Initially, I would like to show my gratitude for you to take some of your busy time to answer the questions of this interview. I highly appreciate this. I also would like to ask you to, please, introduce yourself to our readers.
Hi, first off, thanks! My name’s Lev and I play drums in Krallice, as well as a bunch of other New York City based metal bands.
I’ve been reading some comments like “if I don’t hear news about a new Krallice album I may go insane” and one of the band members have answered that “things are being written.” Please, could elaborate a little bit more about what these things are? Can you show us some light by stating just a few directions of what a new album could sound like and if you think about a date to release it?
I think I wrote that, I was just trying to play coy, you know, be a cryptic asshole. Basically, there’s a bunch of new material on the way. We recorded three songs last summer for a split that will probably see the light of day in the not too distant future. There’s already a backlog of other new stuff, 3 songs of which we’ve been working on as a band, and have in pretty good shape. We’ll probably record those three in the next few months and then start getting together the next batch.
Allow me to ask, please, a few things concerning Krallice’s as well as your past. First, what draw your attention to metal music and especially to the style that you play? Before forming Krallice were you involved with other bands? When you had your “serious”/ “real” band? And then, how was Krallice born? What were your initial goals with Krallice?
I’ve been into metal almost my entire life, and followed a pretty orthodox sort of path through being introduced to heavy metal and thrash, took that to more extreme genres like death and black metal, etc. It was a combination of having an older brother who was into stuff like Metallica at the right time for me to latch on to, and then being interested in drumming itself launched me towards the crazier stuff. I remember being about 12 or 13 and seeing an interview with Pete Sandoval in Modern Drummer Magazine. I was already plenty into Bay area thrash stuff as well as Slayer, Anthrax, etc. but hadn’t really heard death metal. It was the drumming-like nothing I’d ever heard before—that fascinated me at first, way before I could digest what the hell was going on musically.
Nick (Bassist in Krallice) and I have been in roughly a billion different metal bands together over the years… nothing too serious but a lot of fun stuff. We had a techy death metal project called Astomatous, played together in a doomier band called Hymn, and also had a project with a bunch of friends called Sallah, which was 100% Indiana Jones based blackened thrash.
As far as Krallice goes, Colin and Mick started to jam together in 2007, and later that year got me involved. Nick was still living in Chicago, but the plan was always to bring him into the fold once he got back into town. But when we recorded that first record in late ’07, it was me on drums, and Colin and Mick playing guitar and bass. My goals with the band were just to play compelling music with guys who I liked and admired as players, I think their initial goals were kind of to create more of a super well done bedroom thing than a real band, and I think that’s altered over the years to something a little more conventional, though we’ve always put more emphasis on the creation of music than on being road dogs, etc.
Connected to the previous question, as a band, what were your biggest and proudest moments? And since we are on this subject, which moments you feel were the worse (of course those that you can share) and things that you believe you’d change if you had the chance to?
This is actually a pretty tricky one. I think each guy would probably give you a wildly different answer. I’ve had so many firsts with this band in terms of “Is this happening?” moments that it’s really hard to pick something. I mean, playing with these guys is the first time I’ve played to a crowd where people were actually familiar and enthusiastic about the music we were playing. It’s also been a vehicle for playing with and meeting people my 14 year-old self probably would have completely lost his shit over.
Picking a worst moment is also pretty difficult for me. For one thing, I’m the sort whose pretty prone to torturing myself over mistakes or moments of poor playing, and have a much better memory for those than for the triumphs. Picking just one would make me think about this stuff more than I already do, so I’m gonna leave this one open ended and full of vagaries.
Please, share with us some of the choices the band usually makes when it comes to producing and mastering an album?
This is an area where it’s pretty damn wonderful to have a world-class producer as a band member. Colin is also a guy with a pretty realized ethos about making music, and it’s one all of us are on board with. For Krallice, this manifests as an approach to recording which is much more organic than the average metal band. We typically record live to tape, which by necessity forces you to look at the forest instead of the trees, so to speak. You can’t micromanage and “fix” every millisecond of music, so you tend to value the larger impression of a take. In terms of mastering, Colin is very much in the camp that things have gotten ridiculous with volume and over-compression, what have you. We’ve tended to have albums without a crazy loud master, and albums that overall favor a warmer, roomier, less plastic aesthetic.
The band’s lyrics have always been very interesting and fit the music very well. Could you talk about the influences when it comes to writing lyrics? If the band needs to be on a certain mood to write the lyrics or they can be written anywhere and at any situation?
I can’t speak for the other writers—Mick and Nick. Between them they’ve definitely done the lion’s share of writing and I think approach it from pretty different perspectives. For the few songs I’ve done—Time Husk, Autochthon, Telluric Rings, Litany of Regrets and the 1st and 4th tracks on the last record, I think my approach has been pretty much been different for each attempt, except for the two Diotima songs, in which the lyrics were written as one long form beast and then split up between the two songs. For the most part I’ve learned that what works for me is coming up with some extremely vague notion of topic and just riffing on it. If an idea occurs to me I’ll usually just start writing on the notebook program on my phone. It’s way better to get something down and then to modify that as opposed to being stymied at the drawing board. I can take my shaky first attempt and start to mold it into something I actually like, as long as I have a somewhat clear direction of where I want to go with it.
Krallice band members have several projects/ bands. I imagine it must be a bit of a frenetic life. How do you keep it all going as well as how much rehearsing do you manage to do with each band? And, as I imagine, being difficult to deal with so many bands, why did you guys decided to play in so many bands/ projects instead of focusing in one or two? Is this something related to the love for music and its genres?
