Burn Florida Burn
CoC chats with Steve Childers of Burning Inside
by: Paul Schwarz
Responses to Death's 1998 album _The Sound of Perseverance_ [CoC #33] may have been mixed, but I remember one reaction being pretty consistent: "Who the fuck is that drummer?!" Richard Christy was "that" drummer and he's also Burning Inside's drummer. But don't allow my name-dropping intro or Richard's "connections" (he also plays in Control Denied and Iced Earth and has just finished tours with Incantation and Demons & Wizards) to fool you into thinking that Burning Inside is just a side-project "featuring..." some famous faces. Not only is Burning Inside from before Richard's "fame", but it's also a band with music which I -couldn't- ignore, even if the band were made up of the most loathed names in music. Ironically, it -was- Richard's incredible rhythms (though I didn't at the time know it was he who was laying them down) which first drew the attention of my stimulation-hungry brain to _The Eve of the Entities_. But once I was sat up straight, I was easily converted by the mix of modern, dark and atmospheric death metal, and technical traditional heavy metal which came flowing at me. _The Eve of the Entities_ subsequently found quite a pattern of rotation in my stereo. So, with a whole load of questions as to where the hell this lot have been hiding, and why I'd never even heard mention of them before _The Eve of the Entities_ turned up in my possession, I hunted down guitarist Steve Childers so that he could give CoC an account of Burning Inside and what they're trying to achieve. After a few mix-ups, I got him on the phone from his Florida home back in early June.

CoC: How's things goin'?

Steve Childers: Great, man.

CoC: You doing shows with the band at the moment?

SC: At the moment no, Richard's gone, he's doin' a tour with Demons & Wizards [Iced Earth and Blind Guardian collaboration; interview in this issue and review in CoC #46 --Paul] in Europe. We're working on some recordings. We did some drum tracks so now we're messing around with some demo tracks, and that's what we're doing now.

CoC: Can I establish the full line-up, and what other bands everybody is in?

SC: Well, to start with myself, I play rhythm/lead guitar and I'm also in a band called Black Witchery. I play guitar in that. Then you have Richard Christy, who...

CoC: Does so much it's unbelievable...

SC: Yeah.

CoC: Death, Control Denied...

SC: Well yeah, if you name off everything he's done; right now he's doing Demons & Wizards, their tour. He's done Death, Control Denied, and he's just done a tour with Incantation. Also, Jamie Prim, who plays bass and vocals, he's not currently doing anything else. Michael Estes plays guitar and he was in Acheron for a couple of albums.

CoC: Thanks, just 'cause I got various messed up reports from people: someone said the band had someone from Iced Earth.

SC: Well, one of the guys from Iced Earth is in Demons & Wizards (Jon Schaffer) and I think Richard's gonna be doing an album with him later too. [As it turns out, Richard is also now drumming for Iced Earth --Paul].

CoC: How do you think Burning Inside is a meshing of all the stuff Richard does and maybe the sort of influences you have or Mike might have from Acheron? 'Cause there's a lot going on in Burning Inside. People are touting it as a great record for the death metal scene, which I think it is, but almost in a -progressive- way in some respects.

SC: Yeah, it's different sounding. To answer the question of meshing of influences, Burning Inside is a band that started before all the other projects. So, we've been jammin' and writing stuff: this is our album that we all write original material in. And the other things are written by other people, so that's why you get an influence of what we like. Mike likes Brian May and Dio type stuff. We all like Deicide and Morbid Angel, we're into that. And also we all grew up in the eighties, so we have the eighties background. So we're trying to blend the brutality of death metal with a bit of a technical edge. Not to go overboard, but still making it brutal, you know? Trying to come up with something original was our goal from the beginning. It's different sounding, I think it's different.

CoC: Yeah, and it's interesting because the elements all work together. Like I noticed an influence in your riffing and Mike's riffing -- there's some -low- death metal stuff --, but there's a lot kind of like what Immolation do.

SC: Yeah, yeah.

CoC: With blasting or without but very atmospheric. I find it has sort of "damned" feel to it.

SC: Cool, thanks.

CoC: But all this meshes with Richard's drum style. Do you think it would work without that rolling drum style? He just pulls out shit all the time.

SC: No. No, it wouldn't work without Richard. He is the key element in the band and, especially on some of the newer stuff, he writes a lot of the guitar stuff. The basic riffs he'll come up with, some of 'em. His drumming adds a really unique sound to it. This is his place, where he can do whatever he wants, and that's what he wants to do, and it's unique sounding.

CoC: It gives it that kind of edge that Death have had the last couple of albums. It's much more -metal-, but metal in a sort of technical way. More than in a "down hard" way [a la Saxon or Manowar].

SC: He blends a lot of -- he'll do blastbeats over certain parts and then go into his upper hand work. His upper hand work is where he excels. I mean he's good everywhere, but his upper hand work, he does some very innovative stuff.

CoC: You mean on the cymbals...

SC: Yeah, everything. He's just hitting shit everywhere. He's got so much stuff. On the demo he even had a drum pad that he was hitting for an electronic tom sound, so he had more toms than what he had and he had two hi-hats going.

