Interview: Shock Withdrawal Speak on ‘The Dismal Advance’

The grindcore trio Shock Withdrawal have released a new album, The Dismal Advance, via Brutal Panda Records. Vocalist, Mitchell Luna and guitarist Nick Emde sat down with us to discuss the release.

Stream The Dismal Advance here.

Before I began this interview I took to the time to listen to some of their music off of the album. I also didn’t know much about grindcore when I was beginning this. I thought it was something different that all of the tracks where under two minutes. As such I asked about it and Mitchell said that “there isn’t a reason the songs are two minutes or less. It’s just, I feel like it organically happened, you know? The band is rooted in grindcore.” They also explained that “grindcore songs tend to be shorter. If there’s ever an instance where it makes sense to go longer, we totally would, but it’s not like we’re purposely like ‘Hey, you got to cut it off at two minutes’ but I don’t know.”

Nick continued on saying “working within that scope of writing, playing so intensely, you know, after our drummer is going and we’re just playing a riff two cycles in, it’s already a lot so it’s time to move on to the next thing. It’s a little ADD in the writing, but let’s get on to the next thing. It’s good to keep it moving, your focus is shifting a lot during riff after riff, drumbeat after drumbeat. But before long, it’s just, it’s over before you even get caught up with everything.”

Mitchell adds how “there are parts that do repeat, it’s not like a riff salad.” Mitchell has been in bands where some songs felt like riff salads. He feels like “this record doesn’t and it flows pretty well. And parts repeating, there’s little hooks at least for my weird ears. You might disagree. For a fucking weirdo, like myself. I don’t know, I think it’s catchy.” Nick chimes in to call them “short death metal songs.”

As far as influences go, Nick mentioned he had quite a lot such as “things from the late 80s. I mean all the way from Terrorizer, all the way into the 2000s. I mean if we’re talking about extreme metal, it could be anything from Terrorizer to Brutal Truth, Gore Guts, Hate Eternal, DSI and then there’s 100,000 others. It just keeps going. So nothing specific. It’s just everything.” Mitchell comments “Honestly I like the sound on this record and what we created is really just a culmination of all our favorite extreme metal bands. It’s not like ‘Hey, we’re gonna writing something that sounds just like this.’ There’s bits and pieces. It’s rooted in grindcore, but yeah, it’s just throwing it on a blender and putting something together that we would listen to, if we weren’t in the band. I think that’s the best way.”

In the style of recording process, Nick speaks on how “we all did it in different places. It was kind of stressful. Everybody had weird schedules and only had a limited time to record and we weren’t together for most of it. So it was just like, really tense and wasn’t that fun honestly. Like the drums are recorded in one part of Texas, the guitars and bass in another. The vocals were done in Los Angeles, so just communicating between each other and just trying to keep it together because when we did write it, we’d get together and work on stuff as well as apart. So when we had to record it, we couldn’t get together. We needed to get it done. So it was kind of stressful.”

Mitchell adds that he “definitely feels like it was stressful. We did it all ourselves and self-financed it. We had our good friend Travis Bacon help me in the studio. I did vocals at his place. We had some help with friends, but this was a pretty D.I.Y. endeavor. It’s not like we went to a studio and knocked it all in one long session. Ideally for the next record, I would love to have a scenario where you could be all the same place and work on it and have it feel more organic. Not that this wasn’t organic, but it just felt stressful. We would jump on Zoom meetings and talk about shit a lot, go over things and fine tune things.”

In comparison to their previous work, the guys feel that it was “kind of put together, just a few riff ideas and like ‘let’s make a quick song.’” Nick throws in “And you know one put something on top of the other things. We got drums that fit in with the guitars and no thoughts about the bass. And then Mitchell puts vocals on it.” They mentioned how with this one, they actually work together in comparison to just a few ideas to start a band.

