Interviews Only Found Here at MetalCore!
Sapremia is a NJ based old school death metal band and after they blew me away life recently I track down main man Lou Ferrera (bass/vocals for an interview and here is what he said to my questions:
MC: Let’s start with the new and get to the old. I recently saw you play a devastating set in Phila, PA recently and you also had a new release come out. What is it called and what label is it on and I assume you are 100% happy with it?
LOU: Thank you, appreciate that, despite the intense heat, it was a great show. The new album is called "Autumn's Moon" and has been released through Butchered Records. We are 110% happy with the entire package from the recording process and sound, to the more old school, simplistic layout which is what we were looking for on this particular release.
MC: How easy was it for you to go in the studio this time and what did you do differently as opposed to the other times you have been in the studio and what was the easiest song to do and what was the hardest?
LOU: We definitely did it differently than how we recorded our other two releases on Open Grave Records. On our Hollow EP, we recorded live. We were looking for a raw sound and knew that our full length was being released just 8 months later and did not want them to sound the same. With Winter Comes Despair was recorded using drum triggers and guitars running directly into the computer, plus vocals were done line by line...but we still didn't use any kind click track or mapping. The end results of both of those recordings were still very good and we were happy with them. Now five years later, we went for the most "real" sounding recording we could do. Justin DiPinto (malevolent creation, pyrexia, mortal decay, etc) who is a fantastic drummer, handled the entire process. We laid a click down to map the songs, and then proceeded to lay the guitars and vocals down first. Guitars were mic'ed and when i did the vocals, i walked into the studio with a case of beer and proceeded to drink til i was ready. Once i hit that "point", we rolled the songs and never stopped, i did the vocals live to get the most feel, basically the way i do it on stage. Line by line i really couldn't get the patterns and ranges as i do when I’m live. Drums came last, triggering only the kicks, but still making them sound as natural as possible. I don't think any songs were harder than any others, once we became accustomed to doing things by click, it became rather easy.
MC: Now how many members are currently in the band from 2006 till the present? If not, how many members came and went since then?
LOU: When we came back in 2006, we were Lou Ferrara, Brian Rulli, Ryan Hill, and Brian Valenti. Valenti is gone, and we have remained a three piece. We did have Eric Gonzalez (Splitwig) in the band as a second guitarist for a while, but it didn't last too long.
MC: Now it is time to go back to the early 90’s. Tell me how the formation for the band took place and how long was the band together before you released your 1st demo called "Subconscious Rot? Looking back, what are your thoughts on it nowadays?
LOU: We formed in May 1990 as a five piece. We were a bunch of metal heads from neighboring towns and wanted to put forth a death metal band, which there weren't many of at that time locally. We actually had an unofficial demo released in 1991, which we only did 100 copies of and sold at local shows. Subconscious Rot was done late 1992, by that time a few members had changed and we were down to a four piece. Personally, i like the stuff we did on Subconscious the best of all, the recording stands up still to today.
MC: Were you guys at all nervous about going into the studio for the 1st time? How did you go about promoting it and how were the reviews for it? Did you get to play live a lot back in those days and what were some of the clubs you played?
LOU: We definitely weren't nervous. We used Bill Berends to record the demo, he did a great job. We played a ton of shows back even then, traveling all over to as far as Milwaukee and Chicago, up through New England, and down to Tennessee. Promotion as you well know, was done through the many fanzines and tape trading, packing envelopes with adds for your band and releases. Reviews were always positive, we sold over 1500 of that demo, which may not seem like a lot, but with no computers/internet, that's a lot of work. Locally, G Willikers was the place to play, but played tons of great spots in NYC, DC, and New England, like Club Babyhead, Red Spot, Castle Heights, etc. We did Sledgefest in Milwaukee in both 93 and 94 alongside Morta Skuld, Accidental Suicide, etc.
MC; Now we go to 1994 and you released a 2nd demo called "Existence of Torture". What are your thoughts on this nowadays and do you have and old copies of the first two demos lying around somewhere?
