Dwid Hellion of legendary hardcore band Integrity, sits down for a rare exclusive interview with Blow The Scene Editor-in-Chief, Joshua T Cohen on the eve of Integrity’s newest release, The Blackest Curse.The new album hits the streets May 25 through Deathwishinc! Integrity are widely credited for not only having laid the foundation for metallic hardcore, but having continually defined the genre and influencing bands such as Converge, Hatebreed, and Rise and Fall, to name a few. Now over 20 years active in the music and art world, Dwid Hellion give our readers an inside look into his current influences and works, life in Belgium, and he even leaks a little info on the upcoming Integrity shows in London and Los Angeles.
Joshua: Let’s cut through any bull-shit openers as I know you not one for the same old dry questions. Your persona is as complicated as your art and music. You are known for many things; front-man of Integrity, visual artist, your poignant words, and being a label-head. I can say through personal experience in Clevo that you are perceived by those who know you as a loyal friend, straight-talker, Intense performer and artist, and you have never been afraid to speak your mind. I know you often get bored with the same ol’ interview questions, so here I would like you to just throw out what is truly the first thing that comes to mind when someone asks you, “Who is Dwid Hellion?”
Dwid Hellion: I am a personally focused terrorist of destructive artistic creation. Not interested in acceptance, conformity nor praise. If and when my music or other weapons begin to rub the world the wrong way, then i am truly in my element. I am that moment when you would give anything to have a second chance, when everything has fallen away, hope has been lost, nothing is left to lose and when you start auditioning religions just in the distant hope that someone, something hears your cry and turns back the hands on the clock.
Joshua: That is an extremely powerful statement. When one hears the term “terrorist” we often think of creating terror in those that are witness. Is this “terrorism” a self-exploration within your artistic expressions or the intent to create terror in those that explore your art? Or both?
Dwid Hellion: I would define it as our reluctance to submit to the confines of acceptable music and art within the underground scene.
Joshua: Integrity is often cited as having crafted the foundation of what has become modern metallic hardcore. The sound you helped create and define has influenced bands like Converge, Rise and Fall, and Hatebreed, to name a few. When you were just starting with the band now two decades ago, did you have the intention of changing hardcore forever?
Dwid Hellion: My musical interest has always been aggressive metallic punk with noise and other extreme elements intertwined within. Threatening sounds for hopeless souls. Whatever it has been misconstrued as by the mainstream is not of my own design. There are those who know and feel what I am creating, and there are those who only hear loud music. The true believers know.
Joshua: Are you surprised in the current resurgence of interest in the band? I see more and more young kids sporting Integrity T-shirts all over the US. I have read in many recent interviews with bands like Converge, who sing your praises for having defined the style of music that fuels many modern metallic hardcore bands. Does it give you a sense of satisfaction that some of the most well respected bands in hardcore are turning their fans onto Integrity?
Dwid Hellion: I do not follow that sort of thing.
Joshua: I didn’t think so.
Joshua: Integrity’s new album The Blackest Curse has drawn quite an underground buzz. You have been working on this release now for over 5 years. What were some of the obstacles you faced putting this record together and how were you able to overcome them? How did the album name and artwork come to be? Can you tell us what were some of your influences and driving forces when creating this record?
Dwid Hellion: Yes, this album is quite older. My newest material is much more raw. The Blackest Curse has taken its own time and now it has found its way into this world.
Joshua: It sounds as though The Blackest Curse exists almost as it own living entity. Do you feel this work is a continuation of prior Integrity works or has it taken on a life of own? What makes this record different from previous Integrity releases?
Dwid Hellion: That can only be answered by each individual who interacts with the album on their own terms. All Integrity albums differ from one another, while maintaining a similar thread of contempt.
Joshua: Can you tell us about the newest Integrity lineup? Seems you have members spread out all over the Globe. How has this distance impacted Integrity’s plans for the future? How often do you all communicate?
Dwid Hellion: My main partner in crime is Robert Orr. He and I write and record all of the new material. We communicate and file share via the internet, it has enabled us to be able to make whatever we want, however we want.
Joshua: Tell us what brought you Belgium? You’ve been out there several years now? Was it hard to part from Cleveland Scene?
Dwid Hellion: Cleveland was not receptive towards my growth. I find that Belgium offers a seclusion that is priceless.
Joshua: Do you feel the American Music Scene overall is not receptive towards growth, meaning that anything outside of the norm is overlooked? Is your connection to Belgium only in the solitude it offers or is there more to it? Couldn’t you move to any number of European countries and feel the same seclusion or is there something specific about Belgium that maintains your interest and will to reside there?
Dwid Hellion: Although, I have always found the Flemish art of the middle ages to be some of the most powerful imagery that have ever been created . . . my wife is Belgian, and she cast her spell completely.
