VM-UNDERGROUND

Extreme Metal Fanzine est. 2012

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Interview

Coffin Mulch – “There’s a myth that the internet has helped create some sort of international scene where everyone helps one another….that is unequivocally bullshit.”

The review of Coffin Mulch’s EP “Septic Funeral” by Sam Cooper started off with mentioning the the powerful combination of a band moniker and Death Metal; “We all know the ol’ Death Metal adage: a great band name goes a long way. And that’s immediately what I thought to myself when I caught (foul) wind of Coffin Mulch…”. But that is never enough of course, the putrid hymns should be of certain quality as well, fortunately that isn’t a problem with these blokes from Glasgow, Scotland. Al (vocals) drew the shortest straw and became the victim of my questions, and with every new band we start with the beginning… (Ricardo)

I’ve known Rich and David for years. David would buy records from my distro and then I released a few records by his (amazing!) band VUIL. I got talking to Rich at a record fair one day cos I recognized him from going to gigs for years; I was moaning about the business practices of Rise Above Records and his band at the time were signed to them! I had a record shop for a wee while and he’d come in for hours and we’d talk shit, and as he has a much friendlier demeanor than I do he’d usually sell more records! David was originally the drummer but when our first guitarist Mark left, he switched to guitar and Fraser came in. It’s helpful when you have someone in a band who can do everything! That was when we really started to hit our stride though, David is an absolute riff master and Fraser’s drumming is incredible.

What inspired you to start Coffin Mulch…what was the appealing aspect of it all?
It’s weird cos death metal is making a huge comeback at the moment; it definitely seems to be the “thing” to do. We started doing death metal cos it was a genre we’re all into and cos there weren’t any bands around here doing it! Now every man and his dog has a death metal band. As with all these things there are a lot of jokers and posers but there’s a lot of cool stuff going on too. I know there’s a kinda “New Wave Of British Death Metal” hashtag doing the rounds, but I’m personally a bit loathe to really be part of any national “scene” or whatever. I reckon I can probably speak for the others in the band when I say being British isn’t something I give half a shit about.

What’s your opinion on your demo “Coffin Mulch” (cassette and self-released) release nowadays?
I think it holds up! A label has offered to do it on vinyl which I think could be cool. The idea with the artwork was just to do something really quick and pasted together: I literally cut it up from bits of books and scanned it in as a collage. I think we’ve went on to be tighter and Septic Funeral was a jump up, and likewise I think the next LP will be another step forward again.

You already mentioned your EP “Septic Funeral” (CD, cassette & 12″ Vinyl released by At War with False Noise, Caligari Records & Redefining Darkness Records) in your previous answer, let’s talk about that one…
We recorded it with our friend Tommy Duffin who runs his own recording studio (16 Ohm) in Glasgow. He also actually just played bass with us on a few dates in England! Tommy is an incredibly cool guy who’s played in loads of bands for years. It’s so easy doing stuff with him and he just totally knows the score with heavy music.

Reaction to the record has been insane! I guess we’ve been fortunate to release it at a time when death metal is really popular, but the speed at which things have been selling (the first press was gone in a weekend, the second press a few days and I’ve finally just got a third press in for release soon) has been quite something. I’ve been running an underground label for close to 20 years now, I’m used to selling five copies of a new record and then trading the rest away slowly over the next decade! People seem to be really into it, it got quite a lot of pretty decent reviews anyway.

The art was done by Adam Burke who I guess is pretty famous now for his art in the metal world. I’ve known Adam for years: I released his band Fellwoods’ album over a decade ago now! He’s done art for a few releases I’ve done on my label and he owed me a favour so I asked if he wouldn’t mind doing art on this one. He definitely delivered! The art has definitely been a big part of why people noticed the record I think. The funny thing is I’m pretty sure Adam hates this sort of music and I think doing art for death metal bands probably sucks a wee bit out of his soul (sorry man). I wish he’d do some more music, actually. He did a band Pushy a couple of years back which ruled, and that Fellwoods record just blew me away. I really wish I had any degree of artistic talent!

I do all the lyrics. There’s not much to them if I’m honest. I love when death metal guys try and intellectualise their lyrics….let’s face it, they’re usually total sixth-form bollocks at best. Maybe on the next record they’ll be a bit more intelligent, but it’s mostly just death, suffering, misery. Standard.

In your own words and opinion as a member of Coffin Mulch, what do you consider as the musical difference between your latest release “Septic Funeral” and its predecessor; “Coffin Mulch“?
Better tunes, better production! Answered above I guess.

You’ve released your releases on vinyl and cassette. What do both formats mean to you, as a recording artist but also as a collector?
I think if people want different formats you should make them! I’ve collected vinyl since I was a kid and I’m pretty obsessive about it: I’ve been trading records, running a distro, doing record fairs and stuff like that since I was a young teenager. I’m glad I’m not starting out now, the price some records go for these days is INSANE. So yeah, having it out on vinyl is a big one for me! Tapes were always something I associate with recording my friends’ records and CDs, and DEMOS, so I’ve never really bought many albums on cassette, but it’s a cool format. CDs are cheap and really easy to manufacture so they get a big thumbs-up from me. If you’re gonna release your music physically, even those on a small budget should be able to own it, and you can sell a tape or CD for a fiver which is cool.