LOU: Existence was always everyone’s favorite material. That demo came out heavier somehow, though we recorded at the same place, with the same person as Subconscious. We have redone a few of the songs from that demo on our professional releases because the material is still viable. We actually do have a small batch of Existence demos, still shrink wrapped and all, selling through us and at gigs. Subconscious, sadly, all i have is my personal copy.
MC; Did you ever send any of the demos to any record companies and with this demo, did you start to build a more following and get to play more places and what were some of the clubs/bands you played with back then?
LOU: We sent those demos to EVERYONE. I received calls from Century Media following Subconscious Rot; they wanted to hear our next release and were very interested. Seraphic Decay, which put out the original Morbid Angel stuff, wanted to put out our next release right away, so for whatever reason we went that direction. Existence was supposed to be that release. After recording, send them all the material and artwork, we sat there for four months with no word. Phone calls went unreturned, mail unanswered... apparently they went defunct just as all this happened. So we decided to just release it as a demo. We sent that out to everyone as well, but by then, the band was falling apart a little bit so we didn't push as much as we wanted/should have. We had a big following; we played everywhere, and played with so many bands. The South Jersey scene was already sick to begin with, but on top of that we played regularly with Suffocation, Internal Bleeding, Pyrexia, and Deceased. Monstrosity, Embalmer, Vital Remains, Profanatica, Incantation, Immolation, Goreaphobia, and many more that i cannot even think of right now are also on the list.
MC: I like your logo a lot. Who designed it and were any other names considered for the band?
LOU: Our original drummer, Dave Knauer, drew up the logo. It has been redone and beefed up a bit nowadays with computers, but his basic idea remains. We wanted a death metal logo, but one that people could read, as far as i can remember, Sapremia was the only option that we came up with for the band name.
MC: What led to the band breaking up after the 2nd demo and looking back were you sad to see the band end?
LOU: At that time, we were a four piece, with me and Jay Lipitz doing dual lead vocals. Jay left to join Mortal Decay for unknown reasons, though he lasted all of three weeks or so there. We went on as a three piece and made it through another year. Dave, the drummer, was becoming more absorbed in the rap scene, and decided he no longer wanted to do death metal. We tried out a few drummers, but no one really stuck out, so me and Brian decided to go on hiatus for a while and try life, that would up being 10 years. I am very sad that it happened. Though there is no way to tell if we would have enjoyed the same success that we do now, if we remained active. Those 10 years off brought fresh prospective to writing and travel for us.
MC: What did you end up doing with yourself after the band broke up? In that period of time were you still in contact with the other members?
LOU: Me and Brian Rulli stayed friends and in contact the whole time. Neither of us was active in any other bands, instead deciding to get married, have kids, etc. We never saw Jay again, except for at one random Suffocation show and Dave we saw off and on, but he never got his passion back for death metal.
MC: Now what did you do with yourself from 1994 till 2006. Did you still follow the underground scene much?
LOU: I still regularly attended shows and wrote material, just didn't wind up playing in any bands. It was easily to write the EP and full length songs, since i basically already had all the lyrics done in the time off.
MC: During this time period were you at all in contact here and there with past band members and were any of them contacted for this formation of the band?
LOU: The reformation happened when in 2005, i helped Mortal Decay out with their Cadaver Art release, and I realized that I really wanted to play again. When i called Brian up, his immediate response was, "what took you so long?". Ryan Hill, our current drummer, we had known since 93 or so from playing in Malicious Intent. He wasn't playing with anyone so he eagerly jumped right in. Valenti we had known from Mortal Decays beginnings and he was actually the one recording Mortals album, so he had interest as well. It took off right away; we were signed by Open Grave records in our second show back.
MC: Now in 2006 your 2 demos were released on cd called "Subconcious Existence". Whose idea was to put this out and did you put it out or did a label? And if it was a label who approached who and how cool was it to see your 2 demos on a cd as I am pretty sure they only came out on cassette?
