John, you are the first one making it into the Necromaniac for the third time. You were presented twice with INCANTATION, while this time we want to concentrate mainly on your second band FUNERUS. I hope you feel like messing around on our pages once more?! Naturally, Jill is also invited to reply to my questions, after all she was the one who originally started with FUNERUS!
John: Cool, thanks for having us back in the magazine. It's definitely an honor!
John, FUNERUS has been around for quite some time, at least I think so, cause your last demo „In the Trees“ was released a good ten years ago. How come „Festering Earth“ wasn’t released any earlier than 2003? Were you putting your priorities on INCANTATION? I think the roots of FUNERUS can be found all the way back in 1990, am I right?
Jill: Back when we recorded the demo in 1994, Funerus was just starting to get a name for ourselves. At that time the line up was Brad Heiple(guitars/vocals) Jason Foust (drums) and myself on bass. Shortly after we recorded the demo and played some shows, Brad decided to leave the band. Jason and I tried to keep the band going, trying to work with other guitar players, but things never worked out. Eventually Jason and I lost contact and he moved to another state. The band was totally dormant for years, other than one show I did with a completely different line up, until John, Kyle and I reformed the band, then we recorded the album.
Jill and Brad started out with FUNERUS, whereas Jill by now has lived through a hard stroke of fate by becoming your wife J. As far as I know Brad left the band right after the 94-Demo and Jill more or less was on her own, because also all the other members showed to be really unreliable. When did you and Kyle (Drums INCANTATION / FUNERUS) hit the plan?
John: Kyle and I were fans of Funerus and around 2001 we kept trying to convince Jill and teasing her to restart up the band. Finally Jill decided to step up to the plate and take a swing at it again. So things sounded really kick ass and it inspired us to take things more seriously. Thats pretty much how it started.
John, I’m a pretty nosy fishwife and if I wouldn’t have this fanzine I’d probably be a yellow press journalist. So let me sniff around in your past and your dirty laundry a little. When did you meet Jill and when did you get married to her? Did FUNERUS already exist before the two of you met or is your lovestory that old that not even ONSLAUGHT existed when you met?
John: Jill and I met sometime around 1997. We hung out with the same group of people when I was living in Cleveland. She would come out to shows from where she lived in Pennsylvania. We got married in the year 2000, so Funerus was around a long time before we even knew each other. And Kyle and I were fans of Funerus before Jill and I even knew each other.
Jill: And I was an Incantation fan, so how cool is that?!
To be honest John, you disappointed me a little bit. I always thought that the co-founder of REVENANT and INCANTATION was allied with Baphomet in person and swallowed the black semen of hell, instead of selling himself to love and christian matrimony (haha). Does Jill at least iron your metal shirts or do you do that yourself or maybe not at all? Stupid question, only pedants and posers iron their shirts. I once read that your shirt collection is pretty big, just to get this conversation back to some higher standard. It’s not as big as that of King Fowley (frontman DECEASED, supposedly he’s got something like 1000 shirts – Ed.) though, is it?
John: Well I've never seen King Fowley's shirt collection, but I'm sure a metaller like him has a decent sized shirt collection! My shirt collection is pretty big too, but I never really had the time to sit around and count what I have. I couldn't even really guess, but to start I can say that I have 3 packed full walk-in closets full of shirts. I have alot of my old tshirts from metal shows in the eighties like VoiVod "Dimension Hatross", Dio "The Last in Line" tour shirt and Mercyful Fate "Don't Break the Oath" tour shirt all in boxes in my attic.
I’m very interested in musicians’ opinions on their own material. For me FUNERUS have an undeniable Scandinavian Death Metal influence. GROTESQUE, first DESSECTION, NIHILIST … come on, the two of us know what we’re talking about. Additionally there are also some old US Death Metal influences from the beginning of the 90’s. How or let’s say with which bands would you compare FUNERUS? Ok, I know that musicians tend to say that „our band is one-of-a-kind and there are no comparable bands…“, but I am sure you think somewhat different, especially since nobody needs to be ashamed of their influences, as long as he’s a real Death Metal freak like you are.
John: It's obvious when you listen to the band that we are influenced by old school Scandinavian death metal bands, along with other assorted death metal bands of the late 80's and early 90's. For us to say that we are not influenced by this style is just ridiculous. We feel that there is nothing wrong with playing music that we enjoy, and not music that is original just for the sake of creating something that is original. We feel that the old school style of heavy, brutal, catchy death metal has been forgotten in todays world of fast, blast beat, technical death metal.
