Impending Doom Gets Literal On A Video Interview in Nashville
On July 6th, Nashville was doomed, so to speak. Impending Doom had arrived in town for a show at Rocketown that night, bringing with them a handful of other bands: Within The Ruins, The Plot In You, Erra, and To Each His Own. Despite having the smaller of the two Rocketown venues for their show, their performance was fitting of the scope of their band name.
Before the show, I caught up with Impending Doom vocalist Brook Reeves, along with his bandmates on the tour bus, for a video interview. The band is known for confrontationally Christian lyrics, constantly involving Us-Versus-Them scenarios. For example, in the title track to their third album, Reeves says, “For the unbelievers who repeatedly try to retain their belief in humanity, I promise there will be violence.”
I got them to elaborate on their message, talk about their latest album and modern production styles, as well as detail their songwriting process and their past.
Frank Serafine (Progressivity_In_All): So, “Baptized In Filth” is the new album. How long did the whole album process take, from the songwriting to the recording?
Brook Reeves: Probably about a year. No, I take that back. Seven months, Yeah.
Frank: And that’s from the start up until the release?
Brook: Up to the release? Probably about ten months. A little less than a year.
David Sittig: When we were done recording, we waited like 4 months to be completely done.
Brook: About seven months to do. About ten to eleven months when it finally came out.
Frank: What does the Impending Doom songwriting process look like? Where does the song start, and how do they develop?
Brook: It usually starts with riffs. Then, from riffs, we usually jam with Brandon on the drums.
Manny Contreras: David writes all the drums. (laughs)
Brook: Then we go from riffs to drums, to then, they show me something and then we all kind of brainstorm where it could go and where it should go. Nothing too complicated. It’s a really simple process – just riffs, drums, then we get the feel of the song, where it should go, what kind of a song it should be, and then kind of build layers after we get the first rhythm tempo of it mapped out.
Frank: “My Light Unseen” is kind of uncharacteristic for your guys, with the clean singing. Is this a sign of things to come or a one-off for you guys.
Brook: Of course…
David: It’s a one off. I love that song. It’s probably one of my favorite songs on the entire CD. But we’re not going to put out an album sounding all like that. I’m sure we’ll do another song like that, because we like to throw a different song in on each of our albums. Like the instrumental song on “There Will be Violence” and stuff like that. This one was supposed to be an instrumental song, but we just happened to put a vocal track on it. I like doing songs like that as well, but I couldn’t see us doing a whole album of that.
Brook: I would hope to someday branch off and do some chorusey stuff or something. Not totally just stay four, five, six albums deep and do the same thing… You know, I like to do choruses and stuff like that. I’d like to make it a bigger sound.
Frank: And you did change up, vocally. You evolved your growl a little more. Is there any form of training that you engage in to make it more defined and not hurt?
Brook: It doesn’t hurt. I’m always practicing and I’m always trying to do different things, whether it’s trying to sing or trying to yell. So, from year to year, I’m usually always hopefully developing a better sound. I think I have. I’ve still got a long ways to go from where I want to be, but I like the last album the best vocally and production-wise.
Frank: I’ve noticed it has less of a modern production in that there are a lot of natural tones to them, especially with the drums. What is your take on the production of albums today? Because the production has been getting more exaggeratedly heavy, and some bands have even reacted completely against it and rejected it like Opeth and Pain of Salvation.
Brandon Trahan: Yeah, that’s great. That’s what I love about bands like that, that keep it raw and stuff like that.
Brook: B-Town recorded everything. It’s not like fake or anything. He recorded it all to make it sound… We did put some production into it, to make it a bigger sound, but nothing was fake on it. I like that raw sound, that raw tone. Yeah. We’re probably going to do a bit more raw in the future.
Brandon: I like to record what I CAN play. What I have the ability to play. I’m not trying to do double bass that’s like 260 BPM’s and then I’d lie about it. That’s what I try to shoot for.
Frank: The latest album has lyrics really directly calling out hypocrites for a lot of it. I’m guessing this is a theme. Did you guys mean that to line up with “There Will Be Violence,” more or less? Or was there a different take on it this time?
Brook: I’m very simple and not really deep. We don’t need people, especially in America, just calling themselves Christians because that’s what they’re told to be. Being a Christian means a lot more than just saying “I’m a Christian.” It’s more than acknowledging that Jesus Christ is God. That’s fine and dandy, but if you’re not doing anything about it and you’re living a double life, then it doesn’t really matter what you think. If you’re just “Yeah, I know Jesus is God,” and not living a life that produces fruit and showing it, then you’re not doing anything.
