Salt Lake, Mormons And Heavy Metal – An Interview With The Ditch and the Delta

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It was a hot day at Austin Terrorfest when I bumped into The Ditch and the Delta. They had just rolled into town all the way from their native Salt Lake and were getting ready to perform one of the most capitivating sets of the weekend. A band who I had never thought I would get a chance to see, much less interview, I was absolutely thrilled when I found them to be as open and friendly as they were. In an in depth interview we discussed the strange nature of their hometown and the impact it has on their music.

How the hell are you guys doing?

Elliot (E): Doing fantastic!

Kory (K): Good. We’re on a short little tour out to Austin Terrorfest here. There’s been a lot of traffic.

E: Endless traffic! We actually had to get a hotel out of town because we couldn’t find anything.

K: We’re out in San Marcos.

E: It’s nice down there.

Have y’all played in Texas before?

K: It’s the first time for all of us!

E: We’ve only had West coast tours so far.

K: And Denver.

How has being from Salt Lake impacted your music?

E: Well Kory and I were raised Mormon and we are not Mormon. All laws are dominated by the Mormon church. We have some songs about the landscape and living under a Mormon dominated culture and being part of the counterculture as well. I blame religion for my mom going insane. It’s all religious insanity.

How did your mom go insane?

E: There’s a thing when you’re Mormon when you’re a kid and they give you a patriarchal blessing. You sit down with an elder and it’s like fortune telling, he tells you what to look out for and what to listen to. He told my mom to listen to her dreams and that they meant something. Whatever sparked her mental illness and that came to the forefront. Every dream meant everything so she would act on wild fantasies. For a few years she thought I was Jesus – she cooled down on that. We have a song about that. It’s one of our faster and more pissed off songs.

How did Mormonism affect you Kory?

K: Almost the same thing. My mom is crazy. I was raised super LDS. Anytime you have an extreme you are going to get the opposite. That’s what happened with us seeing all the hypocrisy and judgment. It was bullshit. I don’t want an afterlife, I want to die.

Tell me about the hypocrisy…

K: We have all the socially acceptable drug addicts, like moms on pain pills but if you smoke weed you go to jail. The Mormon church preaches against caffeine but they have stock in Coke and stuff.

E: They fancy themselves small government people but everything is on lock. Even liquor stores are owned by the government.

K: We have an outdoor retailer that comes twice a year and the governor would rather use fracking for income than the outdoor industries.

Why stay there?

K: That’s the question!

E: Friends make anywhere bearable. But leaving is on anyone’s radar. There is a strong weird gravity. People move there expecting to stay for a season and stay for their lives.

K: Downtown Salt Lake is very different too, that’s where we live.

What is it like growing up with your mom thinking you are Jesus?

E: It’s super uncomfortable. She would start shouting about it in restaurants or the movie theater. I couldn’t go with her anywhere after a certain point. There’s a history of this to some degree, there’s the Lafferty brothers who thought God was speaking to them so they killed their families. When you tell people they have a personal relationship with God weirdos will run with that. I knew from a young age that I wasn’t into it and later my dad said he wished he could take it back.

What alienated you?

K: I dropped acid when I was 15 and it blew my mind. I realized Mormonism was not true. Look at the world, there is no way that’s real!

I would like to let the record show, Kory is currently wearing a hat that says “Fuck Life, I’m High On Drugs”

K: Wooo!

There’s a ton of great bands from Salt Lake though… why is that?

E: It’s a reaction too the dominant culture. For an action like that there will be just as extreme a reaction. Gentry from Eagle Twin set a really high bar in the 80s with Ice Burn.

Talk about your engineer, Andy Patterson of Subrosa

E: Every band I have ever been in was produced or engineered by him.

K: Same. He’s done five or six bands for me. That’s what’s cool about Ditch is that we have all known each other for years.

E: Kory and I never really played together before this though which was cool. Gentry actually came in and guested on our record. He came in on his lunch break from working at a prison library and ripped some amazing solos.

What do you love much about music?

E: Everything. I’m about to finish a degree in jazz composition. I like to get as dorky as I can get.

K: I think if I didn’t do it… what’s the point. I have to. You need to have that release. It’s what wakes me up and what I go to bed with.


