Roots bloody Satanic roots
Goatwhore name is becoming bigger every day and getting more influential in the metal world as one of America’s most prominent metal bands. They are without a doubt one of the best bands to come out from the great NOLA scene. Goatwhore has created their own sound and it is visceral, dirty and obscure. I met up with the singer, Louis Ben Falgoust the II to talk about life, Satanism, music, what it takes to be in a band, the passion behind it all, their newest album “Constricting the Rage of the Merciless” and the plan to play new dates in Europe in April.
HMA: You have a new album out “Constricting Rage of the Merciless”; do you want to tell me about it?
L. Ben Falgoust II: Yeah, let’s see, where can we start with it? It came out in the earlier part of this year … Not really earlier, I don’t even remember. March, April, somewhere up in there. It’s definitely the next progression of Goatwhore in general, but it’s also the element of how each one of us has evolved as musicians, how we approach things within writing, within laying out songs, all our abilities as musicians individually as well as all together. I like to look back on every single record we’ve done and see the evolution of all of us and see how Sammy has grown as a guitar player, myself as a vocalist within the band. And since Zach joined the band, to see his evolution as a drummer and how he’s gotten better and better and expanded on the things he’s brought to the table. If anything, I really like the record a lot; it’s got a lot of elements. We don’t write for the public, really, we write for ourselves.
HMA: The response from the fans has always been really good for Goatwhore so far.
LBFII: No, it’s good, I’m not saying anything bad against that and I appreciate the fans, but the first thing off is we really need to be focused on us being comfortable in a live setting. We don’t want to do anything we’re not comfortable with. We’re definitely really critical when we write stuff, and we’ll throw things away. Not even throw away, but tear them apart because we always keep stuff, we keep things. Later on, we never know when a riff can fall into place at the right spot. We do that and we just have … We’re just critical about it and we like to make sure in a live setting when we get up there and we’re actually playing it, that we’re into it, we just didn’t write for, “Let’s just right for this kind of audience.” Stuff like that. Our life experience is so much of us, if you read anywhere, see things, when people go to shows it’s the live element of this band. Definitely, we want music that when we’re in the room jamming we’re like, “Wow this is going to be great when we play it in a live setting.”
HMA: I personally think this is a core element for a band, maintaining that passion for what you do throughout the entire career and therefore creating music and playing shows for the love of music and not just for money.
LBFII: No doubt, we don’t fall into that category at all. Overall it’s got a lot of good feedback sales wise and even fans-wise and everything. I guess we’re doing something right in some sort of way.
HMA: About your album artwork, are you involved with it at all?
LBFII: I am pretty involved with the artwork a lot. I and Sammy usually get together and we throw our visual ideas around and things like that. We have a good friend, Jordan Barlow; he has done the last two layouts for the records. We just go to him, he’s really good at taking the ideas we bring in. If you see the pictures I draw, the little sketch I draw of what I want things to look like, it’s really bad.
HMA: I would love to see that
LBFII: It’s really bad. He sees it, he knows, his visions are exactly what we’re looking for. We definitely like the more traditional kind of woodcut look to things and his style, he has a lot of styles that range within what he does but he does the woodcut kind of element really fucking good.
HMA: Do you actually give him your music before the album comes out for inspiration?
LBFII: Not even, we just go to him and give him our ideas and put input in about certain things. He draws with a pencil at first and he’s like, “How’s this look? Is this the right direction?” He’s usually always spot on and goes in the correct direction. We’ve just got to give him full details. He will even call us up and be like, “You said this, what about this?” Throw things around, but he does a spot on the job each time pretty much it definitely captures the sound and the imagery of the band pretty much.
HMA: I think so, the cover is pretty awesome.
LBFII: Yeah he does a really great job. He’s a tattoo artist; he does tattoos for us as well. He’s really good. He does that. I’ve walked in his house to go over stuff when he’s working on art and he was doing paintings like full-colour paintings. He’s very skilled in so many different formats of art.
HMA: Is he from New Orleans as well?
LBFII: He’s not from New Orleans but he’s lived there a great deal of his life.
HMA: You use a lot of the Satanic imagery in your cover, how involved are you with the Satanic philosophy and creed?
LBFII: We incorporate … Certain members in the band do follow it more than others but everybody all kind of shares the same kind of path, same ideas as far as the way things go. In my thought I’m more into the symbolic structure of Satanism in a sense, where there’s a lot of symbolism involved in it, like the idea of Milton’s Paradise Lost where Satan is the hero, he’s the struggling force no matter what, no matter what happens he’s still moving forward in some kind of progression despite whatever.
