Thanatotic Desire – Murder on the BrainSaturday, 28th October 2017
Developing a sound that has one foot in classic thrash while also stepping into groove and melodic pastures for tempos and harmonies, New Jersey’s Thanatotic Desire are a hard-working bunch that have accomplished a fair amount of acclaim on their own accord. Beyond performing for audiences locally at Summer Slaughter and the defunct Mayhem festival, they’ve toured across the United States, Mexico, Canada, and even flown to Japan for the True Thrash festival in 2016 – honing their skill sets for the latest album With Murder in Mind.
Explosive riffing, intoxicating harmonies, and fiery lead combinations beyond the crushing screams and relentless vocal delivery keep songs like “Land of the Free (Home of Our Grave)” and “The Devil Won’t Let Me Die” bulldozing through the aural landscape, much in the same way Battlecross or Goatwhore grab for the jugular – adding in those Maiden-esque twin power axe team action to up the melody factor a hundredfold. Guitarists Ben Moore and Anthony Capozzi, drummer Dave Frech, and bassist/vocalist Will Winton deliver a sound that’s memorable and crushing – not as easy of a task as one would think in the modern age.
Reaching out to Will for an e-mail feature, you’ll discover the band’s development in discography, their hobbies, three of the most important acts that helped shape their outlook on metal, and how hunting can lead to some serious injuries if you are not careful.
Dead Rhetoric: Tell us about the formation of Thanatotic Desire in 2007 – as it’s rare to see a self-released, DIY band still contain three of its four original members a decade into your career. Does this speak well of the band’s friendships and chemistry, where you’ve all committed to the ups and downs that occur in the band?
Will Winton: Thanatotic Desire formed as a need for expression. I’ve been in bands and performing music for more than half of my life now. Ten years ago, we were all in different situations that allowed us to express ourselves. The band came together rather naturally through friends of friends. We bonded early on and keep friendships outside of music. Dave and I have interests with motors and tinkering, while Ben and Mace love to go hunting and fishing together as well so the chemistry is a big part of it, and I think it shows on stage with our live performances.
Dead Rhetoric: Between 2009-2012, you recorded a self-titled demo, your Deathwish full-length, and Silence to Violence EP. What have been the highlights or learning curves you’ve achieved on each release, either in terms of songwriting, performances, or production/recording techniques?
Winton: Well with the self-titled or rather “untitled” demo (later named DDD EP when re-released with DWH entertainment) we didn’t know what we were doing. We wanted to record some of the tunes we’ve been playing and pass them out to help get our name out there. We learned from that in a lot of ways and really got our feet wet when we started to record Deathwish with Kevin Antreassian over at Backroom Studios in Rockaway NJ. He’s become almost a fifth member when we’re in the studio with him behind the console. He’s taught us a lot from the first record and we applied that to the next EP along with a better marketing strategy and support. Songwriting has always been a mix of things and has also changed a lot over the years. For instance, the DDD EP and Deathwish have some songs that I wrote musical parts to. They were more common in the early releases before we brought Mace in who co-writes everything with Ben and I’ll just chime in here and there for a key change or suggestion based on how we feel. Ultimately they bring something to the table and we all work at it until its something we’re happy with.
Dead Rhetoric: It’s been five years between your last EP and current With Murder in Mind release. Were there specific reasons for this long gap between recordings, and how does it feel to finally have this out to the public? Where do you think this effort differs from your previous discography?
Winton: We got a lot of radio airplay and overall support with the release of Silence to Violence. And we originally intended to release the next album a lot sooner. I spent some time shopping the release to every contact we had made. We had a lot of amazing feedback but ultimately had no label that wanted to work with an album that we released on our own. So we went into the studio and recorded With Murder In Mind and spent a couple years shopping that out to even more contacts and labels and ended up releasing the album through a small label Dock Watch Hollow Entertainment, formed by myself and a friend. The album I feel tells a story. The way the tracks were laid out, with the horror scene taunting you three times throughout the listening experience is something we’re proud of.
Dead Rhetoric: Stylistically you incorporate many different influences across the thrash, death, and traditional/power spectrum. Has it always been important for Thanatotic Desire to diversify their approach, while also injecting the right hooks, harmonies, and melodies when necessary?
Winton: We came together with my melodic approach combined with Ben’s speed/thrash/death approach. I think its always been in our interest to have a contrast in our style so to speak. It sets us apart from a lot of other bands, but on the other hand, makes it hard to place us with a similar artist. Ben and Mace will spend hours perfecting just the right harmony. Even if its for a quick little run, so yeah it’s definitely been something that has always been important to us and our sound.
Dead Rhetoric: What can you tell us about the cover art for With Murder in Mind? Did you work hand in hand with the artist to flesh out the idea and concept, and how important do you believe visual art/imagery is to the heavy metal genre?
Winton: We had our cover artist Dedy from Badic Art take a wild stab at this one. We’ve worked with him on Deathwish, Silence to Violence, and some T-shirt designs so we know his art can reflect our image and sound. I sent him a copy of the album and told him no concept, no idea, nothing. Just asked if he could draw what he sees after listening to it. We changed our mind initially, but then went with his first concept in the end. Art and imagery goes hand in hand with heavy metal. Ben would claim that he first got into bands like Cannibal Corpse based on their album art.
Dead Rhetoric: You’ve had to delay/cancel some recent gigs due to a hunting accident one of your guitarists Ben Moore suffered. Can you let the readers know what took place, his subsequent surgery, and what’s the prognosis for his health issues – how has the band been handling this downtime?