By the way, how old were you when you discovered Death Metal music? Did you play in any other band before REVENANT?
John: I'm not 100% sure how old I was when I discovered death metal. I'm not exactly sure when the stuff I was listening to was officially considered death metal. Somewhere around 1985 to 1986 I started to get more interested in underground bands like Death, Pap Smear, Hatred, Repulsion, Ripping Corpse, and Rotting Corpse. As far as bands before Revenant, I played in several cover bands that played cover songs by bands like Metallica, Anthrax, Helloween, S.O.D., Kreator, Celtic Frost, VoiVod, Hades. Ironically enough one of the cover bands was called Hexes and that means the same thing as Incantation.
Ever since the beginning of the 90’s there is this French guy doing paintings for covers of bands such as BEHERIT, VITAL REMAINS, BLASPHEMY, SATHANAS and also INCANTATION. Chris Moyen has also designed a new cover for the „Festering Earth“-CD. Were you no longer satisfied with the original version of the cover, which you made yourself or did you just want the second pressing to be generally different than the first one?
Jill: The original cover of Festering Earth was used basically because we couldn't find anything else at the time that fit the band or the album. We were running out of time because we were going on the U.S. tour and we needed the cover art quick. The first pressing of Festering Earth was a limited 500 copy pre-release version with this art. It was done to get the name of the band out more. Then we got in touch with Chris for the actual artwork for the cd. We are all very happy with the art that Chris has done!
The album was released by your own label IBEX MOON RECORDS. You’ve been working with this label for a couple of years, but things aren’t really working out that good, which I think is difficult anyway, when doing this job as a hobby. When did you start out with IBEX MOON? I don’t know exactly about everything you’ve done concerning your label work, but my main question is: When will the UNCRUST CD (Brazil) finally be released? I think this band could be a worthy consolation for the SADISTIC INTENT album which I have been waiting for for about 80 years?
JOHN: Actually I thought I was doing pretty good with the label. Things seem to be growing at a really consistent pace. We have been working with alot of killer bands and we have alot of good releases coming out. Pretty much if you're a death metal fan it will be easy for you to enjoy the releases we have coming out. Like Incrust, Hell-Born, Thornafire, Supreme Lord and a few other things that are in the works that are too early to announce anything yet. And of course you can check out the previous releases from Funerus, Estuary and Bloody Sign!
Did you meet the UNCRUST guys when touring Brazil with INCANTATION in 2001?
John:Yes I met them at a Recife show in 2001 and again in 2004.
Aside from UNCRUST you also signed BLOODY SIGN from France. What other albums can we expect from IBEX MOON in the future?
John: Well I didn't read ahead and I answered that in the question above.
Okay, let’s change the subject. FUNERUS are of first priority in this interview, but since INCANTATION just released „Decimate Christendom“ and since this damn band gets me through the day quite often, I also have some questions on INCANTATION. First of all, congratulations on the deal with Listenable Records. I think you couldn’t have gotten a better deal, cause I believe this label is very legitimate and Laurent has been active within the scene for quite a while. How did it come to an agreement with Listenable?
John: I've been friends with Laurent since the late 80's when he did his magazine. We've always been friends and got along good. We've actually been in contact with him since we got out of our deal with Relapse, but things didn't end up working out until this new album. We are very happy to work with him, he's a cool guy to work with and a great label. We couldn't be happier with the decision.
„Decimate Christendom“ came out to be a killer album and personally I like it better than „Blasphemy“. I think INCANTATION are best when sounding slow and doomy and that’s just the way this album is! Your vocals at the Fuck The Commerce Festival couldn’t convince me all the way though, but the overall sound wasn’t the best for you during this festival anyway. However, concerning the album sound I have to say HATS OFF! It must be pretty unusal for you not just playing guitar?
John: Well it's cool to hear that you like the new album. We put alot of hard work into it. As far as the FTC fest we were very dissatisfied with the performance, it didn't feel comfotable at all, everything seemed very rushed and too crappy sounding. We felt things went alot better on our last tour on the Clash of the Demigods tour. Pretty much the more shows we play the more comfortable I get playing guitar abd doing vocals. Its definitely been a learning experience the last few years doing guitar and vocals. Now I feel more comfortable, I feel like I'm getting the whole thing down now.
