Integrity interview with Dwid on the eve of their Australian Tour.

Integrity interview with Dwid on the eve of their Australian Tour.

True creatives and artisans make art and music for themselves. It may reflect some internal belief or struggle or perhaps dismay at the external world, but it’s always personal. The message should be interpreted by the senses of the audience and not guided by the artist. Integrity is a definitive landmark band because they defy all genres and still produces albums that challenge you on every level. And this, unfortunately, is rare in the age of bands simply playing it safe. Integrity combines art, music and a grim mystique to a style that can only be deemed as heavy as fuck.

Known for being one of the most incendiary and influential bands in hardcore and modern metal history, apocalyptic heavy music icons INTEGRITY finally are touring Australia this month. Their catalog is simply unbeatable with classic albums like Those Who Fear Tomorrow, Systems Overload, Humanity is the Devil, Seasons in the Size of Days and more recent electrifying albums such as To Die For, Suicide Black Snake and Howling, For the Nightmare Shall Consume (not to mention a dazzling array of mind-blowing Ep’s and Split releases). We all have our favorite Integrity album/s, but on the stage is where this band delivers the goods in the most visceral and caustically pleasing way.

We had the exclusive honor of chatting to Dwid Hellion about the band, creativity and what fuels his fire. As expected Dwid was genuine, articulate and passionate as hell. He had an excellent sense of humor, yet takes his role as the chief protagonist of the band as deadly serious. As the band’s epic catalog indicates, Integrity is completely and utterly essential for your audio pleasure. Give this interview a read and catch the tour this month. You won't regret it.

Integrity Interview.

Greetings Dwid, I am really privileged as a long-term fan to have the opportunity to chat with you just before you commence your first Australian tour. Let’s go into the Abyss….

Thanks, Mark. It is a pleasure to meet you.

1-Tell me what fires have you been stoking in your part of the world? And is Belgium treating you well? (It must be decent one of the world’s best bands Amenra hail from here), does being away from the states have it’s benefits for your craft; almost a focused isolation to a degree?

Colin and Mathieu of AMENRA live nearby and we are all close friends. They are a very talented band and amazing artists.

I live in a very quiet area. It can definitely be inspiring, as there are castles within walking distance in most directions. A rather magical experience.

There are both benefits and restrictions in comparison to residing in the States. I have lived in Belgium for almost 20 years, so I have become acclimated to the differences.

2-Integrity in its varying forms has existed for over 30 years, we can probably agree that genres (and probably sub-genres and other cliched boxes as such) don’t particularly mean fuck all; but what is the purpose of this band-is it a reflection of your inner self, distaste with the world in general or cathartic cleansing? Or something else?

Yes, all of your suggested focus points are valid towards the intentions of Integrity. I serve as testimony and I serve to embody, exorcise and to testify.

As far as genres/sub-genres of music are concerned, I do not subscribe to the stifling of creativity through general categorization. I realize that the process simplifies the means of conveying certain similar musical efforts to other people. However, this categorization also seems to lower the bar of imagination and the art-form suffers as a result of the pressures of conforming to fit within that neat, tidy box of genre. 

3-IMHO bands with depth and indeed focused intent merge music/lyrics with the art, Integrity and tbh all your musical projects do this brilliantly, can you expand on why this is so important to you because I think you achieve this so damn well. Every release is thought out, things are purposeful and aesthetic is the key. You seem to present a whole package that may be grim, yet not just some shitty evil skulls, etc. for the hell of it. I believe this also makes fans crave the next release and also it breeds respect for you as an artist. Thoughts?

I am just a conduit, there exists an endless depth within Integrity. I try to capture, catalog and communicate the world in which appears to me through her lens.

My foundations are based in visual arts and I adapted what I learned from collage and other forms of visual art to be utilized in the creation of music. This may also help to explain the visual nature of Integrity and why the visual aspect seems to be almost dominant to the entire outcome.

4-Lyrically, what were your initial influences and current ones? (I predict that there will be some references to literature and movies, how damn important is literature and even film as a medium?)

Lyrically- in the sense of technical application, would be Rimbaud, Breton, Tzara, Ernst, and The Bible. Perhaps, as perspective . . .I would say Francis Bacon and Charles Manson both had an exquisitely unique perspective of interpreting human life into words.

