Full Of Hell: "We could not possibly care less about genre loyalty or sticking to a 'scene'"

Frontman Dylan Walker introduces us to the amazing new album "Coagulated Bliss" as well as the broader worldview of one of the most important artists of the modern extreme experimental underground

Από τον Αποστόλη Ζαμπάρα, 19/04/2024 @ 21:24

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There are some bands that you think you "know" them because their back catalogue allows you to. Full Of Hell is one such case. For fifteen years now, since their early powerviolence days, the Americans have evolved into a strong and influential force in the extreme underground. Among full lengths, splits and EPs, the chameleon-like band from Pennsylvania, due to its many collaborative records with other musicians, broke down barriers and created experimental soundscapes without renouncing its ethos.

This year, it's time for them to return with a new full length album. "Coagulated Bliss" is, in my humble opinion, the band's best piece of work, an album that stays true to its name. Experimental, yet accepting of their roots, Full Of Hell condensed every aspect of themselves into an experiential work. So, we caught up with frontman Dylan Walker for an all-out interview. The musician introduced us to the details of the band's new record, yet he also analyzed us with tremendous honesty very interesting aspects of their worldview. In the following interview, the multifaceted format is introduced to us and we hope we have convinced you to enter their surreal and existential world.

Full Of Hell

Greetings, I am Apostolis and I welcome you to Rocking.gr! Where does this interview find you?

Hello Apostolis! I am currently at home in Pennsylvania. Spring has sprung and I am getting ready for our next tour with Dying Fetus.

So, you are about to release an incredible new album, named "Coagulated Bliss". How's the feedback been so far?

So far, so good! Every record we make, seems to grow from the one that came before it. This record is a special one for us, and we are really into it, so while we appreciate the positive feedback, we also cannot be bothered by it. We are doing this for us.

It's the first Full Of Hell LP since 2021's "Garden Of Burning Apparitions". How did you decide that it was time for another LP, taking into account your collaborations and other releases in between?

We simply had other records in the pipeline ahead of this one. We had been working on our split 12" with Gasp and collaborations with Nothing and Primitive Man for some time, while we wrote this record and we didn't want to rush anything, so this is just how it lined up.

We wanted to take a stab at writing what Sonic Youth or the Butthole Surfers would have written as a grindcore band

In contrast to your previous album's more old-school sound, "Coagulated Bliss" moves towards a more experimental and dissonant direction. Was the creative and compositional process different this time around?

It honestly is no different. We always just focus on writing what we want to hear. Spencer definitely dove more into his love for noise rock this time around and I think it reflects in the songwriting, and we also leaned more into some traditional song structures for certain tracks. We wanted to take a stab at writing what Sonic Youth or the Butthole Surfers would have written as a grindcore band.

We aren't really a part of any scene, nor do we have any interest in that kind of thing

As I understand, Full Of Hell you have never compromised regarding shifting and transforming your sound, something obvious with your numerous collaborative albums. Still, in this record you return to a more grindcore approach, let's say your primary genre. Do you still feel part of this scene?

We aren't really a part of any scene, nor do we have any interest in that kind of thing. We have friends that we've made across the spectrum, regardless of genre. We work and play with likeminded people that are passionate about what they're making. We could not possibly care less about genre loyalty or sticking to a "scene".

Why did you pick as the first single of the album the track "Doors To Mental Agony"?

We chose to share that one first because it felt like it best exemplified what was different about the new record. It's a blast to play live and it has a potent message.

Full Of Hell

Would you like to explain the basic lyrical themes of the new album? Do you see it as a release that capsules all of your aspects as a band?

This album is simply about where we come from. It deals with the personal experiences of the band members and the struggles of life in the rural areas that we have grown up in.

The press release states that this record was created after finishing the intense "When No Birds Sang" collaborative album with Nothing. Having the privilege to witness your "Full Of Nothing" set in Roadburn 2022, I somewhat knew what to expect. How much did the material change since that exclusive performance and how did you end up collaborating with such a band as Nothing?

It honestly changed a lot. We had a few rehearsals before Roadburn and the set was pretty loose, but afterwards we were able to tighten up all of the details in the studio and flesh the songs out in their entirety.

Your live shows are intense! How do you prepare mentally and physically before you go on tour?

We all have our own routines, but for the most part, it's just about practicing as much as possible! It's very important for me to sing every day leading up to a tour, especially in my 30s. I've found that I lose my voice a lot easier if it's not well maintained. It is a muscle group like anything else.

"Coagulated Bliss" manages to sound equally chaotic and diverse as much as focused and straightforward. Were there any specific, inner or outer, influences that helped you shape this album?

Yes. Overall our influences haven't changed dramatically over the years, but we've been able to hone in on what we want the band to sound like. I think influences like Melvins, Harvey Milk and Butthole Surfers shines through alot harder on this record than ever before.

It's important that the record slows down when it needs to

As always, the record features more mid-tempo, sludgy and ambient/noise passages such as the track "Bleeding Horizon". How do you come up with those moments, and what do you aim with including them aside shorter and uptempo extreme metal songs?

That song in particular is very influenced by Harvey Milk, one of our all-time favorite bands. Overall though, we all like an album that has an ebb and flow. It's important that the record slows down when it needs to. That contrast is important to us when making a full album.

"Trumpeting Ecstasy" was a very pivotal record for our band

This year, if I am correct, you, as a band, are turning 15 years old, and your back catalogue is massive, to say the least. If you could pick one record of yours, that you would consider it the most pivotal or vital for your existence as a band, what would it be?

Aside from this newest record, which I really have strong feelings about, I think "Trumpeting Ecstasy" was a very pivotal record for our band. It was when things started to pick up exponentially and it opened a lot of doors for us. It was also a very important record in terms of the artwork. It was our second with Mark McCoy but the first where we really started to nail the imagery for that era of the band.

The Merzbow collaboration just came into our lives on its own and from there it has never been the same

I've always considered Full Of Hell as one of the driving forces of the resurgence of collaborative albums, in contrast to split releases, in the modern underground. Having done both, how do you decide when it's time to collaborate? In other words, what comes first in your minds, the soundscape or the artist?

We don't really plan them out in advance. When we started our band we had no intentions of doing those kinds of projects, but the Merzbow collaboration just came into our lives on its own and from there it has never been the same. The guiding metrics for us are that we need to be on good terms with the other band (friends) and we have to admire their work. From there, it's always natural. A lot of times they end up happening after touring with a band, because you become close and often realize you share some of the same ethos. That's what it's about!

Full Of Hell

In my eyes, you've always championed community and collaboration. So, are there any younger bands that you would like to suggest to our readers?

Absolutely. Check out Unyielding Love, Deliriant Nerve, Elizabeth Colour Wheel (RIP), Otay Onii, Ingrown, Crownovhorns.

All art is socio-political, whether the creator realizes it or not

Your lyrics have always had this personal yet abstract and surreal feeling. Do you consider yourselves a political band in any way? How do you cope with anything that happens in the society you live in, and in what extent do you incorporate those feelings into your albums?

All art is socio-political, whether the creator realizes it or not. Everything I write about comes from personal experience and observations on our existence as a species, a society etc.. Whether I choose to be deliberate in my wording or intentionally veiled is another story. I've always enjoyed artists that layer their messaging and try not to take the most direct route to their messaging, so that's where I naturally sit.

Final questions, and I would like to thank you for your time, it means the world to me. How do you expect of yourselves in the future, let's say 5 years? Are there any goals that you have as a band that you could share with us? The final words are yours!

All that I hope for is that we can keep making music and touring.