Organ Dealer: The Toilet Ov Hell Interview
New Jersey’s up and coming black market deathgrind merchants Organ Dealer are about to unleash their debut album Visceral Infection on July 14th. While we wait for the impending onslaught that is sure to positively ruin your day, we caught up with the guys via email to talk about the new album, touring and all things Organ Dealer.
For those who may be unfamiliar with you guys, can you give us some background on when you guys got together and starting playing music as a band? Have you had a revolving door of members or has it been the same five guys from the start?
Eric Schnee: We formed the band in early 2013 and we’ve had the same steady lineup since the band’s inception. Most recently our good friend Tom Maher of Sentience filled in for one show because of a scheduling conflict.
Jeff Knoblauch: We started out jamming just Eric, James, and I back in June of 2013 – two solid years ago. It took us a few months before we brought Trevor and Scot onboard.
James Stivaly: Organ Dealer has been a band since the summer of 2013. At first it started in my apartment basement/room with me and Jeff (both guitars). Then during the notorious drummer search our friend (and my room-mate at the time) from a sick band called Pink Mass showed us a video of Schnee (drummer) covering a Rotten Sound song and we kinda knew that was our guy. After writing a few tunes it just kind of made sense to work with Trevor on bass, we had played in bands together before and all been friends for a while. Which of course led to a search for a singer who’s voice fit all of our different perspectives on the music that were being melded together at that time. During that time we all went out to a bunch of shows before writing sessions, writing and discussing where all of our influences met and discovering what that sounded like.
Trevor Graham: James, Jeff and I all grew up in the same town and have been friends for a while. James and I started out playing in our other band Cartoon Violence!, when Jeff moved back from out west he and James decided they wanted to play some brutal shit together, they joined up with Eric and then brought me on, we found Scot in an alley way somewhere living in a garbage dump next to a strip club.
The name Organ Dealer brings to mind a dark underground criminal enterprise, is there anything special behind the band name or how it was chosen?
ES: I was actually not involved in choosing the band name but I think you nailed it exactly on the head. The goal was to elicit some kind of dark, sinister imagery we hoped would fit the sound at the time. The name was suggested by a friend of the band. People seem to dig it!
JK: So there is a bit of a story there. I was actually supposed to get a cadaver ligament put into my knee back then. This prevented me from moving back to the west coast and actually led to myself and James getting the ball rolling on starting a band. Sitting on the toilet I thought “Hey, Organ Donor would be a pretty rad name”. As it would turn out there were already a number of projects out there already called that and one of us simply changed it to “Organ Dealer”. Ha and you’re right! It does kind of bring to mind this dark seedy image which I think is more suited to the tone of the music.
JS: I owe my practice, education, and all my gear to unspecific dark underground enterprises and I believe it deserves to be represented appropriately. Besides that, a huge part of metal to me is having lyrical themes about the truths and horrors of life that people try to ignore on a daily basis for their own personal comfort.
TG: James and Jeff came up with the name, I joined a couple months into the whole process. So far content wise we’ve kept true to the name keeping it shady and brutal. That leaves you feeling violated.
You guys have a new album coming out soon, can you provide any details about it?
JK: Absolutely! It will be out on July 14th through Horror Pain Gore Death Productions based out of Philadelphia, PA. There will be 12 tracks of blasting beats and grinding riffs totaling about 20 minutes of sonic garbage! We recorded it over 10 days last October finishing on Halloween. This was at Backroom Studios in Rockaway, NJ with recording mastermind Kevin Antreassian. The artwork was handled by the super talented Alex Eckman-Lawn who’s also done work for Krieg, Nero Di Matre, and Maruta! Fun fact – our singer Scot was the assistant engineer on the album.
JS: Well the general theme is centered around the brainwashing that occurs from blindly accepting societal banalities forced upon you by previous generation’s personal agendas and the destruction it causes the world, represented through the metaphor of infection and disease. In which the tones and riffs are designed to perpetuate.
Scot Moriarty: I think the guys mostly covered this, but I will say that it is personally the first full length I’ve ever done with a band so it’s pretty special to me. Fine tuning the songs on this thing was a fairly easy process with them.
What is involved in the song writing process? Is it a collective effort or do some band members have more input than others?
ES: The songwriting is a collective effort for the most part. Usually song ideas will start with a guitar riff or drum beat. From there, like with most bands, we kind of just jam it and work on arranging and rearranging the parts until we feel satisfied with it. Sometimes ideas come together quickly and organically, other times we’ll sit on ideas for a while until we find a place for them.
JK: At the end of the day we want all of us to be stoked on what it is we’re playing. It usually starts out with the riffs, James will have a song or I will have a song and we just bring it to the chopping block. We rip them apart and sew them back together. Sometimes we write on the spot too. James, Eric, and I wrote “No Answer” within the first hour of the first time we jammed – actually that was the first time James & I met Eric. Also Eric had the skeleton for “Consumed” written on drums a long time before that and James and I just filled in the body with riffs.
