A Very Toilet ov Hell Interview with Skeletonwitch

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Skeletonwitch has been relentlessly touring the nation with their unique brand of black thrash metal for the past decade. Their 2007 release Beyond the Permafrost catapulted the band into the ears of metal ne’er-do-wells across the world. Since then, they’ve weathered the dismissal of longtime vocalist Chance Garnette and added a new face to the band with Adam Clemans. I caught up with Scott Hedrick of Skeletonwitch after their Austin performance on their current tour with Abbath and High on Fire. A supremely nice dude, Scott freely answered all of my dumb questions about defunct video stores and American primitive guitarists.

You’re currently on a pretty lengthy tour. How do you keep your spirits up on the road? How do you stay healthy on a long trip? 

Scott Hedrick – It’s debatable whether we do stay healthy. It’s a fundamental thing of doing what you love that makes you not feel bad and want to be there. You’re excited to play music and do what you’re doing. We may have a long drive but when we arrive and start to get to work what we’re doing is playing heavy metal and doing what we love. We do this because we like it. That’s why our spirits are high.

This particular tour you’re with High on Fire and Abbath. Are you a big Emperor fan?

Uhh… Yeah, but Abbath has nothing to do with Emperor.

Right. Immortal. Definitely going to edit that bit out. 

Probably a good idea. But we’re big Immortal fans. And I love the stuff he did with I and his new solo record is killer.

I gave it a cursory listen and I was surprised. It’s very hard rock. 

If you don’t know much about him, he’s always been a big fan of KISS and a fan of early rock n’ roll stuff. So it makes sense that over time he opens up more, gets into more mid-tempo parts and rock-oriented sounds because he’s been playing black metal for so long. Immortal was one of the defining bands of black metal, and he’s one of the defining authors of the genre. He was a trailblazer, really. So where does he go? Back to his influences, and he’s doing interesting mid-tempo stuff. Widening his sound by adding in more of his influences.

You play a combination of thrash and black metal. Where do you stand on that continuum?

We listen to a lot of music. Not just metal. We don’t sit in the van and just listen to straight black metal. We listen to all kinds of heavy music and rock and roll and all kinds of things. We’re obviously a heavy music band. We won’t get too far from the realm of rock and metal. As long as we’re in the parameters of rock and roll and metal we don’t censor ourselves. Like… “That’s a crazy rock and roll riff for a minute,” followed by a bunch of blast beats. As long as we dig it, and it makes sense to us, we don’t care if it makes sense to other people.

What’s the least metal thing you guys are grooving on right now?

This guy in San Francisco called Danny Paul Grody who does acoustic ambient drone-y soundscapes things and solo acoustic american primitive guitar stuff. I think he’s fucking incredible. He just came out with a new cassette and digital album the other day. It’s awesome.

Did you ever get into John Fahey?

DID I? We have a festival near Athens, Ohio. It’s called Nelsonville Music Fest – I played it last year and did a solo acoustic set and played a John Fahey cover. I’m surprised you know who that is!

I love that kinda shit. James Blackshaw is probably my favorite….

He’s incredible! I’ve tried to learn a few of his songs. I’m writing stuff for Skeletonwitch and getting busy, and I wish I had more time for that stuff. I’m playing that Nelsonville Fest again this year and doing another acoustic set.

Is there video of that? 

There’s not. Maybe there will be this year. I love all that stuff. Steve Gunn is killer. Daniel Bachman, I’m a huge fan. I really like Riley Walker. All that shit is way up my alley. That’s the kinda stuff I listen to in the van. We hear metal every night, and I still love it, but when I put my headphones on that’s what I’m listening to. The other guys have different tastes but I don’t think they share my love of American primitive guitar. I’m super into that shit! Are you into some weirder stuff like Rangda or Sir Richard Bishop?

