Exclusive Interviews Only Found Here at MetalCore!
Exmortis was just a crushing death metal band way back in the 80’s and recently Necroharmonic Productions re-issued their demos on CD and the band is also back and recording some new music. If the album is a sick as we expect, even if the Air Force loans you some heavy artillery, you'd have trouble duplicating the destruction that this band's sound is capable of! I emailed original and main band member Brian Werking an interview and here is what he said to my questions:
MC: First I want to talk a little bit about today and then we will delve into the past ok. You have a CD release on Necroharmonic Productions which is the release of your demos and a couple other little nifty nuggets on CD. How did this come about and were any other labels interested in putting your old stuff out on CD?
BW: Well I was approached by many labels but I chose to go with Necroharmonic. They just seemed to be the right fit for this release. Roy from Necroharmonic e-mailed me a few times interested in doing this release. One of the other labels that I was considering was Xtreem Music. At the time I was confused on who to go with but after much careful consideration I decided to go with my first pick Necroharmonic.
MC: Now the quality as far as I am concerned is excellent. Did you have the master tapes for each release and how much fun was it listening to your old stuff and did you ever listen to your old stuff on a regular basis? You mentioned in the liner notes that your demo from 1993 was not included on the CD. What was the reason for this?
BW: Yes I had all the master tapes for the Exmortis releases after all I did pay for them. I did have a good time sitting in Punchy's basement studio listening to and remastering all of the songs again. Throughout the years I did listen to the music periodically but not as much as I have the last year. Well the demo from 1993 was called Butchers of the Urban Frontier and that did not include me. That was Chris Wiser's version of Exmortis which included Giles Weiss. Chris was reluctant to give me permission to put this demo on this release at first but finally said yes. After many months had passed and Roy and I had almost the entire liner notes completed including the Butchers of the Urban Frontier demo Chris pulled out of the deal. It was unfortunate because Roy had the master CD with the butchers demo on it and all of the information was laid out in the liner notes so we had to start over. After that it took months to complete the artwork and liner notes. The audio portion wasn't so hard as I simply omitted the butchers demo. I thought it would be nice to of have a complete discography but it didn't happen. Sorry all.
MC: How many members were involved in helping put together the disc and do you still talk to any of the old band members?
BW: I was the only original member involved in helping put together the disc. Lee had been hounding me for years to get something released but it took a while because I was working a very demanding job. As far as talking to old members go I speak with Lee more than any, I've only had contact with Chris since the start of this project and Ted just dropped off the face of the earth. I really don't know what happened to him.
MC: Now is there any chance of Exmortis putting out some new material or doing any possible live shows say like the Maryland Death Fest at all?
BW: New Exmortis music will be coming out shortly through Xtreem Music. There has been no contracts signed thus far but one is pending. The contract will be for a 20 min. EP Then to follow that up with a full-length release sometime in 2012. Since the band has no other physical members but myself, the chances of Exmortis playing live is limited. Although for the full-length CD Lee Coates may be playing drums on at least a few of the songs if not all. This information has not been verified at this time but will soon be. As you know Lee has a commitment to another full-time band "Diabolic".
MC: When you listen to your music, what goes through your mind? Are you still a metalhead and what do you think of your music nowadays? Do you feel it withstood the test of time so to speak?
BW: When I listen to my music today I still think it's heavy and it stands on its own. Yes I do still consider myself a metalhead but there are many other styles of music that I listen to. My one true love is death metal and that can never be taken away from me. Well the test of time, who can really say. There are so many different types of music out there these days that came from the death metal genre that if you're not still into the old-style you may not like Exmortis. I still like it and that's all that matters.
MC: OK let's go back in time and you tell me a bit about how the band formed? I know you went through several line-ups, in your opinion which is your favorite or best one? Do you have a favorite Exmortis song and is there any of your material that you aren't happy with?
