Deathcore giants Whitechapel are about to release their 6th album on June 24th titled “Mark Of The Blade” which coincides with the 10th anniversary of the band. We talk to guitarist Zach Householder about the longevity of the band, the new album and a little about some of our heroes in the metal world.
Andrew: You must have just ended the tour in the U.S. right?
Zach: Yeah that’s right. A little 3 week ‘decade’ tour we did.
Andrew: How was it?
Zach: That was great! It was kind of a small run to promote the album and to kind of celebrate 10 years with Whitechapel in a way. It was fun, 3 weeks is cake.
Andrew: Did you end up playing any of the new songs at all?
Zach: Yeah we already released “Mark Of The Blade”, the title track when we started the tour. We played “Tremors” off the new album as well because we thought it would be kinda cool to play a song that noone had heard yet and see their reaction and it seemed to go over really well.
Andrew: Well obviously the new album is coming out in a few weeks time. Phil (Bozeman, vocalist) had given a statement in the press release that we received where he basically says; “The theme of ‘Mark of the Blade’ is a celebration of Whitechapel being together for ten years and the fans that support us no matter what”. Is that a true statement that represents the album?
Zach: Yeah I think some of the songs take on their own entity because we kinda stopped doing the concept albums. That’s a lot of fun but sometimes you just don’t feel it, it doesn’t fit an album sometimes. Some of the songs on the [new] record are their own entity, the majority of the album is a little more positive in some senses and it definitely celebrates the 10 year decade of Whitechapel.
Andrew: How does it feel to reach the 10 year mark?
Zach: I don’t know man, when I figure it out I’ll let you know [laughs].
Andrew: [laughs] I guess you don’t really think about it during that time.
Zach: It feels good though! But like you said, you don’t really think about it until it finally happens. I mean I’m glad to still be doing this after 10 years, I can’t believe it’s been 10 years. It’s nuts!
Andrew: [laughs] What do you remember the most about that first year that you started with the band? What were the highlights of that first year?
Zach: Well I don’t know if you know as far as the history goes but when “The Somatic Defilement” was written, there was another guitar player in the band named Brandon Cagle and he got into a motorcycle accident and hurt his arm and couldn’t use his arm and I replaced him at the time and that was before the band even started touring or anything. So that first year, knowing these guys from my hometown and played in bands with a bunch of them beforehand and I knew them but I was still a big fan of the band before I even got into the band so that first year was really kinda cool to play the Whitechapel songs because I liked them already. We really didn’t know whether Brandon was going to heal up or not and I didn’t know if I had a permanent position yet but obviously it worked out in the end. Brandon is also our full time sound guy now, he’s a wizard when it comes to that shit. Probably one of the smartest people I know so I’m glad he’s doing this stuff with us too, it worked out nicely. I hate for that to happen to him back then but these things happen for a reason.
Andrew: Yeah as you said, it’s great that it worked out for everyone. 10 years later you have the new album “Mark Of The Blade”, I guess the title is a good representation of what Whitechapel is now. What were some of the bigger inspirations behind writing these songs this time around?
Zach: As far as music or just things in life or both?
Andrew: In the music. I think on the lyrics it’s a little different as well as you touch on a lot more positive stuff rather than the more negative aspects of life.
Zach: Yeah and I kinda like the fact that we get a little positive with it. Like with Hatebreed, Jamey (Jasta, vocalist) gets positive too and it’s really empowering, especially to the energy of metal behind it and I kinda like it. I think it’s just what we’re feeling at the time and when it comes to the music, I’ll always have my main influences that I grew up listening to when it comes to how I write my music and what appeals to me. But there’s also generally different tastes in music and I think for this album it was like a lot of older influences plus some Pantera, Katatonia, some Deftones. Just really try to have fun and put it all out there because we’re not writing an album specifically for any one fan, we’re writing it for everyone and for ourselves.
Andrew: It must be difficult to not pander to what people expect from you guys because I mean there are a lot of fans that expect a certain thing from you. But at this point in your career, you’re probably doing what you believe is right for the band I suppose.
Zach: Right and we’re never going to alienate what Whitechapel is and our fans, it’s still going to be pissed off music but we’re just going to expand a little bit and step outside the box. It’s what we always try to do, you can tell from the last 3 albums that’s just how it’s always been and I think it’s working out man, it’s more fun for us. Some bands can write the same album over and over and it works for them, we just don’t want to do that and I think the fans that are diehard and are with us have grown with us and always stick by us. But anybody that is ‘straight gutteral blast beats for life’, great for them, that’s great but sorry if Whitechapel doesn’t live up to their expectations but we’re going to keep going. We’re going to keep trudging on through man, it’s just what we want to do.
Andrew: Well I guess the song “Elitist Ones” is probably something that touches on maybe that attitude of metalheads that sort of have this elitist attitude on their own music and other forms of music.
Zach: Oh yeah and I think Phil hit the nail on the head with the lyrics. I’m in indifferent because I’m in the band but even when I hear the song in it’s completion, I dig this because it’s how we feel. The fucking elitists are always going to be out there, might as well write a song about it. I’m sure there’s a lot of satire metal blogs and certain webzines that will probably have a lot to say about that song but let them, whatever.
Andrew: [laughs] Well I’m guessing one song that they will probably focus a lot on is the song “Bring Me Home” which stands out on the album. What was the idea behind that one?
