Scott Beckett – Guitar and Vocals
Marcus Frattura – Bass
Cristian Gazmuri – Drums
Today we are with the american band Deathamphetamine. Hi guys, welcome on Aristocrazia Webzine.
Scott: Hi! You honor us with your questions.
The band was born almost a decade ago, how was Deathamphetamine born?
Cristian: The three founding members met in high school and had played thrash music together in a band called buried dreams and also in cuban missile crisis, a punk outfit we’re we forged one of the first Death Amphetamine singles “Death Machine” and also “The Curse”, the band truly formed when the three of us went to college at umass amherst and decided that western mass could always use more metal and less hippie music. As we played together, our respective roles were carved out, I was the untethered drummer with intensity and wierd faces, Scott was the solid rhythm guitar and go-to guy for logistics and leadership, and asaf had lead skills and enough vague ethnicity to make us look cool.
Scott: Well Cristian has most of it there. There was the high school stuff in Buried Dreams/Eternal Hatred, both already taken names. That was Cristian, Asaf, and this other guy Nate Saktewich and then me joining on bass. It was kind of like megadeathmetal I guess. That didn’t work out, so I kept trying to start a band with Asaf and Cristian in other stuff I wanted to do like Cuban Missle Crisis which they sort of rotated in and out of. That ended up being me and my Brother mostly. I think it might have been after that when we wrote “Death Machine” and “The Curse”. It kind of took a while to get things going because they got into college and I didn’t, but eventually I got into the school they both went to and we were able to start being a band.
I had the pleasure of listening to your last album released in 2009, the EP “Post Apocalyptic Revisionist History”. Before we talk about that, I’d like to ask you if you made some changes in your sound during these years or if it has always been this Death/Grind that draws from -core, Thrash and Punk giving life to something very furious.
Cristian: Definitely, we were a completely different band before this work, playing thrash-anchored death metal with a slightly progressive touch. For about seven years, and with notable changes in the lineup, we grew into a particular kind of sound, with no limits on our influences. when we decided to get a singer, to allow scott to concentrate on writing and playing, that allowed us to grow and have more options.
eventually though, we decided it was all too much and there wasn’t enough cohesion so we simplified and decided to play more d-beat, raw stuff without spending so much time with finish work.
Scott: I think that was always supposed to be the Idea, but we just didn’t really know what we were doing at first. We were also the only “death metal” band at Umass Amherst at the time when we started. We knew didn’t want to be Metal Core, Gothenburg Metal, Nu Metal or just Hardcore, and we were all into Slayer. Too many things we were trying not to be you know? Now we are all pretty much on the same page about what we actually want to do. We have also been doing the recordings our selves and not at a studio, that made a big difference as well.
You compressed so many things in fifteen minutes, there is a lot of headbanging atmosphere with “Temporal Abortion”, maybe the track that better represent your influences but also with the very strong “The Skinner Box”. Which are the bands from which you drew inspiration and how much did they influence you?
Scott: Those are both songs written by Marcus. His songs are a big part of our new sound. He should probably tell you.
Marcus: I think we are the sort of band whose influences may sometimes not be immediately obvious, but the bands that have influenced us have had a profound effect. For me personally, these would be german thrash like early destruction, kreator, assassin, etc. old school american hardcore punk esp. Poison Idea, Black Flag, B’last, T.S.O.L. etc. Melodic hardcore like his hero is gone/tragedy and shikabane has factored into our newest efforts in a big way as has black metal; Darkthrone, Bathory self titled album and the early Ulver releases have always been an influence on anything i do, but are certainly more noticeable on the new material. I could go on and on about influences but i will spare you and the readers my nerdiness.
Scott: Our influences are pretty varied. For the other newer songs, besides all of the stuff marcus mentioned, we even have some influences from 90’s LA punk bands like Bad Religion, RKL, and Pennywise. Pretty much all the youth crew hardcore and pop punk I listened to before the band started has begun to creep its way back in there with the black metal, death metal, and thrash. Then of course Classic power metal like Judas Priest and Manowar. I Have been listening to that stuff for just as long as shitty punk and that Influence comes through when it is time to do the high pitched screaming falsettos.
You had some line-up changes during the years how much did they engrave on the fact that you haven’t released any full lengths? Is this one of the reasons of this fact?
Cristian: we have always turned out four or five songs at a time and grew in the writing that it was always more appropriate to release ep’s to reflect that moment in time. it’s always been at the back of our heads to do a full length but we change our sound so often that it doesn’t necesarily work to release in that format.