BW: Well let's drag up some old history. It was 1987 and I had just graduated high school. Those days were like a party. Anyway I had the urge to have some fun playing music so I invited Chris who played electric guitar at the time over to my house to jam. We soon found out that it wasn't going to cut it so I had Chris start playing bass guitar. All and all Exmortis was formed by me asking Chris to jam and change to bass guitar. A short while after that we responded to an ad in one of the local music stores for a drummer and a guitarist seeking a band. That's when we hooked up with Lee and Ted. Ted was with the band for a couple of months but then had to leave for personal problems. At this time we were a three-piece. Lee found Mike the first Exmortis vocalist who came to practice and was sworn in immediately. In July of 1988 we released our first demo titled "Descent into Chaos". We played a few shows then lost Mike for personal reasons. That didn't stop us though. As we searched for a new vocalist I began to dabble into it myself. That was it and we decided to continue with my vocals from there going forward. Somewhere around the beginning of 1989 Ted rejoined the band. We were set to go into the studio in February as we had all the songs written. So Ted not having much to do played no rhythm guitars but only one will lead on the Immortality's End demo. This was in fact my favorite lineup. There were several other lineups after we split in 1990. I moved to Pittsburgh and started Exmortis as a solo project leading to the Fade From Reality 7 inch EP via Rage Records. At either the end of 1991 or the beginning of 1992 I started to try and reform Exmortis Jere (an-ex) from Nunslaughter and a guy named Matt began to jam. That lasted a whole six months or so before we broke it off. I still continued my efforts with Exmortis as a solo project and was asked by a label if I would contribute to an upcoming compilation they were planning. At the time I knew that Chris was reforming Exmortis back in Maryland so I did the only sensible thing and created a new name for my work titled Bloodless. This caused a lot of confusion because people didn't know which Exmortis was real. They knew that Bloodless was Exmortis but Exmortis was playing live shows and I wasn't. Chris took the band to that level again but for reasons unknown to most they split up. I in fact kept writing new material throughout the years in hopes that someday I would reform Exmortis. Getting back to things now I really don't have a favorite Exmortis song. I liked everything I've written to this day as I do it to please myself.
MC: What were some of your favorite times as far as the band goes? What were some of your highlights as far as live shows go? What were some of the bands you shared the stage with and what was the farthest you managed to go out when you played live?
BW: Favorite times would be partying in Pete's Park... That was a blast, but that's not the band. I would say that some of my favorite times with any individual in the band was with Lee taking him to and from the subway station. We used to have some very animated talks. A lot was going on back then that neither one of us really wanted to have anything to do with but kept the ball rolling as long as we could just to try and make a name for ourselves. I think the highlight from most of the shows we played were the fans. They supported us no matter what. I could drop a pick and they would stand up and give it back. You've got to remember, back in those days there was a lot of respect among the bands and fans of the bands. Things have changed now adays but that's another story. Some of the bands we played with were "Goraphobia", "Dr. Shrinker", "Prime Evil", "Immolation","Ripping Corpse", etc... We actually didn't get that far. We played shows from western Pennsylvania to Eastern and Northern New York plus south in Virginia.
MC: I know back in the day you were pretty big in the underground. Was there any record label interest as far as labels go and if there was, what labels and if there was why didn't you sign with any labels?
BW: Ahhh, labels. They all stayed away from us for some reason or another. We submitted demos to every one of them but the only one that was interested in us was Road Runner. I spoke with Monte quite a bit for a couple of weeks then they signed Immolation instead of us. The funny thing about it was that the next week, we played a show in New Jersey and Immolation was there. They were asking me what they should do as far as a lawyer was concerned. That was an odd situation but we all had fun that night. I think that was the night we played with Dr. Shrinker and Fatal if I'm not mistaken.
MC: Tell me a little bit about each of the 4 releases that are on the CD.
