Tuesday 19 April 2016

***GRAF ORLOCK & Vitriol Records exclusive interview***

GRAF ORLOCK / VITRIOL RECORDS exclusive interview (+ 'Crime Traveler' review)

Justin has been at it for a very long time. Playing with Adam (drums/art) for almost two decades, GRAF ORLOCK and Vitriol Records have been in the thick of cinema-grind since the turn of the century. I have been following the band and therefore the label since purchasing the Graf Orlock/Greyskull split 12" that houses the vinyl in a backpack jacket and all the lyrics and songs are about Total Recall. Needless to say, the packaging and music were a combo I had never seen done so well, so I began grabbing everything by the band that followed over the years, including the Destination Time series and the holy grail which is the Doombox. Read the interview OMSB had with Justin about everything Gorlock and Vitriol. Jam some new songs while you read and then head over to Vitriol's site to pick up a copy of the new 12"LP that is the most engaging and thought provoking packaging I've ever had the pleasure of studying.

*Check out Vitriol Records and their bandcamp here and order the 12"LP here.

*buy the 12"LP in Canada from the Zegema Beach Records distro here, as well as the Doombox and other 7"s by the band,

(((((OPENmind/SATURATEDbrain))))) reviewed the band's pre-2014 discography which is linked here and is a pretty decent record of some of the band's exploits in terms of packaging, shirts and what movies the audio clips come from.


Why the name, GRAF ORLOCK?
When the band was starting, I wanted it to be something that was NOT genre specific. Most people still can’t properly spell the name, and that it was one of early film’s finest vampire flicks only makes sense when you have a Cinema-grind band. 

What bands have most directly influenced GRAF ORLOCK’s songs over the years?
I would say more that certain scenes influenced us. There were never any bands in particular that we wanted to sound like or emulate, it was more a thing where we were interested in having a black metal part, or a death metal riff, or something that sounded like it was from the 90s MTV Buzz Bin. All of it adds up to the barely listenable monstrosity that is our back catalog. 

Tell us about the new album. The concept? The writing process? The sound? The packaging?
Crime traveler is essentially the movie that we always wanted to make. It is fundamentally an action movie with biting social, economic, and diplomatic critique all through the lens of a time traveling Canadian assassin. When we were in film school, prior to being kicked out, this is what we were working on. I suppose you could say it is a meisterwerke of moronic proportions, if you are into those kind of things.
Are you embarking on any upcoming tours?
Going to Europe with our sibling band Ghostlimb for a month in summer 2016 and might try to dabble beneath the equator in Australia’s summer/our winter later on. Have not been there since 2010 and I feel like we are neglecting that hemisphere.

What has been the most difficult song to write? The easiest?
I wouldn’t say any of them are particularly HARD, it is just the process. Alan the drummer and I have always written all of the songs, and they just work the way they work. We get in our tiny practice space and play whatever we would want to hear in a ripping thrash song or depressing ass death metal song. It is fairly organic and since we have been playing together for 17 years or so, I don’t like to think about it. 

What is the best GRAF ORLOCK tour story?
Several that get us in trouble whenever I tell them to people. So for now just leave it at “arrestable”.

Considering the point of this blog is to introduce people to new bands, which bands would you recommend checking out?I would say check out this upcoming release by a band called Asphalt Graves, they are ripping death grind with a bunch of members of every band ever. 

How do you find out about new music?
I run the label that puts out most of this stuff, so it is usually through looking around, distros, or really touring a lot. In that way you are exposed to a lot of stuff you wouldn’t be as a normal wasting their life in a fucked up, creme colored cubicle. 

What is the easiest and most difficult part about running a record label?
Easiest is not having to talk to anyone about anything, no manager, no boss, no one to ask to mail me records. The difficult part is the entitlement culture the internet fosters when you’re trying to run a mail order label as well as the omnipresent and shadowy demon that is money. 