How did you like the Fuck The Commerce anyway? The weather and the organization were brilliant, weren’t they (haha)?
John: We didn't have that much problem with organization on our side of things. The people working there and the promoters treated us well. It was mostly just that the weather really sucked and really screwed things up. Having to move things from outside to inside to outside again really sucked and I think really brought down the whole vibe of the show. Besides our performance we all had a really good time.
My favorite INCANTATION singer definitely was Craig Pillard, who aside from Daniel Corchado (THE CHASM) was the best I’ve ever heard. Craig Pillard seems to have gone through a strange kind of mutation concerning his political attitude, apparently some Nazis have goldplated his ass. What do you think about his curious Nazi attributes? Are you still in touch with him?
John: Yes I am still in touch with him and we are pretty much on the best terms now than we've been for years. When I see him we really don't talk about his political beliefs. We had our own good times in the past and history that we end up remanissing about. So if you have any questions about his political beliefs it's probably best to talk to him about it.
While we’re at it talking about the past, Paul Ledny (PROFANATICA) used to be a good friend of yours. I hadn’t heard anything about him for ages until I saw that he did the cover for „Blasphemy“. After I noticed that I wrote him and we talked about software a little bit. We had some really good chats. All of a sudden there was no more communication with him. What’s he up to?
John: I haven't talked to him now for a while but i understand he is doing a Profanatica tribute band called Crown of Semen. They just recently played a show in New Jersey with Goreaphobia. Unfortunately I wasn't able to make it out to the show.
Well, let’s get back to FUNERUS and the very beginnings of the band. As already mentioned their history starts all the way back in 1990. Back then the band was called CREATIVE SICKNESS. Was there any demo or rehearsal tape released under this name?
Jill: There was a rehearsal tape made as Creative Sickness, but I'm almost positive that there were only a few made, I think it was something Brad and Jason gave to a few of their friends. This tape was never released in circulation in the underground or anything. Also, it has no similarities to Funerus from what I remember. It's difficult for me to recall because it was so long ago, I only heard it a few times, and this was before I was in the band.
What’s up with your contribution concerning the AUTOPSY tribute?
John: I'm not really sure. We haven't been in touch with the record company for a while. We still want to do it though.
I think the first live show you did with FUNERUS was in Milano/Italy in 2004, am I right? How did you like playing with FUNERUS in Europe for the first time?
Jill: Actually, our first show with the reformed Funerus was fairly close to home here in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania in early 2002. Our next few shows were in the U.S. then we did a short tour of Mexico, which was killer. In 2003 we did a U.S. tour with shows in Mexico, did the Blood Lust III Fest in Sydney Australia and in 2004 we played the Nihil 'zine fest in Milan Italy. That was my first time in Europe at all, and playing in Europe was an awesome experience for me. We got a great crowd response! I can't say anything bad about the whole experience, it just ruled!
John: I thought it was really fun and really cool, I'd like to get Funerus over to Europe for a tour sometime.
Are you working on new material right now? Are there any plans for a second album? You will be touring Europe with INCANTATION in October, so I guess it’ll take a while until you can go on with your work with FUNERUS?
Jill: We have alot of material written for a new album, we just don't know when we will have time to record. All the great things that John and Kyle bring to this band, a small unpleasantry that comes with them is their Incantation schedule, which I greatly respect. So Funerus basically revolves around what they are doing, and they will be busy this year due to Decimate Christendom just being released.
Do you know how many copies of „Festering Earth“ you have sold by now?
John: It's hard to say but I will take a guess and say 2500 so far. They are still selling well.
Okay John, since you’re no longer working in a porn cinema in Cleveland, where you found the time to answer your mail during nightshifts, I don’t wanna waste your time much longer. How do you and Jill finance your life at the moment? Is Jill still working as a nurse? Thanks a lot for answering my questions!
John: When I'm not on tour I have a computer business, basically fixing computers and builing websites out of our house. Jill still works as a nurse, for 15 years now. Thats about it. Thanks alot for the interview.
Jill: Thanks for the interview Thomas! For MP3's, merchandise, photos, and more please visit our website at www.funerus.com. Metal til death!