Yeah, man, it gets tough. I sometimes describe playing in so many bands as essentially running a Ponzi scheme. As long as the stagger persists and all the projects are kind of spread out schedule wise, or one’s fallow while another’s active, everything’s fine. Then come those weeks where it seems like every band needs to rehearse on the same night, etc, and the whole damn thing collapses. Once again, I can really only speak for myself, but for me it’s absolutely a compulsion to play as much as possible, and I simply have a hard time saying no when I find the music to be compelling. There’s also an aspect to it which is sort of like eating a weed brownie. At first you’re like, this isn’t doing shit (or per the allegory, the band isn’t doing anything right now), so you eat another way too prematurely and then they both kick in and you’re fuuuucked.
Krallice’s rehearsal schedule is all over the place. Sometimes it will be weeks between practices, and sometimes like currently, we’ll be getting together two or three times a week. Basically, we do what we can working around each other’s schedules.
We know that there were always many Black Metal bands that incorporated experimental elements to their music, but lately, we witness a great number of bands rising as well as the same when it comes to the level of popularity (popularity in terms of what can be reached within such genre). How do you feel over this phenomenon? Do you feel Krallice can benefit from this?
Honestly I couldn’t care less. The goal needs to be making music that you find something worthwhile in. That’s it. Caring about popularity is for assholes. That said, I am enthused by the amount of innovation I’m seeing lately, though sometimes I feel like bands make some weird Faustian pact where they trade an ability to structure songs and write fluid elbow pieces between riffs in exchange for making weird riffs. There’s no reason why these things can’t coexist. I’m also really not into experimental when that simply means we took genre A and we took genre B and we shoved them together. That’s not experimenting, that’s making collages in 4th grade art class.
As for our benefit, I kind of feel like that ship has sailed. Sometimes when I read things on line, I get the impression that people think we’re way fucking bigger than we are in terms of sales and what have you. When I look at the mainstream success of a band like Deafheaven, while I’ll admit there’s a part of me that has an unworthy sort of “them? Why not us?” Reaction, the wiser part of me is pretty thankful that it’s not and will never be us. If you’re truly weird, there’s a pretty heft built-in limiter to the success you’re liable to have, and that’s perfectly OK. I’d rather be playing music a small amount of people are rabid about than stuff a much larger amount of people think is pretty OK.
Again a question connected to the previous one, we also see a rise on the popularity of United States Black Metal bands, with exciting and innovative music being released there. Do you feel you belong to a scene or is Krallice and “individual” band? How do you feel over these new bands coming out from the US? Any favorite ones?
I feel like every band should at least try to be an “individual” band as you say. Although I’ve always felt kind of ambivalent about the idea of scenes, I really do feel at this point like NYC has become a pretty fucking cool hub of metal music. There’s a lot of really different, really compelling stuff coming out of here, and it’s exciting. I think it’s fair to extrapolate this across the US as a whole, though most of my favorite American metal is at least a decade old.
As for what in particular I’m digging that’s coming from this city or the country at large, I’m kind of having options paralysis thinking of good new shit. Partly that’s due to the fact that I’m like at least three years behind being caught up with all the things I’d like to listen to. Still, I think a bunch of the stuff coming out of Richmond these days from the Bastard Sapling/Inter Arma crew is awesome. I’m psyched to hear Whithered’s new record when it comes out…a bunch of the dudes in Krallice are involved in great stuff, like Nick’s new death metal band Gethsame. My buddy Robert’s numerous New York based projects are all ripping: Skull Shitter, TrenchGrinder (Vocals by my Anicon bandmate, Owen) and Mutant Supremacy. The thing I’ve probably been listening to the most that’s relatively new is a record by some friends of mine from London by the name Crom Dubh. Great melodic black metal
One question that is just for the fun. I have a few favorite Seinfeld moments and I use them for questions. Well, I have favorite moments in all episodes, but few of them can turn into questions. One of my favorites: In the episode “The Contest” the four friends bet who can go the longest without masturbating and be granted the title “Master of Your Domain”, the person that would be able to control the “urges”. If you all in Krallice decided to bet the same thing, who do you think would be the “master of your domain” and why?
Well, I’m out. Let’s put things this way. I’m not sure if every member of Krallice can be neatly paralleled to a Seinfeld character, but George Constanza is pretty much my spirit guide. I’m convinced if I had the balls to follow the opposite course of all my instincts, I’d be wildly successful.
And this is the part where I ask about your life, about the man behind the music. I always add that it’s nothing that will invade your privacy, of course. So, please, share with us some of your main passions outside the music world, your favorite activities, hobbies, if you have any, drinks, literature, cinema, well, anything that you’d like to share on this interview.
Frankly I’m a boring dude. My principal passion is music, and there a few things I enjoy more than holing myself up in my practice space and shedding. Unlike a lot of musicians and certainly other heshers, I’m fairly obsessed with sports. Like the eponymous Mr. Seinfeld above, I’m a lifelong Mets fan, which equates to lifelong torture and mental anguish.
I do also read a great deal, ranging from things like the Bill James Historical Abstract (super nerdy baseball shit) to heavyweights like Sebald and Colvino to my all-time favorite, Gene Wolfe, whose Book of the New Sun I’ve devoured many, many times now. I, uh, like whiskey? I got nothin.
Alas we reach the end of this interview. One more time, thank you very much for your answers. I hope you and the readers have enjoyed this interview. I also want to wish you and the band all the best for the future. Do you have any last words for our readers?
Nope, thanks for the engaging questions!
All pictures belong to their rightful owners (Samantha Marble, etc.).September 3, 2014