Last week, NYC’s Primitive Weapons released their second full-length offering The Future of Death (via Party Smasher Inc). The album is an intense, vitriolic blend of post-hardcore and metal with a muscular 90’s style alt-rock grit. The band features an assortment of luminaries from the NYC scene both past and present – drummer Chris Enriquez played with emo vanguard On The Might of Princes, guitarist Arty Shepard has done time with a laundry list of bands including the 90’s innovators Mind Over Matter and defining post-hardcore groups like Errortype:11 and Instruction, and vocalist David Castillo currently shreds his voice in White Widows Pact as well. In addition to this, Castillo and Shepard along with their partners, run the increasingly legendary NYC fixture Saint Vitus Bar, which has just celebrated it’s 5th anniversary with a slate of special performances which included the release show for The Future of Death. Recently David and Arty we kind enough to answer some questions we had about Primitive Weapons and what went into making The Future of Death, which can be streamed in full below.
Primitive Weapons’ previous record – The Shadow Gallery, which came
out in 2012 seemed a bit more raw, both sonically and in terms of
songwriting than The Future of Death. However, listening to both
releases back to back, the progression to what you’ve accomplished on
the new record feels like the same band growing, refining, and
focusing its sound. Is that what the four years between albums has
been like for you? Was Primitive Weapons still active and working
during that period, or was there some dormancy and reactivation that
led to this release?
In my mind, The Future of Death exists at a sort of crossroads between
post-hardcore, noise rock, and metal. Part of what I enjoy about it
is the fluency with which you guys seem to employ the tropes of those
genres without ever letting any one of them overtake and water down
the songwriting to the point where it feels generic at all. Is that
the way you see it? What are some of the influences and musical ideas
that led to you producing this kind of sound?
Arty: We absolutely see it that way. At the end of the day, it is really about the song writing, not the genre. I very much write the music with Dave’s vocals in mind. His style guides me. When he started singing more, i was able to bring more dynamic into the songs. I have never been in a band that has done one thing and truth be told, I feel like that has hurt those bands in that it falls through the cracks because everyone needs to pigeonhole you. I come from a school of Led Zep or even Smashing Pumpkins who made balanced records and explored different types of song writing and sounds. It’s not just about a specific aesthetic. I was very influenced by post punk stuff like Killing Joke and PIL for this record. I wanted my guitar playing to be more angular and give the bass more room to be heard.
Some of the song titles on the record, like Ashes or Paradise,
Panopticon Blues, Whistle Past the Graveyard, and Age of Denial in
particular seem to indicate a dystopian theme at work, especially when
coupled with the tense and vitriolic musical backdrop. Is that the
case? If so, can you elaborate on those ideas a little?
So, both of you guys bring a lot to the table as longtime active
members of the NY underground music scene, with Arty having played in
Mind Over Matter, Errortype:11, Instruction, etc and David currently
also singing in White Widows Pact, along with both of your involvement
in the day to day operations of Saint Vitus Bar. Have those projects
and experiences influenced the direction of Primitive Weapons, do they
manifest themselves at all on The Future of Death?
You released a really interesting video for the track The Electric
Drama, directed by Zev Deans who is known for his work with Portal,
Behemoth, Ghost among others. I understand he also produced the
artwork for the record. He has a pretty specific aesthetic, which I
think came together with your music in a really cool way. What was
that collaboration like, and what kind of concepts were you hoping the
art and video would convey?
For this record, you partnered with Ben Weinman’s (of Dillinger Escape
Plan) Party Smasher Inc label/media endeavor. What lead you to work
with his company, and how has that experience been so far?