Kelly McLauchlin interviewed by PSL
So how are things down in sunny Florida at the moment?
Things are going great right now! The weather is nice and the band is doing killer, we just finished recording our debut CD, Torrential Reign, which is due out early 2004 on Olympic/Century Media.
You've written and recorded your debut album Torrential Reign in less than a year after the formation. That's pretty impressive. Weren't you afraid that things may seem a little rushed?
Thanks! It wasn't rushed at all; working with these guys has been great. I had jammed with Aantar years earlier and we had always wanted to play together after that but we were busy with our own bands, Diabolic and Pessimist. So, when we got the chance to work together again it was like we already were used to each other's style, know what I mean....also with these guys everything is on a pro level, we are all friends and writing together has been totally cool.
So most of the material were written after Unholy Ghost was formed?
Some of the arrangements were carried over from song structures that Jerry or Aantar had worked out earlier. "Soul Disment" is a song that Aantar and Jerry had written over a year ago. All the rest of the music like as far as actual guitar riffs and all the lyrics, is all brand new and written just for Unholy Ghost.
I remember reading about the turbulence in Diabolic and the split that followed. It was kinda frustrating reading about this. So it was actually with great relief that I learned that Diabolic continued and Aantar, Paul, Jerry and you formed Unholy Ghost. I mean it's great to have two awesome bands instead of one, playing a similar style of death metal. Or don't you see that many similarities in your music and the music Diabolic plays nowadays?
There are definitely musical similarities between Unholy Ghost and Diabolic. Aantar and Paul were part of the original Diabolic line-up and have appeared on every Diabolic recording, until now. Aantar's drumming style and the sound of Paul's vocals largely defined the way that Diabolic sounded in the past. And Jerry appeared on Vengeance Ascending, so of course having these guys in the band, you will definitely notice some musical similarities between the two bands.
How did the idea of forming of Unholy Ghost come around? Was it something you had been toying with for a while? Or did it first really manifest itself when Aantar left Diabolic?
Well, when Aantar called me and invited me to come to Florida and jam, he had already left Diabolic. So, we started off with the intention to just write music and jam, you know, and we didn't really know what it was going to be called. I was still keeping busy with Pessimist anyways, and we didn't know if this would even be a full-time band or anything. I had learned a bunch of Diabolic tunes before I came down so we were ready to jam right away. Aantar and I even played some old Horror of Horrors tunes, which is a band that he and I had played together back in 1996. Anyways after jamming together a couple days we could see it was going to work out great, Paul had came down to rehearsal and we needed another guitarist so we called Jerry and told him what we were doing, and so he was totally into it! In like a matter of 2-3 weeks, we had written three new songs and recorded the 2003 Demo. Things came together really quickly.
Would you rather have preferred to have continued under the moniker Diabolic than having to find a new name or didn't it really matter?
I think we all like the name Unholy Ghost even better than Diabolic, it is more brutal and more extreme, and it fits the extreme style of our music better. At one point, Aantar thought that he was going to be able to keep the name Diabolic. But, when that didn't work out it was decided that we would come up with a new name for the band. Aantar had this name Unholy Ghost, and we all liked it a lot especially because it fits well the style and sound of our music, and the dark image of the band.
I assume your debut CD Torrential Reign music wise lies somewhere in between Diabolic and Pessimist. Or have you tried to go new ways?
If anything, Unholy Ghost sounds more like Diabolic than Pessimist. I don't think that Unholy Ghost sounds like Pessimist at all, really. Pessimist is more brutal and more technical, complex riffs and arrangements. But in a way yes it is a combination of both...we all have similar influences anyways, old-school stuff like vintage Slayer, Possessed, Kreator, Destruction, etc. So when we write, we just stay true to our style and to ourselves, we really don't worry about sounding like anyone else.
Please tell a little about the upcoming CD. What can we expect?
It's totally brutal and killer! Lots of fast stuff and also some slower and heavy riffs...it sounds really fucking evil! All the songs are catchy and memorable, a lot of hooks and stuff that keeps you listening! Expect tons of blast beats, flying double bass and skank beats! Killer screams and some awesome vocal effects as well! Shredding guitar leads - we got incredible guitar tones in the studio! A top-notch recording, and there are even some cool samples and intros between the songs. We are pushing the boundaries of death metal in a way that remains true to our musical influences.
Yes, that definitely played a part in deciding to record at Diet Of Worms. Also because of the producer, Juan "Punchy" Gonzales who we felt was really able to capture our sound and style. Working with Punchy has been great. He has also recorded tons of other bands there, most notably the new Morbid Angel [Heretic] as well as running live sound for Morbid Angel for years.
You've recently made a music video. Any chance that this will be included on the CD?
The video was for a song off the demo, "Under Existence". Although we did record a new version of the song for the CD, at this time there are no plans to include the video on the CD. In fact, the video which was released on DVD format was limited edition and is no longer available. The video is being re-edited and may be re-released at a later date.
You've chosen to enlist Joe Petagno to do the artwork, right? Any particular reason to choose him?
Actually we were working closely with Joe Petagno at one point, as well as a couple other artists. At the time of this interview, we have chosen to work with another artist, Mattias Norén, from Sweden. We feel that the artwork that we have chosen for the album looks more haunting and scary, and more real!
Any release date on Torrential Reign yet?
If all goes as planned, we are expecting an April 2004 release.
Metal in general doesn't seem to do that well in the US these days. Unless you're among those who think Linkin Park, Limp Bizkit and Metallica are metal. I've heard many complaints that turnouts at shows are pretty bad. Is this something you experience too?
Well underground metal definitely doesn't have the same mass appeal that more mainstream bands have...in some ways this "Nu-metal" may be opening doors for US fans to discover heavier DM/BM bands. I think the time is right for a return to more brutal music to be popular, like the late 80's when thrash metal was so huge. It's a brutal world out there today...hopefully once this new wave of "metal" bands is washed out, fans will crave some heavier underground music.
How is the death metal scene in Florida at moment? I mean the Tampa area was the hot bed for death metal in the early '90 but those days seem long gone. Any exciting going on?
In my opinion the Florida death metal scene is killer! There are so many awesome bands like Cannibal Corpse, Deicide, Morbid Angel, Monstrosity, Malevolent Creation and also more underground and newer bands coming up in the scene. Maybe it's not what it used to be in the early 90's but compared to some other scenes there are tons of clubs, lots of killer bands and the fans here are great!
How are things going with Pessimist? I assume the band has been put on hold indefinitely?
Well first I want to make clear that I am a full-time member of Unholy Ghost, I really enjoy this band a lot and right now it is my main focus. I'm still in close contact with my Pessimist brothers. Although Bill Hayden [guitars] is currently filling in with a local band, Reaper and I have been discussing the possibilities of a future release from Pessimist. We have already relocated Pessimist headquarters to Tampa, FL and Reaper is relocating here soon. Our record contract with Lost Disciple has already been fulfilled, and the band is free to do whatever we choose. We have tons of material ready, so maybe it's just a matter of time. However, like I said Unholy Ghost is my main focus right now. Any Pessimist fans out there who want to keep up to date on the band can always check our web site at www.pessimist.com".
Anything you'd like to add to conclude this interview?
Thanks for the cool interview! Long live Supreme Brutality! Everybody check out the official Unholy Ghost web site at www.unholyghost.com for live photos, mp3s and upcoming tour dates! We'll see you on tour...Keep music evil!