GOATWHORE is an in-your-face, fuck shit up kind of band. Their potent blend of black, death, and thrash metal has been kicking teeth in for 16 years now. They have truly established themselves as one the hardest working, consistently punishing live bands of the 21st century and a true institution of heavy music. And as someone who can speak from experience live they FUCKING SHRED!! I talked with singer Ben Falgoust just before new album Constricting Rage of the Merciless came out and we touched on the evolution of the band, their relationship with longtime producer Erik Rutan, and more. Have a look:
Amps: You’ve worked with Erik Rutan since 2006. How great is it to have that type of producer who just knows you so well?
Ben: The word I’d use is “comfortable.” And I know that some people think once you get comfortable that things get lax or lazy, but I think the point is that everybody’s relationship is comfortable. Him and Sammy, him and me, him and Zack, the way we work together in the studio is comfortable. But he’s still on your ass to make sure you do your best performance you can. It’s not like he’s slacking off, that’s for sure. I think the studio is a stressful experience so when you do have a relationship like we have with Erik and how we work together so well I think that makes the studio better because it relieves that stress and tension. He’s got an amazing ear, too. We’ll be listening to something and he’ll go, “You hear that?” And I’ll be like, “No, I don’t fuckin’ hear anything that you’re talking about.” He’s like, “I’m tellin’ you. That’s out of tune, I can hear it.” He’s blessed because he can hear so many things, but he’s cursed because he hears all the little details that drive him nuts. We kind of roughed him up as well because we’re a bit grittier than what he comes from with MORBID ANGEL and HATE ETERNAL. He polishes a little bit more, where GOATWHORE’S a little dirtier. You can’t polish it too much; you gotta let it be natural and a little mistake-ridden because that’s how we are. It’s funny because we’ve kind of molded him into that, so when we go to the studio he kind of changes into the mystery fifth member of GOATWHORE. He doesn’t write music for us or anything, but he has the ears for us. He’s an amazing person, and I love to hear the MORBID ANGEL stories when I’m in the studio, too.
Amps: You recorded to 2 inch analog tape. How’d that decision come about and what was that like?
Ben: Erik’s had that machine for a while. He purchased it from Morrisound Studios in Tampa, FL which is legendary for being the home of MORBID ANGEL, SUFFOCATION and bands like that. It was popular for the whole death metal scene back in the day. And GOATWHORE never went to tape because it’s pretty obsolete now. There’s a company out there that you can send it to and they figure out the correct formula to get it to sound right. So we found some old reels, and that’s kind of a hit-and-miss situation because you don’t know if they’re any good, sitting in an old, hot warehouse so we took a shot and crossed our fingers, you know? And Erik hadn’t worked on it in something like six or eight years, so he brought in one of the engineers from Morrisound that was familiar with it to make sure the settings on it were correct, which was cool. Everybody took an interest in making this happen. Sammy (Duet, guitar) was really dead set on it. Plus, we can really feel the difference doing it this way vs. digital. I don’t know if most people can, but we can. And hopefully we can do the next record this way too. We love the way it came out.
Amps: Talk about “Cold Earth Consumed in Dying Flesh”…It’s different from the other tracks, yet fits in the overall picture.
Ben: That song was an experiment in a sense. I kind of approached that because I was listening to a lot of the earlier days of death metal, stuff like BOLT THROWER’S Realm of Chaos, things like that and then also appreciating newer bands like HAIL OF BULLETS that make me feel young again! You know, throughout all our years of listening to metal we all lock into a subgenre at some point, and for me that was death metal, then black metal. And I was like, “Man, I’d really like to a song that has this slow buildup and then kicks in, almost bulldozer-sounding.” And I was talking to Sammy about it and I said we should do something like that. And he said, “That’s interesting. Let me see what I can come up with.” and he started throwing some riffs together. And I used to be in a death metal band called PARALYSIS, you know with the cookie monster vocals, and I wanted to bring some of that back. And then Zack (Simmons, drums) and James (Harvey, bass) got onboard and we put it together. It’s older death metal, but it still has that GOATWHORE sound and fits what we do.