JS: As far as writing goes we all come in and write the instrumentation together, sometimes someone may have an idea for the bulk of the song but just generally its based off of bouncing ideas off each other. As far as the lyrics go, me and Scott pretty much split it except for one song we wrote the lyrics as a group, at least so far. However I feel like experimenting with different ways to write songs is what keeps a band interesting and helps their sound evolve without diverging from the original direction of the project.
TG: We all just get together and come loaded with some riffs and just kinda jam out together and work on it till we decide it’s just the right level of brutality.
SM: I think James said it pretty well. I know, for me, that when I joined the band 10 of the 12 songs were written already so it was just a matter of hammering them into my skull. As I wrote lyrics to some and learned the lyrics and parts to the ones james wrote for, we all became more cohesive and the songs changed slightly here and there to give room for each other. It happened really easily. These guys were very easy to jump into a band with.
What kind of touring are you expecting to do in support of the album? Are you venturing out of the Northeast?
JK: Not venturing out just yet… although that would be the ideal scenario, it’s just so hard for a band like us to just do a full tour like that. Everybody has jobs these days so it’s like you have to plan these things out one leg at a time I guess. We’re currently booking our first ever tour and it’s gonna be a quick run of dates through the east coast with The Drip from WA! Super stoked and we couldn’t have asked for better timing with the release. It’ll be in late August. Before that we have separate shows in the area with Magrudergrind, Dying Fetus, and our friends in Pink Mass, Sentience, Huldra, Artificial Brain, Cognitive, Toxicology, Triple Cripple, Dutchguts and more including NJ Deathfest and Obnoxious Noise Fest!
JS: Unfortunately we’re only barely venturing out of the Northeast but there will be more to come, a lot of the shows that we`re playing in support of the album are just with great bands and awesome headliners, at familiar venues where we know we’ll have a draw.
TG: Been playing a bunch of sweet shows, got some really cool shows coming up with some bands I’m really stoked on and going on tour with The Drip in August and a bunch more shows lined up. We haven’t ventured out of the northeast yet but we’re absolutely planning on it.
Out all the shows you’ve played thus far, which one would you say had the wildest crowd reaction?
ES: We played a show with our friends Cognitive at The Meatlocker in Montclair, NJ and during their set the whole entire venue got destroyed by a few rowdy friends. It was pure chaos and very entertaining haha. More recently we played another local show with a reunited friends band called Unmen and I remember the room just being packed and filled with a crazy amount of energy. That was a ton of fun and it was a Tuesday night!
JK: Probably every time we play the Meatlocker in Montclair. It’s kind of like home base and everyone just comes out to have a great time and party. Particularly our first show there, I heard two people had their noses broken during our set, which sucks I know, but it wasn’t intentional! I think people were just going bonkers in a tight spot (not from crowd killing). Or on Jan. 9th – People went buck at that one too. Especially later during our homies in Cognitive’s set – Jake from Barbaric and Jeremy of Pink Mass put on a tag team match against everyone. People going through tables, garbage cans full of bottles flying through the air, people running hysterically. It was nuts.
JS: Any show with the squad (homies from other NJ bands) there is wild as fuck.
TG: I would have to say this show we played at the Meat Locker in Montclair, NJ with our homies Cognitive. The place got absolutely destroyed, it was a war zone. James almost got crushed by a PA system, there were some fluorescent lights involved, it was a bloodbath.
SM: I would say our first show at a place called the Meatlocker in Montclair. Either that one or the second one there. The squad we have around that area always brings a rowdiness that I feed off of so those shows were probably the wildest.
What bands/artists would you say influence your music the most?
EG: I think we are influenced by a pretty wide variety of death metal and grind bands. Some bands that immediately come to mind are Lock Up, Napalm Death, Rotten Sound, Origin, Gorguts, Portal, Murder Construct, Exhumed, Captain Cleanoff, Tragedy, Obituary, the list goes on. I have a lot of nerdy drummer influences as well.
JK: When writing riffs for our band I would have to say Birdflesh, Cryptopsy, Lock Up, Exhumed, Morbid Angel, Napalm Death and Dead Congregation. We listen to a lot of different genres of metal and I guess whatever mood I’m in at the time governs the riff.
JS: For me? Insect Warfare, Soilent Green, Punch, Death, Pig Destroyer, Gorguts, Soundgarden and Bessie Smith for this project at least.
TG: I’d have to say Birdflesh, Death and Napalm Death are the three main influences that I try to draw from.
SM: I know the other guys probably covered this pretty heavily but I will say that for me as vocalist I’ve always taken a liking to Mike Patton and Chino Moreno. Both haven’t been afraid to try odd and different approaches to what they do throughout their careers which is something I appreciate. I don’t necessarily try to sound like them or anything like that but I want to keep an open mind to try different things like they have. Plus I just get bored easily.
