Interview with Brian Werking (vocals, guitars)
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: January 7, 2012
Frederick, Maryland-based Death Metal pioneers Exmortis, have been resurrected, and the band's latest 6-track mini-CD, somewhat aptly titled "Resurrection... Book of the Dead", was recently released on Spanish label Xtreem Music.
As Exmortis' whole history spans more than 20 years, there surely is a whole new generation of younger metalheads that have found Exmortis because of the band's compilation-CD "Darkened Path Revealed" and latest mini-CD "Resurrection...". Therefore the following Exmortis interview, done with the founding member Brian Werking, also covers a big part of Exmortis' past times, from the early demo and tape trading days all the way up to the current state of the band.
But most importantly, Exmortis are back and Brian was kind enough to shed some more light on all those reasons why he felt Exmortis was worth another shot, plus revealing several other things about the band's past and current times as well – both good and bad.
Luxi: Hey-hey Mr. Werking... how are things where you live? Any annoying neighbors in sight at the moment that you cannot stand at all, and would like to kill them with an automatic shotgun? ;o)
Brian: I could probably name a few but let's keep them anonymous. I don't want to draw any unneeded attention to myself... I'm living in Tampa, Florida.
Luxi: Ahem, let's get a bit more serious again if you don't mind. First off, if we go back some years in time, Aantar Lee Coates, one of the original members of Exmortis, was working with you with new songs for Exmortis´ next demo release back in 2005, which was supposed to be entitled "The Resurrection", containing 5 songs. Due to some personal conflicts with him, the demo was never released and Exmortis split up once again. I would like to ask whether you considered those new Exmortis songs you were working with in 2005 to be the best material you had ever composed with Exmortis? How much did you actually bleed your heart's blood into these comeback demo songs in order to make them sound, (eh!) – ‘right', the one and only Exmortis style?
Brian: Let's be completely honest here. Lee and I were having a bit of spike amongst each other during that time period and things didn't work out the way I wanted them to. Lee is one of the original members of the band and now would like to be called Aantar... Anyway, with all that set aside, I put everything I could into the writing of the material. We were supposed to record (countless hours became days and weeks) practice and get tight those songs for recording but there were other plans in store as Lee was concerned. He wanted to re-record all the old material (especially the songs he didn't write drums on) just to show the world another round of Exmortis starting from the beginning. I didn't think that was a bad idea but we would also release all the songs I'd planned on releasing on the demo along with them. But time went on and his band Diabolic always came first. I can totally understand that but if you agree to do something then you have to put yourself forth to do it and not lay anyone on the sideline waiting for you to finish what you're doing. When a time table is set in stone it's got to be met as far as I'm concerned. Anyway, I bought a full stack and was ready to finally get down into some business, when for some reason or another I lost contact with him. I don't know. Phones not working and things like that... I pretty much got pissed off and left the practice space he had and didn't talk to him for a couple of years.
Luxi: Still talking about the period of Exmortis' first comeback in 2005, was it easy to start writing new stuff, since the last ‘official' Exmortis release was actually that 2-song "Fade From Reality" which was released way back in 1991? I mean, this fact surely must have raised the bar of writing quality of Exmortis songs even higher for you personally, also keeping in mind that you wanted these new Exmortis songs to sound like Exmortis in 2005 – and nothing like many Death Metal bands tend to sound nowadays with lots of blast beat stuff, bullet train-like fast parts, etc. Was that just one of your main goals with the new Exmortis stuff during the days of Exmortis' 1st comeback in 2005, to maintain the sound you had coined around Exmortis on the "Immortality's End" and "Fade from Reality" releases that most fans still tend to call your best works to date so far?