BW: Hmmmm. The Descent into Chaos demo was recorded using an 8 track Revox if I can remember correctly splicing tape and all. It was fun. The Immortality's End demo was recorded at the same place (Zax Trax) in Frederick, Maryland. We had more fun doing that one for some reason. I had saved up some money from shirt and demo sales and we had more cash to spend. By the way, I paid for all the shirts and all the tapes the demos were recorded on. Plus, I did all the recording. The Fade From Reality 7 inch EP was done at the same location but this time it was done by me and me alone. I was working with the best drum samples you could buy at the time. Bass, that was a snap and Guitars and Vox, no sweat. I had it all down tight before I went into the studio. One of the songs, The Unforbidden was not included on the original 7 inch EP because it simply did not fit. The last few songs were recorded for the History of Things to Come compilation CD released by Growing Deaf Entertainment out of The Netherlands. That was all me as well and was recorded in Pittsburgh, PA by a place called Grannies Attic Communications (funny name but a brilliant set of gut working there). They tried to get me involved in some of their work but with me already working 2 jobs to stay alive I couldn't do it.
MC: What led to the break up of the band and was it a bad break up or did you guys just kinda call it a day as you felt you had taken the band as far as it could go?
BW: Well, there are differing stories floating around out there and I've got to tell you, I'm offended by some of them. Chris sticks to his story of them showing up at my house to got the the Michigan Death Fest #1 and I wasn't there. Funny thing was that he claims to have spoke to my mother about this and I know it's a lie as my mother remembered none of it. Who do you think I believe. Some people in the band were having some issues back then anyway. The really reason for our breakup was that we had no place to practice. I spoke to Metal Mom about this prior to the show and she understood that if we would have played we would have made fools of ourselves because we would have been the worst band playing that day. It's bad enough that most of our shows ended up with some kind of fighting going on within the band but to add insult to injury, I told the guys way in advance that there is no way we are playing that show and I was canceling but at least one of them turned their back on me and has been there ever since. I say grow up, this was ancient history.
MC: Brian what did you do when the band broke up? Did you go and join any other bands?
BW: As stated before I tried to put Exmortis back together while I was in Pittsburgh but it failed to happen. Other projects I was involved in was a band called Static Images which was old school Industrial music like Skinny Puppy. Myself and another guy were fooling around with it but we never really made anything out of it. Another more serious project of mine was a band called Shockwerks. It was only myself using computers and samples. At one point I bought a state of the art Orchestral unit and wrote about 45 minutes worth of music and started shopping it around to indie film companies. I actually got interest from 2 companies. One of them turned out to be for a pilot of a public access show that was going to be but never made it to the screen. So I continued writing odd and obscure music in hopes that someday people would notice it but the Death Metal crowd wanted nothing to do with it. You know, metalheads and their open minds... Should I say that? yes I should cause it's true, even to this day. Did and DeathMatal project and named the band Bloodless which most of you know as AKA Exmortis...
MC: What have you been doing with yourself the past 10 years or so? With the booming of the internet did you start to see stuff about Exmortis on there? I am sure there is videos on You Tube and I am sure some stuff was for sale on Ebay and places like that. Did seeing that stuff kinda put a smile on your face?
BW The past 10 years of my life have been a whirlwind of fun. I was working for the largest financial institution in the world doing their desktop and server IT security work. We had a daughter 9 years ago (man do they grow fast). At this time I am laid off and am going through some other type of technology classes in hope that it will get me hired somewhere. If not I'm gonna have to take what I can get. As far as the internet goes, yeah, seeing people selling Exmortis stuff on different site has been a trip but the best thing of all is that I'm finding people I knew back in those golden years again by using Facebook. And with Vonage I'm able to call almost every country in the world and talk to them. It kind of makes life easier.
MC: How would you rate yourself as a guitar player and do you ever still pick the guitar at all nowadays and what were some of your influences when you were growing up?
BW: I rate myself as a 1 with the highest being a 10. I still pick the guitar but there was a time that I put it down for a long period of time. Especially after my daughter was born. I just didn't have the time to do it anymore. Some of my major influences were Kerry King, Jeff Hannaman and Chuck Schuldiner. They kind of boosted me into the direction I took.
MC: Was there any bands that you played with that were complete dicks and what were the crowds like at shows that you played?
