| Five years later and the impact of a hurricane later, this might sum it up for this band from the USA. It seems the ingredients of their music have been juggled around a bit and reassembled, because those latest tunes are somewhat different than their earlier ones. Without spoiling too much of it already, it is up to the band to share thoughts on these topics.|
Would you mind introducing yourself and your band?
Ritchie: My name is Ritchie Randall and I play guitar and backing vocals in Gravehuffer. I also run the social media pages. James Hiseris our vocalist. Mike Jilge is our bass player, and Larry Deardorff is our drummer.
Gravehuffer goes back a bit or rather the origins of the formation has played together for some time. Why don't you write a bit about how things have evolved and have become what they are now?
Ritchie: Mike, Larry, and I have been playing music together for over 20 years. We started out in a crust punk band called InitialDetonation in 1997. That lasted until 2000. There was a break for us musically until 2008. We then got back together to form KROM, with James on vocals. That name was changed to Gravehuffer in 2012, due to confusion with other bands with the KROM or CROM name. Musically speaking, we have evolved very naturally and organically. We never have any preconceived ideas about what we should sound like. It just comes out when we jam together. We just throw ideas around until all of us like it and then we craft those ideas into songs. If anything, it seems like we are getting more extreme sounding in our old age.
How would you describe your music? What are its core elements?
Ritchie: I would say that we are punk metal, if I had to put a label on it. A lot of the reviews we have been getting for our new album seem to say that too. As far as core elements, I keep reading that we haved-beat/hardcore/NWOBHM/thrash/sludge/death/grind all mixed together. Somehow we manage to make all of that come out as sincere and seamless rather than forced and disjointed.
Could you name some bands that have inspired you over the years?
Ritchie: Slayer, Napalm Death, Brutal Truth, Voivod, MorbidAngel, Judas Priest, Mercyful Fate, Mastodon, Black Sabbath, Celtic Frost,Venom, Black Flag, Mob 47, Ausrotten, Rudimentary Peni, Nausea.
How do you look back on your earlier work? Do you still like it? What would you like to change?
Ritchie: I look back at it like a period of time I our lives and with great fondness. I still enjoy our earlier work very much. There’s always things you could improve or get better. That’s part of being an artist.You should always strive for your best, but if you are completely satisfied than there’s not any point in continuing. We are our own worst critics for sure.
When it comes to play live and on stage, do you also add stuff from Krom to your playlist for instance?
Ritchie: Yes, we do. It is still the same band, just a different name.
Are you some sort of a perfectionist when it comes to the presentation and arrangements of the music? How long are ideas in the pipe and are doomed to linger around?
Ritchie: It depends on the song. We know when certain songs need more finessing and when other songs just need to be left alone. As long as the initial spark remains when the song was first created or presented to the band, then that’s how we know where to go with it. Sometimes we like to go on a journey in the song and other times we want to get to the point. There have been many ideas that don’t make it to the song stage, so they either get forgotten or re-worked in with other ideas.
It’s been a while since you have released your debut album. Judging from the sound of your more recent output things appear to change a bit. What has happened to the samples for instance?
Ritchie: As far as the samples, we wanted to have more soundscapes this time. We wanted this album to let the music do the talking. We have and album intro and outro that was done by our good friend, DJ Thunderhead, at Metal Devastation Radio. We may do more samples in the future. The songs seemed to speak for themselves this time.
Any real world references in terms of the cover artwork? Is this supposed to bean iceberg or a really large marshmallow?
Ritchie: To quote the artist, Eric Sweet, who painted the album cover: “This is a painting I did for the new Gravehuffer album. I see it as an image of Death astride a whale in a flooded and self-imploding world. Mixed media on paper, 17" x 23", 2016”
The title puts the blame on some persons, but what is it that you try to express through it? What is it that these people are responsible for? Do you have something that would help to ameliorate or even solve the cause of these problems? ... and why not "Our Fault"? It does not sound as good, does it?
Ritchie: It’s just an observation through the eyes of Death itself. It can’t believe all the negative things going on in the world, so it’s trying to point out what we’re doing wrong as humans, and hoping that something positive can be gained from it. Your Fault is pointing the finger from Death. It can’t be Our Fault, as it’s not from our perspective.
Could your country put more effort in selecting some proper presidential candidates, please? From the outside perspective this had been quite an endurance. Not to speak of the actual outcome of it all.
