Weird Tales Vol. 1
CoC chats with King Fowley of Deceased
by: T. DePalma
As humans, our capability and capacity above all other species affects a certain hubris in our existence. But the fact is that most of our achievements cannot ward off illness, nor are we always capable of foreseeing its arrival. In an instant, anyone of us may become at the mercy of our own biology. Deceased's King Fowley is no stranger to the unexpected turns life may take. Virginia's metal maven took time out to discuss the band's new album _As the Weird Travel On_, as well as the painful trials that led to its creation.

CoC: Greetings King, how is your health today and what kinds of exercise or treatment have you undergone since you had the stroke last year?

King Fowley: Cheers! I'm doing a lot better health wise, after the doctors finally found out what was causing periodical blood clots in my body, ending up in lungs and brain. A lot of treatment can be done. I'm on blood thinners for the rest of my life. I've personally wanted to really get in good cardio shape. I've always been very active, but as you get older, you have to work harder to stay fit. I've lost about 45 pounds in the last two years; eating better (road food was killing me) and trying to get more sleep. I've seen and been through a lot in the last three years, but it is what it is and onward I roll on.

CoC: When did you decide you wanted to start writing again?

KF: I wanted to write while I was still in the hospital. I was there almost a week and all I could do was sit and ponder my life, life in general, and how much making and writing music means to me. Physically it took some time to get myself together after the stroke; my left side is severely damaged from nerve destruction. I went to physical therapy for awhile and pushed myself real hard to get better quicker. It was very painful at times. Weird as hell all of the time (not being to throw a tennis ball two feet really was weird to me)! But I kept marching on. With support from family and friends and my own inner strength it's all coming together better and better; day to day, week to week, month to month. And here it is now, a year and a half later.

CoC: _As the Weird Travel On_ is much rawer on the nerves lyrics wise. There's a lot of introspection in the words, but -- and I don't want to use the word gimmick negatively -- to me there's a lot less of the supernatural and science fiction injected into them. And at the same the atmosphere is still there, it's like the music fills in where the lyrics leave off.

KF: For me a lot of the lyrics and songs are as close to me personally as they've ever been. Through all my traumas and tragedies of the last couple of years I've really found many angles and things I wanted to touch on about life, death and all its in-betweens. The wordings are used very "off the cuff" this time. A lot of self perspective ideals are in there, but for the listener can be interpreted into many things. It's a tragic world we live in. For all the happiness we want, wish and sometimes get, at the end of it all death still has the final say.

CoC: Would you say this was your most personal record?

KF: By far yes! It really lyrically fell into place quite easy. The words just poured out onto the paper. It somehow seemed to fit around the music accordingly as well. The whole record means a lot to me, as it does the entire band. We really put a lot of time and effort into this record. We always have when new records are being presented. But I know the guys knew now more than ever that anyone of us could leave the world at anytime, and that my illness really was hitting close to home.

CoC: The production by Kevin Gutierez is probably the strongest sound you've had on record yet. The guitars in particular are fuller and you can hear the nuance of each riff scaling across the neck, much more personality.

KF: Kevin is a real professional and did a great job producing with us. He really has an incredible ear and he knows his metal too. We've known him for years. We hadn't seen each other in over a decade though. It was an old-school get together. He really took his time and left no corner unturned to help us achieve our best sounding LP to date. The album has a lot of character, which pleases us in the band.

CoC: You guys really think the vocals sound like Stacey Anderson?

KF: I thought they did on part of "A Visit From Dread". Mark Chainsaw, I think, got a bit carried away with it on the website breakdown. <laughs>

CoC: You've still got one lung right? That shit's impressive.

KF: I got one full left lung and about half of the right one. I run five to seven miles a day and really build up as much as I can, stamina wise. The oxygen depletion caused by the right lung injury is insane. It causes me to be sore a lot all over my body. It doesn't entirely feed the correct amount of oxygen to the blood and body. I can remember in fall of 2002 not being able to walk a flight of stairs very easily due to my lung clot damage. I had to sleep with my face in the window unit air conditioner to get fresh breaths of air. The whole world felt like an indoor pool or sauna, a "stuffy" air feeling. It was a nightmare. That was the worst of it all. You don't know what you are missing until you can't get air into your body! I've rebuilt myself and will continue to do so!

CoC: You've also spent time in the studio the last year remixing the _Blueprints for Madness_ album with Mike Bossier. What kind of things have you learned about the production game since that first infamous mix?

