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The brutal TXDM band comments on playing Neurotic Deathfest and Penning New Material

Texas boasts one of the largest death metal scenes in the world. Death Metal-themed festivals provide a forum for the legions of death and grind acts to puke forth cadaverous abominations upon the heads of their cannibalistic followers. Houston-based Uncleansed is a group that has always battered and splattered the ears of this scribe on the festival circuit.

I reported their powerful performance at Goregrowler's Ball 5. Vocalist Shawn Whittaker seemingly derived his voice from the bottomless perdition. Recently, the group announced Whittaker left the band and welcomed new vocalist, James Vandenberg from the Austin’s Perversum as their new growler. Along with drummer Darrell White, Vandenberg corresponded with Metal Underground.com via email about joining the band, his first live performance and new material.

Darren Cowan: Shawn Whitaker asked you to replace him as the vocalist of Uncleansed. Do you recall when this happened? Did he tell you why he wanted to leave the band?

James Vandenberg: He called me mid-December and asked me to contact the band because he had to quit for personal reasons. I guess he felt I would be a suitable replacement. Jim (Case, guitar) had given me "Domination of The Faithful" about a year and a half ago, which I was pretty impressed with, so I hit him up right away. Shawn expressed to me that he didn't really want to leave the band, but had to take a step back from playing live. Afterwards, I talked to Jim and I would've been the first choice anyways as a replacement so that worked out great.

Darrell White: Shawn had been considering taking a break from live performances, and finally concluded it was the best move for him at this point in time. Uncleansed supports the decision and collectively wishes him the best. We are thrilled to have James aboard.

Cowan: Shawn Whitaker has built a strong following in the brutal death metal underground playing in Viral Load and with his one-man group, Insidious Decrepancy. Are you nervous about filling his shoes?

Vandenberg: Not at all. Being Whitaker's replacement doesn't make me nervous; if anything, I'm more anxious to get a feel for the band onstage. Shawn is a great vocalist, there's no doubt about that, and I'm sure some of the fans will be skeptical about a new front man, but I'm confident that they won't be disappointed.

Cowan: How do your vocals compare to Shawn Whittaker?

Vandenberg: We are definitely different vocalists. Shawn Whitaker has his own patented voice. I'm definitely not trying to duplicate that. I've established my own sound over the years, but when I play prerecorded material live, the vocals will be somewhat comparable.

Cowan: You live in Austin and Uncleansed lives in Houston. How do you practice? Is it all done online?

Vandenberg: Well, I basically was given two months to learn the set before my first gig with the band, so being that I live two-and-a-half hours away and work full-time, the only opportunity I have to rehearse with the band is on the weekends. So I've been learning the material off the album at home and driving to Houston on the weekends to rehearse. Things are coming together solid and we're working on new unreleased material now.

Cowan: In addition to becoming Uncleansed’s vocalist, you also front the death metal band, Perversum. When did you start growling for Perversum? Have you fronted other bands?

Vandenberg: I started Perversum with my good friend, Mark VanDenBerg (no relation) and shortly after joined up with Dennis Sanders (Hod) and Eric Houser in the winter of 2010. We have a six-song EP in the final stages of production and are getting ready to self-release it in the near future. I've also fronted a band called Carnal Befoulment for a few years before moving to Texas, but never released anything with them. They have a new vocalist now and released a four-song demo. I've been in a few other projects over the years as well.

Cowan: James makes his debut with Uncleansed at the Neurotic Deathfest
in Holland on March 4, 2012. Is this your first performance over seas?

Vandenberg: Yes, and I'm completely amped about it! It'll be my second time in Holland but first time ever performing overseas, and to do so at the Neurotic Deathfest is a total honor. The lineup this year is absolutely devastating (Cannibal Corpse, Behemoth, Napalm Death, Suffocation, Morgoth and Goreguts and many more).

White: This is not my first show over seas, but is the first show for Uncleansed outside of the U.S.

Cowan: Uncleansed released one full-length recording “Domination of the Faithful” in 2009. Is the band writing new material? If so, when can we expect your next release?

White: Yes we are nearly complete with material for the next installment. There is no exact date for the album but the recording process will begin soon.

Cowan: What can we expect it to sound like? How do the new songs compare to “Domination of the Faithful?”

White: The songs will not stray from the original formula that was used on the first album. The core writers in the band remain the same and the addition of new members will only enhance the writing/creative process.

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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