By Sam Spencer
First things first, how have you been in these past months and how are you dealing with quarantine?
Well, all things considered, things have been solid. I have been lucky enough to keep my main source of income, my family has been safe, and I’ve been able to keep working on producing and releasing music with my band. Since I’m not one to go out or socialize in big groups a lot, my personal life hasn’t been too radically changed. So I really can’t complain much.
Do you have any advice for not going completely numb to it all?
Genuine mindfulness, intention, and focused emotional investment in the things directly in front of me have done wonders for my chronic mental anguish, which like with everyone became worse at the start of this insane global crisis. I have too much anxiety to be numb, so I have to spend my time forcing myself to feel present instead of trapped in my head feeling everything. I strongly advocate for conscientious physical and mental self-improvement. Focusing on your body, your intentions, your outlook, your knowledge is the best way to escape chronic stress and anxiety. Stop ruminating on and suppressing your problems and start working on how you can make yourself capable of conquering them. It IS possible.
I see you had some upcoming dates that got canceled, which must suck all things considered, do you have a plan for making up for lost time once things get back to normal?
We had an almost unbelievably stacked year ahead of us with heavy-hitter gigs lined up for nearly every coming month with killer acts like SPITE & WITCHVOMIT from the U.S. and NOCTURNAL GRAVES from Australia, as well as two U.S. tours later in the year. Like everyone else we were immensely bummed to have our plans pulled out from under us, but we took it as an opportunity to focus more on writing and working on our dynamic as a band, as our heavily packed schedule was actually making it a bit difficult to write new material or rework things… for example we finally made a long-planned change of switching our bass player to rhythm guitar and adding bass to my position on vocals. This has proved to be a change we’re very happy with. We’ve also gotten a lot of work done on the writing of our first full-length with this new lineup. So I think we’ve made the most out of the situation.
On to your story, where are you from, and what was the music / scenes that you got put onto growing up? And who was it that was initially showing you music you remember feeling passionate about?
I was born and raised directly outside of Chicago in a community that is pretty rich with excellent young musicians and artists. I had an early penchant for Punk & Alternative Rock that soon evolved into an obsession with 80s American Hardcore, and by middle school continued to evolve into serious interest in Death and Black Metal, Raw Punk, and all aspects of the D.I.Y. music underground, from NYC warehouse raves to harsh noise shows in Midwestern basements. I was also definitely heavily influenced by the local culture of hardcore rap from very early in my upbringing. If you are a die-hard music fan, you know fully that the internet, and all its deep corners and crevices, is a godsend in the most profoundly legitimate way. But probably the most influential force in my path into playing music was the many D-Beat/Raw Punk house shows I attended in Chicago during high school. This was where I really learned about what true underground extreme music was about- freedom and self-reliance, creative purity, furious unity among ruin. I could probably never play in any other kind of band, at least not in any serious sense, and I definitely never want to be a part of the music “industry” in any way.
From what I can tell, you have a really broad taste in music, how do you feel that contributes to your own art?
Yes definitely, I would say that among my favorite genres I haven’t mentioned yet are Latin Jazz & Soul, R&B, Medieval Ambient, Vaporwave, Drill, Old-School Southern Hip-Hop, New Age, Juke/Ghettotech, Psych, City Pop, all kinds of international folk music and really anything and everything in between. I really don’t discriminate much at all when it comes to musical styles and I try to be as conscious of everything happening in the music world as possible. I’m an obsessive and a completionist when it comes to my habits in music hunting and collection, so when something catches my interest I tend to get very deep into understanding it. I also tend to keep the lines between these different worlds pretty clear in my mind, so honestly I’d say that it contributes more to my personal worldview and perspectives than my art, which I try to keep pretty purely devoted to the traditions and aesthetics of Black Metal.
What have you been listening to as of late?
I’m going through a big kick of underground 90s hip-hop, deep house and dub techno. Also pretty heavy into old-school power electronics/industrial noise like ATRAX MORGUE and MURDER CORPORATION. I’ve been keeping a handful of newer goth/post-punk bands in rotation recently as well, lots of TR/ST, BLACK MARBLE, & MOLCHAT DOMA. And of course plenty of Black Metal, recently especially East Asian hyper-militant Bestial Black Metal bands like KONFLICT, DAKINI, REEK OF THE UNZEN GAS FUMES, and TETRAGRAMMACIDE. Some other mixed stuff I’ve been digging lately that I recommend: GROLLFRIED, FAILED TREATMENT, GRUPO EXTERMINADOR, DANIEL BACHMAN, JULIANNA BARWICK, STRIATIONS, NIRRITI, ROYAL HOUNDS NYC, THE AZTEC MYSTIC, LOS INICIADOS, KLAUS SCHULZE, NEIL ARDLEY, RUNESPELL.
