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Vocalist Chance Garnette Describes New Album Sound And The Group's SXSW Experience

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Band Photo: Skeletonwitch (?)

Skeletonwitch has now achieved a decade of music. The first ten years were nothing short of astonishing. Instead of hitting a sophomore slump, which many bands experience after concocting a must-listen formula, the group improved and found a much larger audience with Prosthetic Records when they released “Beyond the Permafrost” in 2007. Something about the Ohio-based group’s sound, a boney blend of thrash, black and melodic death with conspicuous European influences, commanded listeners’ attention. Over the years, their following has grown to the point where one can’t talk about the modern metal scene without mentioning the name Skeletonwitch.

Since their latest jaunt was a U.S. headlining tour with Havok, Early Graves and Mutilation Rites, Skeletonwitch has been home working on their fifth full-length recording. Heading into the group’s second decade of music, it seemed fitting that Metal Underground spoke to vocalist Chance Garnette at SXSW. As he states in the following conversation, Skeletonwitch last played SXSW around ’04 or ’05—an early point in the band’s career. As SXSW helped jump start the first ten years of their career, it has provided a platform to launch its second decade of music. Before hearing the band play a new track at the Van’s/Pitchfork’s SXSW day showcase at the Mohawk, Garnette aptly described what we would hear. Read on further for that description.

Darren Cowan (Rex_84): Welcome to Austin, Texas. Is this your first time playing SXSW?

Chance Garnette: No, we played back in the day. This is the first time we’ve played it since 2004. It was that long ago. It’s been a while. I believe it was then. I could be wrong. I think I’m wrong. It wasn’t 2004, but it’s been a while.

Cowan: You’re here for how long, just one day?

Garnette: Yes, House of Van and Pitchfork were nice enough to fly us in to play this show today here at the Mohawk. We leave tomorrow at 6 A.M. We’re not even here for 24 hours. We’re here about 16 hours.

Cowan: Where do you go from there?

Garnette: We start recording in April in Massachusetts, so we want to go home and polish up the record, so we can make sure we’re ready for the studio. This is our first show of 2013. We’ve been at home writing, rehearsing and throwing ideas back and forth. It’s going to be interesting. Hopefully, we don’t blow it [laughs].

Cowan: What can you tell your fans about your new record?

Garnette: Upon playing it you’ll be like, “Is this the new Skeletonwitch?” We didn’t throw you a curve ball and do something totally different, but it’s also not any of the other albums part two. It’s a little colder, I think. It’s a little blacker. It’s a little more evil. The guitar work definitely surpasses the rest of our albums. It has lots of harmonies.

Cowan: So you’ve thrown in more harmonies.

Garnette: Yes, lots of twin harmonies.

Cowan: (Mercyful Fate’s “A Dangerous Meeting” plays in the background) Mercyful Fate-type twin harmonies?

Garnette: Woven in between what we normally do, yeah. A blast beat into a bad ass harmony back into a thrash part. I like it a lot, man. You always run that risk when you put out a new record. You think, “It’s kind of different from the last one. I hope people dig it.” Then again, it is what it is. I think if I like it, then it will probably be well received. I don’t think I’ll put out some crap because we have to write another record. I think it’s a natural progression that is just getting better. I think it’s good.

Cowan: Do you have e a working title?

Garnette: Maybe. That’s definitely one of those things they’ll tell you to save for a press release and this and that. That’s just part of the game they want you to play. For the sake of not rocking the boat, I’m going to play that game for right now [laughs].

Cowan: Do you have any song titles you can reveal?

Garnette: We’re going to play a new one tonight. I’ll give you that one when I’m on stage. SXSW is a great place to play. We were just here on the “U.S. Abominations Tour” at the end of last year. As always, Austin turned up and it was killer. This was our headliner and we played at Red 7. I believe this was in November 2012. It was awesome. We are definitely going to play a new one tonight and I can’t think of a better place.

Cowan: Skeletonwitch plays around 6.

Garnette: Something like that. This is a day showcase. I believe the Stooges show takes over at 8. I think we’re on from 5 until 6. Things are a little behind, as you would expect, but we have a 2-hour cushion, so 6 may be a little more accurate.

Cowan: Are you going to stick around and watch Iggy Pop?

Garnette: If the venue will let us hang, then absolutely. We want to see how muscular he is [laughs].

Cowan: He is so toned.

Garnette: Yes, Iggy and Bobby Blitz. They look awesome! Not only are they still doing it, but they’re kicking ass when they do it.

Cowan: Right, and they are up there in age, especially Iggy.

Garnette: I just turned 40 and I’m just starting to feel it. Those guys are much older than me, I know they’re older than me, so they’re doing something right and I’m doing something wrong [laughs].

Cowan: Do you have any other plans for tonight?

Garnette: We have to fly out tomorrow at 6 A.M, meaning I’ll probably have to be at the airport at 4:30. Either I’m going to burn the midnight oil and stay up all night…we’ll just see. I have lots of friends in Austin, so any of them want to give me some shit, I’ll probably be down.

Cowan:You have the new record to work on. Do you have a tour(s) planned to support that album?

Garnette: We’re working on a couple of things now. If a certain thing comes through, then I’ll have to scrap the tour that is being booked now. If I say I’m going on this tour and it gets scraped then I lied. I’m kind of waiting on something.

Cowan: So you have things in the works?

Garnette: Yes, always. It’s our job and you have to stay constantly in motion.

Rex_84's avatar

An avid metal head for over twenty years, Darren Cowan has written for several metal publications and attended concerts throughout various regions of the U.S.

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