BW: Well, there was one band that I won't say their name. They were from Frederick as well and thought they were the shit. They played Metallica, Megadeth and Pantera covers. We were supposed to play with them one night at a party and when it came time for us to put on our show we were told the Frederick isn't ready for what we had to offer. I didn't know if that was a compliment or not but I kind of took it as you're not stealing the spotlight away from us.
MC: Do you miss the many hours I am sure of...gasp...writing actual letters and making demo tapes? Did you get a bunch of mail everyday stuff with flyers and stuff? What did you parents think of all this?
BW: Those days were some of the funniest times of my life. I had all the mail delivered to my house and at first my parents were freaked out by it but when they started seeing 10-20 letters a day flowing in from all over the world they started to be a lot more supportive. I do kind of miss those days. Now I've got to type and that's killing me too, but it's much better than having a pen indentation on my right middle finger.
MC: Looking back, what are some things you might have done differently if you could? Do you think if the band had the tools of the internet and stuff that you would have gotten signed to a record label I say that because you’re better than 99% of the shit out now and there is way more record labels that there were back in the 80's early 90's?
BW: Well, I do think that with today’s tools Exmortis would have gotten signed. Today, all I have to do is ask almost any label if they want to work with me and they say yes. It's weird. I've got one label that I'm working with exclusively right now and that Xtreem Music out of Spain. Dave is the man and is very helpful. He responds to my emails very quickly as well. The whole problem is that you make no money doing it so it's got to be a hobby. There are a lot of people out there that think they can make big money writing and selling Death Metal but they are wrong. If Exmortis would have made it 20+ years ago, there's a chance we would be making a bit of money today. The thing I have noticed is that if you don't stay on the road touring and selling tons of merch you make no money. Record companies will pay you nothing per CD sold. Sorry guys but it's true. I'd like to have a nice car and live in a nice house but the reality is that these kids today will still be living with their parents or dumps forever unless they get smart and go to school for a degree and a career.
MC: How did the band come up with songs? Was it a riff or a melody line, how did an Exmortis song come about?
BW: It was very simple I wrote ass the guitar riffs at home while Chris wrote short stories that I chopped up to make songs out of. Everyone else just followed my lead as far as learning the bass lines and other guitar tracks. Granted in the end days I got a little help from Ted on writing some of the guitar riffs but that was it. Simple and to the point.
MC: Do you or the label plan on putting out any shirts at all?
BW: Necroharmonic put out shirts but it's been said they will not sell. So I guess that blows my 20% of merchandise. Plus there's no way for me to know if a sale has been made. Roy never made the tracking system available that he said would be in place. I'm not blaming Roy but the merchandise isn't selling. Hahahaha... I have a hard time believing that. Xtreem Music plans on making shirts and LP's.
MC: Plug any websites you have and if anybody wants a CD (they better) where can they get one at?
Some of this shit may be a little outdated and will be updated in time. I run everything and don't have enough hours in the day to do it. Facebook me at my personal account and I'll hook you up with a deal.
MC: Have you reconnected with many old people (me included ha ha) through Facebook and stuff and how wild is it to email and talk to people you may have lost touch with for over 15 years?
BW: It's a great thing... Facebook has changed my life for sure. Almost everyone is out here and easily accessible. You got a question just bounce it off someone’s head and there you go. There have been a lot of people I've re-connected to including some high school friends that I thought I'd never talk to again. It's funny how things turn out. Some people are exactly the same as you remember them while others are completely different.
MC: Do you still have all your old reviews from fanzines and flyers from shows that you have played? Is there any live stuff lying around (video or audio) that might see the light of day one day?
BW: I still have most of the zines but a couple of boxes got damaged by water including my LP collection #@@!$%$...... Anyway, I don't have all the flyers no. There is a lot of Live stuff both audio and video that I have just sitting on my hard drive screaming for someone to do something with.
MC: Who drew the cover art for the CD and was it fun going through all those old photos to put on the CD and what was the feeling like when you first saw an actual copy of the CD and you popped it in and were looking through the booklet and all that. Did it stir up many old memories?
