Old school death metal is a wide open field full of fresh (rotting) fruit and much the same can be said for 90s era thrash, that’s a good thing by the way. Atlanta’s Murder Van combine, and capitalize on, the two for a no frills, balls to the wall approach on their impending self-titled debut. While their influences are vast and traces of them seep through these eight tracks, the band’s ripping execution is a blast to witness. And especially for those of us that cut our teeth listening to many of these same influences. Just ahead of the album’s release, we had the chance to ask them our set of Profile questions so stick around and see how it went down. And, don’t forget to toss them some support.
How did you first get into playing music, and have you achieved the level of success that you hoped for?
Skraw (guitar/vocals): I was given my first guitar when I was 8 or 9 years old. It was an Epiphone acoustic. I learned to strum a few chords and began writing little three chord, two part songs. The following year I was given my first electric guitar. I had a friend whose uncle had a drum kit so on the weekends, we would go to his house and make noise. As a kid I had dreams of being a rock star. Those delusions have faded over the years. Nowadays I would truly feel that I made it if I could put out albums, tour, and survive as a musician without a day job. If I could make the same amount of money playing music as I would working a day job I would be extremely happy.
Ray (bass): As a young boy I would play air tennis racket or machine gun. Then, at 12, I got my first guitar, with the intent of making a punk band with my friends. I learned the power chord and figured out Iron Man as my first song. I’ve played in many bands and many genres in the past, never really attaining the success I had imagined. Fast forward to today, Murder Van is currently one year old and I really believe we are positioning ourselves to reach the level of success I had always dreamed of.
Josef (drums): Watching Iron Maiden and Motley Crue videos. I haven’t achieved the success I hoped for yet.
What’s the most you have ever debased yourself to get your band onto a show, into a magazine or otherwise promoted, covered, and praised? (If you don’t have a story, please tell us any funny/embarrassing story.)
S: No Spinal Tap moments for Murder Van as of yet… I do have an embarrassing story about myself. In the late 1990s it was probably ’98 or ’99, the band I was in were playing at a place in Birmingham, Alabama. I had been drinking pretty heavily and I didn’t realize how drunk I was until I got on stage. I was really struggling to get through the set. As we were ending a song I lost my balance and stumbled backward into the drums. So I’m bent over backwards laying on the drums trying to get my balance to stand up and my drummer pushes me forward so hard that I went right off the front of the stage onto a table. It was like something out of a movie. Pretty pathetic, actually, looking back.
R: Previously, the members of Murder Van, plus one other guy, were trying to combine rockabilly, black metal, and punk music. The strange mix alone was eccentric to say the least but to take it to the next level we wore corpse paint with cowboy hats and had a pro fog machine playing tiny clubs. They would generally get so filled with fog that no one could really see us at all.
J: I sent one of my old bands (Victim 9) demo to a UK radio station…it got good reviews.
What do you see as some of the great things happening in metal and what are some of the worst things happening inside the scene right now?
S: There are so many great bands out there keeping the Metal faith alive. There are also a lot of “sub-genres” that I do not care for. To each his own. The most ridiculous thing I have heard recently was the idea to tour as a hologram. And I’m sure they are still going to charge over $300 per ticket.
R: My opinion about this subject is exactly that, an opinion. That being said, I am extremely excited about all the new wave sub genres that have been appearing in the last couple decades. All the old school thrash, death, and British stuff is excellent. On the other end of the spectrum we are still seeing a lot of core type bands and hybrid mixes with Nu metal. I have never liked any of that type of music. It has always rubbed me the wrong way. I view these bands as trying too hard to sound tough, and coming off as immature.
J: I don’t know, I don’t follow the scene.
It seems that now everyone has a passion for some cause and that those people are very open about displaying their passions. This is probably a very, very good (and progressive) thing socially. What are some of the most important issues (social/political/humorous/etc.) for you and how do you insert those issues into your music?
S: I do not incorporate politics, religion for the most part, or some personal agenda into my music. I’m not trying to change the world or make someone think the way I do. I don’t cry about things when I don’t like what’s going on around me. For the most part my lyrics are about the human condition, inside the mind of a serial killer, tales of gruesome deeds. A few are fiction based on zombies, vampires, and the reaper. I guess our most serious song currently would be one entitled “Webs of Discontent” which is about suicide. Not for or against it, but describing the mental state of a person who has reached the point to actually consider ending their own life.
R: I try not to do anything that would put me on the same level as pop music stars or movie stars. The mainstream media outlets pump enough divisive garbage and I do not intend to add to that. So I stay away from social and political talking points, and leave that to everyone else. I’m not writing the lyrics, but if I did, I’d probably hit on subjects like skateboarding, zombies, motorcycles, and camping.
