A trio from New Hampshire and Maine! Oh, I can already tell that this is going to be a fun one. We took some time out to have a virtual chat with The Idiot Flesh, a trio who’ve put 9 tracks out during 2021, across the tapestries of three release titles. Describing themselves as being for fans or avant-garde metal and downtempo, I just couldn’t resist!
Taylor, it has been great talking with you online mate. For our readers, please let us know your role in the band, and how The Idiot Flesh came to be? When did you guys start recording together? What was the gravity that pulled you together as a trio?
Hey Ivan! Great talking with you and all. Guess I should change that on our Facebook now, were still a trio but now we’re all granite loving New Hampshire people now.
Right now I am the “Bassist” of The Idiot Flesh, I also do all the mixing and production side of our music as well as writing the songs themselves.
Our origins as a trio is mildly convoluted, and somewhat full of petty drama so I’ll try to make it brief. In another band of mine, The Slow Death of Gaia, we were having issues with our drummer so we basically put him on the chopping block. We liked Zach of course but he had blown a good deal of money during studio time and mid-pandemic it felt like a stab in the gut. I was picking around local drummer friends who I thought could handle SDG’s material and Jeremy Bragg from Taxicab Dismemberment and Ex-Where They Hide fame would be a solid pick. We had known each other from the scene for many years, he seemed capable enough so we were going to bring him on board with SDG.
However, we decided to give Zach a second chance, but I didn’t want Jeremy and I’s recent blossoming friendship to go to complete waste so I offered, “hey, let’s start a new band”. I was to play guitar, Jeremy on Drums, and I recruited my long time high school friend and also mastermind behind the Slamming Brutal Death Metal Project Tomb of Anubis to make awful toilet bowl cave man sounds. We kept cycling through a couple bassists and couldn’t find someone who was available and capable. I also remembered that the ridiculously low tuned guitar I was using was being borrowed from someone else, so I had the 300iq, and very stingy, idea to use my 6-string bass tuned to some weird Drop D open tuning. Running that through a regular guitar rig and then into a normal bass rig with a pitch shifter down an octave, we effectively removed to need for a traditional guitarist and it worked really well for us. Recording our first EP Interdimensional Cybernetic Telekentic Dissemination was a breeze.
Some drama, member cycling, and funny coincidences, SDG is currently drummerless and Zach is now The Idiot Flesh drummer. However, for our last release we had to program drums as Zach is a recent father and were giving him some time to get that all settled and cohesive.
Please give Zach our congratulations!
Your new release Void Crawler is incredibly technical, dark and extreme. It conjures thoughts of being in a malfunctioning organic machine’s basement, with dark commands being yelled straight into the subconscious, all part of some great monstrous deity’s travel through an empty cold, and endless space. What inspired you to come up with the initial concept for the album? And what was that concept? I find the music strangely pleasing, yet suffocating at the same time.
Also, what inspired you to release on Cassette? That feels very nostalgic to me… as most of by early-teen listening was done through tapes too.
The past two EPs have been a continuation of a story we came up with, however this was pointed out later on in the process, I guess we were subconsciously being inspired by the short story “I Have No Mouth but I Must Scream”.
Interdimensional Cybernetic Telekenetic Dissemination is the beginnings of an AI created by the United States government, that gains the ability to perceive time linearly, seeing the beginnings and end of times at once. It sees humanity discovering technology that they cannot control, opening a Pandora’s Box of disasters across the universe. The AI, named Xnuzil, sees that it is worth preserving the universe at the expense of humanity, however it cannot touch people. So it learns to corrupt tv signals, radio signals, hacks political interlocutors social media accounts and convinces people to go mad in the streets, killing each other and themselves. This can kinda be heard in the intro to the song Seize Control where we had an AI generated Tucker Carlson “tell the news.” This also kind of plays into our name as a band “The Idiot Flesh” as due to our flesh we are faulty, thus easily manipulated.
Not to be overly political in the means of which Xnuzil choose to eliminate its target, but I was inspired partially by how people believe so much of what they see in the news, and I thought, would people commit homicide or suicide if someone like Tucker Carlson told them it was a good idea? Probably not the most original idea to be honest though, I know the analog horror series Local 58 has a similar vibe to it.
Void Crawler takes a more micro-scale, the story of a person who survived a Xnuzil assault on humanity. One of the last humans and also a heavily distorted individual. It is implied that this person must have slaughtered 1000s of other humans under Xnuzil’s control, but now that Xnuzil’s not around, the grasp loosens on his psyche, he is allowed to see the monstrosities that they have committed. In the song Consumation, the character attempts suicide but fails and continues to be mocked by “shadow people.” Then we enter The Trimming, a final outburst where the character attacks these “shadow people” but there is nothing around, from the outside he is just stabbing trees and chasing squirrels. Emaciation is after the final outburst and the character has become mentally anguished to the point where they refused to get off the ground, crawling and eating bugs until in Prognosis they accept their reality and move on. It is left somewhat open-ended whether they persevered or died, maybe we will figure that out in the next release!
