You can’t easily capture the sounds of desolation without having some of it stick to you or having had to troll through life’s various daily underworlds of stress, addiction or mental illness at some point. Creativity is that amazing Promethean flame that can light and warm you inside or char you to cinders if it uncaps the well of demons for the unwary.
2010 was an amazing year for extreme music with many bands like Danzig’s chilling latest to Sabbath Assembly’s ethereal Restored to One or A Forest Of Stars all truly delivering the goods but perhaps nobody got as bleak and up in your guts as Nachtmystium on their monstrously powerful “Addicts: Black Meddle Pt. II.” Music hasn’t been this scary for most people since they heard Ministry’s harrowing “Psalm 69” and realized the band was completely fucking insane. Sure, if you stick your head regularly in the underground (or never leave it’s comfortable little nasty confines) you’ll come across all sorts of creepy shit out there, but Nachtmystium’s profile is rising and they are putting their weird, warped and withering sounds in people’s faces with a level of shock impact that is making black tidal waves through the metal scene with every new release. We all know some black metal “purists” hate this band, but that is retarded. Go moan in your closet alone with a dirty strip of flypaper. Personally, I think it is cool to see such a gnarly band out in average rock people’s faces and blasting the feces out of their ears with some evil, evil sounds and desolate themes.
The following is a brief conversation with Blake Judd about Addicts downward spiral to hell and back. To keep reading click here.
Morgan Y. Evans: You guys are always trying to expand your sound and now you’ve had this great tour with Atlas Moth. I love that band. I hung out with Steve in Chicago.
Blake Judd: Right on. Steve’s one of my best friends.
Morgan Y. Evans: Yeah, I met him at the club Metal Shaker after getting lost and drunk in the ghetto. (laughing)
Blake Judd: It’s easy to do that there. (laughing)
Morgan Y. Evans: It was the first time I was in Chicago and was really inspiring. I wanted to ask how your recent tour with the Atlas Moth came together and any way that Chicago has shaped your outlook?
Blake Judd: I’d wanted to go back out with Zoroaster for years. The last time we did a D.I.Y. tour I put it together with those guys. It was a blast. They are good friends of mine and I put them out on my old label Battle Kommand. We wanted to tour again and they’ve taken off quite a bit since then with E1 being behind them. I turned out booking agent on to The Atlas Moth and told them that Stavros was gonna be in Twilight with me as well. Their album came out through Battle Kommand and Candlelight. Candlelight has sort of absorbed my label and I do some A&R for them. So since that’s part of my imprint with those guys I want them to have the association with Nachtmystium and vice versa. Dark Castle, they are good people. All four bands know each other and love partying together. Everybody is in a very forward moving state at the moment.
Morgan Y. Evans: The bands aren’t carbon copies of each other.
Blake Judd: We also have common grounds with the psychedelic aspects of our music. That’s kinda cool.
Morgan Y. Evans: I wanted to ask you about the direction of ADDICTS. The psychedelic side of your band has been growing ever more impressive, I would say. I love that the newest record is in some ways intimidating and dark and also expansive. It’s like a snapshot and with the subject matter…I think of how even something as different as you guys as Alice In Chain’s DIRT didn’t flinch and showed the pros and cons of drugs. There’s all sorts of stuff like Velvet Underground that came from drug culture which was revolutionary but then of course obviously it can…(laughing) destroy people’s lives.
Blake Judd: Yeah, totally. Definitely. I think ADDICTS is basically about what you were just describing, the highs and lows of drug culture. For me that is the overall theme. I’d finally gotten to a point in my life where this band is all I do. I don’t really do my label anymore. It’s part of Candlelight now. Being in a band is a pretty cool fucking job but there’s a lot of chaos. Not just with partying or the drugs or whatever. Constantly traveling. We’re no rock stars in terms of our income and touring on busses every single tour. I live in a van 5 months out of the year. With all the traveling and partying, I’d had back and forth issues with drugs in my life. I was never so out of control I was fucking my life up but I definitely indulged and all of that was an inspiration in writing and trying to capture the moment in time that I’m and the people I’m playing with are living in right now. The lyrics also deal with relationships ending whether friends, band mates or girlfriends. I lost my girlfriend of nine years because I was gone for so fucking long all the time. Our relationship was fucked up because I’m on tour all the time and there become trust issues. You’re chasing the dream but at the same time the things at home that matter most to you can be impacted by the high demand of your traveling.
Morgan Y. Evans: I know what you mean.
Blake Judd: Yeah, it’s this weird paradigm. The bigger you get the harder it is to maintain any kind of normalcy at home. You also have to smell the dirty feet of the guy’s in your band every day of your life and maintain friendships (laughing).
Morgan Y. Evans: (laughing)
Blake Judd: All of that is kind of relevant to the theme of ADDICTS. It’s about rock n’ roll and really talking it to the extreme. That’s what I do and what it’s all about.
It’s a very honest record in that regard.
Morgan Y. Evans: I agree. That’s what I like about it. I mean, I’m not gonna harp too much on this because I wanna talk about your musical side too but…I had a bad drug problem when I was very young. I like how your album has a psychology aspect to it…not like a “self help” guide (laughing). I like how William S. Burroughs would kind of own it, he wants to do drugs and sit on his porch in Kansas with some cats and fucking write cool books.