J: I’m vegetarian and a proud animal rights supporter. Also, I would like to help expose false flag attacks like 9/11, and hoaxes like Sandy Hook, Moon Landing, and the OKC bombing.
What, or who, got you into metal and how old were you? How did your family take the news?
S: I was 9 or 10 years old the first time I ever played with a drummer. We would go to his uncle’s house on the weekends and make noise and listen to music. We watched Headbangers Ball on Saturday nights. His uncle was about 9 years older than us. He introduced me to Hallows Eve, SLAYER, and King Diamond. That really changed things for me. From then on I wanted more and more, trying to find more thrash and metal bands. We would go to any all ages local metal shows that we could get to. The first big show I ever went to was Clash of the Titans. Anthrax, Megadeth, and SLAYER in Atlanta at the Omni. My parents had no idea, they just thought that I was spending the weekend at my friends house. I did get into trouble one time and my father made me bring my cassettes downstairs. Then he took me outside to the backyard and made me chop them all with an axe.
R: My first introduction into metal was around 11 years old. I would always look at all the cool Iron Maiden album covers in the music store, and eventually I bought Somewhere in Time. After that I would borrow tapes from my metalhead friends and copy stuff, and occasionally buy an album if I could afford to. I would progressively look for heavier and more underground stuff, so I became a huge fan of thrash and death metal during its heyday.
J: It kinda progressed from hair bands to Maiden to Slayer, Deicide, Pantera, etc. I was around 13 or 14 and my parents were cool with it.
What advice do you have for aspiring music critics and outlets out there? How can we all better serve the genre in the eyes of a hard-working musician?
S: I’ve always thought that any publicity is good promotion. Some critics can be brutal. As a band you have to take the good with the bad and keep pushing. Bad reviews can be just as beneficial as good ones. If someone takes the time to review your album, it is getting your name out there and into people’s mind.
R: Always keep an open mind. As a critic you sometimes shouldn’t allow your personal opinion to seep into an article or write up about a band, but, in the end, there will always be someone who agrees and someone who disagrees. Also, stay up to date with trends and technology.
J: Music is art, art is expression… A lot of it sucks but passion and talent should be acknowledged and respected above all.
What’s your goal? You guys thinking world domination? Maybe saving a continent? Maybe invading one? Any interest in starting a cult? Do you guys have day jobs or hobbies you want to share? Whatever it is, please let us know.
S: The goal is to continue to write good music and put out great albums, get out on the road and tour. It would be nice to get picked up by one of the bigger metal labels if the right deal happens to come along. I would really like to play over in Europe. We do still have day jobs. I want to be able to survive as a musician without having to keep a day job.
R: My goal in music is to continue in the styles I love most. I think Murder Van has a good mix of old school thrash and death metal, and thinking back to the late 80s and early 90s, the shift was abrupt from thrash into death metal, and not a lot of bands mixed the two genres. We are just playing our favorite styles of music in one package.
J: My goal is to have fun, learn from other drummers, and make a few bucks.
When you’re not obsessing over your own material, what are some of your favorite albums to listen to currently? (Feel free to include non-metal)
S: I’m a huge Chuck Schuldiner fan so all the Death albums stay in heavy rotation. I’ve also been listening to Gruesome a lot. Carcass’ Heartwork has been in the CD player in my car for the last several weeks. I’ve been listening to Demolition Hammer a lot also. I’m looking forward to seeing them in Atlanta later this year. The newest Nashville Pussy release Pleased to Eat You and it’s a great Rock n’ Roll record.
R: I listen to a lot of Deicide, Municipal Waste, and tons of early thrash. Specific albums that come to mind are In the Minds of Evil – Deicide, The Art of Partying – Municipal Waste, Violent By Nature – Atrophy, Terminal Terror – Holy Moses, None Shall Defy – Infernal Majesty, Game Over – Nuclear Assault, Speak English or Die – SOD, etc…I’ve also been jamming The Raveonettes and this band from Canada called Pervcore.
J: I mostly watch live videos on YouTube.
What is the 12-month outlook for you or your band? Any specific events on the horizon that the masses should be aware of?
S: Murder Van’s debut album is coming out next week. It was produced by Tommy Stewart at his studio Blue Ogre Noise Lab here in Atlanta. We are booking shows around the southeast. When the album is released we plan to do a run up the east coast and possibly head west later this year. We are also starting to write for a new record.
J: Releasing our debut album. Opening for Nasty Savage.
Summarize your band in exactly one word. (Disclosure: If you include additional words, we will select our favorite for publication)
Many thanks to Murder Van for their time!