Brian: Yes, it was very easy because it's my style of writing music (Death Metal that is). I like and write other forms of music but that's another story. It took a bit of time to write those songs but I was a bit rusty so I did a little at a time plus I was working a lot of hours during this stage in my life so that hindered my ability to come home, be with the family and very stressfully write music. I actually had 7 songs written at the time but I was only happy with about 5 of them so that's why we were going to so with 5. Of course I wanted it to sound like it did back in the late 80's. It's my signature style and one that will always be there for me. When I pick up a guitar Exmortis reigns out and no other. I generally don't play or let any outside influences in so I'm content with what I do. As far as these bands these days playing blast beat after blast beat, I think it's ridiculous. But that's my opinion and mine alone. Hell, Lee would still like to be called Aantar "Blastmaster" Coates. I'm not against it but I think it's one of the things that brought down the original scene back in the 90's. Maybe not blast beats in general but playing fast with no feeling behind it. I'm not sure why record labels liked what they heard but didn't like the older bands but playing fast was the thing back then. I guess Morbid Angel had a key role in that. I can assure you this; Exmortis was on the top of the charts before we broke up. If we would have stuck around our influences would have been sought out along with Morbid Angel. Don't get me wrong, I like Morbid Angel but I'm not into all the blast beats. They totally turn me off.
Luxi: Back in the day Exmortis had this mild Death influence in your sound – especially on your "Fade from Reality" 7" E.P. that was released via Ed Farshtey and Joe Pupo at the New York-based Rage Records in 1991. Would you say that you basically continued from those musical footprints where you left off on that particular E.P. as far as this first comeback of Exmortis was concerned in 2005?
Brian: Well, to tell you the truth back on the "Immortality's End" demo there were some influences from the Death albums. I just carried it over to the "Fade from Reality" release. To be honest with you I think you're thiningk of the song "Fade from Reality" for the most part right? If so then I know exactly where you're hearing it. During the chorus it reminds me of some Death influences. I didn't mean it to be that was but that's just the way it came out in the studio. But yes, we had some slight influences before we were even a band of Chuck's style of writing.
Luxi: You actually recorded all the instruments by yourself on that 2-song E.P. titled "Fade from Reality", also using a drum machine on this recording. What do you think of those two particular Exmortis songs now ("Dreams of the Dead" and "Fade from Reality"), some 20 years later? Presumably it goes without saying but I think you are still very proud of both of these aforementioned songs, aren't you?
Brian: I am, Luxi... I need to re-record them with today's technology though because the drum machine of 20 years ago sounded like well, a drum machine. With today's technology, one cannot tell the difference between a real drummer and a very well-orchestrated midi-based analog drum sample. I mean, they sound identical. They do because real drummers sample them in a real studio. The only people who don't believe that are drummers, for some reason. What I say is that drummers will always be needed so don't worry about your job going away. Plus if I write something using analog drum samples and a real drummer plays it then it damned better sound very similar to what I wrote because I'll not accept it any other way.
Luxi: I am curious to know... Have you ever been thinking of re-recording those two songs on the "Fade from Reality" E.P. all over again, only this time with a real drummer? I think with a modern studio technology that you have around these days, you would actually give a much better treatment to those songs production-wise for sure...
Brian: Well, yes I have... In previous questions I think I actually answered this I think. I'd like to re-record these songs with today's technology for sure. It doesn't have to be in a major studio but it needs to be mixed by someone who is well versed in studio technologies. I actually have all the tracks on analog tape that I need to get transferred over the digital so they can be loaded into a program like pro-tools so as long as a drummer follows the click track I used originally. Drum tracks can be added to the original guitar / vocals and bass can be re-mixed. Hell, I could even throw in some other tracks to overlay and make it sound awesome.
Luxi: Exmortis' former bass player Chris Weiser, who lives in Frankfurt, Germany nowadays (since October of 2005), has claimed that you used some of his material for those 2 songs without giving him any credit for them at all. In his opinion you should have used different name to release those 2 songs on that 7-inch record instead of using the Exmortis moniker at all because you supposedly don't own a trademark for that name. What's your side of the story about this against his somewhat ‘rude' accusations?
