Broken But Not Subdued
CoC chats with Brian Griffin of Broken Hope
by: Aaron McKay
From _Bag of Parts_ to "Engorged With Impiety", featuring James Murphy, to "Siamese Screams" and the phantom instrumentals of "Deadly Embrace", finally to "War-Maggot", I've braved the delineated path of these authoritative metal connoisseurs. Having waited patiently for the release of _Grotesque Blessings_, I eagerly clamored for a chance to canvass Broken Hope topics with Mr. Griffin via an e-mail exchange. The typed dialog to come is both encouraging and daunting concurrently. I encourage you to read on further to harvest the seeds of erudition from the indisputably busy and exceedingly talented Brian Griffin.

CoC: With all your commitments with, for instance, EmSinfonia, producing, engineering, mixing, mastering and guitar duties for the mighty Broken Hope, you and Erik Rutan [Hate Eternal / Alas] could be accurately described as a couple of the hardest working men in the business, huh?

Brian Griffin: I would have to agree there. I can't speak for Erik, but I do know he is the same as I am when it comes to dedication to our craft. I have been doing this for ten years and it never gets boring. I like to devote all of my time to music in one way or another. It is great to be in more than one band as well as have a studio to work with other bands. Music is my life and everything else isn't quite as interesting. As a matter of fact, I have just started my third band, which is another death metal project, but more extreme than Broken Hope. I can't imagine slowing down. I just want to try a lot of different styles, because I wouldn't be happy just sitting around watching someone else do it.

CoC: Having been exposed to Broken Hope for a great number of years, the band seems to be extremely proficient in self-promotion. What do you think? True? And, as a follow-up to that question, was it Martyr Music's ability to give BH the support the group deserved, finally, that made you go with this up-and-coming label?

BG: Broken Hope has always been self-sufficient. We can't rely on someone else to get us to the next level. All bands really need to work hard to get to where they want to be, nowadays. If you expect to get something done you really have to do it yourself. Martyr has made us a priority and I think that is what we really needed at this time. They know what needs to be done because of their years of experience in the industry. We bounce ideas off each other and the band/label relationship we have could not be any better. Things are getting easier as the label gets more well-known and being on a label that actually knows the scene is a big plus.

CoC: I believe I can hear Broken Hope influences in others bands' material. What do you think about the influence BH has effectuated on music and brutal death metal in specific?

BG: We definitely have our influences and they are quite varied. I think it is a great compliment to have another band be inspired by what you have done. We are definitely not innovators anymore. We have been around awhile like a lot of the older bands and the newer acts have definitely taken what we started with to a new level. Back in the day there weren't many death metal bands, but now there is one on every block. This was all started by the bands that were around ten or twelve years ago and it is great to be one of those bands.

CoC: Seems to me that for a long time Broken Hope was kind of an undiscovered treasure in the world of metal. Would you agree, and do you think this is changing? Is the band more exposed now?

BG: I wouldn't say we were a treasure, but we definitely didn't get the push we were hoping for in the past. With all of the competition it is difficult to make your mark, but I think sticking it out all of these years has shown that we are definitely a group of guys that are willing to do it for the music and deal without the recognition if that's what it takes. We are getting quite a bit of exposure through Martyr because they are more in tune with the scene and know what media outlets will benefit us the most.

CoC: Speaking of hidden aptitude, how would you characterize the notoriety you've achieved through your production efforts with other bands, in addition to Broken Hope?

BG: I am still working on getting my name out there as a producer. It is a never-ending job. With today's technology everyone thinks they are a record producer and that makes for more competition. In the past I concentrated on death metal recordings, but now I am expanding into all styles. I plan to do this for the rest of my life and I feel it is time for me to try it all and not get pigeon-holed into one genre. I also find it a good idea to record other styles so it keeps my ideas fresh when it comes to the death metal albums I record. It is too easy to get into a routine and make everyone sound the same and that is the stage death metal is at now. I am very fortunate that the death metal scene has given me a name as a producer and I have enjoyed working with all of the bands and I can't wait to work with more. It's a great start that I am going to expand on, but I will never forget where I started from.