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  • Lacertilian

    Album has a Beastwars kinda vibe to it that I don’t mind. Not sure how I would handle the whole mum thinking you’re jesus situation. Doubt it would be as simple as telling her Lemmy is god and to obey the riff, unfortunately.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a23e8c3e62ade83e2db106a47c979d4ac567801361214cd52ca816e5c43a7cb2.jpg

  • Howard Dean

    “It was bullshit. I don’t want an afterlife, I want to die.

    Fuck, you could cut baguettes with all that edge.

    • Guacamole Jim
    • Óðinn

      Christianity. Not even once.

      • Howard Dean

        Metal scene: “Christianity is teh boogeyman!!!!1″

        Me:
        http://i.imgur.com/WTDnnwE.gif

        • Sid Vicious Promos

          At this point calling Christianity evil in metal is just being like everyone else. If musicians really want to cause a ruckus in the metal scene they should be praising Jesus.

          • Igor Javutich

            Welcome to The World. You’re gonna deal with opinions that piss you off every day. You can either piss and moan about it, or choose to get on with your life and not give a shit.

          • GoatForest

            I’m too old to worry about trying to be unique or edgy. I just loathe Christianity. (I don’t hate all Christians, though.)

        • Óðinn

          Regardless of what Metal scenesters like yourself think of it, I’m not a fan of Christianity. It’s destructive in modern society. probably more-so now (in this country) than it ever has been. To a large extent, it was evangelical christians who put Trump in the White House.

          I know you want metal to be about hatred of other races, homophobia, anti-Islam etc., but that’s not something I agree with.

          • Igor Javutich

            I know, right. Criticize music that talks about “ni**er slaves” and it’s all “mah free speech!”, but diss their invisible sky buddy and you’re suddenly the bad guy.

          • Howard Dean

            I don’t give a fuck about any religion’s invisible sky buddy. I just call targeting Christians easy because it is easy in the modern world. It may have been edgy and dangerous to do it 50 years ago (or 500 years ago), but in the modern world you could take a shit on a crucifix in front of the Pope and he wouldn’t bat an eye (in fact, he’d probably apologize for not providing a bible to use as TP). Christians are pretty neutered nowadays.

          • Igor Javutich

            Who cares if it’s an easy target or not? It’s music. Either listen to it or don’t.

          • Howard Dean

            I’ve been saying that for years now, but the ToH has worked hard to train me to care about the message or ideology behind the music–not just the music itself (see: one of ten million conversations about separating the art from the artist we’ve had on the ToH).

          • Igor Javutich

            Whatever you say.

          • Óðinn

            I guess I’m too old now to care about being edgy and offending people. When I was younger, I guess that element was there. But I’m old enough and educated enough now to know that christianity can be a real problem politically. I don’t care about offending christians as much as I do about defeating them politically.

          • Howard Dean

            Extremists in all religions are dangerous, I don’t think that’s a surprise to anyone. We can both agree on that. Christian extremists are dangerous. They fight for bullshit like banning gay marriage (honestly who gives a fuck in 2017?) and making abortion illegal (just what we need, more unwanted children!). Islamic extremists are also dangerous. They throw gay people off of buildings, and stone women to death who are considered “unchaste.” They’re both fucked up.

          • Óðinn

            Yup. I agree with that.

          • GoatForest

            No argument from me.

          • Igor Javutich

            That’s all I care about. Hold whatever beliefs you wish in your private home, just don’t try to force me to live under legislation based on your religion.

          • Óðinn

            Agreed. Evangelical christianity has become a political movement in the country, and one I just cannot agree with. In my experience it used to be the way you describe, it was kept in the homes and churches. That changed, ever since Reagan and Bush began courting evangelicals. They are now a political force.

          • GoatForest

            Yep. They’re obviously trying to establish a theocracy. What I find interesting is how how fundamentalist Christians don’t notice their own similarity with the Islamic fundamentalists.

          • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

            There are still doctors around who treat patients that want to get euthanasia – because they are terminal and in excruciating pain – like shit, because euthanasia doesn’t rhyme with those doctors’ personal Christian beliefs. I’ve seen this happen with quite a few people, including one of my family members.
            Love thy neighbor, right?

