DISPIRIT: Eerie And Oppressive

Led by John Gossard, an emblematic figure of the North American underground (ex-WEAKLING/THE GAULT/ASUNDER), DISPIRIT is a menacing, creative force to be reckoned with.

Last May we had a small chat with John  about “111112”, their second full-length demo tape released in late 2012, also making the point about the band and finding out more concerning their unorthodox and enigmatic metal.

DISPIRIT

 

As an underground fiend, it is an immense pleasure when I realize that some old comrades still kick ass! I met John Gossard back in the mid-90’s via IRC’s channel #metal on EFnet. In 1996 I’ve included an early  version of “No One Can be Called As A Man While He’ll Die” on the “Wintegrief” compilation tape. We’ve lost touch before he released in 1999 “Dead As Dreams” with WEAKLING, an iconic album which became the cornerstone of contemporary U.S.B.M., and one of the most important black metal recordings of all time.

When we got back in touch , WEAKLING were over and in the meantime he had participated in two other great bands, THE GAULT and ASUNDER. “Rehearsal At Oboroten”, the debut demo of his new band DISPIRIT, made some of us feel that WEAKLING’s eerie legacy was still alive in 2010…

  • When I got your debut demo tape, I would have bet that two years later I’d be spinning your debut album. Instead we got a 2nd tape, albeit a lengthy and excellent one! Do you think that in the these two years Dispirit has found its audience, and if yes, do you think that it’s comprised of people who will respectfully get whatever you’re willing to offer without whining and bitching?

Over the few years that we have been public with our music, the audience has been growing, albeit slowly. I do get people complaining that we haven’t put our stuff out either digitally or on vinyl pretty often though, and I am sure whenever we get around to doing that it will spread the word wider, but I think putting music out in a bit less accessible format has fit with our sound, and the extra work to get to hearing the material has some people putting more effort into paying attention to the music.

Originally, I just wanted to stifle people from hearing 2 minutes of one song on an MP3 sample and thinking “Oh this isn’t what I expected, I guess I’ll listening to some other shit instead”. Make the audience do a little work.

Originally, I just wanted to stifle people from hearing 2 minutes of one song on an MP3 sample and thinking “Oh this isn’t what I expected, I guess I’ll listening to some other shit instead”. Make the audience do a little work.

  • Brief us about what happened in the Dispirit camp, this last couple of years.

Well, the biggest thing that happened with us was losing our guitarist Nikhil. He was offered a job out of the country that was too good to turn down and left on good terms, but after his departure we had many months of searching to find someone who both fit musically and personality wise. Eventually Ryan Jencks got in touch with me about trying out and it has worked out, so we got back to playing and writing music finally. For people taking notes, Ryan is currently known more in the noise scene from his projects DEATHROES, SIXES, and his old band CRASH WORSHIP. We are working on incorporating some of that chaotic noise into newer material, but at the moment all the music we have released was written prior to his joining.

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  • In the meantime you’ve played quite a few gigs. How well does your music fits in a live context? What were the crowds’ reactions? Memorable highlights?

Our typical live setting is playing with massive amounts of fog and dark red lights behind us creating an ominous indistinct shadow as the audience’s only visual cue. Ideally there is enough fog for the audience to not really see each other well either and feel sick from the fog. When we get the setting right it is eerie and oppressive. Unfortunately, playing a lot of the type of venues around here that put on death/black/doom shows. we are also often met with club managers who hate our setup. The best shows are usually warehouse shows with an anything goes attitude.

 The best shows are usually warehouse shows with an anything goes attitude.

The most memorable thing we have played was Rites of Darkness in Texas, which was both memorable for what a clusterfuck the promoter made of the whole event by not bringing half the bands he advertised, not paying many of the bands who showed up, but memorable because the bands he did get there killed (Hi, Danny Serna!). Besides getting to play two sets for a great crowd we got to see bands like Zemial, Adorior, Mournful Congregation, Inquisition, Demigod, Impetuous Ritual, Mitochondrian, Pallbearer, Ares Kingdom and many more was just brilliant. Besides that we have had tons of killer gigs with bands like Portal, Impetuous Ritual, Vassafor, Anhedonist, Dead Congregation, Grave Miasma, Occulation, Cruciamentum, Noothgrush, Thrones, Worm Ouroboros, Volahn, Arizmenda and several others. Generally we are well received, although when we play with more aggressive death metal bands I think our long droning doom passages lose a bit of that crowd. Likewise, when we play with all doom type stuff the fast chaotic stuff confuses people.

