We recently caught up with All Pigs Must Die guitarist Adam Wentworth for a full-feature interview as the band prepares to release debut LP, God Is War, on Southern Lord Recordings, August 16, 2011. Featuring Ben Koller (Converge), Kevin Baker (The Hope Conspiracy), Adam Wentworth (Bloodhorse, ex-The Red Chord), and Matt Woods (Bloodhorse), the band packs a powerhouse delivery of metal-infused-hardcore with elements of Swedish death metal and d-beat punk. We first caught on to the unrelenting sonic warfare of this quartet last year, as APMD dropped their debut, self-titled E.P. on an unsuspecting public. Adam is kind enough to offer Blow The Scene readers the inside scoop on the writing and recording processes behind God Is War, as well as, some equipment picks, influences, tour plans, and much more. So without further ado, lets hear from Adam!
Joshua BTS: Greetings! Thank you kindly for taking some time with Blow The Scene readers from around the world today! Lets kick thing off by having you introduce yourselves and declare your on-stage weapon of choice with New England’s four-piece powerhouse group, delivering Swedish death metal savagery with explosive hardcore and punk/d-beat , known as All Pigs Must Die.
My name is Adam and I play guitar.
Joshua BTS: We just received an copy of your forthcoming record, God is War, set to hit streets August 16 via Southern Lord Recordings and it’s a definite ripper from start to finish. You recorded God is War with Kurt Ballou at God City Studios late last year as a follow-up to the highly successful underground self-release of your self-titled EP and subsequent distro by Southern Lord. With one recording already under your belts with APMD, and Ballou again sitting at the recording helm- Did you approach this record with any different methods as to the writing and recording processes? Does the writing process of APMD follow a particular pattern with a captain at the helm, or are the works more of a collective effort?
Adam APMD: Both recording and writing this record was pretty much the same as with the EP. We used a second drum kit for some of the slower songs on God Is War, but otherwise, the process was identical. We don’t do anything wild in the studio, really. The only difference in writing for this record was that we had more time, so there was more room for songs to be developed and fleshed out.
The writing process in APMD, since we live in different states, is largely based on sending demos and ideas back and forth and then finalizing material when we’re all in the same room. It sort of maximizes productivity when we are able to play as a band, and we usually end up with enough material that we can pick and chose what works best together, or what needs more work, or what maybe fits better on another release. Constantly having demos to listen to and reference lets us figure out a lot of changes and solutions just through phone conversations. It’s an ideal way of working given our geographical and scheduling restrictions. But that’s not to say we never write as band… the song “Extinction Is Ours” was written in the studio while Kurt was off somewhere eating a sandwich.
Joshua BTS: Both of your recorded efforts display a vast knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of Swedish death metal and d-beat punk. Any pieces of equipment that you find pivotal in capturing the aural assault on record and pushing forward new takes on the d-beat/metal hybrid?
Adam APMD: We’ve used different combinations of gear on both records, as well as live, so I don’t think there is a one piece of equipment that always has to be there. Kurt generally has new ideas and options for gear to use in the studio, so we talk about what sort of sound we want and just start experimenting. I can’t speak with any certainty about the bass or drum set-ups, but guitar-wise we used completely different set-ups on each record. I used Gibsons through 2 large rigs on the EP (I don’t recall the exact amp set-up right now), while the full length was done totally on a Warmoth Jazzmaster through a Bad Cat combo amp and a few pedals. So there’s definitely various ways to get to the same basic place.
Joshua BTS: God is War has a natural and organic feel that many of the Pro-Tools bands are missing out on these days. Was it important to the band to not have any over-produced or plastic sounding records?
Adam APMD: What is important to us is making records that we’d want to listen to, not what method we use to record them. We don’t listen to super-compressed metal records with triggered drums, and that sound is so so far from our tastes, so even though we track on Pro-Tools, it’s not going to become a clicky and compressed record just because we’re doing it digitally. It comes down to finding a balance between getting things raw and natural sounding without losing all definition. We like dirty sounding records and natural sounding performances with imperfections, and that’s how we approach recording. We’re not the type of band or players to agonize over getting a surgically perfect take. There are tons of small mistakes and fuck-ups throughout both records, and those are things that, to us, give a record character. It just needs to sound like an actual person is playing the parts and not a computer, even if it’s being recorded on one.
Joshua BTS: It would appear that there new breed of d-beat/punk/metal hybrids gaining popularity in the states, bands like APMD, Trap Them, Trash Talk, Black Breath and others are leaving behind the super-polished pro-tools approach and looking to Europe and bands from the 90’s for inspiration on modern takes of extreme music. While a few bands like Converge and The Hope Conspiracy have been building off of these fundamentals for years- Do you think the age of uber-produced metal and computer enhanced programming has finally reached its peak and is giving way to more traditional approaches of recording and mixing?
Adam APMD: I don’t think the ultra-polished metal sound is going away any time soon because in the end, it’s just a personal preference. I don’t believe any way of recording is either right or wrong, it’s more about finding a sound that is appropriate for what you’re doing. A band like Black Breath or Trap Them are just pulling from their influences and catering to their own tastes, which is what we’re doing as well. Your influences steer you in a direction sonically, and for us, that is towards the harsher end of the spectrum.