Brian: Ok, let's just bring him out of his hole again because I know he's going to read this and have something more rude to say about me because that's all he does when I try to talk to him civilly. If anyone would look at the inside lyric sheet where all the credits are located, 2 items are mentioned. The 1st being that "All music by: Brian Werking". The 2nd is "All lyrics by: Brian Werking and Chris Wiser". So, I'm not sure where he's got his information from but it's clearly wrong. He wrote the lyrics for the band back in 88' – 90' and I used his lyrics on the song "Dreams of the Dead" only. That's why I gave him credit. Beyond that he deserves no credit. This is information taken from the US Patent and Trademark Office. Now let me just say, you don't have to own a trademark on anything you do but to make it official it's best to spend the $500 or so to get it registered just in case someone wanted to contest it. Here is the trademark information that proves that neither of us owned the trademark at the time of its release: Owner (Registrant): Wiser, Christopher Randolph (Registration Date: November 15, 1994). Live / Dead Indicator (dead), Cancellation Date: December 2, 2001. Here is proof that I currently own the trademark: Owner (Registrant): Werking, Brian K (Registration Date: January 4, 2011). Live / Dead Indicator (live). If needed, I could even show papers drawn up by an attorney and sealed by the US government stating that I own the trademark. Now, to say that I shouldn't have use the Exmortis name is ridiculous. As far as anyone in the underground was concerned (back then and even now) I was and always will be known as Exmortis. I wrote all the music, I did all the mail and interviews, I supported the band with money because no one else had any, I traveled about 100 miles to pick Lee up from a subway station and back every practice. I set up all the shows. No one ever pitched in for anything. I'm the one who should be mad about the situation but I've always been calm and cool. Ask anyone. If anyone shouldn't have used the name Exmortis it's Chris for the "Butchers of the Urban Frontier" demo. It sounded nothing like Exmortis. Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha..., he didn't even own the trademark when he released that demo. Let the minds of people start thinking about what I just said. The proof is everywhere.
Luxi: For many, however, Exmortis was mostly known via Brian Werking's name, thinking of you as the carrying force of the band, so I guess people really cannot blame on you for using Exmortis' name for the "Fade from Reality" 7-inch, or can they?
Brian: No they can't. I answered this question completely in the last...
Luxi: There's, however, a short era without Brian Werking's involvement in Exmortis. Chris (on bass) kept Exmortis going on with Giles Weiss (on vocals; R.I.P.), Rudy Lagman (on lead guitar), Michael "Chewka" (on rhythm guitar) and Chris Gallo (on drums) and they recorded a 4-track demo "Butchers of the Urban Frontier" with this lineup in 1993. What do you honestly think of that demo, as it does not have your signature songwriting style in the songs at all due to a very obvious reason?
Brian: Well, I'm not as fond of it as some may think. It doesn't sound anything like Exmortis so therefore it should not have had the Exmortis name attached to it. In my mind it was Chris trying to leverage the name to get fans on his side and maybe, just maybe get signed. I wouldn't have cared, and I didn't. I thought it was a dumb idea but to each his own. I even tried to get his demo on the discography but he ultimately refused saying that he doesn't want to have anything to do with me. So be it. Then I don't expect to hear rattle in the underground of smack being talked about me. I've even went to the extremes of blocking him from my email by automatically adding any rude memo I get from him to go directly to my trash bin because I don't need that kind of crap in my life.
Luxi: Were you severely twisting hands with each other about the rights to use Exmortis' name for that release, by the way? Can you remember what your initial reactions were when you heard or found out that Chris was about to put that thing out under the Exmortis' name (i.e. the "Butchers..." demo) – just no matter what your opinion was, and how you felt about it?
Brian: We weren't having any bad feelings at all about it (either release). No one had the trademark for the band name. To be honest with you I was still a kid anyway at about 23-24 or so and didn't realize anything about trademarks. I did register the copyrights to the first 2 demos in my name though... When I found out about Chris' surprise, I was okay with it because it sounded nothing like it was supposed to and I knew people would know it... especially the respected musicians of the time.
Luxi: As for some life or death issues, do you have any idea what drove Giles to commit a suicide in 1998? How close was he to you since you were no longer in the same band? Did you still keep in touch with him every once in a while despite not being in the same band anymore?
