No Rest For the Wicked Innocent
CoC chats with the new proponents of technical brutality
by: Henry Akeley
Wicked Innocence is a band that stands out from the current extreme metal field in quite a few ways. First among these is their impressive fusion of highly technical musical experimentation with the kind of uncompromising aggression usually associated with only the most extreme death metal outfits. (Imagine Cannibal Corpse ripping through material much crazier than anything from Kataklysm, and you'll have some idea of the style to be heard on _Omnipotence_, their recent debut from Napalm Records America.) Also worthy of note are drummer Travis Jiron's progressive lyrics, which intelligently treat major, real-life topics much more pertinent than vampires, severed limbs, and all that. And finally, there's the intriguing fact that this truly brutal band hails from Salt Lake City, Utah - easily the most religious, most clean-cut big city in the States. Of course, I just had to ask Travis about this when he and I sat down to talk about the band.

CoC: You probably have to field this question every time - but what's it like being in an extreme metal band in Salt Lake? Is there a supportive scene there?

Travis Jiron: No, there isn't. I mean, we have an inner circle of close friends that hang out, and have dedicated their friendships to helping us out. But the scene here? There's no support. There's not one all-age club here. And it's funny, because no one's ever heard of any band from Utah, ever. And now that we're breaking out, every interview we do, that's the question. We're in the most religious state in the country, so that sucks, because we're not into being Mormons. We're an environmental band; we're into the environment. But it does suck here. People don't even like black metal here, or death metal or grindcore or speed metal. I mean, it's just unheard of. And there's three or four bands that do it here. And we all have to rent warehouses and shit to do it, and I've been doing it for seven years, and I've just made it happen. And no matter what people have done, I've just tried to keep it going.

CoC: Do you have to put up with a lot of crap over the whole religion issue? I mean, do people there just assume "Okay, they're extreme metal-heads; therefore, they must be Satanists," or things like that?

TJ: Oh yeah, oh yeah. A lot of people can't understand what Lorin [Cook, vocalist] says, and they don't know what the lyrics are about, so they automatically think that we're death metal, and we're gonna go slaughter someone's cat, you know? If you look weird here, like an extremist like we are, with long hair and all, you're an average Joe in a different state. But here, people think you're a bum, and they lock their doors when you go by 'em. It's just a joke, man. And then every time we leave the state, people are like "Are you guys Mormons?" and we're like "Fuck no we're not, man! <laughs> We're more man than you'll ever think about being!" We have to make jokes about it, you know, because people always fucking harass us, and think that we're the Mormon band.

CoC: So what have you guys been up to since you recorded the album?

TJ: We've just been trying to promote it and do a lot of touring. Right now, Erik [Stenflo, of Napalm Records America] does all of our distro, and everything else but booking shows. So since he's put out the disk and put all his money into everything for us, it's been up to us to go out and do our own shows and promote it. So we've just been touring a lot of the close, surrounding states, but now we're getting out there with some bands that have been getting to know us.

CoC: How does your stuff go over live? Because I would think that people who've never heard it before are just gonna be standing out there saying "What the -fuck- is this?" when they hear the crazier stuff.

TJ: Yeah, yeah, they do. They trip out. Some people don't know what to do, they just stand there. One guy asked me in an interview, "Can you guys play this stuff note for note live?" And I said "Hell, yeah, we can! We wrote it, so fuck yeah, we can." I mean, the shit's pretty intricate, but live, we come off aggressive. It's not like we're some ITT dudes trying to play technical and just standing there going <does a hilarious impression of technical guitar doodling> with our feet locked on the stage. We get out there and fucking slam and get all into it. We're a live band. We're a lot better live than a lot of the bigger bands out there. We feed off the energy of the crowd. We want the crowd to have a good time, so we're as into it as we can be. And then when they feed off us and get into it, then we just get into it more.

CoC: Have you been writing new stuff, or recording anything new?