HMA: The creator.
LBFII: Yeah the creator just crushes him or whatever. Some people have their aspects in the way they see things and perceive things within Satanism. Definitely, within our lyrics, I confront that a lot because I don’t want to just be the basic cheesy kind of thing, even though some of our lyrics do have that tongue in cheek aspect to it. We do cater more towards traditional metal, traditional black metal like Celtic Frost, Venom, and things like Judas Priest, Motorhead. Every time we’re writing we always go back to that element, that’s the things we go back to when we’re structuring things and putting ideas together, that’s more of influence for us, it’s a lot of what we all grew up on, even though some of the guys in the band are younger than me and Sammy, they fell into the whole situation really well because they were all into those things as well.
HMA: There is also a huge misconception about Satanism where people believe that is to do with animals, human sacrifices and orgies.
LBFII: Yeah sometimes they take it that way, if you’re a Christian do you still fucking hunt women down as witches and burn them at the fucking stake? Fuck off! There are so many aspects … To me, I want people to understand there’s much more to it and it goes deeper than it is. Even with the record for “Blood for the Master” I was really infatuated with the idea of death and cults that are involved with death, like all the way from … Like in South American Santa Muerte. They have other cults where they have these ideas within it that teeter more on a Satanic edge within the whole structure of believing death is the highest element over any God, it has the power to reap all the Gods. There are those elements too that are intertwined. I want people to understand that if you dig deep and you go deep with it, there’s so much more and there’s so much more intellect to it and you can find out things and expand your ideas upon it.
HMA: I need to ask…how did you come up with the name Goatwhore?
LBFII: That was a drunken experience at a strip club one night. A friend of ours actually, he’s one of those guys he drinks a lot, we all have friends like this and he gets a little obnoxious, loud spoken. There was a stripper and they do their little dance and they come around to each person or whatever to try to get a lap dance or whatever. She had her hair in pigtails but apparently, she didn’t look too good in the face and her face was long, goatish looking. When she got to him he jumped up and knocked a table over and he called her a goat. Sammy was there and he kind of snagged that name and utilized it for the band.
HMA: Is the name ever in the way of anything you do?
LBFII: It does … I know for sure it does interfere with some things we do, like some elements of things within the business don’t always work out because of the name. Yeah sometimes there are certain things that go on, it’s like they’ve got this company in the US and they do these fest things sometimes and they won’t use us because of the name and stuff like that. In the same part, speaking on the same element, we were on that show Elementary and they used us and they said the name on the show and that’s a big public TV station, so whatever. It’s got its … It’s a catch 22; It’s got its good points and bad points. You know what though; I think sometimes some people who don’t know who we are get deterred at times because of the name, maybe, because they might think it’s kind of silly or something. I definitely want people to understand that it’s not always the name, you’re going to have to listen to it and really make up your own mind, what’s funny today is … When I was growing up we didn’t have the internet, I guess I am a little older. When you wanted to hear something you had to go out and buy it, or your friend bought it around. Now people have the ability to go check it out online, but they’ll listen to someone else go, “Oh you probably won’t like them, it’s just like black metal,” or, “You probably won’t like them it’s just like …” Why can’t you go past your own judgement because you can go fucking listen to it online whenever you want because it’s there to check out and then you can pass judgment? I am just amazed at how with the internet some people still pass judgment before even hearing anything.
HMA: What can you tell me about the NOLA music scene being like a big family and were you in the beginning ever part of Housecore Records?
LBFII: We’ve never done anything for Housecore; we’ve always been our little separate thing. Goatwhore is a little different than a lot of the other New Orleans bands, we all know each other and we all share the same kind of forward thinking within that scene, but listening to Goatwhore and then listening to Down it’s definitely different. We’ve taken the whole black metal kind of reign. We even mix thrash metal and death metal into what we do. Those other bands didn’t really do that but we do have slower moments in some of our stuff that do resemble a lot of the sludgy kind of element that New Orleans is known for. We’re just like a black sheep a little bit but we’re still part of the clan. We want to do things a little differently than everyone else. And also all those bands are different in their own element as well. I am just saying that Crowbar and Down they all kind of fit in that other category a little easier. It’s unique because every band in New Orleans seems to have their own element, they’re very different from each other in certain aspects but we’re very different as far as that kind of style and everything. We all know each other. Sammy used to play in Crowbar back in the day, Sammy played in Acid Bath and I played in Soilent Green. This is like a big pot culminating with all these different aspects of metal and the variations within it.
HMA: You all grew up in New Orleans; do you all know each other since you were kids?