What role does music play in your life?
It’s the most important aspect. Everything else (including my non-music related career path) is in the effort of facilitating my continued personal investment in music. I really could never live without its near-constant presence in my life as I’ve had for as long as I can remember now.
How long have you been making music now? And give me a little run-down of the type of music you started making originally, what you make now?
I’ve been messing around with instruments for most of my life. I jammed with friends throughout middle school and high school, but as I was surrounded mostly by thoroughly more musically gifted jazz/funk musicians in my friend group, I never really found the creative chemistry or alignment I was looking for. So I kept working on lyrical and conceptual ideas on my own, and it wasn’t until a year or so into college that I found other Black Metal musicians interested in putting together a serious band. Things fell into place very naturally once we got the group together. So really, Black Metal was the first style of music I’ve been able to produce in a legitimate sense.
What instruments do you play?
I’ve attempted to learn many over the years and the only ones that have ever really stuck with me enough for me to have any real confidence are drums and bass. Learning to perform metal vocals and developing my own style and different approaches for various styles has been something I’ve enjoyed a lot as well, if that can be considered an instrument.
Do you have any bands that you really look up to within black metal? Have you been able to meet any of them?
Goathex as an entity worships the elder cults of BLACK WITCHERY, PROCLAMATION, and CONQUEROR above all else. We also give our total support to the TRUE warriors of the Black Metal underground, such as ABYSMAL LORD, HUMAN AGONY, ARCHGOAT, CRURIFRAGIUM, SATANIC WARMASTER, and NYOGTHAEBLISZ… not to mention our comrades in METHGOAT, PRIMITIVE WARFARE, BAPHOMANCIA, NACHTLICH, PROFANE ORDER, NOCTURNAL DEPARTURE and others… We’ve made many allyships around the world through our efforts in the underground and have performed alongside some of the aforementioned acts on our home territory… We consider it the utmost pleasure to commit acts of debauchery and barbarism alongside these men.
Tell me more about Goathex, how did you guys come together, how long have you been making music, and how has the scene here in Philadelphia been thus far?
Goathex was formed at the end of 2018 with the intention of playing pure, unflinching Barbaric Black/War Metal in the tradition of the 90’s underground. The lineup from the previously active band SILVANTHRONE, whose guitarist and I came up with the idea for the band, was copied over directly with my addition. We started jamming during that winter, and by early spring were recording our first demo. It was for us and anyone who cared, and we didn’t expect much to come of it as we passed that demo around, but it was surprisingly well-received locally and around the black metal community online. Soon we were offered to do a professional tape release of our second demo by our allies at FORBIDDEN SONORITY. Both of these demos continue to do pretty well, and in Philly we’ve seen quite a bit of support from the extreme music scene.
From what I can ascertain you guys are really starting to blow up, how does that feel, and if you could set your sights on an ultimate goal what would it be?
As far as we still have to go in our efforts, knowing we have people digging our music around the world is pretty surreal. I’ve always thought the coolest shit is playing in a band writing and performing psychotic anti-music for no one except yourself and a handful of other die-hard weirdos scattered around the planet, and being on the other side of that dynamic is humbling and inspiring as fuck. Our ultimate goals include lots more U.S. touring, and definitely European, Southeast Asian, and Australian tours, we fully intend to establish these plans as soon as possible so that we can meet and perform alongside some of the people we’ve connected with around the world in real life.
What’s the story behind putting out physicals instead of going to streaming platforms? Do you ever see yourself going that route?
Aside from the traditional aspect of physical music in metal/punk and the fact that all of us were already pretty hardcore collectors, self-releasing via tape and working with independent labels is simply the best way to release music in my opinion. The artist gets to offer a more holistic and multifaceted work, and the listener gets a more tangible artifact of their connection to the artist. While we do put our stuff up for promo on YouTube and Bandcamp, we don’t have much interest in putting it on streaming platforms. It’s just not the right venue for Black Metal in our view.
What’s your creative process like? Ambiance, company, drugs etc.
