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Symphony of Grief
Symphony of Grief in my eyes and ears is one of the most crushing death/doom bands I have ever heard. Heck I used to manager them back in the day and the band has recently got back together and put out an amazing 3 song EP of new tunes that will blow your fuckin head off. Here is a new interview with Andy and John and buy their stuff it is amazing:
MC: What led to the reforming I guess of sorts of Symphony of Grief and who is in the band with this line up?
John: Andy and I had been throwing the idea around for years. We really liked the shit we did back in the day and we thought it would be fun to have another go. So we called Jay to see if he was interested. he was so there you have it... And there's the line up Andrew Markert - Bass Vocals, Jay Horton - Guitar, John Litchko - Lead Guitar Vocals... As is was, so shall it be...
MC: I got 3 new songs from you. Where were they recorded and what was it like recording again and btw the new songs totally crush?
John: Cool thanx man I'm glad you like the songs. Anyway we recorded it at my home studio "The War Room" for our record label Infernal Creations. The recording went very smoothly. And I am happy to say we are all pleased with the result.
MC: OK let's journey a bit back in the time. The band was originally called Cerberus. How did the coming of that band form and how many line-up changes did you go through before you got to the 3 core members that recorded that one demo before the name change?
John: At first there was no name just a concept. I was approached by Andy asking if I could lend a hand on guitar with a new project he'd been working on. And I said alright let’s give it shot. I think Andy had some beats and a few riffs. One thing I remember is the first time we got together we wrote the song Infernal Creation (not to be confused with the label) from the first demo.......
MC: How easy was it for you to get your sound together and did you originally look for a drummer and then decided to go with a drum machine?
John: As for the drummer no, we never sought a real drummer. Part of the original concept of the band included the use of a drum machine. It was just kind of a different way of approaching extreme metal at the time. As for the overall sound that just come out of the combination of our tones and the way we play the songs the bending or blending of certain notes...
MC: Do you think now not having a drummer hurt the band in any way or do you don't think it make any difference?
John: Not really. In the early days sometimes it was a problem as far as some live gigs. But most of the gigs I think it worked well as long as there was a decent PA.
MC: Looking back what are your thoughts on that 1st demo and was that the first thing you actually put down on tape and how did the recording of the demo go and can you still listen to it nowadays?
John: I love that demo! I listen to my crappy copy once and a while. The recording of that went very well, maybe one or two takes for the whole thing. It was all so new at the time and very exciting. We were very happy to get it home and listen to what we did.
MC: What led to the name change from Cerberus to Symphony of Grief? Were any other names considered and who picked out Symphony of Grief?
John: We all knew Cerberus wasn't quite right for the name. But we had no ideas until Andy wrote the lyrics for "Ritual Disembowelment” in one of the lines it says "Symphony of Grief" so I suggested that we use it for the name, and everyone agreed as it better fit the musical style.
MC: Do you think being from South Jersey, which has an awful metal scene, hurt the band in the long run?John: Well I for one being from Philly knew South Jersey sucked and so did Philly at the time. We just made the best of it. The only thing that hurt us was ourselves.
MC: If I am not mistaken after the name change you did a 7" on Gutted Records. How did this come about and how did the recording go for that and I assume it is sold out and goes for a pretty penny now. How was it working with Gutted Records and are you happy with the 2 tunes that are on there?
John: Yeah we did the 7" next. We booked time at the same place we did the demo. But they gave us a different engineer claiming that he was better than the guy we used before, and at first it was cool. Than we got home and listened to it and we were not happy. So than we arranged to have the engineer from the demo (Steve Kristiansen) to come back in and remix it. Steve did a much better job than the other supposed "better" guy. So in the end yes we are happy with the two songs on Gutted.
MC: I know you played some live shows. Were any of them recorded at all and is there any chance of seeing them on You Tube or places like that?
John: As far as I know there are no live video recordings of our shows, or audio for that matter that I know of... Wait there is one of the song Cerberus. Maybe we'll put it out someday.
MC: Do you think you are a good live band and was it easy playing the songs live and how did the whole drum machine thing play out when you played live and did you ever have a problem with it when you played out. Did you have a favorite show that sort of sticks out in your mind?
John: I do think we were a good live band; we impressed a lot of people with our sound. As I mentioned before sometimes there were problems. Like we were booked to play a gig with Carnivore at a fest in NY and we were assured that a DAT player would be at hand to play our drum tracks. But no. So obviously no show for us. I can remember a few cool gigs but one that stands out was the bar we played in the middle of nowhere. The staff didn't even know we or anyone else were supposed to play that night. We ended up playing the gig anyway in front of like two bar maids and a drunk. I think we got payed with beer...
MC: At some point you put a 6 song EP on Wild Rags that did really well. How was the recording process for this and are you happy with it now? I know this is long sold out and I know Richard C ripped off people, but did you have any problems with him?
John: Yeah that one we recorded at Vortex sound with Jim Forbes I think he's related to you. Ha ha! The recording went very well again. With a drum machine it's pretty easy to get the tracts down plus we were very well rehearsed so that wasn't a problem. And Jim is a great engineer so no problems there either. The only thing I would change on that is: I would bring up Andy's bass a little bit in the mix... Other than that I think we're pretty happy with it. I know he has that reputation but we didn't have any problems...