Scott: Well our 2004 recording was supposed to be a full length with 9 songs, but we broke it up into two demos while we tried unsuccessfully to get it released by a label. But after that it is harder to say. It was more the fact that we were all in school and had jobs, and we also spent waaaay too long writing the songs. We would lose a member before we could finish writing ten songs! That is something we don’t really do now, and part of the reason that we sound the way we do today versus back then. We went from a collaborative writing process to one where we all just write our songs and everyone is cool with it. Also we are just finishing up our “first” full length now, but that almost didn’t happen either because my computer was stolen!
How do you compose your songs? Is there a member taking care of the music and another member taking care of the lyrics?
Scott: I guess I sort of started touching on that already. We all write music and lyrics for our own songs for the most part.
Jay: Yeah Scott and Marcus obviously have taken care of the majority of songwriting since I’ve joined but we all contribute our input and they’ve encouraged me to bring my own songs to the table as well.
What do you talk about in your songs?
Jay: Public issues, Star Trek, Government Conspiracy, Space/Time/Alternate Realities, Frank Zappa, Khan, etc.
Scott: Jay kind of got all the main themes there. However, we try and make sure there is more to it even if a song is about a Star Trek episode or something. We want the songs to be like a good work of science fiction: there is the fantastical main idea on the surface to make it palatable, but then it is really about us and our society now, not the future. I don’t know how successful we are at doing it, but that is the goal.
Marcus: Like jay and scott said, it runs the gamut from social commentary to outright fantasy, but the common thread that runs through all the lyrics I think is the making of some sort of connection, often through allegory, between the fantastic sci-fi stuff, and the mundane, depressing, and shitty things happening in our everyday lives and the world around us.
We live in a revival era in Metal, from Thrash to Death, you play a genre that doesn’t need to follow this trend. What do you think about the modern Metal scene?
Cristian: More like scenes plural, there is a different ethos operating in all the genres of metal from the more epic to the more everyday regular guy stuff (lowbrow/highbrow?) I’m equally impressed by both the grindcore and death metal scenes in the degree of evolution and current dominance these genres possess. I do think there is a major split between those that explore inward through revival efforts and those pushing the boundaries. I’m really happy to see the rebirth of old genres and the new fusions that are taking place. i think we are really enjoying the fusion aspect of reviving old styles
Jay: I honestly don’t follow the modern metal scene enough to make an opinion on their music either way but from what I’ve seen from bands in our area, there’s an awful lot of talent. The kids I see playing metal today definitely make me want to try harder keep learning new things.
Scott: I don’t know what to make of this revival, because it seems like it has been going on for as long as we have been a band and we have never gotten any big benefit from it. Some really good bands that we know have seen some success from that revival I think, but overall I think it is kind of a genre specific type thing.
Marcus: The trend towards “revival” type bands is a double edged sword, on the one hand its great to hear bands who do a good job of recreating the sounds of the old classic bands that we all love, on the other, its painful to hear a bunch of kids who just got into this music last week butchering the genre or regarding the whole thing as some sort of joke or novelty. As a band who “doesn’t need to follow this trend” its sometimes hard to get as much recognition as those that are following a tried and true formula, but I think at this point we have all accepted this to some degree as a challenge that comes with what we choose to do.
I know that some of my personal favorite bands never achieved much “success” (however one defines that) during the time they were active, but if some kid 15 years from now discovers our music and feels the same way about it that I felt when I first heard those albums I love for the first time, it will all be worthwhile.
How was your passion for this kind of music born? Do you miss something about those years?
Scott: Off the top of my head, I think “Undisputed Attitude” by Slayer and “Kings of Punk” by Poison Idea were two big albums that got me into heavier music and away from poppier punk music very early on.
But at that point I still didn’t have a solid band to play that type of music with, so I don’t miss that. When DA started, at first cristian and asaf were all into dream theater, so the music didn’t end up sounding like either of the albums I mentioned above. So I looking back on that I don’t really miss some of those comprimises I had to make. As far as nostalgia, I do miss the early days of Deathamphetamine when we had tons of Amherst area college kids watching us in basements, but now we are finally playing the type of stuff I always wanted to play so I am happier about it overall.
Jay: I grew up on AC/DC, Blue Oyster Cult, Black Sabbath, KISS, Queen, Pink Floyd, Iron Maiden, The Beatles, Ozzy, etc. I guess it wasn’t until I discovered bands like Slayer, Celtic Frost, Morbid Angel, and Mercyful Fate that I started becoming interested in heavier music. Everything was new to me back then so I suppose I miss the excitement of hearing incredible albums for the first time but I still enjoy that privilege every now and then.
Marcus: My passion for music was born the first time I heard Slayer, Deicide, and Morbid Angel, and Darkthrone. I had always liked the loudest darkest most uncompromising and powerful music I could get my hands on, but those four bands really opened the floodgates into music scenes I never knew existed but fell in love with as soon as I did.
What do you think about the word “underground” today? What is underground in these days?