Smoldering, unflinching, hateful rage. Of course having some booze, weed, and nicotine around doesn’t hurt either.
Tell me about how important imagery, especially the disturbing stuff, is when you’re formulating music.
The driving creative force behind Goathex is the sum of all sadistic brutality and agonized suffering of mankind- war, torture, murder, plague, misery, deceptive cruelty on the grandest scale. We don’t consider this subject matter to be fantasy or a joke in any way, and we view our use of it as expression of reverence to its power, its eternal presence, its curse-like permanence, its undeniable and unquestionable REALITY. We also want to be clear that we don’t have some half-baked underlying positive or hopeful political message like a lot of false black metal bands that have been cropping up on social media recently… human suffering is absolute and eternal. Furthermore, black metal is NOT a vehicle for forced political virtue signaling. We are disciples of the school of Occult, Bestial, and Evil Metal, and absolutely consider ourselves specifically a SATANIC Black Metal band. Images of slaughter and chaos at the hands of demonic figures are a blunt allegory for the demented, grotesque Hell that is human reality, controlled as it is by the unstoppable forces of Evil and Death. “Satan” is a representation of pure darkness- the whole of the aspects of our reality that we don’t want to experience, and that we will never experience. It is also a symbol of eternal resistance to Judeo-Christian moral matrix… but perhaps that’s a discussion for another interview.
Well said. Looking back on past shows, have there been any especially memorable moments/stories worth sharing?
We look back on all of our performances so far with great fondness, but notably, Goathex and our other project, Silvanthrone, played a successful gig in Columbus, Ohio this past February with the mysterious cult known as GEHEIMNISVOLL… Little is known to the public of this act, and it was a unique pleasure to plot, perform, and celebrate this success alongside the entities behind this project.
It might be hard to, but if you could pick a project that you feel most proud of, what would it be?
Goathex is the first “real” band that I’ve been able to be a part of, and thus far every release has just been a learning experience which we’ve built off of and applied onto the next one. None of our releases come close to capturing our ultimate vision of relentless barbarism- each following will be an effort to push ourselves further into the spiraling black abyss. However, I do believe our recent split EP was a considerable step in the right direction from our demos.
For those who don’t know, give me a rundown on your label, and the other bands you’re associated with.
Goathex bassist and entity behind TRIST DØD, Vantherus and I started Pennsylvania Black Metal Records at the very end of 2019 with the simple goal of having a platform to release any of our ideas with total creative and operational freedom. We had a handful of side projects and solo releases ready to go, and a bunch of old releases we wanted to reissue, so we took it upon ourselves to establish the label and start making the tapes by hand ourselves. At the moment, the label has only released projects by the members of Goathex- SILVANTHRONE, TRIST DØD, and DECEASHOST. But we have new personal projects in the works, as well as some releases by friends to be put out on the label eventually. But recently we have been focusing a bit more on in-progress releases that are going to be coming soon through the work of other labels.
Any upcoming releases or secret shows we should be on the lookout for?
On the release front, writing of the debut Goathex full-length is nearly complete, set to be released as a 12” LP with a limited edition boxset through our long-time ally RED DOOR RECORDS… Also, look out for vinyl releases from Goathex-related acts TRIST DØD and SIlvanthrone coming soon via NITHSTANG PRODUCTIONS… Hand-dubbed tape versions of most of our releases are made available through the P.A.B.M. online store (pennsylvaniablackmetal.bigcartel.com) for those interested in our back catalog. As far as shows… We had a tour planned for Southern CA with the San Jose-based GOATCORPSE, this summer. Most of the dates of this tour are unlikely to be replaced, but we are in the process of planning a small-scale invite-only, secret-location generator show in the Los Angeles forest with GOATCORPSE and a handful of other local bands, thanks to the immensely ballsy work of our L.A. promoter NIHILISTIC MORTALITY. We have no interest in surrendering when the choice is in our hands. The real Black Metal underground is invincible.
Shoutouts or last words? Thanks for taking the time man.
If any of the things I’ve mentioned here interest you, I implore you to LISTEN TO THE BANDS MENTIONED ABOVE, look into the labels releasing them, and BUY their music. Avoid “safe”, neutered, and commercialized metal like the plague!!! Black Metal will always be more than music… death to false devotion! Your interest and support is greatly appreciated, it’s a pleasure to answer your questions. Always stay true to the underground…