Nothing But Absolute Defiance
Chronicles of Chaos chats with Jason Netherton of Dying Fetus
by: Paul Schwarz
Crushing, violent, unrelenting -- brilliant. All terms very much appropriate to Dying Fetus' most recent unleashing of sonic brutality, _Killing on Adrenaline_, which was released at the close of Summer this year by the band and Morbid Records, in the US and Europe respectively. The band followed up with a run of touring throughout the US and even some European dates. Additionally, they caused both musical and actual havoc at the Milwaukee Metalfest, a spectacle which I unfortunately missed. Dying Fetus have been a growing concern on the underground since they unleashed their first release, 1995's _Infatuation With Malevolence_ which collected two earlier demos onto a single compact disc. _Purification Through Violence_ followed and rose the band profile further, permitting them to tour the States more extensively. Now, with the strength of _Killing on Adrenaline_ behind them, Dying Fetus are in a position to move to a new level of recognition and popularity. At present, they are back in the grind of normal life for a while, recuperating from touring and dealing with other concerns. This interview was one of those concerns.

CoC: _Killing on Adrenaline_ is basically your third album, you've been around for a little while now and you have an underground following. What is the significance of this record, compared to your others? Do you think it is significantly better, reaches a wider audience, etc.?

Jason Netherton: It's definitely our best one, the best songwriting, the best production and all that stuff. So it is definitely a step forward for the band and as far as a wider audience goes, the record label, Morbid Records, helped that. They've taken care of a lot of the promotion and distribution; we did a lot of that ourselves in the past. Especially in Europe, they've done a lot more for us there. We still do a lot of the American work ourselves, we print the CDs ourselves here.

CoC: In terms of press recognition, you guys got a recent write up and picture of the album cover in Metal Maniacs, you got quite a bit of notice for Milwaukee, the stage invasion. I hadn't caught on to you guys until just recently.

JN: Yeah, a lot of people haven't.

CoC: So do you think, with all that taken into account, you could go further with this record, that it will take you up to a new level?

JN: Yeah, we definitely think the new album will take us to a new level. The tours help and we set up our longest tours in the States, 25 shows this time around. We book that all ourselves; the Milwaukee Metalfest we set up at the last minute. The European tour was set up by Morbid, they took care of all that. On the tour we met a lot of people and got the chance to hang out with a lot of people, too.

CoC: _Killing on Adrenaline_ is pretty fuckin' brutal musically and you have quite an extreme, hard edged political stance too, with stuff like "Absolute Defiance". Is that the way you guys like to make music, with brutality in the music -and- the lyrics?

JN: The lyrics are my department, whereas the music's mainly John's department, with the guitars, etc. I wrote one song on the album ["We Are Your Enemy"], he wrote the rest of them. We've always wanted to play this kind of music. We don't concentrate on writing brutal songs, we write songs which are catchy. We like it, that heavy soynd, and we're glad it comes out that way. As far as the lyrics go, I like to keep them interesting, too. Half of them are more kind of traditional death metal lyrics, I guess, along the lines of anger, frustration, pain. The other half are more politically oriented, that's because that's what I study at university, the international global economy. I like to take that kind of stuff and put it into lyrics and make it more accessible to play to a wider audience. To make them take the lyrics and bring them down to a more personal level, I guess.

CoC: It kinda steps up the intelligence factor, stuff like "We Are Your Enemy": "No one left in peace, a policy of mandatory greed..."

JN: That's something I feel very strongly about.

CoC: The technical stuff is one of the things you are noted for. You've got the groove and the catchy riffs, but you've also got quite a lot of technicality in there, the twinges in it, the higher bits. Do you think that has become part of your "trademark" now, do you think you've developed more of your own style?

JN: I think we always had that to a certain extent, and now as a band we've grown a little more and become even more critical with our songwriting. We always like to make sure that songs flow naturally, all the riffs go together, everything is in key, nothing is off with the time changes. We concentrate on that a lot. That includes keeping it interesting, to have technical parts, groove parts and maybe even like a hardcore style, we just wanna keep things interesting. We're lucky enough to have John, who's really talented and can do a lot of the more technical stuff. We've always had a little bit of technicality in there; not really as technical as it sounds, though. It sounds that way, but a lot of it is pretty basic. We've been playing for about ten years and John's been playing guitar for about fifteen and that is about where I guess a musician should be. We're not really that exceptional. The drummer is pretty good; I consider myself a pretty average bass player, 'cause I just follow a lot of the guitar stuff. I can handle all the bass, no problem, but as far as doing funk or slap I'm not what you'd call traditional.

CoC: As a band, do you think you'd ever go one step further than catchy riffs and use keyboards or different vocals, or do you think you are going to just stick with these basic elements and twist them around a bit?