What has been the label’s best and worst experience thus far?
There have been some records that have done phenomenally well, and others that come out RIGHT after the band broke up. That is always a total bummer in terms of momentum and finances. It is always impossible to keep up with whatever the hype is lately and chances are if you can capture it, people would be over it by the time it is 6 months down the line for record pressing. I think (and I suppose this is an argument for musical elitism) things should be like they were back in the day, HARDER to find, perhaps then people would be more invested in it and not jump on in 2 months. 

How has music influenced your life?
It has wonderfully benefitted me, the experiences of traveling, the majority of my friends now are somehow involved in music. It is also a difficult commitment, touring has a pleasant way of ruining relationships. Generally it is good though, would not be the same without it, and would have probably released my mortal coil by now otherwise.

Can you please describe the chronological musical progression of your life?
When I was a kid I listened to oldies, then I discovered Metallica, the Misfits and Samhain, played metal and punk since then, which I suppose has been most my life. 

How would you describe VITRIOL Records?
It is not as much a sound but is more about capturing what is going on at a particular time and place. It could be more of a historical documentation if you will, of things most of the rest of the world may never have known about otherwise. It is important I think, regardless of the morass of money and time it becomes. 

Can you reveal anything interesting about yourself and/or the label that the readers are not aware of?
We do a whole lot of things when not doing this. I’m a history lecturer, there are people across the bands I am in that are draftsmen, landscape architects, graphic designers, Phd students, and across the spectrum. We do this stuff for fun and expression, sometimes it feels like it, but no one ever wants this to be our jobs. 

Can you explain, perhaps specifically - the catalyst for you founding VITRIOL Records? I would assume GRAF ORLOCK related stuff.
In 2008 we were set to put out a Ghostlimb and Graf Orlock release before a Euro tour, the other label folded so I put them out and started the label. That was 47 releases ago. In the end it is better doing things autonomously. 

Can you explain how you come up with the name VITRIOL Records?
In literary criticism it is a “bitter or caustic critique” or chemical origin in the word. This seems best to describe the general feelings I had/have toward the world and somehow manage to also put an objective, albeit harsh tinge to all of it. 

What was the biggest initial obstacle when starting VITRIOL?
We had done all of the legwork on other releases people we knew had put out for us, so it was just figuring out distro and trying to get records out there. Now the difficultly is letting people know they exist in a world of insane white noise. 

How did you fund your first few releases?

What criteria makes you choose a record to release?
First, I have to like it, but generally it is projects with friends and people I know. I think out of 47 releases there have only been 2 bands I didn’t know personally before we started working on stuff together.

How in the hell do you figure out what you are going to do in terms of packaging for a release? You have so many different kinds of releases!
Adam is the graphic design guy and the drummer for gorlock. We would come up with stupid ideas and then see if they were executable by the pressing plants. Also, if you are going to go through the trouble of making a physical product it should be worth having. Those records were just dumb ideas we talked about and then he made happen and then I put them out. Really the best way to do things. Those would have never flown if some other label did it for us. 

What was the motivation behind the idea of the Doombox box set?
We went to Europe one winter and made a backpack record design (Graf Orlock/Greyskull split), we also wanted to make a fanny pack 7” but that never came to fruition. The boombox was along the lines of seeing what we could make work and then putting it to the plant to see  what they could make work. You should have seen the CD version for Destination time Today that never got made. 

What movies may pop up in future GRAF ORLOCK releases?
Since we made a new record off our own movie I am not certain what lies ahead. Suffice it to say I like action movies and documentaries. 

What is the most exciting thing to happen to music as of late
Definitely not endless reunions of every band that ever existed. Now every band that plays live is dealing with the entire history of punk and hardcore in summer when you’re trying to tour this is totally frustrating. 

What is the most frustrating thing about the "music industry"?

Flooding the market with a whole bunch of stuff that isn’t good, and convincing young bands that they need someone to help them and can’t do it themselves. 

