Interview with guitarist Kenny Hallman
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: February 26, 2012
Every one of you who thought the legendary Canadian Thrashers Infernäl Mäjesty would have called it quits, are far from being right. Sure thing, people haven't heard much about Infernäl Mäjesty since their third record, "One Who Points to Death" , which came out in 2004 - 8 long years ago, but the band never decided to quit even if undoubtedly they were struggling near the kind of ultimate decision whether the band still was worth another shot or not - after all their plans to get the band's 4th studio album, "Systematical Extermination", unfortunately fell to little pieces a few years ago.
Inefrnäl Mäjesty have, however, risen back on their firm feet like this mythical sacred firebird Phoenix out from the ashes, and have just started working with their 4th full-length studio album at a studio in Kelowna, B.C. in Canada. Besides this forthcoming album, the band also has some plans to put out an Infernäl Mäjesty DVD but let one of the founder members of the band, guitarist Kenny Hallman continue updating the latest news of his camp from here on...
Luxi: Time really flies... just realized this morning it's been 4 years since Infernäl Mäjesty self-released the unofficial "Demon God" EP, which basically introduced 4 new demo songs that were supposed to appear on the band's 4th studio album, titled "Systematical Extermination" – plus, two remakes of your old songs off your highly acclaimed debut album, "None Shall Defy", performed by George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher and Rob Barrett from Cannibal Corpse and Chris "The Heathen" Valagao of Zimmers Hole. What made you release this EP in the first place? Did you basically want to people know by releasing it that Infernäl Mäjesty is still out there, making some infamous Thrash/Death Metal, and not ceased to exist as many people mistakenly think – not that we can blame them, as the band had kept a relatively low profile for quite some time?
Kenny: Yeah... the "Demon God" demo was just that, a demo of new songs that we had recorded earlier that year and sure, it was to let people know that we are still an active band. We were only selling the demo at shows and making a couple of the songs available online for people to download. The songs on the demo really show the direction that Infernäl Mäjesty has taken over the last couple of years. We always liked the idea of re-recorded songs from "None Shall Defy" and adding them to each release, I know that we plan on using other musicians to record those old songs with us, that's why you see the two songs from our first album included on the demo. I think that those songs will be included in a full release in the future in one form or another.
Luxi: What's the whole story behind this unfortunate episode you had with your previous, now defunct, Greek label Black Lotus Records? There were many wild rumors circulating around some 5-6 years ago that the label had some serious money problems and shit, and also as far as I can remember there were some issues with the original master tape of "Systematical Extermination" record as well? So, to cut all the false wings of these wild rumors once and for all, could you tell the exact truth why your supposed 4th album "Systematical Extermination" never came out on Black Lotus Records?
Kenny: Well this has been the sore spot for us. Every record label that we have had has done exactly the same thing. They promise you this and that and of course it never works out like they tell you. Steve and I learned years ago to never let a label own your songs. We only had a licensing deal with Black Lotus; Steve and I own all the recordings and rights to the songs. That is only way I know that we can't be ripped off for all the money and time we put into recording. To just hand over all of our material to some label and then let them do what they want is just going to happen. So many bands get paid nothing in royalties so they make no money. I'm just as happy to know that we own all of our recordings and do what we want with them. We have a deal with ITunes and I can tell you that we have had zero problems with them. They pay us for each download with no bullshit in between. Obviously if a label wants to pay us a lot of money upfront then I would consider that option.
Luxi: How much did all this unfortunate struggling with the aforementioned label have an impact on your thinking overall whether Infernäl Mäjesty was still worth one more try or not, and for very understandable reasons, make you seriously ponder how much you had poured your energy, efforts, time, etc. into this record – and eventually leaving basically – literally speaking, just a plain white bone to your hands out of all this fight with the label and stuff?
Kenny: You know, I never had the attitude of "one more kick at the can". We just love doing what we are doing. I mean as long as Steve and I are together then Infernäl Mäjesty will exist. Of course we love to do music 365 days a year but in reality that is just not going to happen. So many of our friends in bands tour and record constantly and I can tell you that not many of them are rich.
Luxi: This is probably just a rude speculation from me (and I am sorry for that in advance) but if "Systematical Extermination" had been released around 2005-2006, how much would it have an impact on this long recording break Infernäl Mäjesty have had ever since your troubles with the label started appearing in the first place? Do you honestly believe it would have had a major impact on all Infernäl Mäjesty's future activities, sort of kicking your butts even more to keep the big wheel rolling for the band – and who knows, probably making Infernäl Mäjesty a hard gigging band all over the globe – with a professional background team taking care of all Infernäl Mäjesty-related things, supporting each of those important goals to keep the band's name on everyone's lips for all these years?
Kenny: Like I said earlier – I don't put much faith in labels, maybe if we lucky and signed with a major label things might have been different but I really dwell on it. Hey I just happen to still have Infernäl Mäjesty together after all these years. We have fun doing what we are doing and if someday our fortunes change then great - we'll take it.
Luxi: Has the Infernäl Mäjesty line-up stayed the same since the "Demon God" EP back in 2007, or has something drastic happened within these 4 past years that the band was forced to undergo one more line-up change?
Kenny: Yep... we have the same guys. They all play in other bands as well but are always there when we need them. Since Steve and I do the writing we usually work out most of the songs first then give them to rest of the guys to learn then work out the problems at rehearsal. This works the best for us, that way everyone has input into the songs.
