Get Full of Hell's new album, Garden of Burning Apparitions, on limited-edition silver vinyl at Revolver's shop.
Eric Ghoste, a.k.a. Ghostemane, is geeked to be interviewing Dylan Walker, frontman of noise-grind experimentalists Full of Hell. "I've been a fan of you guys since I think 2014 or 2013 or something," he enthuses to Walker over Zoom. "I was the guy in the crowd — seriously."
It was Full of Hell's 2011 debut LP, Roots of Earth Are Consuming My Home, that hooked him. "An ex-girlfriend actually put me onto it, and I'm forever indebted to her for that," Ghoste says. "The thing about it was, at that time, I was pretty much a hardcore elitist kid — that's it, just hardcore only, don't care for metal, don't care for anything else, just being a dick at shows, just shaved head, stupid kid in his early twenties." Full of Hell helped open his eyes to other forms of extreme music.
A few years later, in January of 2017, when he was visiting his cousin in Brooklyn, Ghoste finally got to see Full of Hell live, opening for Swedish death-metal band Entombed A.D., led by late, great founding Entombed vocalist L.G. Petrov, at Saint Vitus Bar. The experience unlocked something inside him: a desire to make noise.
"That show really is what did it for me," Ghoste recalls, "because when I saw you guys come onstage, and you had the mixer in front of you and everything, I was like, I have no fucking idea what he's doing up there, but I need to feel that. … It's just like, I need to just get this shit out, and literally the next week, I bought a Kaoss Pad, because it was the first thing I could find that I could make noises on. Nobody knew what the fuck I was talking about that I needed, and I didn't know either. I just wanted to make noise."
Later that same year, Ghoste released the single "Mercury: Retrograde," now his most popular song with hundreds of millions of streams. "I used [the Kaoss Pad] on 'Mercury: Retrograde,' which ended up being the song that everybody knows," Ghoste reveals. "All the glitching and stuff on that song, I ran it through the Kaoss Pad." The following year, he released a new full-length tellingly titled N/O/I/S/E.
As for Full of Hell, they've been on a tear since releasing Roots of Earth. The prolific group's latest LP, the excoriating Garden of Burning Apparitions, is their fifth in 10 years, joining a long line of collaborative albums, EPs and splits. As if that weren't enough, the band members have side projects, too, including Sightless Pit and Eye Flys, and guitarist Spencer Hazard constructs his own DIY "noise devices made from industrial materials" including a bespoke contraption for Ghoste that looks like "the Motograter, from that band Motograter," according to its new owner.
With all the connective tissue between Full of Hell and Ghoste, it made sense for Revolver to enlist the latter to interview Walker, who is nearly as stoked as his interrogator. "The more I get to know you, that's what made me a fan, and made me dig deep into [your] records," he tells Ghoste. What emerges from their wide-ranging convo is even more and way stronger connective tissue: from their "Mad Dog" vocal stylings to their appreciation for "ego crushers." Read the Q&A below, and blast Ghoste's seething industrial remix of Full of Hell's "Reeking Tunnels" above.
ERIC GHOSTE The first show I saw you was Brooklyn, with Entombed A.D. Do you remember anything about that tour?
DYLAN WALKER Yeah, I do. First of all, rest in peace, L.G., who, recently passed away. Very fucking sad. He was an awesome guy.
GHOSTE Rest in peace.
WALKER That tour was a big deal for us, because we are named after Entombed. There's an Entombed song called "Full of Hell."
GHOSTE Oh, shit.
WALKER It was like, Oh, man, this is, like, the inception tour for us. That tour started in Boston — first show was great. [Then the] show in New York City, I remember it, at Saint Vitus, always a fucking cool place ...
So, after the New York show, there was a huge blizzard. And it was really hard to get to Philadelphia, and then that tour, two and a half weeks later, was trying to drive up through Northern California. And as we started driving up from Sacramento, the snow started falling. And as we got higher and higher into the mountains, it was, all the sudden, just like Armageddon. There was five feet of snow on the ground.
So, we pull off and stay in this hotel, and we were stuck there for two days. There's, like, 15 feet of snow in Weed, California. We're just south of Weed, and we get stuck up there. And Entombed was trying to drive their bus thing up through the mountains, and their driver just apparently tried to do it more than once, and the people were like, "No, dude. There's like an end-of-the-world blizzard up there."
GHOSTE Holy hell.