Brian: Well, Giles and I had been friends since about 1987 and spoke on and off after I left Frederick in 1990. There have been a few stories floating around out there as to what happened. I at first heard that he was behind on his rent and his landlord was on his ass then his air conditioner broke down in the middle of summer and he freaked. He was on psychotic drugs for a while at this time so maybe he missed some dosages or something and it happened. I'm not sure. Another story I've heard is that he moved to Texas and got hung up with the wrong crowd which drove him more into the ground with drugs and alcohol. When he finally returned to the Maryland area he freaked out and there he was in an unfortunate case. Someone told me that he had second thoughts when he jumped and was clinging to one of the rails on the bridge and there were people there trying to save him but he couldn't hang on. I any case it's an unfortunate event that's happened and I'm deeply sorry I couldn't do anything about it. While Exmortis was together he was a great friend and used to party with us all the time. He couldn't drink because of his medications but he'd go to 7/11 and fill up on candy and soda and we'd all have a great time. About a year after Exmortis broke up I asked Giles to come up to Pittsburgh and stay a week or so. We partied and wrote some songs together. It was a great time. After that I heard nothing from him. I can only think it was because Chris had recruited him for his version of Exmortis but I'm not sure.
Luxi: You also did two songs, "Necrotic Visions" and "Silence of Darkness" under the Bloodless moniker later on, and those two songs were released on a compilation CD titled "History of Things to Come" that was put out in 1994 by a small Dutch label, Growing Deaf Entertainment. Why did you end up releasing those songs under Bloodless, rather than under Exmortis?
Brian: At the time I knew that Chris owned the trademark to the name Exmortis and out of respect for him I didn't use it. Plus I had no idea what he was doing with Exmortis anymore and I didn't want to clash with his band per say. All the promo for the CD said Bloodless (formerly Exmortis) so I was happy with that anyway...
Luxi: Did you release anything else under the Bloodless moniker? Were you demoing any more material with Bloodless that was never released for some reason or the other?
Brian: I had written 4 songs for a possible demo but that's when Growing Deaf entered the picture and they wanted 2 of the songs. I was only recording them on an 8 track cassette recorder so the sound quality wasn't that great so I went into a studio and re-recorded them. There was never any solicitation to labels with this music. I was simply having fun doing what I do.
Luxi: I also happen to know that when Exmortis was started in 1987 as a 2-piece band, you were particularly excited about naming the band Virulent Rage – and in fact, you almost took that name instead of Exmortis. Why didn´t you release these two songs – "Necrotic Visions" and "Silence of Darkness", under that name then but rather under the Bloodless name?
Brian: Virulent Rage was what Chris wanted to call the band but after persuasion I was able to change his mind to Exmortis. I was watching a lot of horror movies at the time (not unlike now) and heard the word Exmortis in "Hellraiser" and I think it was "Evil Dead II". Like I said there was a bit of persuasion but I was able to make the name stick. As far as me using the name Virulent Rage, I'd never really liked the name but since in the beginning we didn't have a name it was okay at the time.
Luxi: Going back in time even more, Exmortis' sort of breakthrough demo, titled "Immortality's End", was released in 1989. It was really the kind of demo that threw Exmortis on the next level of popularity and success at that time – Roadrunner did actually make an offer to you after hearing that demo. But ultimately, if Exmortis had accepted the contract without having a layer to check it out first, Exmortis would unfortunately have been ripped off by the label. Would you like to share some other (ugly) details about this whole matter with us?
Brian: Well, this information is actually incorrect. There was never any contract in my hands. Monte Conner and I spoke on the phone almost every night for a couple of weeks. He was just feeling the waters and basically interviewing me to figure out which way they wanted to move. Unfortunately he was also talking to Immolation at the very same time and it ended up with Immolation getting the recording contract and not us. I'm not sure what I said to make Monte swing in their favor but that's what happened. People throughout time thought that we had a contract and didn't go with it just as you said. There really is not ugly matter to tell about the situation. We didn't get signed then we met up with Immolation at a show we were playing in New Jersey and after signing with Roadrunner they were asking me for advice on what they should do next. I told them to get an entertainment attorney because I didn't know what else to tell them. They were great guys and I didn't want to steer them in the wrong direction. So they released many CDs afterwards. I'm sure they've been ripped off by many record companies, but it's Death Metal and nobody cares about us. The executives of these companies are sitting in their nice offices are getting paid well while their bands struggle. It doesn't matter to them because if one breaks up there is always another to take its place these days. As a matter of fact the only contract we signed was the one for CCG Records out of England and they ripped us off big time. Bastards... The only real deal we got and we saw nothing from it. It's a bunch of bullshit if you ask me...