Luxi: How would you say your new stuff can be compared to the stuff you recorded some 5-6 years ago? I bet you have also been demoing some of these new songs and sharing them between each other within the band, just for getting sort of an idea whether they represent the same known formula of Infernäl Mäjesty musically that people have used to hear from your camp in your previous releases. Without being overly optimistic, I still want to believe there will be a new Infernäl Mäjesty album eventually; it's just a matter of patience and time – am I right?
Kenny: We just finished recording drum tracks for 12 new songs at the beginning of February. That's the most we've ever recorded in one shot. Next step is to record the guitar tracks later in March. We really spent a lot of time on these new songs and I know that will sound great when there are complete. It's not a radical change musically from our past stuff at all so if you know who we are you will know what to expect.
Luxi: I have to go back to the year 1987 with my next question, as that's the year when Infernäl Mäjesty's classic debut album, "None Shall Defy", was released. Now if you look back to those times for a short moment at least, what were, from your point of view, the things on that record that made it later such an important and vital piece of the whole Thrash Metal history? I bet there's simply nothing on that record you'd have done some other way – just feel free to correct me if I am...
Kenny: I remember when we were recording that album in Toronto - I will never forget the look on the engineers face when he heard the songs that we were going to record, he basically said "how the hell do I record this" Thrash was just so new back then. I knew that the songs we had were good but who knew that they would stand the test of time. I mean that those songs are 25 years and they still sound fresh today. That's the same attitude I have today towards the songs that we write now, just make them the best you can because I have to play them, ha-ha!
Luxi: How important do you see the image the band has? I mean, I hardly doubt people will ever see the Infernäl Mäjesty on stage, only wearing some worn-out jeans, white band T-shirts, Bermuda shorts and shit like that...
Kenny: Yeah that was never our style. I guess I would feel out of place if we didn't wear the clothes or look the way we do. People come to expect you to look the way we look when we play and so do I.
Luxi: Who has actually made you all those nice looking leather costumes that you have worn when Infernäl Mäjesty played live?
Kenny: We have two people here in Vancouver that help us out. We come up with the ideas and they make whatever we need.
Luxi: Have you had any talks inside the band as to when would be a favorable time to put out the first official Infernäl Mäjesty DVD; like perhaps containing of some sort of historical part of Infernäl Mäjesty with interviews, some old live footage, etc. – all this added possibly with a full live show of the band, filmed at some nice venue in your home town, Toronto? In recent years, there have been a couple of unofficial Infernäl Mäjesty live DVDs for sale in such places as eBay (hardly surprising though), but hey, they are still unofficial releases and not approved by the band. So, to put it shortly is there an official Infernäl Mäjesty DVD in the works perhaps?
Kenny: It's funny that you mention that as we are currently putting something like together. We record most of shows so I have lots of stuff that could be put out. I just want to make sure that it's done right.
Luxi: Talking about reunions of once disbanded Metal bands, another Canadian Thrash Metal legend, Sacrifice, made its return to the brightest limelight in 2009 – with their brilliant "The Ones I Condemn" comeback album that was released on Brazilian Marquee Records. Have you heard that record – and did you also feel good for your countrymen that they succeeded in making such a strong return to the Metal scene after being out of reach for so many years?
Kenny: Yeah, Steve's got the Sacrifice album. Steve talked to them not to long ago and they are talking about a tour and asked us to play a few shows with them later this year. As soon as I know more I'll let you know. It's good to see our fellow Canadian bands putting out music, we had a great scene here in the later 80's and I don't see why it can't happen all over again.
Luxi: "The show must go on..." just like one legendary vocalist once used to sing, I have also heard that the band is currently making some sort of a plan to play around the European continent in 2012, at some festivals and stuff. Is there anything to be revealed about those plans yet, or is this all still somehow in the planning stage, and there's really not much to be talked about these possible plans as of yet?
Kenny: You know, we get offers all the time to tour and as much as we want to do it, we turn a lot down. We really want to tour but not until the next recording is in the bag, that is my main priority right now. We do play far more in Canada as we can keep costs down and we are fortunate that we know a lot of bands and when they come to play in our area we can usually get on the bill. We had George from Cannibal Corpse come to Vancouver and stay with us for a few weeks and decide to put a show together, it was great, George sang the entire "None Shall Defy" album with us, a lot of people wished they had seen that as it was a once in a lifetime show. As far as touring goes it's not cheap and we all have bills to pay so we need to have new product out there to make it worth our while. I know that a lot of people want to see Infernal Majesty play and that day will come.
Luxi: Besides probably playing live around the globe and having a new Infernäl Mäjesty record out sometime in the (near?) future, is there something else you are carefully hoping to achieve with this band?
Kenny: We want this band do just keep on going which it will. I always hope that the music will take us to the next level. Sure, we would love nothing more than to do this this full time 24/7 but only time will tell if that's the future of Infernäl Mäjesty.
Luxi: I want to thank you Kenny for taking the time with my questions and wish you all the best with your future endeavors with Infernäl Mäjesty. If there's still something you'd like to add to the content of this interview to get things straight regarding some Infernäl Mäjesty related topics, then by all means spit them all out to conclude this interview. Here you are Kenny...
Kenny: Just want to thank you and the Metal heads out there that still hold Infernäl Mäjesty as a force. Over the years I come to realize that without you guys it wouldn't be worth the trouble of carrying on. And remember "To stand against evil means you stand alone".
|Other information about Infernäl Mäjesty on this site|
|Review: One Who Points To Death|
|Review: None Shall Defy|
|Review: No God|
|Review: Demon God|
|Review: Unholier than Thou|
|Interview with vocalist Chris Bailey and guitarist Kenny Hallman on November 21, 2015 (Interviewed by Luxi Lahtinen)|
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