  •  What did you change recording-wise? The sound is less chaotic for sure…

IMG_2736As far as the sound goes, both recordings were recorded live at Oboroten as one continuous performance, but the new recording was done with only a stereo mic in the room where the first recording used mics on all amps and drums. The main thing making the recoding clearer is the particular songs as well as having had a few years of slightly altering our tones so all the instruments parts can be heard more clearly.

  • Have you become a live recording fanatic? Do you count carrying on like that?

Going back to Weakling’s “Dead as Dreams” on through The Gault’s one album and most Asunder material we have usually tracked the material in the studio live playing everything at once, and then adding solo’s, doubled guitars, vocals, cello or whatnot after the initial live tracking happened. I do really like trying to capture the feeling the band has when they play the songs together when I record. It is not that I don’t think you can’t capture the same thing by recording piece by piece, but if you can do it all at once then why bother recording one after another instead of all at once. Now though,  I also have this feeling that if the band sounds the way they like in the rehearsal space, then why not try to capture that sound as it is. We still have a recording in the works done more traditionally, but the problem there for me is knowing I can keep adding new ideas to the songs I never really want to finish a mix. It always seems to be a work in progress, whereas these live rehearsals represent an actual event in history.

Going back to Weakling`s `Dead as Dreams` on through The Gault`s one album and most Asunder material we have usually tracked the material in the studio live playing everything at once

  • I think that there’s even less vocals this time. In conjunction with the new material that’s really very hypnotic, trance inducing, are you slowly shifting focus in a more instrumental/drony direction?

WEAKLING liveI am not sure if there are less vocals in the material on “111112” than on “Rehearsal At Oboroten”, but they are definitely lower in the mix, and more of them are low monotone growl/chant that blend into the bass tones. I go through phases of being more focused on chaotic vocals and fast passages or slow droning melancholic despair with somber deep vocals,  but the vocal ideas necessarily occur after the work on the musical passages has already evolved, so when a musical passages says all that is needed to be said I never produce any vocals. When the vocals are present they are there as much or more for their musical purpose than for evoking the images of the songs.

  • Explain us the title.

The simple meaning is the date we recorded the material 11-11-12. The deeper title is relating to the constant recurring predictions of doomsday. Near this date there were all kinds of people paranoid of the end of the world, many relating to the end of the Mayan calendar. There were also people into numerology siting 11-11-11 as the day something profound would happen. Just as always, these superstitious people were proven wrong. Nothing marking doomsday occurred, just as it never does when these nicely symmetrical dates come and go. And so on 11-11-12 begins the wait for the next day we can believe  is the real doomsday, all the while ignoring that our real doom is a long slow decent into an unsustainable civilization.

And so on 11-11-12 begins the wait for the next day we can believe  is the real doomsday, all the while ignoring that our real doom is a long slow decent into an unsustainable civilization.

 

  • What are the lyrics about? Still abstract and nightmarish?

111112-flyer“All Paths End the Same” is a very simple and predictable theme. No matter your course in life, grandiose or sublime, leader or follower, philosopher or brute, your path in life leads to the same ultimate finality, and you reach that point alone.

“Beneath the Waves” is instrumental, but meditates on both a sort of Lovecraftian theme of the dark unknown that lurks beneath the surface, and the way great uncertainty of that which is unknown can give you the sense of drowning as you keep asking the same question over and over again, but the ‘answers’ are always unclear.

“The Drinker” is the most abstract, but a mix of the concept of mans thirst for knowledge, yet getting drowned in information out of context, just as a drunk seeks  some pleasure, but takes in too much and becomes a mad confused maniac. Both taking in all around them and in overabundance and occasionally feeling they have made some great epiphany, but always so confused that it leaves no lasting insight.

  • What’s the deal with the uber-surprising Slayer cover? Let us know your feelings about Jeff Hanneman’s death.

