We are pleased to offer Blow The Scene readers around the world a new interview with Athens, OH’s kings of metal, Skeletonwitch, as bassist Evan Linger gives us the inside scoop along with a never-before-seen photo gallery of the band taken by Dante Torrieri of Useless Rebel Imaging. In this interview, Linger touches on the band’s latest full-length release, Forever Abomination on Prosthetic Records, upcoming tour plans with Black Dalhia Murder, equipment picks, daily life, and much more.
Joshua BTS: Greetings. Thank you for taking some time with Blow The Scene readers from around the world. Let’s kick off this interview by having you introduce yourselves and declare your weapon of choice with Ohio’s pummeling metal quintet, Skeletonwitch.
Evan Linger: My name is Evan Linger. I play bass in Skeletonwitch.
Joshua BTS: Your latest full-length, Forever Abomination, just hit streets in October via Prosthetic Records. Give us the 411 on the record. When, where and whom did you record with?
Evan Linger: We recorded the album in June of 2011 in L.A. We recorded with Matt Hyde who has worked with Slayer and Children of Bodom to name a few.
Joshua BTS: It appears you have been able to up the ante with a ripper of an LP that is dense with driving drums and speedy double-bass, intense melodic work on the strings, all complimented by a wide range of screams and guttural growls. What did the writing process look like for Forever Abomination? Do you have a captain of the ship that steers the direction of the writing or is it more of an organic process with all parties involved?
Evan Linger: Nate is the main songwriter and riff merchant in our band. Generally he has an idea for a song and he’ll program drum parts and record at least 2 guitar parts on top of that. We all get demos of the song from him and start adding things like lyrics and solos respectively. In my case that involves figuring out what the guitars are doing and writing bass parts to go with them. We all end up getting together rehearsing the material where we will throw out ideas and possible changes that can be made. It’s a pretty streamlined process at this point.
Joshua BTS: Who developed the gnarly artwork for Forever Abomination? Great piece of work! I understand the recurring horned figure is nicknamed “Skeleton Mitch?”
Evan Linger: The art was done by Andrei Bouzikov. He did the cover for our last record as well. We basically told him what we wanted and he did it. He sent sketches and we asked him to alter things and he’d send them back until we were happy. Yes, the evil dude is what we call “Skeleton Mitch.” He’s on every album cover the band has done. He’s like our Vic Rattlehead.
Joshua BTS: I always like to throw one in for the gear heads. Any pieces of weird or rare equipment that you incorporate in the studio and in live settings? Anything is fair game. Mics, heads, drums etc..
Evan Linger: Well Matt Hyde basically told us not to bring gear. When we arrived I saw why. Matt has tons of vintage and high-end gear. He has everything we use like Marshall JCM 2000s and Ampeg heads and that’s literally the cheapest gear he has. For guitars we ended up using some higher end amps that record really well. Some of them being Deizels and Bogners. Personally I didn’t use any of my own gear for recording. I used some vintage fender P-bass that was beat up as hell. For amps we set up 3 bass amps (I think it was an Orange, a vintage SVT and a Mesa) plus multiple DIs and kinda mixed them up to get a really thick tone that sits well with the guitars.
Joshua BTS: Forever Abomination showcases a wide-array of influences from various metal niches. Who are some of you immediate influences?
Evan Linger: We like lots of different stuff. Everything from death metal to classic rock. There is quite a bit of influence floating around. More specifically this album might have a more black metal vibe than previous ones, not that black metal hasn’t been an influence previously. We opened things up a little more made things a little more atmospheric and evil feeling on a lot of the riffs. There’s also just a few Rock n’ Roll parts in there too.
Joshua BTS: Any new bands or up-and-comers that have your attention?
Evan Linger: We’ve taken a lot of smaller bands out that are really killer. For example Withered, Landmine Marathon and Howl. We generally try to take bands we like out on the road. There’s a black metal band called Black September that recently got signed to our label who are really good.
Joshua BTS: Skeletonwitch spends a ton of time on the road. I would imagine those long drives can lead to some odd touring habits. Who amongst you has the oddest touring habits? Please don’t be shy, we love a good gross-out story.
Evan Linger: Well no one takes dumps in bags or any weird shit like that if that’s what you mean. The van smells all the time. When we get back in after a few weeks off you can really tell that it’s rather toxic in there.
Joshua BTS: Any particularly memorable moments or freak occurrences on your recent tour with Kvelertak and Zoroaster?
Evan Linger: Well… Kvekertak missed load in time everyday of the tour. I guess they don’t have watches or clocks in Norway. Seriously though those guys and Zoroaster are great. We had a blast with them. I saw the Kvelertak singer fall off stage more than once and I saw one of them have like a $2000 guitar broke onstage due to the singer’s antics. Those guys are wild.
Joshua BTS: When you are not busy with Skeletonwitch in the studio and on the road- What do your daily lives look like?
Evan Linger: A few of us have odd jobs like bar tending or desk dude at the local tattoo shop. Some of us don’t have jobs at all. It’s hard to find a job where someone will let you leave for months. I don’t have a job currently. I kinda play a house wife role and cook, clean and do yard work while my girlfriend is at her “adult” job. It also gives me time to practice before a tour.
Joshua BTS: I am sure you have noticed many of the protestors at the Occupy events throughout the US on your current tour. What is your take on the current protests that have spread to more than 1,500 cities throughout the World opposing the current financial and governmental structures?
Evan Linger: We’re not a political band and we don’t “do” politics. Heavy metal is an escape from daily bullshit like work and politics. When I go to a metal show I want to have fun and drink beer not worry about that type of stressful stuff. Come “occupy” a Skeletonwitch show and I’ll drink a beer with you.
Joshua BTS: What is on the agenda for Skeletonwitch as we head into 2012?
Evan Linger: We leave for a European tour in a few days with Black Dahlia Murder. Then we go to Norway to play a few shows with Aura Noir. Soon well be announcing some more US shows for spring. We also head back to Europe in the summer to play some festivals we missed last year. Also we will be doing a headliner in the US at some point.
Joshua BTS: Thank you kindly for taking time with Blow The Scene readers today as we look forward to keeping up with your future endeavors. Any final thoughts before we say goodbye?
Evan Linger: Thanks a lot! See you guys in 2012!
Interview by Joshua T. Cohen
Enjoy this never before seen photo gallery from Skeletonwitch’s Oct 11, 2011 Performance in Philadelphia
Pictures by Dante Torrieri