KF: I've learned plenty. I've been in the studio a lot since then and produced a few records (October 31). It's all a learning game. Things like mixing, editing, getting good tones to start with onto tape! Production is something I really enjoy, and I hope to get my own studio in the future to pursue it more. I feel I'm tremendously better at it now!

CoC: Would you prefer to work with Gutierez again or try again on your own?

KF: I'd personally like to go back to Assembly Line Studios and produce the record more "my way" with help from Kevin Gutierez. I am pretty much the main voice in the studio for the band, and at times me and Kevin see things different. An example is the vocals on the new LP! For me, I wanted more over the top parts to it. But I kept it a bit more straightforward and a bit more low end this time. We gave Kevin a lot of space to produce us. To me, if you commit to something, then follow it through, which we did. Every album has a different production, kinda charm to it for me. The next one I'm sure will need more attention to detail then ever before.

CoC: Your writing style has always had a very narrative color about it, which is different from a lot of other bands currently, at least in death metal. What is the importance of telling a story in music, and how do you usually go about matching the lyrics to riffs?

KF: I like to portray the character of a song. If it's a person in peril type of story, I become the person. I like to put the character into the voice and singing. The music is written after a song title is created. I explain to the guys the vibe of the song. I arrange about all of the music from riffs the band comes up with. So I can set up the dynamics in the song how I know they need to unfold. Story telling in music to me is very important. It makes a nice scenario through music of a place, time and situation within a chosen theme. It's a musical epitaph!

CoC: Is it possible that you'll be able to play drums again? (Not that Dave Castillo hasn't done a good job.)

KF: I still write all the drum parts for the band. At times, at band practice I play some. The left hand damage is pretty bad at times. It's hard to clutch the drumstick in my left hand and go and go and go. Oddly, some days it's not a problem. Other days it's quite painful and my body doesn't want to help me out with it. I plan to play more drums again though. It's another goal of mine.

CoC: What has it been like playing live and singing again after all that's happened?

KF: It feels great. I love to play live shows, always have and always wanted to be the frontman / singer, rev up the crowd and give them one hell of a show. One of my strengths is communicating with people. I give 200% every show, every song, every night. It's all I know how to do! Getting out from the drums is a hell of a feeling. I felt so trapped before. I loved doing it, but I wanted to be closer to the crowd and able to go anywhere I could. Not be stuck on a drum stool for an hour. I feel very blessed to still be here on earth and given a chance to continue to pursue my dreams!

CoC: Are there any upcoming dates you'd like to mention?

KF: Deceased is playing September 3rd in Pittsburgh, September 10th in Winchester, Virginia, September 17th in Chicago with Sabbat, Destructor, Chasm. In Canada October 15th and Ohio October 28th. Please see our website for more info.

CoC: When did your fascination with the macabre first begin?

KF: I wish I knew. I've always wondered myself. Maybe it's from the death of my father so young. I vividly remember his funeral. My mom loved horror films and always took me to them at such a young age. I guess it all adds up.

CoC: This goes back to what I wrote in my review of the new record, that death metal impels us to confront mortality, and obviously in the musician's case, to directly express his own thoughts about the inevitable. Still, there's a fair amount of pretending involved. People know what it's like to fall in and out of love, lose someone, they can study profiles of killers, and the stages of decay, etc., but it's much more difficult to approximate the experience of death from a psychological standpoint. Yet this is where some of your best material comes from, and more recently many of these aspects have hit closer to home. There's also a great sense of appreciation and need to reexamine on the new album, as on "The Kept". Do you think you've gained a better understanding of life or of death in the last couple of years?

KF: Absolutely. I lost my mother three years back suddenly. It was very tragic. A rare infection took her body and mind away in days. Really tore me up! Then as soon as I had practically buried her, my lung clot started up. I got over that hump and had the stroke. Woke up one morning and was out of it. Next thing I know I'm in the hospital with a stroke at age 35. You see it first hand when you lay in a stroke ward with people at the end of their lives on earth; seeing them fading away before your eyes. It's very sad! Watching doctors and nurses trying to prolong life a few more days or weeks. No one knows what death leads to. Is it the end? Is it the beginning? It's the most fascinating question of all time! It intrigues my mind to no end!

CoC: So, whenever you die, what happens to your record collection?

KF: My son gets everything. He's a die-hard metalhead and he cherishes all that metal music stands for!

CoC: What are your thoughts on the late David Wayne?

