Full Of Hell are a band consistently in-between. They’ve gone from playing the mainstream hardcore circuit at the legendary This Is Hardcore Fest to sharing the collaborative stage with renown Japanese noise artist Merzbow to supporting the stoner doom Weedeater and most recently, doing the same for black metal titans 1349. Throughout this touring turbulence, the band have cultivated a consistent yet ever evolving brand of self-described “harsh grinding death”, a strange melting pot of death metal, grindcore, hardcore, harsh noise, power electronics, sludge and beyond. The band’s latest venture pits them in a collaborative entanglement entitled One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache with their similarly minded, prolific Portland, Oregon based allies in the body. I recently had the opportunity to interview vocalist Dylan Walker about his musical background, Full Of Hell’s growth, the band’s upcoming collaboration with the body, fried chicken establishments, memes and more. Additionally, I was able to ask about the writing, origin and lyrics of select songs spanning the entirety of Full Of Hell’s catalog. Check it out below. One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache arrives digitally and on CD March 25th via Neurot Recordings and will be self-released on vinyl shortly after.
Svbterranean: Hi Dylan, I hope you’re doing well. Thanks for doing the interview. For the unknowing, can you briefly describe Full Of Hell and the role(s) you play in it?
Dylan Walker: Hey Eric, thanks for asking me to do the interview. I sing in Full of Hell and also handle (most) of the booking with Spencer, who plays guitar. I also write all of the lyrics and handle some of the electronics duties on record, and most of them in a live setting.
If I’m not mistaken, you played guitar in the band you had before Full Of Hell. When did you discover your tact as a vocalist and how did you come to develop your specific savage vocal style?
I actually only played guitar in a band for a couple months as a fill in. It was okay. I’ve sung in bands since I was 13 years old. I discovered that it was pretty easy to do a long time ago, and I’ve always enjoyed it. My first band was a really bad band in my hometown that we called Rotting Carcass. Haha.
Some Full Of Hell songs reflect incidents and individuals specific to your life. As the primary/sole lyricist, where do you draw the line between Dylan Walker’s thoughts and the thematic elements of Full Of Hell as a collective? Is there a certain mindset you wander into before writing for Full Of Hell?
I don’t think that there is a real line between any sort of personal and group reality. They trust me to write about what I want to write about. I guess that there is a mindset that I need to go into to be able to write, but I find myself in that gear often enough that it isn’t too much of an issue.
In the beginning with Full Of Hell’s more hardcore-aligned work, there seemed to be more recognizable lines and mosh parts for audience participation. Now, because of the harshness of the music and its more experimental leanings, there’s been a bit more of a disconnect between the sonic experience and the lyrical aspects. Has the band’s sonic exploration altered your own personal input and approach in any way in terms of lyrics and performance?
I like to think that as the band’s sound has come into its own, I’ve been able to drift along with it and really feel out what I want as a writer for the band. I think that the more unorthodox structuring offers more to me than the simpler early material would have, as I’m not limited to certain prose or rhythm with the lines in the song.
Brandon was the bassist for the band and quasi-secondary vocalist for quite awhile. Since his departure, have there been any changes to writing new music?
There really haven’t been any changes. I like having backing vocals, but we are perfectly fine without them, especially on the new material. Our new bassist, Sam is actually taking on those vocal duties, but his range is high, so I handle the low end. The music is more demanding, so I haven’t been very insistent on it. Like I said, it’s not damning to have lost them for awhile.
Full Of Hell has been your first truly significant musical venture. For all the benefits, I assume that it’s also an exhausting venture with the necessities of touring, travel and semi-frequent creation. At what point, did you realize or decide that this is what you’ve wanted to do for life?
I think that I realized that this brought me the most joy when I was 13. The acts of performing live and writing music and everything in between. It’s been an important part of my life. I honestly don’t even care about travelling anymore that much. I LOVE touring because I get to play music every single day and focus on that entirely, but the travelling just doesn’t matter so much to me. That’s how much I like doing this. Haha.
On the upcoming Full Of Hell/the body Collaboration, One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache:
Full Of Hell and the body have had a long friendship and tour history. At what point did the idea of a collaboration come? Additionally, what can we expect from the collaboration?
It’s funny, we actually didn’t have that long of a friendship. I got in contact with Lee because I’d been such a fan of the body’s work for so long and I wanted to see if they’d be willing to play some shows with us. It took some time to work around both band’s schedules, but we got a U.S. tour scheduled, and Chip and Lee suggested it. We honestly had no intentions of doing another collaboration. We couldn’t say no, though. We feel really strongly about the body’s music. It was a real honor to have the opportunity. The collaboration is the perfect union between the two band’s sounds. We have a lot in common behind the scenes, so it was a fun record to make. It’s a very painful record that was very painless to make.
