Interview with vocalist Killjoy DeSade
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: December 15, 2012
Ohio's masters of all things gore and horror, Necrophagia, formed by Killjoy (the only original member left in the band) in 1983, have done several albums and tours and been able to create a loyal fan base around the world.
Necrophagia's debut album, Season of the Dead, released by New Renaissance Records back in 1987, was groundbreaking in that it adopted so many horror and gore elements in just one album. It is one hell of a unique Metal record, rightfully considered one of the most classic underground Death Metal albums of all times.
The band broke up right after Season of the Dead was released and slumbered for more than 10 years until, in 1988, the band's sleep was disturbed and Necrophagia's infamous horror saga continued.
It's 2012 and Necrophagia are working with the band's 7th studio album, WhiteWorm Cathedral, to be released on French label Season of Mist later in the spring of 2013. When I got this extraordinary opportunity to interview Mr. Killjoy about everything Necrophagia, knowing deep down how much the band has had an influence on me and what I have become today, I just couldn't refuse.
In this interview Killjoy brings you down the never-ending stairs into the darkest catacombs of horror and gore, revealing many exciting things about Necrophagia's whole history, up to this very day.
Luxi: First off, how's it going Mr. Killjoy? Have you been watching any killer horror and gore movies lately that you'd like to recommend to those us with not-that-sensitive stomachs?
Killjoy: It's been very hectic but in a good way. I'm always watching horror films. I haven't had a chance to view many new ones lately. My free time has been limited so I watch more familiar titles. In the past week I have watched Black Sunday, The Woman, I Saw the Devil, Dear God No, Horror Hotel, Rosemary's Baby, The Devil's Rain, At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul, House of the Devil and The Omega Man.
Luxi: I think I read somewhere that your tentative plans were to release Necrophagia's new album, WhiteWorm Cathedral, on Halloween, 2012. How are things standing for those plans at the moment?
Killjoy: I really need to start keeping my mouth shut with proposed release dates, ha-ha-ha!! Necrophagia has never been a very punctual band. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. We are still recording and the new record probably won't be finished until late November. I would expect a tentative release date of spring 2013 via Season of Mist.
Luxi: What could you tell about the 13 songs featured on this opus? Do you have plans for a special edition (box or bundle) that might include some special items for the true die-hard Necrophagia fans?
Killjoy: The songs are very catchy, heavy, raw and horror-filled. I would say that they are also very straightforward. No experimenting, no surprises; just one hundred percent Necrophagia at our most primal. I'm a huge fan of special packaging/editions. I would do it with every release. Unfortunately, I really don't have much of a say in those matters. It's completely up to Season of Mist. I always have ideas. There is no shortage of concepts for special editions. I am planning on having a box set of all of our releases at some point. I already requested a lenticular cover for WhiteWorm Cathedral. We'll see what happens.
Luxi: Having heard a couple of demo songs from your latest sessions, "The Dead Among Us" and "Silentium del Mortis," that are both based on some of the most well-known horror and gore movie directors of our time, Lucio Fulci and Darie Argento, I honestly have to say Necrophagia's new stuff sounds simply amazing. You must be pretty darn satisfied how this new Necrophagia stuff sounds.
Killjoy: Thanks very much. I appreciate it. I am completely satisfied with the new material; we spent ten months writing the songs. We have never spent that much time writing and doing demos in our entire career. We just want to make sure that this one really captures the very essence of what Necrophagia is about. We have experimented heavily at times in the past. We have always branched out a bit. I wanted to concentrate on our very basic sound and not expand it this time. I guess it's like taking one step forward and three steps back sound/song wise. I have always said expect the unexpected in the past. Now I'm saying there is nothing but pure Necrophagia at our uttermost disgusting best.
Luxi: you have two new members in the band, Abigail Lee Hero and Scrimm, both on guitars. Boris Randall played the guitar on Necrophagia's previous album, Deathtrip 69. What happened to him, and was it easy to get both Abigail and Scrimm to fill his place in Necrophagia?
Killjoy: It was his decision to leave. He remains a good friend. I think we both know it was for the best. I'm really happy with the way things turned out. You will hear a huge difference on the new record. Abigail and Scrimm have completely different styles and that's just an amazing asset to Necrophagia. Abigail joined right before WhiteWorm Cathedral was conceived. Scrimm joined several months after.
Luxi: How much did both Abigal and Scrimm contribute to the actual songwriting process for this new opus? Did they bring in some crazy and bizarre ideas that really kicked some of the songs to an entire new level on this new Necrophagia slab?
