Warkult (Nuclear Blast)
An interview with guitarist Phil Fasciana
By Eric Chon
Eighteen years of brutal, Floridian death metal. Buffalo-natives (alongside Cannibal Corpse), Malevolent Creation have been one of those constant forces within the metal world – always sick, always heavy, and always crushing. Of course, constant line-up changes and controversy have inevitably followed the band (“They Breed” anyone?) but they’ve always managed to pull through stronger than before. I got a chance to speak with Phil Fasciana – founding member and guitarist – about their first U.S. tour in almost a year, what they think of metal today, and touring disasters.
How’s Warkult been received so far?
Good! I think a lot of people are comparing it to our last one (The Will To Kill) because of Kyle, but everything’s been fine. We haven’t heard any horrible reviews out there, but then again, we don’t really care. We’re happy with it, and that’s what counts. And we’re ready to take it on the road.
Has your opinion on touring changed after doing it so much?
Nah. The best part of playing is playing live. You want to impress people and you want them to know your stuff kills. People get your new album and they wanna see you live and hear the band kick ass. That just fuckin’ rules. You get a chance to make a good impression on the crowds.
Yeah, touring is rough – it certainly takes a lot out of you – but it’s definitely fun. We haven’t done any tours in the U.S. in almost a year. We’re so anxious to get the fuck out of Florida, man. Especially towards the West Coast.
Any surprises for us this time around?
We’ve got a really cool set list for this tour. We’ll be playing a lot of songs we haven’t played since we fucking recorded the album, you know? Stuff from 1992, 1993, shit like that. It’ll be fucking cool and it’s certainly made the tour more interesting for us and the fans.
What happened with Divine Empire?
They broke up completely! I know that Jason (Blachowicz, bass/vocals) is looking for a new drummer and guitarist, and that JP and Duane are also looking for new guys as well. I don’t know who’s keeping the name. (laughs) It’s such crazy drama. They keep telling me everything since I’m right in the middle. It’s a goddamn heavy metal soap opera! (laughs)
We wanted to tour with Divine Empire, too. Me and Jason, we patched our differences up. JP (guitar) and I have been good friends for a long time also. It’s always good to tour with friends, and since they were a three-piece, it was easy traveling. Then all this shit went down and, man, I had no idea the band was so fucking screwed up. (laughs)
What do you think of all these young bands nowadays?
What people call metal these days is fuckin’ weird. When I think of metal, I don’t think of these skinny dudes with dyed black hair parting it on one side being all angsty and shit. I don’t know about that kinda crap and people think that that’s metal! That’s fuckin’ strange! Bands like us – imageless bands – we’re always going to be around. Where the music is more important than the look. Unfortunately, the U.S. is so trendy, I don’t even know what the hell they’re all about. What I read about in magazines or hear on MTV – what they’re supposedly playing is metal, but I can’t tell one band from another, you know? I just don’t know what the hell is going on, dude.
And this New Wave of American Metal? They’re just stealing Swedish riffs and shit. Who stole them all from older bands! There’s nothing new wave about it. I’m from the old school. Metal, to me, is Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Saxon, that kinda thing. I don’t understand what people consider heavy metal here anymore.
Would you say that Malevolent has staying power because you guys are consistent and aren’t influenced by these trends?
After you put out a record, the main goal is try and do better on the next one! We keep pushing ourselves to make better, heavier, more brutal albums each and every time. If I thought that we were slacking, I wouldn’t do it. If I feel we’re writing songs worthy of putting out there, we’ll keep doing it until that’s not true.
Will war themes remain constant, or are you thinking of trying to go in new directions?
The war theme has always been associated with all our albums. It’s a topic we’re into and, you know, we’re in a death metal band. We deal with some pretty bad shit, and war is dealing with the worst shit ever. But with our last album, Warkult, we turned the whole album into dealing with war throughout history – not just this latest Iraq bullshit.
On our next album, though, we’re gonna change it up. There’s no war. It’s going to be all new, sick ways of dealing with disease and stuff. Our lyrics are all going to reflect on death through disease. We’ve got tons of topics related to death and lots of cool ideas and song titles. It’s going to be fucking sick.
Actually, it’s going to be our tenth album, and we wanna really do something special with that. I want to be one of those bands that never fades out. I don’t want to ever hear that phrase “They used to be good” or that we changed and became lame. Malevolent Creation has always been about keeping the pedal to the metal, we’re gonna go out as hard as we came into this shit.
Speaking of going out, do you have any crazy tour stories?
Well, there’s a lot of shit I can’t repeat here (laughs), but the only bad thing that I can really recall happened in 1999. Our bus got pulled over in Little Rock, Arkansas, and the cops found three ounces of weed. That was bad. We got jailed for four days and missed three shows. It was just like that movie Stir Crazy, man. We were literally wearing black-and-white striped suits! I woke up every morning hoping it was a dream. They took a ton of cash from us and… man, that was the worst.
Oh wait! We actually had a tour bus trailer break away from the bus in Portugal! The bus went left and the trailer went right. We were driving along these cliffs and it slammed right into the railing, which stopped it from going over. Guitars flew out and everything! (laughs) Everyone went running out of the bus screaming! Thank God none of that shit was mine! I just laughed and said “Good night, suckers!” and went right back to sleep. (laughs) They were fishing broken guitars out of the water and everything. It was fucking nuts!
Touring can be fucking stressful, any secrets to relaxing and taking it easy?
There really isn’t much time to do anything, so I end up reading a lot. I fart around on the guitar a lot as well. We definitely smoke a lot to pass the time and listen to some crazy shit. One good thing about being on tour is we get a chance to listen to mellower music and chill out. Good Southern rock. You know, bust out with the Skynyrd and stuff.
Has there been anything recently that’s caught your attention?
To be honest I haven’t really heard anything recently that’s mind blowing. The new Hate Eternal is definitely pretty good. It sounds a helluva lot better than their last one. I got the new Morgoth “best of” collection. I forgot how fucking awesome their first two EPs were. Simply brutal. That dude’s voice is the shit!