I read that you guys recorded the collaboration fresh at the end of your recent tour with no prior material. What went into the decision to do the album spontaneously, rather than to carefully compose it over your time together?
The body almost always records this way. I think it’s brilliant. They may have some ideas ahead of themselves that they take with them into the studio, but it’s very organic. I think working with them was a great learning experience for us. The idea of improvisation runs very deep with certain kinds of experimental and progressive music. Some believe it’s the true spirit of creativity and that the real stuff happens when you improvise. We had some previous experience in improvisational performance with our shows with Merzbow. He also feels strongly about this idea!
Being the first person-to-person collaboration and second collaboration ever you guys have done, how was it approaching recording this time and how did the two bands collectively come to a compromise in sound?
We had no compromise. The process was very easy. We were so excited to get going that we went in with a lot of ideas, and everyone contributed. We essentially built many of the songs from the percussion up. We all wanted to marry the speed with slow rhythmic pounding. We also wanted an underlying pop feel at times.
The body have been a band for quite awhile and with that time, have explored and expanded their mastery of sound. As a band on a similar wavelength, were there any lessons that Full Of Hell have learned from touring and listening to the body? If so, did these lessons effect or inform the creation of this collaboration in any way?
We’ve learned a lot from the body. They’re very inspiring people. They put no limitations on their sound and they do not care what anyone thinks, AT ALL. I like to think that their methods of doing things helped us open up to a lot of new things that we are now more comfortable with taking on.
This is your first release on Neurot Recordings. How did that relationship come to be and how does it feel to work with members of Neurosis/Tribes Of Neurot?
Neurosis are fans of the body (naturally). They wanted to do a release for the body, and Lee suggested to Steve that they put out the collaboration. Having not previously heard Full Of Hell, Steve wanted to check us out before committing. Thankfully, he was very into what he heard and loved the collab. It feels very humbling to work with such a group of people, there’s really no way to describe it. Neurot operates on a very cool level, much more like an artist residency than a contract bound business.
On Select Lyrics:
I. Amber Mote In The Black Vault’s “Halogen Bulb/Amber Mote”
Your lyrics have always been poetic and colorful in a way that I think amplifies common ideas. I took “Halogen Bulb/Amber Mote” as a two parter about an individual having a mental awakening of some sort from religious and afterlife beliefs. Could you expand a bit on what inspired your writing for these tracks?
“Halogen Bulb” was a small piece about the downfall of man and the enlightenment of a few. “Amber Mote” is an expansion that clarifies the greed and animal lust of humans, following a pastoral quote and a denouncement of the message. The “Amber Mote” in the black vault is the falsified beliefs of human beings, the hope of something more beyond this realm, and as a literal image, it’s a lone and distant star in a black sky.
II. Full Of Hell/Merzbow’s “Thrum In The Deep”
From watching/reading interviews around the time of the Merzbow collaboration, I feel that one of the main concepts of the album was the consuming power of sound. This is an early concept of the band apparent from the early “Numb Your Mind” phrase and was the idea you pitched to Mark McCoy for the artwork. “Thrum In The Deep” is a track that I feel encapsulates this concept most clearly, describing the emanation of intense sound and containing the phrase “Ljudet Av Gud” (roughly translated into English “The Sound Of God”). Could you talk a bit about “Thrum In The Deep” and your writing for this album?
“Thrum in the Deep” was sort of the literal translation for what I felt when I heard what Masami (Merzbow) had sent us. I kind of envisioned huge drums in a deep pit resonating forever from the beginning, and Masami’s material perfectly complimented that notion. We had an idea that sound was the ultimate force of nature. Being the ultimate natural force with both mental and physical power, it should be worshiped above any kind of deity or god. Sound is god resonating through you!
III. Rudiments of Mutilation’s “Indigence And Guilt”
The artwork for Rudiments of Mutilation is a really striking piece, highlighting the dichotomy of perceived, socialized life and the reality of its horrors. The lyrics also follow in this manner, highlighting personal anecdotes on real-life horrors or dealing with the eternal misery of life directly. I really like “Indigence And Guilt” for several reasons: a) The John Caution guest spot, b) it’s a callback to traditional hardcore Full Of Hell somewhat and c) it displays the “dichotomy” concept in your poetic ways as well as in a direct manner when John comes in. Also, “Five pounds of flesh to a life of unrest” is such a great way to say from birth to eternal misery. Can you speak a bit about the creation of the track and about your writing on this album generally?
If I can remember, that song is about society ignoring its homeless and lower class. Turning a blind eye and repressing the guilt while those around you suffer. I definitely wrote this album from a place where I was attempting to reconcile with privilege and listen to the empathetic thoughts I had in my head since I was born. The pain of humanity and of existence is so overwhelming that it can crush you. It’s incomprehensible and it’s senseless.