Luxi: Eventually – in 1990 precisely, the "Immortality's End" demo was released on a small English label, C.C.G. Underground Records, located in Suffolk, under their so-called ‘Demo Series' moniker. That vinyl was strictly limited to 1000 copies. As you may still remember, this label was also responsible for putting out demos on vinyl from such bands as Funeral Nation, Leprocy (Can), Xyster and so on. How did this deal with them happen?
Brian: Well, they contacted me through mail with a contract which stated clearly what we would get in return for a master reel of "Immortality's End". So I went to our studio and had him make a copy of the reel we already had which I paid for, we call signed and the reel was sent to them. There was absolutely no response from them after the transaction took place. That's when I first learned not to trust anyone. These guys had no intention of sending us any copies of the vinyl they were producing. Hell... I appreciated it better if they would never had let me know they were doing it because bootlegging was big at the time and no one really cared except for the winning bell ringers Metallica in later years. But just to know that we signed a contract with them infuriated me. If I could have afforded a plane ticket to England and could have hunted them down one by one I would have surely ended them. Now, that's not a threat boys and girls, this is all in past tense.
Luxi: Have you kept in touch with any ex-Exmortis members since you parted ways with them? Do you have any idea what's been going on in their life lately? Any bands or other musical projects or involvements in the music biz you may know about your ex-band mates?
Brian: Well, the one I've stayed in contact most is Lee. He lives here in Tampa and just told me the other day that he moved into a house with a couple of other people just 5 minutes down the road from me. That's cool because maybe we could actually get something done between the bickering. Ted is a lost cause. No one knows what ever happened to him. Chris, well let's just say that I've spoken with him over the phone and exchanged emails with him in the past 2 years but most of it has been trash talk. For some reason he thinks he should get all the credit for Exmortis. I've got tons of people backing me up but he's got his loyal followers as he calls them looking out for him and that I'd better watch my back. I think there are some screws loose that need to be tightened. I've got a solid mind and know exactly what I need to do going forward.
Luxi: You also took part of a series of a couple of tribute albums for Dwell Records. You did "Baptized in Blood" for a Death tribute CD ("Demonic Plague") in 1999 and "God of Emptiness" for a Morbid Angel tribute CD ("Scream Forth Blasphemy") during the very same year. Was the main purpose to do these songs to basically remind people that Exmortis isn´t completely dead yet; quite the contrary actually, Exmortis' name was meant to chase everyone ‘til the end of the world if this dude named Brian Werking has any of his fingers in this ‘game' at all. As the old saying goes, "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger... – or what, Brian? ;o)
Brian: It started off with a guy named Rex emailing me from Dwell Records. I thought he was joking at first so I played along with a few emails. But then he asked for my number because he wanted to talk business, so I said okay. It turned out to be a great deal for me and for the name Exmortis. They were a legit company and paid premium for what they got in return. I ended up recording everything here at my house and it turned out just great. I've only hear good things about the songs. But yeah, it was another stab to let people know that Exmortis wasn't completely dead and as long as I'm kicking it will never be dead...
Luxi: In the past, you also released both of your demos "Descent into Chaos"(‘88) and "Immortality's End" (‘89) as limited runs of both 250 and 300 hand-numbered copies, plus sort of a compilation of Exmortis songs, titled "Necrotic Visions", featuring 2 songs from the "Fade from Reality" 7-inch (‘91), 2 songs from Bloodless taken from the "History of Things to Come" compilation, this demo CD including even one previously unreleased Exmortis song "The Unforbidden". Where did you get the idea to put all these things out in CD format, as limited quantities only? Did the idea basically come from a heavy demand of both new and old Exmortis fans who had found Exmortis all over again, so you basically ended up doing this sort of ‘favor' for them and wanted to release the past works of Exmortis because of all these requests coming from the true fans of the band?
