Interview: All Pigs Must Die Vocalist Kevin Baker On Creating Something "Nasty"
With their debut album, God Is War (Southern Lord), All Pigs Must Die have tossed a Molotov cocktail into the musical landscape. Though the band includes members of Converge, Bloodhorse, and the Hope Conspiracy, this isn't just another supergroup, but is rather a distillation of all the things that make metal and hardcore scary. The new record is nine tracks of unstoppable rage that absolutely crushes its extreme-music competitors. Revolver sat down with vocalist Kevin Baker (also of Hope Con) to discuss his intimidating new band.
REVOLVER How did All Pigs Must Die come together?
KEVIN BAKER We’ve been in bands together, or whatever bands we were in have been on the road together, for years now. In 2009, Matt [Woods, of Bloodhorse] wanted to create a heavy band that embodied everything good about heavy music from an uncompromising standpoint, so we got together, put down five tracks, and recorded them. All on our own, too.
Did you guys set out with a specific sound in mind?
A lot of it was going back to the things that we’ve liked since we were teenagers that have stood the test of time. There’s plenty of shit that you loved at some point that you listen to now, 10 or 15 years later, and think, Holy shit, that’s terrible! We looked at the music that, to this day, still makes the hair on the back of our necks stand up—early Integrity, early Slayer, the first four Bathory records, Samhain, early hardcore bands like Void, Negative Approach, Discharge, the Exploited. These are the bands we really love musically, and we wanted to go in that direction and make something nasty, and to make it for ourselves, and self-finance the whole thing. So going into it, there was definitely a conscious decision of what it was supposed to be like.
The band has a really venomous tone to it but remains huge and powerful—is it hard to find a balance between big and raw?
I can’t speak for the rest of the band in terms of gear and set-up and all that, but as a writer and a lyricist, I wanted to write something that wasn’t happy, but that wasn’t negative for the sake of being negative. It’s not corny. The songs aren’t about raping a corpse. We’re coming from a very negative place about things that happen every day in this world, and we’re trying to make it as dark as possible. We want to fuse all of our influences, but sound like us, not like a cover band. I want people to hear our influences, but not just hear those bands. I want it to be distinct.
What can you do in this band that you can’t do in Hope Conspiracy?
I think the lyrics here are really blunt, and they match the tone of the music really well. The Hope Conspiracy comes from a bit more personal place. I touch on similar issues in both, but lyrically, here I’m much more focused in man’s inhumanity towards man, and the idea of mankind devouring itself and destroying everything around it, the environment, the world.
The title of the album, God Is War, is a pretty blunt and brutal.
Again, we wanted to focus on man’s inhumanity—not that everyone’s a bad person, there’s good and bad in everyone, just that the whole history of mankind is based on cruelty. The title itself actually came from the book Blood Meridian by Cormack McCarthy. One of the characters in the book, the Judge, who represents humanity’s darker side, talks about how war is God, so we flipped it around. We thought it really worked well with our concept behind this band.
How was recording with producer--and Converge guitarist--Kurt Ballou?
We work with Kurt exclusively. He’s the best in the business as far as we’re concerned. For underground, heavy music, you can’t beat Godcity [Studios] and you can’t beat Kurt. He knows what you’re going for, and he knows how to get you there. He knows what the end result is supposed to be.
With God Is War hot on the heels of your self-titled EP, it seems like you guys are making a strong push to just get music recorded and put it out there.
Everyone has commitments outside of this. We’re doing this because we love to do it. There’s no pressure…we never really intended to sign any record deals with anybody. We just wanted to make this music. The one label we did consider was, of course, Southern Lord, which is why it was cool that they came across the EP and loved it. We never aimed to be a big band. We just wanted to put this music out, play a show here or there when we could. The most important thing with this band is the writing, first and foremost, before playing out. That’s why we started doing this—being able to write on a consistent basis and being able to record on a consistent basis. We love playing out, we really do, but we’d always much rather write and record new music. So we’ll see. Hopefully this time next year, we’ll have another record.
Tell me about the art for both your releases. It’s incredibly striking.
Florian Bertmer did the art. He’s a good friend of ours. We’ve known him for years. We have a circle of people surrounding this band: Kurt’s one of them, and so is Florian. When the time came to do art for the band, we immediately thought to ask him. He has a real talent at creating art that represents actual music, and I think he did that very well with our art. I’ve bought albums based on what they look like before, so I think it’s really important for a band to have artwork and graphics that stand out and also communicate the music. For both of our records, I think he really nailed it. CHRIS KROVATIN
Photo by Greg Anderson