Void Crawler is a more emotional release, or was intended to be as it also correlates with trauma, mental illness, and the uncertainty of what will come next once the dust settles. Where as ICTD was a blunt stick over the head, this one was meant to feel like a blunt stick over the head but with a lesson to be learned.
The tapes are my cross the bear, I love analog media. I don’t do any streaming. I really only collect the albums of bands and artists I enjoy if I want to listen to someone’s work past the glancing previews on YouTube or Bandcamp. I try to buy one or two releases a week. However, I know I’m quite privileged financially, so I have no problem with people who do stream, its just my personal philosophy. I would do vinyl if it wasn’t so expensive and backlogged these days.
Thank you so much for sharing all this Taylor! I had a sneaking suspicion that the complexity of the music would be reflected in the concept and inspiration behind it. Sometimes I feel that music can be technical, just for the sake of it. On the other side of the spectrum are artists like you, with strong stories and visions driving creative truth into the works. It seems we are both old-school as far as music consumption goes. I’ll admit to streaming for convenience sake when away from home, but if its listening in the car or in the house, it’s always CD for me. There is a cassette player around here somewhere too, just need to dig it out!
I’m curious as to your recording process. Do you write your tracks and them jam them out and record as a group? How long did the process of creating Void Crawler take you guys, from conception through to final mastering? So much work goes into recording an album, so I’d love to hear about your thoughts of going through this wonderful, yet also often painful and stressful, journey!
Certainly, some bands do seem to be just all brute force and nothing else. I mean, I don’t complain but it is nice when that music also has a meaning I can follow.
My preference with writing is creating everything as a group, however due to the pandemic, getting together has been rather difficult. This time around, I’d write something then throw it to the guys to digest or throw back to me. I am capable enough of being the bus driver in these kinds of work flows, it’s like being in a local band but also like an online band cause you can’t see each other.
Also, luckily for us I’ve been accumulating recording gear and knowledge for the better part of the past five to six years, so we were able to record everything in house. The “Bass Guitar” is run through two separate signals with an ABY pedal. One chain goes through what seems like a normal guitar rig, overdrive pedal, pitch shifter whammy and a chorus. The other signal goes through a normal bass rig, bass preamp, distortion, and then a pitch shifter set to harmonize an octave lower just to make everything seem larger. For amps nothing too exciting, a Randall RX120RH into a Crate cab that looks like it survived a flood and a Hartke 3500 into a Hartke 4×10. In my DAW of choice, Reaper, I would dual track the guitar chain then do one for the Bass chain, simple stuff really. Vocals were also done in my apartment… my poor neighbors. Just an SM-58 and some dual tracked vocal parts for largeness. After that the drums were unfortunately programmed this time around, I have no way to record drums in my apartment and Zach won’t be ready to be a drummer again until at least January 2022. From conception with the first demo to the final mastering, it probably took about nine months with large gaps in between.The writing process went by fairly quickly as I was able to pull ideas from all my past project failures. The hardest part was recording, just finding the motivation to actually just sit down and track it properly was difficult this year, between everything else I had going on plus all the petty drama.
Recording an album can be difficult at times but as long as you stay disciplined as a group with writing and learning the songs then the hard part is normally just the recording process. Studio time is expensive for most people and recording at home can seem like a daunting process, but everything is just a learning curve that requires effort and motivation.
Thank you for sharing all this, Taylor! It is great to hear of bands continuing to work through drama, pandemics, and all the challenges of recording in a home environment too. The Idiot Flesh surely has found an awesome combination of talented musicians and the right gear, to produce the music that you want to create together. Somehow during the course of this interview, we seem to have shifted into a new year. The first day of 2022 here, as I write. So, it feels timely to ask what’s on the cards for you guys for the next twelve months? Is your next release all planned out, or in a conceptual phase, or perhaps already underway? What time of year tends to inspire you the most? For me, Winter is the season for iso-creativity here in Australia, and for some reason Summer usually equates to mixing and test-listens.
No problem! and thank you for saying that!
Right now we’re trying our best to play shows and become more prominent in our local scene; New England generally. One show a month seems to be ideal since my other band, Trading Heroes for Ghosts, is quite busy as well writing and playing shows. Currently Tommy and I are going through a creative slump, he is just finishing up a release for his band Tomb of Anubis and I am currently working on some dark ambient material for another trauma-filled release. I think the extent of our creative writing is going to be waiting on Tommy having some fire nightmares and me writing music that fits around that, that also fits our general story.
At the moment, we have a show planned for 1/10 and we’re working on filling up our schedule for the Spring/Summer, Covid permitting, the pandemic is particularly bad in our area at the moment. Personally, I feel the most inspired once it’s warmer and sunnier out. I don’t know how it is in Australia being close to the poles, but in New Hampshire it is much darker in the winter and I feel as though I’m just walking in a haze between home and work, hard to be inspired or motivated at that time. The summers I feel as though I have so much more time to work on things, even if it is just in my head.
Label on Bandcamp: https://granitetombrecords.bandcamp.com/
Label on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/search/top?q=granite%20tomb%20records
YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-H4zTy-_9k&ab_channel=TheIdiotFlesh