IV. Roots Of Earth Are Consuming My Home
This album felt the most digestible out of Full Of Hell’s discography in terms of sound and concept. It also felt the most personal and relatable, in that it speaks about the vast lack of control one has over life in a very everyman kind of perspective. I also found it interesting that it’s one of the few or only times Full Of Hell touches on the topic of life as a blue-collar worker and the turmoil of working for nothing but simple survival. Could you talk a bit about your mindset in recording the album? I remember reading somewhere that you stated it was a concept album of sorts?
This album is probably my least favorite, just because the subjects were metaphorically about simpler more personal struggles I was going through in my life at the time. Since this record was finished, I’ve been able to move onto to a larger and better scope. Some of the subjects on the record I’d like to keep to myself. The metaphors can be interpreted however you’d like. However, I did spend time working in a factory at the bottom level, and watching my co workers did affect me. They are spending their entire lives inside those walls. There is nothing else out there for them, and if there was, they could not see it. The idea that a life, an entire human life, can be wasted inside brick and metal walls anonymously mass producing a product as a cog in someone’s giant machine until it ends is depressing. Overall, this record is a coming of age record. I think it reflects some relatively common pains we all face as we grow.
V. Full Of Hell/Psywarfare Split’s “Thee Insurmountable Wall”.
This lyrics for this song were taken mostly from a portion of the Bible titled “Balaams Second Oracle”. Due to the various translations, I can’t tell if you’ve modified it somehow or if it was pulled straight. While I’m unaware of the context of the passage, I took it more as a questioning of “God”, the projected qualities that humans put upon it and the fear that God may not be at all sensible or personable to human values. As a self-described non-religious person, how’d you happen upon this and what went into the idea of putting this into the track?
I like to listen to traditional religious music sometimes. It’s beautiful in its love and worship and also terrifying for the same reasons. “Balaams Second Oracle” is not a questioning of God. It is a declaration of God’s goodness and the immutable truth of his actions. I added lines in the song in between the choir sampling to denounce that idea, writing about the shellshock of soldiers returning home and those not even fortunate enough to do so.
VI. Full Of Hell/Code Orange Split’s “Reeds In A River, Dry”
I have to be honest here. I don’t know what the lyrics mean at all. I still have a word document from you explaining the lyrics of “Fox Womb”, so I won’t ask it here. Could you speak a bit on this track?
“Damp Reeds In A River, Dry” is about the continuation of the issues I had while writing Roots of Earth. Look at the title. On Roots Of Earth Are Consuming My Home, there was a track called “The Oars Are Broken”. I was referencing being in a boat on a river unable to control your course. “Damp Reeds in a River, Dry” implies that the river has emptied, but hasn’t been so for very long at all. This song is about the turmoil of an unsure heart. I’ll leave it at that.
VII. Full Of Hell/Goldust Split’s “Vessel Deserted”
You re-recorded this track for Rudiments of Mutilation, but it made its first appearance here. The origins of this song are very personal to you, as I’ve gleamed from one or two interviews and conversations we’ve shared, and deals with the loss of a close friend. If you’re comfortable talking about it, would you care to elaborate on the track?
This was one of the first songs I wrote with Full of Hell. I wanted to write about losing one of my best friends, but hadn’t really had a chance before this. Basically, I was in bands for years with a person and was very close with them. We grew up together and shared a lot of interests. During our first year in college, he died in his room from a strange medical condition that affected his heart, and I found him in his room. It was hard to deal with. The song is the direct result of that, it’s got a simple form and is un-poetically angry.
VIII. Full Of Hell/Calm The Fire Split’s “Molluck”
This is another favorite track of mine, just heavy and straight to the point. It’s also another one that is lyrically in line with “Black Iron”, dealing with wage-slave economic opportunities and their social/lifestyle repercussions. In writing this track, was there a different angle or influence to this track that you didn’t explore in tracks like “Black Iron” or “Endless Drone”?
I think I just went in with a more honed vision. It’s the same motif as the other two tracks. I love the vocal rhythms on this song much more than “Black Iron” or “Endless Drone”. It sucks that we never played it live. Definitely a forgotten B-Side.
XI. The Inevitable Fear Of Existence’s “Horus”
I guess this is a track that’s not often part of Full Of Hell’s staple live tracks, but I’ve always enjoyed it musically. The track seems to deal with the inevitability of time, but the title deals with an Egyptian deity. Was “Horus” meant to be a play on “hours”?
“Horus” was not meant to be a play on the word hours. I actually had to look up the lyrics to this song because I couldn’t remember them at all. I remember writing this while I was working at the factory. I’ve always been a tired person and this was definitely written about the struggle of living on little to no sleep.
