Lure of The Occult
Do you like Death Metal which uncompromisingly opens up the doors to decayed abominable worlds where the sun does not light up at all, there is only eternal night, inhabited by an unknown dangerous creatures living only in underground and feeding on the larvae as large as pigs, everything hideously stinks there, in streams flowing blood mixed with vomit and dirty signs appearing in the sky? Sepulchral heavy old school Death Metal with killer songs and lethal "The Lure of Occult" debut from last year offered by Australian BACKYARD MORTUARY band! Their previous demos "Dead Goregous" 2002 and "Backyard Mortuary" 2005 started a bloody path to where the guys are at the moment. I did not believe the band will ever reply, but a few days ago this great interview has anchored in our mail box, offering a lot of interesting information and insights. Questions were answered by vocalist Chris.

Hi, could you please introduce BACKYARD MORTUARY band? Under what circumstances have you started, who was in the original line-up, and what was the reason of band formation? Have you wanted to play Death Metal such what you wanted to hear or you wanted to push the boundaries of style?
David and I started the band in early 2002 after playing together in a band in high school that wasn't as heavy as we wanted. The original line up was just David (guitars) and me, Chris (vocals), writing songs and then recording a demo. A year or so later we got Bianca on bass, Andrew on 2nd guitar and Bob on drums. From the beginning, death metal was always what we were going to play though we've never tried to create something new nor replicate other bands, we just write songs that we want to hear.

Before your debut you have released two demos "Dead Gorgeous" and "Backyard Mortuary,". How are you satisfied with these materials now? Could you say where and how they were recorded, for what purpose and what responses you have got?
I enjoy them though perhaps more for nostalgic reasons; they don't compare to the album at all in my opinion. Both of them were recorded, mixed, and mastered at David's house. We hardly did any promotion for either and only pressed about 90 copies of the 'Dead Goregous' demo and I think around 300 - 400 copies of the 'Backyard Mortuary' EP. I don't remember hearing or reading much feedback about the demo or EP, though I did get some emails from different countries around the world, asking about the band or wanting to buy something.

I must admit I have only your "The Lure of Occult" debut what has been good but also morbid shock to me in the form of a dark and violent Death Metal! What does the debut mean to you? Was it something like your first dream to come true? How do you assess your debut opposite old demos? Were there some changes opposite the past?
Cheers! I'm really pleased with the album and it's something we've been planning on doing since we started. It almost didn't happen and, even after it had been recorded in 2011, it seemed like it possibly wasn't going to be finished, so to actually have it finished and released is great. Compared to the demos, the album is darker and heavier. There haven't been any intentional changes to the music, just natural progression as we become better song writers and also getting Stu on guitar and John on drums around 2007, making the line up by far the best we've had.

Absolutely I like your devastatingly melodic guitar riffs, it is felt you donít write music only for fun, or just as a sequence of listed riffs that simply sit together, but they are consistent sophisticated eerie songs with own atmosphere and morbid rhythms. Even it is rather difficult to compare your music to some better known band. Do you think you may be somewhat original? Is originality important to you?
Originality is definitely important though I don't think we're particularly original since we're just playing death metal, even if we don't sound exactly like other bands. We have our influences but we've never tried to write music to sound like any of them. Thanks for the good words about the songs; it's important to us as well that the songs flow well, rather than just sticking riffs together.

Personally I see your music as a good mix of old Death Metal from the 90s with more technical procedures that I would compared to GORGUTS debut or PESTILENCE band. Of course your technique is not dominant, but rather serves to enrich the music and it is super you are not overdoing it. How are you looking at your music from a technical view point, the sophistication and complexity?
I like both those bands (well, their earlier stuff), though they've never been an influence on our music. I think it's just David's style of writing; he likes to throw in something a little bit more technical every now and again. As for the songs I've written, I write them in my head and then work them out on guitar. I think it's important for a song to be interesting and catchy; music that's too technical is just boring and almost impossible to bang your head to.

In your music I feel the darkness, fear, disgust, horror, morbidity, just the right feelings that many rhythmical death metal bands lack. Are the feelings and atmosphere in music important to you? Is it your intention to play Death Metal just this way?
For sure! Actually, I personally would prefer the album sound a bit more rough and the vocals more rotten and disgusting but I'll have to wait for the next release. I guess it was a conscious decision to write songs with those sort of feelings in mind, since it's what we enjoy in death metal. So many death metal bands bore the shit out of me cause they lack the evil, rotten sound and focus too much on writing a technical riff, having the fastest blast beat or the most amount of double kick.

Guitar solos of many current death metal bands are often only obligation; they are often short and played without emotions and necessary melody. But your solos are equivalent with your deadly riffs; it shows that you have worked hard with them...
As far as I'm concerned, a boring solo, without any inspiration, might as well not be in the song. Solos can be so expressive and add so much to a song, I'm really pleased that David has the same idea and is able to write interesting ones. I think the solo Stu wrote and played on Diseased is killer too. They're something we've always liked to include in our songs, when possible.

Strong side of your debut album is your sound. Could you say what vision of sound you went to studio with? Was this just a continuation of your old demo sound or it was randomly generated even in the studio? What type of recording did you chose? Are you happy with the resulting sound?
Actually David is a sound engineer and has some recording equipment, so it was basically all recorded at his place, like the EP and demo before it. Each release has sounded bigger and heavier because his recording knowledge/experience has been greater with each recording. We did take it to a studio to get mastered though which, after the great recording and mixing David did, made it sound even bigger and clearer.
Personally, I would have preferred it sound a bit rougher and dirtier, though I do think it sounds good and the professional sound doesn't take away from the music.