Have there been movies that one band member really wanted to incorporate into a song that was scratched because other members weren’t in agreement?

Oh hell no, if you have listened to these songs you know that they have a really low bar for acceptance. 

What are your opinions regarding the remakes of Total Recall and Commando? What are your thoughts on AvP and Prometheus?
Remakes are like reunions, go do something else. What? There aren’t enough stories in the world?

What are your thoughts on superhero movies?


What’s the best Alien movie? Why?

Aliens, Space Marines LV-426. Hudson. 

What the best Predator movie? Why?
The first one is a near perfect film that cannot be surpassed by any other related film.

What’s the best Arnold movie? Why?
T2. Classic. “Easy money”, “Wolfie"

Have you dabbled in film?
We have a movie coming out of our new record. It is going to be moronic as all hell. 

GRAF ORLOCK 'Crime Traveler'

"Bad Cell Service on Connecticut Avenue"
A blasting affair sets the tone right of the bat with some massive breakdowns making an entrance around 1:15. The classic GRAF ORLOCK sound permeates the final 20 seconds with metallic hardcore and thrash mixed with grind and it's a beautiful, devastating thing.

"600,000 Tons of Explosive Ordnance"
This song is fucking huge. The opening sounds like a death scene while the 2:16 stop and start is amazing. The song then leaps into a guitar solo followed by a slower vocal exchange with caustic screamin' and yellin'.

"Afternoon Lunch at the Red Bacchus"
Track three starts quite slowly for a GRAF ORLOCK song but the tension builds and just after the one-minute mark shit gets crazy. The guitar wailing after 1:32 is also a nice touch, as are the drums after two minutes that lead to the climactic close.

"A Decent Proposal in a Shitty Alley"
This song is all about the atmosphere. The entire thing reeks of dirt, grit and sewage systems which begins to build at 1:46 and culminates at 2:09 with a fucking prodigious breakdown vast enough to ride out the remaining minute and half of sludgy, hardcore perfection.

"Regional Turf War Spills Blood on Vegas Strip"
This song begins with one of the best intros and then barrels through 2:23 of classic Gorlock palm-muted cinema-grind including the phenomenally powerful 1:14-1:32 section and the first pretty yet uncomfortable piano outro.

"Nursing a Hangover"
Another biting intro on this one focuses on the Exxon Valdez oil spill disaster before laying absolute and utter waste to your face, hitting plad speed with those drums at 1:33 and delivering a pummeling blow after the 2:44-mark.

"Our Infallible Cybernetic Future"
By the title alone it should be obvious that this is a Terminator song but Arnold's brief dialogue of "negative" gives it away should you bypass the song title. The Gorlock fellas get pretty damn classic halfway through with massive breakdowns, thrashy goodness and dual throat shredding.

"Summer Getaway, Mount Hermon"
This track is quite short, as after the intro it's only about a minute and a half, but the first 40 seconds slays and the final minute provides a sweet build to a crushing climax.

"Difficult Decisions in the Yutani Mess Hall"
Ahhhh the Aliens song. "Yutani" gives that away but the space marine dialogue further reinforces that. Right after the one minute mark the track is torn apart in a chaotic whirlwind of infinite weight and is one of the heaviest parts on the album.

"Cheaper, Safer, and Better than the Real Thing"
And here it is, the epic closer. Beginning with a quick Total Recall intro, this nearly five-minute opus might be the biggest and best thing that GRAF ORLOCK has ever done (save the Jurassic Park song, of course) with calculated and very effective placement of musical violence which mirrors the entire plot of 'Crime Traveler', which is that of a time-traveling French Canadian named Marmot that commits political and environmental espionage in an attempt to bring about the collapse of the United States. But back to the song, as at 2:38 the guitars sound like a T-Rex roaring as the the columns of heaven begin to crack and fall and takes the cake as my favourite Gorlock part ever recorded.

What an album, goddamn.

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