Killjoy: Abigail has a very unique raw style that I simply love. She reminds me of Anselmo a bit in her playing style. She can write some monster riffs and her solos are really catchy and eerie. Scrimm is completely different. He can play anything and he plays very, very aggressively. He's a shredder no two ways about it. He definitely has given us another dimension. Both of them have contributed heavily upon joining. Shawn and Damien have also really stepped it up. I think they are more comfortable within the band having been with Necrophagia for three years now.
Luxi: James Murphy has been taking care of producing, mixing and mastering WhiteWorm Cathedral at Safehouse Studios in Florida. People already like how some of your raw mixed songs sound and we are hoping that this next Necrophagia release would be blessed with as raw, brutal and authentic a production as possible. I guess it needs to be asked whether WhiteWorm Cathedral will be the answer to all Necrophagia fans' prayers, production-wise?
Killjoy: You are correct. I will record my vocals with him as well. James knows exactly what I want with this record. He is a true master of his craft. I promise everyone that this record will have a very, very raw, heavy bottom end and a loud and monstrous production. I like Deathtrip 69. The songs are really good. Looking back I think the production had too much high end and we lost some of the actual heaviness of the songs. The production was a very organic one and I like that aspect. But it's thin. I take the blame. It was part of the experiment. I wanted a 70's vibe. WhiteWorm Cathedral will not suffer from that kind of production. Trust me.
Luxi: When Necrophagia entered the studio to record the WhiteWorm Cathedral opus, did you run across any unexpected situations or things that didn't work out the way you originally hoped? How did you solve these problems?
Killjoy: We are still recording so who knows what can happen. We have had the usual problems; line noise, instruments not working properly, microphones blowing out, etc. Nothing unusual or unexpected. Thus far everything is going slow but sure and very smoothly.
Luxi: Do you have any plans to shoot a promotional video for some song from WhiteWorm Cathedral, providing an extra kick of promotion for this new release?
Killjoy: Absolutely. Michael "Maggot" Schnieder will direct a video for the title track. I am currently storyboarding concepts for it. I have a lot of different angles, techniques and concepts for it. Necrophagia is long overdue for a new video. We haven't done one in about ten years. The new video will be released prior to WhiteWorm Cathedral.
Luxi: Necrophagia covered Hellhammer's song "Triumph of Death," and this makes me ask, have you ever thought of doing a cover album of your favorite songs, done in the uncompromising Necrophagia style?
Killjoy: Yes, that cover version was done a looong time ago for a Celtic Frost tribute. We were approached and I said I don't want to cover Celtic Frost. I like them but I don't want to cover them. I said, if we can cover Hellhammer instead I would be interested. Thus we are the only band on the comp doing a Hellhammer song, ha-ha-ha!! We have also covered Mercyful Fate's "Devil Eyes" in the past. I'm not a fan of doing covers so I don't think that will ever happen. I would probably cover a Plasmatics song. I planned on doing a duet with Wendy O. It was going to be The Plasmatics "The Damned" and "Country Fairs".
Luxi: What about touring plans? Obviously, you have some plans to do some gigging, to let people know that you have a new album out that they should check out? Where and when will the next Necrophagia shows happen?
Killjoy: We will sign with a new booking agent in the coming weeks and start with a full European tour in late February/early March as it stands now. We are also having a new stage show currently designed. It will be chock-full of horror and gore obviously.
Luxi: French label Season of Mist has released Necrophagia's The Divine Art of Torture and Deathrip 69 albums thus far and WhiteWorm Cathedral will be your third album to be released through them. Are you pleased with your current label, thinking of the support and promotion that they have given for Necrophagia over these past years? Have you ever had any dilemmas with them, let's say, when it comes down to some gruesome artwork that you'd wanted to use for some Necrophagia merchandise but maybe they refused due to an explicit nature?
Killjoy: We have actually been with Season of Mist nonstop for the past twelve years. Starting with the Cannibal Holocaust mini-CD back in 2001 and also Harvest Ritual for Europe (I released Harvest Ritual on my label Coffin Records for the USA.) It's like any relationship. It has its ups and downs. If I didn't like them, then we would go elsewhere. They have always done well by Necrophagia. I will say I wasn't happy with the lack of promotion we received for Deathtrip 69. Some of it was our fault for going past the deadline and over budget. We ended up on the tail end of promotion for Morbid Angel's comeback record. It was just bad timing for us personally to have a release date so close to theirs. Season of Mist have honestly never complained or discouraged our dedication and passion for horror. We'll see how things go with WhiteWorm Cathedral. Our contract is up after this one. Obviously, I would like to finish our career with Season of Mist but it depends on how things go with this record.
Luxi: Now when we are talking about Necrophagia merchandise related matters here, Jenna Jameson, this famous, partly Italian porn star, who was born in Las Vegas, has been a t-shirt model for Necrophagia for many years and, as I understand, she's still your favorite model to promote merchandise for the band. But then you have also used this red-haired chick called Misty in some of your promotional shorts. Are there any other girls that you have either already used or are considering for promotional pics, just to grab more men's (and/or women's) attention to all stuff you have available at the moment and to sell more merchandise?