Winton: We’re no stranger to self-inflicted (accidental) wounds. We have to clear all live performances for an undetermined amount of time until Ben can get back on his feet. He and Mace were hunting deep in the woods on the morning after our album release when Ben got snagged on something, tripped, and fell onto his arrow. Mace actually saved his life that morning because Ben was losing a fair amount of blood from what I understand. Those arrow heads are meant to shred everything… and they did. He had some tendons and ligaments and muscle reattached in surgery the next day. As far as downtime, I know Mace has been working on a more punk rock solo album and Dave has been lending his drum duties to our local friends Orbynot for the time being as well. I’m always keeping myself busy with projects. I hope to share something big soon.
Dead Rhetoric: How would you define success at this point for Thanatotic Desire – and have the goals or priorities shifted/changed in the decade that you’ve been together?
Winton: I’ve always said success is what you define it as. As a band we’ve set many goals, along the ride we’ve accomplished other things we never imagined. Of course every band that’s ever played out live wants the opportunity to work with a large record label and tour the world non-stop. And although we haven’t yet had the large label interest, we have done some traveling that in my eyes would almost seem untouchable. 2016 the band got a call to travel around the globe to Osaka, Japan to perform at the True Thrash Festival which is something we thought only huge bands could do. So I think we’ve done well, we could always do better I suppose, but we could always do worse too.
Dead Rhetoric: What are your thoughts on the local New Jersey/New York metal scene – and what do you feel you’ve learned on the road with touring all over the United States and Mexico that makes your live performances even stronger or distinct compared to others in your genre?
Winton: The NJ/NY metal scene is a sad pit of despair, vanity and desperation. Brooklyn, NY excluded. Our biggest mistake is not getting out of NJ earlier. We made a mark for ourselves in our home state but we’ve had some of our best shows far, far away from home. We always wondered why big bands would go on these tours and you’d see the dates go from Philly… right to NY or Boston even! Why skip us? And then you see the steady decline in attendance and the support quickly fades. Of course, when Slayer or Lamb of God come to town it is a packed house. I think what we learned by traveling is that whether its 15 people or 1,000, you have to give them the same show regardless. I think people see us having fun on stage and sharing our art that people have fun with us. With touring being so expensive we’re looking for other ways to reach our fans on a global level and still maintain that personal experience of a live show.
Dead Rhetoric: On your Facebook page, you make mention of the change in views/posts/engagement between Myspace in the past, Facebook, and now Instagram. Given the changing music industry model where social media and digital platforms have overtaken the market place, how does Thanatotic Desire approach cutting through the flooded landscape where thousands of bands are vying for consumer attention?
Winton: I try to put a little more focus on the band’s Instagram (page). It seems to get a lot more attention for having the same fan base. Facebook seems to have buried everything with their new algorithms and want you to shell out money to get it to a larger audience of fans who already like your page. We’ve sponsored some posts here and there but Facebook seems to be a dying platform for bands these days. We try to do live videos now which tends to get the attention back for a moment so perhaps you’ll see more of that from us.
Dead Rhetoric: What passions/hobbies do you like to engage in outside of music when you have the free time to do so?
Winton: Ben and Mace enjoy their hunting and fishing. Dave and myself are tinkerers and like cars, motorcycles and engines. Dave also enjoys frisbee golf. I’m probably the busiest with the most hobbies. Photography, videography, video editing, production. I’m also a big nerd for Marvel comics.
Dead Rhetoric: Can you think of three bands in metal that have had the strongest impact on your views of the genre – either in terms of their output, professionalism, or career arc? And what has been your favorite concert memory from a fan’s perspective, and why did that show stand out to you?
Winton: Iron Maiden, Metallica and The Black Dahlia Murder. Iron Maiden paved the way for many bands to try something different and went on to become one of the best bands for decades. Metallica’s career tells the tale of a garage band gone huge. I mean HUGE. Like, the biggest band in the world just about. (Some argued U2) And the Black Dahlia Murder for their song writing which has become very influential to us. So have a lot of newer bands but I’m limiting it to three for the interview’s sake. The best show I’ve ever been to was Iron Maiden’s Somewhere Back in Time tour at the PNC Bank Arts Center here in NJ. They played an amazing set list and the sky was lit by lightning and clouds the whole time which helped setting the mood.
Dead Rhetoric: What concerns or fears do you have about the world today? Where would you like to see focus or the attention shift in people to improve what’s going on, and possibly make things better for future generations?
Winton: I fear we don’t listen to each other anymore. We spend too much time engulfed in our cell phones to listen to our neighbor and that kind of thinking and attitude has brought all types of civil unrest. We’re fighting each other over things that mean nothing and don’t matter. Will this lead to Civil War 2 or World War 3 first? Who knows. I want no part in either.
Dead Rhetoric: What are the plans for Thanatotic Desire over the next twelve months? Have you begun pre-production work on the follow up to With Murder in Mind – as I understand you have plans for possibly recording cover tunes and more experimental material down the line?
Winton: Two tracks for the follow up release are actually 90% complete as it is. They initially (were) meant to go on With Murder in Mind but we ran short on our budget and had to make a call to finish them up at a later time. One song was a cover, and the other was actually a blues song with some guest musicians on there as well. We felt since they’re different types of songs perhaps they didn’t have a place on WMIM and could go towards a cover/experimental type release. We hope to have something ready sooner than later and really hope not to have such a long gap between releases.