WALKER "You can't be driving your bandwagon up here." And I just know the tour ended. We just canceled the rest of the shows. We drove down to L.A. and stayed in our buddy's gallery, slept in his hammocks for, like, four days watching movies.
GHOSTE That's sick. I had no idea. That's nuts that that tour was such a shitshow at the end.
WALKER They're going to be shitty forever, in a way. I guarantee you, the next tour that we do — there will be at least one where it's like, "What the fuck? What are we doing?"
GHOSTE There's always something.
WALKER You know what though, man? When we have a shitty show, it's such an ego crusher, and the ego crusher is important. You can't let your ego win, ever. You have to be surrounded by fucking failure to be a good musician.
GHOSTE You need it. I love that. So true, man. That's why sometimes I almost create that for myself. Because I feel like I need to keep myself in check, if every-thing's going too good too often.
WALKER You get lost in it.
GHOSTE Exactly. I'm all about the ego crushers. Big time.
Next question I had … I just wanted to know: Do you guys ever feel any pressure at all from [external] sources? Fans, peers, whatever, or even if it's self-inflicted. And if you do, does it hinder you guys, or does it help you guys?
WALKER So, check it out. We've been doing this for, like, 11 years. I've wanted to be in a band more than any-fucking-thing in the world. Since I was a little kid in elementary school, I was just like, I need to be in a band. I've just always wanted it. And as soon as I joined a band in high school, I quit all of my other clubs, all extracurriculars, I didn't do anything else. I only cared about how I'm going to record an EP, how can I play shows? And the day I graduated high school, I went on tour. A shitty-ass, horrible tour with a bunch of my friends. It's all I wanted to do.
Dropped out of school to do Full of Hell, because I felt like I finally met somebody, Spencer, who is just as gung-ho, or crazier, than I am. I think he's more fucked-up about it than I am — he lives and breathes it.
GHOSTE I love that.
WALKER So I would say we feel pressure from every possible direction. We never let it ... I would say 99 percent of the time, it doesn't dictate anything about our lives, and the one percent never has anything to do with the creative output. It's just, like, maybe one day, I see a bunch of people shit-talking us, and it bugs me for the day or something. I don't have the thickest skin in the world, it's always going to bug me sometimes. So, we always feel pressure.
But we started this just to make a band that we wished existed. Like, combined pieces of a whole.
GHOSTE Holy shit, I love that.
WALKER Different bands that we loved, right? I can feel that with your music, too.
GHOSTE Totally relatable.
WALKER You're combining all these maybe disparate type of elements together, and so we're doing this band. Me and Spencer aren't trying to make money, at any point, for years, honestly. We're just going to work the shittiest jobs we have to, so that we can go on tour. I'm going to work every hour I can and save up my money, and then just eat gas station burritos for a month and sleep in the van every night. It wasn't about making money.
… We don't want to monetize everything we do. But these things that bands do, do them cleverly. We never even slept in hotels for years and years. We either stayed at somebody's house or we slept in our van. We slept in our van for fucking years. And a lot of times, we were so shy and awkward that we would just be like, "Nah, we're good, we have a place to stay," and we would just drive and sleep in a fucking gas station, because we were too awkward and weird to stay at people's houses. [Laughs]
GHOSTE I feel that, totally.
WALKER So we were very willingly homeless on tour, as you should be, which I think is a good experience for a band, to bring it back to your actual question. There's no motivation for us to do anything that anybody thinks is a cool, trendy thing to do. We're just following our own map.
GHOSTE I think [that's] why I consistently enjoy interacting with you guys, and why I'm stoked to do this [interview], is because you guys — like I see myself or hope for myself — you guys are essentially the perfect balance of artistic merit, integrity, humility, and also not adopting this idea — and this is a message, I think, for any up-and-coming artist — money isn't evil. Paying your bills isn't evil. If you make decisions solely on that, of course. But it doesn't benefit you or anybody, or give you any kind of cred to publicly be like, "No, we're not doing this, because we're too blah, blah, blah." And it's like, "Dude, guess what? If you make money screaming into a fucking microphone, sorry, but that's fucking awesome!" Because nobody is throwing money at that.
WALKER Yeah, it's a miracle.
GHOSTE It's so almost modern-rap-artist-style, the way you guys consistently evolve, though. And you're always onto the next thing, but without leaving your old shit in the past. You're constantly throwing curveballs.
