DIY Grind With a Mind
CoC chats with Fred Anton of Inhumate
by: Jackie Smit
The name Inhumate won't easily ring too many bells with anyone outside the most underground circles in extreme music, and quite frankly, bassist and chief songwriter Fred Anton and his cohorts wouldn't have it any other way. Not that it's for lack of talent, mind you. _Life_ is the band's fourth full-length effort and easily one of the most convincing grindcore efforts you're likely to encounter this year. More than that however, _Life_ also serves as the next installment in a grand concept that has spanned the start of the band's career. So, why then does Inhumate continue to operate as free agents? Fred explains:

Fred Anton: Basically we want to stay free of any obligations and commitments to anything other than this band and making music. Inhumate is an underground band and will stay an underground band. We do what we want, when we want, and nobody can tell us any differently, and that is what I think is most important. Sure, without a label things are slower in terms of promotion, but we don't care because we're not in a hurry and because this isn't about selling records. Being independent is what's kept Inhumate alive for fourteen years.

CoC: Aside from the band, you also run Grind Your Soul distribution in France. Was this started before Inhumate got together? Do you have plans to develop it into a fully fledged record label?

FA: No, Grind Your Soul started after the band did, because it was our only way to get enough money together to self-produce our third album. For the first two albums, we paid a part of the studio sessions and we paid for the CD pressing out of our own pockets, which isn't easy. So we collectively decided to start up the distribution company in order to trade our stuff and possibly have some other things to sell. Now Grind Your Soul has been going for a while and it's started make some money, and we are able trade with people from all over the world and get enough cash together to avoid having to put a fucking cent into the music, except maybe for our instruments. It will never be turned into a full-on label though. Grind Your Soul is there to fund Inhumate, and that's it.

CoC: Judging by some of the other bands on the GYS samplers, there's clearly a big metal movement taking place in the French underground at the moment -- talk me through some of the best bands and where you think the scene is headed.

FA: Yes, I think you're right -- there's a really big underground metal movement taking place in France right now. Among some of the best bands around right now would have to be Sublime, Cadaveric Decomposition, Blockheads, Horrid Flesh, Vacarme, Dislocation, Warscars, Heresy, Unformed, Absurdity and Recueil Morbide. It's difficult to say where all this is headed though, because of the language barrier.

CoC: Why has the French underground experienced such a boost of late?

FA: That's an eternal question to which I have only two possible answers. Firstly, I think that French bands don't try to promote themselves outside of French borders, and they don't do it because many of them don't speak English well. It's a pity, but that's how things are. Secondly, it's possibly because I think that in France many people believe and almost religiously trust in what magazines say are cool bands. This is slowly changing a bit with the Internet making it way easier to discover new bands. Also, more people understand that the underground can spawn interesting and serious bands, and slowly they're starting to pay more attention to the scene, which invariably makes it stronger.

CoC: Going back to Inhumate: you have said that all your albums form part of an overall concept ("an heptalogy based on the concept of Life and the Abolition of Time") -- tell me more about the meaning behind this.

FA: This concept consists of seven albums. Four have already been recorded and released at this point. _Internal Life_ came out in 1996, and dealt with life before life; in utero life, so to speak. _Expulsion_ was completed in 1997 and picked up from the moment of birth. _Growth_ was released in 2000 and concerns itself with all the years in which the personality is being formed. Now in 2004 there's _Life_. It's the mid-concept album, which is why in its title you can find a word from the first album title and also from the last one of the whole concept, and it looks at how human beings mature; how they deal with maturity, how they procreate and basically how life goes on. We will follow this with _The Fifth Season_, which will be centered around wisdom that comes from the end of life. _Expulsed_ will be next and will look at death and the end of life, basically. And then there will be _Eternal Life_, where a person has died, but life is still going on through his or her children and so on. Of course, life never ends, and in the same way, we'd like people to experience our concept again and again, while at the same time it's a concept that takes place around the music rather than through it. We've reached a certain level of maturity in Inhumate after having been together for fourteen years, and at this point we're still working really hard to make this concept large and even further reaching. On a final note, this concept is especially based on artwork rather than lyrics. Some lyrics are obviously very directly driving the concept forward, but not all of them -- that would be really boring, I think. After all, we are in a grindcore band.

CoC: With your work being based around such a heady concept, would you say that your departure point in dissecting it is based around personal observations or around something more objective?

FA: I think it's more a commentary; a reflection about life the way we see it -- what we are and where are we going to. If you have the opportunity to read all our lyrics, you'll see that some are actually quite stupid -- something that we have done intentionally to reflect conditions in human nature -- while others are more focused on the observation of things happening in everyday life, which we then reflect into our music.

CoC: What is the principal message that you are trying to convey with this concept?

FA: Maybe something like: "enjoy life". I know that it seems crazy for a band who play the kind of music that we do, but why not?

CoC: Was it always the intention to create Inhumate as a conceptually-driven band?

FA: No, absolutely not. This idea was brought up after we released _Internal Life_, when we were thinking about the next CD. We just basically though: "Why don't we make the next album a straight sequel to the first one?" Then slowly the idea of the concept began to make its way into my brain.

CoC: Considering the fact that grindcore isn't exactly the most diverse musical genre around, do you sometimes feel restrained in being able to explore something as complicated as the concept of "life"?

FA: Not really, because as I said, this concept is based around artwork more than anything else. So basically we create the music and then Christophe writes lyrics. The writing process for coming up with the music has nothing to do with the concept; we keep music on one side and the concept on the other. It's only when we record that we find some things that bind it all together. You know, we also regard Inhumate as a live band in every sense, so we create music that we can perform on a stage. We're not a "home music band", and the kind of music that we play has to be composed free of all intellectual ideas. I think to make good grindcore, you need to be able to follow the urge that's telling you what to play.

CoC: Your press-book mentions the names to several upcoming Inhumate efforts -- does this mean that work on said records has already begun? Will Inhumate continue after these records are completed, i.e. once the concept has reached its conclusion?

FA: No, we just have the titles for the upcoming Inhumate releases, nothing more. No idea of the music and no fucking idea of the artwork for the time being. What will happen after that? I really don't know. I do think that Inhumate as a band would have to stop once we have concluded the concept. Inhumate are here to create that concept and that's all. If we decided to go on playing together afterward then we'll just have to change the band's name.

CoC: What are Inhumate's plans for the near future? Any touring plans for Europe / UK / USA?

FA: We have a few single shows lined up here and there across Europe -- nothing in the UK unfortunately. We don't tour at the moment, because it's so hard for us to all get off work at once, and we also have such an energetic stage attitude that it wouldn't be possible for us to go at it every night and not go a little soft. And that is something that we definitely do not want to do! Anyone who doubts that can just have a look at the multimedia extra on _Life_ to see what I'm talking about.

(article submitted 6/8/2004)

6/23/2004 J Smit 8.5 Inhumate - Life
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