IDIOTEQ recently caught up with the authors of one of the most breathtaking and diverse heavy music offerings of the recent years, The Future of Death LP by Brooklyn synapse-melting metal/hardcore hybrid PRIMITIVE WEAPONS, just released on Party Smasher Inc, the new label founded by Ben Weinman of THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN. Just like Ben’s influential band, PRIMITIVE WEAPONS may be difficult by design, but anyone who can make it through its intense nature will probably find one of their favorite albums of the year. Dive into the full record below and read the full interview below.
Band photos by Nikki Sneakers.
Primitive Weapons’ mix of teeth-gnashing aggression and grand, haunting melodies sets the band in line with post-hardcore greats like Refused and Quicksand – guitarist Arthur Shepherd was a member of that scene as a younger man in the ’90s, playing in bands like Mind Over Matter, Errortype:11, World’s Fastest Car (with Quicksand’s Walter Schreifels) and Instruction (with Quicksand’s Tom Capone). Like its forebears, Primitive Weapons layers metal, hardcore, post-punk, and classic rock elements into its own futuristic sound.
The Future of Death was recorded and mixed by Dean Baltulonis (Madball, Modern Life Is War) at The Wild Arctic, and mastered by Dave Gardner (Black Lips, Rocket from the Crypt) at Magneto Mastering.
Shepherd and vocalist David Castillo are co-owners of Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn (immortalized today in this brand new exclusive clip on Metal Injection, along with the bars owned by the other members of the band) – Saint Vitus celebrates its 5th anniversary tonight, in conjunction with Primitive Weapons’ sold-out record release show for The Future of Death, also featuring Pallbearer and Sannhet.
Hey guys! Thanks so much for joining us here on IDIOTEQ! You’ve been getting some really positive reviews for your record. Is it a relief? How much pressure do you feel before the upcoming release?
I definitely felt some pressure before recording just because I think we challenged ourselves to push our sound further on this record and with that comes a decent amount of fear. Once we feel the finished product is strong then you really just release it into the wild. While we certainly are psyched on positive reviews, you can never really take opinions too seriously, everyone has one and a lot of people are idiots.
How was the overall experience working on these tunes? How have you guys evolved since ‘The Shadow Gallery’?
I think for us we were more confident in our approach yet were still willing to try new things, particularly with melody and letting the rhythm section take over on certain parts to give things more room to breathe.
What are your recollections of those days for PRIMITIVE WEAPONS?
Everything was pretty new and spontaneous. There was a lot going on while we were recording and we were hardly in the studio together at the same time but somehow it turned out well in the end. A common tale for this band, It all sounds pretty crazy to me now.
Your musical range is varied and influenced by many different styles and moods. What flavors does each member bring to this new effort?
I think Chris, Arty and I all come from a similar musical vocabulary that is rooted in New York post hardcore but we all like a lot of other stuff that seeps its way into the PRIMITIVE WEAPONS sound. The true outlier is Eric who was born and raised in Minnesota and grew up listening to Noise rock from that area. His influence is pretty prominent to my ears.
Where do you draw your lyrical inspiration? Are you trying to convey certain messages to the listener?
For this record I focused on a feeling of dread that comes with knowing that in the future all humans will face certain death and how that informs living in the present. Whether that death is due to societal collapse, garden variety aging, or ecological destruction etc. I tried to explore that theme to its fullest.
How did you team with Ben Weinman for this release through his Party Smasher Inc.? Comparing to other labels, is it any different in the way of dealing with band?
I met Ben when he wanted to organize a DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN show at Saint Vitus. We hit it off and ended up keeping in touch. One day frustrated by how things were going I just started sharing the record with a bunch of friends telling them we were going to put it out ourselves. That’s when Ben stepped in and decided to work with us which we were and are very excited about.
Ok guys, so what’s next? How will you promote this record? Any shows or tours coming up this Summer and beyond?
We all have jobs and families but we are going to try to get out to some places that we haven’t been before and will be announcing some more shows in the tri-state area soon.
Do you ever feel discouraged by the complexity and the sound of the newer material? Is this new record difficult in translating it live?
Not really since we built that complexity for ourselves. I am happy with how our latest live sets have sounded. We are practicing more than ever, which really just means that we are practicing.
Are you excited for the upcoming record release show at Saint Vitus? Do you have any surprises in store for this gig?
We are very excited to play and are looking forward to sharing our music with artist we admire. No surprises we have thought of just yet…
Photo by Jammi Sloane York.
Being Brooklyn residents, how do you feel about the current club scene and independent music scene in this part of the city? Are you fans of local art culture?
I think the local scene is pretty fucking strong right now. There are a lot of excellent Musicians/Artists coming out of Brooklyn.
Given the current state of music scene and your preferences, if you could go back to a period of time that you have witnessed or not, when and where would it be?
I would probably go back to early 80’s NYC and go to hardcore shows and Danceteria.
Do you mind sharing some cool spots and new projects, bands or labels worth checking out?
Bands I like from Brooklyn: UNIFORM, STATIQBLOOM, TOMBS, HOGWASCHE, SOMNURI, COUCH SLUT, CARCOSA, PHARMAKON, BAMBARA, WARTHOG, BLACK ANVIL, INCENDIARY, KRALLICE, SANNHET, CIENFUEGOS, and there are many more…
Which artists still inspire you in term of work ethic they kept or things they have to say?
I admire the longevity of bands like KILLING JOKE and GODFLESH who are still putting out remarkable records on their own terms.
Ok, in closing, would you like to add anything else before we sign off? Apart from PRIMITIVE WEAPONS, what else are you working on now?
I am working on a zine project and some new electronic music with my friend Soren Roi. I am the vocalist for WHITE WIDOWS PACT too. PRIMITIVE WEAPONS is also actively writing again…
What do you do with your leisure time if you’re not making groovy post hardcore tunes for PRIMITIVE WEAPONS?
I like reading, DJing, playing video games, muay thai, volunteering at my wife’s school and going to sporting events. I also LOVE tequila.
Finally, give me some thoughts on American politics. It’s all over the news here in Europe. Any thoughts on Donald Trump?
American politics is basically organized crime. Donald Trump is what happens when a lot of people have misdirected anger. He is a con artist and a bigot.
Thanks so much for your time! Cheers from Warsaw and good luck with the record release show and all the stuff you have lined up for the coming weeks and months!