Interview with guitarist Phil Fasciana
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: December 30, 2018
Floridian death metal institution, Malevolent Creation, will release their 13th album, very aptly titled The 13th Beast, on Century Media Records, on January 18, 2019. The band's journey up to this point hasn't been easy; after the band's original vocalist Bret Hoffman was diagnosed with cancer, which prevented him from touring, things got complicated. Guitarist Phil Fasciana, who has always been one of the driving forces of Malevolent Creation, foresaw the winds of change and asked his longtime and dear band mate, Bret, what to do. Bret gave his blessing that the band should go on with or without him.
Bret Hoffman sadly passed away on July 18, 2018. Rest in peace, brother.
The Metal Crypt got a chance to discuss those sad days with Phil and at the same time find out what it was like to start from scratch and make the new Malevolent Creation album with a completely new lineup.
Luxi: Hey Phil! How's life in Florida these days?
Phil: Hot as hell and it's December!! Other than that, we are just waiting for our new album The 13th Beast to be released January 18th on Century Media Records.
Luxi: Since the band's previous album, Dead Man's Path (R.I.P. Bret Hoffman), was released in 2015, you have an entirely new lineup to continue Malevolent Creation's legacy as one of the pioneering bands of the Florida Death Metal sound. How did Josh, Philip and Lee join the band?
Phil: After Bret decided he wasn't going to tour anymore and then got diagnosed with cancer it was a hard time for me because I not only lost my best friend to cancer, I lost a few family members and good friends as well. The last few years have been pretty rough for me but while Bret was sick, he told me to keep Malevolent Creation alive and find the best musicians I could. I knew Josh (bass) and Phil (drums) and I knew that I wanted to work with them but after hearing so many vocalists wanting the vocalist position I came across Lee Wolenschloeger who had sent me songs from his one-man band project and himself singing Malevolent Creation songs and I knew I found the guy I was looking for. It's a long story but things happen for a reason. I couldn't be happier with the new album and what a great job each member did on it. It's nice to have a full band that are also fans of Malevolent Creation and are so talented. I love all the albums we did but this album is special and different for long-time fans. It's heavier and faster!! And that's what I wanted. So, I got my wish!!
Luxi: Lee has stated that he felt very honored for the chance to front one of his favorite metal bands ever, Malevolent Creation. Do you believe this has given him some extra boost and excitement to really dedicate himself to the band?
Phil: Without a doubt!!! Lee was the only guy I would have considered to front the band after hearing him play and hearing his vocal style. And Josh and Phil are really professional and made things a lot easier getting this new album done. Lee contributed a lot to this album, and I wish I had met him a long time ago. Nothing against former members but Lee really understands Malevolent Creation's style and he fits perfectly.
Luxi: When you first gathered together for a jam session did you feel right off the bat that the chemistry between you was right? I happen to know all of you love playing extreme music so obviously, that makes things easier and more comfortable when everyone shares the same vision of what to expect from this band in the first place, right?
Phil: Yeah, we wrote the album by exchanging ideas and music with home studios, so when we all finally got together here in South Florida things just felt right. It was extremely hot here in Florida in August and even the recording studio couldn't handle the heat and it's a fucking huge studio so that was a bit of a pain in the ass and there were a couple other obstacles we had to endure but in the long run it was worth it. I prefer recording albums the old way like we did up until 2002's The Will to Kill where we recorded live because the albums were recorded faster and easier. These days with technology and computers you have to play everything perfectly to a click track and I'm not used to that, but I am finally realizing that it can be very helpful if needed.
Luxi: The 13th Beast is a very apt title for the band's new album as it's your 13th studio album. It was a long time in the making and perhaps some people wondered if they would ever see a new album due to Bret's untimely death. I guess you wanted to prove to everyone with this album the band is far from being dead, despite some of the setbacks that you have faced in the last few years...
Phil: I was confused for a while because Bret and I were the driving force behind the band for so many albums, but even the albums we did without him I am very proud of. It was when Bret got cancer and he told me it was very bad that I had a hard time dealing with things and had a hard time concentrating on the future of the band. But this isn't the first time I cleaned house and just got rid of band members that were not 100% dedicated.
When Bret gave me the OK to do the best I could with Malevolent Creation it made me feel a little better. You have to remember Bret and I have been best friends since we were 10 years old and, just like real brothers, we had our problems and issues, but I loved that guy like he was my own brother. I still can't believe he is gone because he was one of a kind. But I'm sure he is happy with this new album and it is dedicated to him. R.I.P. my brother!!!
