About Me

Interview with Gravewurm

With almost 30 years playing music, Gravewurm are a serious case of longevity in the underground black metal, always staying true to the ideas that made them found the band, refusing being shoulder to shoulder with other big names in the genre, such as Emperor, Burzum or Dimmu Borgir. Last month, Gravewurm released Night Creatures, their 17th full-length and... their 2nd album this year! In fact, the ease of writing songs and the high number of releases in almost 3 decades, is one of the main characteristics of the band and, mainly, of its founder.
It was precisely him, Funeral Grave (Vocals and Guitars) who spoke to us about these 2 new albums, the history of the group and the problems with the countless members that went through the band.

M.I.- Hi! Thanks for your time! It’s great having one of the greatest of the American black metal answering our questions!

Thanks for the interest in GRAVEWURM.

M.I. – For our readers who don’t know Gravewurm… How do you characterize the band and what separates you from the others of black metal?

We have more influences from the 80’s first wave black metal than second wave 90’s, but some of that is there on certain songs. Rarely do we use blasts and our vocals are fairly clear. Traditional heavy metal influences are here and there as well in the structure of most songs, but we switch things up too when the feeling calls for it. 

M.I. - The band started out as Dominion... Why did you decide to change your name?

By 1993, I had become the primary song writer and I am always influenced by darker evil fantasy topics. That, along with discovering bands like Beherit, Goatlord, Funeral Nation, Burzum and Emperor, helped inspire the mood of the music I was creating. I felt the name change was appropriate since the primary theme of the band had shift enough to where it wasn't doom/death anymore. 

M.I. – You released your first album, 8 years after the first demo. Why did it take so long? 

Our music was extremely primitive and raw so there wasn't any label interest. Back then, when an underground band had a label deal, you knew it was something very good and we just weren't there yet in song writing. However, the first album consists of demo songs from 1995/1996. It just took a few more years after that to find a label willing to risk releasing our music. 

M.I . – After that first demo, did you ever think you would continue playing music after 30 years? What were those boys' dreams at the time?

Yeah, I never looked too much into the future back then. It was just, write, record, release another demo / set of songs and try to play some shows. Tape trading and zine interviews were a bonus. I really didn't look to several years into the future in planning things out until the mid 2000s. 

M.I. - You went through a lot of lineup changes. Why? Creative differences? Different styles and music approaches? Or something deeper?

People move or get disinterested in playing or being responsible for other things other than just showing up and playing. 

M.I. - Has the constant lineup changes affected your career a lot?

That was a major problem for the band and still is a concern today. For a band that has been around officially under the name Gravewurm since '93, we really haven't played that many shows and only have been on small tours and a few fests.

M.I. – You guys have always been a band that releases a lot of material. Every year, something new comes out. This year, you went back doing something you had already done in 2010 and released 2 albums! Is it that easy for you to create music?

I am always writing and recording. I have slowed down though over the past few years. The Funeral Rites album was written in the early months of 2019 but I couldn't get the studio booked until late in the year and by that time I had already kind of planned for a new album to be released in January for each year (in recent times).

M.I. - What was the reason behind having two full-length releases this year instead of spreading it out?

Because of the covid-19 lock-down and lack of shows, there was more time to write this year. I decided to break the cycle of January releases and just put out Night Creatures in July since it was ready. 

M.I. – What`s the difference between Funeral Rites and Night Creatures? 

Funeral Rites is more straight forward aggressive black thrash and epic doom influenced. Night Creatures has more black metal atmosphere and early 80’s metal influence. But when all is said and done, Gravewurm is Gravewurm. We never stray too far from the sound and concepts created for the band all those many years ago.

M.I. - How has the reception been for the two albums?

Those who have bought the albums have enjoyed them quite a lot. 

M.I. - With the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, has the recording process suffered any changes? How did you record Night Creatures?

Night Creatures was recorded DIY on my home equipment. I like the process and being able to take your time to get things exactly the way I want them without worrying about the cost of a major studio. 

M.I. - How will you promote the album? Plans for that?