Content-wise- This is rather vast and there is not one specific direction. Generally, it tends to gravitate towards the darkest reaches of humanity. An autopsy of the history of religion and the human's fascination with self-destruction and the cannibalization of its own existence. The demons that haunt within. The urges, shame, and fear that comes along with this human form. The confinement of this flesh prison. 

5- How did you come into collaborating with the late Charles Manson and also, I am interested in the influence on serial killers in some of your musical projects? Do you still communicate with serial killers for some projects? What is the appeal of the occult (as a broad term) for you?

I was asked to help coordinate the release and recording of some new music (at that time) that Manson was writing in prison. Prison is not the most convenient location to record albums, as you might imagine. Manson died a few years ago, so that ended the communication. Haha.

Contrary to popular belief, Manson was not a serial killer. That is a fabrication that corrupt LA County prosecutor, Vincent Bugliosi invented in order to help sell his lucrative book of a fictional account of Manson, ‘Helter Skelter’. Manson's actual role in the Sharon Tate murder and related killings was far more sinister than simply a “failed musicians jealous tantrum” as imagined by Bugliosi. Polanski was the greater evil in this tale, but that is a longer story for another time.

The word, “Occult’ is defined as “hidden” or ‘secret”. Occult is popularly used as a way to describe various religious or faith practices that are less popular than the mainstream's accepted belief systems. I am quite interested in the way humans interact with faith, so I look into all aspects great and small. All religions started from a cult and grew. Occult basically refers to the more underground, less accepted of the world's religious practices. Sometimes these lesser-known practices are portrayed as more sinister than the sleak, professionally accepted religions. In the end, they all serve to control and manipulate the species. 

6-Let’s chat about Psywarfare; (who are playing a one-off show on this Australian tour) it’s an extremely challenging construct, but for those of us that seek deep music/art on the fringe; it’s absolute gift because many music forms focus on playing it safe; are noise/industrial/ similar genres welcoming because of the discomfort? 

The name, Psywarfare is an abbreviated form of the two words, Psychological Warfare. The project is as the name suggests: a mind-fuck. Intentionally provoking and questioning established, accepted, conformist views on how music is allowed to be presented. It is interesting to see how people who proudly view themselves as a “fan of extreme music” recoil completely aghast and offended like some typical conservative grandmother when exposed to the sonic assault of Psywarfare or some of the other music terrorists that some have chosen to define as “noise” music.

Pushing boundaries in art is essential to its growth. For me, this is an evolutionary step from the extreme metal and punk scene. Challenging conformity and comfort and at the same time, there lies an absolute freedom as there is no defined limitation. Limitations serve no purpose in art.

What are the aims of this project and why do we need to be confronted by non-mainstream audio?

If you feel that there is a lack of teeth in what is often described as extreme music, perhaps this type of unconventional music is an avenue for you to pursue. It is not for everyone. I am not recruiting a congregation, this is intended as an assault upon all of the senses. 

7-You, worship G.I.S.M, an incredible and breathtakingly original Japanese band; what the fuck is so great about the range of bands from this region and also at times their tumultuous use of the language? 

G.I.S.M. has been a strong influence upon my life since I was 13 years old and bought the PEACE/WAR compilation 2xLP in 1984. G.I.S.M. revolutionized how music could be presented, as a weapon. I do not blindly enjoy all music from Japan. G.I.S.M. happens to be from Japan, and that location definitely plays a crucial role in their voice and perspective. But my admiration for G.I.S.M. lies far beyond geography. I can say that Japanese musicians do tend to be less concerned with blind conformity, and therefore their artistic boundaries are far more vast than the rest of the world, which makes them more appealing.

8-The music industry can be absolutely sickening, as you have experienced with Victory records. How do you find the balance between not giving a fuck what people think of your music regardless and also getting the product out there in the public? Fans can certainly be cultist about your band, but how important is gaining new audiences? (Praise does seem meaningless if the work is lightweight or just ticking the boxes)

This is a complex question to address. The easiest explanation would be that I am a fan of the first waves of Blues music. These musicians were greatly taken advantage of, but their message and their music were sincere and passionate and stood the test of time. In some cases, it took watered-down versions of their craft to alert the attention of the masses to their music. (Rolling Stones introducing Howling Wolf to their audience of screaming teenage girls, comes to mind)

I do not properly view my work as others might. I see it as a religious effort, passionate and soulful and deliberate. I imagine that its sincerity may be attractive to like-minded individuals and that is possibly the reason for my works longevity and continued audience. I do not have an answer to this. I create for myself, and others seem to resonate with some of what I am expressing. Age is not relevant.