Ben: I know! I’ve been checking out some new records and so many bands are busting ass! Everybody’s putting out some severe records, man. I don’t know if everybody’s pissed off because of the fuckin’ music industry or some of the crap that’s out there, but there are some fuckin’ records out and coming out that are like, “Shit! It’s gettin’ really brutal!” There’s so many bands and records coming out. GOATWHORE is really just extreme metal and we just love doing what we do!
Amps: Two things I wrote about your show here in Dallas were, “GOATWHORE has only one speed…GO!” and “I turned to my friend JOR-EL and asked if he could find my face because GOATWHORE just fucked it off!”
(Ben starts laughing): everything about that tour was fuckin’ great! We’re not out there to hang out; we’re there to kick some ass. We live for this stuff, we’re into classic metal and all kinds of metal. And we want to present ourselves live to where someone says, “Yeah they’re great on record, but LIVE they kick ass!” When we play live we’re playing with other bands and there’s a competitive nature a little bit. We played with BEHEMOTH and they rip through shit, they’re intense. So we had to up our game big-time because they come out and just level the place. And we needed to show them what we have so people would be like, “We were there to see BEHEMOTH, but man…GOATWHORE!!” There’s a lot of respect, but everybody’s puttin’ their balls out there to make it happen.
Amps: Will you be back around on your own tour after Summer Slaughter?
Ben: I’m sure we will. We’re working on some things for later this year, and we’re trying to swing some things in Europe. It’s been a while since we’ve been there. If you look back at our past we tour a lot. And this record is gonna be new come July. Summer Slaughter is gonna be training compared to what we’ll be doing after that. This is only the start of the cycle. We usually go two years doing all kinds of different places. You can expect us in the U.S. again either before the end of the year or early next year.
Ben: If anything we’ve matured (laughs). I think in the writing process you can go two ways: get shittier or get better, and hopefully we’ve gotten better. Me personally, I don’t feel that much has changed except for my experience. The experience of going into the studio, the experience vocally with things that I wanna do. Other members have evolved and gotten better and better at what they do. The evolution and the growth of the band from point A, The Eclipse of Ages into Black to Point B, Constricting Rage of the Merciless pretty much caps the evolution of this band to what it sounds like now. In the early days you can hear almost all our influences, whereas now we’re creating more of our own sounds.
Amps: What do you do outside of music?
Ben: I have a day job when I’m at home. They let me split to go on tour which is awesome. But when I’m home I work a lot there. They’re really lenient with my schedule and I work a lot because I respect the fact that they let me split off for two months, so when I get home and it’s busy I’ll work six or seven days a week if they need me to. It’s also not a job I hate or dread going to, which is great. It helps pay the bills. Unfortunately metal doesn’t always do that. I play video games, but I hardly have time anymore. A couple years back I got certified in diving. I try to go when I can, but it’s expensive, so I just go when I can afford it. Luckily I live off the Gulf of Mexico so I don’t have to go far. When I get off tour I like to stay away from shows for a while, but then I get that itch and I’m like, “I gotta go see this band, or this band.” I’m no different from anybody else, except sometimes I get to live out a fantasy for a few months.
Amps: What would you like to say to the GOATWHORE fans out there?
Ben: I appreciate every one of them. The ones that’ve been there this whole fuckin’ time and have been supporting us, coming out and pushing for us, and our new fans like you, it doesn’t matter when you got into us, you’re still a big part of making things happen in the band. And not just this band, every band. To us it’s huge. Fans and bands make it happen, so I appreciate everyone that pulls for us. And for those who don’t know us, check it out. Go on the internet and give it a listen. If you don’t like us, turn it off. But give it a shot.
It’s really that simple, folks. Ben Falgoust is a real, everyday working man who just happens to play in GOATWHORE, one of the best, and one of my personal favorite bands out there today. But at the end of the day, like all of us, he is a fan, and he lives, breathes, and eats this stuff as we do. It was a pleasure chatting with him, and I look forward to doing so again. In the meantime I’ll continue blasting Constricting Rage of the Merciless. You should too!
LIVE BAND PHOTO: LIZ CIAVARELLA-BRENNER