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Интервью с Ulcerate,

Jamie Saint Merat (drums)

Jamie, greetings from Brutal Carnage Zine and Russian fans! Tell us a few words about yourself. For how long have you been into death metal? When did you realize you'll play one of the most extreme music styles?

I've been into this style of music since early high school, I'm 25 now, so 12 years.  Started to actually think about playing it full-time at around 17/18.

Ulcerate is an insane mix of brutal and technical music. Share with us how can you make a madness like Ulcerate?  What bands were the inspiration moved you into metal music?

Well, we just sit down and write the music we'd like to hear.  I got into death metal because of it's suffocating, unrelenting density, and for lack of a better world 'evilness'.  So Ulcerate's always strived to kinda take this essence and do something of our own with it.  I was never drawn to this music because of how clinical or tight the musicians could be, or how fast the drummers could make there limbs move.  As soon as I heard bands like Obituary (the early material), Bolt Thrower, Suffocation, there was just something so punishing about it.  (oddly enough all 3 bands are pretty mid-paced in terms of tempo).  Then I guess starting to hear things in black metal I liked in terms of bleakness and morbidity, and the dissonance that bands like Immolation, Gorguts, Today is the Day and even late 90's metalcore bands like early Isis, Dillinger Escape Plan, Bloodlet, Disembodied were experimenting with really peaked my interest at just how different this style of music can be.

Some people draw a parallel between Ucerate and Immolation sound. Also multilayer structure of your songs is compared to Gorguts. What do you think about this? 

Yeah, we'll take that as a compliment as we love those bands.   The thing is, there's so few acts that fall under the more atmospheric, dissonant end of things, and as soon as you do you're going to be compared to one if not both of those bands.   But of course, they're huge influences, they redefined the way death metal can be interpreted.   Most death metal is pretty par-for-the-course, but both bands have moments of just total sonic terror, its fucking great.  But, we're totally trying to find our own sound, and I really don't think you could put any of our material into one of these bands tracks without it sounding wildly out of place.

«Everything Is Fire» bass and drums production is much better than on past album. Reveal us some info about recording process.

Thanks man, always striving to do a little better than last time with each release.  The recording process for us is pretty simple, no bells and whistles.  We engineer and produce everything ourselves, we have a Pro-Tools rig with a selection of high-end Shure mics that we cart around.  We hired out studio space here in Auckland and tracked everything in there, a couple of days for each instrument.  This time around, I was working with a brand new kit that really smokes what we were using for previous recordings.  We're very meticulous about getting tones and in the case of drums, tunings exactly right for what we want to get across.  When it comes to mixing, there's no trickery, we don't edit the drum takes, no beat quantisation or anything hideous like that.  Kick drums only are sound-replaced with a kick sample off the actual kit.  We just work on balancing the instruments with equalisation and compression, and that's about it.

With regards to the bass, this time around for the first time we've stepped into the territory of full bass distortion, which we're completely sold on.  Really thickens up the sound, and glues everything together a lot better.  For the tracking we just used a Sans-Amp straight in, and amp emulated the distortion afterwards.

AFAIK your new album is conceptual. What's the story behind the lyrics? Any difference between «Of Fracture And Failure» and «Everything Is Fire» lyrics?

Well, kinda conceptual, mostly that each song explores an idea in one 'territory'.   Not a concept album in a traditional sense, where each song is part of a narrative.  The governing idea for the album is that everything is in a constant state of change and evolution, that at any given point there are very little hard truths that we should accept - and when and if we as a species do, we get mass conflict and intolerance.  I guess mostly it's commentary on human arrogance and how we perceive our place in our environments, how we deify objects and people out of pure tradition with very little rationalism.

In terms of difference between the 2 albums, Ben's style of lyric on 'Of Fracture' is very metaphorical and perhaps a touch more poetic in terms of language used, whereas Paul's is much more rigid and to-the-point -  which is totally what we wanted this time around.

What is the meaning of «Everything Is Fire» cover? Is art design a hobby or a job?

The cover is an illustrative metaphor for the overall theme of the album.  It's not meant to be figurative in any way perse, it's just how I interpret a visual for the lyric and musical content.  So I guess take what I explained before and try and think of a visual representation, that's more or less what I've done...   Art and design are my career, I have a degree in visual arts, and I'm currently working in web design.  

Do you have music education? What about other band members? Is it possible to play such an ultra-technical music without music education?

Oh totally, we've all taken music classes at school, and lessons on our instruments when we younger. We can all read notation (as far as I know), but in terms of melodic theory, we've only really had theory up to a last-year of high school level.  I'm fine with percussive notation and theory, mostly through reading and instructional DVDs etc.  In terms of labelling it 'ultra-technical', I definitely wouldn't go that far.  It's pretty linear, but it's not really what I would call 'complex' rhythmically or harmonically.  Unorthodox, for sure.  We do use a lot of odd-time signatures, but that's a by-product of working out sections by jamming, more-so than wanting to make things 'harder' to play.   But then again, we're not trying to be a 'technical' band. We spend a lot of time on getting things to feel good even if they're a little challenging to play.

Can you tell about last line-up changes? What do you attribute this to?

We parted way with our guitarist Mike Rothwell purely because we were starting to be on a different wavelength in terms of priorities - at the time, he had various other projects on that were detracting from him putting his efforts towards Ulcerate - especially lately as we've been rehearsing most nights of the week and this material needs a pretty solid personal-practise regime to keep things tight.  We dropped our old vocalist Ben for two reasons - we were after a return to a much lower, 'classic' vocal, which he just couldn't deliver, and in the long-term he wasn't going to be able to commit to the band on a touring basis.  But we're still good friends with these chaps!

