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“We’re Not A Religious Band By Any Means”

Posted on Tuesday, November 19, 2013 at 08:48:33

By Aaron Small

SLIPKNOT drummer Joey Jordison’s new band SCAR THE MARTYR is currently opening for ROB ZOMBIE and KORN across The United States on the Night of the Living Dreads Tour. “It’s amazing,” states a very enthusiastic Jordison. “We’re super-psyched to be part of the tour. I have a good history with those guys; it’s kind of like a reunion.” The history being referred to dates back to 2007 when Korn recruited Joey to join them on tour during David Silveria’s hiatus; he also appeared in their ‘Evolution’ video. Shortly thereafter, Jordison began touring with Rob Zombie after Tommy Clufetos left the band.

Having released their self-titled debut album in September via Roadrunner Records, Scar The Martyr features Jordison behind the kit, as well as Jed Simon of STRAPPING YOUNG LAD and Kris Norris of DARKEST HOUR on guitar, along with Chris Vrenna from NINE INCH NAILS on keyboards. Standing tall behind the microphone is the relatively unknown, until now, Henry Derek. It was actually King Ov Hell from GORGOROTH who recommended Henry to Joey. “Absolutely, Henry came in like a breath of fresh air. He was completely on fire; he had a whole bunch of lyrics. I wanted to get a vocalist who was virtually unknown. Sometimes when you get a singer, people already think they know exactly where this guy’s coming from and what it’s going to sound like. I wanted someone who was hungry and basically brand new. I didn’t want a singer who would bring something from another band that people might already judge. I had full confidence in Henry. I wanted a guy that I could trust, and had his own identity.”

According to Jordison, the name Scar The Martyr “is a really touchy subject. When you hear the word martyr, people jump to conclusions – it’s definitely got religious content.” Martyr is defined as one put to death for their beliefs, or one who endures great suffering on behalf of their beliefs. Yet “it absolutely never came from anything like that,” insists Joey. “There’s different types of martyrs. Anyone that will suffer for art, or die for a belief… it’s the same thing a lot of musicians do. They live, breathe, sleep, and die for their art. I think it’s almost the same as a true belief. We’re not a religious band by any means. It’s a play on words, very tongue-in-cheek, and I like the way it sounds. It’s so powerful – the word martyr makes people stop, then you put a couple other things on top of it. It’s so open-ended… I just leave it to the music. Listen and get your own meaning. It’s just a moniker, and the name actually doesn’t mean anything. It establishes the ideal of the music and where the heart is coming from. After that, it just becomes, it just is.” PANTERA is a prime example. “Exactly, you don’t think of the stupid car.”

Travis Smith, who’s done artwork for AVENGED SEVENFOLD, ICED EARTH, and NEVERMORE to name but a few, created the cover for Scar The Martyr. “I’m a big fan of everything Travis has done; he’s a really amazing artist. First thing I did was I sent him the tracks. In this day and age, if you even take something out of the studio, it’s going to end up online. But I knew I could trust him not to play it for anyone. This is how much faith I had in Travis. His artwork is insane! I told him to do something he hasn’t done before. Really listen to the music and take it… I like seeing people’s reactions, whether it’s good or bad. When you’re putting something out that’s from your heart, as long as it invokes an emotion, that’s all you can really ask for as an artist. So when another artist is doing something visually to the music I’ve written, I obviously have a big connection in his ideas and where he’s coming from. We talked about the imagery and what we wanted to go for over a few conversations; then I gave him the freedom. I told him what I was looking for, but I didn’t tell him how to do anything. He had that free reign and came back with all these images. He kept sending them, one after another. That’s how inspired he was; this guy totally gets it. I couldn’t have found anyone to do better artwork on that first record, and I’d love to work with him again.”