I bought Sir Richard Bishop’s latest thing… the improvisation with the tiny guitar he bought in Morocco… 

Yes! That shit is awesome. Sir Richard Bishop has this band with Ben Chasney of Six Organs of Admittance and Chris Corsano (if you don’t know who he is he’s a crazy jazz drummer with a discography that’s like 300 records long). It’s the three of these awesome weird dudes coming together called Rangda. They just put out their third record and they’re touring. They’re just playing in Columbus, about an hour from where I live. I couldn’t go because it was the first night of our tour. I wish I could split myself in two and see that show and also play with High on Fire and Abbath. If only the scheduling had been a day different!

You’ve got a new vocalist, Adam. With this new material have you been writing specifically with him in mind or writing as you normally do?

Both! The riffs that Nate and I write have a certain style. No matter who is in the band, you’ve still got the same guys writing all the music. Evan writes riffs too, and Dustin has ideas. But it started with Nate and I’ve become more involved as a writer, where it’s more balanced between the two of us. The nuts and bolts won’t really change because it’s all what me and Nate are into.

At the same time, we wrote specific parts where Adam and I were going back and forth discussing what would be ideal for his vocal parts, and he would suggest ideas for the music. There was a lot more back and forth with Adam, which was awesome. We didn’t have that in the past. I think he’s more open to constructive criticism. As the new guy he was like, “I dunno about this part or that.” A couple of times I said, “Alright, alright, maybe we’ll adjust it” and I did. Other times I was like “NO NEW GUY, IT’S GONNA BE THIS WAY.”

Did you haze the new guy at all?

We still are. In small subtle ways. Gotta fuck with him.

Is Dave’s Video still in business?

Nah dude. It really sucks.

Is a Skeletonwitch a witch that died and became a skeleton or is it a skeleton that converted to Wicca? 

Yes.

Thank you. 


Skeletonwitch is on tour with High on Fire and Abbath through the rest of the month. Go see ’em in a hood near you and tell them a sentient toilet sends it’s love.

4/1 Seattle, WA – El Corazon #
4/2 Vancouver, BC – Commodore Ballroom #
4/5 Englewood, CO – Gothic Theatre #
4/6 Lawrence, KS – Granada Theater #
4/7 Minneapolis, MN – Mill City Nights #
4/8 Chicago, IL – Wrigleyville #
4/9 Cleveland, OH – Agora Ballroom #
4/10 Toronto, ON – The Opera House #
4/12 New York, NY – Webster Hall #
4/14 Boston, MA – Royale #
4/15 Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer #
4/29 Indianapolis, IN – 5th Quarter Lounge (w/eyehategod)
# with Abbath & High on Fire & Tribulation

(Image Via, (Via)

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  • Is a Skeletonwitch a witch that died and became a skeleton or is it a skeleton that converted to Wicca?

    Yes.

    That’s a Ghost Pirate answer right there.
    http://images4.fanpop.com/image/photos/21100000/3×10-Korn-s-Groovy-Pirate-Ghost-Mystery-south-park-21144362-720-540.jpg

    • Óðinn

      Both.

  • Ol Dirty Blastbeard

    im just going to say it: Emperor > Immortal

    • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

      ..

      • CyberneticOrganism

        NO DUCK DYNASTY

        • Guacamole Jim

          It needs to be up there with Family Guy and Anime in the list of Shit Which Is Banned

          • #BANRANDALL #BANGUAC

            SHIT’S JUST GOT REAL #BLAOWBLAOW #PLOPLO

          • Guacamole Jim

            Dangflabbit! How did this get turned on me?

          • CyberneticOrganism

            Backed 100%

        • ME GORAK B.C.™

          ISN’T THIS DOOD IN LAMB OV GOD?????

    • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

      Accept

      • Ol Dirty Blastbeard

        the band?

        • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

          Yes.

      • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

        I want to say something, but I’m probably going to lose a healthy amount of my metal cred…

        (as if I ever had “Metal Cred” HA!)

        • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

          Well now you have to say it.

          • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

            Accept’s (as well as Saxon’s) music didn’t hold up very well.

            *dodges a flying axe*

          • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

            *throws backup axe*

          • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

            *dodges axe again*

          • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

            *Makes you listen to this*

            https://youtu.be/req-oDf2ZRc

          • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

            Hmmmm…this is pretty good actually.