WALKER I'm glad you said that.
GHOSTE You'll throw these curveballs, even you, vocally, like on [2019's] Weeping Choir record, particularly. Some songs, it's almost like, "Hey, check this out, do you guys like that? Maybe you do, maybe you don't, I don't give a fuck."
Because the thing is, I have ADD. That's why I change my voice up so much in my songs — I can't listen to my own voice for longer than fucking 15 seconds. So, when I hear another band who's curing that itch, for me, I'm just like, I just need more of that shit.
WALKER I'm the same way. I didn't even think about the vocal connection. That's kind of crazy — you do have all kinds of voices, and I do the same thing for the same reason. I just want to hear Mad Dog-style. Just going fucking ape the whole time.
GHOSTE Straight up, dude. Straight up.
WALKER Yeah, that's crazy. Here's a question, really quick one for you. Do you get stage fright? Do you freeze up ever? Because I do.
GHOSTE I did in the beginning. Oddly enough, the only time I ever get it still is when I'm playing a show that is — I don't want to sound like a dick by saying smaller show — but a show ... where it's in a club, and I could see everybody's face, and everybody's right in front of me, it's a smaller stage.
WALKER It's so different.
GHOSTE Those are my favorite shows, I love those shows more than anything, because that's when kids are swinging off the rafters and going nuts. But I get stage fright on those shows, because I feel so personally connected with everybody, which is something that I love. But yeah, my anxiety just ruins me.
I think when I'm playing in front of 80,000 kids at a festival, it's like I don't even see anybody. Basically, it feels like band practice, honestly.
WALKER If I think of the biggest fest we've ever played, it literally felt like it didn't matter.
GHOSTE It was like nothing.
WALKER I literally couldn't differentiate any people out there. It was just a sea of people. Just noise.
GHOSTE A weird thing on that point is I'm totally fine playing in front of a million people, but if I have to attend a friend's show ... that's when I get really nervous, because I'm like ...
WALKER Yeah, it feels weird, right?
GHOSTE I feel like, I don't know, I feel like a schmuck or something. I get so, in crowds, I just get really, uhhhhh.
WALKER I feel the same way.
GHOSTE I want to be invisible. I want to put the Harry Potter cloak on and just disappear.
WALKER How nice would that be? Yeah, I feel the same way. And it's weird, when I go to a friend's show, I feel weird hanging out backstage with them, because I feel like, "Who the fuck am I? Why am I sitting back here?" And if I'm in the crowd, I just feel like, "I'm such a fucking dork."
GHOSTE So you get it.
WALKER You feel like everybody's staring at you. It's like you're a little kid still. That's how I feel: like I'm still a little kid. It's social anxiety, obviously.
GHOSTE It's that, and it's also on top of that ... I just have this feeling that people think I'm one way because of my image or something, and then that gets amplified if I'm somewhere, and they're around, and I'm like, "Oh my God, what if I have to talk to them? I don't know, what if I sound stupid?"
WALKER Having people you respect be your friend or show you respect — we call that armor. It's like armor against the cruel world or whatever. We've made friends with bands that I love what they do, and I can't believe that they want to tour with my band, or that they want to make records with us. The Body's a great example. I'm just a huge fan, and I'm just, like, "Are you sure you guys want to do stuff with us?" But that armor just pumps you up.
GHOSTE If it wasn't for people like you ... and my friends, I would end up ... it would be the death of me. But I always remember the friends I have, and I'd be like, "If I was this person that I think I am when I'm mad at myself, then I wouldn't have these awesome people around me."
WALKER And know that your experience with all of that is not universal, but we're all out here, and we're suffering, too. We all think everybody hates us, and we have imposter syndrome, and this or that. Literally, all of us. And that's what helps me, because when I feel really fucked up, which is every other day, I feel like, with imposter syndrome or social anxiety or whatever ... it gives me comfort to know that all my boys are mostly feeling that way, too, honestly.
WALKER That's the normal human experience.
GHOSTE [This interview] we're doing right now is everything to me, because this is what I really give a shit about, this is what I really want to do. And I feel like the one thing that maybe I'm selfishly getting out of it is I get to amplify [it] to the world, and [to] a bunch of kids that maybe don't know: Look, this is really what I actually give a fuck about. … They don't really know who I am. They think I'm this guy and I'm not, and all these little things help cure that, I guess.
WALKER None of that shit matters. We just got to do our thing.