During the Rudiments of Mutilation period, we spoke briefly about a Xasther-esque black metal project you were in with Balazs Pandi and Jamie Saft called the Gerald Fletcher Memorial Grindcore Explosion. What’s been going on with that project?
Nothing is going on with it actually! Balazs is supposed to visit America next month, so maybe we will be able to revisit it then. The name is most definitely changing.
On a lighter note, what are your favorite memes at the moment? I’m a particular fan of Yee. P.S. To readers, go like the Full Of Hell affiliated meme page Side Smiles on FaceBook.
I really like the Batman meme where Joker asks “do you wanna know how I got these scars?” in the first frame. In the second frame it just shows a bag of those ice pops. I’m also really into the Oprah meme where she says “you get a leg, you get a leg, you all get legs!” and then it shows the “MY LEG” guy from Spongebob comprising the entire audience.
For all of the more obscure noise and Hydra-Head type of music that you enjoy, I believe that you’re also a big fan of just dumb heavy hardcore/beatdown type material. What are some of your favorite artists in that vein?
I need to check out some good newer stuff, but I really enjoy Taste the Steel, Swear to God, 100 Demons, All Out War etc. I actually really like God’s Hate! That’s a newer heavy band.
You’ve played with a lot of artists that you’ve been fans of. What artists are left on your bucketlist to share the stage/tour with?
That’s a tough one. I would say Swans, but that will likely never happen with this band. I would love to open for Godflesh, Napalm Death, Neurosis or Cannibal Corpse. I would also love to play a show with GASP and to open for Bastard Noise again.
Popeyes Chicken or KFC?
RAISING CANES MOTHER FUCKER.
What’s in the future for Full Of Hell?
We are sitting on a seriously fucking insane split 7”. I’m so excited about it. We have some really amazing tours lined up (obv) and a lot of plans for our actual 3rd solo LP. That will come out next year. All I want for the future with Full Of Hell is more good tours and more records.
Thanks again for doing the interview, Dylan. Are there any last words or remarks you’d like to add?
Seriously, Raising Canes is better than whatever restaurant any of you like!!!!!!!!!!!
Pre-order One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache digitally or CD via Neurot Recordings here and look out for vinyl pre-orders late March. Catch the harsh grinding death of Full Of Hell LIVE with Pig Destroyer, Converge, and the body, dates and details below. Follow Full Of Hell on Facebook here and via tumblr here for further misery.
If for any reason you wanted to get a print of the Full Of Hell photo used, you can do so here: http://wayneballard.bigcartel.com/.
Full Of Hell Tour Dates:
03/11/2016 Wiliamsburg Hall Of Music – New York,NY w/ Pig Destroyer
THE BODY + FULL OF HELL European Tour Dates 2016:
4/06/2016 Vera – Groningen, NL
4/07/2016 Magasin 4 – Brussels, BE
4/08/2016 Het Bos – Antwerp, BE
4/09/2016 Ritual Festival @ Canal Mills – Leeds, UK w/ Conan, 40 Watt Sun
4/10/2016 Audio – Glasgow, UK
4/11/2016 Rainbow Cellar – Birmingham, UK
4/12/2016 The Ruby Lounge – Manchester, UK
4/13/2016 Electric Brixton – London, UK w/ Converge “Blood Moon”
4/14/2016 Roadburn Festival – Tilburg, NL
4/16/2016 KB18 – Copenhagen, DK
4/17/2016 Kantine Am Berghain – Berlin, DE
4/18/2016 Klub 007 – Prague, DE
4/19/2016 Feierwerk – Munich, DE
4/20/2016 Jubez – Karlsruhe, DE
4/21/2016 Gaswerk – Winterthur, CH
4/22/2016 La Machine A Coudre – Marseille, FR
4/23/2016 Sidecar – Barcelona, ES
4/24/2016 Moby Dick – Madrid, ES
4/25/2016 Musicbox – Lisbon, PT
4/26/2016 Cave 45 – Porto, PT
4/27/2016 Santana 27 – Bilbao, ES
4/28/2016 Le Saint Des Seins – Toulouse, FR
4/29/2016 La Mecanique Ondulatoire – Paris, FR
4/30/2016 Tivoli De Helling – Utrecht, BE
6/03/2016 – 6/04/2016 The Black Sheep – Colorado Springs, CO (Seven One Grind II Fest)
6/10/2016 – 6/11/2016 The Regent Theater – Los Angeles, CA (Sound & Fury Fest)
8/12/2016 – 8/14/2016 Capitol Theater – Olympia, WA (Migration Fest)
9/04/2016 – Canal Mills – Leeds, UK (Ritual Fest)
10/21/2016 – 191 Toole – Tucson, AZ (Southwest Terror Fest V)