The deluxe version of Scar The Martyr contains a cover of ‘Complications’ by KILLING JOKE, which appeared on their self-titled debut in 1980. “It’s a super, super catchy song. It’s got four chords to it, including the chorus. It’s one of the simplest songs from one of the most important bands of the post-punk era; I like everything about that song! It’s so hypnotic. Of course I brought up the tempo; the Killing Joke version is a lot different. It’s more flow-y, and this is more of a charge. I metalled the fuck out of it! But at the same time it almost doesn’t sound like a metal track; there’s no lead guitar solo, nothing complicated about it. It’s ironic me saying complicated, but I just love the words to that song. Killing Joke is one of my favourite bands, ever. I’ve wanted to cover that song for 15 years. I’m not really into covers, but something about that spoke to me. So when I was in the studio, I did two takes of it. It’s not a hard song, but I was so into it. I made it heavy as shit, but still kept the natural feeling and I think it turned out cool. It was fun to do.”

Album producer Rhys Fulber is essentially the fifth member of FEAR FACTORY, and that certainly comes across in Scar The Martyr’s sound, as he steers the band wide and clear of Slipknot territory. “Right,” agrees Joey. “I’ve wanted to work with Rhys for so long. With the material I was writing… I love what he’s done with MINDLESS SELF INDULGENCE, and of course Fear Factory. I wanted to make sure that if I wanted something tight, punchy, super fucking clear… I really wanted a precise production. But at the same time, where me and him are different, and where this band is different, I wanted to do my album raw and he wants to show off his production skills. We met in the middle and totally worked off each other. We worked more on sounds instead of… we need to make (METALLICA’s) Black Album part two. Once we had our goal, we just concentrated on getting great tones. One of the biggest challenges was with the 8-string tunes. That’s why you see bands like MESHUGGAH with notes poking out. We still used everything tube, straight-up. We didn’t use any processors, nothing like that. Getting that clarity and sound out of an actual tube amp with the 8-stings, that was a cool challenge.”

Joey definitely had home field advantage over Rhys (who’s from Vancouver, BC) as the album was recorded at Sound Farm Studios in Des Moines, IA where Slipknot did All Hope Is Gone. “Yeah, but he researched it online and I talked to him about it, and he totally loved it,” reveals Jordison. “Rhys did not want to leave. I’m used to working there, the studio’s just amazing. But in a way, it becomes your house so it’s not like a first impression anymore. I know it inside and out, but Rhys is out there – he was so blown away by just Iowa period. He was flipping out ‘cause the people were so nice. I’m like, ok L.A. guy – he’s from big cities. I went to his studio – and this is not a knock at all – but he’s got this really tight professional studio that’s the size of a bedroom; that’s the way he works. So when he was at Sound Farm, he was taking pictures everyday ‘cause it’s literally in the middle of nothing. There’s nothing for miles and miles. It’s nothing but beautiful landscape with a fucking professional studio; Rhys just had a fucking blast man. He’d go out with his coffee in the morning, and it really helped his work ethic because he really enjoyed his time here; it wasn’t like a job.”

The final track on the regular edition of Scar The Martyr is ‘Last Night On Earth’. What would you do if that was actually the scenario? If you knew you weren’t going to wake up in the morning because the planet would be blown to pieces. “That’s a good question. If we really knew that, we’d be so fucking terrified. You know you’re going to die, everything’s over with; this is really it. You’d be so stunned. You’d be fucking frozen within your own shell. You probably would not know what to do. Everyone’s like, ‘Oh man, I’m going to throw this great party.’ You’d be scared shitless. The whole world would go into chaos. The whole world would literally shut down; it would be complete fucking destruction if it was really the last night on Earth.”

‘Last Night On Earth’ is also the longest song on the album at eight and a half minutes. “As slow and as powerful as that song is, live it’s so fucking heavy it makes you want to shit yourself. It’s the ultimate heaviest thing I’ve ever been a part of on stage. We just crush that, it’s ultimate sludge.”

