Werewolves-Australia's best extreme band-100%. Album review of My Enemies Look And Sound Like Me and interview with Sam.
Werewolves-Australia's best extreme band; Album review of My Enemies Look And Sound Like Me and interview with Sam Bean.
By Mark J.
Werewolves Interview with Sam Bean.
SAM: Progressed? PROGRESSED? PROGRESSED!!! Fucking FIGHT ME.
Nah, kidding. You’re right, it wasn’t meant to be a long-term band. Shit, it wasn’t meant to be a band full-stop. The first album was recorded just as a quick laugh between friends to see how quickly and easily we could pound out an album. We didn’t expect it to turn out as brutal as it did, we didn’t expect to get signed, and we didn’t expect this to turn into one of the more successful bands we’ve done. It’s ridiculous.
I know we’ve started out brutal, but it feels like we left a lot of room to get more extreme with the first few albums. We’re aiming to do ten albums all up. ‘My Enemies Look And Sound Like Me’ is number four. I’m finishing up vocals for album five at the moment, and it feels like we’re beginning to bump up against our abilities with that one. The last five will be interesting. By interesting, I mean totally fucked to play.
For a three-piece you have astonishing amounts of pure audio violence and power, do you put this down to the band members having such extensive band experience or just your mental imbalance overpowering your sanity? I agree with some writers you are absolutely the most intense extreme aussie band at present, along with Remains; some even stating you are up there with Blood Duster as the best brutal metal band we have ever had? Are you worthy or do you still maintain your tough guy aesthetic of not giving a fuck what people have to say about you.
SAM: We’ve all spent over two decades now playing extreme metal around the top end of the genre internationally, and we’ve had more practice than anyone else on earth recording death metal albums over the last four years. With a background like that, it’d be astonishing if we weren’t pumping out stupendous amounts of violence. It’s all practice. We’ve got good at it. I’m sure if we spent those twenty years writing ballads, we’d be the world’s best and prettiest ballad writers. It all comes down to what you spend your life doing, hey.
The new album is unbelievably nasty and crushing, what are some of the lyrical barbs aimed at this time around, I love the abuse each album throws out each time. Any particular influence or new hipster topical stuff that has driven the anger on this fourth album, fuckery aside I definitely hear the most The Bezerker like influence on this release, which was inevitable, your thoughts?
SAM: All our shit is misanthropic as hell which is probably where the comparison comes from, and there’s plenty of inspiration floating around these days. Humanity definitely has not been putting its best foot forward these last few years, has it? I don’t think I was going after anyone specifically. Why bother, the world’s such a target-rich environment! Probably my biggest influences doing Werewolves lyrics are James Ellroy’s ‘American Tabloid’ and Pig Destroyer’s lyrics. They make a point of ending songs or chapters with a sentence that is black as fuck, something that makes you go ‘woah’. I’m trying to do the same thing but with the opening sentence as well. I also try and channel the spirit of Seth from AxCx, minus the career-ending material of course. I try and write stuff that he would have found acceptable.
What is most important to your creativity? What are the biggest challenges? How being on a major label been useful?
SAM: I think this question has more good questions in it than the average interview. Fucking hell. Let me think. Well, Matt and caffeine are the most important parts of our creativity. I hate to think of that dude in the throes of a nascent ice addiction, it’d probably create a death metal singularity that would collapse the planet. Momentum is helpful beyond belief. We constantly tell each other to just get the material down, doesn’t have to be perfect. That stops blockages, procrastination, and time-wasting, and once you get rolling you find your way to the good material. A mediocre idea that then gets redrafted and worked a few times is far better than waiting for brilliance to strike.
Gigs are exhausting for me and Dave, I think Matt cruises through cause he’s a fucken animal. Those guys are so constantly active with playing that I think they’re always good to go. My performance is the end result of months of hard training. There’s no way around it. I always know what I want from a live band doing this, and it’s not a few guys standing still trying to perfect every note. I want cathartic wreckage and some real fucking hate and energy pouring out, even if it results in the song going totally off the rails into a train wreck. We’ve all agreed on that.
The biggest challenge for me is definitely coming up with the vocals and lyrics. No atmospheric moments or solos means more ranting and raving. The guys would put an album out a month if they had their way. I think that although thuggish caveman riffs are charming, we’d run the risk of really sounding like we’re releasing the same album over and over if we don’t take a year to let shit percolate a bit. It’s not a science or anything, it just seems to vary the vibe a bit.
