An interview with Coffinworm, who released their “Great Bringer of the Night” demo on vinyl
Coffinworm 2012 (photo by Kris Arnold)
Between Coffinworm's When All Became None LP and their Great Bringer of Night demo, the Indianapolis black metal-doom quartet is currently batting 1.000. And though the latter has always been freely/widely available via the interwebs, its popularity has demanded a physical version which The Flenser Records have been more than happy to provide.
Unlike the first incarnation of the demo, this is no barebones release. The Flenser has stuffed the vinyl with bonus tracks and the whole thing has been remastered and is available in a "heavy jacket with an insert." Order yours at The Flenser now.
We popped in to Coffinworm's dark cave to prod the band about demos, the new record, touring, Liz Phair, Diamond D, Cliff Burton's hologram and much more. Full details of said conversation with vocalist Dave and guitarist Carl, and a stream of the new version of the demo is below.
Why do you feel like the demo is loved enough to warrant a release?
Carl: Having the demo released on vinyl was something we'd always wanted to do, even before we had a commitment to do a full-length on Profound Lore. As for the demand from outside of the band, the Mediafire link we posted for the free download of 'Great Bringer of Night' back in 2009 has racked up several thousand downloads. I've seen comments from people in reviews or on the internet that "the demo was better" than the full-length, so those who carry that opinion can now get it on a legitimate format. We always thought it would be cool to give the demo a proper release, especially since the only physical format was on CD-R and less than 300 copies.
Dave: We honestly didn't think we would sell more than a handful of the demos. Not because we didn't have faith in the music mind you, but in these days music is everywhere and disposable to most, it's just space on a hard disc drive.
The fact that the first label we sent it to signed us let's me know we did something right, when we were only looking for distribution of some copies, as we all adore Profound Lore and the majority of his releases. The fact that 3 years later people still ask for a copy makes us happy as well.
But in all honesty, as Carl elaborated on, we didn't know what would become of the demo recording, and thought an eventual 12" release would be excellent as we are all fans of vinyl, and also as will be expounded upon later, inevitable. So when Flenser approached, we were obviously up for it, as it was a way to re-circulate it to those who missed out on the physical format and wanted to own a copy. In fact, we are in collusion to release it on the true demo format, cassette, as well in the immediate future. Put simply, if people ask to buy your music, and you don't have it to give or sell to them, then you are essentially saying "fuck you," and you don't tell your friends "fuck you" without a night of drinking or a distinctly Midwestern attitude. We decided to aquiesce.
Coffinworm at Saint Vitus (more by BBG)
What about the "new" tracks made you want to revisit them for inclusion?
Carl: Partially as an incentive to make the release more interesting. It would've been fine as just the original 3 tracks, but from a completist stance it made sense to include the demo versions of 'Start Saving' and 'Spitting' to have the whole recording session available.
Dave: In my opinion, the world has enough 3 song, one-sided, 12"'s, with or without an etching. I was a big proponent of adding the unreleased versions to not only augment it's release for those who either own or had downloaded the demo, but also to make it a more appealing package for both Flenser and our friends (fuck a "fan") alike. When we originally recorded, we withheld those songs from the demo thinking they might be used for potential split 7"'s or perhaps as an appearance on the venerable "compilation" format. Again, we had NO IDEA we would get offered to sign with Profound Lore, or any other label for that matter, so we were just covering our bases to make sure we had material left if the offer came in. We are meticulous and slow in our song-crafting, and didn't want to stave off potential collaborations due to a song-writing speed that makes Evolution appear hasty in comparison. If memory serves, Chris presented us the option of releasing that complete session AS our LP, a proposition I am perpetually thankful we declined.
Start Saving... was our big Myspace hit, and that was its only appearance. Spitting was a crowd-favorite during live performances, but again no one had heard it recorded until the Lp was completed and subsequently released. We feel as though their encapsulations made manifest on When All Became None are their definitive versions, but now the public can have a listen and determine for themselves. As Carl mentioned, the completist aspect made it a no-brainer to add these to the re-release, and it serves as a nice bookend of an era that is now behind us, paving the way for our future. In the end, when people listen to this release and buttress it against When All Became None, they will have the full first and second-era Coffinworm experience, to which they can A/B our upcoming assaults and decide if we've went more "mainstream," "sold-out," or have fallen prey to that most negative of hustles, "gradual pussyfication."
Coffinworm at BV-BBG SXSW 2010 (more by Samantha Marble)
As a musician who initially released his music freely, what are your thoughts on making music available to the public gratis?
Carl: I think it's a great way to gain exposure and make a connection with people or expand your fan base. Not nearly as many people would've checked us out or heard of us had we not put the Great Bringer of Night demo up for free download. It helped us tremendously, but I can't say we'll ever do it again or that it would work in our favor in the same way as before. Sometimes I think it takes away from the value assigned by the listener when everything is free and readily available. And digital downloads aren't a substitute for physical formats, whatsoever.
Dave: I have no regrets whatsoever. People who would have never been able to hear us due to our limited touring ability got to hear it. 3,000 plus people got to hear our demo, and even if only 1/3rd of them enjoyed it, that is still a thousand people who wouldn't have paid one fuck's worth of attention to us, or Indiana, in general. And looking back on the limited scale of release of Great Bringer of Night, We sold 1 copy for every 100 downloads, and frankly that is a ratio I can not only live with, but remain infinitely appreciative of. In this day and age, anyone with enough sense to type "Google" can find your release, be it a CD, DVD, whatever, so instead of bucking the trend we decided to embrace it. In my opinion, and granted it may be in the minority, but I feel that if your "art" is worthy of support, those who it truly speaks to will support it. If someone who downloaded the demo or the album decides to come out and see us, or buy a shirt, or even hate on some message board forum as though it will change one fucking thing about us, then it has provoked a reaction, and as "artists" we could ask for no more appro pos response, nor higher praise.
