Few bands really manage to overwhelm you with their sound. Sure, you can get a band that down-tunes their guitars and does a few layers, but we’re not talking so much about production here, we’re taking about a vibe. Remember when you first heard post-“Word As Law” Neurosis? I do. “Souls At Zero” while wasn’t the chuggy-chug heaviest thing put to record, vibe wise, it shattered concrete. Bands like that showed you can do a lot with just the members involved, and re-create it on a live level to make it drown you just as much.
New Zealand’s Ulcerate is one of those groups. Through their career, they’ve keep the vibe of the band intact and progressing to new and great places. Their last release, the overwhelming and crushing “Vermis”, is one of those records that is rare in vibe. Imagine standing in the middle of a city while it’s collapsing on you in a rainstorm, and you’re in the ballpark. Blending reverberated dischord feedback and guitars with a bottom end that could pulverize all life off the face of the planet, Ulcerate firmly planted their foot in the international metal scene with this release. And though busy working on new material and touring, we managed to catch up with them for a quick Q&A on the latest from the Ulcerate camp.
MMF: There are many groups, such as yourselves, The Amenta and others that are from
your two countries down under where there seems to be a very distinct
approach and mood to the metal you guys all write (though unique in each
band’s way of course) that separates you from say, American metal. Does the
location of where you guys are help fuel the vibe and sound?
ULCERATE: Not consciously, but obviously you’re influenced by your peers in close
proximity more-so than abroad, particularly within such an isolated
environment such as NZ. Bands that share this very specific aesthetic
are also extremely incestuous in terms of members playing in each
other’s bands, and we’re no exception (particularly in our early days).
MMF: Currently Ulcerate are writing the next record. Vermis was met with critical
acclaim as your best yet. How are you working on taking your sound to the
next level to keep expanding your sound?
ULCERATE: We’re aiming to move a little sideways with regard to the use of
dissonance in our sound, injecting more melody etc (or our style of it at
least). So far we’re 4 tracks in and things are sounding really good.
We’re discovering more and more weapons at our disposal the more
we’re opening up the melodic palette, but everything is still entirely
oppressive and bleak, there’s no room for movement on that issue.
Production-wise we’re going to keep pushing for a more denser and
organic sound and as expansive as we can get it. Definitely distancing
ourselves more and more from the clinical ProTools sample-fests that are
MMF: This will be your second release coming up with Relapse (when the next
album comes out). How has the relationship been with them thus far?
ULCERATE: Perfect for us so far – they’re more than happy to let us do our own thing
and provide support and help where we need it. We’ve hung out on a
couple of occasions with everyone at Relapse HQ on tour and we’re
definitely all talking the same language, which is great.
MMF: A few years back when Ulcerate switched vocalists. A lot of times when bands
switch vocalists it can alter the sound, and the fan perception of the group as
well. With where Ulcerate was at the time was Paul the obvious choice to take
over vocal duties?
ULCERATE: To be honest the vocalist switches happened 7 years ago, so
it’s just not really even an issue worth discussing. Paul was undoubtedly
the right choice both stylistically and thematically.
MMF: Some of the central themes of Vermis were oppression of the helpless and
various forms of oppression. Is there a game plan for new subject matter and
topics on the new record?
ULCERATE: Not as of yet as we’re still formulating the overall shape of the material
we have, which as mentioned earlier is 4 songs-worth so far.
MMF: It’s not often indie bands from New Zealand are able to get to the states,
though you’ve done several tours up here so far. Aside from the New York
issue in 2012 with the gear, how have Ulcerate been received up here?
ULCERATE: I think it’s safe to say that North America has been consistently our best
audience, even surpassing Europe which is typically great for us. Cities
like San Francisco, New York City, Montreal have all proved to be some
of the best shows we’ve ever done, so we’re definitely looking to get
back sooner rather than later.