LOU: It was our idea and we released it independently. We wanted to have something to sell at shows, so people could be taking home the material they heard. We had revamped four or five of the old songs, plus had four or five new ones when our first shows came around, but we didn't feel we wanted to jump right into a studio at first. We did a small run of 250 copies of that remastered, double demo release. As i stated, we were signed by OGR in the second show back, so they wanted us to hit the studio right away anyway.
MC: Now at this point was the band back together at all because the next year you released an Ep? Or was it just the demos on cd release? Is that what kind of sparked interest in deciding to start up the band again?
LOU: The exact order of everything happening was, get back together in early 06 and work on old/new material. Then in the summer of 06, remaster the demos and release the Sub Existence CD. Then in early 07, pretty much embark on two separate tours with Zircon from Massachusettes right off the bat, just to get the blood flowing, which included playing with Unleashed, Belphegor, and Krisiun. OGR saw us at the Oswego Metal Fest, which was the second show we did, and told us we couldn’t leave the building until they signed us. Then followed us down to Philly for the next day’s show and it was a done deal. The Hollow EP then came out on OGR, July 2007. It was 5 freshly recorded songs, three old demo songs, and two newly written songs. As a bonus, we included the Subconscious Existence demos on there as well, so basically it was a 15 song EP!
MC: So how did this re-union or sorts come together and did you ask old band members or be involved or you got a whole new line-up? If it was some new members how did you go about finding them?
Lou: Maybe i should have read all the questions first before i answered them, haha! I pretty much answered exactly this above. Me (Lou) and Brian are original members from 1990, Valenti we knew from back then, being in Mortal Decay, and Ryan Hill since 1993 from being in Malicious Intent. It all came together quickly, and we meshed very well to get the band going again.
MC: In 2007 you released an EP called "Hollow". Did you guys put it out or did a label put it out? What the response to it being away for so long? How weird was it going into the studio to record some new music under the Sapremia name?
LOU: I definitely should have read ahead, answered all of this as well! Response was and has been since, terrific. The time off allowed death metal to evolve into this huge technical/speed monster, so we bringing the old school, more simplistic style have refreshed people’s ears and they dig it. They act like we are something new, not the other way around; it’s actually helped us quite a bit. Recording was weird. When we did the demos, we were in a studio, recording on reels. When we came back, it was a whole new world, recording and editing on computers, with no amps and triggers on the drums to allow for easier editing and sound adjustment.
MC: At what point in the history of the band do you think you found the "Sapremia" sound and for those who don’t what would you say that sound is?
LOU: Sapremia was always heavily influenced by the Swedish Death Metal bands, and remains so to today. We always loved that groove, and though we grew up hanging around and playing with the more brutal east coast US styles, we played more in the vein of Grave and Unleashed.
MC: Now the underground had changed 100% between 1994 and 2007. Was it amazing to you in some ways as writing letters was a long gone thing and that email and sites like My Space had replaced that? Do you as a band embrace that technology?
LOU: I’d say it changed 300%! It was more than amazing, it was literally mind blowing. I still have boxes and boxes of the old letters and zines somewhere, they were the days. Now we came back and everything was at your fingertips, though that definitely helps spread the word so much quicker. We embrace it to a point; it helps to spread shows, releases, news quickly...but on the other hand, the download and file sharing aspect kind of sucks. We saw on one torret site, that our With Winter album had over 30,000 downloads. That’s good and bad, 30k people heard the material, probably not many if any, actually bought the product.
MC: Lo and behold in 2008, you released your 1st full length ever called "With Winter Comes Despair". How prepared were you going into the studio for this and was their many problems and how was it to have finally a full length release out?
LOU: There weren't many problems at all. We pretty much were already primed having recently done the Hollow EP. It was weird finally having a full length release after 18 years of the bands existence, it kind of brought closure to what Brian and I started playing for. Of course it only fueled us to continue this thing for as long as it will take us.
MC: Now in 2013 you just released a new album called "Autumn’s Moon" Why the 5 year wait in between releases? How do you plan on promoting this release? How long were you in the studio this time?