You and Paul have side projects (e.g. Abystic Ritual). Are they important for you? Any difference between side projects and Ulcerate music?

Side-projects just come and go for various members of the band, nothing that I'd consider important, just either helping out friends, or just doing something a little different here and there.  Abystic Ritual is on ice once again for various reasons, but it might rear it's dirty little head at some point haha. Sonically, yeah, none of the bands are in the same ballpark as Ulcerate.

Are there any death metal bands in New Zealand besides Ulcerate? Can you suggest to listen one of them?

Sure, Dawn of Azazel, Diocletian, Witchrist.  Creeping, although not death metal, are awesome.

Nowadays slam death metal has got much popularity among death metal listeners. Devourment is considered to be the forerunner of slam death metal. What do you think of this style and bands like Devourment, Abominable Putridity, Cephalotripsy and similar to them? Have you ever wanted to play this kind of death metal? 

Slam is not really my thing at all, and no, have never wanted to dabble in the style.  The closest thing to slam I enjoy would be bands like Disgorge, Defeated Sanity - but even then, never really find myself listening to this stuff too often.

How often does Ulcerate play at local gigs? What's your largest audience count?

Lately pretty sparsely, NZ is a very small country and overplaying the same 4 or 5 venues really detracts from killer shows.  In the last couple of years most of our shows have been as support for larger acts, so in terms of audience count I guess the 600 or so at a couple of Cannibal Corpse shows, or 500 at the Nile/Decapitated tour would be up there  Of course, we can't lay claim to those audience numbers...  For local-only shows, 100 is a good turnout, and if you get anywhere near 200, you've pretty much got a New Zealand city's entire scene out for the night!

What can you say about bands you've shared the stage with?

The Nile/Decapitated show was great, we actually played with them a few month before Decapitated they had their accident, which was pretty sombre to find out about.  Playing with our buds in The Amenta is always killer.  Suffocation were really awesome down-to-earth guys, as were the Deeds of Flesh and Disgorge boys.

Your last label Neurotic Records has got a bad reputation among death metal listeners. What's your opinion about it? Was it a bad move to sign on Neurotic or not?

It was a great move for us to sign to Neurotic in the first place - we signed just before things went downhill.  The label did a lot of great things for us in terms of promoting our first album, which we'd never complain about.   However, I have no idea how that label is being run, and I just don't understand what happened with the whole customer orders debacle etc.   We split from the label on a very sour note that I'm not happy about at all, and I know the other bands that bailed from the label were treated the same way.  

Otherwise, Willowtip - your current label is very respectable and helded on a high esteem. Are you satisfied the way Jason treats Ulcerate?

So-far-so-good for us man.  We're not a band whose intent it is to launch some fucking mainstream attack, with more merch than songs and watered-down music for adolescents, we're not looking to be on the biggest 'coolest' label.  What we're looking for in a label is honesty, credibility and great customer-relationship, all of which Willowtip has.

Is it going to be Everything Is Fire tour? Good idea to hit USA, Europe (maybe even Russia). Is it possible at all?

Yeah man, Europe is on the cards for 2009, that's all I can say about that at the moment...

What can you tell about Russian metal scene? Have you ever heard any Russian/CIS (ex-USSR states) metal bands? 

I know very little, the only bands that come to mind are Hate Forest, Drudkh?   I get the feeling you guys have the same kind of international profile that a country like New Zealand does, in that the rest of the world seems to know very little about what happens here.

Today almost everyone can download mp3 and listen to music without buying cd/vinyl/tape. What's your view on this point? Does it hit the interests of labels specializing in extreme music?

I have no problem with it at all - I think its great that you can find an album the moment it drops (most of the time beforehand) and listen to it in it's entirety.  It comes down to this, people who I think actually respect our music and what we do will support by buying the albums.   I honestly think that if you have a conscience and a respect for the bands who you're supporting by listening, it only makes sense that you'd shell out some $$ for it.   And regardless of where you think the money might be going, at the end of the day, the artist benefits - more revenue obviously makes labels happy to put more into their releases and bands (particularly  in good relationships with honest labels).

Thanks to Wikipedia, I learned that Auckland is the largest urban area in New Zealand and pleasant to look at. What is life in this beautiful place like? Are there still any unsolved problems in the city?

Auckland's a cool city to live in - as is NZ as a country.   If we weren't to geographically isolated, this would be easily one of the most sought-after places to live (it kinda is already). The older I get the more I appreciate this country for it's landscape, climate, social structures etc.
Can you describe New Zealand by several words? (Is it warm, green, steady or maybe socially-oriented country).

Secular, green, stable, culturally integrated (for the most part).

Share your TOP-5 (or more if you want) metal albums.

Eucharist - «Mirrorworlds»

Deathspell Omega - «Fas - Ite, Maledicti, In Ignem Aeternum»

Immolation - «Close To A World Below»

Hate Eternal - «Conquering The Throne»

Angelcorpse - «The Inexorable»

Your final message to the Russian fans of Ulcerate. 

Thanks for listening!  Hopefully we can make it out your ways sooner than later...

Jamie, thank you very much! Good luck to you and Ulcerate.

Cheers! Jamie & Ulcerate.

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