Brian: Yes and no... I had a lot of people asking me for the old demos and had nothing to give them so that's when I started thinking about it. At the time I didn't have a label down my throat asking me to release the discography or I'd have let that happen instead. I looked at all the artwork (which I still own) and figured out what I could and could not do. I wanted to make it as old school as possible down to the red paper. I thought it was a must. I bought a Lightscribe drive and started churning out CDs. The 'no' part of the answer was that I wanted something as well as a digital release. I maybe made $1 for each CD I sold after material costs and postage but I didn't really give a shit. I made more than that in one day's work at my last job, ha-ha-ha-ha...!!!!
Luxi: Back in the day Exmortis did quite a lot of shows with such bands as Ripping Corpse, Immolation, Fatal, Oblivion, Deceased, Internal Void, etc. to mention only a few. I guess the time period, let´s say from the late ‘88 to the early ‘90, was a really ‘special and memorable' time for yourself, I guess mostly due to a very friendly and supportive underground spirit in general amongst the metalheads where everyone seemed to support each other the way you can hardly see happening in today's metal scene. Demo and gig flyers were spread by friends through the tape trading scene, via gigs, etc. and there always seemed to be a few extra pairs of helpful and supportive hands around you that wanted to get the name out for you by their own will just because they felt some bands truly deserved to be supported and get a couple of extra pushes, just like Exmortis. Do you pretty much subscribe all of what I just stated above here, Brian?
Brian: Yes, I agree totally with everything you said. It was a time of change and people embraced it with the stand point of I'm your friend and will help out as much as possible. I mean, I don't know of a band that was half popular in the scene I didn't know and help. It was the day and age of send back my stamps please. Postage didn't matter too much as long as we were friends. We would trade tapes and flyers / ads, glue the stamps and the postage marks would be easily removed by rubbing the glue off. It was one of the funniest things that happened for me back then. Anyway, let's get back to the story at hand... Almost every underground Metal 'zine around the globe had an interview, review or an ad of Exmortis in it back then. It was very important to stay on top of it all. Shit my parents hated what I was doing until they started seeing fan mail come in by the truckloads to our mailbox. I remember a time that the mail couldn't even fit in the box because there was so much. Crazy I know but that's the way it was to stay on top of things. I would spend 6-7 hours at a time writing mail and doing interviews all while recording demo tapes in the background. Multi-tasking is something a kid can do very easily. Hell, I could have taken on a few other tasks at that time. I can tell you that for every piece of mail I sent, it had at least 20 ads of Exmortis mixed with tons of other bands. I had all other band adds in a box and just grabbed from it for every letter that went out. The scene was a very nice but yet powerful thing when it was around. Let's just close this out with the help of others. Other bands, fanzines, radio shows and supporters were the key. Without them backing you up you were not gonna make it far. Even though people were nice, they were also pretty selective on whom they wanted to promote. Not like these days when every band gets a deal.
Luxi: Even if you moved from Pittsburgh to Tampa, Florida in 1997, I think you never meant for it to be the end of this ‘lethal killing machine' better known as Exmortis. You at least told me personally once via email that you are intended to release Exmortis material ‘til the day you die, so at least according to your past plans with the band, you are determinedly heading towards that long-planned direction all the time - I mean, keeping the flame burning and alive in the name of old school Death Metal, under the Exmortis flag. I guess you have still stuck to all those once set plans, haven't you Brian?
Brian: Yes, it's a goal of mine to release a CD every year, even if I have to do it myself. In 2011 there were 3 CDs released. In 2012 we know there will be 1 full-length CD but maybe more even. Every year going forward, I plan on releasing a CD with at least 20-25 minutes of new material on it. It's a highly attainable goal and one I'm planning on sticking with.
EXMORTIS IN 2011-2012
Luxi: As for the current activities of Exmortis, "Darkened Path Revealed" – this 18-track, sort of ‘blasts from the past' offering, has now been released on Roy's Necroharmonic Productions. Why did you end up releasing this Exmortis package on Roy's label in the first place? Do you think his label's profile represents very best the times when the extreme underground Death Metal took its first major steps – many Death Metal bands ruling the Metal scene with their groundbreaking debut (demo) releases, and sort of winning metaheads' attention for many years to come?