Having caught your set a few weeks ago at the Clash Bar with Antigama, it appears that the NJ underground scene is doing pretty well. Are there any particular bands that you’ve played with that have caught your attention from the area?
ES: I agree! I have definitely noticed an influx of quality bands since we’ve started playing. It really seems like there is some good underground music happening in our area. I feel like the scene is pretty small though so I hope it grows with more people catching on and the bands moving forward. Some killer bands are Sentience, Pink Mass, Toxicology, Huldra, Stinger.
JK: Thanks for coming by the way! It was a pleasure to meet you guys and great to know that there are people out there who actually care about what’s going on! (Ha. I know I was a little tipsy myself but I was stoked!) Pretty much every local band on that bill happens to be very good friends of ours. We all push one another and get each other stoked on music in general and I feel like everyone brings a different flavor to the scene to keep it diverse to a point but we’re all still playing heavy music. I believe you guys recently covered Toxicology and Pink Mass (Jeremy has been one of my best friends since high school). Zakk who booked that show also plays in a band Huldra which we play with all the time, super talented dudes. Also on that show was Sentience who play Swedish style old-school death metal. But there’s tons of bands in the area killing it: Budd Dwyer, Sunrot, Thera Roya, 96, Dutchguts. The list goes on and on. Also Lethal Entity, Hellkeeper, Hercyn and Triple Cripple from NY, etc.
JS: Yea man, great NJ bands around here are Pink Mass, Huldra, Dutch Guts, Skuz, Cognitive,Toxicology, Sentience, Bruce Springstein, Bon Jovi and many others.
TG: I’m pretty sure everyone else covered that one. I’ve had way too much fun playing with the local dudes in the area, they’re all killing it right now.
SM: The guys have said a bunch so I’ll just add Sunrot, Hellkeeper, Au Revoir.
This question is for Eric: Being the drummer of a grindcore band is some physically demanding work. Is there anything special that you do in preparation for a show to maintain your stamina so you don’t tire out?
ES: Extreme drumming can definitely be demanding at times. I tend to practice a lot so stamina is never really an issue for me. It can get tough if the venue is extremely hot or cold though. To get ready for a show I always try to warm up on a pad playing lots of singles, doubles and rudiments, nothing crazy. Its really about getting in the headspace to play and to get the blood flowing and feeling physically ready to play. Drinking a lot of water helps too.
I asked a couple of our other writers if they wanted to throw some questions at you, here’s what they came up with:
365 Days of Horror asks – “If you woke up in a motel bathtub full of ice, what organ are you checking first to see if it’s missing?
ES: Probably my liver, I need that one!
JK: I would look down… and check my liver.
JS: My tongue, it’d be alot harder to tell people to go fuck themselves without it!
SM: My penis.
HessianHunter asks – Marry/fuck/kill: Agoraphobic Nosebleed, Napalm Death, Cattle Decapitation?
ES: I would marry Napalm Death since they’ve been around a long time, fuck Agoraphobic Nosebleed because I saw them at MDF and holy shit they were crazy and kill Cattle Decapitation for no reason!
JK: Agoraphobic Nosebleed/Cattle Decapitation/Napalm Death. Nothing personal.
JS: Marry cattle cause thats been my shit from the beginning, fuck Agoraphobic, kill Napalm Death cause they’ve had a long enough run at this point.
TG: Marry Napalm Death. Fuck Cattle Decap. Kill Agoraphobic.
SM: Oh man. can’t I just do all three with all three?
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, is there anything you’d like to add in closing?
ES: Thanks so much to Toilet ov Hell for reaching out and sending us these questions, it means a lot! Check out the record when it drops and see you at the shows! Cheers and stay stoked!
TG: Thank you guys so much for taking the time to interview us, we really appreciate it and thank you to everyone who’s been brutal along the way and helped out in the many ways they have!
If you are fortunate enough to live in the NJ/NY area, head out to one of these fine venues and experience Organ Dealer live for yourself. In the meantime, head over to their Facebook page and give them a thumbs up!! You can pre-order digital copies of Visceral Infection here and physical copies here.
6/19 Montclair, NJ @ The Meatlocker w/ Magrudergrind
7/18 Bayonne, NJ @ Lot 13 NJ Deathfest w/ Putrid Pile, Lust of Decay, Devour the Unborn, Dysentery, Artificial Brain, many more
7/30 Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus Bar w/ Artificial Brain, Cognitive
8/02 Bayonne, NJ @ Lot 13 w/ Tombstalker, Locusta
8/07 Clifton, NJ @ Clash Bar Mildfest Vol. 2 w/ Dying Fetus, Strong Intention, Artificial Brain, more
8/29 Bay Shore, NY @ Obnoxious Noise Fest w/ Artificial Brain, Cognitive, Splattered Entrails, The Communion