            Balls to the Wall or Restless and Wild on the other hand…”meh”

          • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

            But, but, but Restless and Wild is one of my favorites.

            Their last 3 albums have been high quality Heavy Metal. The new singer is great.

          • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

            Yeah scratch “pretty good”…this song is actually “really fucking good”.

          • Fist pumping anthem, approved by Frank White.

          • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

            And it’s quite seldom I approve of typical fist pumping anthems.

          • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

            Yes it is! THE RIFFS!

          • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

            Fuck it, I’m going to buy that album.

          • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

            You will not regret that decision

          • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

            Now did Saxon make anything of note in the last 10 years?

          • Last year Battering Ram had a single that I enjoyed. I also listened Lionheart and I liked some songs of it, but not the whole album.

          • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

            Yeah i listened to the title song of Battering Ram last year. Not bad, but it didn’t really grab me by the balls either.

          • That is a very peculiar way to understand the music enjoyment, Frank.

            If it didn’t grab your balls it don’t work, uh?

          • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

            Pain = pleasure

          • Grabbing your balls = WIN

          • Ol Dirty Blastbeard

            also known as the Malandro Salute

          • ¡jajajajaja!

          • Dave Vincent’s Perm
          • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

            I haven’t followed Saxon as much.

          • Janitor Jim Duggan

            Of course they did. Have you not heard their 2011 studio album Call To Arms?

          • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

            Only a few songs. Not bad, rather “meh”.

          • JJD, do you remember Alf?

            He’s back!

          • ME GROG B.C.™

            IN GROG FORM!!!!!!!!!!

          • ¡Así es!

          • this warms my heart

          • Janitor Jim Duggan

            He is?

          • more beer

            Certainly not better than this Call to Arms.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uNXx36cCgTw

          • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

            more beer bringing the NYHC!

          • more beer

            Well it is better than the Saxon album of the same name.

          • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

            Haha! Yes.

          • more beer

            I hadn’t paid attention to Saxon since the early 80’s. As it was pretty weak for my tastes.

          • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

            It’s still good headbanging heavy metal though. But i see what you mean.

          • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

            Not bad music, but from that era I’d rather have me some Celtic Frost.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qm7qQlWmMEc

          • more beer

            There was a lot of much better music back then. I can’t even believe Saxon is still around.

          • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

            They must be doing something right. Imagine if 5FDP will still be around in 20 years.

          • more beer

            I know someone who was selling meth to that douchebag singer from 5fdp. I can’t believe he didn’t sell that fucker a hot shot. I really don’t see the being around in 10 years. That shit doesn’t have any kind of staying power it won’t stand the test of time. Yes Saxon must be doing something right. Even though the last time they were here they played in Boulder in a place with a capacity of 500 people.

          • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

            The fact that they became as popular as they are, is a mystery. They don’t even have an ounce of originality to their sound. And with some popular bands I don’t like, I can see why other people would be into them because they have good hooks or something like that, but 5FDP don’t even have good hooks. Many of those now popular bands drop one or two good albums at the beginning of their career after which they turn to shit. But 5FDP from day one has been releasing crap album after crap album. None of their albums has had even the slightest amount of critical acclaim. Yet here they are making lots of money.

            I just don’t get it.

          • more beer

            Nor do I. I don’t even have the radio stations set in my truck. So thankfully I never have to listen t this shit. Unless I am in someone else’s vehicle. But then again most of the people I go out with listen to good music. But what these guys call music is an abomination. I do understand how they are making money. There are a lot of dumbfucks out there. Who are just lowest common denominator people. They look at the image and think that’s what makes music good.

          • more beer

            Yea it was in 1983. But not really after that.

          • That song is everything we need in the metal realms.

          • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

            HAIL Link! Wisest of all half elves!

          • I do my best to keep my woods kinship happy.

          • THE HOWLING WIND AT OUR BACKS

          • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

            GL!!!!!!!!

          • That song is un-fuck-with-able. One of my all time favorites!

            m/m/

          • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

            And that is why you are the man!