That’s pretty much what that really means. It’s easy to point fingers at non-Christians or non-Christian bands, “Oh, they’re so terrible, they’re so terrible,” but you know what? I find, a lot of Christians, it’s terrible when you do know the truth and you live a double life or you compromise or you’re just a fake about it. Or you’re not bold about it. That stuff pisses me off more than a non-Christian, because yeah, they’re NOT Christian. That’s the thing.
I really try to not attack Christians. I have songs that lift up Christians, like the biggest one is “More Than Conquerors,” and I really just want to take the Christians that we have in the church and to really call them out. “You believe this?” Everybody needs to get checked every once and awhile, because it’s easy to get in that stagnant just “Yeah, I believe.” I really just want to like poke at you. Come on! Get out there! There’s a lot of people out there that don’t know the peace and love of Jesus, so just say something!
Frank: So, I just wanted to see if you could elaborate on the meaning of some of these lyrics. “For the unbelievers who repeatedly try to retain their belief in humanity, I promise there will be violence.”
Brook: Well, I think that anything that has to do with self-righteousness or yourself or your own self-esteem, your own self-worth… If we keep doing what we’re doing and don’t turn to Jesus for our hope and salvation, when Jesus comes back and Christians are gone, all hell’s going to break loose on this earth. That’s what I believe. I believe that, once Christians are gone… I think Christians are holding this place together. As crazy as this world is… I think God’s got a perfect plan and Christians are holding it together.
Once they’re gone, I believe there will be violence. (everyone laughs)
Frank: It fits in with the lyrics! (laughs) So, in “Murderer,” the lyrics state that the antichrist will rise in an unseen world. You’re getting that directly from the book of Revelations?
Frank: I just wanted to see if we could connect that to “everyone here will die, but the great fear is being left behind”, that “hell is coming.” Were you talking about, in a literal sense, the Rapture?
Frank: Okay. Can you kind of elaborate on the metaphorical meaning that holds or the literal?
Brook: Which one do you want to start with?
Frank: Does it hold more of a metaphorical or a literal meaning, for you?
Brook: Well, I believe the antichrist rising up and is going to come to power very soon, because the next thing in prophecy, I believe it is, is the Rapture. That’s the next thing that should happen in today’s world. So, I believe the antichrist is coming soon. He will rise, but he will fall, obviously. He will be defeated in the end.
Frank: That’s with “Murderer”…
Brook: Most of those whole lyrics, and then being left behind obviously is gonna SUCK. Because you’re gonna go through the tribulation and the tribulation ain’t gonna be good. Well, the last half of it. I just… That’s “IMPENDING DOOM.” That’s the thing. We want to warn people about doom. If you want to put your faith in this world, into yourself, or any other thing that was created, it’s not going to last. If you can’t tell already, things don’t last.
Life doesn’t last. Cars don’t last. Money doesn’t last. Nothing lasts. Hope doesn’t even last if you have it in yourself or somebody else. If you have your hope in a musician, an idol, in anything, those people die. Those people, they mess up.
Brandon: They fail you.
Brook: They’ll fail you. Those people will fail you.
Frank: Have you guys had any bus breakdowns on the tour? I had to ask, since you mentioned that.
Brook: Bus breakdowns? We just got slammed by an 18-wheeler two weeks ago. It destroyed our trailer. We had an RV before this and it just smashed the back end. Besides that, no. I mean, we’ve broken down so many times over the years. This thing’s pretty cool. It’s kind of held up. We’ve had it a couple weeks.
Yeah, created things will fail you. And that’s why we focus our hope and everything we’ve got into being faithful to Christ.
Frank: Do you remember what was the first thing that made you want to put this kind of message into the heavy metal medium? What struck it off for you, like a revelation that you’ve gotta do this?
Brook: When I first started the band?
Frank: When you first got the idea to do this.