            Meanwhile, one of my mates is getting married (an Italian-Polish guy). His family is religious so he decides to get married at the church. His best friend, who he has known since they were 3, is a Turkish guy and he wanted that guy as his best man. Guess what? The priest at the local church starts having a temper tantrum over that situation and refuses to let a Turkish guy be the best man at the wedding.
            Love thy neighbor, right?

            I’m no mathematical genius, but when I do the math, religion has done more bad than good in the grand scheme of things.

          • Igor Javutich

            Let’s force rape survivors who have no access to birth control to bear their rapist’s children because we’re “pro-life”, then lets shame them when they have to go on gov’t assistance because they can’t afford to raise a child!

          • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

            Yep, it’s almost shocking to see how well “religion” and “hypocrisy” go hand in hand.
            And I’m talking about any kind of religion. I’ve got no love for a bunch of assholes who self-identify as “Muslims”, spend half their life drinking, smoking and visiting hookers, then decide to read a few pages in the Quran after which they run over a few ordinary civilians, either.
            For all I care, every expansionist religion can fuck off.

          • Igor Javutich

            The “born again” types who use Jesus as a “get out of jail free” card. They amuse me.

          • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

            They’re the worst. Funny (or should I say “tragic”?) how some of those serial killers sometimes act as if they’ve “found Jesus” for a couple of years to try to convince others he’s “a changed man”, hoping this will increase his chances of ever getting out.

            Basically I’ve got more respect for some crook who ends up the can, thinks to himself “fuck it, I’m trash” and joins either the Aryan Brotherhood, Mexican Mafia or Black Guerilla Family over in San Quentin then I’ve got any respect for some serial killer/rapist who thinks his “newfound love for Jesus” is going to miracoulously save his ass.

          • Igor Javutich

            I have more respect for an honest devil than a pretend angel.

          • GoatForest

            100% agree. Though, there is some satisfaction to be said in flagrant blasphemy.

          • Guppusmaximus

            While you’re shitting on their crucifix, they are shitting on your Constitution.

          • Max

            “Christians are pretty neutered nowadays.”

            You’d think so. Until you really try to run up against Christianity in a way that’s a lot more visible to the public than just sitting at home listening to black metal in private.

            Run for political office on a platform of taxing the church and see what sort of reaction you get.

            Or, for something easier, do what I’ve done: Go shopping wearing a Possessed shirt (the one I have features a massive inverted cross right down the front; you can’t miss it). I frequently got people calling out stuff at me about Jesus, etc. So I gave up wearing it during the day. Naturally I don’t wear it at work, either.

          • Howard Dean

            Must be localized (i.e. a different part of the country), as I’ve never experienced anything close to that in my entire life. I think most of the northern U.S. (at least the northeast) is beyond that silliness. You couldn’t shock people with any type of Christian blasphemy around here, and religious political candidates get laughed down.

          • GoatForest

            Yeah. It seems to be regional. Fundamentalist domination seems to be a bigger issue here in the South.

          • Carlos Parlo

            the south, the midwest and in pockets elsewhere. But at the end of the day there are 10-15 states in the US where you will not get so much as a school board or alderman spot if you’re not openly fundamentalist Christian. Try wearing a deicide shirt or just reading a fucking Dawkins book in a coffee shop in the south…

          • more beer

            I have never had any Christians say anything to me about any evil band shirt I have been wearing. But these guys here told my friends and I “Hell’s Angels Repent”. I am not sure if they thought we were bikers or messengers of Satan or both. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/590a7c30bc24bc802878f8efef51c82da7595189234873ecfecaa73ad6f7e4d8.jpg

          • GoatForest

            Oooh. I would like to be both. 🙂
            I’m joking, of course. I don’t own a bike.

          • more beer

            We were just a bunch of metal heads going to a show, who happened to be cutting through times square. But those Black Israelite’s are fucking crazy. They really aggressively try and push their religion on everyone.

          • Spear

            I don’t disagree with you, but I feel that in the case of dudes who grew up with extreme circumstances like Elliot and Kory’s, it’s a bit more justified. These are guys who have had direct contact with the ugly side of fundamentalism; I feel like their experiences give their words more weight than the average dude fuming about religion.

