HAILSWEBZINE’s Leja Siv Harju recently fired off an email interview with Chad Kelly, frontman of the brand new Louisiana-bred Black/Death Metal trio EXCOMMUNICATED (forged from the remains of SUTURE and CATHOLICON).
Here’s what you need to know about these blasphemous Southern fiends and where you can get their debut effort, Skeleton Key – guaranteed to piss off the prudish, make nuns the globe over blush, and have Jeremy Irons’ character on HBO’s smash hit papal series The Borgias, Pope Rodrigo Borgia, going, “This sounds eerily familiar to my first month on the job…”
EXCOMMUNICATED are: Chad Kelly (Vocals), Jonathan Joubert (Guitar/Bass), and Jason McIntyre (Guitar/Bass). David Kinkade was a hired skinsman for the recording of Skeleton Key.
LEJA SIV HARJU: Since EXCOMMUNICATED is a new undertaking, give us a little backstory on how it all came into place, if you don’t mind – as ex-members of SUTURE, CATHOLICON, and DESPONDENCY, how and when did you all meet and form EXCOMMUNICATED?
CHAD KELLY: OK, well that’s quite a few questions. I’ll try to answer them in order. Suture, CATHOLICON, and DESPONDENCY were all Death Metal bands of different styles, all from the Louisiana underground throughout the 1990′s and 2000′s. We all knew each other, had played shows together countless times, and were friends. DESPONDENCY ended in the early 2000′s, SUTURE in 2007, and CATHOLICON in 2009. When CATHOLICON ended, I really felt that I had not yet accomplished all I’d set out to do in the underground, and still had lyrics in preparation for a fifth album that would be called Skeleton Key.
Jason McIntyre from SUTURE had put down a lead part on the last CATHOLICON album (the SODOM cover “Remember the Fallen” on the CATHOLICON Of Ages Past CD) and we’d kept in touch ever since about possibly collaborating on either something new or in maybe keeping CATHOLICON or SUTURE going, etc. Jonathan Joubert from DESPONDENCY was actually CATHOLICON‘s bassist from the 1998-1999 era and had played bass and backing vocals on our best demo (1999 promo), which was the demo showcasing material for our second (and arguably best) album, Death Throes.
So I’d worked with Jonathan before also, and he actually sort of contacted me out of the blue about something else. Back in the late 90′s or 2000, he actually approached me about re-recording the first CATHOLICON album, Lost Chronicles; and thought I wasn’t interested, it was sort of the impetus for re-recording some of it for the 2000 re-issue. Flash forward about a decade and he was sort of managing David Kinkade’s drum schedule for the time he was staying in Louisiana and contacted me again to see if I was interested in revisiting the idea. I still wasn’t, and told him CATHOLICON was dead (maybe one day it will happen); so we talked about possibly creating new material for David instead. It didn’t take long for me to call up Jason McIntyre and we immediately began trying to put the fast track on the project we only had talked about off and on since CATHOLICON‘s demise. The rest sort of came together; but not overnight… we spend about a year working on the record.
As for a permanent drummer, I really think it will be on a per-record basis. There’s a couple people in town we are looking at for the next one. If we decide to become a live band, we will enlist a permanent guy.
LSH: How would you describe your sound? What bands or musicians would you say that you consider influential? How old were you when you got into Metal and eventually decided this was what you wanted to do as well?
CK: I got into Metal when I was about 15. Speaking for myself, I grew up on MERCYFUL FATE, KING DIAMOND, VENOM, OVERKILL, ANTHRAX, MEGADETH, SLAYER, METALLICA, RIGOR MORTIS, and the usual stuff.
I later got into NAPALM DEATH and CANNIBAL CORPSE. The EXCOMMUNICATED record is really a tribute of sorts to the early 90′s Death Metal that we are really most into. MORBID ANGEL, OBITUARY, IMMOLATION, DEICIDE, AMORPHIS, SUFFOCATION, ENTOMBED. I hate to sound dated, but it really has never been done any better since. The record has a lot of inside nods to that era; some obvious and some not so obvious.
LSH: What sets EXCOMMUNICATED apart from your previous projects, not just sound-wise, but from a musical standpoint? Do you feel more satisfied with the work you put out now than in the past?
CK: I’m much more satisfied with what we’re doing now; just because I think you get better at whatever you do with time and experience and age. What sets it apart, is that I just think that there are fewer limitations keeping us from achieving specific goals. It’s less of a monkey-wrenched democracy or cult of personalities, and more of just a straightforward business approach. That’s not to say we’re not doing this for fun, because that’s all that it really is; but this time we can sort of clearly define goals and work towards them at our given pace.
LSH: What is the creative dynamic like amongst the band members – is one particular person mostly the contributor or mastermind of ideas and how things fit together to form songs, what stays and what goes, etc., or is it mostly equal input from everybody?
CK: On the first record, Jonathan and Jason wrote the music equally, with Jonathan doing some of the drum recording and pre-production; and myself doing most of the engineering and mix production, and sort of walking the project through to completion. I also handled the lyrics and all vocals, and the conceptual parts...
LSH: What was the creative process like on Skeleton Key? How long in the making stages did it take, where did you record it and (if someone outside the band helped put finishing touches on it) who pitched in to help with the production/mixing/mastering duties?
CK: Well, the record took about a year from start to finish. I think it could have been done in a month if we had nothing else to do; but we all have careers and other obligations. Considering that right after this record was done, David flew back to Norway [for BORKNAGAR], one guitarist had a child, the other got married, and I went right on into other mix projects; it’s pretty miraculous that it happened at all.
