The doomy Portland duo The Body released their most recent record I Shall Die Here earlier this month, surpassing their already heavy reputation by collaborating with Bobby Krlic of Haxan Cloak. The unlikely pairing was the mastermind of their label head at RVNG Intl., but it feels so organic you would never suspect that the relationship began that way. It is, and was, meant to be. Punishing drums blanketed by white hot noise, drum machines and unlikely breakdowns, blood-curdling screams are all seamlessly orchestrated to create something that is beyond genre, which is just what The Body were going for. We had a chance to talk to Lee Buford, the man behind the drums, about pain, trepanning, and pizza.
A lot of contemporary metal is really formulaic. I believe that experimentation with the genre is even frowned upon, perhaps. Did you guys make a conscious effort to stray from the metal standards with I Shall Die Here?
I think we try to stay away from doing anything metal in everything we do. We don't really listen to that much metal nowadays. I think the problem with a lot of music nowadays is that people don't let these other genre influences in to what they're doing so everything sounds really insular. Luckily being a two-piece it's easy for us to kind of go in any direction musically without too many egos to take in to account.
How did you end up working with Bobby? It is such a seemingly strange pairing but it works so well. The term 'producer' can mean all sorts of things, how much was this album collaboration? What was his role versus The Body's role in the making of this album?
Matt [Werth] at RVNG pitched the idea to us and Bobby, so he's the mastermind behind all that. We recorded six songs at the same sessions we did Christs, Redeemers with the intention of them getting remixed and added to, so we tried to keep them kinda unfinished. Bobby then flew over from England and took the songs apart and rebuilt them at the Mexican Summer studios [Ed's note: Bobby mixed the tracks at Gary's Electric Studios].
You must be pretty interested in more experimental music, atmospheric, and noise these days. Do you think that sound is more important than a great riff? What are you most focused on when writing songs?
I definitely think sound and feeling are more important than riffs. In Chip's ideal world his guitar sound would be completely indecipherable. We focus mainly on the feel of a song more than anything. Technically we're both pretty bad at playing music, so it makes us work harder on trying to get across what we're trying to express.
What are some noise and metal acts that you guys are fans of right now and why? Did any artists or albums help inspire Hail to Thee..
I haven't heard too many metal bands I'm actively listening to besides Loss, Pissgrave, and Sandworm. As far as noise stuff, work/death is criminally underrated. Humanbeast put out a great record last this year on Load. As far as direct inspiration, it's more we'll hear some element from a song or band that resonates with us that influences us. Chip listens to more noise stuff and I listen to more industrial stuff.
Do you find that you revel in misery and pain, or that embracing and playing bleak music helps to soothe most of your existential suffering?
I don't think we revel in it, but it is cathartic to play the music we do. If we tried to play anything else it would feel insincere in a way.
Did you guys move to Portland to punish yourself or do you actually like it there? What is it like living there as gun lovers?
We like living in Portland a lot. I honestly never really go out besides work so I don't deal with any sort of nightlife. It's a beautiful part of the country and it's pretty cheap so I'm in to it. Living in New England for 11 years really crushed our spirits, so it's nice to live in a place where just getting by is a goddamn hassle. We sold all our guns but the gun laws are pretty lax there. The rest of Oregon outside of Portland is a lot like the south, a lot of hunters and fishermen.
I am not a squeamish person, but the video for “To carry the Seeds of Death Within Me” was really hard to watch. What is the deal with that video? Is it found footage? Is it really a dude trepanning? How does this video relate to the song to you guys?
Our friend Bo, who makes most our videos, made that one. It's basically his friend cutting into his head to get ready to trepan himself. I don't think he actually drilled into his head but I'm sure he really did cut himself open. Bo's really good about making unsettling videos for us that still keep our vision of escapism. Most often that escapism is portrayed as suicide but in this case it's more spiritual.
If the world was going to end tomorrow, what would you want to do first?
The Body's I Shall Die Here is out now on RVNG Intl.