Brian: Well, I ultimately thought that going with someone here in the States was important. I've been screwed by people from other countries telling me they would send me copies of what they release in the past and not doing so. Another plus was that Roy was going to make shirts as well...
Luxi: When did this idea first come to you that it would be just awesome to get the most important Exmortis releases out in one professional package?
Brian: I would say between the years of 2008 and 2009. I had been contacted by quite a few record companies wanting to release it and finally after much consideration I went with Roy at Necroharmonic.
Luxi: Are you happy with the way how smoothly things actually came together eventually as far as getting this compilation CD of Exmortis released is concerned?
Brian: After a long delay the CD finally came out and it looked great. I couldn't have asked for a better looking layout. The CD flows in order of the releases with the exception of the "Butchers of the Urban Frontier" demo not being on it. I wanted it on there but Chris (old bassist) wanted it removed so I respectfully removed it. Tinamarie Linares did an amazing job at colorizing the original inked drawing from Drew Elliott. Just the cover is worth buying the CD...
Luxi: What kind of publicity do you want to achieve with the release of "Darkened Path Revealed" then? Do you think of this release as a vital yet very important stepping stone to promoting Exmortis' next release, which is actually going to be Exmortis' first ever debut album, "Resurrection... Book of the Dead"?
Brian: Well I did think of it as a stepping stone release for the "Resurrection... Book of the Dead" CD but it didn't turn out that way at all. It seems to be happening the other way around. People are now learning about it from the Xtreem Music release.
Luxi: Has "Resurrection... Book of the Dead" also completely been recorded? If not, have you already booked a studio time, and where and when you might start recordings for this upcoming album? Or are you going to use your own home studio for the whole recording session – from the actual recording to the final mixing process?
Brian: The CD has already been recorded and has just now been released. It was recorded here in my home studio but mixed in a studio in Spain. It turned out sounding incredible. Something I thought I'd never hear a couple of years ago.
Luxi: How have your song writing methods changed over the years since you started the band and wrote songs like "Lords of Abomination" and "Exmortis" for the band? I gotta believe now when you have your own sweet home studio, writing new stuff for Exmortis has become much easier than it was in the past simply because you have got this extraordinary chance to make the whole song in your own studio from the very beginning to the end entirely by yourself – and what's even better and a true advantage for yourself, you are not tied up with any strict timetables to get your stuff finished.
Brian: Well, I think it has become much easier to put together these days, almost too easy. Even though my methods of writing have changed, the sound has not changed much. I still feel I've kept the Exmortis sound but added some of my newer techniques to it as well. Plus, when I listen back at all those hours of guitar riffs I wrote throughout the years there seems to be no end as to what I can do or when.
Luxi: Drew Elliott has been a very popular and known artist among Metal bands for many years already and Exmortis has always used his works for demo and t-shirt designs. How did you first meet the guy? Was he recommended to you by someone from your past?
Brian: He had an ad in a magazine for an artist willing to work and we recognized his name from some New Renaissance releases. So we wrote him and got in contact over the phone next, then found he lived in Philly which was a short 2:30 drive from Frederick. He is an incredible artist but one that I do not think will be working with Exmortis again in the future. He didn't want to do the last CD cover and unless a record company pays for the art then I could never afford it these days. Hell, Necroharmonic was supposed to re-reimburse me for the art and the studio time I took to re-master the discography CD but that never happened.
Luxi: Drew is, however, not working with the artwork for the forthcoming debut album of Exmortis titled, "Resurrection... Book of the Dead", but some other yet-unnamed artist. Who is he and have you already seen any raw sketches for the album's artwork? Could you possibly also describe the artwork for us with a few words?
Brian: That's right, Drew is not doing the art for this project. Eric Engelmann did the artwork for the "Resurrection...Book of the Dead" CD. Go to his website here http://www.rotgrafix.blogspot.com/. Tinamarie Linares who works for Necroharmonic did the colorization for the cover which turned out killer. Killer artwork and killer colorization. Can't beat the two together... Anyway, the cover is simply a swirling vortex sucking everything into it. Just think "Evil Dead" because that's what will come to mind.