CoC: That's really impressive. The album has this whole mix. Jamie's vocals are quite traditional death metal. What I find about the album is that it's really good, it's got a lot of potential as well, but I find the production -is- good but lets some of the elements down...

SC: Yeah, I would agree with you there.

CoC: And I find Jamie's vocals are good, but they're very death metal. He hasn't done a lot of moving around. So, you've got this death metal element, but then it goes all crazy. The end solo in "Blind to All That Exist" is just -very metal-. How do you feel pulling something like that out in the middle of what is quite a dark record; it [the record] doesn't have the exuberance of, say, Iron Maiden or something.

SC: We tried to work different riffs together; it took us a long time to write a lot of those arrangements because a lot of stuff -- to get them to blend together we had to constantly re-arrange them and re-arrange them until we found something that sounded the way we wanted it to sound. Otherwise it gets out of hand. If you could hear what we start with, it's pretty insane. We'll strip real technical riffs down and make 'em way less technical. So it's kind of complicated and we haven't toured or anything, so the few years we've been here we've had a lot of time to write songs. We've got other songs.

CoC: But this isn't the compendium of a demo career? Has this come out of the last couple of years of writing?

SC: _The Eve of the Entities_ is a combination of stuff we wrote in '95 and '96: there's three or four songs, like "My Own" and "Masque", which were written then. Then "Eve of the Entities" and the rest of the songs on there were written in '97, '98. Kind of just a collaboration of some of the songs we've written from '95 up 'till '98.

CoC: The album seems to get more adventurous as you come towards the end; it varies in different places, but "The Eve of the Entities" is much more tentative with bringing things in than the later tracks. How did you feel writing this material, did you feel that you were writing just a metal record, or a death metal record... or did you at one point go: "Wait a minute, we're trying to write a death metal record, and it's really metal!"

SC: Well, all I can say is we just practised the material that we have and went in and recorded it and that's the way it came out. We didn't have a set... -- we're not going to say "We're a death metal band". We've never really labelled ourselves. I try to label it "dark technical metal". It has elements of so many different things it's kind of hard to label it.

CoC: Totally.

SC: As for the production: the next production will be a lot better. We had to go into a... modest studio and... you know, when we hear _The Eve of the Entities_ we know that we could do it five times better now. You know how it is, after playing it out so much and stuff. But the next one -- we've matured a lot, all of us, recording. We've all been recording with different bands. So we're learning so much stuff recording; I think the next one's going to be a lot more powerful sounding and -drums- already -- from what we've done so far it sounds really good.

CoC: How do you feel Burning Inside fits in with the rest of the death metal and extreme music scene -- you've only just started pushing the band into the outside world?

SC: Well, I think we fit into a lot of categories. I think a lot of people that are into nothing but more technical stuff will like it and I think people that are into traditional... -power metal-, I think, will see elements in it, in fact I've been told that already: even though it has the higher vocals [Steve is referring to Jamie's vocals being gruff death grunts, broadly speaking --Paul]. And I think it's got a -lot- of death metal elements. There's a lot of things going on, a lot of influences. We're influenced by so much stuff. Just my influences vary so much, and Richard's also. So it blends good: we had to work at it but... A lot of bands try to end up sounding super brutal or something. It just doesn't work, so we're trying something different and we're doing what we each like. And there's no egos here at all. If I do a riff that doesn't fit they'll tell me and we'll drop it. So that's how it works and that's why the members are also able to do other bands and stuff: because there's no egos. We know Burning Inside's our music -- the four of us.

CoC: Do you think, therefore, that it -won't- be hard to keep Richard Christy in the band? I obviously don't know about how you guys know each other, but he's done a lot of stuff, so the first impression is kind of like: hmm, he's probably guesting. Do you know what I mean?

SC: Yeah, I mean this band's been here -- I've been jammin' with Richard since '92, so I'm sure this project will always exist. We went through so much shit so far just to get where we're at, you know? I mean, we've moved, we've relocated, we've had labels turn us down a lot. We've just been through a lot of shit and there's nothing that's going to break it up that I know of. I mean, Richard might be out doing a tour, but he's back in a month and a half. And he's home, and then you know what? He's around three or four months, so we jam, you know.

CoC: It sounds like, from reading [the PR] and what you're saying, that the band is very much what you wanted to do, and what you all wanted to do, like a focal point.

SC: It's fun. We like doing it, so that's what keeps it going. And we've got so much to record. We want to record, we want to tour, we want to do so much, but at the moment we're not offered any tours. We got the album out, so I mean if we're not really doing anything and people [in the band] have opportunities to make money, or jam something here, you know, we're working musicians.

CoC: On touring, the guy from Still Dead said that Cannibal Corpse were thinking of taking you guys out after hearing the album. That's what I've heard.

SC: Well, we were asked one time if we were interested and we said yes, but I don't know... That's just talk. We'd love to, you know... Everybody knows we want to tour, everybody in the scene knows... We're serious about it and we can do it, but we just haven't had any serious offers, so I don't know what to do, I'm just waiting. We're a great live band, I think that's one of our best -- that's one of our things, we love to play out, we like to play our material out live, it's a lot faster and more in your face live.

