Almost 20 years in the business of peddling deathgrind to the underground and still going strong, still as dedicated to their cause as ever before. And with their latest album they knocked me off my feet, so it was time for an interview to see what these granddad’s of grind are all about these days.
We did the interview by e-mail. I sent the first bunch of questions on April 25th, and I received the final bunch of answers on April 29th.
Hey there chaps. Could you start us off slowly by introducing yourself/selves, so we know who’ll be answering my questions…
I’m Fred, the bass player of INHUMATE. I’m only one in the band since the beginning.
The whole thing started pretty much with you, Fred, who wanted to start a death metal band back in 1990, and got a hold of some people to do so. You’re also the only original member left now. But it feels like you’ve managed to keep a steady line-up for a number of years. Except for the first few years when you switched some members you managed to stick together for 12 years with the same line-up (that is until David left in late 2006). 12 years is quite some time, and also quite unusual… Why do you think Inhumate had such a strong companionship?
That’s a question many people ask us and to be honest we don’t have the exact answer… But I think it’s because we’re a self produced band since the beginning. It means that we did a lot of work, many sacrifices for INHUMATE but in return we have had a lot of very cool moments. For each step of INHUMATE career (albums, big fests, first time we took a plane for a gig, etc…) we just have to say thanx to ourselves. Nothing happened to us because someone gave it to us, it happened because we worked out for it. And I think that it is the mainspring of INHUMATE motivation.
After releasing a couple of demos you released your first fullength CD, “Internal life”, which was the start of your heptalogy around the human life. What made you decide to do a seven album theme, and how did you even come up with the idea? It doesn’t revolve around the most common grind/death lyrics, so was it intentional to stand out of the crowd?
To be honest the idea of the heptalogy didn’t came before the first album, but after, when we were planning to record « Ex-Pulsion ». At that moment we thought that it could be cool to make a following to the idea of « Internal Life ». And so the concept idea started. After we thought to it many, many times and it became more and more precise for us : based on life, then the number of albums and then the titles of each. About the lyrics, they don’t fit all around the concept, especially not in « Internal Life » of course. Yes, we’re far away from the usual grind / death lyrics and interests, but we don’t fucking care, and yes it was intentional. INHUMATE are no sheep, we’re not following any band, we’re trying to make something original. We know it’s hard, but that’s the way we choose and as I told it for the second question, it’s giving some amazing pleasures.
You recently released the fifth part of the series, “The fifth season”, so you’ve come a long way. But what if you would’ve split up after just a few albums? Where you absolutely certain you would stick around long enough to finish it? What will happen to Inhumate when you’re done with the heptalogy, have you finished your mission?
If we had splitted after few albums, we should have joined the incredibly long list of bands that wanted to make something and didn’t managed to. If my memory is good KATAKLYSM wanted also to put up a 9 (I think…) album concept. They did 2 and stopped… But the bands went on playing, it’s ridiculous to my eyes… Now I’m not telling you that will finish the concept, we still hope to, we don’t know what life (always life !!!) will show us as surprise (illness, band member, accident, split of the band for any reason…). And if we’re strong enough to achieve the concept I think the band will stop after it. It should be like this. INHUMATE (as band and as four head entity) will have finished what it was built for.
As we said you’ve been around for quite awhile now, almost 20 years. To celebrate your 15th anniversary you released your first DVD, how did people react to that one? Will we see more DVDs, maybe even for your 20th anniversary?
The reaction for it were really, really good. But we did a very professional stuff (5 cameras, digital sound). For the 20th anniversary we’re yet thinking to it. We will make a concert for sure, but I don’t know if we’ll release it on DVD, or maybe just catch the film and add a DVD with the next album…
Continuing on the same subject… It seems to me that a lot of DVDs released is just a way to cash in on a bands success, but yours didn’t as it was jam-packed with goodies. And that’s something I can’t help but to be impressed by; your dedication to the scene. You don’t do anything half-arsed, when you do something your certainly do it. And you feel 100% dedicated to the underground, so much that you’ve even released all your albums by yourselves. How come you decided to do that? And why have you only stuck with releasing Inhumate material and not gone on to other bands as well?
