Courtesy of Marisa Connelly/SDM/Unfashionable Creatures
Photograph: Kim Stock
Ben Falgoust will talk to you about anything. Seriously. We had already been chatting about horror movies for almost ten minutes before I even turned my voice recorder on. And as much as I tried to focus on my prepared questions, the conversation ended up all over the place. We were like two old ladies at Sunday brunch- in a brutal, blackened death metal, blasphemy and Satanism kind of way. But we did manage to talk about him a little bit, and Goatwhore’s f*cking killer new album Carving Out the Eyes of God.
Like I said, this begins with a talking about horror flicks….
Ben: Life is weird, man! I think women like to go to horror movies because they like the fear, and they like in a different way. I think for many different things, actually. Like, four girls will go to a horror movie together because they like to cling to each other, and be like, “Ahhhh!” Where a dude will show up by himself.
Marisa: Girls don’t cling to each other, they cling to their boyfriends.
Ben: Oh, they are, but you said more girls are going to horror movies than the guys. What if a group of girls go? I went and saw ‘The Grudge’ in the theater, and it was funny at one point, there was a girl sitting next to me. I didn’t know her or anything, but I looked at her and it was funny because she was so f*cking scared!
Marisa: Of ‘The Grudge’? It was a good movie, but clicking doesn’t really scare me.
Ben: Yeah! It was fucking funny! I like the Japanese version better, though. I’m a big fan of older stuff, like John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’. Amazing movie, still today! There’s supposed to be another version coming up, I hate when they re-make good stuff. They f*ck it up, they really do. But it’s supposed to be a prequel, like when the whole Norwegian team got infected by the alien. And then it’s like the beginning of the other one, before it came to the American camp. It’s supposed to show what happened to the whole Norwegian team when they found the alien in ice and all that shit. Whatever, I still like the first one. And I love Bruce Campbell, he’s amazing! I like ‘The Howling’, that’s one of the best movies ever.
Marisa: Have you ever seen ‘Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark’?
Ben: Yeah yeah! The older ones are f*cking cool, they have a lot of cool concepts.
Marisa: And I have ‘Bloodbath at the House of Death’ too!
Ben: Yeah! It’s awesome shit! But the werewolf movies are the best, and ‘Halloween’ and ‘American Werewolf in London’!
Marisa: For sure! Have you ever been to Rock and Shock?
Ben: It sounds familiar.
Marisa: It’s in Worcester, MA. It’s a three day horror movie convention with three nights of metal concerts.
Ben: I’ve never been to a horror movie convention. I saw GWAR at a tattoo convention as a kid. But I’ve heard of it. [laughs] Are we going to start the interview now?
Marisa: Alright, interview! Name and Occupation.
Ben: Ben Falgoust. At home I work at a frame shop, on the road I’m the vocalist of Goatwhore.
Marisa: What does Carving Out the Eyes of God mean?
Ben: Um, it’s kind of deep, actually. Well, not really too deep, it’s not what people think. It’s the basic idea that God created the world in six days, and on the seventh he rested. Well, I was reading some Clive Barker stuff and this short story thing he had. [In the story] on the seventh day, [God] didn’t rest, he kept creating. And out of his haze and exhaustion from creating everything in the first six days, he created everything that was evil and sinister and vile in the world. And that [proposes] that God is basically flawed. I mean, we are flawed, why isn’t he flawed as well? I mean, there’s the idea that we are created in the image of God, and if we have flaws, where did they come from? Pretty much him, in a sense. And if you google things like the anger of God, or the hatred of God, google stories about God, and at point there’s such anger and hatred. It shows that he is just like everyone else. So why does everybody put him above [us], when he is just as evil? But everybody sinks to it because they are so scared of death and what’s going to happen in the afterlife. So the whole idea of Carving Out the Eyes of God, the idea is a little more abstract in a sense, because it is basically explaining the idea of him creating both good and evil, there’s validity on both ends. Even though something is evil and wicked, there’s validity because he created it.
Marisa: It kind of reminds me of polytheistic religions, because none of the gods were absolute, they all had flaws. Unlike Christianity where the one and only God is considered perfect.
Ben: Well ,the problem is that there were already structures of ideas before Christianity and Catholicism. Basically, if you look into their structures, Christianity and Catholicism stole from those ideas, and just changed the ideas into one God that was all of everything. But they failed to rectify the situation of him creating, at some point, we are involved in the creation and we are flawed already. So, I mean I know they have the little story about Adam and Eve, and she ate the apple, and Adam, the rib of man, creating woman and all that shit.
Marisa: Yeah, just like the story of Prometheus bringing fire and enlightenment to mankind. Humans worshipped him, although he was punished by the gods.
Ben: Well, in Satanism, it’s like, Satan is the rebellion angel, the one that goes against everything.
Marisa: Yeah, and his image is stolen from Bacchus and Pan, with the goat legs and everything.
Ben: Yeah, it’s just the evolution of it.
