Faithxtractor are a great old school Death/Thrash metal band and here is an interview with band member drummer/singer Ash Thomas (Chris Forbes)
Have you lived in the Cincinnati, Ohio area all your life? How is it there these days? Is it a good metal scene with many clubs, fans, etc?
Yes, I’ve lived here my whole life. Things are fine here at the moment… still surprisingly cheaper in the cost of living department compared to other cities. The scene is decent these days. More good bands than say 7-10 years ago, which is nice. Definitely had some trying shit times in the late 90s through the early 2000s. Much better now.
So early on how did you discover the underground metal scene and what were some of the first bands you heard? Did you take right to this kind of music or did it take a few listens before you really got into it?
As far as the tape trading scene, that would have been early 1991. But I was already into Death Metal heavily by this point with bands like Autopsy, Death, Morbid Angel, Grave, Entombed, Carcass, Obituary, etc. First demo bands I got into thru fanzines were Phantasm, Morta Skuld, & Mortal Dread. Great stuff!! I got into Death Metal right away from when I heard it in I would say 89. There was no ‘learning to like or understand it’ for me. I always gravitated to the next extremity, & to me it was naturally progression from say Kreator & Sodom who I also loved.
Ash your 1st release you did everything yourself. Why was this? Looking back what are your thoughts on your 2006 demo? Can you listen to it these days?
My main band at this time that I played guitar for was Estuary. This band had a full line up, & was pretty active during 2003 to 2009. However, I had a desire play some really stripped down, no frills Death Metal. Estuary musically was/is more technical & musically involved with heavy Thrash leanings mixed with Death Metal. I always played drums on the side & in other bands as well as guitar, & it seemed logical & fun to just write some songs & knock it out. Yeah, I can still jam it from time to time. The tunes are essentially just more raw versions of the 1st album tunes.
Before I go on, Ash your in several other bands, Shed the Skin, The Vladimirs, and Crucified Mortals. How in the hell do you find time to rotate all 4 bands????
Well, I just love to play, & it’s not like all these bands are rehearsing all the time weekly. The Vladimirs is on hiatus, Crucified Mortals is still just a studio only band, & for Shed the Skin we all do our homework on our own & just come together for gigs usually doing a quick rehearsal day of show. Haha.
Now in 2008 you released a split on Hells Headbangers with one of your other bands your in, Crucified Mortals. You also added another band member, Marquis Thomas. Where did you find him from and how did the songs for this split release come together and are you happy with this split release and is it still for sale these days?
Well, I wasn’t in Crucified Mortals at the time of the split LP. Just good friends with Craig ‘Reaper’ Horval. He was really into the Faithxtractor demo, & actually just wanted to use those songs for the split. We did use those songs, but also wrote 2 exclusive tunes for the split LP for a total of 4 songs. As for Marquis, he’s my younger brother, so I’ve known him basically my whole life minus 2 years hahaha. I asked if he wanted to get involved with writing some songs for the full length, which he did. As for the 2 exclusive split LP songs, I wrote them, but he did do some vocals & instrumentation.
Now also in 2008, you 2 released a full length on Aphotic Records called “Razing The World of Myth”. Who put together the killer cover for this release? How come this didn’t come out on Hells Headbangers? How was it working with Aphotic Records?
A friend of mine Tony Koehl did the cover art based off a detailed concept I came up with. He also did the Estuary “Craft of Contradiction” cover art a year or so earlier. He’s a real standup, good dude. I don’t think the guys at HHR even heard Faithxtractor until the split LP with Crucified Mortals. Even though both the 1st full length & the split came out in 2008 the album was finished by late spring of 2007. It just didn’t surface until about a year later. Aphotic Records was ran by the same people who ran Blood & Guts Records. B & G had released some The Vladimirs material, but wanted to do a more Metal devoted label as well, so they started Aphotic. I sent them the demo, & they offered to put it out. They were really cool about everything, but things just kind of ended for the label suddenly and it was dissolved. The only 2 releases they did were the Faithxtractor “Razing…” & TME (A Swedish Thrash band) records.
How easy did the songs come together for this release? What are your thoughts on this release these days and is it still for sale? Did you start to feel that the Faithxtractor sound was starting to come together?
“Razing…” was very easy to write. The idea was to make simple, hateful, catchy Death Metal songs, & that’s what it is. A ton of D-beat & head bangage, that was the sound & that’s what it is. The only limitation was my drumming ability at the time. I did just fine for what is was, but I’m light years from this album as a drummer now.