THE IMPORTANCE OF TEAM WORK
Luxi: The 13th Beast is said to be one of the most intense and brutal Malevolent Creation albums of the band's career. Do you believe this new album is sort of a return to the band's roots; the musical roots of some of your early albums like The Ten Commandments or Retribution?
Phil: In my opinion it is similar to some of our faster albums like Envenomed and The Will to Kill. It will always have that Malevolent Creation sound because I wrote just about every song on every album. But like I said earlier, our new vocalist Lee wrote a lot of songs and his vocals are crushing. Working with him and writing music with him was so easy. And we have so many other songs that we haven't finished yet. Everyone in the band writes music and plays guitar too so it's really interesting now. It's not just me doing everything 95% of the time.
Luxi: How do you believe your fans, both old and new, will take to this new album? Would you tell them this 13th Malevolent Creation album will tear their houses down, metaphorically speaking?
Phil: If you are a fan of Malevolent Creation and love Death Metal, I don't know how you couldn't like this album. It's my 13th album and I'm still excited every time I listen to it. It's fucking brutal!!!
Luxi: This new album will be your second album for Century Media Records. How are things done differently compared to your previous label, Nuclear Blast?
Phil: Well, we gave Century Media two great albums but didn't get much promotion or help from them. I hope this album will change things. I know they are a big label but I don't think they really care about us too much. I wish they would because the last two albums we delivered to them are great albums, in my opinion. I can only hope they promote this album and believe in the band like our former labels.
Luxi: Speaking of your early stuff, I noticed that Hammerheart Records has run into some legal issues selling re-releases of the band's early albums via their mail order. Can you shed some light on what's going on?
Phil: I believe Hammerheart has straightened some of those problems out and hopefully a lot of our old albums will be re-released with some great bonus tracks and special gifts for fans.
Luxi: The album's been mixed and mastered at Dan Swanö's studio, Unisound Recording Studio, in Sweden. Did you feel Dan had the best understanding of how this new Malevolent Creation album should sound and that's the reason you let him do his magic behind the mixer?
Phil: Yes, exactly!! After working with him on the last album Dead Man's Path, which he did a great job on, we wanted him to mix and master the next album. I think he is amazing and really understands the Malevolent Creation sound. Hats off to Dan Swano again!!!
Luxi: I am curious to know if you made any demos of these album songs with Bret's vocals and did any of these songs get finished with solos and stuff?
Phil: We did the demos without Bret. The songs I wrote were with Bret in mind, but Lee had such a good handle on everything and he put great lyrics and vocals to all the songs on the album. Most of the demos were just music until we recorded the album and heard what Lee had prepared and it was perfect.
Luxi: Have you started booking shows for 2019? What about arranging a real tour that would cover most of the corners in this world? Any plans for that yet?
Phil: We are looking to tour everywhere possible for this new album and possibly do some special shows that will include some older albums in their entirety.
LUCKY NUMBER 13
Luxi: Okay, as your new album is the band's 13th studio album, let's end with my 13th question, too. What does the number 13 represent to you personally? Is there some true magic to it, in your opinion?
Phil: Since 13 is considered an unlucky number we figured we would use it in the title of the album because of how much crazy shit this band has gone through. Thirteen might be our lucky number and it's unbelievable that we have made it to 13 albums. And still have enough songs for our 14th already. So, who knows!!
Luxi: Thank you for your time, Phil and, of course, I want to wish you all the best in the future with the Malevolent Creation team. May 2019 be the year of Malevolent Creation... And yes, those last words are naturally left to you...! ;o)
Phil: Thank you very much for the interview. I hope fans of Malevolent Creation are as happy with this 13th album as we are. I never imagined recording this many albums but we have never gotten weaker. We just keep playing as hard and fast as possible like I wanted from the beginning of the band. I'm sure people will agree that this new album is something special and new for new fans. No one can destroy this Malevolent Creation!!!
R.I.P. my dear friend Bret Hoffmann!! You will never be forgotten!!!
|Other information about Malevolent Creation on this site|
|Review: The Will To Kill|
|Review: Invidious Dominion|
|Interview with Phil Fasciana (guitar) on September 18, 2003 (Interviewed by Barbara Williams (Crowley))|
|Interview with guitarist Phil Fasciana on October 10, 2023 (Interviewed by Luxi Lahtinen)|
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