BW: Man, the Necroharmonic release was a long awaited project that was anticipated for over a year. It took a lot of time to put it all together. Drew Elliott did the artwork in pen and I had it colorized by Tina from Necroharmonic. When I first got it I was in a state of shock because it was finally available... I've probably looking through the booklet 100 times... As far as the new release coming out through Xtreem Music, Eric "Rot" Engleman did the artwork and I'm having Tina from Necroharmonic colorize it for me. It looks very good.
MC: Does it amaze you in any way that here we are in 2011 and a band named Exmortis has a CD out? What do any of the other band members think of having your music out on CD?
BW: It doesn't amaze me no. I had always intended on keeping the Exmortis band going in one way or another. I bought the rights to it and it will never be available for anyone else to use going forward... Well, there is one in particular that doesn't want to have anything to do with it, Lee is crazy in love with it and Ted, well, he just dropped off the face of the earth...
MC: What is the craziest thing you ever saw at an Exmortis show?
BW: Me almost getting shot by the owner of the Electric Banana in Pittsburgh. There was a guy, I don't even remember his name that came with us to the show from Frederick just because he wanted to and we invited him to see and hear some Death Metal. Well, someone thought it would be good if he introduced us. Unfortunately he said something about the club the owner didn't like. I'm in my own world getting ready to play and all the sudden the stage lights go off and I see a light coming from in back of the bar. It was the owner. These were his words. "Get the fuck out. Pack up your shit and get the fuck out of here". I was oblivious as to what just happened cause like I said I was in my own world. All I can remember is everyone starting to pack up and Lee chanting something like we don't want to play in this hole anyway. The owner didn't hear that. I told everyone to hold up and don't pack anything yet. We were headliners that night and the crowd was there drinking and having a good time. So, I took a walk back to the owner and explained to him that we had nothing to do with it. This guy just came out of the blue and we really didn't even know him. I also told him that if he threw us out that all his paying drinking buddies would go elsewhere as well. At any rate. Johnny Banana was his name let us play one song so we stretched the entire set out and played back to back songs without stopping to make it one song. I think he was furious but I could have cared less. It wasn't until after the show that I realized the he was pointing a gun at me. Could have lost my life that night.
MC: Do you still listen to underground music today and if so what do you think of it? Do you feel a lot of the newer bands have lost that emotion and feeling that bands from the old days had and today’s bands don't?
BW: I listen to what I listened to 20 years ago. I'm and old fart and won't change. Yes, I've heard some of the stuff coming out both signed and underground and I would say 99% of it blows. Back in the day all of our heart and soul went into creating the music with feeling. Now everyone just copies off everyone else and has no creativity. I've spoken to a few people about this and have gotten differing results. Some tell me there is nothing left to create and other say there are things that people haven't hit yet. I'm one of those people who believe that if you want something bad enough, you'll eventually get it and the sound of ancient Death Metal has not been completely fulfilled. Maybe one of these days some of these new bands will mix in some of it to make it sound a lot better. I'll bet you can't count how many bands sound like Morbid Angel or Cannibal Corpse. Back in the day, bands like Entombed (Nihilist) and Unleashed got their influences from Exmortis. They have both admitted it. That honors me to this day. We all used to tape trade too so that helped. Send Back My Stamps!!!!
MC: Horns up for the interview. I am out of questions. Any last words or anything else you want to say, this is the time.
BW: Hey man, thanks for interviewing me. I'm honored to always answer questions. Sometimes it take me a few day or a few months. It just depends on how I feel or how much crap I've on the table. I've been very busy lately and hope this makes it in this next issue of Metal Core. If people skipped through the interview til the end, new material is coming out soon. Keep a look out for it at Xtreem Music, the Exmortis website or at your local distributor. It's going to get out there within the next couple of months. Oh, and for anyone that actually read this entire interview, thanks to you bro... You are the reason the old school underground is still alive.