Jay: Underground music is music that evil baby-eating reptilian corporate hogs haven’t gotten their greedy claws on yet and may it continue to thrive.
Scott: like Jay said, except I don’t think there are many things remaining that haven’t been co-opted and commercialized by mainstream culture. It has happened to a lot of aspects of metal, thus the “Revival”. But there are still all the small bands before they make it to that level or the millions of bands who never had a fucking chance that do the DIY punk thing or play in shitty dive bars just trying to bring the world to them, not the other way around. That stuff is “underground”.
You works are available for free download, is this the only answer to the uncontrolled file sharing? Is this the death of the purchase?
Cristian: This is the death of ponytail, cigar-smoking record exec guy, and the birth of open sharing and release without hype, if you like our music, go to a show, if you don’t, find some band you think is awesome, either way you don’t have to be married to your purchase, because there isn’t one. perhaps this creates more transience because there are not necesarily physical copies to carry around with you, but it also allows you to show your friends what you like much more easily.
Marcus: We’re still trying to whore our stuff around for labels new fans etc. so I think trying to charge people to hear our songs would ultimately be shooting ourselves in the foot @ this point. Once we are high profile rock stars, though, trust me, you will pay. You will all pay. On a serious note, I think the retail sales of physical records, at least in the underground, is not going anywhere anytime soon. If anything the underground market is prospering, I see plenty of one man operation labels springing up around all over and doing cool stuff. The RIAA may be desperately suing college students for sweatpants money, but fuck those guys. Unlike consumers of popular music the vast majority of true metal FANS still love to own vinyl tapes and cds and the posters and inserts and prophylactics that come with them because its an element of the total experience that you cant just download on itunes.
Scott: Well through http://deathamphetamine.bandcamp.com we can control how the music is published ourselves and at least people know it is coming directly from us. They get all the artwork and lyrics and everything that would normally be part of an ablum you buy. When we press some physical copies people can order them from us through there too if they want. It just cuts out alot of bullshit, which is nice. We Also can just give away our older albums for free so people can get into the band at no cost and we can actually find out how many people the music is reaching. I feel like it is a good solution to the problem for the time being.
We will probably sell our new full length through that website and at our shows and that’s it. If we are lucky a small label will put it out which would be cool if it gets distibuted in other parts of the world, or just anywhere outside of new england. There probably won’t be any big record stores with it on the shelves any time soon. On a side note, We did actually have “Post Apocalyptic” pressed on to 100 cassette tapes by a small label called Galambis records, but they are all gone at this point. I can’t see going to far beyond something like that right now.
Jay: I’m just happy if people are listening.
Which is the right way that everyone should take to listen to music? Are social network useful in this context or are they just the first step?
Scott: I don’t know the answer to that. Only time will tell. Everybody should definitely go to more live shows for sure.
Marcus: I am certainly not here to tell anyone how they should listen to music. Social networking sites like myspace and facebook are great for getting your shit out there and finding out about other cool bands, but as I said before, if one has more than a passing interest in this they will dig deeper.
What kind of relation do you have with your followers (both in internet and real life)?
Scott: Well there aren’t many that have made themselves known outside of the Boston metal scene. We are always happy to have new fans, and we always try and give anyone from other parts of the globe whatever they want from us.
Jay: We appreciate anyone who takes the time to listen to our music.
You best live experience? Is there one which you would like to repeat? And another one that you would forget?
Scott: I can answer both at the same time! There was this time very early on when we were playing in the basement of this house in Hadley, MA during the dead of winter. There was so much acid and so many mushrooms at that party and everyone was cramming inside to get out of the cold. Everyone in the band was also all on mushrooms; we were tripping our balls off! We could barely play our songs, but since everyone else was also tripping, nobody noticed! That was the best crowd response we ever had! It was cool, but I would never want to do it again.
Which are your projects for the future?
Scott: Well first and foremost (ahead of everyone trying to give thier side projects a shout out), we just sent out the new Deathamphetamine full length to be mixed and mastered. It is going to be called “The Lost Album” due to the fact that my computer with all of the songs recorded on it was stolen and was missing for a month or two. That will be available on that website http://Deathamphetamine.bandcamp.com
And maybe once again on cassette through Galambis records.
Jay: I’m Involved in two other bands, “Horn of Valere” and “Sorcery”, with whom I hope to finish new recordings within the next year.
Marcus: Myself and Scott are involved with an old school death metal band called Blessed Offal, we are recording a 4 song EP to be released on No Visible Scars label.
Thanks for the time spent with us, the last message for our readers is up to you.
Scott: The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, live long and prosper.
Marcus: In a thousand years, Gandahar was destroyed, and and all its people massacred. A thousand years ago, Gandahar will be saved, and what can’t be avoided will be.