Your new CD was released by a small Beer In Your Ear Records label. Could you write how did you get to them and will you release any more material for them? What about distribution? Do you think the album reaches all corners of the world?
The EP from 2005 was released by Beer in Your Ear but this new album is just self-released. The EP going through Beer in Your Ear came about basically cause the label owner was playing guitar with us at the time. I don't think the label is running anymore but we still have some copies of the EP for sale.
The album we've been selling and posting out ourselves, usually just one or two copies at a time but there are some labels out there with copies as well. I've sent out orders to all continents except Antarctica so I guess word is getting around. It's going to be released on vinyl shortly through Blood Harvest too, which I'm looking forward to. Possibly a cassette release as well, though that's still being finalised.

You are from Australia which is the birthplace of many dark and twisted obscure bands. You seem to me as a bit of a different band, perhaps more traditional, more direct. How do you assess the current Australian scene? Could you recommend any new promising bands?
Yeah compared to some of the more unique bands we have/had, we do sound more typical haha. I've been living in Mexico since early 2011 and haven't really been keeping up to date on what's going on down there in the metal scene, though some newer ones I can recommend are Convent Guilt, Hellbringer, Innsmouth and Rituals of the Oak.

What are your lyrical themes? Where do you get ideas for your lyrics and who is responsible for them? As the album title suggests, in your poetry there are also some issues about the occultism. Do you deal with this topic even deeper? Which song lyric do you consider as best from the debut?
I write the lyrics and, while they vary in topic, they're always following some sort of morbid theme. Anything from being dragged down to Hell through an open grave, children being born mutated after the mother was exposed to nuclear radiation, sensory deprivation, some occult fantasy lyrics. I find topics like black magic and the occult interesting and have done a bit of reading on them, though I don't actually believe the supernatural or any of that nonsense exists at all.
Off the top of my head I can't think of any lyric that really stands out, though in terms of how it sounds in the song, I like the chant at the end of the album, "Drink from the chalice of demon's blood!"

In terms of influence Death metal is often connected with the American author of horror stories H. P. Lovecraft. What is your attitude toward this priest of Cthulhu? Do you think some influence on BACKYARD MORTUARY could be there? What do you think of his stories, mythology and Necronomicon?
I've read some of his writings, though admittedly not much, and the atmosphere he was able to create was amazing. That said, it's never been an inspiration to me... possibly why my lyrics aren't anything special haha. I love some of the fantastic, creative ideas he was some how able to conjure up in his mind and some of the stuff he has inspired over the years, both music and other literature, are great too.
The Necronomicon is real too, by the way; I own the fabled original. I'll probably be putting it up on Ebay later this year if these unpaid bills keep pilling up.

One of the greatest and most cherished legend bands of Death Metal in general is powerful MORBID ANGEL; their first things probably influenced most death metal bands. What is your attitude towards them? What do you say to their last "Illud Divinum Insanus" CD? Do you think it was a good idea to have Dave back in the band?
Their early stuff is great, interesting music, evil atmosphere, though I don't think they've done anything noteworthy for a loooong time. This latest album... where to begin? I think even those who had the lowest expectations would have been disappointed if they were expecting anything that resembled even a 3rd rate Morbid Angel album. The last 4 letters of the title sum it up pretty well.
I personally don't think they should keep going at all, with or without Dave, if they're going to keep releasing rubbish.

What are you currently working on? Are you preparing even some merchandise for fans? Speaking of fans, do people often write to you? What does contact with fans means to you? How many interviews have you done so far after the debut?
There hasn't been any new stuff for Backyard Mortuary written or worked on since the the album was recorded in early 2011 cause straight after that I went to Mexico to live for a while. Not sure what's going to happen with the band when I get back later this year but we'll see. I've printed some shirts for the album and they should be for sale soon, probably around May, and I've got a couple of metal pins left too (anyone interested in merch contact I get emails from people occasionally, asking about buying the album or other stuff we have for sale. "Contact with fans" has never been something I've thought about really, but if someone wants to buy me a beer at the pub they're more than welcome haha. I've done about 2 or 3 interviews for the album so far.

How do you live in Australia? They say it's so cut continent, but certainly you have there your old traditional folklore, Aboriginal Australians etc. Are you interesting in legends and myths of ancient Australia? Could reveal something of this area?
Interesting question! Unfortunately I don't know too much on the subject. The aboriginals do have their own spiritual beliefs and feel a close connection to the land, as if it were their mother, though these beliefs haven't had any impact or influence on the religious beliefs of people from other nationalities that have since come over. If anything, it's been the other way around, with forced conversion of aboriginals to Christianity and Catholicism in the early days of white settlement.

What about concert activities? How often do you play live shows and how people react down before the stage? Do you use any special show with props or you simply stand in front of people and you cram it to them with maximal energy? Which bands you've played with and you are going to come to the old continent sometimes?
On a good year we might play 4 times but on an uneventful year we won't play at all, so not very often, I guess. In the early days we had ideas for stage props but that never ended up happening, so anyone watching is stuck with just watching us. Some of the bigger bands we've played with are Exhumed, Denial of God, Deeds of Flesh, Gospel of the Horns, Vomitor, Insision and Cemetary Urn. If someone invited us to play in Europe I'm sure we could make it happen, that would be killer!

What does the cover art of your CD mean? Who is the author?
It was drawn quite a few years ago by a friend of ours named Barney Fried. It's a great drawing and I'm really pleased we were able to use it for the album; can't wait to see it on vinyl. Not sure if it actually means anything, or if it's just a drawing and what you see is self-explanatory. I'm guessing probably the latter.

Cheers for the interview!

30. 1. 2013 Mortuary

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