Zach: That was one of (Ben) Savages that he started writing a long time ago. Really dug the vibe of it and it was like, ‘Let’s try fucking with this, let’s track it in the studio’. Even if Phil ends up feeling like he can’t do anything or if he doesn’t get any inspiration from it, at least we tried. We we were in the studio and tracked it and Phil just knocked it out of the park and it’s a very personal song for him as far as lyrics go. I think that’s more towards along the lines of the positive stuff, we’re trying to do stuff that people relate to. Because that’s what pulls me into the direction of metal sometimes, is that I can relate to it and grabs me. Some days I want some metal that’s not super intense lyrically and then some days I want Slayer, I want Pantera, I want Slipknot. Stuff that you can just reach out to and grab onto to get you moving and I feel that’s kind of the direction we’re going as far as we want people to relate to it. And it does come to that idea with that song too, it’s a very sad song.
Andrew: Do you think that song will be played live on the next tour?
Zach: Maybe not the very next, the next one we’re doing is Warped tour so that will be an outdoor festival show which wouldn’t fit the mood I guess. But we have a tour we’re doing in September where I think we will try and play it on that one, we’re going to try and play that one or the closing track (Decennium) on that September tour.
Andrew: OK cool. So you were touching on some of your favorite bands like Slayer and Pantera and stuff like that. As far as guitar players, who do you consider to be your biggest influence?
Zach: As far as a guitar player, that sure is tough. There’s like a Mount Rushmore of – You know Mount Rushmore here with the mountain and the 4 Presidents on it incase someone doesn’t know the terminology and the big national monument – My Mount Rushmore of guitar players is probably Dimebag, Pat O’Brien from Cannibal Corpse, Jeff Loomis; ex-Nevermore, now he’s in Arch Enemy. James Hetfield [Metallica], his right hand is just godly. Let’s see, I don’t know if I’m leaving anybody out here but I don’t know man, that’s a solid 4. I mean Dime is just…there will never be another Dime, he was his own entity. I like Dave Mustaine, Dave writes some really solid friggin’ songs. People give him shit a lot but I think Dave is a bad ass on guitar man.
Andrew: Yeah absolutely! You picked out some huge names there, James Hetfield is probably one of the best rhythm guitarists in the world. Dimebag Darrell, funnily enough, did you manage to hear the new song that he was on in the new Hellyeah record?
Zach: That James was on?
Andrew: No Dimebag Darrell. Apparently they pulled out an old riff or something from like 10 years ago and they put it onto the new Hellyeah record.
Zach: Oh no I haven’t heard that! That’s really cool, I’ll have to check it out. I had no idea.
Andrew: Yeah his brother Vinnie Paul pulled it out from when they did Damage Plan and they put it on the album and yeah, it sounds like Dimebag but yeah, cool stuff.
Zach: Oh yeah, groovy! I actually got to meet the singer of Hellyeah (Chad Gray) when we did the whole Mayhem tour with them all summer and we didn’t get to cross paths a lot but I got to meet and talk to the singer of Hellyeah and that guy was super nice. I don’t call it a guilty pleasure, I don’t give a shit anymore but I loved Mudvayne and “L.D. 50”, their album. It was a fun album and so it was kinda cool to meet that guy for sure, he was really cool.
Andrew: If there was one person you haven’t met yet that you would like to meet, who do you think that would be?
Zach: Oh man! I try not to get super fanboy about stuff like that but I got to meet Bruce Dickinson at one point a few years ago and that was a big moment for me. But I still want to meet James (Hetfield) man, I hear he’s the greatest dude ever. He’s one of my idols, I grew up worshipping the guy and as cliched as it might sound, I would still really like to meet him because it would mean a lot to me. I’ve got to meet a lot of cool people and really fortunate for that so I’m not complaining about the fact that I’ve never got to meet him yet but I wouldn’t mind if I did.
Andrew: [Laughs] I actually was lucky enough to meet him about 6 years ago and he is everything that people say, just the most down to earth friendly guy so hopefully one day you’ll get to meet him too.
Zach: Yeah and you know what’s a funny story, out of all the bands I’ve seen live, I never got to see Metallica live.
Andrew: Oh right!
Zach: I still haven’t gotten to, it’s kind of a bummer man.
Andrew: You’re missing something there!
Zach: I know, I know. Someday I’ll get to. We played a festival in Canada with them but we had to leave before they played. Someday I’ll get to see them, someday.
Andrew: Yeah absolutely, you’ll definitely have to check them out. And hopefully we’ll get to see you in Australia again, I think it’s been a little while since you’ve been down here last.
Zach: Yeah I think the last time we were down there was with Devildriver and that was for a little 3 day run. But I guess Soundwave is kinda kaput as far as not really happening too much anymore. But when it comes to Australia man, all you have to do is give me a plane ticket and tell me where to play, I love Australia. I’ll go there anytime, it’s one of my favorite places to go. Maybe at the beginning of the new year when we try to do some southern hemisphere stuff, we’ll try to get to Australia for sure, at least I hope so.
Andrew: Yeah we would love to have you back and hopefully be a full scale headline tour. Anyway I better let you go so thanks for your time, it’s been a pleasure speaking to you. Congratulations on the new album, sounds fantastic and as I said, hopefully we will get to see you in Australia.
Zach: Oh yeah absolutely man. Thank you for everything!