          • Carlos Parlo

            If you’re doing it just to be edgy, sure it’s played out. But this guy in the interview is reacting to his personal life and the misery fundamentalism has caused him here in the US, so he’s not doing it simply to be edgy. Most metal has come of age in Christian majority nations and those who don’t feel at home in that groupthink that surrounds them often get drawn to metal, usually at a young age so that’s why so much metal continually focuses on or deconstructs the religion around them. If you don’t grow up in it you probably think “what’s the big deal” but try being an open atheist in Salt Lake City or rural Alabama.

          • Howard Dean

            I wouldn’t try to be an atheist anywhere, since atheism has the same illogical foundation as all religions and I would feel like a schmuck.

          • Carlos Parlo

            You a deist? Agnostic? “Spirtualist”? Same rule applies.

          • Howard Dean

            None of the above. I only admit that I know what I don’t know. It doesn’t sound sexy or cool, but that’s pretty much my take on it.

          • Carlos Parlo

            Got it. Respectable answer as well. I think that’s as close to being agnostic as you can be without saying it though, but I know some use “agnostic” to say they believe it is impossible for anyone to know whether God (or a deity, spiritual force, etc.) exists, some use it to say only that they have no idea of the same, and others use it to say that if such a presence exists it is so far removed from what we are that neither us or It can truly have a relationship with the other. But I myself am ever more loathe to self identify as anything as I went from fundamentalist Christian in my early youth to “liberal Christian” later to agnostic to atheist though I prefer “non-theist”…

          • Howard Dean

            “I know you want metal to be about hatred of other races, homophobia, anti-Islam etc., but that’s not something I agree with.”

            Wow, don’t believe I’ve ever said I wanted metal to be about racism or homophobia. I’d like to see where I’ve said that before. That’s quite a leap to take, and I don’t appreciate being labeled by such an erroneous assumption.

            I just thinking railing against Christianity is boring and overdone because it’s easy and has been done to death by everyone for 30+ years.

          • Óðinn

            I apologize. I guess I’m being the turd in the punchbowl. I just meant because it seems like you listen to a lot bands that support that type of ideology. My apologies if you do not. I thought it was known that you’re a supporter of NSBM, War Metal, etc.

          • Sir Ukkometso The Based

            Eh, I ain’t a fan of mainstream christianity, but I can take a slice of the esoteric variety.

        • Igor Javutich

          Ok, I’ll be “fair and balanced”. ALL religion can suck my left nut.

        • GoatForest

          I just think we missed a spot. :p

      • Sid Vicious Promos

        I’m Catholic and I turned out fine.

        • Óðinn

          You make a good point, JJD. Not all Christians are bad people. I’m not religious, and I do have a problem with evangelical christianity in the U.S., as well as many of things that big religions do, but it doesn’t make all Christians bad people.

          • Carlos Parlo

            That’s a solid point. Most of my closest friends are religious. I grew up Christian. I recognize that someone like MLK Jr. couldn’t have accomplished 1/2 of what he did w/o a Christian network to propel his work. There are a lot of shades of Christianity that are not dangerous or always productive of bad people. That said those folks aren’t threatened by art or arguments that challenge their beliefs either…

  • Their new album rips, highly recommend if you like the sludgy stuff.

  • Sid Vicious Promos

    I’m sorry but I cannot support this level of edge. I understand where they’re coming from but you can’t bash all Christians because of a few crazy ones.

    • Igor Javutich

      Have you ever been to Utah? It’s more than a “few crazy ones”.

    • There’s no edge here. It’s not uncommon for someone to decide religion is not for them. I did the same thing in 6th grade, no acid though.

    • more beer

      Here red this. I used to work for this guys kids. It is some crazy shit. They are all practicing Mormons. http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1987-12-06/news/8703310556_1_polygamy-daniel-ben-jordan-cult-murders

    • Guppusmaximus

      Are you serious?! The only thing that saves the rest of Christianity from not being viewed as crazy is the fact that they cherry pick from that illogical & irrelevant source material. Following that shit to a ‘T’ is the original recipe for fucking batshit…. *facepalm*

      • more beer

        Even the things they have picked are pretty insane. The whole eat my body drink my blood thing, even though supposedly symbolic. Sounds pretty cannibalistic if you think about. .

        • GoatForest
          • more beer

            I saw this guys in 91 with Morbid Angel it was a sick show.

          • GoatForest

            Nice.

          • GoatForest

            I just think it’s badass how they haven’t lost a step.

