METAL PULP AND PAPER: Hello Joseph. So glad to be catching up with you. Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions for Metal Pulp And Paper. We appreciate it.
JOSEPH BENHAM: Absolutely, and thanks for taking the time to reach out to us as well.
MPAP: So, how are you? How are things so far now that we are well into the 2nd half of 2018?
JOSEPH: I’m doing awesome, just trying to stay out of the sweltering heat. Can’t believe we’re already over half way through 2018; time just goes by way to fast these days.
MPAP: I have a good feeling your band Violent Life Violent Death is going to going to go very far and make a name for themselves real soon because of your latest effort, Come, Heavy Breath. Would you say that’s safe to say right now?
JOSEPH: Haha, I don’t know if that’s safe to say quite yet, but we would love to be able to say that one day in the near future, and so far, things are looking really good. We’ve gotten some great responses from our latest release that we’re very happy with, and we hope to build on that as much as possible in the coming months.
MPAP: It wasn’t until recently when I had heard about VLVD when I received an email from Adrenaline PR with the subject title: 'Hardcore Metal Outfit Violent Life Violent Death Stream Entire New Release, Come, Heavy Breath, Four Days Early.' The name of the band caught my attention right away, so I knew I had to check it out immediately. Then after heading to the MetalSucks website to listen to the EP album stream, all I can say is wow! Brutal, breakneck, powerful. Fresh, and aggressive to say a few words to describe it. So, let’s back up a bit for a moment and get everyone on the same page and find out just who is Violent Life Violent Death, then we will talk about your latest release right after that. VLVD hail from the depths of Charlotte, North Carolina and is comprised of Scott Cowan on vocals, Joseph Benham, Joey Park both on guitars, with Justin Campbell on bass, and rounding it out, David Holquin practically summoning the apocalypse on drums. Also, VLVD’s sound has been described by some as either hardcore, crustcore, and even grindcore. How would you explain your music to the new listener? What should they expect?
JOSEPH: It’s always interesting to hear what people have to say about our sound because it tends to be all over the place. We’ve gotten everything from Pro-pain, to Wolf King, to Pig Destroyer, to 'Neurosis on Meth'; which is not quite what we would’ve expected, but we kinda like that people’s opinions are all over the place. When we set out to write the songs for this band we really wanted to put forth an effort that sounds like a combination of all the different styles of aggressive and heavy music that we grew up listening to and loving as kids… So bands like Zao, NOFX, Hatebreed, Every Time I Die, etc, who we feel were paramount in the development of our sound. But again, we like that this isn’t completely obvious, since we’re always being referenced to different bands in comparison to our sound.
MPAP: Now let’s talk about Come, Heavy Breath. Like mentioned earlier, this is your 2nd release, and it hit everyone’s eardrums on June 29th, and each song on it is packed with quite a punch. Can you tell us about it?
JOSEPH: Basically, we wanted to take our sound from the first release, V-EP, and make it even more heavy/aggressive/energy-packed, and even darker in mood at times. So essentially the goal was to improve on what we were able to conjure up for our debut album, which we feel we were able to do.
MPAP: How do you feel the response has been since releasing it? Do you feel good about it and now you can relax for a bit until the next time you get into the studio?
JOSEPH: The response to Come, Heavy Breath has been amazing, and we couldn’t be happier with where we are right now as a band who has only been around for a couple years. Relaxation is always nice, but we pretty much skipped all that and have already begun writing songs for another album. So far, we have four. As a newer band we feel the best thing to help us continue the momentum is the consistent release of content. So, with that being said, we’re already planning for another album release in the first quarter of 2019.
MPAP: Talk about "Backbiter," or "Come, Heavy Breath" in a bit more detail. Is there a message you’re trying to get across to everyone that listens to it by chance?
JOSEPH: With both of those songs, and really the whole album in general, we wanted to illustrate moments of fervor that draw a gasp, or, a heavy breath, as the album title depicts, they elaborate. These are the moments of awe that we each experience in life, whether they be conjured through excitement, joy, sadness, loss, lust, love, wonder, etc., while bringing them each to life through our music in as straight forward of a manner possible, demanding the attention of the listener.
MPAP: The "Come, Heavy Breath" music video is a must watch. So, who came up with the idea for it all?
JOSEPH: Our vocalist Scott was the mastermind behind the imagery in that video, with Mark De Gruchy at Landmine Design who we feel was able to execute it extremely well. Scott handles pretty much all of our merch and band imagery and does an exceptional job with it all. His thoughts are always very creative as everything seems to be received considerably well.
MPAP: Moreover, for those of you who haven’t seen it yet, describe for us the montage of visuals throughout the almost 4-minute video?
JOSEPH: Two words: Shock value, haha. We’ve had people describe it as disturbing, snuff film-esque, creepy… yet with a hopeful ending of sorts. Really the best thing to do is to go check it out for yourself and draw your own conclusion.