Marisa: Yeah, and Eve is kind of like a goddess of enlightenment. But because Christianity is so misogynistic, she was vilified instead of praised.
Ben: Well, if you look at Sumerian stuff, and Inanna, she was a female god. She was praised, but [early Christians] just flipped everything, and used it to their own benefit. To control the masses. I mean, a lot of my stuff if pretty much spawned by a hatred towards organized religion. And actually to see that man, and women, still follow the structure of organized religion, and everything it’s caused, all the problems its caused, all the wars it’s caused.
Marisa: Yeah! Religion has caused more wars in history than anything else.
Ben: But it’s just crazy, man-kind is always progressing to move forward, but every time it moves forward a step, it moves back five. Because it never wants to step away from something and move. There’s people that fear death, and I think that’s the main issue is that people fear death, and the ability to worry about what’s going to go on now, rather than what’s going to go on after they die.
Marisa: Do you fear death?
Marisa: What do you think happens when you die?
Ben: I’m not really worried about it, I’m worried about what needs to happen right now. And I think that’s the issue with people, they are so worried about what’s going to happen later that every Sunday they all cram into a little f*cking building and do what they have to do to and repent sins because they’re worried about what’s going to happen later on. They don’t worry about what needs to happen right now. It’s irrelevant, really. It truly is. It’s just a basic question that mankind has always had in their heads since the dawn of time. “Well, what happens after this?” Who cares! Because you can’t do anything about it really. You just got to live your life and do what you got to do each day. And from there, just see what happens.
Marisa: So what do you think is the meaning of life? If it’s not religion?
Ben: To be satisfied and content and happy with what you want to do. You go after things that you want to do, you don’t let anyone stop you or try to stand in your way. You’re not always going to succeed, and you will fail at times, but that’s the structure of learning in life. Mistakes teach you a lot of stuff. Failure, success, those kinds of things.
Marisa: You’ve said in recent interviews that this album is more rock and roll. Do you find that harder to do than just playing fast as hell all the time? Having more groove?
Ben: We call it “Black and Roll”. And no, I just think it’s two different feelings, and two different structures. If anything, it’s more fun to play the Black and Roll element. It symbolizes things like AC/DC, Motörhead, Judas Priest- the actual fun in metal. You go to a rock concert, and you wake up the next day like, “Damn! That was fun! That was an awesome show!” Not just “That guitar player was incredible, he played all these arpeggios.” It’s not like a math contest really. It’s about having a good time, being able to go to the show and leaving all your troubles at home and have a good f*cking time. I mean, we like fast stuff, we like speed, but I think we just touched a little bit more, on the new record, with the element of Black and Roll than before because it’s so rooted in us. From the earlier days of Celtic Frost and Venom and Bathory and Motörhead and Discharge and Doom, and there’s so many f*cking bands out there, you can just run them off. So, um, yeah! [laughs] I think it loses people a lot of times. When someone asks you about a band, if it’s a band that actually wrote a riff that’s memorable, you remember that 10 years from now. If they wrote something techy, they just played some crazy shit, but you can never hum out the riff. But you remember… something that’s simple and just has a roll to it. Like poppy shit that’s on the radio and people get all hooked on it. It’s the hook, in metal That’s what the whole new record is written like. We had songs that we just threw away. We wrote the whole thing, and then when we were practicing we were like, something doesn’t feel right. So we either tore it apart and just took pieces from it, or threw the whole f*cking thing away. So a lot of the songs, pretty much all of the songs on the new record were a feeling based thing. Like, yeah, that feels good. And I’ll admit that sometimes we get in the studio and we like a song, but we’re not really sure on it, but once you record it and get the vocal in, it changes the whole song, and it brings it into a different realm. So sometimes we might be jumping the gun by throwing something completely away, but we’re pretty finicky about it. We don’t like to be pushed into “Oh just hurry up and write a bunch of stuff!” We won’t do that. We’ll spend a longer time, which might be a detriment to us, but we want it the way we want it to be. Everybody likes to feel good. Or touch base with some kind of emotion. You know you have in every era a band that makes an impression. Like Nirvana, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd. You had Nirvana, but since then you haven’t had a band that had an impact like that. I love all other stuff too.
Marisa: Yeah, I love the blues too.
Ben: It depends, I’m moody. Certain bands at certain times. Everything has it’s own little thing or it’s own little touch that gets you through a day, or a week, or a month.
Marisa: Do you think there’s a trend in black metal to have more rock and roll influences and sounds? Or is it just you guys doing Black and Roll?
Ben: No, it’s not a trend, really. Not yet, at least, hopefully. Well, Satyricon does it a little, lately. And Darkthrone has been doing it for a while. Darkthrone had it to where they were always this ferocious black metal thing, they started adding in this rock and roll/punk elements. So, it seemed like Darkthrone added it in to their black metal. They made it a little more prettier and dirtier, and more of that attitude to it, rather than being this perfected, symphonic wicked thing. They took it to a different direction. To me, it’s not fully a trend yet, I see it evolving into it if it fell into the right hands. It has a possibility, becoming.