John GossardI have always loved doing cover songs and always loved early Slayer, Slayer was in fact the first underground metal show I ever went to back in 1984 and seeing them had a profound effect on my own path in life. We originally were doing this song pretty traditionally, but decided to rewrite some sections to be more fitting with our own sound. The day we recorded the material we were not intending it to be a new demo, but were just recording the rehearsal for an upcoming gig to hear how we were playing, and we planned to close with this song. The whole recording came out so well we decided to release it, and chose to leave the cover on as an interesting example of how old influences fit into new sounds. It seems pretty fucked up to me thinking that Jeff was a huge influence on my own musical path,  and we begin the recording with “All Paths End the Same”and end with “Face the Slayer”, and only a few months later Jeff’s path ends. It does make me feel strange, but I feel good to know I honored him/them before all this. I haven’t been a fan of any of Slayer’s work for years really, but I still listen to the first 4 or 5 release quite often. I feel good for him having made such a strong mark in the world and seemingly enjoying his time while he was around, so I can’t feel bad for him really. Though I don’t know his wife, I do wish her the best though ,as I almost feel like she is family simply from my fondness for Slayer.

Slayer was in fact the first underground metal show I ever went to back in 1984 and seeing them had a profound effect on my own path in life.

  • I’m asking you this once in a while, but do you think the time will soon be right for a Weakling reissue or a new reelase of unearthed stuff?

I am investigating doing a self release of the Weakling DLP one of these days as long as it doesn’t get in the way of anything I am working on currently. I have tons of old tapes of rehearsals and whatnot which I could possibly do something with for diehards I guess, but there are no other unreleased songs. Some sections from one unfinished song were slowed way down and turned into part of a song for The Gault, and there are a few other riffs I have though about using in Dispirit, but some of it sounds too triumphant for my tastes these days.

  • What comes next for Dispirit?

I am making an effort to finish an album that will have different production aesthetics, probably clearer and end up being a shitty sellout album when it is done and force us to break up. Other than that we just keep writing. We have enough riffs to make several albums, but composing them into full songs takes us years so I just have to wait and see what happens there. The more we write the harder it is to finish anything because one week I want to write drone doom, another week chaotic death metal, another, complex baroque ripoffs, and then a month of only cover songs. We do have some plans to make something happen in Europe next year and hopefully the east coast of the US as well. I can’t confirm any details about anything at this point, but I am trying to stay focused enough to get the fuck out of town for a change.

 I am making an effort to finish an album that will have different production aesthetics, probably clearer and end up being a shitty sellout album when it is done and force us to break up.

DISCLAIMER: This interview has originally been conducted by Panos Agoros for Metal Hammer Greece. Parts of it have been translated in greek and used for “Underground Kommandoz”, the magazine’s extreme underground column. Used with kind permission.

Addendum

This interview having been done more than 6 weeks prior to the publication date, John filled us with the latest developments from the DISPIRIT camp.

First of all, they are excited of having a new drummer. It’s Jason Bursese from Black Fucking Cancer and Cyanic, two great bands worth checking out.

The majority of the DISPIRIT line-up also participates in another excellent project, WHITE PHOSPHORUS. They haven’t released anything so far, but you can check out this excellent performance of theirs:

DISPIRIT: Eerie And Oppressive was last modified: December 18th, 2013 by panos.agoros

Posted on by panos.agoros in black metal, Drone, Experimental, Music

About panos.agoros

Music and computers. The same two passions that Panos has ever since he was a kid, have defined the path that he would follow in life. He studied computer science in Paris-France in the early/mid 90's and is an IT engineer, providing since 1999 Mission Critiical support for enterprise environments. He is also known to be a retro hardware scavenger and old computer collector. His love for music pushed him to become actively involved in the scene. From November 1995 until the early 00's he ran Chaotik Webzine, a pioneering music webzine and the first to provide coverage for both the metal & hardcore underground. He is for the last 15 years an editor of Metal Hammer Greece, the biggest music magazine in the country. He rans a small record label and distro, Blastbeat Mailmurder, and is also the vocalist/lyricist of critically and fan acclaimed astrogrind outfit Dephosphorus. In his lost hours he does field recordings and manipulates sound waves for his experimental noise/ambient Kommpound.

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