Mortified Mortician – Kyle Castronova (Still Dead), Deen Castronova (Journey), Matt Jefferson
Mortified Mortician is from Salem, Oregon and consists of: Matt Jefferson (Vocals), Kyle Castronovo (Rhythm/Lead Guitars), Deen Castronovo (Drums), and Freeman Manfree (Rhythm/Lead Guitars).
We sat down with Kyle Castronovo, Deen Castronovo, and Matt Jefferson to discuss their upcoming release, “Fuck Off” dropping on October 31, 2012.
TCOR: Hey guys, thanks for taking the time to chat. We are excited about your newest venture, Mortified Mortician. I’ve personally heard the two singles you released on Reverbnation.com (“Putting the Fun in Funeral,” and “Can You Necro-feel it”?) Why did you choose those particular songs to pre-release?
Matt: Well, for me, this band was somewhat formed on the notion that sometimes you just have to let things happen how they happen without a whole lot of questioning or refining. I feel like that kind of thinking helps us remember to have fun and let heavy/rock music be what it is; loud, crazy, and sometimes spontaneous. So what made those songs the first choice for release was simply the fact that they were the first two songs that were recorded and fully completed for the project. We figured, why second guess our first shot at it when we already knew we liked what we heard? We knew we were on the mark as far as the inspiration was concerned so we said fuck it, let’s go with it, even if it is sort of raw and imperfect. Working this way is going great for us so far. I haven’t had this much fun writing and recording songs in a while.
TCOR: Are those two songs a good representation of the album as a whole?
Kyle: Well each song has its own vibe and story. We touch on everything from religion, violence, sex, drugs, dark humor, and everything in between. So, I would say both “yes” and “no.”
Matt: In a way you could say “yes,” but at the same time they really aren’t. You’ll hear certain similarities between the songs, and honestly I feel that is what helps us to define a style of our own that blends a lot of our favorite influences, and ties everything together a bit. Overall though, the EP is going to have quite a bit of variety as far as the vibe of each song, so you really couldn’t call those two the main example of what’s on the entire plate.
TCOR: You’ve listed influences such as: Wednesday 13, Dope, Rob Zombie, Murderdolls, and Marilyn Manson. How influential were those bands in creating Mortified Mortician?
Kyle: To be honest I don’t really know. Yes we enjoy those bands very much, and many other bands and styles of music — and even horror movies as well — but we are who we are. Take it or leave it.
Matt: I’d have to agree. I definitely have tapped heavily into all the inspirations I’ve received from the artists I’ve loved and followed throughout the years, but honestly this band was formed on pure inspiration – going back to the roots of why we started doing all of this in the very beginning: to have a good time, and to say and do whatever the fuck we want with it without worrying much about external opinions or influences. As long as we like it, it goes. That’s the main influence there.
TCOR: Your lyrics are of the macabre. Where does that come from?
Kyle: Horror movies and our twisted sense of humor.
Matt: Well Kyle here is a horror maniac. I’m quite a fan myself, but he’s the horror master. Most of the entertaining themes and ideas for our songs come from a combination his obscene knowledge and passion for horror films, and my endless need to express offensive, disgusting, and horrible things in a way that you can laugh about.
TCOR: Deen, do you share a love or horror movies with Kyle?
Deen: Yes I do love the genre, but Ky beats me with his Obsession!! I’m more into the “Happy Gilmore” humor thing myself! Hahahaha.
TCOR: Who is the lyric writer in the group?
Kyle: Definitely Matt. I’ve throw a few ideas out here and there. Mainly I’ll come up with a song title I find amusing and he puts his flavor to it. He is the mastermind behind the lyrical vibe though.
TCOR: How do you approach writing music? Do you do it “jam style,” or do you each come to the table with ideas and work it out?
Kyle: I’ll write a song, take it to Matt, we tweak it a little, and write lyrics…That’s pretty much it… it’s a very easy and fun process.
Matt: Well, by day I’m an audio engineer/music producer, so I’m fairly used to working with ideas being brought to the table. It makes out writing process work out pretty perfectly. Kyle is great at coming up with tons of musical material and churning out basic song ideas — one after another, day in and day out. I tend to be the guy who over-thinks and obsesses on smaller details. So we both get to use our strengths in what seems to be a pretty productive and smooth workflow. It’s mostly a studio based, “pass ideas back and forth” approach as of now.
TCOR: Matt, you are vocals, and Kyle you are rhythm and lead guitars. You’ve also added Neil Cooper from Amerakin Overdose – Have you guys worked together musically before?