Joshua: How does the Belgium Music Scene Compare to the American Music Scene? Apart from Hardcore, what other types of music are you following in Belgium? Any other forms of art that art striking your interest?
Dwid Hellion: I am mainly consumed with early 90s french fringe black metal and 80s Japanese metallic punk. I also have a soft spot for Alan Lomax recordings.
Joshua: Can you give us a few examples? When we’re talking 80s Japanese metallic punk we talking G.I.S.M. or even more obscure?
Dwid Hellion: Yes, G.I.S.M. has always been important for me musically. G.I.S.M. were one of the 1st metallic punk bands that I heard. When I was 13 years old in 1984, I purchased a double lp compilation titled, PEACE/WAR and the G.I.S.M. track and Septic Death track (and artwork) made a priceless impression on my musical development. In addition to G.I.S.M. there are many Japanese bands that I find exciting, brilliant and pure. R.U.G. (Randy Uchida Group), Zouo, LSD, Sex Messiah, G.A.T.E.S., Arkha Sva, AVM, Kriegshog, Zyanose, RAPES, and many more. I think that Japan has been able to maintain the rebellious venom of punk longer than any other scene.
Joshua: Alan Lomax, there is an interesting pick. Lomax is known not only for being a pioneering folklorist but also his historical cataloging of folk songs all over the Globe. Any specific songs have your attention? And do you follow the historical catalog of Lomax as well? I know at one point he was under the radar of the FBI for what were deemed his “communist sympathies.” He was also an advocate for civil rights for African Americans and the American Jewish population in the early 20th century. Have you taken any interest in these aspects of his life and how they relate to his music?
Dwid Hellion: I particularly love his chain-gang recordings. Breaking rocks, chopping wood and singing along en masse. I like the primitive nature of the recordings and home made instrumentation that many of the Lomax Smithsonian recordings offer.
Joshua: Back in the states, we’re facing some serious issues such as giant oil spills threatening the entire eastern sea board, health care reform is mess, and we’re still fighting two wars, and major cities are becoming more and more like police states everyday..Having the unique perspective of someone who lives in Europe but has ties to the states, what is your take on America’s current political situation? How do politics compare to those in Belgium? Armageddon on the way? Or are you just happy to be out of the US?
Dwid Hellion: The corruption has gotten out of hand. They have been able to blind even the punk scene into patriotic guilt with their endless barrage of media manipulation. The end of the world has long since been initiated. We reside within the Hell that we have been promised.
Joshua: Do you feel punk music overall has shifted gears from once defying the system to now having become institutionalized within the capitalist market? Any bands that you follow that are still going against the grain and countering the media manipulation? Do you feel there is an undercurrent of fans looking for the punk scene to become “dangerous” once again? or do you believe the punk ideology was doomed from the beginning to merely become marginalized by the media?
Dwid Hellion: Of course there are bands that are still pure and dangerous. But the label, “punk” has been watered down and has become impotent by MTV.
Joshua: You’ve released some really interesting art works over the past several years. Have you been working with visual art more as of late? Any new works we should expect soon? Have you been experimenting with any new mediums of art?
Dwid Hellion: I have been interested in destructive film making as of late. The trailer for The Blackest Curse album gives an idea of what i mean by destructive.
Joshua: When you say “destructive,” are you referring to self-destructiveness of the outward expression of destruction upon others?
Dwid Hellion: Yes, all of those interpretations apply. But easier seen than described:
Download The mp4 Now Courtesy of Holy Terror
Joshua: Integrity shows around the world are nothing short of legendary, can we expect the crew to hit the road anytime soon?
Dwid Hellion: We have a show next weekend in London and a show in Los Angeles in mid July.
Joshua: Where can Integrity fans find information about these upcoming shows?
London: Viceland – For Tickets
Saturday May 29, 2010
London at The Old Blue Last
HOLY TERROR PRESENTS:
“A Midnight Mass”
featuring ROT IN HELL Live
and a headline set from
VERY SPECIAL GUESTS TBA
Downstairs: Hosted by Hardcoreus
We’ll let you guess who the “Very Special Guest” is
Los Angeles: Grace Of The Unholy
Joshua: Your label imprint in Belgium is known as Holy Terror. We’ve seen interesting art and music releases through this label. What can we expect from Holy Terror in the future?
Dwid Hellion: We are always working on new projects, never to be anticipated.
Official Integrity Myspace
Holy Terror Records
Blog for Holy Terrorism – Grace of the Unholy
Dwid Hellion’s Official Site
Original Artwork by Dwid Hellion
Live Images Courtesy Christopher Z
Interview By Joshua T Cohen