          • more beer

            Nope not at all.

  • Igor Javutich

    I was always under the impression that SLC was like Austin. One of my best friends lives there.

  • Igor Javutich

    I take great comfort in the knowledge that someday, my life will end. If “you” view that as edgy, I don’t know what to tell you.,

    • Óðinn

      You’re right. The mortality rate is 100% (so far). We all die.

      • GoatForest

        You know the old joke: life is a sexually transmitted disease with a 100% mortality rate.

  • I totally get the strong reaction to religion that these guys have. I spent ten years as a fundamentalist, six of them training for “the ministry” at Bob Jones University (I earned two utterly useless degrees, a B.A. in Bible and an M.A in Theology). I’m what I suppose you’d call a strongly atheist-leaning agnostic now and I don’t feel that’s edgy at all, just a considered opinion. Religion and god-concepts evolved just like everything in human culture has, from literature to art to whatever else, which strongly indicates that they’re man-made. I think religion is interesting, beautiful at times but also capable of being cruelly destructive, and though I don’t feel it’s “true” in any objective sense, I still enjoy studying it.

    /rant

    • Igor Javutich

      I don’t care what people do in their private life. However, groups like the LDS get heavily involved in politics. I have a huge problem with that.

    • Óðinn

      I agree. From historical and anthropological point if view, I find study of religion fascinating. It’s part of reality as human beings. I think it should be studies and understood. I just don’t take religious dogma literally.

    • Óðinn

      To be fair, I’m sure a few of us here have spent some time studying “the ministry”. 😉

      http://img.memecdn.com/al-jourgensen-ministry_o_748239.jpg

    • GoatForest

      I feel them as well. I was raised Pentecostal. For nigh a decade I was very bitter about it. I still occasionally have moments of anger when I think about the misery that fundamentalist thinking brings.

  • Igor Javutich

    Bands that bash religion are intolerant and bad! Now let’s go listen to Bliztkrieg PanzerFukker and complain about SJWs!!

    • Sir Ukkometso The Based

      B-but the SjW cultural marxist jews want to destory America!

  • Igor Javutich

    Wow. I’m thinking if the whole PMRC thing went down nowadays, there would be a strong subset of Metal fans who would actually support Tipper Gore.

  • Igor Javutich

    Maybe if this band were from Iran or Saudi Arabia they would be demonizing and bashing Islam(as some of you would seem to prefer), but they’re not. They’re from Utah where a sect of Christianity that’s almost as “bad” holds sway.

    • Carlos Parlo

      exactly. A Muslim band deconstructing, criticizing or lambasting Islamic fundamentalism makes sense and would be a parellel to Deicide in Florida back in the day. An American band slamming Islam sounds just like another redneck at the fair as it has no context. Call out religious violence in a metal song for sure. But try to shit on all Muslims for the hell of it without knowing a Muslim, that’s “edgelord” bullshit (with a healthy side of xenophobia).

      • Hesh

        Well said.

  • Waynecro

    Awesome interview! Thanks, dudes!

  • Dumpster Lung

    Great interview. I’d have thought a group called “The Ditch and the Delta” was some kind of folk/Americana thing, not heavy-ass sludge, so that was a nice surprise.

    I don’t really get why people are getting an “edgelord”-ish vibe from the guy, though. He’s reacting to personal experiences he’s had, and he’s not thrilled about the way things are going down in Utah. Didn’t really strike me as anything unnecessarily extreme.

    I think the real problem with most religions is that they’re not satisfied with just being religions. I don’t know why so many religious people insist on the law needing to uphold their beliefs.

    If you’re faithful to your religion’s standards, then what does it matter what is legal or illegal, and if you’re the holier-than-thou type, all the more reason for the law of the land to allow “immoral” behavior, as long as it isn’t bringing harm to anyone else. You’ll feel way more superior to others if they’re all out there sinning than you will if you’re all following the same rules because nobody has a choice.

  • GrungierNine0

    As a dude who’s had to deal with Mormon shitters for the whole of his (almost) 18 years, I can identify with what these guys have gone through.

    I don’t normally give my blessing to arson, but Varg would have a fuckin’ field day in Utah Valley.

    Of course, I’d have to deal with ANOTHER racist fuck, so maybe just listening to Vital Remains and dreaming will have to do.