Being on Prosthetic is ace. It makes it so much easier when the label holds up its end and is reliable. I give them and the other guys in the band veto over the material, so if I say something that’s going to get us cancelled they can step in, but they rarely use it. Being on a label with their shit together is half the reason why we can be as productive as we are.
You have supported some sick international bands so far and soon will support Archspire on their October tour, is the plan to do an international tour in the near future, overseas festivals would love your presence and given your solid catalogue, you could easily do the greatest hits set at a major European festival, is this happening, any festivals take your fancy and any dream lineups for you?
SAM: We have no plans after the Archspire tour, man. There’s definitely stuff I’d love to do, sure. I’d love to do a few weeks in Europe and hit up some of the festivals. I played Brutal Assault years back with Mithras and it was fucking awesome, lots of Aussies are over there at the moment and I’m getting ferociously jealous every time I see their pics. I’d love to play one of the big outdoor UK Fests, I juuuust missed out on Bloodstock and Download back in the day, and playing one of the super big fests like Hellfest or Wacken is on my bucket list. But at the end of the day, I love any fest anywhere and want to keep playing wherever people aren’t sick of our shit.
SAM: We love it. The artist, Mitchell Nolte, is an indispensable part of the team. He gets the album, the lyrics, and the general gist of what it’s all about before he starts working, so he channels it really well. Dave handles the merch side of things, but we all throw in ideas for that…if it’s something that’s so ridiculous or offensive that it makes us all laugh, it usually ends up on a t-shirt. My finest moment was at a fest we did in Canberra earlier this year. I saw a couple checking out our t-shirts, and the chick turned the t-shirt around, saw ‘KNUCKLE-DRAGGING DEATH-METAL SAVAGERY’ on the back, and pissed herself laughing.
The world has changed so much over the last 10-20 years, is this band the answer to all our ails? I know you are a huge fan of the key Melbourne metal scene from back in the day when shit was chilled and cheap as hell, or did you move to Adelaide to the church burning? Also, how would you say things have changed musically over the last few years?
SAM: Ah don’t start with that shit! Every time I see any media go “Is this band the saviour of metal” I want to set their building on fire and block all the exits. If there’s one thing we’re doing that I think might be worthwhile, it’s returning to the path of the late 90s where bands would write a good riff and then play it again and again. Everyone ended up trying to be like Nile or Meshuggah and did whatever they could to NOT be catchy. Fuck em. ‘Rapture’ is catchy. ‘Staring Through The Eyes of the Dead’ is catchy. ‘Liege of Inveracity’ is catchy. Bonus, you can even tell they’re different bands! I heard Venom Prison’s ‘Slayer of Holofernes’ and there’s the most amazing riff in the song, and they only play it for 5 seconds, and then don’t repeat it. In a four-minute fucking song! Everyone’s trying to be too complicated for their own good, it’s like they’re afraid someone might actually get off on what they’re doing. I don’t think we’re doing anything important or original, we’ve just gone back to the late 90s when extreme metal started going down the wrong path and picked things up again…this time with 2023 skills and production.
Yeah, I loved the Melbourne scene back in the day. Almost every band was utterly different, and most were brilliant. I thought that’s how the scene was for everyone everywhere, it took years to find out differently. Anyone who wants to know exactly how fucking good it was can read my article about it over here:
Yeah, I live in Adelaide now. Took me a few decades to realise the Melbourne I wrote about in that article doesn’t exist anymore. I can’t live there, it’s heartbreaking. Adelaide is like Melbourne in the early 90s, it’s still wide open, and the gasoline is everywhere just waiting for the spark. You can still be a bum and get by here.
Entertain us with the meaning behind some of the song titles and lyrics as I am sure that’s mostly your fine work, also your videos have been sensational, as they always are, is there more planned and how do you guys pick the fantastic samples on this release?
SAM: Heh, we collect samples throughout the year and have an online ‘sample off’ just before mastering. Matt usually wins though, he’s slightly more rigorous about watching nutter 80s flicks. We’ve got another video planned for this album but don’t wanna give any details away. We’ll do things a bit differently by releasing it later in the year.
Alright, I’ll do a quick run of the meaningless behind the songs on this album….let me see….