MPAP: Editing it must have taken some time to gather all the various clips and to them get all together to fit just right?
JOSEPH: Man, finding clips for that video was one of the most tedious things I’ve done in a while. I never thought it would be so hard to find cool stock footage of shocking things that, A) didn’t have any watermarks, and B) were a good resolution size. It probably took a solid 8 hours of scouring YouTube to find the hundred or so clips that we used in the final cut.
MPAP: In a band statement, it was stated, 'we put a lot of thought and hard work into this album, and we are very proud of how it turned out.' Now that you have given your all; the blood, the sweat, and tears, when the lights come on, and you walk out on to the stage, what goes on deep in mind or your heart now that you’ve come this far with VLVD?
JOSEPH: Honestly it can all be kind of intimidating. We’ve been a band for just over 2 years and things seem to have been escalating pretty quickly. But, at the same time that’s been our intention from the start. With all the knowledge we’ve gained from playing music for a good chunk of our lives, we wanted to use that to hit the ground running and make the most solid effort possible - no screwing around this time as we like to say. So in our minds and hearts we’re feeling really good about things so far, and we’re very excited to see where VLVD will take us in the future.
MPAP: What makes you want to stand out from the other bands out there on the scene and not just be another name on the marquee?
JOSEPH: With so many bands these days we feel it’s really one of the best ways to make a name for yourself. Plus, as listeners and fans of heavy music for decades now, we’ve heard it all… or at least have come real close to it… so we try to write innovative music that we ourselves would love to hear as well as if we weren’t in the band.
MPAP: Going back to your new release for a moment, about the only bad thing about it is, if you can even really call it a bad thing, was that some said that Come, Heavy Breath was too short. Not enough songs on it. It clocks in at just under 22 minutes. How does that make you feel that everyone wants more, and he or she could not get enough of your new material?
JOSEPH: Whenever we hear that, that means we got them right where we want them…or at least we’d like to think so, haha. We figured at this stage in our development, if we can grab people’s attentions with an EP made up of 5 or 6 of our best efforts and get listeners wanting more, that’ll give us a leg up in maintaining their interest for the future. Plus, in doing so gives us a better opportunity to release music more frequently (versus the standard 2-3 years per release), which we feel is also very important considering the sheer volume of bands out there today as mentioned in the previous question. So, with all this being said, we already have 5 more songs ready to go that’d we’d like to record this fall for another EP… unless a label or someone steps in before then and wants us to do otherwise. But for us right now it’s all about content, content, content.
MPAP: VLVD is comprised of former members of Deception Of A Ghost, A Stained Glass Romance, and Aria. How did this all come about to happen?
JOSEPH: Long story short - 3 out of 5 of us (Scott, Justin, and myself) met over a decade ago just going to shows and such. I was in a band called Aria at the time, and Justin and Scott were in A Stained Glass Romance. I remember one show in particular where ASGR played at Tremont Music Hall here in Charlotte NC, and I thought to myself, 'Man that singer is awesome,' and I was determined to recruit him as Aria’s new vocalist. So not too long after that I had approached Scott and asked if he would like to sing for us, to which he agreed. His only terms were that we bring on Justin to play bass for us since our previous bass player had recently stepped away from the band, which worked out perfectly. That was that, and only 3 weeks later we hit the road with Saved byGrace and Glass Casket on a month-long tour of the east coast and Midwest. After Aria broke up, Scott and Justin reformed Stained Glass, and then Scott later sang for Deception after Stained Glass called it quits. Scott and I dabbled in a project called Black Pope after that for a few years, but we ended that in 2016 and decided to do something a little different and more serious… so here we are.
MPAP: What’s next for VLVD? What are in the crosshairs? Any tour announcements by any chance you can reveal here?
JOSEPH: One super cool thing that just happened today is we were able get a spot on the Blue Ridge Rock Festival that happens every September in Lynchburg, VA. So, we’re beyond stoked to share a show with bands like Lamb of God, Whitechapel, Unearth and more. Adding to that, we’re in the very beginning stages of setting up an east coast tour for this fall with some buddies of ours. We’ll begin making announcements once we have everything finalized… so stay tuned.
MPAP: On behalf of myself, and Metal Pulp And Paper, I’d like to thank you, Joseph, for being a part of this interview. It was great to get to know more about you and the band. We look forward to what Violent Life Violent Death does to finish out 2018 and beyond. Any last words for all the readers and all your fans out there?
JOSEPH: We’d like to thank you all as well for taking the time to interview us and help get our name out there. It really means a lot to us, especially as a newer band. And to all of you out there, if you liked or are intrigued by what you read, please go check us out on Facebook, Instagram, Spotify, twitter, YouTube, bigcartel, etc!
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Violent Life Violent Death/ Joseph Benham / July 27th, 2018/ Interview #112