Scar The Martyr is very nearly a true solo effort as Jordison wrote all of the music, played drums and bass throughout, as well as rhythm guitar on the majority of the album. I didn’t have rehearsals ‘cause I didn’t have a band together. I had session musicians, which has turned into the band. I was really, really particular about who I wanted to be involved with. So when I recorded, I did all the drums first. Then I did the guitars directly after, rhythm tracks first. With the low-tunings, I didn’t have to do bass yet. There’s four tunings on the record, so I used different amps and different guitars. It’s not like a band finds what they’re comfortable in and that’s their tuning. With this band, there’s almost a guitar change every other song. It’s not like that’s what we’re trying to do. Henry can sing in every damn range. I don’t compare Henry to Corey (Taylor, Slipknot vocalist) at all. They’re completely different singers, but these are the type of singers I like to work with, that are completely versatile.”

Henry really shows his versatility live, going from a death metal roar to a clean melodic voice, and then back to growling. “That’s one thing I don’t think Henry’s got credit for yet, which we’ll probably showcase on the next record. I like melody and I have to have that kind of singer. I can’t handle a one-dimensional singer. I’ve been in bands like that before, and eventually you’re hindered by your singer. I’ve got the best singer in the world – Corey Taylor. I wanted another singer who can do that shit as well. I don’t like writing music that’s one-dimensional.”

Hearing Joey talk about the second Scar The Martyr album so soon after the release of their debut is rather intriguing. Reason being, when a band such as this comes together with members from Slipknot, Nine Inch Nails, Strapping Young Lad, and Darkest Hour, people automatically assume it’s a short lived all-star side project; but that isn’t the case. “What’s cool is I wrote all the stuff on the first record, but now I’ve employed myself with guys – (guitarist) Kris Norris has sent me 12 to 13 songs already. That’s all he does ‘cause he’s so into the band. It’s cool to see that excitement come back to me. I almost don’t have to lift a finger on the next record if I don’t want to. These guys have really adapted to the fucking sound that I’m going for. They’ve ran with it and are churning out riffs every other day. Kyle Konkiel, our bass player is writing stuff. (Guitarist) Jed Simon sent me eight songs. Henry is already demoing seven new songs. I’m sitting back and watching these guys go nuts. I have to go directly into the studio. I write probably three or four riffs, sometimes up to ten riffs a day. I demo them on my phone, a Zoom, whatever. I’m constantly writing, so when I go in a studio, I don’t demo like people do now; I’m still old school. I book the rehearsal studio, I set everything up and I go crazy. Going into the second record is going to be amazing dude; we’re so excited! And we’re happy that the fans are being cool and fucking enjoying this record; they’re not picking it apart. We’ve had so many great reviews – and if you don’t like the album, I’m so cool with that too.”

‘Blood Host’ is the first video from Scar The Martyr. It was shot in the rehearsal room, partly to keep it low budget. “Absolutely; and here’s another thing, I wanted to show the band off. People fake shit and all that crap – that’s actually us. We counted off and did three or four jams of ‘Blood Host’ and put out a video; it was that quick. We didn’t play to a track, that’s us rehearsing like we’re touring. That’s not acting like, ‘hey man you’ve got to slam cause I’m going to have a fucking shot on you so fake head-bang and pretend that you’re into it,’ No, that’s us rehearsing; no playback. I was telling the director, you’re going to get in the way, there’s going to be sweat pouring. We were literally heading out on tour in the next couple of days, so we were getting our necks all fucking ready. Don’t step on this cable, don’t unplug this guitar. Dude, all videos used to be done like that. Watch an old ROD STEWART video from the early ‘80s, or THE ROLLING STONES – the videos were different than the actual recordings ‘cause they would track it live and showcase the song like that. We did it old school.”

Looking ahead, Joey shares his plans going forward. “We’ve got The UK in December, and then we’re touring all the way through probably the fall of next year. I’ve got Slipknot shows that we’re placing in to keep the fans happy. We’re working on so much Slipknot material right now; the future of Slipknot looks great, fucking amazing. At the end of next summer we’ll be in the studio doing the next Slipknot record, up until then, nothing but touring our ass off with Scar The Martyr.”