Interview w/ Ryan Scott Fairfield of Hallowed Butchery & Terrible Old Man
August 5, 2011
Ryan Scott Fairfield is the man, the myth, the legend. I say this because in the past couple years he’s done things solo that many will never be able to do with a group of people behind them. Conquering many genres of music with his almighty solo project Hallowed Butchery but also sweeping a very dirty, gloomy rug out from peoples feet with Terrible Old Man, Ryan Scott Fairfield can not be stopped. He’s a monster in everything he stands for and is one of the nicest, most humbled humans I’ve crossed paths with. Say hello to the one man that I could talk to forever about anything, Sir Ryan Scott Fairfield.
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So, how was it growing up in Kennebec County, Maine and what influenced you to start learning music?
It is an extremely low-populated, sheltered area. There is a large population of rednecks, and really it could be comparable to the southern United States, only we are all white here. There is very little diversity. That being said, growing up here was great. I was surrounded by trees and streams and ponds and hills and mountains, and I spent most of my childhood outside, always pushing my imagination to its furthest depths.
I started really getting into music in 4th grade. I was raised in a conservative Christian home, so I started listening to Christian rock. I was always looking for something heavier and darker. I was drawn to it. By the end of 5th grade, I was listening to death and black metal, industrial, hardcore, and punk. I became obsessed, and when my parents gave me my first guitar, I began taking lessons. I lived and breathed music back then, and I still do.
Around what time did you start sketching out the idea of "Hallowed Butchery of the Son"?
I was fresh out of high school and out on my own, living in Augusta (Maine's dirty, slum of a capital), and working at a fast food chain. I was dabbling in underground hip-hop, but it just never felt right. I wanted to start a metal band, but after searching for members, and feeling a bit defeated, I decided to "go it alone." I started programming ridiculous blast beats and synthesized bleeps and bloops. I recorded a 2 song demo, and then a bunch of songs for a compilation CD. I did a bunch of local shows that were best described as grindcore karaoke fronted by a convulsing, blood-drenched nutjob. People really seemed to respond well to the music, and my online presence started to spread. I did a small tour of Montreal, Canada, and then for whatever reason I stopped playing live and started writing black metal, which quickly developed into doom metal.
How was the music scene in Maine while you were growing up?
There was a great, little venue in Augusta called The Edge. I spent a lot of weekend and week nights there, watching hardcore bands. Maine has always had a thriving hardcore scene. The metal scene has never been great. There have been great metal bands that have come out of Maine, but for whatever reason most metal bands in the area sound more like Godsmack than they do Gorguts.
It seems like our scenes are the exact same in some ways. You mentioned playing more of a grindcore style when it all began, was that with Hallowed Butchery of the Son and why the name change?
I started with grindcore because it is what I knew. I listened to a bunch of grind and hardcore in high school. I loved it fast, chaotic, and offensive. That is what Hallowed Butchery of the Son was in the beginning. The name change came about due to a shifting in the sound and in the "message." The original band name Hallowed Butchery of the Son was simply a glorified translation of the phrase "Holy Death of Jesus," but as my faith crumbled, and my eyes began to open to the REAL truth, I wanted to do away with this name, to separate myself from this religion. Now, "Hallowed Butchery" is merely a name. It really means nothing to me, and it is nothing that I care for, but it has become me, and it would be useless to change it now. Besides, it is easy to attach new meaning to it, and now it could be viewed as a glorified translation of the phrase "Holy War."
The lyrical inspiration for the early project was anti-fundamentalist. I believed in a divine being, but I had a Universalist viewpoint, believing that all Gods led to the same heaven. I was however disgusted with the church and its political and social influence, and so I wrote about it. I was young (and still am) and so of course the earlier stuff was much more immature. But really it all led to where I am now, and where I am now will lead to my future.
Also, from the sound and looks of things, the lyrical inspiration for the early project seems to be anti-Christian and very punk like with some anti-authority. With you growing up in a conservative Christian household, how did the have an impact on you and what you produced musically and lyrically?
Growing up in a fundamentalist Christian household (which, I must interject, was a very loving household) gave me two options: LEAD or FOLLOW. Because you see, these sort of environments do not create lukewarm people. I could never be a person that casually prays or that attends church on the major holidays, nor could I be someone that is really undecided on divinity or that could really care less. I choose what the Christians refer to as the "Left Hand Path," and I have never looked back. I am influenced by others, but I do not adhere to anything. I pave my own path. Call it what you may.
Sounds as if you've been through some struggles and adventures in your life over the years, which is a great thing. As of last year, you've released an EP, a demo and a split w/ Batillus thus far, do you have anything in the work for the year 2011 or what can we, as people of interest in what you do, expect?
My split 10" collaboration with The Austrasian Goat will be available in September via Vendetta Records. It is called "Songs of Self Reliance and Solitude" and that is precisely what all of the lyrics on the 10" are about. My half features one song with guest guitar solos by Julien Louvet (The Austrasian Goat) and Brad Bolduc (Terrible Old Man). I also make an apppearance on one of the songs on The Austrasian Goa's half. My song, which is titled "Hexagram: The God of Self," is almost a year and a half old now. I wrote and recorded it around the same time I did the Batillus split. It'll be good to shake the dust off it, and have it finally see the light of day. It's a bit different than anything I have done in the past.