How did you come up with your band name and logo? Were a bunch of other names thrown around?
I thought of the name while at work one day. Just running my printing press, & trying to come up with something that encompassed what the band was to be about. Basically a “fuck your beliefs” motif…whatever they are. Going with the X as opposed EX kind of revolved the logo. I was just fucking around with logo ideas & using the X simply looked better & more symmetrical. It’s funny these days… People seem to have a problem with the X. Are people more retarded now than they used to be? Or maybe they relate it the ‘straight edge’ scene?…Something I couldn’t care less about. Hahaha I like X’s in Metal band names…. Silenxce, X-creta , plus it has a starring role in tic-tac-toe… You happy now you fucking X!!??!!
Now it took 5 years before we heard some new music from the band why was this?
Ah man, life was just happening. I was taking care of my aging Grandparents, working a shit ton, & just not sitting down & jamming that much. It just kind of happened that way. We did do a 3 song promo in 2011, but didn’t distribute it widely at all. All those songs ended up on “The Great Shadow Infiltrator” anyway.
Now finally in 2013 we got a new full length from the band called “The Great Shadow Infiltrator” on Deathgasm Records. How did you end up on Deathgasm Records? How was it working with them and had your sound changed at all from 2008 till 2013?
Well, Evan is a long time friend, & he was into putting it out. Another good old time friend of mine, Billy Nocera, was originally going to put it out on Razorback Records. This didn’t end up happening, because Billy wasn’t into the original cover art at all. It was too modern & computer generated for him. No worries…it didn’t affect our friendship at all. But being as I had the cover art, I still wanted to use it, I hit up Evan, & he was down with putting it out. As for the sound, I think the songwriting is stepped up from “Razing…”. “Razing…” has zero guitar solos, where “The Great Shadow Infiltrator” has a bunch. I definitely progressed as a drummer, & was able to do some better blasting & double bass stuff. I also recorded the whole thing at my house, which was a personal achievement. I definitely was living in a bubble & didn’t have a ton of contact with people during this album’s recording. Weird times…
How did you come up with the title for your album and again who came up with the killer cover for this release?
The great shadow to me is the veil that enshrouds our human existence. The illusions, the bullshit lies, etc. So, “The Great Shadow Infiltrator” is the Faithxtractor. Basically, it sees through all the falsehoods. The original cover art was done once again by Tony Koehl. Has a very sci-fi, modern look to it. A lot of people really dislike this cover, but I’m cool with it. I should’ve had him remove the shooting scientist, but it reminded me of the old “Smash TV” arcade game…hahaha . I did have Mark Riddick do an alternate version of the cover art, & it’s just more fitting for our sound. Although, they look different they still portray the same concept more or less. Tony’s is just more modern whereas Mark’s version kind has an ancient meets future look. That’s more on point with the band’s philosophy I would say. The cassette version of “Great Shadow…” has the Riddick art. The CD, Koehl’s art.
This release marked the final release with singer/guitar player Marquis Thomas. What happened between the 2 of you and was the parting away from you 2 on cool terms? I mean obviously it is your band so did you just kinda wanna go in a different direction of sorts?
Oh yeah, we’re brothers, so we’re good for life…haha. Basically, he didn’t want to be part of the live stuff, & that’s the road the band was going to be heading down. I totally understand all that on his part. Up to late 2013 the band was strictly a studio project band.
In 2015 we got a 2 song Ep from you. Who played on this independent release?
This EP has myself on drums/vocals, Zdenka Prado on bass, & Cody Knarr on guitar
Now in 2016 Austenitized Records put this out as a limited 7”. Is this release still for sale or is it sold out?
The 7” version is still available. You can still get it through Luke at Austenitized & Hells Headbangers carries it still as well I believe. I also have some copies that we sell at gigs, etc. The original cassette version is sold out though.
Now before the recording of the bands latest album, “Proverbial Lambs to the Ultimate Slaughter”, Ash you got 2 new members. First off, how did you find bass player Zdenka? Did you think of her right away as you played in one of her bands (Estuary)? And then how did you find guitar player Cody Knarr?