LBFII: Yes, New Orleans isn’t really that big of a city too, a lot of people look at it and they think it’s this huge city but it’s really kind of small compared to New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago … I live in the Suburbs and it takes me ten minutes, fifteen minutes to get to the city in my car.
HMA: How was your experience playing at the first Housecore Horror Film Festival?
LBFII: That was really good, man, that was awesome. I heard this past year went really well. This past year we were doing some shows with Samhain, Samhain was doing the 30th-anniversary thing and we did two shows out on the west coast and three shows out on the east coast. The first year was really good, it went really well, it was a really good crowd; we got a really good response and everything. Everything went fucking awesome. We were only there for that one day though, but overall it was fucking … It was really good.
HMA: Are you going to play there again?
LBFII: Yeah, I am sure something will come up again in the future.
HMA: Do you believe there will be another Housecore Horror Film Festival next year since the co-founder Corey Mitchell sadly passed away?
LBFII: I am sure the right people will step in and make it happen, I am sure everything will work out. Actually, because of that, I am sure next year will probably be so much more emphasis put on it because of the fact of what happened to Corey, Yeah.
HMA: Which do you think has been the best point of your music career so far?
LBFII: There’s so many of them. It may range from different levels of stuff from playing one of the smallest, rattiest shows every but the crowd was so fucking crazy to touring with Celtic Frost, touring with Venom, playing shows with Emperor, to playing a really big place like the shows with Samhain recently, there’s a bunch of different ones. Personally, I don’t feel like there’s one specific, there are so many elements as you’re going along that make it … Makes it worth it that you keep moving, keep going forward.
HMA: If you could choose a band that you could play with, who would you play with?
LBFII: Judas Priest, Slayer, Motorhead …The thing that’s funny about that question is a lot of bands will be asked that and they haven’t played with bands that they idolize. The cool thing is that we have played with bands that we idolize. We’ve toured with Celtic Frost, we’ve toured with Venom, we’ve played shows with Emperor, it’s like we would have never conceived that before that would ever happen. Those elements happened so now we’re going to the highest peaks, we’re going to say let’s play with Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Slayer, Motorhead, something like that. Once those happen that question will be, “Well we did all of it. Where can we go from this point?”
HMA: I guess your biggest musical influences are Celtic Frost and Venom?
LBFII: I’d say definitely Celtic Frost and Venom and Motorhead are probably some of the hugest influences in this band as far as when it was first put together and the idea behind it. As we go along things like Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, and all those elements flow in, Exodus, the list goes on and on. We all grew up on a lot of different variations within extreme metal and they all work their way within our writing structure and how they influence us.
HMA: I think we had the best metal to grow up with.
LBFII: Yeah. Understand there’s a lot of stuff that comes out nowadays and a lot of kids, the modern stuff is there for them but as they move on they tend to go back and want to see the source of where it came from. It revitalizes it and brings it back. Also, too, it gets a lot of bands, like younger bands involved in bringing that style back into the element and reinventing it per se in their own taste. That’s kind of what we do; we reinvent traditional stuff that we’re into, into our taste now.
HMA: Is there any new bands that you like?
LBFII: There’s a bunch of them, I keep saying this all the time but I’m really into Vallenfyre right now. The thing was when I first heard about them and heard who was in it I was like this is unique, but then some of those guys I was like I wonder how it’s going to be. Sometimes when the guys from those older, like Paradise Lost and everything, when they do something new you’re questioning if they still have that hunger and when I heard it I was like holy shit, it’s immense, it’s heavy, it sounds old, it sounds dirty, there’s something about it. It gave me goosebumps. I was really pumped on it. I constantly talk about it all the fucking time.
HMA: You’re a little bit obsessed.
LBFII: Yeah and It’s funny because I’ve never been obsessed like that since I was young. When I was young I was really obsessed about things like that. Fallujah that’s out on tour with us right now, they’re really good. They’re young kids, not too young, in their early 20’s and things like that. That’s pretty young for playing in a band and being on tour in fucking Europe and everything. They’re really good at what they do. They definitely have a vision and all of them are hungry. I like to see that. You can see that in younger bands, their hunger to fucking move forward and do things, even in a band like a Habit that’s from the US, they’re a thrash band, they’re from Colorado but they had that old Bay Area thrash sound to them. They’re really good too and they do well out here, they’ve been out here a bunch and they do really well. There’s so many out there, there’s definitely a lot of bands out there that do a fucking amazing job. When I look back, I remember too in my earlier days of touring with the Black Dahlia Murder when they first started and how they evolved as a band and how they grew and they kept that idea alive and they kept moving it forward, that just respects to see younger bands step in and they keep that effort moving and bring that extreme level up one more par.