Kyle: I’ve filled in on guitar for Amerakin Overdose for a few shows. I love those guys! I became friends with Neil over that period and we just found we have similar influences and musical taste; it was a no brainer to add him to the line up.
Matt: I hadn’t met or worked with Neil prior to the band, but I’d done a few random bits of studio work with Kyle before; that is how we met and decided to work together.
TCOR: Deen, besides being the main influence and obviously Kyle’s father, have you and Kyle ever partnered on a project before?
Deen: This will be our first project together and it’s amazing to work with him! He is way more gifted than I ever was! I am extremely proud and humbled by his talent!
TCOR: Kyle, being a drummer first, is it hard to hand over the sticks to someone else in Mortified Mortician?
Kyle: Absolutely not! Especially with my father playing with us! He is my biggest influence with drumming (not to be cliché), but he’s a true monster behind the kit; it was easy to hand those fucking sticks over.
TCOR: Deen, do you and Kyle share a similar drumming style, where it’s pretty easy to pick up what was recorded, or do they give you carte blanche when you get behind the kit to make it your own?
Deen: Well when I was younger I could play the heavy stuff better, but Ky dusts me on that now! When I record I usually stick to what Matt and Ky have envisioned for the songs because they’re right a lot of the time! You know the saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”
TCOR: Kyle, how did the conversation go with your dad on partnering in this band?
Kyle: He heard “Putting the fun in funeral” and fell in love with it. Over time, showing him the other songs, he asked if he could do it, and it just happened.
Deen: Working with Matt and Ky was really a no brainer! Those two are kindred spirits and I’ve always loved the heavier stuff even though my “day job” is Journey!! It’s so brutal!!
TCOR: What happens when there is a conflict in schedules with Journey? Do you have a backup drummer?
Kyle: We do have a few people in mind but nothing set in stone. That’s not a priority at the moment. Right now we’re focusing on putting the EP out, then its straight back to the studio to work on the full length release.
Matt: Yeah, we usually have plenty to do to stay busy when Deen isn’t around. Plus even if we do have something come up while he is unavailable, I don’t feel we’ll have a hard time finding the right person to fill in. We just stay busy doing what we know we need to and let the rest fall into place.
TCOR: Kyle, I know you are a fan of good black metal as well as the industrial/goth style of Mortified Mortician. Why do you think there are so many genres of metal and are they necessary?
Kyle: Everybody has different tastes, so of course it’s necessary. In my opinion, it is great to have a variety — otherwise things would be a little boring don’t you think?
TCOR: What other projects are you guys working on? How do you juggle them, and which is your priority?
Kyle: I’m able to balance everything pretty easily. My main priority is always working on new music with whatever project or band I am a part of. Since Mortified has grown so fast, I’ve definitely turned that into something I put a lot of time into. Probably more than most people would into a band, but that’s just how I personally work. It has to be 110% or nothing at all.
Matt: As far as personal projects go where I am writing a good deal of the material, Mortified Mortician is the main one. I still play music with some friends in another band, but have been extremely busy with music production and engineering work. I also have solo material I’m working on, which should be seeing the light of day eventually.
TCOR: What are your expectations for Mortified Mortician over the next year?
Matt: We plan on releasing the EP this Halloween, then starting January, 2013, we will be hitting the studio for a full length album. I would imagine we will probably be playing our first show sometime within that same time range. The full length album will be released before too long into the year, and after that it will be full on shows and promoting however we can. Not to mention coming up with whatever ridiculous things we can to have a good time and make everything we do as awesome and fun as possible.
TCOR: Will we see a tour in 2013?
You can find out more on Mortified Mortician at: http://www.MortifiedMortician.com.
