...Of Outer Pain and Inner Misery
An interview with Inner Misery
by: Alain M. Gaudrault
Southern Ontario is home to a hard working group of guys known as Inner Misery. Playing a mixture of speed, power, and death metal. The band, comprised of Don Clark (vocals, guitar), Todd Hutchinson (guitar), Brett Savory (drums), and Sheldon Benson (bass), is doing their best to make a name for themselves and establish a career in the music business. One of their claims to fame is a slot at the Milwaukee Metalfest IX. We spoke to Don and Brett recently to see what makes them tick.

CoC: Let's start with the basics. How long have you guys been together?

DC: We started in June of 1994. That's when me and Brett met, and then we had a completed lineup in August, and were playing shows in September.

CoC: Has everything been going somewhat well since then, or have there been a lot of pitfalls along the way?

DC: A number of pitfalls.

BS: Also a lot of cool stuff, too.

CoC: Speaking of cool stuff, how was your experience at last year's Milwaukee Metalfest?

DC: Amazing. It was a total party, for myself. We got drunk. And when we played, there was only one stage happening at that time. It was great, and a lot more than what I expected, that's for sure. Probably 800 to 1000 people there when we played, right Brett?

CoC: Do you feel your appearance at Metalfest has significantly increased your overall exposure, has it opened any doors?

DC: We got a lot of mail from the Minnesota, Chicago area. We got some really cool stuff from that area. We're on the Milwaukee Metalfest CD, too, so there's a lot of people that have heard that and just went "Oh wow, that's really cool." It's obviously helped us out, so that when we call up somewhere, and we can say we were at the Milwaukee Metalfest, 'cause people go "Inner Misery, why do I know that name?", and we can tell them we're on the [Milwaukee Metalfest] CD.

CoC: Stepping back a bit further, Don, what caused the split between you and former bandmates SFH (a southern-Ontario metal band, fronted by ex-Razor vocalist, Bob Reid)?

DC: Well, let's see. It's just that I wanted to go heavier, and they wanted to do what they do. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with what they do, but I wanted to be - now this is going back about 5 years - I wanted to be more of a Slayer-type thrash band, and the direction they were going in was more of a Motorhead-like, heavy band. I was disillusioned music-wise. I wanted to be heavier.

CoC: So no hard feelings between you and they?

DC: Oh, no, I still talk to them all the time, actually. We've opened up for them a few times in Sarnia at different places. I get along really good with those guys still. If we can play a show with them, we know it's gonna be fun, because they all like to have fun, too, have a good time, so it's not like everybody's walking around with big egos and stuff, it's just a really good time.

CoC: When did you find out that a name change for the band was in order?

DC: We found out in December [1995] that there's a band in Canada that's a Metallica tribute band, and we were kinda saying "Hey, we've been here longer", but then we found out about the bands (also named Misery, IM's former name) from Australia, I think it is, or Austria, and Belgium, and there was just no sense in competing with a band that has CDs out. A tribute band, well that didn't matter to us, but with two other bands named Misery with CDs out, we just wouldn't get known in a large enough area.

CoC: You want to get known for your music, not for your court battles over a band name!

BS: And yet, we wanted to keep our original name in there, so we added a word at the beginning instead of a complete change.

DC: We just sat around one night and we said to each other, "Well, what are we gonna do?" We threw around a couple of names, and then Inner Misery came out, and everybody looked at each other and said "Yeah, that's cool." So we've been Inner Misery since January [1996].

CoC: Why did Cory Evans (former lead vocals/guitar) decide to call it quits?

BS: We just couldn't really see eye to eye on stuff. That's basically why everybody who has been in [the band] has left. We can't agree on every aspect, so it just doesn't work out. You just argue and argue, and you just go "Well, screw it then, you know?"

DC: Plus, like, me and Brett have a pretty specific idea of where we want to go, and you know, it takes a lot of dedication and, I hate to say it, but it takes money too! You know, when you get a phone bill! We do a lot of phoning and mailing, 'cause we're not that well known, you know? And if somebody's not going to put in - it doesn't even have to be their full time, but at least a good effort towards stuff - then it keeps the whole band back.

CoC: Not just time, but money as well, eh?

DC: Yeah, money is a pretty major thing. Myself and Brett, we can't afford cover for everybody, and that's just the way it goes. The one guy, our bass player, he owns two businesses, so that was cutting in on the time. Now we've got Cory (former member, filling in temporarily) playing bass for us and we're presently looking for another guitar player. We're looking for two permanent members, somebody dedicated, willing to move [to Sarnia, Ontario]. We had a recent problem with another guitar player. Three months had went by and things weren't progressing because he hadn't moved down and so we had to do something. We'd rather have dedicated members, people who go "yeah, this is our goal, I want to be here." That's what we're trying to achieve in finding the two other guys. A want a band with total commitment, but with Cory playing bass, we're able to play shows now, and that's just as important, 'cause we can't be cancelling shows, and Cory knows everything already!

CoC: So Cory's not doing vocals anymore?

DC: No, he's gonna be doing the background vocals, and there's a possibility that he'll be singing one of the songs. It gives me a break, and it's just fun too.

CoC: Was he the vocalist on the _Perpetual Sadness_ demo?

DC: Yes, that's Cory on vocals. On the _Sonic Obliteration_ [compilation] CD from Utopian Vision music, it's me singing on that, and the Milwaukee Metalfest CD, that's me ... making noise, anyway! We're going into the studio on the 27th and 28th of March.