Mitchell continues, “Totally. I feel like even the EP, I look back and I’m like, it sounds like not, I guess like more generic is right, or just sounds like some kind of Brutal Truth-y songs. And this is like a little more, a little weirder. At least I think and this is a little more stylized. It just sounds like something more genuine. We all had this conversation, it’s just like you write right from right here. You write what you want to listen to, not stuff that’s trying to emulate something else. It’s also for me, lyrically about things that are socially aware or just like my critiques on society. I feel like nowadays, it’s just so on the nose, like I’m sick of going on social media and just seeing things that make me depressed. I don’t even want that anymore. This was all just internalized existential shit.”

Shock Withdrawal’s next steps according to Nick are “more shows and to keep writing. We don’t want to put a lot of space between this and the next release, if we can help it. So regardless of what happens and how many times we play live, we got to stay productive and keep it king of moving because there’s still like this stuff that is older material. The same goes with every person you talk to. It’s already old material for us, so we’re ready to move on to the next thing most I feel like.” Mitchell pitches in, adding the fact that “by the time you’re done writing and you’re getting ready to go record and then you’re done recording and waiting for it to be mixed and mastered, and then you know the label gets it and before you know it, it’s been a year since you finish this. It’s just the waiting game but it is what it is. Definitely writing more and we’re working on getting some tours sorted and stuff. It’s just doing it the right way, making sure we do it the right way and support some smaller bands or something.”

As for tour destinations, Mitchell “feels like sort of east coast of the United Stated is the best place to start, just because there’s so many great places to play. You’ve got New York, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Boston. We have tons of friends in that area, just people we want to go see again. But really it all depends on just what offers are thrown at us and what makes sense. However if it were up to me, I’d take a break from everything and jump in a van for a nice period of time to just do that again, and clear my head and just feel free for a month of something.”

It felt as if they’ve all had a bit of touring experience. The last time that Mitchell went on tour “was all the way back in 2015. My old band, Maruta, did a bunch of touring that year. We did two US tours, a European tour and then a tour that went through Canada. It just felt like it was just a natural end to the band and just members not being able to do some tours. It’s been nine years and gotta get me out of my cage.

The road is nothing to me. I never look at going on tour as a thing that should be financially lucrative. I don’t f*cking care about that shit. I love the people I’ve met on the road, the friends I’ve made, the places I’ve seen and there’s nothing in this world to me that can replace that feeling. Just be with like-minded people who love extreme metal, whether it’s a small DIY underground show for like 50 people in a basement or opening up for a bigger band. It’s all fucking awesome to me and I missed that feeling.”

As for Nick, “it’s been a while, I don’t know exactly. It’s all kind of a blur. I did some rockman thing with a friend of mine and we went around the country a little bit. I don’t remember exactly. It’s been too long though. It’s been a long time since me and good friends have gone out for a month straight and just stayed out there, which is ideal, going hard.”

Mitchell adds in “our drummer still tours. He’s in a bunch of other bands and he fills in and he was doing a ton of touring last year with this band, Speed Dealer and Turbid North. Then again, classic drummer…everyone needs a sick ass drummer. Drummers are in like five bands. I’m the less necessary thing.”

Leaning into the touring theme, I brought up their dream lineup, together or not. Mitchell tells that he “would love to play a show with Ass Suck, even though I don’t think they’re ever going to do anything ever again.” He also thinks “the classic response would be touring with Napalm Death would be sick.” Them or Soilent Green since they’re doing a reunion show. He mentioned how he would “also enjoy doing shows with friends’ bands. There’s tons of sick and cool underground bands that I’d love to play some shows with.” Nick follows up on how he thinks that “Napalm Death, Soilent Green, Pig Destroyer type stuff, or what Mitchell said about how there are so many good new bands that are out, which they’re doing a lot of exciting things.” There are “like five hundred million new Death Metal bands, but there’s a lot of good ones.”

Mitchell pitches in with the fact he thinks “it’d be cool to tour with Aeviterne with Garrett and Ian from New York.” He thinks they are “fucking sick and is obsessed with that record.” Other names were dropped by Mitchell, including “Flesher from Indiana, Homeboys, and Gravesend.” Mitchell would also “just play any band that feels like hanging out with old friends again. Wormrot, my old band. Even though they got a lot bigger now and it’s like one member from back then. I would absolutely fucking love to do that again and just hanging with homies, let the inside jokes, kind of just get answered.”

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