Ritchie: We in Gravehuffer agree with you and wish the outcome were different. Unfortunately, our album seemed to hint at some of the results of said election. It’s a bit scary to think about.
Back to the music, here had been some kind of easiness in the sound and style on your debut release, which appears to have been muscled out to a considerable degree. This latest output is has more of a hit in the face, than a play with the mind of the listener.
Ritchie: I totally agree with that. It seems like this new album is still musically varied as ever, but somehow more cohesive and aggressive. I think that we have become better songwriters, and that helped contribute to the sound. We were also influenced by what was going on in our personal lives. A tornado had come through our town, which we talked to you about in a previous interview, and it fragmented the band for about a year. When we came back together, there must’ve been a lot of pent up energy that made it to this new album. It was a conscious thing. It just came naturally.
While your sound and style has always been rather an amalgam of a variety of influences, your latest output comes with a lot of punk influences and less ones from the metal genre. How do you see the evolution of your style and sound?
Ritchie: It seemed like we wrote most of this new album jamming together as a band, rather than bringing in individual ideas. That most likely explains the more cohesive sound this time out. Hopefully that continues. I tend to write the more metal sounding stuff, and I think I presented a lot more ideas on the first album, especially since we had just starting writing music again after being on hiatus for a while. I had so much material that it was almost overwhelming. It was more of a collective effort on this new album.
Both of your albums -- ignoring the recent split for a moment -- put each their own characteristics, but how do these hinge together? If you have to imagine some "ideal" Gravehuffer sound, then how can be found in either of these?
Ritchie: I think they hinge together as being extreme and sincere. The ideal sound as you say, would just be a mix of punk and metal,done in an extreme way. We just want to sound sincere in what we do and give everything we have in ourselves to the music or live performance.
Is this writing and composing stuff something the entire band is involved with or is it limited to one or two band member(s) only?
Ritchie: Mostly the entire band, but sometimes it’s one or two of us working on ideas and presenting them to the others. James writes all of the lyrics, but will take suggestions for ideas or inspirations for lyrical subjects from the other guys.
As hinted on earlier, there has been a split album out very recently. How did this happen? What kind of music can be found on it?
Ritchie: We had worked with the label who did the split on a couple of vinyl comps in the past, so we were familiar with each other. He asked bands about doing a 4-way split and we jumped all over it. Ulcer and Mutilation Ritual are of the Florida death metal variety and Insectivore are an extreme noise project. It’s a good cross section of extreme music.
How is Joplin doing? How has the town recovered from the tornado that struck it several years ago?
Ritchie: The recovery has went very well! Joplin seems to be doing just fine. We appreciate you asking! It seems that everyone has been able to move on from it in a positive way. There have been some difficult moments but time has allowed us to at least cope with them better.
Are you able to play live and on stage in Joplin? Is there a metal scene in your town or in the surrounding county or towns?
Ritchie: We play in Joplin quite a bit. The scene is solid here. There are some great places to play in the surrounding areas as well. We play anywhere that will have us. We are not picky.
What about labels? Reality Impaired Records has moved away from Joplin sometime ago, but has someone taken over the job?
We are still on Reality Impaired Recordings for CDs and cassettes. We were on Swamp Metal Records for the vinyl release but unfortunately they shut down this morning. We’re not sure what we’re going to do about a vinyl release, as we literally just found out today. Stan still runs Reality Impaired. He move to Salt Lake City, Utah for a few years but recently moved to Springfield, Missouri, which is only an hour away from us.
How has the art scene responded to this tragedy?
Ritchie: In a very positive way actually! There have been so many murals painted around town since the tornado that it has really brightened up the city. It’s been wonderful!
What would be your plans for the future?
Ritchie: As of right now, trying to find a label to release the vinyl and get back to playing shows again after a ten month hiatus.
Where can folks get in touch with you and where can someone buy your music?
Our facebook page at www.facebook.com is the best way to contact us, as it is checked multiple times a day. Band email for non-facebook people is email@example.com. We recommend going to our bandcamp site for music and merchandise at www.gravehuffer.bandcamp.com.
Ritchie: We really appreciate all of the support we have received since we’ve been around! The kind words really go a long way. It makes us want to continue doing what we do. We also want to thank all of the radio stations that play our music, and to the sites, zines, blogs, etc. who have given us nothing but positive reviews of our new album! And thank YOU! All the best! Cheers and hails! \m/\m/