As for bands using Pro-Tools to cut and paste songs or parts together, either to save time or to work-around a lack of ability, that has been going on for decades. It just used to be done with tape-splicing. If you’ve ever heard a Metallica song with drums in it, you’re already quite familiar with the technique.
Joshua BTS: The members of All Pigs Must Die have roots firmly planted throughout the hardcore scene with involvement in prominent bands such as Converge, The Hope Conspiracy, and Bloodhorse. How did the individual members come to find one another to spark this current project?
Adam APMD: We’re all from Massachusetts originally and have known each other for years. Matt has been in basically every band I’ve been in since 2001. We’d both played with Kevin before, and at the time APMD formed I was playing in a band with Ben. I think Ben has filled in for Hope Con before. The Boston area has a very incestuous music scene. In 2009 we were all at the Deathwish Christmas party in talking about music and and various ideas. Everyone seemed to be on the same page and the idea of the four of us doing a project together came up. I actually think Ben left for tour in Japan that night, and by the time he got back home there were 3 or 4 rough demos done. We played together as a band two or three times and recorded the EP in April. It all happened really quickly.
Joshua BTS: Do you expect All Pigs Must Die to become a full-time endeavor with national and world tours? And do you find it difficult to balance the band with members active in other bands?
Adam APMD: The fact that we have played shows at all is still surprising to me, so I strongly doubt we’ll ever be a full-time band. We’ve all got other commitments in life that take priority over APMD, so we make it work when we can. We initially had planned to do a record just for fun, and then that was going to be it. But we were really happy with how the EP came out and we had material left over that we didn’t record, so we kept writing. God Is War was written and recorded by the end of 2010, and it was still just a project at the time. We started getting show offers and things sort of snowballed to where we are now. We’ve been fortunate and have had some really cool opportunities so far. If something comes along that fits with schedules and makes sense, then maybe we’ll do a proper tour, but honestly at this point everything is kind of a surprise to us. If you had told any of us a year and a half ago that any of this would happen we’d have laughed in your face.
Joshua BTS: The lyrical content on your self-titled E.P. and the forthcoming full-length have very strong social and political undertones without being overtly “political.” I found this to be an interesting approach, as the lyrics often generalize the ills of society on a macrocosmic scale, as opposed to singling out anything too specific. Is this a conscious decision when applying the lyrics to the music? And can you elaborate on any of the lyrical themes fans will find within God is War?
Adam APMD: The lyrics are Kevin’s realm, and I don’t want to speak for him, but I can say he definitely writes to fit the mood of the music. I think ultimately the lyrics are touching on realities of life that we all find fitting for the tone of the music and important to be aware of. Some songs are in reference to specific events or concepts, but the lyrics don’t take a stance on either side. It’s never “this is good” or “this is bad”, it’s only “this is.” The over-arching theme is while many of us are trapped in a bubble and focusing all our time and energy on completely trivial nonsense, life is still very brutal and very cruel in a large portion of the world. People can form their own opinions and stances on these things themselves. That is their job, not ours. But they should at least be aware that such things still happen on a regular basis and are very real. The idea of these realities hitting close to home in the future isn’t so far-fetched anymore.
Joshua BTS: When the band is not busy recording and touring, what do your daily lives look like?
Adam APMD: We all work full-time jobs and spend a lot of time with our families/friends. We all listen a lot of listen to a lot of music. We try to play music as much as possible and are constantly writing new material.
There’s a new Craft record called Void that is coming out fairly soon, I’m pretty sure on Southern Lord. Craft is one of my favorite bands and they have been a massive influence on APMD. We did some shows with Burning Love recently and I’ve been really into their stuff – I don’t know if Chris Colohan has ever done a bad band. Everything I’ve heard from OFF! has been great. I’ve also been listening to a lot of Warcry and Skitsystem lately, and on the other end of the spectrum, lots of John Fahey and Jesse Sykes.
Joshua BTS: Apart from your musical endeavors, do you have any other artistic outlets that you are passionate about, whether it is painting, design work, writing, etc?
Adam APMD: I work full time as a graphic designer, though I’m not able to put nearly as much time towards personal/creative projects as I’d like.
Joshua BTS: How is the rest of 2011 shaping up for the band? Any big tours or other plans in the works to support God Is War?
Adam APMD: We’re doing a string of dates on the west coast the week the record comes out in August, starting in San Diego or Los Angeles and ending in Seattle. Some of the shows will be part of the Power Of The Riff festivals. The line-ups for those are pretty insane, so we’re all looking forward to those. There are a few one-offs on the east coast in the works. There are some ideas for later in the year that Americans won’t care about, but that’s all up in the air still.
Joshua BTS: Thank you for taking time with Blow The Scene today as we look forward to keeping up with your future endeavors. Final thoughts?
Adam APMD: Thanks for listening and thanks for the interview.
“Pulverization” – on the forthcoming God is War LP on Southern Lord by All Pigs Must Die
“Sermon For End” – Self-Titled EP (2010) – All Pigs Must Die
All Pigs Must Die – Full Set April 2, 2011 in Philly- shot by our friend Sunny at Hate5six.com
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