Deceased are a staff favourite over at Transcending Obscurity. They’ve released some excellent albums over the years and have developed an unmistakable sound and identity as a death/thrash metal band. Our label division even put out an official reissue of their 1997 album ‘Fearless Undead Machines’ over HERE. With a new album slated to come out in the foreseeable future titled ‘Ghostly White’, guest interviewer Tyler Brooks talks to King Fowley about that and the band’s illustrious past.
Transcending Obscurity (Tyler Brooks): You were the first band to ever sign with Relapse records, a label that would become a powerhouse at the peak of early 90’s death metal. What were those early days like?
Deceased (King Fowley): Working with them early on was fun. We were all gung ho and ready to rock. As the label got bigger and successful they sadly lost their way and it got harder to deal with them on a business level. But those early days we will always cheer and thank Relapse for giving us a shot!
TO: You made a flyer that you promised you were going to “out-thrash Slayer” at one point in the early days. Do you feel like you achieved this?
Deceased: Yes! We are still playing 100% deceased music while Slayer to me is playing hot topic metal for a paycheck and a past glory gratification! No thanks!
TO: Many fans consider your third album, ‘Fearless Undead Machines’ to be the album that solidified the Deceased style for years to come. What is it about this album, or the circumstances surrounding its recording, that you feel make it so powerful?
Deceased: I just think it was a heavy metal record in a time when heavy metal was a bad word. We didn’t care; we just lined it up and knocked it down! The songs are very strong on it. I think a lot of metal people related to the horror tinged theme of it. It’s my third favorite Deceased record behind ‘Supernatural Addiction’ and ‘Surreal Overdose’.
TO: Everyone has a favorite Deceased album, and I believe yours is ‘Supernatural Addiction’; ‘The Weird Travel On’ happens to be mine. Do you think that says anything about yourself or the people that choose other albums?
Deceased: It’s always neat to hear why someone has favorite record, details of it etc. To each their own I always say. We all have different names for a reason~!
TO: Modern day death/thrash seems to be used as an excuse for death metal bands to play traditional death metal riffs at hyper fast speeds, but Deceased has always held the thrash side of the moniker in high regard. What is the secret to blending so may influences into a coherent product, while still retaining quality songwriting?
Deceased: Passion for the styles and influences tenfold. You gotta believe! People sadly a lot of times toss shit together to hope its unique when it comes off kitchen sink or half assed. Neither is a good thing. Deceased really does where our metal heart on our sleeve. I arrange everything and I love hooks in songs and memorable music in general. Mindless song writing is a horrible thing. Wasted music as I call it, what a shame
TO: Speaking of influences, you’ve made it pretty evident where your influences lie. It’s clear from the plethora of covers of everything from Cro-Mags and Bad Brains, to Running Wild and Voivod. Why do you feel so compelled to show reverence to so many classics when others may relegate one or two song to their influencers?
Deceased: It’s just a part of it. We take Deceased very seriously in our albums. To let up and have some fun amongst the song writing usually means a cover song tribute to a band or moment in time to us. We have lots of influences so we show it as often as we can!
TO: In 1988, tragedy struck when Rob Sterzel, then the bassist, lost his life in an accident. Many bands are incapable of continuing on from something like that. What helped you to get through dark times in your formative early years?
Deceased: It’s all we knew! Music was our lives and we had to trudge on. Rob would have demanded it. Rob’s death was awful and it floored us. But we took from negativity and made positivity out of a dire situation.
TO: Your style of melodic death/thrash pre-dates even those bands from the Swedish Sunlight Studios period. At a time when melody was probably a dirty word, what drove you towards it?
Deceased: A love for it. I know it’s a big part of my music heart. A good melody is so inspirational to me. We always had hints even at our dirtiest sounds. But it took time to grow as musicians both song writing and playing wise. When it fell into place I was thrilled!
TO: Deceased has consistently released excellent music almost yearly since 1986, whether it be through singles, EP’s, demos, or compilations. How do you keep so relevant years later without burning out?
Deceased: Again you gotta believe. You gotta want it. People that really listen or follow a band can almost always know when a band is mailing it in. We don’t rush into new records or toss out 8 new songs a year just to call it our new record. We got into writing music because it is dear to our hearts. And all these years later it still is!
TO: You’ve said in an interview that you love performing live shows. How does playing live differ from writing in the studio?
Deceased: The studio is a very serious thing at times. You have to keep your mind right. On stage you get to perform your tuned in front of a crowd there (well a good bunch of them) to hear your music. You give it your all and it’s one big thrill ride. I love to entertain and getting on a stage and going for it really makes me happy!
TO: You’ve had numerous lineup changes over the years, mostly stemming from members living all over the country. Les and Mike seem to be such constants throughout most of your timeline. What kind of relationship is necessary between the three of you?
Deceased: Understanding is the key. We are all older now and things like family, work etc come into the mix as you get older. Everyone still rocks when it’s time to do so. Mike didn’t want to play live anymore late 2000’s and we worked it out so he could continue as a studio guy while turning over his live presence to someone else. Les married a gal and moved to Texas. He is still part of the studio band and plays out live with us as often as he can. Being around since 1985 life tosses stuff at ya it’s how ya deal with it that keeps it moving forward.
TO: For ‘Rotten to the Core’, Dave “Scarface” Castillo took over behind the drum kit for live performances. Was this something you had been seeking to do for a while, or was Dave just the perfect fit?
Deceased: After playing on stage as front man in October 31 it just felt right to be upfront. I always found it constricting live to sit behind a drum set on a stool and front a show. Dave is a dear friend and fit right in.
TO: Iron Maiden, or Judas Priest?
Deceased: IRON MAIDEN WITH EASE! Judas priest should have walked away mid-80s for all the following of musical trends to stay current they did. Iron Maiden just keeps on doing their own thing!
TO: Do you have anything to tell the fans about upcoming performance, or the highly anticipated seventh full-length album, ‘Ghostly White’?
Deceased: It’s almost complete song writing wise then the will record. A lot of time and effort has gone into this one. I’m really digging the tunes. It’s very heavy metal this go round with a lot of emphasis on melody, reminds me in spots of ‘Supernatural Addiction’. We are all very pleased!
Transcending Obscurity (Tyler Brooks): Thanks King!
Deceased (King Fowley): Thank you! Stay wildddddddddddddddddd!