Promotion is mostly done on-line these days. Facebook and webzines are the primary sources. 

M.I. - With so much material (full-length, Splits, Compilations, EP`s... 30 in 20 years!) coming out in such a short time, aren't you afraid to tire the fans? Or worse, neglect the quality of the songs?

Not sure if people are tired of us or not, but we get offers from other labels to do re-releases so that is good there are others who believe in the music. 

M.I. – In 2006 and 2007, Gravewurm released a series of split albums with other bands such as Suicidal Winds, Hekseri or Nunslaughter. How did that happen? What was your favorite?

The songs written back then were specifically for split releases. We had already released several full-length albums by then, so we wanted to share releases with bands who we liked. I think the split with Nunslaughter was very special since I had been friends with them since '93 and the packaging was a deluxe designed package for Halloween. And it was released on the 30th anniversary of Nunslaughter. It was re-pressed as a picture disc also. 

M.I. - Where does your inspiration come from and what bands do you listen to the most?

I am still influenced by the same bands as I love and first heard in the 90’s. Goatlord, Beherit, Venom, Sodom, Hellhammer, Cathedral, Asphyx.

M.I. – The band started in 1992 and released the first full-length in 2000. In these almost 30 years, there have certainly been many ups and downs. What were the greatest highlights and rock bottoms of your career?

Some highlights include touring in Finland and Italy, playing shows with Angelcorpse and Negative Plane. Playing the Hells Headbash 2 fest in 2015.
Low points were when we had to cancel shows because of past members getting in trouble with the law / going to jail. 

M.I. - With so many songs, how do you make the selection for the concerts?

The set has about half the songs which are tried and true songs from the mid 2000s when playing shows had started to increase and through the years the other half changes depending on which albums / releases we were touring for at the time. 

M.I. You are part of that second generation that contributed to modern black metal, such as Burzum, Emperor, Mayhem, Immortal Dimmu Borgir... What did you lack to be next to those names? It was not the lack of quality for sure. Or never leaving the underground has always been the plan?

We never wore corpse-paint or "battle armor" and had more of an 80’s sound than those aforementioned bands of the second wave. We never stood shoulder to shoulder with our peers of the time or of today. The influence of bands such as Goatlord and Hellhammer was more than just musically, it was also an overall sense of being. We didn't care about leaving the underground or even strive to do so. We just wanted to create songs that we liked and if others liked it along the way, that was cool too. 

M.I. - You have always been an underground band. How has this scene changed in the last 3 decades?

It seems like most things run in cycles. DIY was big in the early days, then bands wanted to be more professional and now it seems like DIY is back strong with home recording equipment being used by many underground bands. 

M.I. - Within the genre, do you think the fact that being American is, in some way, a handicap? Because when we think of black metal, we usually think of Scandinavia. Do you think it's because they are more dogmatic, for example? Because, in addition to music, they also work more on the image and "take the anti-Christianity more seriously"?

Back in the 90’s, it could have been considered a handicap, but I think American black metal has come a long way since then. Some great bands and good innovation and creations. 

M.I. – You have your own label – Funeral Empire Records. That certainly gives you more freedom. Any plans to grow that business and sign other bands?

Maybe in the future, I will sign other bands. I always keep an eye out for some new band that I may like, but most of my interests are in the past. 

M.I. – Did all this story of Covid-19 hit you hard? Has your life changed a lot? Or you are just waiting, calmly, that all this goes away?

Jobs come and go since moving to Cleveland Ohio 6 years ago. I am looking forward to going to seeing local and touring bands though when this all has passed. 

M.I. - Do you have live gigs planned for this year? Or, with the state of the pandemic, you are now just thinking about 2021?

All of our show plans are on hold until 2021.

M.I. – We`re just about to wrap… Any last words for our readers?

Thank you very much for this interview. People interested in our style of old goat black metal can follow us on Facebook and our band camp page. https://gravewurm.bandcamp.com 

M.I. – Again, thanks for your time. Keep it strong for another 3 decades!


For Portuguese version, click here

Interview by Ivan Santos