having the intention to be something like this?
Well, we intend to make some music that stands out from the crowd. I like to think we're sorta original. People throw around bands like COC and Black Label. I don't even listen to either of them. Not since Animosity in 1985 anyway. The only way we'll ever get out from beneath the umbrella of "sludge" or "stoner" is to add a fuckin tuba or something to the mix. Our drummer is a big prog fan and perhaps some of that comes through. He ain't just a Phil Rudd, happy to keep the beat fucking drummer, he beats alot of shit. We couldn't do shit without his ass. I think that label is based upon opinions formed by people after Southern Apocalypse came out. It was pretty fucking sludgy, but even then I thought there was more happening in our music. What the fuck do I know. I'm listening to the new Nunslaugher I just got in the mail. We don't sound like these dudes. I can say that with all honesty.
Although I really don't like this question, in this case it makes sense for me. So, how do you create your complex songs? Do you start as the most bands just with a riff and the rest follows or how do you work out your tracks?
Pretty much like that. I can't imagine doing it any other way. Riffs are brought up they get jammed on, Chuck goes from keeping a beat to adding fills and shit. After they are fuckin done, then I do my sloppy addition. A lot of bands make this shit out to be rocket science. You gotta have a few indians, you can't all be chiefs. Vince is our band "dick" or leader. I'm just the mouthpiece, the rest of us have rolls too.
Never before BBtP have sounded so elegant and cohesive as now, and one can feel the creative potential that lies within BBtP. What do you think about the group's development?
I'm loving it. I look forward to the next batch of writing material. What the fuck will that shit sound like, how far will we push any direction. I don't really know. We may do an ep of the slowest most brutal shit we ever have done. Or maybe we'll do a acoustic track for a split. We have finally painted ourselves out of the proverbial corner and can do as we please. Finally. Make no mistake the fellas behind me can flat out play their goddamn instruments. I'll stack us up member to member with almost anyone in metal. Possibilities are limitless.
Why have you titled the album "The Burning South"? Is it meant as a political statement?
Well, the south was burned by Shermans army during our Civil War, that's one meaning. Also, our music is angry or burning and consists of alot of southern influence. Or it could be a veiled religious reference. Satan and such. Pick whichever you like best. That's why I liked the name. It lays it all out. 3 different ways, and none of them are wrong.
Once again, you recorded the album at Sniper Christian Studios, but in opposite to "The Last Refuge..." the new one sounds less metallic. Can you agree and what do you think about the production? How long have you worked on the recordings?
Hmmmm....I thought it sounded more metal than ever. Listen to song 4 again. When "Last refuge" was done, the studio was new as hell and Vince learned on the fly. He did a hell of a job. Raw as fuck. This time he's a little more professional. I think that'll but up to the individual. It could be our way of being on Top 40 radio. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. No.
Are you still writing all lyrics and what have mostly influenced you as you had written them for the actual album?
Yeah I write everything. Sometimes it comes out fast sometimes slow. Day to day. I don't know what "actually" influences. Mostly shit I see, which is a boring stock answer, but if you read the words you'll see it ain't so boring. Read "where the sewer meets the sea", that's about my locale. Lots of women trouble over the past 2 years too. That shows up. I ain't holding it together real good these days. It comes across. If you read them the way I do, but I have no idea what anyone takes from them other than me. Eric Robert Rudolph helped inspire "One Shovel and a Place to Die". Look him up on the net if you ain't familiar. Me and him are from the same small town. Man of action right there. We should all be so pro-active.
Why have you signed with This Dark Reigns Recordings instead of releasing the album via Retribute Records? Any problems with the label?
Naw, Retribute was/is real cool. But it's a little taxing (and costly) having to do all the shipping of cds overseas and buying them wholesale is still high for us. Plus this dude is in the US. I can call him up anytime for a reasonable fee and hammer out any questions I have. No, us and Retribute split on good terms. The new Sofa King Killer he put out is fucking righteous. I think Retribute may have been sick of our stock moving slow as hell. He liked the band, but maybe not the sales. God bless This Dark Reign for jumping up. Didn't miss a beat. This dude is real pro. Liking it. Good US distro. Lots of positives.