Pathology - The Time of Great Purification (Victory)
Released on September 25, 2012, “The Time of Great Purification” is the band’s third release on Victory, but the band’s sixth release (if you include their Demo “Surgically Hacked”). Hailing from San Diego, Pathology is brutal and in your face –sort of like a wall of bricks crashing on top of you while King Kong takes a stroll over your bloody body. It’s as good as last year’s “Awaken to the Suffering,” and in some ways I like it a little better. With a running time of 31 minutes and 13 tracks – I can guarantee you this isn’t an “easy listening” album, or anything – no matter how many times you listen to it –you are ever going to be able to sing along with – there is not one identifiable word amongst the blur of guttural growls and death-defying screams. I read a great quote about Huber’s vocals, “Instead of a blood gurgling beast, he sounds like he’s gurgling blood as bile and worms spew out of his mouth and the ground beneath him corrodes and rots away.” True, true, true. It truly sounds like Satan singing, during a mutiny in hell. Drummer and founding member Dave Astor (Cattle Decapitation), put together the right team with Oscar Ramirez on bass and Kevin Schwartz on guitars. Definitely one of the better bands in this genre. Adding Jonathan Huber was a smart move to secure their spot at the top of the list of brutal death metal. Every song at some point provides a satisfying chugging guitar pattern that makes you want to swirl your head to the point your neck hurts. The drumming and bass are tight, solid, and exhaustingly killer. With wicket sweet grooves spattered in between the pulverizing onslaught of aggression, I sort of wanted to punch something after my first listen. I’m on listen 5 right now. “Tyrannical Decay” is my favorite track, followed very closely by “Dissection of Origins,” and “A Bleak Future.” I swear I hear a pig being slaughtered on “Cultivating Humanity.” -Suzi9mm
10 Years - Minus The Machine (Palehorse)
Most bands don’t like to dwell on the past, but in 10 Years’ case, reflecting on the past is crucial to moving ahead. Since the release of 10 Years’ chart-topping hit “Wasteland,” fans have expected a lot. And, arguably, 2010′s Feeding the Wolves was a stale let-down. But now, with Minus the Machine, 10 Years have rekindled a spark in their sound. As the album title suggests, 10 Years recorded this album with zero input from industry producers. There were no cooks in the kitchen, no middlemen, just the band. But is too much creative freedom a bad thing? Hell no. 10 Years sounds more like 10 Years than ever. Minus the Machine is a balanced alternative metal album full of experimental sounds. The band members are trying new and exciting things: more complicated instrumentation, more intensity, and more layers. The band has even sprinkled in some piano and violins for haunting, atmospheric songs like “Forever Fields (Sowing Season),” “Writing on the Walls,” and “Birth<Death.” Nothing on this album is watered down: the heavy tracks “Backlash” and “Sleeper” crackle with heat, almost as if you’re listening to the songs being played live on stage. The result? Minus the Machine is on fire. 10 Years have captured a bottle of intensity, best epitomized in the standout track “Knives” that’s ripe with highly distorted guitars, pounding bass lines and drums, and Jesse Hasek’s powerful vocals. The screaming in the background near the end of “Knives” increases the intensity as the track launches into a total headbanger. I found myself playing “Knives” on repeat…10 times in a row. It’s that good. In fact, it’s the best song on the album. And that’s saying a lot, since the entire album burns with a fiery, unrestrained, raw passion. 10 Years is back, for real this time. And stronger than ever. -Sarah Walters
The Agonist - Prisoners (Century Media)
The third studio album from Canadian metal band The Agonist opens with a beautiful acoustic guitar serenade before immediately delving into a rip-roaring eruption of melodic death metal. Singer Alissa White-Gluz’s incredible vocal range leads the charge on every song. Her voice is at times light and airy, and often a gruesome growl. Spoken-word lyrics are dispersed sparingly on select tracks at just the right places. “Everybody Wants You (Dead)” cascades into a series of agonizing screams, and the haunting song “Dead Ocean” includes the most diverse vocals in White-Gluz’s repertoire. She is without a doubt one of the most talented female vocalists in the genre. Standout tracks “Panophobia” and “Ideomotor” (the first single) highlight the best qualities of The Agonist: their fearless time signatures, fierce instrumentals, and brutal vocals. The eight-minute-long “Ideomotor” quiets down around the six minute mark before exploding into an intense instrumental outro. Newly joined guitarist Pascal ‘Paco’ Jobin brings his shredding abilities to the band’s latest effort. With Prisoners, The Agonist have managed to create a diverse metal album that isn’t afraid to push boundaries or take risks. Longtime fans will not be disappointed, and new fans will find something to love on this 11-track record. Crank up your speakers and plug in your headphones, because it would be blasphemous to listen to this album on low volume. -Sarah Walters
John 5 - God Told Me To (60 Cycle Hum)