The drums were recorded at Jonathan’s studio in Carencro, Louisiana (Forgotten Prophet) and the rest was done at my home studio in Greenwell Springs, Louisiana (Underworld). I mixed the record. It was mastered in California by Maor Appelbaum, who has mastered records for FIGHT, HALFORD, THERION, CYNIC, YNGWIE MALMSTEEN, BELIEVER, SEPULTURA, ANACRUSIS, and tons of other stuff. I liked Maor’s approach and he was a first choice for the record; he tends to master with a sense of musicality and warmth, and not crush or over-compress, and he still masters in the analog domain. This helped also keep the record sort of dated in the early 90′s vibe and not the over-hyped and overly digital sounding recordings of today.
LSH: Is Skeleton Key a “concept” or thematic album, or are the songs inspired on a more individual level instead?
CK: Thematic, I’d say; because it’s not a story. It’s just a lot of dark issues from the early Catholic church and general rants on Catholicism...
LSH: Your lyrics tend to deal with the dark side of religion, particularly Catholicism. Even your name, EXCOMMUNICATED (and of course the band CATHOLICON), references an action taken by the church to ostracize or blacklist an individual, most likely someone considered a dissenter, heretic, or other “criminal” working against the church’s interests. Why is this particular theme or issue central to your work? What have been your experiences with this particular sect and what made you choose to address it?
CK: Well, I come from basically an Irish Catholic background, though my childhood was more exposed to Baptist foolishness than Catholic upbringing. I’d say I got some exposure to both; enough to know I wanted nothing to do with any of it. Where the animosity came from, I’m not quite sure. I really just despise systems of control, and lies. Religion pretty much encapsulates both. Religion is particularly rotten in that it sort of steps in as a middle man between mankind and moral conscious, saying “I am the way”. This really isn’t true. I’m all for self-discipline and doing right. I need more of that in my own life. But we can cut out the middle-man, for sure. Religion is a parasite, and is social engineering. There is no manmade system more undeserving of existence...
LSH: Are you guys currently involved in other bands or projects outside of EXCOMMUNICATED?
CK: Jason McIntyre is in a band called PECKERNUT, which was actually formed by the original CATHOLICON drummer John Robinson. He is also working on re-tooling the 2 SUTURE albums for re-release, and I’m involved in that also, on an engineering level. Jonathan is in two bands, PSYCHOMETRY (an orchestral metal band), and JASON & THE KRUEGERS (a Horror Punk band). I am working on a separate project with Jonathan Joubert that is more melodic and experimental Death Metal, and taking some cues from the earliest CATHOLICON demos. We haven’t finalized a name yet; but there will be a record out sometime in 2012 and will possibly have some former CATHOLICON members on it.
LSH: What is the Metal vibe like out there in Louisiana? The South usually has some pretty good shit as far as Metal goes! Any local bands you guys really dig right now?
CK: Well I grew up on GRAVEYARD RODEO, CHRIST INVERSION, EXHORDER, THE SLUGS (CROWBAR), etc. I’m not sure if there’s anything I like today quite as much. A HANGING is pretty good, and that features one of the original guys from S.I.K., a very early New Orleans scene Crust/Metal/Punk band.
GOATWHORE continue to put out good products. PSYCHOMETRY will have their records out soon, this year and next, I believe (there are 2 recorded albums). SLIME IN THE CURRENT‘s album is pretty awesome; they’re from Baton Rouge.
LSH: Who would you most like to work with or tour with? And/or (if you don’t have an answer for the first) what bands have you particularly enjoyed gigging with so far?
CK: Oh wow, that’s a few steps ahead of anything I’ve planned so far; as EXCOMMUNICATED has yet to become a live band. We hope to though.
Some of the bands I’ve really enjoyed playing with were HAMMERS OF MISFORTUNE and of course the CATHOLICON shows with GOATWHORE were always pretty epic. Playing a show with the late Don Decker of ANAL BLAST was a ‘blast’, of course.
LSH: Have you guys been to any good shows lately? If not, what have you been listening to?
CK: Not much lately, very much looking forward to seeing MAYHEM later this year in New Orleans.
LSH: Do EXCOMMUNICATED have gigs or tourdates lined up right now? What are your plans for the near future?
JASON MCINTYRE: Working on it.
CK: Maybe in 2012? We just need to decide if we want to go into rehearsing for shows or making a new record first.
LSH: Do you already have new material in mind?
CK: Yes. We want to make a record that continues where the first one left off. We would like to talk about the Protestant reformation, Martin Luther’s anti-semitism, the American Inquisitions of Boston and Salem, the speciation of denominations in the US, spiritual healing, and all of the other nonsense that has happened in the Christian realm after the time period that Skeleton Key leaves off in. The album will probably be called The Exterminating Angel and will be decidedly more heavy and extreme. Be warned!
LSH: Where can my readers get themselves a copy of the new album?
CK: Ebay, Deathgasm Records, Redstream Records, Moribund Records, Comatose Music, Crucial Blast Records, CND Records, and from writing us personally at firstname.lastname@example.org.
LSH: Anything else you’d like to add or announce to the folks reading?
CK: Thanks for the opportunity! Great interview, and I hope people will give the record a chance and appreciate what we were trying to do with it. It really was made for true Metal fans who grew up on this music, and not so much for purists who think things have to conform to very rigid rules of genre.
LSH: Thanks for your time! I really appreciate it!
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