Luxi: Have you already set a release date for "Resurrection... Book of the Dead", when curious parties can start making pre-orders for it?
Brian: Orders are now being taken for it. It was released on December 20th 2011.
Luxi: Back to the Exmortis lineup of this very day. Now it's only you and Paul Ouellette (ex-Diabolic), but according to the official homepage of Exmortis (exmortis.us), you are in a serious search for a permanent drummer from the Tampa area, to run the band as a 3-piece band. How do things stand for your drummer audition at the moment? Any potential candidates in sight so far?
Brian: Well, since you sent me this interview, Paul is now out of the picture due to personal reasons that I'm not even going into. I had another drummer but he wasn't right for the band either. So I spoke to Lee and we came to an understanding that he would sit in on future releases. Paul and this other drummer were going to do the "Resurrection..." CD with me but when they couldn't meet my deadline I pulled the chain and went with what I had already. Hell, Paul never even attempted to learn how to play the songs as far as I knew. I asked him to come over to my house quite a few times and practice them but every time I was either ignored or blown off. That pissed me off enough and led me back to where my morals have always stood. Don't try and fuck with my head too many times or I'll drop you immediately as a friend. Lee's got it. He knows not to fuck with me. If he pisses me off once he knows not to do it twice because we won't talk for a while after that or until feelings settle down between us. Lee is not a bad person; he just goes about life in other ways than us normal people. That's not a bad thing, it's his thing. But I know a lot of you out there have had problems with him in the past so join the club. We've all been there. Learn and forget or live and forgive (...in time). Anyway, Lee is with me going forward. No, 3 or 4 piece. Just us as far as now is concerned.
Luxi: Do you have plans to do gigs as a 3-piece act, or do you find it necessary to recruit a second session guitarist for the upcoming live shows?
Brian: There are no live shows at this time in thought of. I wish it could be different but it's not.
Luxi: How do you think the club scene in your area has changed since the last time you performed with Exmortis? What clubs for playing Metal shows have you lost over the years – and are there some new cool clubs that still give an opportunity for Metal bands to play live?
Brian: Well, I haven't been in the northeast US for a long time so I wouldn't know much about the club scene up there. There are a couple of places to play down here such as the Brass Mug and the Crow Bar.
Luxi: What's your take on the current Death Metal scene these days? Do you see it as interesting and appealing, as say, some 20 years ago when Death Metal was exposed to people for the first time, with its full firepower?
Brian: I look at the scene of today as being crap. It's full of people that I would never want in my life. There is a lot of scum out there that needs cleaned up. Plus all these new sub-genres are just insane. How can you even map it out these days? There are way too many people with their hands in the pot and not enough to go around. Not to mention the quality of musicianship and what bands are being signed to labels that are just rip-offs. 1989 was the perfect year to be involved in the Death Metal scene. There is no other year that compares.
Luxi: How would you like Exmortis to be remembered amongst the Metal-loving community when there´s no Exmortis anymore?
Brian: What... am I dying soon? No one told me anything about that... Anyway, once I'm dead and no more Exmortis flows from my skin I would certainly like Exmortis to be known as a band that never made it past the underground but should have or at least could have but decided to wade through the messy muck instead. Exmortis was never meant to be in the spotlight or it would have happened in 1990 when we got turned down by Roadrunner Records. The underground is a place where I want people to remember the reign of Exmortis.
Luxi: Ok, I think we covered pretty much the whole lifespan of Exmortis, and probably just a bit of extra, so I wanna sincerely thank you Brian for this opportunity to interview you. All the best for you in the future; take it easy and keep your creativity flowing. Any closing comments, perhaps?
Brian: Thank you Luxi... As always you have been entertaining and very clear on your quest for the ultimate interview. Thank you for your patience in getting this interview to you and to you my friend, good luck as well. There is a whole world out there for us all to discover. Thank you as well to all Exmortis supporters. You fucking rule and I wish I could shake each and every one of your hands. Until other times... later, Brian Werking / Exmortis
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