Exlusive Premiere: ACEPHALIX “God is Laughing” + Interview
What’s up ACEPHALIX! How are you brothers feeling?
Kyle: Like there is a cold cavernous depth inside surrounded by an expansive warm sense of being.
Dan: Like an animal.
Let’s get right to it – why did you have to break up in the first place?
Kyle: We did not “break up” as much as explore other parts of our selves creatively: LAWLESS, Vastum, Serpents of Dawn, Necrot, among other modalities of expression such as meditation, school, raising children, etc… The concept of “breaking up” is a human attempt at the illusion of control and safety in an impermanent reality. That which is bound by deeper currents of purpose will have its way with us.
Dan: Yeah, we were inactive, but I wouldn’t say we broke up. Sometimes we might have wanted to, but we struggled instead, and I think it’s that capacity to struggle that makes an intense, powerful band. Bands struggle when egos get too big, but they break up when egos stay that way. That’s when the BAND is over, because individuals might lose empathy and begin looking out for themselves alone. Sometimes we all have to look out for ourselves, but conceptually Acephalix has striven to be more about self-deflation than self-aggrandizement. Lots of death and black metal bands like to get off on a superficial understanding of Nietszche’s will to power. It’s a pretty phallic, self-aggrandizing, ‘I’m a tough heavy metal motherfucker look at my gauntlet’ kind of attitude, which is all well and good (and makes for some great heavy metal shows), but Acephalix is more hopefully more open, more willing to get hurt, more vulnerable, mutated, monstrous. Lyrically and in terms of live performance, we’ve always been more into the idea of a will to chance, a willingness to risk ourselves in real, sometimes painful, contact with others. Playing it risky is not about shredding, being a pro, playing seamlessly or whatever, at least not for me. It’s about playing like a fucking beast. Playing with heart and putting the band, putting your connections with others, ahead of the need to look cool or tough or metal or whatever.
As you know, we have been fans of yours since we started CN. A while back, I had the idea to do a feature called “I wish this band didn’t break up!” and I picked ACEPHALIX as the focus. Then I got a message saying that you might be getting together. Did that feature trip you out when you saw it? Why did you decide to get back together?
Dan: Feels good to be remembered! Makes me grateful for all the people at our shows who are willing be affected by our performance. It’s you, it’s a willing audience, that makes our performance what it is. And yet, while it feels good to be appreciated, I also know that’s the way we perform – we perform to make contact, to make an impression, to be remembered. Acephalix was formed by me and Kyle when we were going through hard times, times when our futures felt more uncertain. Performing with Acephalix has always felt like an imperative to me, like I had to give something true, to say something true, because this might be it. There’s nothing like playing under those conditions. When bands perform with an awareness of death they’re remembered, so while it was a nice surprise to see that feature, it wasn’t a total surprise, because I know we perform with our fucking guts – it’s imperative.
Kyle: It was very serendipitous. A sweet and encouraging offering. Thank you; we feel a kinship to CVLT Nation as well. I honestly don’t remember what brought about our continuance but it was like being with an old lover, the chemistry undeniable and a power unto itself taking the reins.
If you had to compare this album to an art movement that existed in the past, which one would it be and why?
Kyle: The 90’s Death Metal movement! Taking a larger than life bulldozing approach to music infused with spiritual, political, body-focused subject matter put into an bestial primal grunt that to me creates a portal to a deeper sense of self exploration through sound waves/frequencies not unlike Gregorian chants.
Dan: I like what Kyle said. But I would say the death metal movement more generally, from the 80s to the present day. I’d also say Surrealism and Artaud’s Theater of Cruelty in particular, since our performance is very interactive and physical, and our music and lyrics are meant to excite the unconscious.
What are some of your major influences behind your lyrical themes?
Dan: I like to take death metal themes and think about them psychologically, so dismembered bodies become metaphor for dismembered minds. I like viewing gory or abject images in a mystical light and linking bodily experience to political and religious conflict. Death metal bands that inspire Acephalix lyrically are Rottrevore, Cenotaph (Mex), Demigod (Fin), Nuclear Death, etc. but all for different reasons.
Talk to us about the creative behind this LP and what separates it sonically from your past records.
Kyle: Dave Grave from 20 Buck Spin offered to put out a record for us, getting the inspiration flowing. I listened to Rottrevore, Convulse, Suffocation for some spiritual guidance and made myself available to channel the riffs which were born bloody and screaming from the dark recesses of pure consciousness. The fucking guitar tones! Greg Wilkinson is the Wizard! This album sonically and artistically is what I’ve been imagining since the beginning.
Dan: We’ve always had mostly American and European influences, and like Deathless Master, this album shows those influences, but with different production and tones. This album also has some real knuckle dragging tracks that remind me of a band like Cianide. We’ve always been a primitive death metal band, but I think songs like Excremental Offerings and Decreation bring the knuckle dragging to new-ish depths.
Do you have plans on touring all over the world? I’m just asking because I know you have fans worldwide!
Dan: We’d like to play overseas, but that depends on festivals. We’ll see what offers come our way.
Why did you pick the word “Decreation” as the title for this record?
Dan: Decreation is akin to the idea of acephalic. It’s about the power in surrendering yourself to spiritual dismemberment, or to a process that changes you in the most gut-wrenching way. It’s taken from Simone Weil, a philosopher who espoused an extreme form of Christianity in which right and left hand paths meet, the sacred merging with the transgressive. Weil committed suicide by refusing to eat. Her self-starvation is an example of sanctity becoming sacrosanct, a sacred body becoming a site of degradation, her extreme religiosity becoming synonymous with sin. While this is all great fodder for death metal lyrics, Weil’s writings are more than this. She’s a major thinker, who had a lot of important things to say about politics and religion, and she was a very disciplined, compassionate person with a fierceness that puts the toughest of the tough to shame.
If you could get ten minutes alone with Donald Trump, what would you do or say to him?
Dan: Nothing. He probably wouldn’t hear it anyway. I don’t think he can. He seems so full of fear, but like a lot of really scared people, I bet he can’t feel much of anything. He seems numb. And his impulsivity is what suggests he’s numb, it’s what suggests he doesn’t know what he feels, because if he knew, he might not do what he does. And you can’t just use words to reach people who don’t know what they’re feeling. Some people have a lot of incentives not to feel, and their disturbance is ultimately unspeakable, so silence would be important, because paradoxically it’s the only way of speaking to what’s real i.e. the emotional fact of being disturbed. But this is in the context of a one-on-one meeting… people in the streets can’t afford to be quiet.
Why did you choose Adam Burke to create the cover for Decreation?
Kyle: Serpents of Dawn had Adam paint the cover to our new album Into the Garden (which is unreleased) and I thought he would be perfect for Acephalix as well. I really relate to the otherworldly detail in his paintings. The landscapes have so much feeling and aliveness.