Under The Ground – is a song about how much we hate metalheads, including ourselves. I quote Tupac’s “Hit ‘Em Up”. I like the verse part about “Schrodinger’s lyrics”, where the vocals for that bit are formless grunting
Enemies Look and Sound Like Me – I saw a pic of a dude who got killed by necklacing, and some savage
was about to smash his head in with a cinderblock which I thought was
astonishing overkill. The song’s half about that, and half about how people
seem to have gone insane in the last few years and seem to want to destroy
Bring To Me the Kill – started writing it about someone who had some brutal chemo that basically made them poisonous, then ended up writing about vampires
Brace For Impact – a vengeance song inspired by riding the London Tube
Destroyer of Worlds – about how terrible leaders are in the world recently, and how the worst disasters in history tend to be when a popular nutcase leader decides to drag everyone down with him
Neanderhell – about how everyone is either cheerleading the end of the world or too cowardly to stop it. The last two lines and the end of this song are my favourite bits of the album
I Hate Therefore I Am – there is seriously no meaning to this one. We did this track for the EP and got Matt from Cryptopsy to do some vocals on it but there was a bit of a time factor, so I had two days to write the lyrics. Thought they could have been a bit better, so redid it a bit for the album. It references a traditional Irish blessing and inverts it
I Knew Nothing Then And I Know Less Now – a song about how people don’t realise how good they’ve got it. Like, really. Don’t they teach history in school anymore? The majority of human existence was war, the smell of shit everywhere, no anesthetic, and getting married at 12. Like, I know that things have taken a bit of a dip recently, but fuck.
Do Not Hold Me Back – a Taylor Swift-style lyric about getting rid of the negative influences in your life. Or something like that.
What band in your teenage years changed your life?
SAM: Morbid Angel. Saw their gig at the Palace in 1992. Walked in wanting to grow up to be a lawyer, walked out wanting to be in a band on Earache
What was your fave tour as a muso?
SAM: 2003 Art of Noise with Berzerker, touring the US with Nile, Napalm Death, and SYL. At least until the bit where the drummer broke his foot. It really felt like we were about to break through. Now I think about it though, this year’s tour with Mayhem and Ulcerate was awesome too.
Best album you have been part of/recorded etc.?
SAM: I know ‘Dissimulate’ changed everything for everyone…but the last Antichrist Imperium that Matt and I did was my best, I think. I still enjoy listening to it often. And yeah, I realise I’m giving you two answers to everything.
you have ever played or gone to as a punter?
SAM: Played – Mithras at Brutal Assault back in 2009. Seen – Morbid Angel, 1992. I’ve met some of the guys and Gunter Ford since then and apparently, it was their favourite too. It was so unbelievably intense, I started hallucinating during it. Nothing has come close.
The best musical era in Australia?
SAM: Nothing will beat the 90s. But in terms of success and recognition, it has never been better than now.
Australia’s best extreme band ever?
SAM: Damaged, original lineup, early 90s.
Movies or books?
SAM: Porque no los dos, bro?
What keeps you in this insane musical game?
What motivates or drives you to keep making music?
What is your view of a worthwhile live performance, what are the successful components? Is it sheer brutality mixed with piss-taking?
SAM: Making albums. That shit never gets old. That, and working with people who are at the top of their field in the world. I don’t get to do that in my day job! I’m conscious that Matt and Dave are on many top lists for extreme metal musicians, it’s unreal being in a band with them and trying to keep up.
People are often like oh, you must enjoy doing music. I don’t enjoy it. It doesn’t make me happy. But when I do it, it feels like it matters. Making a spreadsheet at work or filling in a timesheet? Pffft, they don’t matter. If I look back at my year, I’m not remembering how many IT mainframe problems I solved. Albums and gigs are the only things that seem REALLY real.
A good performance for us? Total mayhem. I don’t care if we fuck up every note as long as we bring the violence and everything’s getting wrecked. There’s a Libertines clip of them playing some squat in Camden, and all of them get yanked offstage and unplugged at some point, the only one still going is the drummer. I’d rather be at that than some poxy extreme metal gig where they’re all about string gauges and scales.
Any shit you need to plug or hype etc.?
Final messages or witty stories for your fans?SAM: Nothing. You’ve heard it all now. I’ve got nothing left. Buy our fucken album.