MC: The last thing that I know you put out was a split 7" on a label name that escapes me at the moment. How did you end up on a split 7" and did you like seeing your material on vinyl?
John: Yeah it was Grinding Peace Records. I'm not sure who procured the deal. It was either you or Andy. I love vinyl so yes I was pleased with that.
MC: After the 7" came out did the band stay together and did you record anything else before you broke up and is there any unreleased stuff lying around that might see the light of day?
John: We had a few ideas, but in the end they were never recorded and the band broke up. One of the parts did resurface though in the clean bit from the outro of "Day of Reckoning" from the new ep.
MC: You recently told me you have a new CD coming out and the band is back together.
John: Yes we will be doing a full length CD some time soon. We still have more material write. The same as always.
MC: The Cd, what material will be on it and who is putting it out. Are the 3 new songs you sent me going to be on it too? When will it be out?
John: It's gonna come out on Infernal Creations the same label as the EP. The 3 songs you refer to will probably not be on it. We're going for all new material, but it's still early on so we'll see what happens. We can't say for sure when it will be out, as I said before we still have some material to write.
MC: When you were putting together a song, how long did it usually take and where was the weirdest place a song idea came to the band and what was the hardest song to write?
John: Sometimes it happens very quickly it all starts with one riff and goes from there. Some songs require more riffs than others that's where time can be an issue. Those songs tend to take longer to write. Some may have taken a bit longer but I wouldn't say any of them were hard to write. I don't know as for weird but there is a song for the new album that was inspired by the orgy scene in "Caligula" you know when Caesar forces the senators pimp out there wives as whores. Anyway that will have to wait for now.
MC: How about lyrics. Who wrote them and how hard or easy were lyrics to come up with?
John: Andy writes some, I write some. Sometimes one of us will come up with a concept or a title and one or both of us will write the lyrics. The lyrics are usually a little harder than the music because you have to put more thought into it as opposed to the music which is more intuitive.
MC: Now is the band back for good or sorts or is just like a one time re-union type of thing? Do you plan on playing any live shows and will you still use a drum machine and the new songs was it a drum machine on that recording?
John: Well we're just taking it one step at a time. Let’s just say we're back for now. I for one would like it to go on... We are considering some live shows. If we do so. yes it would be with programmed drums. Yes the EP also has programmed drums...
MC: For someone who missed you the 1st time around, what would you say you sound like?
John: Dark and Heavy.
MC: Have you searched on the internet and seen any websites or reviews, etc on the band
John: Yeah I've seen some things around.
MC: Plug any websites or fan pages for the band you want here and do you still have all your old reviews, flyers from shows tucked away somewhere in an old box?
John: Any inquiries for obtaining the new SYMPHONY OF GRIEF should be directed to infernalcreations.net
Andy: In other words you can buy our stuff at infernalcreations.net
MC: Speaking of, John your guitar player, he was in another band at one point, is there material ever coming out on CD?
John: Who me? I was in a few bands actually. Two of which are available through infernalcreations.net: NECROTION "Apocalyptic Vengeance" and NAMTARU "The Plagues of Namtar" the latter is very limited. Also there will be another NECROTION CD ("Undead Resurrection") Latter this year that will feature three newer songs as well as some older material. And Latter on we'll release some PERVERSERAPH material as well.
MC: What led to the band actually breaking up and was it a bad/sad break up or more of a mutual one? When the band broke up what did you Andy do and where did John go and where did Jay go? Did you guys still stay in contact and stuff?
John: It was not a sad or contentious break up. At some point we were just content to pursue other projects. Andy had his thing, I had mine and Jay had his. We kept in contact here and there. We were never too far apart.
MC: Andy I think you have one of the best death metal voices in death metal. How would you rate yourself as a singer?
Andy: Thanks! Yeah I can hang with the best. Me and Craig Pillard.
MC: Did you think most of the reviews you got were fair or were some in your eyes a joke or just someone that didn't get what the band was about?
John: Some were, some were not. You either like it or you don't.
Andy: Yeah! And FUCK OFF if you don't.
MC: Is there still room for a band like Symphony of Grief in the underground?
John: Nah there's no room for us! We're too big and heavy... We have to buy three seats on an airline for each one of us. Sometimes we need heavy duty military transports to carry our asses. Not because were fat, because we're so fuckin heavy.
Andy: Ask a stupid question. Get a stupid answer.
MC: Is the band on many or any of these social networking sites and what do you think of them?
John: We're on them, but I fucking hate them. They keep changing shit up all the time. It's fucking annoying! But yeah LameSpace FaceCrap and all the other bullshit.
Andy: Just google it.
MC: What was the feeling like when you guys first got together and whose idea was it and did the feeling out process take long or did the competive juices just flow rather quickly?
John: It was all Drew's fault! The feeling sucked!
Andy: Why else would we do it.
MC: The new songs, how quickly did the recording and writing go? When can we expect any other new material? Any live shows planned? Did it feel natural being back with John?
John: The newer songs were written pretty quickly once we got things together, and the recording was even quicker. The new stuff is coming along, but it's still early on and we have more to write as I stated before maybe by the end of the year. I feel totally natural with myself.
Andy: Yes John was completely at home with himself.
MC: Andy I am out of questions. Horns up for the interview. Any last words and plug anything you want the floor is yours
Andy: The floor is mine? OK this floor needs a new rug.
John: How bout a hardwood.