Zdenka has been in the band since we decided to go live with the band in 2013. Cody joined in 2014 after the drummer & other guitarist decided it wasn’t for them & left the band. Zdenka actually helped generate the idea of taking the Faithxtractor material live. Estuary had gone on hiatus, & we both just wanted to do something & play live. We met Cody here in Cincy through his old band Unkured. He was a cool kid, & into much of the same stuff we are into. Zdenka asked if he wanted to join, & he was into the idea.
Now you stopped playing guitar and are just playing drums and singing. Is it hard to sing and play drums? Did you ever give the thought of having Zdenka sing at all as she has sang in the band Estuary in years past?
I started playing drums live out of necessity originally, because drummers are always the hardest to find. I do enjoy it though…love it actually. Surprisingly, for me, playing drums & doing vocals isn’t that difficult…I actually find playing guitar & doing vocals more challenging at times. For whatever reason, the body to action separation is easier when playing drums & doing vocals.
Now how soon when you got the 3 of you together did you start to put material together for your newest and killer release on Hells Headbangers called “Proverbial Lambs to the Ultimate Slaughter”? Did any of them 2 help with any of the music or lyrics at all?
I had been writing “Proverbial…” during the first incarnation of the live band, so I had a lot of material already. Most of the music & all the lyrics are my creation, but Cody did write the riffs to “The Slaughter Ultimate” & came up with a ton of killer guitar solos. Everyone’s input was invaluable, & helped shape the album.
Speaking of lyrics, what are some of the things that you write about and are lyrics easy for you to write? How about music is music easy to come by and how do you decide what is a Faithxtractor song and not a song from one of your other 3 bands?
Faithxtractor lyrics reflect my life philosophy, my outlook on the world, my thoughts of loss & death, & good chunk of them are based on conspiracy theories that interest me. Whether you’re in to that sort of thing or not is one thing…regardless…I find many of the concepts behind conspiracy theories very interesting & song worthy. Lyrics sometimes are easy, & sometime take a bit longer for inspiration. It’s just depends on how I’m feeling at the time. Riffs are always coming, just from sitting down & playing guitar. Faithxtractor is the main band I write for these days, so there’s no question of whether to use a riff or not for this band anymore. My role in the other bands I’m in is to do a good job with my instrument & help convey the ideas of the main writers in those bands.
So was it easy to hook back up with Hells Headbangers after the band being away from them so long?
Craig Horval helped a lot with that, & the solid release that was the “Total Death Illumination” EP also got the rest of guys at HHR into putting out the “Proverbial…” record. I love the label. They are great people.
Now Ash, are Zdenka and Cody full time members of the band now? If not what do you consider them then?
Yes, they are definitely full time members.
Now you recorded this at your own studio, Frequenscream. Did Hells Headbangers give you a budget or did the recording come out of your pocket? How long were you in the studio and did anybody else produce it or did you produce it yourselves?
I tracked everything here at the house, which is Frequenscream. The deal was we would handle the entire recording, & HH would handle all the layout & manufacturing costs. We had a local friend named Luke Sackenheim do all the mixing & mastering for the album & that was a great choice. He was able to get such a way better result than I could have achieved with this release. It’s nice sometimes to have someone else’s input to get a different/better vibe. In the case of “Proverbial…” it was huge!
For those who have never heard of the band, what would you say the band sounds like? Who came up with that killer cover for your new album?
The band’s sound is dark & haunting Death fucking Metal. The cover art for “Proverbial…” was done by Mark Riddick & dates back to 2014. I had him work this up, so long ago & we just recently were able to use it. I love it.
Has the band played live much and do you hope to do any type of touring behind this release? Have you ever had 2 of your bands play on the same show in one night?
Yeah, we’ve played a lot of gigs since 2013. Definitely hope to do some kind of touring for this album even if it’s just small runs. And yes, I’ve definitely played shows were 2 of the bands I’m in play the same night. I’ve done that quite a bit actually.
Please plug any band websites and merchandise.
Check out our bandcamp page & bigcartel page for merch. Also, check out Austenitized Records & Hells Headbangers for other items.
https://faithxtractor.bandcamp.com/ & https://faithxtractor.bigcartel.com/
Ash, thanks for putting out your amazing latest release. Horns up for the chat and any last words, the floor is yours?
Thanks for the interview!!! And thanks for the kind words on the new album!! To everyone else, check out our newest album “Proverbial Lambs To The Ultimate Slaughter”. If you’re into total death, you won’t be disappointed. ONLY RIFFS ARE REAL….