I don’t know exactly why we felt into this die hard self producing feeling… But one thing is sure, nowadays we can’t sign to a label. We’re so much independent and free that we couldn’t get chained to anything / anybody anymore… And staying self produced do also help us to keep our feet on Earth (it’s pure French translated hehehe, it means that we try to escape the « rock star syndrome »). We don’t forget where we come from and still try to help as much as we can the local bands from our area. This is very important for us, much more than posing in magazines, and phoning every two days to our label to know how many copies of the last album have been sold and if there is a chance or not for us to perform at the Hellfest… So, back to your question, I tried to use Grind Your Soul as a kind of label and produced through it a Brazilian band called C.V.I. a couple of years ago. But this cost me a lot of money and I understood that it wasn’t a very good idea, so we decided to focus on INHUMATE releases only, and on some compilation close to other activities we do with Grind Your Soul. All those things can be seen on www.grind-your-soul.com
You’ve been around for a long time, you’ve released a number of splits, you’ve played some of Europe’s biggest metal festivals, shared stages with some of the world’s biggest metal names… Why is it that Inhumate isn’t usually mentioned in the same sentence as Napalm Death, Cannibal Corpse and whatnot? What has kept you so underground for all these years? Is it the fact that you’ve never moved on to bigger labels with funds to really advertise?
You ask a question and give the answer. We are condemned to stay underground because we’re not signed on a label. We don’t have the wide exposure a signed band can get. But we know all this, and we accept it. It’s our way to feel the music, the underground scene, our lives. As I told it we don’t want to be rock stars, all we want with music is having fun, but a kind of serious fun. It’s hard to explain it, but we don’t want more than playing music and staying true to some philosophical sights about the underground scene.
But when you started out all these years ago, did you ever think you’d come this far, still grinding? Was it a dead-serious band right from the start, or what made it change into what Inhumate is now?
Of course not, when we started we never thought being still grinding 20 years later. But I think we always did it into a serious way. INHUMATE has never been (for all musicians that played in it during all those years) just a kind of simple hobby I think. We always wanted to push things farther and then we always did it seriously, and with the time I think we were caught out at our own game.
As far as I know none of you are involved in any other bands. Why is that, does Inhumate take up so much time that you just can’t? Has it always been that way?
Yes, that’s it. INHUMATE represents a lot of work, especially for Yannick and me. I’m doing promotion and he does the distro, selling / trading albums. So music is the coolest part of INHUMATE and besides this there are plenty hours spent to promotion (like this interview hehehe) and making packages to send all over the world. A signed band don’t have to do this, someone’s doing it in the place of the musicians. As I told it before, we’re unsigned and self produced so it means a lot of fucking (no so much interesting) work but that’s also the price of absolute independence.
Oh, and I can’t help but to mention Christophe’s live performances. I still haven’t had the opportunity to experience you live, but I’ve seen plenty of footage. Has he always started every gig with smashing his skull bloody with the mic? And how does that actually work, do you bring your own mics to every gig? I’d think some arrangers would get pissed if he broke their equipment, hehe…
Yes, Christophe makes his forehead bleed at every show, even if there is only 10 people in front of the stage, there is no soft INHUMATE live show, and that’s a reason why we can’t make long tours… Now about the crushed microphones some gig organisators know us and then they accept the deal, or when they got angry, we usually just change the ball of the microphone, it’s enough in 90% of the cases. Last 10% is we really destroyed the microphone and have to pay it, then we do it… But it’s not fair because Christophe is in trance, it’s no fucking fake, it’s a part of the INHUMATE live show, the organisator should accept it.
Has it ever gone too far and he’s really been hurt? Seems like he could give himself quite a concussion.