I am also busy putting together a split 4-way, double LP. It will feature Hallowed Butchery, the Maine-based folk/black metal band Falls of Rauros, the Colorado-based blackened doom act Velnias, and one other (which will be announced shortly). It is going to be titled "Disciples of the End Times" and it will be released collaboartively through a group of fantastic underground record labels. We are hoping to have it available by the end of 2011.
Other than that, I am busy writing and recording my second full-length album. It is coming together beautifully. I am very pleased with how its sounding, and I am excited to unleash it. It is a conceptual piece that deals with child abuse, neglect, and murder. Proceeds from the sales of the record will be donated to a charity to stop child abuse.
From the way things are looking, you've been doing some pretty big shows recently, including Wolves In The Throne Room. Are you planning on doing anything touring wise in the near future or does a east coast tour sound more reasonable since you have so much stuff going on?
The first Hallowed Butchery show (ever) will be September 10th with Wolves in the Throne Room and Thou. I am very excited. Friends in the band Holding Steady the Heartbeat of Hell will be acting as my backing band. We are going to be performing the majority of "Funeral Rites for the Living". I have no plans to ever tour. I will be working on booking some select dates in the New England area, and possibly a few dates in Canada. I would also love to play a few dates overseas at some point, but mostly I am content with being a homebody.
As some might not know but many probably do, at least the ones that keep up with you, the project Terrible Old Man is something else you do in the spare time. What could you tell us about that project and are you planning on releasing more stuff with it or is Hallowed Butchery the "icing on the cake" so to speak?
I am the vocalist and lyricist for Terrible Old Man. We play thrash/death metal that pays homage to the old school, but manages to have a sound all our own. We are currently recording our debut full-length, which we plan on self-releasing, with the hope of finding a record label interested in a larger, re-release.
I am also in a band called Dead Sun, Dead Earth. We recently played our first show, and it was reminiscent of a riot. We play ambient sludge/post-metal in the vein of Crowbar, Neurosis, and Isis. We are currently recording our debut.
Well, it's official Ryan Fairfield is a busy, busy man that nobody can keep up with unless you have magical powers. Speaking of magical powers, besides you fighting crime in the music world, what other hobbies do you have?
When I'm not making music, I enjoy listening to music, collecting records, finding new bands, and listening to older/obscure bands. I also enjoy being out in the natural world, whether it be hiking, camping, or merely sitting in a field. I love being in the company of friends, but I also love being alone. I like to dabble in graphic design (especially for albums). I'm working on the new 4-way split artwork right now (it is going to be epic!), and the artwork for the new "I Shalt Become" record. Mostly, I love spending time with my beautiful wife and daughter. I am very much a family man. They mean the world to me.
Interesting. Earlier you said that a proceeds from the new Hallowed Butchery record will go to a charity to stop child abuse. How did you get into that whole section of charity and what really made you choose child abuse over everything else that's out there?
Day after day, there are horrifying, true stories of child abuse and neglect that are happening. But this is more than text in a newspaper... this is a cold, sad REALITY. A child, whom is born innocent, to be treated in such horrible ways is appalling. I feel that I owe this record to these children and to all children. They are our future. They are beautiful beings, and all that they desire is to be loved. And when they are raped, and beaten, and tortured, and murdered, they are not loved. My conscience does not allow me to do otherwise, I HAVE to create this record. I wish I could so more, and I will strive to do more, but this is definitely a step in the right direction. I hope that through my music I can shed light, and inspire others to donate their time and money.
As I listen to the Hallowed Butchery records, I get the sense of freedom and never feeling overshadowed by the music. Do you have any main goals that you would like to see happen to people when they listen to a record you've put so much time into? If so, what?
That freedom is derived from my ability to do whatever I want with this project. I am the sole member. I am the only one who has a say in what I do with my music. That is a freedom that one can never find within a group of people. With that, there is always compromise. With Hallowed Butchery, there is no compromise... ever.
The only goal I have is to have people feel the music, and to have it make them think, "This is good. I can do this." Because when I listen to great records, I think "This is good. I can do this." and I set off on my journey of making my own version. Of course, it never sounds much like how I have intended, but its influences are always somewhere in the mix. If my music has any sort of inspiring effects, or the ability to inflict any emotion in the listener, then that makes me happy. If my music angered someone, then I am happy. If my music made someone happy or made them think about something bigger than themselves, then I am happy. But really, at the end of the day, I will continue to make my music regardless of what people will say or think. I have no choice. My music is me. I am my music. There is no separation.
Well, dude, it looks like we're going down to the end of the interview. I want to thank you personally for taking the time to sit down with me to answer some questions and good luck with that Wolves In The Throne Room show coming up. For the last questions, where do you see yourself in the next 10 years? Are you still playing music in some form if you can?
In 10 years, I will be madly in love with my wife, still raising my beautiful daughter, likely writing music in some form, and I will be living in my own home, raising animals for meat, gardening, and continuing down the path towards complete self-reliance and sustainability. But unfortunately life is only temporary, so I will live in this moment, and always to the fullest.
Finally, is there anyone you would like to thank or shout out for pushing you or being apart of this journey with you thus far?
I would like to thank my wife for always being supportive of my art, and to my parents as well for always being supportive. I would also like to thank all of my friends and all of my 'fans' for always standing beside me. To all that have ever doubted me, to the naysayers, to those that 'don't get it,' to the weak, to the religious scum, to the ignorant, to the sheep, to the cowards, to the wicked, and to the complacent: you are beneath me.