CoC: After Cory left, you had Andy Phillips on guitar, and you, Don, had taken over the vocals. What led to Andy's departure?

DC: Andy, well, Andy was just a temporary replacement. He was a friend of ours, and we needed someone to go do the Tennessee show, 'cause a lot of our stuff is written for two guitars, and Andy just said "Hey, I've been listening to you guys since you began, and I really like your stuff. I'll fill in for you for these couple of shows." So he just came in to help us out, basically.

CoC: I gather any interested parties thinking of filling one of the two Inner Misery slots are encouraged to get in touch with you?

DC & BS: Definitely, yeah.

[see band info at end of article - Alain]

CoC: Tell me how well the _Perpetual Sadness_ demo has fared so far?

DC: It did really good, actually, in the first few months, basically because we were pumping it. And then come the wintertime, I don't work, so we slow down on our mailing. Then come the summertime, we weren't interested in selling it as heavily anymore because Cory wasn't in the band anymore. The music's still the exact same songs, except I sing them, but basically the same way Cory did.

CoC: With all the lineup changes, has the band's sound changed much?

DC: The music hasn't changed, really, 'cause the band is mainly the two of us. We did basically all the writing. Cory has contributed a couple of riffs, and they are cool riffs, but for the most part, me and Brett will just sit there and work everything out and we'll spend a lot of time, like we won't just throw out a riff and say "Hey let's try and cram fifty riffs into this song." If the riff sucks, it's gone. We don't sit there and try to work a riff to death. If it's not making me feel anything, if we can't feel the energy when we're writing it, then we just drop it. We figure, if you're on stage, and you're playing the music and look like you're bored playing it, how can you expect the people out there to be enjoying it? We've always had the philosophy that if we're up there getting into it, then even if the people don't like it, they're gonna at least pay a little bit more attention to it until they decide if they do like it, you know? It's not like "These guys look bored, and this music isn't that great." Everybody we've had [in the band], we always stress "You have to able to move when you play." We don't want nobody that's just going to stand there, because we're not that type of a band. Cory and Sheldon were both always moving around, and of course I was also as much as I could. Giving the people something to watch as well as something to listen to. Like I say, if you look bored playing it ...

BS: Oh yeah, that really matters. If you have a bunch of guys who are just kinda playing, not moving, not even looking like they're into it, they're just going through the motions, as it were, and they just get everybody out in the crowd just looking at you and thinking "Why are you doing this if you don't like it," you know? The crowd plays as much off of you than you play off the crowd. If you're not into it, then the crowd won't be. If the crowd isn't, you won't be.

CoC: Have you been in the studio since the release of _Perpetual Sadness_?

DC: Yeah, we went in last year just to redo the vocals on "Inner Peace" for the [_Sonic Obliteration_] CD. In December we did one complete song called "Dreaming of the End" which is gonna be on Dark Serene Records' compilation. In a week and a half, we're going in to lay down the guitars and vocals to two more songs that already have drums and bass done for them.

CoC: Where will those two songs be released?

DC: Yeah, we're gonna be putting it out onto CD once I'm back to work, and getting some money happening, hopefully within the next two weeks, 'cause my business is seasonal, so it sucks that way. It's only gonna be a three-songer. It's more of a viable product nowadays because you send it out to a rep or a radio station and they're gonna spin a CD more often than a cassette. So we figured it'll cost us a few more bucks, but we get more back from it. It's well worth it. We're hoping people like it. We're getting a lot of compliments for "Dreaming of the End", the song we did at Signal To Noise in Toronto with Rob Sanzo who has done Mundane and some other bands. People are going "you guys sound way heavier," and it's not so much that we're ...

CoC: What are your plans for the next year or so?

DC: Well, we're gonna have this CD out hopefully by the end of April. We're gonna put out some advance cassettes in the meantime so that people can hear this stuff. We will be selling cassettes of it also because not everybody has a CD player. In June, we're playing the Michigan Deathfest with Hypocrisy, Brutal Truth, Kataklysm, Vital Remains, Lucifer's Hammer, and I can't remember who the hell all else. There's I think 13 bands. It's on June 29th. Hypocrisy will be headlining. The Tennessee one was really cool, too. There was Gorguts, Immolation, Internal Bleeding, Cryptopsy, Ancient from Norway ... I can't even remember all the bands for that one either.

CoC: So your next show will likely be the Toronto Deathfest on March 31st?

DC: Yeah, we're in debate on what to do about that right now, if we're gonna go down and do it as a three-piece [with Cory Evans still filling in], or if we can get this other guy that we know to fill in on bass, and put Cory on guitar, doing it as a four-piece. But we don't really want to miss it because we're going to be in the studio [in Toronto] that weekend, and we want to start getting tapes out to people. Also, in June, we're trying to get a few shows set up with Necrosis from Rhode Island. They just moved to Florida a couple of months back, but we're trying to get a few shows set up with them up here in Canada and hopefully get a couple in the States. Anybody that reads this and want to book us, try and get a hold of us! <laughs>

Contact: Inner Misery c/o Don Clark, 381 1/2 George Street Sarnia, Ont, Canada, N7T 4P6 Voice: (519) 336-8466

(article submitted 18/4/1996)

3/16/1997 A Gaudrault 4 Inner Misery - Sea
3/14/1996 A Gaudrault Inner Misery - Perpetual Sadness
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