JN: If we ever release an album by Dying Fetus, it will always be in this style; if it changes it all, it would have to be under another name.

CoC: Like a side-project?

JN: Well John has a side-project and he is doing that right now, full time as a matter of fact. We're not going to be writing new stuff 'till next year.

CoC: What was the reason for doing the Integrity cover "Judgement Day"?

JN: John listens to a lot of hardcore. He liked the song a lot and he thought if it was done again -- it was written around '91 and the guitar sound is a bit thin [on the original]. We thought if it was done in a heavier, death metal style it would come across a lot more powerful. Plus, we had seven songs and we decided to do another one and have an eight song album.

CoC: It's interesting, 'cause a lot of death metal bands would do a thrash or death metal cover but not a hardcore or punk cover. I think a lot of people will be surprised to find out that the track is by Integrity.

JN: That's 'cause John is a lot more into hardcore these days. He listens to more hardcore and goes to hardcore shows. He loves to play death metal, but he's not really getting satisfied with what is out there, so he's turned to hardcore.

CoC: You've toured, you've put out the album; in terms of the band, how do you guys work, do you like to put out albums or do you like to go on tour?

JN: We definitely love to tour, but we are really constrained by other priorities. Of the other guys in the band, John and Brian both play full time, they're in their late twenties now and they can't really afford to take off and travel around the world every Summer. We've been lucky enough in that we've managed to tour. We did a tour in 1996, three weeks in North America, and this Summer we were lucky 'cause we managed to put together back-to-back European and US tours. Right now, it is looking like we won't be able to tour until maybe 2000 and something. Certainly not for more than four or five weeks.

CoC: So if you got offered, say, part of the Morbid Angel tour, you'd think about it?

JN: Yeah, we couldn't do it now because we just did it. Maybe next Summer, we're thinking about going out on the west coast.

CoC: The problem with playing a style of music which isn't so well sold is that you still have to work.

JN: You do it for fun.

CoC: It's almost not even a "professional" career.

JN: It's a hobby for us.

CoC: OK, say this album gave you quite a bit of popularity; if it got you a bit further, would you change your style a bit, make life easier, do you think that would be an option?

JN: I don't think that, for us, a change in style would necessarily improve our sales. People like us for what we are, if we changed it all, it would have to be another band or something. We've always been this way, since 1992.

CoC: There is a small following of bands trying to get death metal back now.

JN: I'm really not too impressed with a lot of bands now.

CoC: Any bands in particular which you do or don't like?

JN: I like a lot of stuff, I like the new Cryptopsy a lot, we've always been friends with them. A lot of bands, I can't really think of any off the top of my head.

CoC: What kind of stuff influenced you to do Dying Fetus originally, what did you listen to when you were growing up?

JN: Well, we grew up in the '80s and we listened to a lot of metal. We were into Iron Maiden and stuff, Alice Cooper, and we just kept getting into heavier and heavier stuff. We had a thrash band in the late '80s early '90s and we left that to form Dying Fetus. Along the lines of Death, Dark Angel, Deicide, Terrorizer, we'd just heard Suffocation then.

CoC: So do you hope that you inspire a whole new generation of bands?

JN: Well, I think it's great [if we do that]. Definitely. We spend a lot of our free time putting energy into this music and when we do find out that people are really getting into it and really giving us respect for it, that's really special. We don't see it every day, we only hear it every now and then.

(article submitted 16/1/1999)


ALBUMS
7/23/2011 A McKay 9.5 Dying Fetus - History Repeats...
4/20/2007 J Ulrey 8 Dying Fetus - War of Attrition
5/18/2003 J Smit 7.5 Dying Fetus - Stop at Nothing
8/12/2000 A McKay 9 Dying Fetus - Grotesque Impalement
10/1/1998 A McKay 9 Dying Fetus - Killing on Adrenaline
5/13/1997 A Wasylyk 7 Dying Fetus - Purification through Violence
GIGS
1/25/2004 J Smit Hate Eternal / Dying Fetus / Deeds of Flesh / Prejudice Why, Mr Sound Engineer, Why?
8/31/2003 A McKay Dying Fetus / Skinless / Divine Empire / Misery Index / Stavross A Mini Milwaukee
5/13/2001 A Cantwell Dying Fetus / Gorguts / Skinless / The Berserker Too Fast For Love
1/10/2001 D Rocher Morbid Angel / Enslaved / The Crown / Dying Fetus / Behemoth / Hypnos Belated Tales of the Unexpected
9/1/1998 A Wasylyk Withered Earth / Necronomicon / Deeds of Flesh / Dying Fetus / London Death Fest Milwaukee, Eat Your Heart Out
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