LOU: Hhmm, I don’t really know why we took 5 years to do the next full length. Other than being so very active playing shows all year round and taking a good 10 months of on and off again recording. This release is through a bigger and more renowned label in Butchered, so that will automatically be more promotion. We just got done a full US tour in June to promote the release and have done a slew of more "local" shows to get it into everyone’s hands. We have shows coming up with Gorguts, Deicide, Suffocation, etc that will help, plus we will go back on tour in spring time, destinations tbd.
MC: What are some of the amazing things you see about the underground scene these days as opposed to the early 90’s. Do you think if bands like yours had the technology of today that you might have become bigger than you were back then?
LOU: Right off the bat, the playing is fantastic nowadays. These kids have taken it to another level and beyond. Of course that has been fueled by taking what was done before them and going forth, but also by the internet, you tube, etc aiding them greatly. The other question is hard to answer. If we had that technology, would the scene be as crammed up as it is today? Back then, there were only a handful of labels and bands worked their ass off to get noticed. Today it is so much easier, and being "signed" doesn't really hold the same water as it once did.
MC: With so many band around do you feel it is going to be harder to get noticed?
LOU: Indeed. Though, it is easier playing a style that not too many are doing right now. We are like the fresh sound to the ears of the younger guys, though it is the other way around for us. We play what we always heard and liked.
MC: What has been the feedback on this release so far? Tell me how the cover came about and has any or would you like to see some of your music on vinyl?
LOU: All that have responded have enjoyed the album very much. We wanted an old school sound, look, and feel. I personally believe that we achieved all three. The album is a loosely based concept album, based on all the universal horror movies, which are my favorite. So with the title track, The Moon in Autumn, being based on Lon Chaney Jr's Wolf Man, the art was easy to figure what we wanted. I’d love to have vinyl done, if only for me personally, vinyl has the best sound.
MC: How would you rate yourselves as a live band and are there any videos on You Tube whether they be new or old.
LOU: I think we are a very good live band. We have a lot of energy, we are tight. We are heavy. I joke around and have fun with crowd, keep them interested and then hit them with another song. There are tons of vids on you tube, nothing from the old days... Lots of stuff from our touring around and one release from our professional DVD, Live Despair release.
MC: What are some of your favorite concerts you have seen over the years and what would a dream concert line-up for you?
LOU: I go to so many shows and love so many bands; I’d be here for three months trying to list all my fave concerts. My favorite band is Maiden, so seeing them every time is a must, and rank in my all time. I dream lineup for me would probably be Unleashed, Grave, God Dethroned, and Vomitory, we can open the show, haha.
MC: Do you many of your old flyers from back in the day?
LOU: Sadly i do not. I don’t even have any of the old shirts we had from back then. We had 10 or so different prints, and every once in a while someone will be at a show wearing one, or posting it online. I’ve seen a bunch of old flyers posted online too, good good memories.
MC; Have you ever gone up on sites like Ebay and stuff and seen your old stuff being sold?
LOU: Yes i have, i actually saw a guy selling our Existence of Torture demo for $49.95! And he had sold three of them at that price already, never figured out how he got so many.
MC: Are all your releases available in one form or another these days?
LOU: The only demo release available is Existence, through us. Hollow was a limited press EP, it is sold out, though i do see it pop up on EBay. We have plenty of Winter and Moon cds, plus the new one is available through Butchered Records.
MC: How would you rate yourself as a singer and what are some of your favorite singers?
LOU: I don’t know, i guess I am alright. Sometimes i like what I am doing; sometimes I am like, what the fuck?! Ha-ha, i tend to enjoy the vocalists that i can hear the pronunciation and that are more rangey. I’ve always thought David Vincent was the best death metal vocalist for those reasons; love Johnny from Unleashed, Henry from God Dethroned, Jeff Walker to name a few.
MC: Please plug any websites you have.
We even still have myspace, but does anyone go on there any more?
MC: Any last words, horns up for the interview and the crushing new cd.
Lou: Thanks Chris, for the interview and for supporting us. Thanks to everyone who come out to the shows and spread the word. It is what the underground is all about, helping one another, supporting one another... hope to see you guys on the road, hit up one or more of our sites for always revolving dates and shows.