Killjoy: Jenna and I have a very long history. I love her to death. Sex sells and she is the still the biggest selling star in the genre. We have also worked with Belladonna. Another lovely girl from the UK named Hayley Leggs will be featured in some new designs/videos. It's not a big part of what we do but as you said it's a good way to promote our merchandise ;o)
Luxi: Necrophagia's perhaps most known and legendary album of all times, Season of the Dead, was released in 1987 on New Renaissance Records. How well do you think that album has stood the test of time?
Killjoy: I think Season of the Dead will always be a very unique record. The sound and songs are truly like nothing else before or after it. I like the fact that it stands on its own. We created something timeless at a very young age. It was the first Death/Horror Metal album released; the first record with movie samples, etc. I personally don't hold it as my favorite Necro release but it still has a certain charm.
Luxi: This leads me a long way back in time when there was only the tape-trading scene, as that's where I also found Necrophagia's stuff for the very first time, and became immediately totally hooked by your sick, macabre and horror-oozing Death Metal. In fact, it was your 4-track 1986 Nightmare Continues demo that truly made me an instant Necrophagia fan. That was one badass demo and surely one of the heaviest things I had the opportunity to hear back in those exciting tape trading days. Anyway, when you recorded that demo at Peppermint Studios with a 24-track recorder back in 1986, did you have any clue that particular demo could carry Necrophagia a long way, right to this very day, if we don't count in that period when Necrophagia split up (1987-1998)?
Killjoy: I had no idea/clue that any of our demos would eventually lead to a career in music. I was a young teenager. All I wanted to accomplish was to recreate horror films via a musical medium/outlet. I haven't heard those songs in many, many years. We had no real goals or plans and were quite taken at all the attention that came from those demos.
Luxi: Do you currently have any side projects going on?
Killjoy: I'm working with Shawn (Necrophagia) on a very raw Black Metal project called Haxxan. We will record and release an Aleistar Crowley concept record. We have one song up on Youtube right now titled "Beyond the Grace of God." I don't really have any interest in doing much else musically beyond Necrophagia. I am also doing the soundtrack for Ruggero Deodato's new film The Bridge as soon as Necrophagia is done recording.
Luxi: In 1999 you started this so-called 'super-group' called Eibon together with Fenriz (Darkthrone), Satyr (Satyricon), Phil Anselmo (Pantera) and Maniac (Mayhem). You were supposed to get a full-length studio album recorded with this line-up, but things sadly fell apart before that. Do you regret that you never got a real studio album out with this group?
Killjoy: I have absolutely zero regrets about Eibon or anything musically. It started out as a good idea. We were offered some really big contracts as well. We all got busy with our main bands and lost sight of things. We were never motivated by contracts or money. If that was the case we could have done the record. I hated the term 'super-group.' The label in itself killed a lot of my motivation to be honest.
Luxi: Let's jump from the past back to this very day for the last couple of questions, if you don't mind. After Necrophagia's new album, WhiteWorm Cathedral, hits the stores everywhere, what can your fans expect from the band right after that?
Killjoy: We will tour for sure. Lots of new merch and a couple promo videos. We'll promote this record in every way possible. We started writing WhiteWorm Cathedral only five months after Deathtrip 69 was released. It would have been suicide to tour with a record that no one knew was out. Our only other option was to make an even better record and come back stronger than ever and hope it's going to be promoted. We will do our part.
Luxi: You have been breathing, living and shitting Necrophagia ever since the band was formed. How do you think your life would be different if there wasn't Necrophagia? What would you be doing if this band had never been a part of you? Would you see yourself as some sort of horror and gore movie director or maybe a guy who would be working with some horror and gore type of cartoons, perhaps?
Killjoy: You are exactly correct. I would have been directing and writing horror films. I have been saying for years that it will happen. I have some movies written and ready to film. It's always a matter of time and or budgeting. I don't want to make cheap/ low-budget films. I have too much respect for the genre.
Luxi: Well, I think that was it and I hope it was all worth it Mr. Killjoy. Lastly, I want to sincerely thank you from the very bottom of my heart for your time getting this interview done and also wish you all the best with your future endeavors with Necrophagia. Also, I want to thank you personally for everything what you have done with this band. Necrophagia's music was of the most important things that made me what I am today; a fan of the heavier and more extreme side of music. So thanks again for all these great years and have a nice day...
Killjoy: Thanks for the kind words and longtime support. The best is yet to come. We hope to see you and all the diehard Necro -fiends on our upcoming tour. As always. gore forever!!!!
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