The recently released solo instrumental, “God Told Me To” by John 5 (aka John Lowery) is a masterpiece. You probably know him best from his work Marilyn Manson, David Lee Roth, and Rob Zombie – However, John 5 definitely stands on his own as a writer, musician, and ROCK STAR. This album takes you from Nashville, to Spain, to the heart of the underworld of fast-paced metal. It seems as if this must have been a deeply personal album for him to write. You can feel the emotion in “Noche Acosador,” “Asland Bump,” “The Castle,” “The Lie you Live,” and “Lust Killer.” “Welcome to Violence” and “The Hills of 7 Jackles” were two of my favorite tracks, however there isn’t a bad track on this effort. Listening from start to finish, I felt energized, sad, reflective, hyperactive, happy, spastic, angry, and calm. “Creep Crawler” is beautiful, and his version of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” is stunning. The diversity of styles on this album is well done. His mastery of Yngwie/Vai/Satriani and Al Dimeola type licks are impressive — utilizing electric, slide, and acoustic guitar techniques perfectly. With a running time of 41 minutes – this album is well worth a listen. -Suzi9mm
Six Feet Under – Undead (Metal Blade)
Let me get this off the chest straight outta the gate! This album immediately bulldozed my level of expectation. This is not your typical metal album and most certainly not typical for Six Feet Under. After leaving Cannibal Corpse in 1996, Chris Barnes and SFU have been known for brooding and grinding doom metal; quite an opposite speed transition from CC. “Undead” is blistering from the trigger. The second “Frozen At The Moment Of Death” starts all SFU fans will be questioning their comments that things have never been the same since Cannibal. This album is nothing less than furious and all 12 tracks are a benevolent bonesaw that leaves plenty of happy treats on the table! The addition of Rob Arnold, formerly of Chimaira, is immediately noticed by the time track 3, “18 Days”, breaks. Even Chris Barnes himself seems rejuvenated. Not since SFU’s 1999 release of “Maximum Violence” has there been such an overall perfection to this Tampa-based outfit. This is no offense to the records in between, but as a whole SFU has faded in and out in popularity over the years, at least statistically. There is no doubt that whatever has happened within the Six Feet Under camp, past or present, has obviously made Mr. Barnes and the 4..2..0 pretty damn solid on the re-up! If I was to be a typical review outlet and rate this album I would simply say “4 bongs & a bail of hash…this album kills!!!”. -mrBlack
Gojira – L’Enfant Sauvage (Roadrunner)
The French metal band’s fifth studio album, L’Enfant Sauvage, is an 11-track masterpiece of creative, progressive, beautiful metal. The album opens with the sonic thunderstorm “Explosia,” a literal explosion of sound. Right away, they aren’t holding anything back, with “Explosia” setting the heavy-as-hell tone for this album. The title track, “L’Enfant Sauvage,” kicks off with what I like to call a “circle pit inducer.” The title of the song, “L’Enfant Sauvage,” means “wild child” in French, and the band unleashes their inner wild child for this stunning track. The fourth song “Liquid Fire” plummets the eardrums with its heart-wrenching chorus. “The Wild Healer” is an instrumental 1 minute and 45 second intermission to give listeners a chance to digest before kicking off into the standout track “Planned Obsolescence.” The grooviest riff the band has ever written starts around the 1:15 mark in “Planned Obsolescence.” The album climaxes with “Gift of Guilt,” a cohesive heavy metal barrage of sound, with all four band members unleashing technical prowess. The spine-chilling, goose-bump-creating “Pain is a Master” gallops off into the horizon until it levels off into oblivion. The tenth track, “Born in Winter,” is rich in atmospheric ambiance and complexity. The album ends with “The Fall,” and by the end of the album, the wild child has become a wild beast. With L’Enfant Sauvage, the French metal quartet has created a soul-searching listening experience, asking their fans and new listeners to find their own inner wild child within. Gojira’s previous masterful albums looked deep into the ocean, the afterlife, and all the way to Mars. L’Enfant Sauvage asks listeners to look inside themselves and rediscover their wild child: the wide-eyed, imaginative spirit of children, the spirit of a tree-climber and star-gazer, the spirit that is crushed by the confines of civilization, the spirit that needs to be reawakened again in all of humanity. This album is Gojira in top form: a technical, emotional, progressive masterpiece from one of the most exciting metal bands on the planet. -Sarah Walters
Halestorm - The Strange Case Of… (Atlantic)
Halestorm’s sophomore album manages to escape the “sophomore slump” curse while also besting their debut eponymous album release of 2009. Three years later, the Pennsylvania-based hard rock quartet have created an accessible, hard-hitting, and diverse CD that will satisfy the palates of old and new fans alike. Lzzy’s powerhouse voice is front and center on every song, especially on the ballads “Beautiful With You” and “Break In.” The stand-out first single, “Love Bites (And So Do I)” features the band’s signature sassy lyrics and headbanging-worthy chorus, in the style of “It’s Not You” off their previous album. The Strange Case Of… (referencing the classic novella “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” by Robert Louis Stevenson) is certainly an album not to be missed. -Sarah W.
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