Blake Judd: Right.
Morgan Y. Evans: Some people get into it to experiment and others are trying to mask a trauma or something bad that happened to them and get in usually over their heads. Downhill fast. I love your lyric that says ,”from my point of view, I know more than you.” It reminded me of being an addict years ago and looking for this unknown edge I was searching for and it getting to this almost…white hot point where life teeters on the brink.
Blake Judd: Right, exactly. That lyric also deals with denial. You think you’re in control and fine and …you’re not. It’s the arrogance that can come with that kind of lifestyle.
Morgan Y. Evans: Right. I wanted to ask especially about “No Funeral”. I wanted to ask about the textures and the gear you used or anything?
Blake Judd: I didn’t originally intend for that song to turn out as dancy sounding as it did. I’d been listening to a lot of old Katatonia. BRAVE MURDER DAY and that first song on that record which has kind of the same driving pace and drumbeat. As it came together I kind of had that in mind while writing it and then wrote the little lead thing that goes over it. Soon the dynamics changed and it sounded like this new wave-esque poppy song. I think it’s cool. I’ve never heard a metal band have a track like that on one of their records and I like that we were able to.
Morgan Y. Evans: How was working with Seldon Hunt on your video for “Every Last Drop”? It must have been intense because you are trying to portray something serious about addiction but also make a cool video.
Blake Judd: It’s a miserable acoustic tune and the video is fucking disturbing. I was disturbed as I was watching it being filmed. A girl dies and has a drug overdose in the video. We did eight or ten stages of decomposition with the make up and then filmed her time lapsed to show her slowly decaying. We had a top notch make up artist and she looked very, very dead. It kind of made me realize right in front of me the reality of the subject matter and how real it is what we’re dealing with. Jimmy Hubbard, photo editor for Guitar World and Revolver is a close friend of mine and works with Seldon on a lot of things these days. Between the two of them and Seldon’s art direction, it is gonna turn out really great.
Morgan Y. Evans: It’s very unflinching and realistic in approach. I always think of the band name Tool in relation to how drugs are supposed to be a tool and not the be all end all. What else do you guys have coming up that you are excited about? Do you keep writing after you make an album or take a breather?
Blake Judd: I generally have shot my load after each album, so to speak. I take time off and don’t focus on being creative these days. These days we have to focus on touring. We kind of dropped the ball on ASSASSINS as far as our touring went. We did some stuff but nowhere near what we should have especially considering how well the album did and how much press coverage we were getting. There were a lot of variables that cause that. I broke my leg at one point and had to cancel 70 shows. I was unable to walk for months. Right when ASSASSINS came out I was breaking up with that girlfriend of almost ten years which was really painful but more of a pain in the ass time of my life. I’d moved and was dealing with regrouping and learning how to live by myself. I’d dated this person since I lived at my parents house and had never been out on my own. I was getting used to that and situated in the city, but anyways…long story short we didn’t do as much as we needed to. Sales suffered as a result. It didn’t do bad by any means but not what it should have done and we’re not gonna make that mistake this time. I think by the time this year is over we will have played a show on average once every three days, so it’s been a busy year.
Morgan Y. Evans: ASSASSINS was really influential, though and I’m sure people who didn’t see you tour it that get to see you live these days are gonna feel like you lit two cans of gasoline at once, y’know?
Blake Judd: Yeah. We were out with Kreator and Voivod in March. We played Roadburn. Inferno Festival. Fuck, where else…Norway. We played with M.I.A. and The Flaming Lips and The Stooges at Oya fest. That was weird for us but really bad ass. We were invited to play All Tomorrow’s Parties this year which is a pretty neat festival. We did the old school thrash tour with Kreator, Eyehategod and a tour with Jarboe. Totally different audiences so I am thinking we’re gonna start to broaden our audience which is what I’d really like to do.
Morgan Y. Evans: Were you with Jarboe when the Volcano shit happened? I can’t remember.
Blake Judd: Yeah, dude! Check this out. We did sixteen shows in fifteen days with Kreator and Voivod or something. Came home, had literally seventy two hours until our first show in Europe. We were home for forty eight hours, flew to Europe, landed and played the next night then did thirty shows in thirty two days. By the time we got to Roadburn for the finale we’d played 57 shows in 62 days, I think. THAT day right as we were set to go home, that was the day of the volcano!
Morgan Y. Evans: (cracking up)
Blake Judd: “You are indefinitely stuck in Europe”. We wound up getting stuck for over a week.
Morgan Y. Evans: I remember I wrote real briefly to Jarboe about something and she was mentioning flight problems.
Blake Judd: Those guys got fucked more than we did. We split up with them at the very end of the tour. We went to Switzerland and then we went to Roadburn and were out of Switzerland. They, however, got stuck in Switzerland, the most expensive country in the world at the end of a tour which was, quite honestly a financial disaster. The booking agent we were dealing with fucked up a bunch of things. To have that happen at the end cost everybody an arm and a leg and was a drag.
Morgan Y. Evans: The volcanic cherry on top.
Blake Judd: Exactly. But anyway, having a Volcano in Iceland disrupt my life…I sat back and thought about it and realized I could have worse problems.
Morgan Y. Evans: That’s like some Dethklok shit, man.
Blake Judd: (laughing) It really is.