          • WE WILL GIVE THEM THE AXE

          • Boss… we don’t speak about the axe!

          • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

            That’s my third axe we’re not supposed to speak of.

          • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

            Dammit.

          • Hubert

            I wish I could throw my axe
            *stares at hooves*
            *sobs in a corner*

          • You can tackle people!!

          • Janitor Jim Duggan

            Is this an April Fools joke?

          • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

            Nope, 100% serious.
            The older Accept and Saxon albums ==> infinitely “meh”

          • Janitor Jim Duggan

            Why have you forsaken me? They’re so good!

          • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

            But not as good as Mercyful Fate.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LyRao18lxX4

          • I like Accepts most recent material much more than their older material. Except for this song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9el2lg2olpE

            DROWNING IN THE NIGHT, GOING WITH THE LIGHT

          • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

            Solid song, but it won’t keep me interested for an entire album. I listened to Metal Heart once, but wasn’t really blown away by it. No ball grab.

          • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

            Russian Roulette?

          • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

            That one was really pretty meh.

          • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

            HE IS A MIDNIGHT MOVER!

          • CyberneticOrganism

            0_0

          • ‘0_0’

            *elf ears*

          • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

            Same here! Lol, during the chorus of Stampede, I actually thought they said “We’ll pulverize your balls”.

    • Spear

      I think most people would agree with that.

      • Ol Dirty Blastbeard

        just saying, maybe he had a Freudian slip

    • neither incorporates breakdowns, so they’re practically the same band in Joe’s eyes.

      • pretty much, dude.

      • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

        And no synchronized bouncing and crabwalking.

    • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

      Wait, so they’re not the same band? Because Joey clearly has no fucking idea.

    • ME GORAK B.C.™

      EMPEROR & IMMORTAL>>>>>>>>>>>
      GORAK FIXES FOR U!!!!!!

      • Gorak speaks for the Toilet.

        • Óðinn

          GORAK really cuts through the bullshit with his commentary. I can appreciate that.

      • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

        I enjoy two Immortal albums (Pure Holocaust & AtHoW).
        I enjoy ALL Emperor albums though and I like Emperor’s best better than Immortal’s best. Even Prometheus.

        • ME GORAK B.C.™

          GORAK LIKE SONS OV NORTHERN DARKNESS BEST!!!!!

          • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

            SoND is a bit too black-thrash for my taste. Good album for that style though.

        • I like those two Immortal albums too.

          LINK ROCKSSSS!!!!!!!!!!

    • Dave Vincent’s Perm

  • Super Nintendo Chalmers

    That Emperor goof sure started things off on the right foot.

    • Super Nintendo Chalmers

      It’s like hurdles. Sometimes you get your groove right away, and sometimes this happens.

    • You should hear all the shit I didn’t transcribe. Joe “Good at Interviewing” Thrashnkill.

      • Super Nintendo Chalmers

        So do you guys like metal?

        • Do you remember that time you guys played a show in Austin with High on Fire? Yeah, that was awesome.

          • So, about that weather?
            Median year for women’s soccer, eh?

          • Super Nintendo Chalmers

            Vic has a chance to see *insert dad rock band with one original member left* an hour from his house on a week night. Should he go?

          • Doxx not cool, m8 😉

          • Super Nintendo Chalmers

            Not doxxing m8

          • 😉

          • Janitor Jim Duggan

            Super Nintendo plz! Don’t use my real name! On the other hand the singer for White Lion is coming near me with his new band. Plus it’s at the venue 10 minutes from me.

          • COAL ROLL

            it’s not your real name.

          • Janitor Jim Duggan

            Good point.

          • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

            You mean you’re not really Hacksaw Jim Duggan?!?!?! Nothing is real anymore, my whole life has been a lie, there’s a glitch in the Matrix, moooooooooooooooooooooooom!!!!!!!

      • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

        You should’ve asked them about their sandwich setup backstage, a la Spinal Tap. The sandwich meat folding possibilities are endless!

      • Zeke

        Which skeletonwitch album should I get?

