Interview: Shane Mclachlan of Phobia
For over 20 years, Phobia have been deploying crushing, anarchistic grindcore and lacerating eardrums across the globe. Since forming in 1990 in Orange County, CA, Phobia have released a multitude of singles and splits with such bands as the legendary Corrupted and Plutocracy, as well as several full-lengths on such labels as Slam-a-Ham, Crimes Against Humanity, Relapse, Willowtip and Deep Six to name a few.
MetalKult’s buddy, and Tombs mainman, Mike Hill recently caught up with Phobia’s vocalist and sole original remaining member Shane McLachlan to discuss the making of their latest record Unrelenting (Relapse Records) and what it takes to keep a “100% punk” band going for more than two decades.
MIKE HILL Phobia’s new record, Unrelenting, is out on Relapse. Can you give me a run down on where you recorded it, who played on it and who did the artwork?
SHANE McLACHLAN It was record at Winter Skies in San Antonio, Texas, by Mike Garrison. We tracked and wrote there and Scott Hull [Pig Destroyer] did all the producing and mixing at his studio Visceral Sound. I played on it along with Dorian [Rainwater of Noisear], Bryan [Fajardo of Noisear, Kille the Client, Gridlink] and Steve [Burda]. As far as the artwork, I just wanted something old school, you know? Actually Relapse just handled that for me, and it came out exactly how I wanted it. We’re all real happy about it.
There have been some changes to the touring lineup of the band, can you elaborate on that?
We have been around for about 21 years, and in that amount of time there is bound to be some changes. We made some changes right before the Eyehategod tour because our original guitar player couldn’t do it. We had had some issues with him for a while; he had other stuff going on and lacked the commitment that we needed. And if you know Phobia; that shit isn’t going to stop us, you know? So we added our friend, Cece, who has helped the band tremendously: doing merch, driving, tour managing. She basically just kept the band’s heads straight, and is an awesome person and kick-ass guitar player. We are tighter then we have ever been, so it was a good move. I figure we could of gotten numerous people we know to help out, but we wanted somebody that was like family to us. We also had Bryan’s friend Clint play drums on that tour. I was really impressed by his drumming and the power he laid out. I wasn’t sure in the beginning because Bryan is like the best drummer out there playing this type of music. But we really wanted to do the tour, I’m a huge fan of Eyehategod, so it just had to happen. And it went really well. We got a great response and had loads of fun.
Phobia has been active for over two decades. What keeps you moving forward?
I think we just still believe in what we do, we believe in the music, the ideals and idea that goes a long with it, you know? A lot of bands come in, talk their shit, preach their shit, and then they’re gone. That’s not what we’re about. It’s all about integrity to me. We just have it in our blood.
The lines between genres have blurred over the last several years. Do you see the band as a “punk” band or a “metal” band?
We’re a punk band, 100%.
There seems to be more and more bands calling themselves “grindcore” or “powerviolence” over the last few years. In my opinion some are good, and some are just recycling old Napalm Death riffs. What is your take on this?
Well, yeah, that’s pretty much how it works. We’re always going to have our influences, you know? We have some old-school Napalm influence, and we are proud of it. You can’t hide stuff like that. But bands should try and progress in other ways and find who they are. There are so many rad bands out there that kick ass, are grindcore and do it their own way. Phobia has a style, our influences show for sure, but still we have other shit going on as well. As for power violence, I never got into that shit. like, “where’s the power?, and where’s the violence?”
Phobia has done some touring recently, leading up to the release of Unrelenting. What are some of the highlights?
We did a kick-ass tour with our buddies Municipal Waste; that was a fucking blast. They’re great guys that we’ve known for years and it was good to hit the road with them. We did a small tour up to the Central Illinois Metal Fest in Illinois, where we had Zach Gibson on drums. He’s a fucking awesome drummer and we were stoked to jam with him. We also some Mexico dates, it’s always good to be there: great people and crazy fuckers! Good times, man.
Are there any upcoming tours?
We are working on some dates for August. We have a good route planned: Midwest and East coast as of now. We also want to start working on a new record. I love to write, it’s like my favorite thing to do.
You’ve relocated to Austin. How did that effect the productivity of the band?
It doesn’t at all. I have always written most of the stuff anyways, and Bryan lives in Dallas. Dorian lives there as well, and he helps write Phobia stuff as well. CeCe lives in San Antonio, Texas, so that’s been good. Calum lives in NYC…but like I said, Dorian, Bryan and I pretty much will be recording everything.
Has your relocation had a positive impact on your life?
Yes, it’s been really awesome. I love Austin and always have. I’ve been here a lot and always had a great time. People are nice, there are lots of things to do. Being from Orange County, I love being around water, and it’s all over here. I’m a lot mellower than I used to be. I miss my family and people I grew up with. But for me, this is the best place to be.
What’s your take on the explosion of downloading music? Do you think it helps or hurts bands?
Well, it definitely hurts bands if people are doing it for free. I mean you can’t avoid downloads, but I think it’s wrong for people just to take it. You gotta support your bands. Bands depend on sales. With no sales, no label support or whatever they end up in debt, which is fucked!