TJ: We've got six or seven songs written for the new disk, and Erik asked us at one time if we wanted to go record again, but we said no, because we lost our bass player. Tom Cloward quit the band. So we haven't recorded, but we've got a new bass player named Zack, and we've just been getting ready to do that now. We've got him worked in. We did Sacred Reich in Salt Lake with him, and went to Denver, so we've just been breaking him in with some shows. We're gonna go into the studio within the next couple months, I'm sure.

CoC: So what's the new stuff sound like?

TJ: The new stuff's way cool. It's not gonna get all mellow. It's gonna be heavy, but it's gonna have some complete clean vocals on there, it's got some tribal stuff... It's just gonna be really original, and some of the blast beats are just gonna be fucking ungodly. I mean, people are gonna trip out. It's gonna be really original, just like _Omnipotence_.

CoC: It sounds like the new stuff is going to continue in the same insane vein as _Omnipotence_. Or do you think you're pushing your sound into even crazier territory?

TJ: Oh yeah, yeah. If people think that we're really weird now... We're gonna be experimenting with stuff that we've never experimented with before. We can go from three-chord punk to extreme fucking death to the coolest, jazziest, bad bass lines you've ever heard, with some blues... People are gonna freak on the new stuff, because we're really stretching our limits right now. It's like I said on the _Omnipotence_ J-card: I feed off people's negativity. So everybody out there putting us down, giving us bad reviews, saying "We can't accept this," or "The vocals are too fucking low," well, we're just gonna go out there and do stuff to piss those people off and be better.

CoC: Do you think there are any limits to how far you can push your style?

TJ: No, I really don't. I think it's just a matter of fatiguing out on your band, you know, whether the guys get sick of each other. And I don't think that we're gonna get to that point. We're doing good, and everybody gets along, so I don't think there'll be any limits to what we can do and what directions we can go. Everybody's got such different backgrounds and different styles that they're influenced by that it's just cool, man. It's like, we're in between, I don't know, some of the newer industrial music and some of the brutal death metal. I don't know, it's hard to classify us. People can't just throw in the disk and say "Sounds like so-and-so; fucking heard it." You've gotta hear it a few times.

CoC: Another thing that sets you guys apart is the depth and intelligence of your lyrics. Did you make a conscious decision to steer away from all the gore bullshit and all the satanic stuff, or did it just come out that way naturally?

TJ: The mountains in Utah are just beautiful, and we really take pride in what nature has given us. We're really into the environment, so the lyrics have always been inspired by the beauty of these things. When you get sick of society here, you can just leave, and in 15 minutes, you're away from everything. I've always been into that. And when I first started writing lyrics, I was thinking, do I want to write about stuff that I don't believe in? Do I want to write about butchering someone, or do I want to write about this axe murderer, you know? It just wasn't me, so I basically decided to stay away from that stuff, and try to heighten people's awareness. That's what our band's about.

CoC: Yeah. I mean, I really like a lot of the brutal stuff that's out there, and a lot of the black metal, but it's so conformist. All the bands play by this one set of rules, and it just gets tiresome after a while.

TJ: It does. It's just like a gangster, you know? They've gotta stick up for their street, but once they go off that street, they're gonna fucking be in trouble, and they know it. And what they've done is boxed themselves in. It's just like everybody in life: humanity boxes [itself] in. "Well, we need to have a home, and a car, and a boat, and this and this and this, and all this stuff so we can be better and we can feel comfortable." But you just fucking put a fence up around yourself and no one can talk to you, you know? Everybody's just into getting too much stuff.

CoC: Any last words for us?

TJ: To everybody out there who reads this, follow your dreams, and don't let anybody tell you what to do. If you're into it, do it, and don't ever turn your head. Because once you start achieving what you want, you've got the positive energy there, and things happen, and there's nothing better. Believe in yourself, man, and do what's right. That's all I can say.

Travis encourages anyone interested in the band to contact him at: 2131 West 4260 South, Theckston Rd. Salt Lake City, UT, 84119,USA

(article submitted 9/6/1996)

3/13/2001 A Bromley 7 Wicked Innocence - Opium Empire
5/10/1996 S Hoeltzel 7 Wicked Innocence - Omnipotence
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