Another trademark of BBtP is the tasteful cover-artwork one can admire at every album. You've worked together for the third time with Ralf Burkart (of Calamus/Daredevil 'Zine). How important is the artwork for you ?
Fuck man, pretty important I guess. The new one is really colorful and a ot of motherfuckers may pick it up and glare at it because of that. Shiny shit does it for alot of folks. Ralf may well be the coolest fucker on earth. If he ain't he's in the top 5. His band kicks and his zine is top fucking flight. Hit me with something I can go apeshit on. I'm fucked up now.
Let's talk a bit about the second album "The Last Refuge....". For me, it's still an excellent high-quality work featuring all the typical BBtP trademarks. How much copies have you sold and when you look back now, what do you think about the second album? Are you content?
Last Refuge was cool as hell. Still is. I can dote on it as much as I want, there may be 2-3 mailorder companies that have it in stock at all (all have less than 3 copies), and it ain't going to do what it should have. We have a label interested in rereleasing it with a DVD or a bonus cut or something in the USA. I just want to get it available again. It smoked some real skin. Yes I'm totally content with LROTHSOB's. We sold less than 1000. To many bands, to few dollars to go around in this community. Death/Black metal has a built in audience that buys anything. As does "mosh it up" hardcore. Stoner shit is still outcast and to top it off, WE AIN'T STONER and those people don't always get us, we play for noone, solid choice, eh? The first one sold more. The second one was better. Third one is money, hoping people take notice. I can't dictate how people spend their cash. They earned it. Nobody's going to tell me how to spend mine. It's frustrating because mediocre (at best) death metal or black metal sells 5000 copies just for playing a roll. Acting. That ain't us. Sorry if good musicianship and solid songwriting don't do it for you. Go get the next Cannibal album and leave us alone.
Who is "The Last Refuge Of The Sons Of Bitches"? I love the album title, but it's a riddle for me!
I don't get the question. The last refuge of a son of a bitch would be the last place he could find to gain solace. It's a language thing I suppose. Like the bible is to people on deathrow, after all else fails, they find Jesus. Hahahaha
This year you're playing at the sixth SHoD Festival. Is it the first appearence for BBtP there?
The first SHOD fest we played, yes, but the same venue hosted the "emissions from the monolith" fest in May, and we played that. Great venue. Incredible sound system. Normally it seems like 2 dudes are holding 2 cans on strings and you go to this venue (the Nyabinghi, Youngstown OH) and you get real rock and roll treatment. It's a great change of pace.
In our first interview you had lost some words about Virginia, the place where you lived. Nearly two years are over since this interview; are you still living there and working as a locksmith?
Yeah. Still a locksmith. I can break into any of your homes and make keys to your cars and drive away toot sweet. VA is still the address. I don't know what to add but to tell readers to stay out of my fucking yard. I just rent, but I don't like folks milling about. I'm bout ready to shoot one, to prove my point.
Is Virginia part of the so-called bible belt? And what do you think about organized religions? Are you a religious person or do you give a shit about Christ?
I suppose it is part of the belt. I've effectively removed myself from how normal folks operate (I'm 32), I don't deal with people on that level. I won't subject myself to the hissing sound. I ain't religious, but I don't care if others are. It's a topic i avoid with them. If they're so fucking "god loving" why are they beside me at a bar. Honestly, I can't bring myself to give a shit.
What are BBtP's plans for the rest of 2004? Have you planned any longer tours to promote "The Burning South"?
We are going to be playing. How long and strong is yet to be seen. Man, it's brutal trying to book a bunch of shows where noone knows whho the fuck you are. Death metal bands won't play with us. Hardcore kid bands make me want to throw up in my own boot. It's a work in progress. Suffice it to say, we're going to play more than ever. More places. I aint driving 11 hours to play for 2 people. I know that's paying dues or whatever, but goddamn, we've done it. This question is unanswerable at the moment. But we want to fucking work.
Ben, thanks a lot for your time and answering my questions. All the very best to you and to the awesome band you're playing with! As usual, add anything you like to say!
Thanks man, for keeping up with us. I ain't got shit to say. Hit the website at www.beatenbacktopure.comand if something really gets under your skin,blow it fuckin up. Explosives are effective. Take it easy.