        • I’m biased on this, but Beyond the Permafrost is far and away my favorite. Got some really good memories of listening to that just post-college.

          • Zeke

            Thanks. Funny interview.

    • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

      HAHAHAHAHAHA.

  • Boss theSpeedMetalBastard Ross

    Haha, you posted it! Nice one Joe.

  • This was a fun read, Joe! Good job conducting this interview and not editing the Emperor mishap, jajaja.

    Also, I must say that I love the “Beyond the Permafrost” title for an album.

    • have you listened to “Beyond the Permafrost”? it’s pretty stellar.

      • Not yet, Boss handed me some tunes, but I didn’t have the opportunity to listen to it for reasons we all know in this agora ov merol.

  • Dubs

    How did they smell?

    • High on Vallenfyre

      Lovely. Obviously.

    • like walking into a Yankee Candle Store

    • I caught up with him directly after they performed and loaded their shit out. So… surprisingly neutral.

  • Guacamole Jim

    This interview was a lot better than you made it sound. I demand you release the un-edited version!

    • Yessss.

      The Director’s Cut. With 25 minutes of extra scenes of Joe’s wasted with whiskey and shooting to the air!!!

    • You want to hear a half hour of him asking questions about straightedge hardcore?

    • Stockhausen

      Backed.

    • CyberneticOrganism

      But the last 24 minutes is just audio of someone eating an entire bag of carrot chips

    • Spear

      Yeah! No more of this censorship garbage!
      #itsaboutethicsinjournalism

      • Guacamole Jim

        The -gate possibilities are too plentiful to know which to pick. Toiletgate? Thrashngate? Emperorgate?

  • I would love to see them in Athens sometime. The town is pretty neat!

    Great interview, Joe.

    GL

    • ME GORAK B.C.™

      ME GONNA SEE IN CLEVELAND NEXT SAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GORAK CANT WAIT!!!!! LINEUP BADASS!!!!!!!!!

      • Dude, Back on Northern Shores was definitely the best song. Thanks!

        The whole album is pretty good.

        • ME GORAK B.C.™

          ME CAN’T WAIT 2 SEE AMON AMARTH EITHER!!!!! ENTOMBED & EXMORTUS TOO!!!!

  • Stockhausen

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve mixed up Emperor and Immortal. i feel u jo

    • They all scream and make noise according to all the people that surrounds us in our respective physical manifestations.

  • CyberneticOrganism

    Not nearly as bad as you made it out to be Joe, nice job and props for heading out there and doing it. You are the Toilet Master.

  • Stanley

    I saw these guys the other night. They were the best of the night by a long way. Check them out if you can.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kd0y6vFC3CA

  • Eliza

    I would so love to see a video version of this interview.

    • EsusMoose

      I hope it’d be awkward af

  • RustyShackleford

    I’m here mad late this morning, but great fun interview! Always cool to hear guys talk about some non-metal stuff and Scott seems really fun. When “Forever Abomination” came out I was in high school and we all got hooked on these guys, but I haven’t jammed them much recently. Changing that now! Yup!

  • Waynecro

    “Is a Skeletonwitch a witch that died and became a skeleton or is it a skeleton that converted to Wicca?” Possibly the most important question a journalist has ever asked. Thanks for the great interview!

  • Dave Vincent’s Perm

    Blackstar >>>>>>>>>>

  • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

    Awesome band, awesome interview (even the part where you somehow managed to confuse Emperor and Immortal. Waw waw waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaw!).

    Might wanna update that Chicago date, though. Wrigleyville’s a neighborhood, not a venue. More likely than no, if they’re playing in Wrigleyville, it’ll either be at The Metro or The Vic.

  • Lisa Ling: Devourer Of Souls

    Awesome band, awesome interview (even the part where you somehow managed to confuse Emperor and Immortal. Waw waw waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaw!)

    Might wanna update that Chicago date, though. Wrigleyville’s a neighborhood, not a venue. More likely than no, if they’re playing in Wrigleyville, it’ll either be at The Metro or The Vic.