KF: It was shocking to see him die after his accident. I love the first Metal Church LP tons. I saw them on that tour and the band kicked ass. David Wayne was a great singer in his prime. After a lot of obstacles, he tried to get back on track. Sadly his death came as well.

CoC: Is there anything new planned for any other projects, like October 31 or something new from your label Battle Zone Records?

KF: October 31 is playing all over the place. We are a live band. We are starting work on our next LP already. _Bury the Hatchet_ is the title. We will be going overseas in 2006 to play some German metal festivals. Battle Zone Records is on / off. I want to get back to old metal records and do more stuff again. I need money to do so, so it's hit or miss. But I plan to get it rolling again big time in 2006.

CoC: You've mentioned that during the time _Blueprints for Madness_ was being written you were listening to a lot of Emerson, Lake and Palmer. What other non-metal groups do you enjoy or feel influenced by?

KF: I love so much music, it all influences me somehow. Everything from The Beatles (best song writers ever!), Kansas, Styx, early Boston, Blondie (weird new wave moments here), The Cars (gods!), No Doubt (most well-known eclectic band of the last decade), and many more. I love anything that I can get right into or take months or years to musically figure out (enter _Tarkus_ from ELP here).

CoC: This feels almost pathetically topical, but science and its consequences have always been a large part of the Deceased concept. What's your opinion on the stem cells issue?

KF: That's a great program they got going on it. The world is always trying to move forward. But unfortunately some folks don't want it to happen in their time on earth. People are afraid of progress a lot of the time -- and with so many false promises and past disasters in science, there is reasoning to this. But with trial and error comes penicillin. Stem cells could treat a wide range of human disorders. It could do a lot of good! Some oppose things about it that go into the experimentation process. And of course greed and money always is gonna show its ugly head. I'm hoping it keeps on going and it comes to fruition in the near future.

CoC: George Carlin, who I know you're also a fan of, remarked recently that he enjoyed watching the videos of beheadings in Iraq because it reminded him of what fucking animals we really are. I wanted to extend this observation and ask what your own thoughts about the war are, as well as what you think about both the technology and superstitions involved.

KF: I don't follow much war events to be honest. I know very little about it all. So I won't pretend I do or waste time trying to word something together here.

CoC: You've got a DVD release planned for the future. What can people expect as far as content and a release date?

KF: Well, it's been delayed and delayed. I have hundreds of hours of Deceased footage from as far back as 1987 on tape. some of it looks like the orangutan from "Every Which Way But Loose" shot it. <laughs> A lot of home camera moments playing parties, festivals, on the road footage, my goofy hijinx in the studio! All kinds of stuff. A lot of fun stuff and a lot of die-hard footage for folks who want to live the moments with us. It could be the video version of the website Chainsaw has created; stories and moving pictures. Not sure when it will surface, probably in a year's time. And yes, it's still called _Digital Graveyard_!

CoC: The good folks at Hell's Headbangers released the double vinyl edition of _Fearless Undead Machines_ earlier this year. Do you think in a way Deceased will always be in the shadow of this album?

KF: It's considered our best record by a lot of folks into the band. When people compare an album by us after this, they throw hints and comparisons to it very often. I love the record; it came out how I wanted it to. The concept was what I wanted, the performances were excellent by the band, and it just fell into place. For me however, my favorite Deceased record to date is _Supernatural Addiction_.

CoC: Will _As the Weird Travel On_ be treated to a release on wax?

KF: Absolutely. A few labels have asked about it. Indeed it will. _Blueprints for Madness_ will be out on Hell's Headbangers on double gatefold vinyl real soon as well -- and a _Luck of the Corpse_ picture disc to follow that!

CoC: I want to thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. Best of luck in the future, and maybe I'll see you guys play New York sometime. The final word is all yours...

KF: Very much respect and thanks for the in-depth questions. It is quite obvious you have kept up on Deceased goings on. We all really appreciate the support with this interview. To anyone reading, stay wild and stay sincere to yourself. May music get the upper hand again in the underground! All the very best! Up the tombstones!

(article submitted 2/9/2005)


CHATS
9/14/1997 D Schinzel Deceased: Night of the Deceased
ALBUMS
8/12/2005 T DePalma 9.5 Deceased - As the Weird Travel On
5/25/2000 P Schwarz 9 Deceased - Supernatural Addiction
8/12/1997 D Schinzel 9 Deceased - Fearless Undead Machines
GIGS
8/12/1997 D Schinzel Deceased / Black Army Jacket / DeathKids Better Late Than Never
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