Coffinworm at SXSW (more by BBG)
What are your thoughts on the reception of the last LP? What is a positive memory regarding that release that made you think that people were really into it?
Carl: I'm really happy with how 'When All Became None' was received. We didn't know what to expect, but it's cool to hear other people say that they dig it. My favorite memory around the time of the album release was heading down to Texas to play SXSW. Played a couple of awesome shows, met some cool folks, and met up with Chris Bruni in person for the first time. The Profound Lore/20 Buck Spin showcase (pictures) was killer: Jam packed crowd, Billy Milano throwing Dave a pound during our set, etc. Between the shows and hanging out with friends in the city, that was the highlight of that period of time for me.
Dave: I turn 37 in October, and having spent well over half of my life playing music, I have never been so blown away by the kindness, kind words, and genuine appreciation my comrades and I have received from When All Became None. It is something I remain constantly thankful for, and humbled by. Unlike the vast majority of my peers, I've never felt a sense of entitlement from playing music, as in "the scene owes me" or "I'm too old to be doing this," and in fact quite the contrary. I do this because I HAVE to, regardless of popular acceptance and/or opinion. Honestly, I have nothing BUT positive memories from that LP: we got to become friends with Sanford, we got to meet you, Kim, and Chris in the flesh and become friends, we got to share the stage/floor with Eyehategod, Anhedonist, Salome, Wolves In The Throne Room, Ilsa, Black Cobra, Pentagram, Mutilation Rites, XOverpowerX, Disma, Unearthly Trance, Cardiac Arrest, The Gates of Slumber, Medusa, Goatwhore, Oak, Nachtmystium, Racebannon, Maruta, Dark Castle, Kata Sarka, Absconder, Elitist, and so many more. I really could not have asked for more! But to be more succinct, our last show in New York, both the show and the after-party with Darren, The Best, and The Snake made me do a double-take and be like "How in the FUCK did this happen to YOU!?"
You are planning a tour east, but do you think you'll ever do anything extensive? Possibly a full US or the West Coast?
Carl: We don't have plans to do extensive touring. Schedules being what they are it just won't work currently, but we've talked about doing a west coast tour once the new album is done and released.
Dave: Fuck no. Not by choice, but rather by the nature of the beast. There are elements of the band that would love to, and there are elements of the band that simply cannot. When you share your vision with others, it is immediately open to re-interpretation and conflict, due to the rigorous constraints of life. The main inherent barrier being my vocal cords, which simply could NOT withstand a full tour. Our lifestyles could not withstand a
formal tour. United States liquor laws could most-assuredly NOT withstand us doing a full tour, and we would refuse to tour with bullshit bands or take "offers" that are nothing more then thinly-veiled "promotional" excursions to benefit someone outside of Chris. If we could tour more, we would. We can't. We mean this as no affront to anyone who wants to see us in their preferred municipality. We simply can't. If we can make it to your town in one-piece, we will. If we don't, please do NOT take it as a slight against you or your fair city. And with a little luck, albeit in a limited capacity, we very much hope to make it to the West Coast!
Are there any new songs or plans for a new release in the works?
Carl: Yes on both counts. We played two new songs at our show with Midnight last month and more new material is currently in progress. As for releases, I'm told our split 7" with Fistula on Hell Comes Home will finally be out next month. Nothing else is set in stone right now. Our main goal is to finish writing and then book studio time to get the next full-length ready for release.
Coffinworm at Saint Vitus
Your new name is Dr. Frankenstein and you've been tasked with creating a monster, a new band constructed from members of other bands. Who are the members of this fictional band made up of your favorite musicians and why were they chosen?
Carl: Haha! Okay, chosen (kinda) at random...Jaz Coleman on vocals, Tom G. Warrior and myself on guitars, Fenriz on drums, and Lemmy on bass with a break mid-set for Cliff Burton's hologram to pop up and play the solo from 'Orion'. In all seriousness, as much as something like that lineup would rule to me, I'd rather get imbedded into an existing band for a day or something. I'd love to hole up in a room to play with one of my heroes/favorites who are still active. PJ Harvey would be one for sure. Killing Joke are another. Motörhead, fucking definitely.
Dave: I hope you've got some time on your hands. Most notably would be if all the members of Salem did a record with PJ Harvey singing and Mushroom from Massive Attack (unspoken creative genius of the band who left after Mezzanine, and took his drum-programming and sample selection skills with him) handling the drums. Why? Salem are hands-down one of my favorite bands, and I've made no bones about the fact that Polly Jean is not only my single favorite musician ever, but also my single biggest lyrical influence. Another would be a full Goblin (ie-not just Claudio Simonetti) album with Diamanda Gallas on vocals. If Lady Gaga and Lil Wayne did an entire album together I'd probably keel over and die, as LG deserves to rap with a better rapper than Wale; she deserves to partner up with Weezy F. Another would be if O.C., Lord Finesse and Diamond D did a record together solely as rappers, with the beats being provided by Mr Len of Company Flow fame and MF DOOM, and call it the "9/11 Bounce-back: We Still Here!" A Biz Markie/Roy Fox collaboration would be dope as well, as would a Polly Jean Harvey/Isaac Brock collab called "To Bring You My Lonesome Midwest Desire On I-465." But the supreme is a dead-on tie. Either Lake Radio providing textures, Madlib providing drums, and Beth Gibbons from Portishead doing vocals on some shit, or Rituals doing a record with Lady Gaga, that would be mint as well. Lastly a Liz Phair "Exile" era singing over some Clams Casino beats would be pleasing as well!