CVLT Nation Exclusive
An interview with JR of Pig Destroyer
Chris Noir: Book Burner hit the streets a few weeks ago and as far as I can see the perception is really really good. Are you still 100% satisfied with the record? Or are there already things about it you’d change if you could?
JR: I’m a nit picker by nature, so of course there are things I would like to fuck with, but once the record’s released I think you have to let it go and try to get focused on the next project. I think as a band, we’re extremely happy with how it turned out.
Where do you see Book Burner relating to your previous albums? Is it a step forward from Phantom Limb or more like a step back to Terrifyer? Where would you locate the album’s strengths?
I think there’s a bit of both of those albums, maybe even a hint of Prowler too, but it’s also different in a number of ways. For one, our new drummer Adam, who’s fucking amazing and really lays down some intense blasts. Also, we went for a very natural sounding production, especially with the vocals, which is a lot different from past albums where we would layer a lot of stuff and run it through distortion, etc. We sacrificed a little chaos to try to make it feel more real and raw. Some people seem to dig it, some people not so much.
“The Atheist” is a dystopian short story you wrote that is included in the deluxe version of Book Burner. Although there’s (besides the album title of course) no direct link between the story and the lyrics there are hints to be found in “All seeing eye” and “Valley of the geysers” (the way I see it). So would you say that “The Atheist” is completely independent from Book Burner or are there certain ideas you wanted to transport in the story and as well in some of the lyrics?
I only wanted them to be loosely connected, complimentary. There’s a couple of conscious overlaps, hints like you said, but I don’t like to spell things out for people, I want them to use their imaginations to tie them together however they want. That’s how they make the album their own. It’s not about what it means to me, it’s about what it means to them.
How tangible do you see the chances for Christian fanatics to gain such a momentum as in the fictional story you wrote? I mean for me living in Europe all those weird, ultra-fanatic sects and televangelists in the USA appear like rather odd than dangerous phenomena (not that we don’t have weird shit going on here as well…).
It’s just a piece of fiction, I don’t feel like that’s the direction America’s headed or anything. For me, the story is about being alone in your beliefs and how far you would go to hold onto them.
How much of an Andy Deacon is in JR Hayes – intransigent, angry and focused, yet strangely calm and on the brink to nihilism (and of course, a full-blown atheist)? Do you sometimes feel yourself misplaced in this society or is it really just like a totally fictional character you conceived?
It started out as more of a philosophical diatribe and then took an unexpected left turn into fiction. I think that was what intrigued me about it, that it transformed a couple times. so I guess it starts out more about me and ends up being about Andy.
Could you imagine living totally isolated from other human beings like Andy Deacon at the beginning of “The Atheist”?
I think I would be able to survive, but I don’t know whether my humanity would. I would probably just revert to beast mode.
I’ve read that it can take years before you put certain bits of lyrics you’ve written down at some point together as a song. Is writing a story like “The Atheist” working the same way for you as writing lyrics for PIG DESTROYER?
Usually, yes. But this story was a little different, it came together very quickly over a two or three week period.
On the deluxe edition of Book Burner there’s also a bonus EP with seven classic Hardcore Punk cover songs. I was wondering if you guys had considered any other songs to cover that didn’t end up being on this EP? And what made you choose these songs in the first place?
We thought that instead of just doing a bunch of random songs, it might be interesting to have a theme of sorts, in this case American hardcore punk from the 80’s. Obviously a ton of stuff got tossed around, Germs, Bad Brains, Dead Kennedys, etc. I really wanted to do Bad Religion’s “do what you want”. I fucking love that song.
Where does your motivation to write and record music come from? I mean one might say you guys achieved everything you could with music as extreme as this. So what brings you guys still down to Scott Hull’s basement?
We all just love extreme music and we have a lot of fun playing it. When we’re not playing it we’re drinking beers and talking about it. It’s also a great way to blow off steam.
In Decibel’s feature on PD you stated that there was a time in between Phantom Limb and Book Burner when you guys really just talked a lot things over. Was there ever a point during that time when you thought/talked about breaking up? Do you feel the relative long time between these two records made the band stronger?
When you lose a member, it’s never guaranteed that you’re going to find someone else that you have that chemistry with. I mean, a lot of people can play it, but it has to feel right, it has to be the right person. There were some dark days, but once we jammed with Adam I knew everything was gonna be OK.
Even though you’re not touring overly extensive and don’t tie yourselves to the two-year album cycle PIG DESTROYER is one of the best known names in extreme metal these days, do you have any explanation for that? I mean you guys do so much just the opposite way the big labels preach and still are successful.
I don’t know if I have an explanation, per se…I do know that we have amazing fans all over the world who are intensely passionate about what we do. I don’t take that for granted.
If you could choose one band for a collaboration or split EP with PIG DESTROYER, no matter if it’s still active or not, which one would you choose?
That’s easy, definitely the Geto Boys.
Thank you very much for taking the time to answer these questions!
Thanks for the interview! Cheers!