HMA: Have you heard of a band called Ghost?
LBFII: Yes. I like their style and everything; it’s just definitely more traditional. A lot of people compare them to King Diamond and I also see elements of Blue Oyster Cult and things like that. I like their stuff a lot, it’s different. I like them a lot, I like the Devil’s Blood a lot, they were fucking really good. There’s so many … Metal has so many different faces even in that, things like Blue Oyster Cult and Deep Purple, that’s definitely early stages of metal doing something a little different, being a little bit variant. It’s really good to have all those different aspects like what Ghost does, it’s a really good aspect to have within everything that’s going on.
HMA: Do you have any crazy road stories of things happened on tour?
LBFII: I tell you what, this was recent. It’s not really a crazy road story, it’s a culmination of a bunch of guys that are in bands that have toured together in the past and we all crossed paths at one point. The date on this tour when we played Prague and it was the Cannibal Corpse tour with Aeon and Revocation and there we crossed paths. The whole tour was together, it was Cannibal Corpse, Dying Fetus, Revocation, Malevolence, us and Fallujah. It was a big night. We’ve toured before with Cannibal and with Revocation and we knew the Aeon guys. It was like everybody coming together in Prague. It was a night of madness, the whole night from beginning to end. It was just lots of drinking, hanging out, people falling down, I twisted my ankle. There was a lot of stuff going on. It’s a moment like that that are unique, you see people … The thing about touring and playing in a band is you tour together with bands or you meet bands along the way and you create this little bond and then when you don’t see them for a while and you connect back again, it’s like family, you meet back up with family. When you have a good family going on everything gets crazy at a certain point when you haven’t seen people in a while. When you hang out with George, Corpse Grinder, the whiskey comes out and everything gets crazy and oh yeah, of course, George can drink, I always try to see if I can out-windmill him when I play. He’ll be on the side stage and he goes, “You did a good job but you’re not going to beat the best.”
HMA: Last question, do you like horror movies?
LBFII: I do, I just haven’t seen a lot of stuff in a while. I like a mixture of stuff. Recently the latest thing as far as a sci-fi horror would be something like Prometheus, which isn’t that much horror but I guess it’s a little bit instilled in it. Then, on the verge of those really underground fucked up movies, I saw this one called Martyrs, it’s really fucked up, it’s more, it’s weird it’s broken up into different sections of the movie and it’s about this girl and she was tortured when she was younger but then she goes back to this house and there are people there and she goes in with a shotgun and she just kills off everybody.
Then she has this inner demon thing that comes back to get her. Then the girl that’s her friend gets caught up in the whole debacle and she becomes this person that’s … down in the basement there’s this torture chamber and she ends up going through the situation. It’s really fucked up, it’s hard to explain you just have to sit down and watch it but it is kind of mind fucked. It’s really interesting. I also really like the version of the new Thing. I was a big fan of the old Thing, but I like the new one because I like the idea of it going to before the whole prequel thing and following through with it. I know John Carpenter didn’t do it or anything like that but I think he stepped and he helped the guy out with some of the vision behind it. I really dug it. The Thing and the first Alien were a big thing when I was a kid, they scared the shit out of me when I was fucking young. It was the one alien on the ship with all those people and everything was always a surprise moment, there was something about it when I was … I was pretty young when it came out. I think that’s why I like Prometheus a lot too; it’s basically like way before the whole Alien experience. That’s pretty much it. When I am at home I work a lot and when I am on the road I don’t get to do too much stuff so to catch up on movies and stuff is kind of hard but In January and February I have a little time and I think I am going to catch up on a bunch of shit.
HMA: When does the tour end?
LBFII: This tour ends December 19th and we will be back home probably by the 20th, 21st.
HMA: Are you going to tour again in the summer or play any music festivals?
LBFII: Right now we don’t have anything in January and February and then March we’re going to do a couple of weeks in Australia and then in April we’re supposed to be coming back here with Skeleton Witch and at the end of May we’re coming back here for Temple’s Festival. We’re hoping all this stuff too opens us up to more Fest stuff too like Bloodstock. You know what’s funny is all these shows we do people always ask us, “Are you going to do Bloodstock?” I am like, “Dude, all they’ve got to do is say the word.” I guess or if all the people who are into us would just write to them and say, “Hey it’s time to get Goatwhore on Bloodstock.”
HMA: That is a great idea. Thank you so much and see you again in April.
Interview by Manuela Mattera – Copyright 2014 © Heavy Music Artwork. All rights reserved.