Marisa: OK, so why do you think fans separate metal into a myriad of sub-genres?
Ben: I think it’s a social thing, man. Because when I grew up, I listened to thrash metal, death metal, hardcore, punk. A bunch of different variant of things. But now, you have your death metal kids, and they won’t go to a thrash metal show. They won’t go to this kind of metal show, but they’ll go to a death metal show. But it’s just like with us, we get tagged black metal, but I think we have a little bit more to offer than just black metal. And there’s a lot of people that are deterred by that tag because they think of Dimmu Borgir or Cradle of Filth immediately. And they don’t think of traditional bands like Celtic Frost or Venom or Bathory. So, from an immediate perspective, we could shun people until they actually got to see us and see what we have to offer, and then be like, “Oh, I though this band was totally like a black metal band like Dimmu Borgir or something.” And it kind of sucks because when people start placing things into brackets, it starts breaking it. To me, I listen to all kinds, and it’s all just extreme music. I like all of it, I don’t bracket it up. Everyone’s busy fighting to be the coolest, that’s the problem. I mean, I’ve been to a show and I’m like, “Man! I don’t know anybody here.” But it’s no big deal, but it’s funny because people like to separate, but sometimes it’s like a social thing. Like, “Well these bands are hip right now.” So it’s a social endeavor, and it’s a shame because all these bands work really hard and it sucks that they are put into these categories, and some of them offer similar things but you don’t want to be a part of it because your group of friends don’t like that, or whatever. It’s kind of silly at times.
Marisa: Sammy Duet [guitarist] said that A Haunting Curse might have went over fans heads, can you elaborate on that?
Ben: I don’t know. I guess maybe, maybe not. I think sometimes he thinks we did a little too much speed oriented stuff on there, but it wasn’t really that technical or anything. I really like the record, I like how things came out on it. It’s got some good feeling parts to it, but, if it had the guitar sound that’s on the new record, it would be awesome! I like guitars loud in the mix. I think there’s a lot of bands, even huge bands, no offense to Lamb of God or Slipknot, but it’s mostly drums and vocals up in the front, and the guitars kind of sit back. And I like traditional records like Metallica’s Ride The Lightening or Slayer’s Reign In Blood. The guitars are ripping through. That’s what metal is! That’s why it was metal, because of the metallic guitar tone. So why are you trying to push them back? It’s easy to keep them in there, and still hear everything else. Let them have their attack and sound like chainsaws ripping through your speakers! I just don’t understand it, and that’s what we wanted on the new record- to have the guitars ripping through, which they do. Erik Rutan did an amazing job with it. Totally like, its funny because he can take that record and go around to all these big producers and be like, “See! It can be done! You can bring the guitars up without sacrificing the sound of everything else!” I just think sometimes people get in this point, the big producers are like, “It has to be this way.” It’s a shame that the band doesn’t just go, “NO! That’s not how it’s supposed to be!” And I think sometimes you don’t even have to go to the big producers. Nowadays, I think it’s less of an interest with younger fans. They don’t give a f*ck really, who the f*ck you went and did. Maybe 10 years ago they cared which producer you recorded with. Now they don’t even care that much. I don’t think they have much of an interest in it like they once did. And there’s so many more bands nowadays, you’re trying to keep track of all these bands. The last thing you want to do is keep track of all these bands, all these producers, all these recording studios. You just want to follow the bands and enjoy the music.
Marisa: Yeah, but I think that the [music industry] is the same size as always, but instead of having 15 mega huge bands selling out sport stadiums, you have 150 bands selling out smaller clubs because of the internet and current culture.
Ben: Yeah. And the thing about it is that they’re not even doing it for years. They’re popular for like, six months to a year. And you’re fighting for it so much, if you’re not consecutively following through, you’re obsolete. It’s kind of weird, but I don’t try to dig into it so much, because after a while you see how the industry runs and some of the crap in it, and it kind of pushes you away and makes you want to ignore all that stuff and have a good time doing what you want to do, because you don’t want to ruin everything you’ve worked hard for.
Marisa: What is a goat whore? [laughs]
Ben: I don’t know, what is it? It’s pretty much self explanatory, a female that rapes goats. It could be a male. But I want pygmy goats! That would be cool!
Marisa: What is one guilty pleasure that you indulge in?
Ben: It used to be soda, but I gave it up. Candy! I love candy! Spree, and dots. Um, I like some of AFI stuff. [laughs] Their early stuff, because its like punk stuff.
Marisa: It’s OK, I admit to liking Justin Timberlake.
Ben: I don’t like him so much. Um, I love Scarlett Johansson, but I think everybody loves her.
Marisa: I love her husband Ryan Reynolds. If I ever met him in real life I would probably rape him. [laughs]
Ben: Well, now that you’ve said it in an interview, he will leave her for you. That would be cool! Do that because then that leaves her free for me! Um, I sing in the shower, not in the car really. I crank it too loud to hear anything. I don’t really have any weird things except for the AFI thing.
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