UTG INTERVIEW: Impending Doom

Impending Doom

With every year, there are always a plethora of albums which surprise fans due to how much of a change it is from their previous work. Whether people see it as a good change or a bad change, it’s still a change worth talking about, and that’s exactly the case with Impending Doom and their new devastatingly heavy album, Death Will Reign, which released this past week through eOne music.

UTG’s Adrian Garza recently had the chance to talk to David Sittig, the bass player for this California deathcore act about the album’s direction, the return of longtime-guitarist Manny Contreras, the implementation of their signature logo, the “repentagram,” and much more.

So, to start off, Death Will Reign just dropped today, how do you feel right now?

I feel awesome. It’s number one on iTunes right now [in the] metal charts, four or five on the rock charts, and number thirty in the all around charts, which is more than any of our previous ones have done. So it’s pretty cool.

Could you explain what the album’s title means?

Brook would be a lot better at that, but it kind of means that death will reign over this Earth. If you put faith in this world, in an object, in people, and stuff like that, the only thing that it’s going to end in, you know, is destruction and death.

How would you introduce this new album to the common folk of the heavy music scene who aren’t familiar with Impending Doom?

I always just relate us to Slipknot when I tell them stuff like that, because those kind of people, the heaviest thing that they’ve ever heard, is probably Slipknot. If you say “oh we’re a really heavy band, like Slipknot,” they’ll kind of get what that means, like “oh, it’s thicker, their vocalist just screams all of the time.”

Some of the most prominent comments that many have said about your band have been about your sound getting lighter and lighter since your Facedown debut, Nailed. Dead. Risen.. Now it seems that you guys have gone back to your roots in heaviness, while still becoming increasingly progressive with your songwriting. Was there a reason behind that?

The reason behind it?

Yeah, like was that just how it turned out or was it a part of the game plan going into the studio?

No, it was sort of the game plan. Nailed. Dead. Risen., when it came to production was absolutely horrible, and that’s what people liked about it. We had about three thousand dollars to make that record, and that’s what we had to track, mix, master, live, and eat off of for a month. It was our first record, we didn’t know what good production was, and stuff like that. We didn’t really know how to write good songs back then, we just kind of threw a million riffs into one song and made it work. The only thing that any of us like from that first album is that it really slams, and that it’s really heavy. I kind of like how it’s really unpolished, really gritty, and nasty. And that’s only because we just didn’t have good equipment recording. We had the budget to do whatever we wanted- we wanted to have a more natural sound and progress songwriting, while being really heavy, which is what the first two records were all about, but make it sound good, but at the same time, not as cleaned and polished like our previous record. There’s a bunch of parts on the album where there’s feedback and noises going on, like little imperfections that we wanted there. We wanted to have that aspect of the first two records, and trying to make it heavier, which the majority of the album is eight stringed guitars and drop Gb tuning, which is stupidly low. I think we made it work. It was the plan; we wanted it to sound for the people who really loved our earlier stuff to be sucked back into us.

Where did the creative influence for this new album come from? Was there anything that you think directly had an impact on how this album turned out?

Not really… This is our first record since The Serpent Servant, [and] this is the first time [since then that] we’ve had both Manny [Contreras] and a second guitar player. On There Will Be Violence and Baptized In Filth, it was me and our other guitar player writing everything. This time around, we got Manny back, who was very signature to Impending Doom’s sound. We had more heads on the music, we had more ideas and direction that we wanted to go.

We just wanted to write what came out. Manny had a bunch of songs that he had written for Impending Doom after our Serpent Servant record, that was the last one he was on. He wasn’t with us anymore, but he had like 30 songs that he had written for the band, for later records that at the time, he wasn’t going to be a part of anymore. So we had a bunch of material to sort through, that was the first step of writing the album, we just went through all of his old songs that he’s had for years, and we picked parts we liked, parts we didn’t like, and then we attacked it that way, with, “OK we like half of the song, so let’s take the half we like, re-record it, make it sound awesome, and then write the second half of it… better.” You know?

Before we went into the studio, we had 20 new, completed songs. Like, we had so much material. Usually when we go into the studio, we’re like three songs short of a record, so we’ll write some in the studio after we’re done recording one night, staying up super late, we’ll come up with a song all on the spot, and it sometimes shows. It’s like, “oh, this song sounds rushed,” and stuff like that.

[But on] this one, we have enough material to record another album, if we wanted to. We just picked the best stuff that we thought would fit [well] for this record, that we polished up and everything. It was super fun, and there was never a moment of writer’s block. If we couldn’t think of something for one of the songs that we’re working on, we’d just dig into Manny’s hard drive and find some 30-second clip of something he wrote years ago, and we’d start with that, and make a whole song out of it. So that was really fun. I mean, we didn’t have any boundaries, it was just “let’s see what comes out,” you know? Once it started coming out like that, we kind of did what we needed to do.

Did Manny have a major part in the songwriting process back in the day?