What are your expectations for Coffin Mulch in the future?
We’ve got most of a full-length album done, we’ve played a couple of the new ones live. I think they’re cool! They’re still very much in a similar vein to the older songs but maybe a bit more “fully formed”; there’s a new one that I think sounds bang-on like “Formulas…”-era Morbid Angel! I’ll be doing the vinyl again on At War With False Noise with Lycanthropic Chants in Germany helping out too, while Memento Mori will do the CD. Anyone interested in doing it on tape get in touch!

Are you involved in any other way in the music scene? You already mentioned you are the owner of the At War with False Noise label, can you tell us more about that as well?
I’ve been doing At War With False Noise for a long time now; this past year has probably been my quietest (Mulch excepted) since I started it. I run the label and distro very old-school and by a strict punk ideal: trading is the basis of all distro, prices are kept as low as possible, gigs should be accessible to all. This way of thinking is totally at odds to the way the world is now and I’ve found it incredibly challenging to keep things going as a result. I’ll never give it up, but I work long hours at my day job (I’m a teacher) and the past year has been pretty soul-destroying in terms of lack of engagement from the “underground”, I just can’t afford to keep throwing my hard-earned dosh at it as much as I did before. There’s a myth that the internet has helped create some sort of international scene where everyone helps one another….that is unequivocally bullshit. There was way more togetherness before everything became so parochial and isolationist as it is now. Labels are very much geared towards hyping things to sell out in a second (I realise the contradiction here in that Mulch stuff has sold out very quickly but that was very much unforeseen!) so they can move onto some other Pokemon release. I want music to be available to people as long as they want it!

Are there any bands or albums of your recent playlist you would like to mention? A rediscovery, an overlooked gem or an unsigned demo band that deserves attention? Any other bands of your region of United Kingdom that are worth mentioning and to check out for our readers?
I’m the worst person in the band to ask this cos the other guys are all over new stuff and David in particular is into tons of new death metal bands, whereas I really don’t bother with much new gear at all. There’s so much stuff out there, and if it’s not an improvement over Left Hand Path (which it never is), I’m not bothered! Some decent Scottish death metal bands to check out are Brainbath, Scordatura, Rancid Cadaver, Necromnesia and Penny Coffin. I really like Mortuary Spawn too, their EP from last year is one of the few new releases I gave heavy rotation! We played recently with Burial Rot and I reckon when they hit out with an LP it’ll be a cracker. I won’t try and list every UK death metal band cos I’ll just miss one out by accident and upset someone!

Here’s the last five records I listened to myself for context: THE BLACK – Abbatia Scl. Clementis; TREES – On The Shore; THROBBING GRISTLE – Nothing Short Of A Total War; MICK FARREN – Vampires Stole My Lunch Money; HYPOCRISY – Penetralia.

Also do you have favourite labels you always keep an eye on when they announce a new release? Or a favourite illustrator / cover artist? Any favourite printed / online zines?
It’s weird, I’m not really a social media guy at all but I got Instagram last year and the number of incredible artists I’ve seen through that is nuts! There’s so many incredibly talented folks out there at the moment it’s wild. We’ve never lived in a more fruitful time for people who can draw decaying skulls with their eyeballs popping out.

I stopped buying zines a while back just cos of the proliferation of stuff on the internet, but I guess they’re making a comeback. Nostalgia? There’s one based in Glasgow, Grinding Horror, that I think is cool. It’s like a mix of music and films that are connected by horror. I’m a real big horror fan (mainly Euro horror from the 60s and 70s) so it’s right up my alley! My pal Roddy did the best zine in years not long ago….each issue was an obsessive deep dive into one particular subject. One issue was entirely about Discharge’s shite “Grave New World” LP! Utterly bonkers.

Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts? Is there something I’ve forgotten to ask you which you would like to mention? Thanks for your time!
We’ve got a new single out right now as a one-sided flexi disc! It’s a song we’ve been playing since the early days of the band: Supposed To Rot by Nihilist/Entombed. When LG Petrov sadly passed away this year it made sense to release this and give the money to charity. I paid the pressing costs and all money we take from sales will go to Ayrshire Hospice and Marie Curie, Edinburgh. My aunt died very young of cancer and my grandfather spent his last couple of weeks of his life in Ayrshire Hospice and the care they give is incredible. I don’t want to go into anyone else’s personal stuff but there’s a reason for Marie Curie too. I might have spoken negatively about the way things are these days, but ultimately this has been such a positive and cool experience: Tommy gave his own time and recorded it for free, Pol from the amazing Branca Studio did artwork for free, and some people have given more than we’re asking for this by way of donation. It’s sold really well and even made it to the top of the Bandcamp charts for one day, ha! It really has affirmed to me that most people ultimately are kind, and cool, and willing to help each other out. The underground supports!