CoC: And I think in a way with music, it's the way that music is supposed to be.

SC: Yeah, you know, especially metal.

CoC: Metal is such a live thing.

SC: You can listen to your vinyl and it's fuckin' kick ass, and then you go to a show and it's fuckin' ten times heavier.

CoC: Yeah, I mean, I've listened to Iron Maiden for a load of years and I like their albums and I put 'em on, but I'm going to see 'em next week and that's going to just top everything [see Chaotic Concerts for whether it did --Paul].

SC: Fuck yeah.

CoC: So that would be great for you guys to get out: the exposure of the album will do a lot to help that happen. What have you found from the responses you've got so far?

SC: I've done... I couldn't even count how many interviews and the response has been really, really good. I was expecting it to do good, I'm not trying to sound egoed out, I expected it to do good but I didn't expect it to do -this- good. There's been a lot of tension on it. I think it's a great debut album. I think it's done a good job for a debut. Now we just want to keep going, put out another one, try to strive to do better and better.

CoC: Like you say, it sounds on the record like you've really got a good record, but a record that gives you a lot of possible ways to go; you don't really exhaust all your possibilities in one album. What did you find with the album, what were the songs you were most happy with?

SC: "Blind to All That Exist" and "The Eve of the Entities" are probably my two favourite off of there, but I also like "My Own" and "Masque". I pretty much like it all.

CoC: I pretty much agree. With the tracks you were mentioning, and just in general, how did the lyrics fit in with it? It kind of defies death metal convention as well, because it'll sound strange maybe, but it almost has a sort of power metal feel, in some ways, because it's sort of thematic, it's sort of conceptual. The music and lyrics fit together in a much more complete, album sort of way.

SC: From the beginning what I wanted to do, what all of us wanted to do -- let me turn this video down I'm watching. What we tried to do, what I wanted to do is have -- I'm 34 years old, when I used to buy an album in the eighties I'd put it on, and each song usually had a feeling to it, it had its own characteristic. And the last song -- you always remember the last song, this side. Then you'd turn it over, you know; it's got a personality to it. And I think _The Eve of the Entities_ definitely has that. I think it's got a feeling; each song is different, the lyrics are different: some of them are horror, horror movie based and psychological. A lot of mental psychological; just things to do with one's self, individualism. Just a lot of things; we like horror movies a lot and that kind of stuff influences us.

CoC: Which kind of horror movies in particular, which era?

SC: I'm into Hammer films...

CoC: You can definitely notice the Hammer influence...

SC: Yeah, and I watch Italian. I watch Italian gore like "Maniac".

CoC: Fulci and stuff like that?

SC: Fulci, Argento, Mariano Baino, Diodar. The "Cannibal..." movies.

CoC: Like "Cannibal Holocaust", right?

SC: Yeah, I'm watching "Make Them Die Slowly" right now. Got it on DVD just now.

CoC: I ordered just a while back "City of the Living Dead", I haven't seen that one and it's supposed to be killer!

SC: Yeah, that's my favourite Fulci movie.

CoC: It's better than "The Beyond"?

SC: It's my favourite, but a lot of people think "The Beyond" is his best -- but I personally like "Gates of Hell" [one US release title for "City of the Living Dead" --Paul]. One of the songs on our new album is called "The Gates of Hell". I wrote it about it. The newer lyrics, I think there's four that are based on horror movies. Richard's really big into John Carpenter, especially "The Fog" and "Halloween". I've got like 800 horror movies, so...

CoC: Nice. You know who you should tour with, you should tour with Deceased.

SC: Yeah, I could handle that tour.

CoC: For someone who was interested in getting into Burning Inside, thinking of buying the album, what elements of it would you say would attract people; what elements would you say are its primary good qualities?

SC: FUCKING METAL.

COC: <laughs> That's good.

SC: You just ask the person: are you into FUCKING METAL? And if they say yes, then you ask 'em what kind. Yeah, just as long as they like metal I think they'll like it. A lot of the real sick people that are just into more primitive shit probably -- the band Black Witchery that I'm in is almost the exact opposite to what I do in Burning Inside. It's really raw, stripped down, Bathory, Beherit blastbeat type metal. But I have people that are into that band that also like Burning Inside. So, I think it's open to a lot of doors, I think people just need to listen to it. That's why -- another thing with the name is that that doesn't really pin us down to any certain style.

Steve and I also chatted briefly about:

Metal from England...

SC: My favourite bands, like Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, fuckin' Maiden: they're all from there.

Venom turning up unexpectedly...

SC: I remember when I went to the MetalFest at Milwaukee, Cronos just walked by at ten in the morning. I'm like: "That's fucking Cronos, man, I'm standing next to Cronos here!"

And a classic Canadian band...

SC: I'm going to Canada 21st of July to see Blasphemy: they're playing their first show in nine years. They're the gods of Canada; skinhead satanic -black- metal: they've got a black guy in the band.

(article submitted 12/8/2000)


ALBUMS
10/25/2000 A McKay 5.5 Burning Inside - The Eve of the Entities
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