Yeah! Manny was the only person who wrote Nailed. Dead. Risen. Like, pretty much, I mean. There were songs on that album that were from our EP, which not that very many people have, but those EP songs were from a dude who was never really in the band years and years ago. So those songs on NDR, Manny kind of polished up, all of the new songs on NDR that weren’t on the EP, and then I would say he wrote 70% of The Serpent Servant. He was definitely a big songwriter with the band. I started writing music for the band during TSS — I wrote three songs on that one. After Manny wasn’t in the band anymore, it was up to me and Cory [Johnson] (our guitar player at the time) to write There Will Be Violence and Baptized in Filth, which got pretty stressful, because there was only two of us, that’s why it’s a lot easier to have three this time.

What was your favorite song to record for this album?

I would say that it has to be a tie between “Hellhole” and “The Great Divine,” the last song on the record. Manny wrote that one and it sounds super different from all of the other songs on the album, and it sounds really cool. This was the first time we’ve ever written [an album] where I’ve liked every single song on it. It was really hard picking out singles and music videos, and stuff like that because everybody had different opinions, and usually when we have an album, like when we did Baptized In Filth, it was like, “OK, first video, we need to do ‘Murderer,’ the next one needs to be ‘Deceiver,’” and that’s pretty much it, there was one other good song that we all clung to, and they were the obvious ones. So this album was really hard because we all think that they’re all awesome, and that’s never happened before.

In the early days of your career you implored a number of unique marketing techniques, named the term ‘gorship’ and imagery known as the ‘repentagram.’ These things were crucial to your image for years, but no longer play much of a role in promotion. When did you phase out those ideas, and what led to the change?

We haven’t really phased out the repentagram yet, we still use that pretty prominently. But “gorship,” we phased that out a long time ago. A lot of fans cling to that still, like we’ll put it on a shirt so it’s not completely forgotten, but a lot of fans grabbed onto that when we first made it up and thought it was super awesome. So everybody still calls us that; that we’ve made up our own genre or something, but we thought of those things when we were young, at the age of the majority of our fanbase, so we thought they were cool at the time and they kind of stuck to fans, and now we kind of have to live with it [laughs].

You’ve played to several different kinds audiences with Impending Doom. You know, different kinds of tours, and touring out to different countries with different cultures. Could you name one thing you’ve gotten from that experience?

In other countries, their culture is a lot more… I don’t know, maybe “respectful” is the right word? Whenever we play Mexico, Puerto Rico, and countries like that, the fans come in huge numbers, and they’re so eager to meet you and see you. It’s so like it’s the best day of their lives and tomorrow they’re going to die, because there’s nothing to top it. I feel the US is a lot more spoiled when it comes to bands like that. You know, because some people go to shows to mosh and not really see a band. There’s more of a disrespect in the US… Well, not really disrespect, but kids just really appreciate the music, and not even just us, but every kind of band. They appreciate it more in other countries, they just love having fun and jumping up, and they will not leave the venue until every single person who came to the show meets you. It’s really cool [to go] to other places and see that it’s completely different from over here in the US. The culture is really honest over in Europe; they don’t mean to be rude, but they’ll tell you like “oh, you guys… your sound, it was no good”! And “next time you come here play this song”!

You think “why are you being like, a jerk”? And you know, they loved it, but they’re just really honest and that’s just how they are up there, so you just can’t take it to heart. They just want to tell you that their favorite song was one we didn’t play or that the sound sucked, they can’t wait to see us again, and next time [we’re in town], they’ll be there.

I know Brook had to sit out on your recent headliner — will he be on the road with you guys this next time around?

Yes, Brook’s going to be on that tour.

That had to do with the birth of his kid, right?

Yeah, it was just too soon and around that time, he had a job that was just paying him a lot of money, and he didn’t want to risk not being able to come back to it at that point if he did that tour, because originally, [when] we signed up to do that tour, he was on board. It was just too close around when he had his kid and his wife– her family is from Texas, so they aren’t [normally] near their family. When Brook’s on tour, she [would’ve] just been there alone, with the baby. It was just not the right time, Brook needed to stay home and we all understood that, but we did make a commitment to that tour, the agents who booked it, the business aspect of it, and the fans, of course, so we wanted to still attempt to do the tour. But we won’t be doing any tours without Brook, ever again. So yeah, he’s going on the Winds of Plague one.

It’s crazy to think that 2013 is coming to a close. Which albums have been your favorite so far?

Earlier in the year, the one thing that I could never put down that I’m not ashamed to admit is Bring Me The Horizon’s new record. It’s so good, in my opinion. It’s just really good songwriting, and I’ve probably listened to that like 300 times since I picked it up. I would say that would be a really good candidate.

What are you guys going to be up to in the next few months? Do you have anything else to say?

Um, I can’t really discuss 2014 plans yet, but I do know that we’re doing this tour with Winds of Plague, I know we’re going to try to see as many of our world-wide fans as possible this next year. But we’re just trying to put it all together. Like I said, we still have a bunch of music left over. Early next year, we’re going to try to do some cool B-sides and singles with possibly some guest vocalists on songs that were supposed to be on Death Will Reign but didn’t make it. We recorded a few other songs for the record that we didn’t put on it. So we have a bunch of cool songs and kind of stuff that we’re saving for releasing next year some time to get kids stoked on new material again.


Written & conducted by: Adrian Garza (Twitter)

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