Detroit’s Old Gods have returned with one of the rawest full lengths of the year, the satirical scene shaker Stylized Violence. Do neon color punk shirts and shitty bangs make you want to puke blood? Me too! If you crave something really ripping that can still take the piss out of itself and you might find yourself enjoying a song called “Slaughtered Vomit Doll” or that references “Gravity’s Rainbow” (not the Pat Benatar album), then Old Gods are for you.
I talked to ex-Dillinger Escape Plan guitarist and Old Gods vocalist Jeff Tuttle about why the Black Flag reunion is pretty flaccid, why Ronnie Radke is a douche, horror fascination in society and the irony of trying to sound great screaming.
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It seems like with the new Black Flag reunion that more than ever there is not a lot of “edge” out there anymore. People have a right to play music, but they certainly aren’t “dangerous” anymore.
Jeff Tuttle: Yeah. I hear you with the Black Flag thing. I’m not gonna knock anybody for still trying to get out there but I think that the entire ethic that was forged by Black Flag and all their contemporaries has come full circle. It’s no longer what it was back in the early 80’s. They aren’t getting harassed by cops anymore. Punk is mall rock and has imploded. Our record is driven by that type of mentality and is self-referential. It’s all done somewhat tongue in cheek and an attempt to look at the entire process of being in a punk band these days. I’m in a vocal booth screaming my nuts off and trying to get the best sounding take of something that inherently sounds like shit (laughing).
There’s something comical in that kind of mentality. I really wanted to take a look at that. This is kind of ridiculous. It’s hard to take yourself as seriously and put yourself under a microscope. Hear what you are actually doing. So yeah, that’s at least lyrically where I am coming from on the great majority of Stylized Violence.
You’re calling out the elephant in the room, in a way. Not that there aren’t bands like Napalm Death doing stuff in the underground that matters socially with depth.
Yeah, I mean…I think punk music hit the mainstream quite awhile ago and is a commodity now. Whenever subversive art crosses that threshold and becomes a commodity it loses something. The floodgates open and thousands of jump on the bandwagon bands try to cash in. That doesn’t mean there aren’t bands that still excite us. We’re big fans of Pissed Jeans who write on the same level where they are taking a look at society in a different way. I was listening a lot to their latest record and it was definitely an inspiration. It breathed some new life back into me. I was a little bit turned off by a lot of what’s been coming out lately before hearing Pissed Jeans. It is good to hear other bands seeing what I am seeing with art that is a reflection of that.
Even a sense of theater has become fraudulent in a “bad” way or there is a sense of having to act tough like corny rappers or people who only care about breakdowns. It’s not about listening to an awesome, meaningful Flipper record or even something more recent like American Nightmare.
A perfect example of all of this, trying to play a character you clearly are not…there is a band called Falling In Reverse. It is really this one total douchebag with music ranging from hardcore to dub step and trying to rap in a song. I’m not gonna knock somebody for trying to rap. If you want to rap I don’t give a shit, but he’s portraying himself as a thug guy. Nobody is believing this! You’re playing a character and not playing it well. I correlate a lot of bands and lump them in with film. That’s why a lot of my lyrics and themes are driven by a lot of horror films. I think it is the same thing. When we are up there we are sometimes characters and sometimes it gets the best of you. In this case of Ronnie Radke from Falling In Reverse, he is the perfect example of somebody talking about how he has been in the rap game and just being ridiculous. No, dude. You have not. You are a fool, man. Maybe you can fool little teenagers who don’t know any better but…take a look in the mirror. If you could see yourself in the way a lot of people see you…it’s a fucking joke. I put myself under that microscope as well. The stuff I do on stage is not necessarily a reflection of who I am outside the stage. As a performer I have a persona probably, but I’m not a dangerous guy. I’m not gonna kick the shit out of people the way I do when I am onstage. A lot of lyrics are a reflection of that. It is still even a little ridiculous to me. The record is an examination of all these things and who we are as a band. How we fit in with our contemporaries.
Very Alice Cooper, man. Yeah, it’s horrible a great label like Epitaph would fucking promote that shit. There’s a line between real life where people can get lost. I wanted to ask about your thoughts on stylized violence versus real violence debates. The NRA points the finger at video games and everyone else blames the NRA.
I mean, we aren’t a political band or anything so I’m not gonna try to take a political stance, but to me though all of those problems…gun control, violence in school…it all boils down to families handling their shit. I don’t give a shit if people own guns but if people are not gonna be responsible with those guns that’s a problem. With school shootings there’s a much larger overriding thing going on that dictates that type of behavior. It starts with people not knowing how to handle their emotions. They’ve got a gun and they are going to use it. It isn’t a surprise. There’s also a lot of money in gun lobbying and all that kind of shit. It honestly blows my mind when people try and come at it from a left wing or right wing stance. It makes me laugh. Do you honestly think it is a political issue and not a psychological issue? There are people who can’t handle their shit and this is the result.
In horror movies, which are a big passion of mine, people become characters and it is kind of in the same vein of finding the perfect feedback or scream. People spend all this effort to be a reflection of the worst stuff humanity has to offer. There is an artistry and I am a huge horror fan, so I’m not trying to shit on the genre. It’s just interesting to me how much of a part of our culture that is. Are these people really dangerous? No. At the end of the day they are the same people they were before the process started. That’s my observation. When you take a step back, why do I like horror and hardcore? I’m not saying I now even have an answer but it’s a reflection of who I am, for some reason.
“Burlesque Suicide” made me think of overwrought emo bands singing how they will die for their art or a lover. Well, you aren’t Darby Crash.
No. I mean, a handful of people have lived the persona they portrayed. G.G. Allin. I am a huge fan but have no desire to live my life or perform the way he did. I have no idea what made him tick and want to shit on the floor and throw it at people but he did it.
You never wanted to do that once or twice in New Jersey or something?
(Laughing) For me, that song is sort of about my performing for twenty years and stuff. I’ve never taken a step back and am constantly trying to find ways to outdo myself. Not only do I want to give something new to anyone watching me but I don’t want to feel personally like I am repeating myself. The toll that has physically and mentally taken over the years is sort of my own ‘Burlesque Suicide”. I’m out there giving it my all and slowly and methodically wearing myself down. The title comes from a really old silent film. It’s a guy sitting at a table who keeps putting a gun to his head threatening to shoot. In the end he puts the gun down, looks directly at the camera and laughs maniacally. It was from 1902, I believe. Even before the internet where you can find the sickest, most depraved video…even back over a hundred years ago you could find a movie playing on the same idea of humanity infatuated with the most depraved acts. You watch the movie and wonder if he is going to shoot himself and you think to yourself you kind of want him to. Then you think to yourself ,” What the fuck? Why do you want to see that?” For him to laugh at the viewer at the end, it elicits crazy emotions.
Photography by Aaron Jones