9-To those living under a rock, how would you describe your band to someone that hasn’t seen you before or heard your albums?

Not for everyone. 

10-Your last album, Howling, For the Nightmare Shall Consume was very outstanding on every level. It was brutally dark, yet energetic and I love one review stated many songs sit between Motorhead and Morbid Angel-that’s a damn solid achievement in my eyes. What’s next recording-wise? And you must be stoked to have Dom on board, both for his industry experience(all hail a389 records, which was one of the world’s greatest labels) and his fucking skin-peeling guitar work which added so much to both the album and the legendary All Death is Mine single last year.

We are writing a new album and hope to have it recorded this year for Relapse records.

Dom has been a close friend of mine since the 1990s. Dom is like a brother to me, one that you love and hate simultaneously. Haha. Dom is a wonderful musician to collaborate with and he has an endless vault of great ideas and inspiration festering within his soul.

A389 Records was a great label and I served as its art director for its duration. Dom invested a lot of himself into the label and he left an indelible mark upon the music world with his label.

11- You are finally hitting our fair Australian shores soon, what do you know about our country musically?

I leave for the tour in 2 days. This will be my first time in Australia and I am looking forward to experiencing your country.

I suppose the easy answer about Australian music would be that I have been a fan of Birthday Party/Nick Cave since the 1980s and that I enjoy Beasts of Bourbon as well. But, I am also a big fan of the raw BM act, Forbidden Citadel Of Spirits and I am knowledgeable that there is a vast and great “noise” scene with musicians like Luke Holland (of Trapdoor tapes), MILAT, Bespoke Decay, etc.

12-How did you get into music? And why is heavy/alternative/hardcore/punk music such a sustaining and rewarding musical style (and sometimes the associated community, not always!!)?

Music was always in my life, but the more extreme music came to me through my connection with the skateboarding culture in the early 1980s. Skateboarding and art seemed to go hand in hand at that time. Skateboarding was seen as an outsiders sport, and many outsider artists participated. Early 1980s kids would make cassette mix tapes for friends, (this predates the Spotify mixtape of this new digital/internet era) and I was exposed to music that was not available on the radio through various mixtapes given to me by friends.

I noticed a familiarity with this extreme music of punk and metal and I recognized similarities with this type of music and the skateboard and art culture. It seemed to be an extension of these practices and I approached music with that direction. 

13-Integrity has been a huge influence on so many bands, how do you feel about this statement? 

That is not something that is within my control. I do not know how to properly address this question.

14-What inspires you as a musician?

Challenge, creativity, juxtaposition, vengeance, perspective, experience, misery, exorcism, imagination, intention, volume, taste, color and texture.

15-How would you describe Integrity to someone who has never heard them?

I would direct them to where they can listen to the streams and the screams

16-You have done some remarkable cover versions over your career (Septic Death, Negative Approach, etc.), but your cover of Bark at the Moon is really fucking great; how’d you settle on this ripping tune and do you ever perform these gems live?

Thank you.

Dom wanted to record a few cover songs and that was one of the batch of songs that we recorded. A few are yet to be released.

We have performed that song live. 

17-Does Holy Terror Records have any upcoming plans for products or artists?

No, I do not have the time to invest in other musician's efforts these days. I have too many of my own projects to attend to. 

(World exclusive photo direct from Dwid, Credit: Stephanie Van Houtte)

18-Any final words for your devoted fans in Australia, we have been waiting for this tour for eternity; so, it will be well received. 

Thank you, Mark, for the conversation. I look forward to the Australian excursion next week. See you there!

Thanks for your time Dwid. 

As we said the incredible tour starts this week, don't miss it. It will be one of the most classic tours ever to hit our shores....It's Integrity, so prepare to be destroyed!.

Here's the details:

Album wise, just listen to all the albums via your favorite music vessel and check-in with Dwid and the crew at: