Photo Credit: Holland Ford
Welcome to the first installment of the Texas Takeover, readers! There’s been something in the water over in Texas that, when it comes to death metal in more recent years, has been completely overflowing with a style of heaviness that is utterly lethal.
Each week, this column will feature a Q&A with a “next generation” death metal representative from the Lone Star State. Through a series of questions, we look to uncover what connects these death metal acts from various cities around the state. We dig into details about specific members musical upbringing, local inspirations, and the various characteristics that make up the spirit of Texas death metal.
So without further ado, it is my pleasure to introduce vocalist/guitarist Phil, of Lubbock, Texas death metal act, Fleshrot. Hammering forth with a raw, heavy tone, and a horror-infused aesthetic on their Demo 2020, Fleshrot have plans for a new release, but plan to keep things barebones and decomposed.
What are some of the things you cherish about having grown up in Texas?
I grew up all over the state. We moved around several times while I was growing up. Most of my upbringing was in small towns in Texas no ones ever heard of. Growing up in those areas, it was all about hard work. Mostly everyone who has anything worked for it and earned it. Living in West Texas the past 15 years of my life has solidified that even more for me. Texans are hard working, determined people and I’ve carried that influence with me throughout my life.
Was it common for a lot of you musicians to grow up in a household with music playing? If so, what sorts of music were you hearing at a young age?
There was always music around growing up. My dad was a Baptist preacher until I was about 8 and I remember going to these big ass parties in a barn on Saturday nights, that someone in the church would put on. They’d barbecue and bands would play, mostly covering classic country songs and the current hits at the time. There was a lot of Willie Nelson, George Strait, Waylon Jennings. All Texas legends.
I remember sitting in and listening to all the older guys play spoons, washboard, all the old classic shit in a circle. Those nights out there were my first taste of live music and I was immediately hooked from a young age. I think the culture of music in Texas, no matter the genre, is a special thing. If you’re from Texas you’ve got attitude in your songs. It just comes out.
If you can recall, what were your parents’ reactions to the death metal style upon first hearing it? Was this something that they grew to understand or still can’t get into?
My dad, before he passed, wasn’t too into it. He was the reason I got into metal though, showing me Boston and Black Sabbath at a young age to mix in with the Willie Nelson, but he never cared for the vocals (haha). My mom knows that I love it and it makes me happy, so she supports whatever I do with it. She’s not gonna be putting on Scream Bloody Gore anytime soon that’s for sure, though.
If you were to think about it for a moment, what are the core elements that make up the collective sound Texas death metal sound?
It’s that Texas Attitude. Take no shit, gas pedal to the fuckin’ floorboard mentality. Texas strives to be the most extreme in everything and with death metal, and really just metal as a whole, Texas knows how to take it to another level, all while staying true to the core elements that define the genres we play. The respect and loyalty Texans have for the bands from here is hard to beat.
A lot of the bands I enjoy from Texas as of late are extremely heavy and in-your-face, what do you guys attribute that to? Is Pantera held in high regard as a big influence for that throwback groove? And on the death metal side of things, what bands do you find yourselves more drawn to?
Again, just bring the attitude that Texas has. That will always influence the songs. Pantera had that attitude and for us personally they’re held in very high regard. We’ve all been Pantera fans for a long time. Death metal wise though, I find myself leaning towards the classics. I love the old demos and could search YouTube for days just listening to old shit like that. I love fast shit, but I usually find myself listening to the more doom side of death metal more. I love funeral doom, death doom, all that slow, dismal, agonizing shit.
Who would you consider as local (hometown or statewide) trailblazers for the genre of death metal and was the fact that these bands were from your home state an inspiration for you to grow as a band?
I would say bands like Devourment and Imprecation are trailblazers for everyone in the state. Texas has so many bands that it’s hard to name them all. Bands like Devourment, Mammoth Grinder, and Insect Warfare doing the things they’ve done, has been a huge influence on us.
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In what ways have you guys thrived or continued your mission as a band during the pandemic of 2020, and what are your hopes for the future of your band ahead?
We started in August 2019, so we were barely a band pre-pandemic (haha). Everything we’ve done as a band has happened during this shitty time. We’ve been very busy though, we’re currently recording our first full length. That will be out on Me Saco Un Ojo Records/Desert Wastelands Productions sometime this year. We want to do some light touring if that’s ever possible again, as well. Other than that our goal is to just continue to make corpse rattling, gut-wrenching death metal.