Brook: I, along with that guy over there (points to Manny Contreras), started it with the intention of writing just slammy, heavy, metal, dirty, fast, grind, nasty, disgusting (laughs) nastiness…
Frank: You were doing the [breathing]-in growls for that! (band laughs)
Brook: Yeah, just nastiness of it all. I didn’t think we’d ever tour. I didn’t think we’d ever do anything. I didn’t know anybody would come to shows. I started it because it was around the time that I started going back to church and I was really stoked on it and I was partying all the time. I was just like, “Well, it’s really empty when you just party, come home, throw up, pass out, wake up, party, come home, throw up, pass out…” Some people think that’s the life! (laughs)
But I was just over it, and it was kind of cool to start a band, because it was like “No, I can’t go party, I can’t go do this because I have band practice. I can’t do this, because I have a show.” It was something positive to put my energy into. God, just, step by step, knew… We could, if we wanted to, tour the whole year. I would never want to do that, but… It’s just now, God just put is into a situation where we’re just touring all the time. I did not expect it at all.
Especially the first EP and a CD that we put out, you wouldn’t think it would do anything, but then that music just kind of picked up. I was getting into church and I was stoked. I didn’t want to just live a meaningless life, so I started a band, and just got a tour, and another tour, and another tour, put out another CD, got another tour… It just happened so fast. I was like 17, 18 years old, and now I’m 25. So it happened so quick.
Frank: Do you guys have any crazy pit stories, like the weirdest stuff you’ve seen happen in a pit on stage?
David: I watched a guy pick up a chair, bash the chair legs into a kid’s face, and bust out all of his teeth with the chair legs.
Frank: That’s brutal.
David: It’s brutal but, I was just shocked! (laughs) Why would you do that to somebody? There’s no good reason to do that to somebody! (laughs)
Frank: Where’d you find a chair at a show?
David: There were like, tables around, and a fight broke out and he just picked up a chair and just (sound effect) like that, and I’m just playing. We stopped, but it’s just like… That’s probably the craziest thing I’ve seen.
Frank: (To Brandon) What about you?
Brandon: I’m in the back, so most of the time, I can’t see past the first row of kids. They always tell me stuff that happens.
Brook: That’s expected, you know? I can name a billion kid-got-bashed-in, people-got-bashed/hurt/hospitals, but the cool thing is when the unexpected happens and we play a show and someone’s crying because people have got their hands up or something like that. I see people in the pit with their hands up and people are moshing around them, like not even caring if they got hit or something! I really like that part of it a lot. That’s refreshing, more than any sort of fight, any sort of all that crap that happens at shows.
That’s the coolest thing when people can get the lyrics, get where we’re going, and no, a lot of people don’t get it, because they’re “but how can you? It’s heavy music, you can’t do it”… But when people really understand or are really in a broken place, that can really just feel the music out and get deeper into it, I think they really can appreciate it more. When I’m singing the words, I can really appreciate it. Nowadays, more kids are knowing the words, and it’s awesome seeing them getting them tattooed on them, or something. You can just see a symbol of ours on their arms. That’s really cool. That’s the best part.
Brandon: I like seeing kids crowd-surf. That’s the only time I ever really see anything. It’s too dark back there for me to see anything. Usually, they tell me after the show, “Oh, did you see this and that?” No, I only saw the first two rows of kids, because I can’t see anything because it’s too dark. (laughs)
David: We just want everyone to have a good time. Rage.
Brandon: Have fun
Brandon: Headbang, man.
David: Have fun, and take something from it. The last thing any of us want to see is a fight or someone leaving unhappy or hurt. I think the fight aspects of shows is funny, the way we handle it… (laughs) Remember that one time? (looks at Brook)
Brook: Oh yeah! (laughs)
David: This fight broke out at a church. This guy was just going around bullying people and Brook saw it. It was a packed show, too, and this guy just had a chip on his shoulder or something. He was picking on these kids, and then he got in a fight and Brook said “We don’t need fights here. If you wanna fight somebody your size, fight my drummer, B-Town.” (laughs)
David: He’s like “You’re not tough. You think you’re tough? Fight B-Town.” B-Town’s just like…
Brandon: I just stood up. I wouldn’t really do it, it was more just a scare tactic, like “Come on, dude, stop.”
David: It’s just 15-year old kids. If you really wanna get in a fight, get in a fight with him.
Brandon: His call-outs are the best. He’s like “you look retarded when you try to fight.” You know, it’s true. Kids these days go to shows these days and fight. That’s just a thing in the pit, but you know, there’s just a lot of stuff like that. Like David says, just be cool people and have a lot of fun. Make it a night to remember, not a place to get scared.
Brook: Make it A Day To Remember! (laughs)
Brandon: Make it A Day To Remember, but not Within The Ruins! (laughs) Those are my buddies. I love those guys. Great dudes. Great bands.
Frank: So you guys have a few more headlining dates coming up. I hope those go well and thanks for having the interview with us.
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