CoC: There seemed to be a little bit of a "lag time" in the release of _Grotesque Blessings_. What was happening? And could you possibly elaborate on the situation with Joe that was brought out on the Broken Hope webpage,

BG: I took some time off from Broken Hope to work with my other band EmSinfonia and do a lot of studio work. In the meantime nothing was being done with the band, because the other members aren't 24/7 music guys like I am, so they took the break to do other things. Once we found the right people to write with we got things together for _Grotesque Blessings_. As far as Joe goes... he is back with us. He decided he was not ready to do the tour we had booked and bowed out at the time. We in turn could not fail our fans and decided to go on with the tour with a different vocalist. It went well but we are glad Joe has decided to continue with us.

CoC: Speaking of Joe, on the new album I would say that his vocals are somewhat more distinctive and discernible. Is this accurate?

BG: The band and Joe made a decision to try and make the vocals more understood this time around. In my opinion Joe is at his best this way, instead of trying to do a million words in every line. We concentrated on less lyrics to make things easier on him.

CoC: Was there more of a co-operative writing effort on this album between you and Jeremy?

BG: Not really. Jeremy and I have been working the same since the beginning. We each write our own songs. We both have different capabilities and each one of us has progressed in our own way. Our style in writing and structuring varies. The fans seem to like the variation in the songs. If we were to collaborate too much every song would more or less come out too predictable.

CoC: Interesting the way the band utilized three other bassists in addition to Brian Hobbie, the group's "full time" bass player, and then some bass work by you, as well. How did this come about?

BG: I had originally planned on doing all of the bass on the album, but between writing, recording the guitars, leads, and producing and engineering alone, I found myself needing fresh ideas. I did in fact play a lot of bass on the album, but it was good to have input from the other players.

CoC: What would you say the biggest selling point is regarding _Grotesque Blessings_, as opposed to other prominent Broken Hope releases?

BG: _Grotesque Blessings_ is by far more advanced in playing. We have better structuring and have really improved since the last album. The vocals are more intelligible, the drumming has more flare and the bass playing is more diverse. I guess there are quite a few selling points. It is also our best layout and cover as well.

CoC: Would you recommend _Grotesque Blessings_ as a "first CD purchase" to inaugurate someone new wanting to get into Broken Hope?

BG: Yes, I would. But, then again, it is just my preference, because I prefer to hear a band at their latest stage of progression. If you were to buy this one and _Swamped in Gore_, you would definitely think it was two different bands.

CoC: Last couple of years I've seen you and Jeremy Wagner at the Milwaukee MetalFest. Any chance that you'll play this year?

BG: We go there to promote the band. MetalFest has become less appealing to us as the years have gone by. It is great to go see up and coming bands, but the scheduling is usually screwed up and it gets difficult for a band to put on a good show. I doubt we would do it again.

CoC: A pretty reliable source informed me that "Bag of Parts" made it on the play list for this coming tour! I, for one, think this is fantastic!

BG: Yes, it did. We consciously made an effort to add songs that get requested at the shows. It was great to have a variation in the set this time around. Some of the songs took people by surprise.

CoC: As a colleague of Chuck Schuldiner's (and a true friend of his as well, I'm sure), can I impose upon you for your thoughts on his situation?

BG: We are not close friends that keep in contact all of the time, but meeting and working with him was a special time for me. He is the kind of person that you can be around for a short time and consider a good friend. I can't think of anyone more supportive and personable to work with. Chuck is an amazing person. What can I say? He has done it all, and his contribution to music has definitely inspired all of us. The strength he has shown in battling his illness is just what I would expect from him. Nothing can stop him and I am confident we will be hearing him play for years to come. It is great to see all of the support everyone is giving him in return for what he has done. I hope he has a speedy recovery so he can get back to what he enjoys, and that is writing music for all of us.

CoC: It has been an honor to conduct this interview with you, Brian. Please conclude any way you would like...

BG: Thanks for the interview, Aaron. Thanks to everyone for supporting Broken Hope throughout the years and the rumors!!


(article submitted 12/8/2000)

11/10/2013 A McKay 10 Broken Hope - Omen of Disease
3/5/2000 A Bromley 7 Broken Hope - Grotesque Blessings
4/9/1997 A Bromley 6 Broken Hope - Loathing
1/17/1996 G Filicetti 5 Broken Hope - Repulsive Conception
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