We already told him that it wasn’t necessary to smash so hard, but he wants / needs to do it so… For the moment seems that he never hurt him enough to stop…
Anywho… Let’s talk about more current issues, like for instance your latest album. I think my first impression with “The fifth season” was that it felt much more mature than your previous ones. The sound is chunkier, the album flows better, and even the aesthetics looks better. You might not even agree with me, but that’s my impression. What’s brought on the evolvement?
The problem won’t be that we agree or not, you got your own opinion and we just have to respect it. So, why do you feel that ? I don’t know… Maybe is it because we changed our guitarist ? That’s the only reason I can give you, without being sure it’s the right answer…
After you’d released “Ex-pulsion” in 1997 it took your three years to release “Growth”. Then it took your four years to release your next album “Life”, and it took you five years to release “The fifth season” after that… Does that mean we won’t see part six of the series come to life until 2015? You’re gonna be old farts before you’ve finished the heptalogy, man!
Ah, ah, ah ! No, we will do everything we can to have the next album « Expulsed » out before the next 3 years. It’s not fucking possible to be so long between two albums !!!! I know some bands that put up and split between « Life » and « The Fifth Season », amazing isn’t it ?
What is that has made the years go by in between your albums?
Between « Growth » and « Life » I think we were working slowly because a kind of lake of inspiration of our ancient guitarist David… After « Life » it was the same thing but we also had some rehearsal room problems, Yannick had a motorbike accident, so he couldn’t play for several months… And last shit that happened to us was the departure of David. But since Damien is in INHUMATE I really think things gonna be easier and fucking faster, so we promise you we won’t take 4 fucking years until our next album ! Hope so, let’s cross the fingers… Would like to add another thing : you know we’re not professional and don’t wanna be it. So INHUMATE is a very democratic band, and we always discuss about everything and if one of us says no about this or that, we don’t do it. Nobody tells us what we have to do or when we have to release and album (good or bad, that’s not the problem… see what I mean…). And those things do also make things longer than they should…
What will happen until you release the next album, have you got any plans for what to do next? Any new splits coming up, for instance…
We do never use unreleased tracks for split stuffs. The only exception we did was the split EP with DEPRESSION (Germany) because the tracks were recorded with David and we knew they would be re-recorded by Damien for the album. So next studio release should be « Expulsed », dealing with theme of death… Death of INHUMATE ? Let’s wait and see…
When will us Scandinavians have the chance to see you live? You still haven’t played anywhere around here.
No, it’s a pity that we never played in Scandinavia. We already had some proposition to make some dates in Finland, but it couldn’t work. Now something is maybe possible in Helsinki in October. We will play at the Petrograd Fest and we’re trying to play a gig the day before, but nothing’s done for the moment, still seeing with our jobs how we can manage such a thing. Incredible fucking shitty jobs where it’s hard to have just one fucking day !!!! Can you believe that???
And I guess that was it for my serious questions. Let’s move on to my standard ones.
Latest record you bought?
AGATHOCLES : « Grind is protest »
Latest record you listened to?
VIOLENT DEVOTIES « Entwined by Vengeance »
Latest book you read?
Some uninteresting books for the metal heads, related to my job
Latest show you went to?
INHUMATE + ROMPEPROP + INGROWING + RECTAL SMEGMA last week
Crappiest record you’ve bought?
Crappiest I don’t know, but one of the worst was the last CELTIC FROST. I read many good reviews about it, telling that it was sounding like the old stuff. As I was fan of them in the past I bought it. What the hell is that fucking piece of shit !!!! Nothing, absolutely nothing to see with old CELTIC FROST, I’ve fucked up by commercial rules, that sux… I traded it against a SUFFOCATION album two weeks later.
All done. Thanks a lot for your time, I hope you’ll finish your mission. Take care!
Thanx a lot to you Kristoff for the support you give to INHUMATE ! Hope to have the opportunity to drink a beer with you one day !