Punk/hardcore combo Converge have been ripping away on the jagged edge of extreme music for nearly two decades now, all the while maintaining an intense fascination with the darker side of human nature... something that frontman and co-founder Jacob Bannon may have gained from a lifetime of watching classic horror flicks.
The band's seventh studio album Axe To Fall – which hits stores later this month – drills deeply into those dark tunnels of the mind, with the help of numerous guest players from bands like Neurosis, Genghis Tron, The Red Chord, Himsa, Undertow and Cave In... and the video for the title track makes those internal horrors surge to bio-mechanical life in a hard-hitting musical nightmare that will make your skin crawl while rocking your ass off.
We snagged a little time to pick Jacob's brain about the new album, his love of '80s horror cinema, and of course that creepy new vid, which for now you can only see right here on FEARnet. Dive below the fold for all the gory details, check out the vid and let us know what you think!
FEARnet: With Axe To Fall, It sounds like you're pushing your music in new directions and embracing some experimental styles. What can we expect this time out?
JACOB: We've been a band for going on two decades, so our approach to creating music is pretty much etched in stone. Like all bands we strive to evolve with each album, and I personally feel we accomplished that. If anything, we are continuing to refine what we are and our approach.
There's quite a lineup of guests onboard for this one, like John Pettibone, Steve Von Till, Genghis Tron, etc. what was it like working with such a diverse group?
It was a great experience! All of the people who contributed to the album were fantastic.
That reminds me... I've got my ticket to see you guys play this fall with Mastodon, Dethklok and High On Fire. You must be pretty psyched to get started on that tour.
We're definitely excited! It's a super-diverse tour that has a little something for everyone interested in abrasive music.
So I hear you're a fan of old-school horror.
To a degree... when I was a kid, I watched nearly every horror movie I could get my hands on.
Me too... I rode the whole Mom & Pop video store wave in the '80s.
Yeah, those rental stores back then gave me plenty to work with... aside from the classics of the '80s, I really dig Herschell Gordon Lewis [Blood Feast, 2000 Maniacs], Dario Argento [Suspiria], George Romero, John Carpenter, Abel Ferrara [Driller Killer], and Clive Barker movies.
Did your love of horror start before the video boom?
I used to watch Creature Double Feature when I was young, around seven or eight. The program used to show Godzilla and classic Universal horror movies.
I miss those days... so what's your take on the current state of horror?
Most contemporary horror doesn't do much for me. For me it was about a time and place that was established for me when I was young. Now I rarely get moved by what is out there, so I don't pay much attention.
Some people say we're having a renaissance with some really creative independent films, others are saying filmmakers just can't do horror right anymore.
I'm sure there is relevant work out there... but just like music, though, it's gone underground.
What's the last mainstream horror movie you would consider a classic?
The Blair Witch Project.
Has your love of horror influenced your art, visually or musically?
In a way. I think it allowed me to appreciate grim images and see them as beautiful. To see them as art, not just the macabre. Our music and art is far from one-dimensional and embodies both a psychological light and darkness.
I think any worthwhile creative medium explores all of those dimensions.
I also feel that good films – horror or not – are the same way.
Speaking of the visual aspect: the new video for Axe To Fall is full of horrific elements... did you design the visual concept for it?
Director Craig Murray designed the concept, and based it on his interpretation of my lyrical content.
It really reminds me of the film TETSUO, with the stop-motion animation and bio-mechanical images, all the creeping cables and stuff. Do you know that film?
I'm familiar with it, and I can see some of that influence. I also know [Craig] was going for “Chris Cunningham meets Michel Gondry” in his approach to this project.
You're obviously not shying away from the dark corners of the human condition... but what really gets under your skin? What's your biggest fear?
Not living the life that I want to live.
Now that you've got the background, get ready for the terrifying video premiere of Axe To Fall, which right now you can only peep right here! And of course, be sure to keep an eye out for the CD release on October 20th from Epitaph Records.