Serpent Venom Interview w/ Pete & Nick
June 18, 2011
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With "Carnal Altar" being released this year, are you guys pleased with how well the Doom world has welcomed you and this album so far?
Pete: We’re truly humbled by all the support we’ve received since the release of the demo. All the kind words said on forums (especially DFFD) and in reviews have helped a huge amount in establishing our name.
Nick : As a side note, it's far too early to tell about the actual album's perception in the public eye, it's only really been out a month. That said, so far, so good. People are being kind and our live shows have gotten good reviews from webzines and magazines too. Not bad for four piss heads!
The first thing I think of when I hear anything about the UK, I think of how great the Doom/Sludge scene is. Are there any bands you guys are excited about seeing come up and grow in the local scene?
Nick : There's tonnes! Conan, Age of Taurus, Groan, Slabdragger, Dopefight, Enos, Old Mayor, Iron Void, Grimpen Mire, Witchsorrow, Trippy Wicked, Volition, The Dead Resurrected. There's plenty more to go with that! Church Within has just signed Sigirya which is most of the members from what used to be Acrimony, so I'm really looking forward to hearing more from them!
After looking at the cover art for "Carnal Altar", I get this sense of late 60's/early 70's movie poster feel. Was that on purpose or did you just throw something together that look pretty wicked?
Pete: I’m really happy with how the album cover turned out! It certainly seems to be achieving the desired response I had hoped for. The idea for it had been floating around in my head for quite some time and for it to come to fruition has been magical. I’ve mostly drawn inspiration from old paperback Beat, horror and occult pulp novels; I primarily referenced NEL publications. My main objective was to pay homage to the timeless art that graced these paperbacks and to combine that with the feel of old Italian horror film poster imagery. Luckily for me, Oli (Church Within Rec) and I are on a similar wavelength aesthetically, so having the album released in a paperback book format was the cherry on the cake.
In the last 10 years, what record influenced you guys the most in Doom or any other genre of music/metal?
Pete: I generally listen to a lot of Blue Cheer, Black Sabbath, old Psyche, Kraut, Italian Prog, Soundtracks etc, etc (High Tide, Night Sun, Mythos, Arzachel, Morricone, etc) and would say that this has had a far greater influence on my writing for the album. Also, whilst it hasn’t necessarily influenced the lyrical content. Beat literature has been an equal influence on my song writing- especially Kerouac’s Big Sur, where his self imposed solitude at Bixby canyon, coupled with his insatiable thirst for alcohol, eventually reach catharsis, climaxing in one of the most honest, vivid hallucinatory scenes ever written.
Quick one: Have you guys heard the Undersmile EP "A Sea of Dead Snakes"? If so, what were your thought on the work and have you guys meet the band?
Pete: Great name!
Nick: Yes it is! Sadly no, we haven't heard it or met the guys. However, if you feel like sending it to me hint hint....
As we all know and can hear in the "Serpent Venom" demo and the "Carnal Altar" full-length, Black Sabbath is a huge influence in what you guys do but if you had to pick one album from their discography, which and why?
Pete: Vol.4. There’s just something about it, monumental in every sense. I’ve grown up listening to that album and it holds many happy memories for me. Of course, the first album is a close contender, as are all of their early albums, but Vol.4… Holy shit!
With the majority of doom bands, the most common drug used seems to be weed. Are you guys one of those bands that indulges in it or does it just seem like it from the way the album flows so well?
Pete: It’s like a catalyst for Downer Rock! "Dope will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no dope."—Freewheelin' Franklin
If you guys could pick one track off the "Carnal Altar" to best explain the whole album in general, which one would it be and why?
Pete: “Carnal Altar” would probably be the obvious choice as it’s the title track but, for me, “Blood of Serpents” encapsulates our vibe better than any other track- it’s great fun to play as well.
How excited were you guys when you got word that the guys over at Roadburn decided to have "Carnal Altar" as the "album of the day"?
Pete: Shocked! I’ve had many memorable experiences at the festival, and to now have Roadburn bestow “Album of the Day” upon Serpent Venom is an honor, not only because of the recognition, but because they put on such a prestigious event and do so much for the scene and the bands that play within it.
I'm not even sure if this is in the works but has anything been said to you guys about maybe trying to play Maryland Deathfest next year?
Pete: If we were to be offered a slot on the fest I can only imagine that we would welcome it with open arms. To be given the opportunity to play in the US would be beyond anything that we could have possibly imagined for Serpent Venom.
Lastly, if you wanna shout out any other bands, labels, friends etc. just shout them out for the intereview.
Pete: I would like to send out extended thanks to Josh Retallick and Matthew Hopkins from Witchfinder Productions, Marek Steven, Chris Fielding and Dave Anderson at Foel Studios. We had an amazing time there, and they are two truly amazing guys who have one hell of a vibe goin’ on at that place. Pete Hamilton-Giles (Pombagira) for all the kind words and amp advice- a true gent!
Thanks a ton for the interview guys. We love the record over at Blood or Love and we support you guys one hundred percent, that's for sure. Keep up the work and hopefully you can come see us in America at some point.