Aural onslaught. We implore you to find a better description for deathcore kings, Whitechapel. Emerging over a decade ago, the Texas heavyweights have been on a blazing path of destruction. Whitechapel have received praise for their relentlessly heavy and punishing sound and now prepare to release their fifth record, ‘Our Endless War’ this month via Metal Blade Records. Sure to be an absolute monster of a record, vocalist Phil Bozeman chatted to us about the record and the possibitly of an Australian tour.
So Phil, ‘Our Endless War’ comes out pretty soon, how are you feeling as the release date nears?
I’m feeling really good. I’m excited for people to experience the different direction we’ve taken here. It’s not the biggest change in the world but it’s something that will make people go, ‘Wow, this band can actually write more than just aggressive in your face songs. They can do different things.’ Like, here we show a lot of emotions like sadness and we show that everyone had weakness and downs.
Well that’s interesting because ‘A New Era of Corruption’ was especially about your dark past and was also very personal. So on here it’s more about present day emotions and I guess more common sadness?
Yeah, this album is the most depressing album we’ve put out lyrically for sure.
But what about the first single, ‘Saw is the Law’? That didn’t seem all that personal but maybe it is; can you tell me what it’s about and what you mean when you say "the saw is the law"?
It’s what we’ve dedicated our lives to. We threw away our jobs, we threw away everything that we were doing at the time to commit to this band. And our die hard fans who follow us everywhere we go, it’s kind of made in the sense that we’re taking over the world. It’s more of an imaginary thing because I don’t think we’re literally taking over the world per se. But it’s kind of nice to say "Hey, I’m kind of a badass right now!" you know? It’s so cool to have all these people support you and looking up to me. The songs really all about us and about taking the spotlight, feeling good about ourselves. We don’t think we’re really better than anyone else but that song is kind of a motivator for us. It shows that we’ve sacrificed a lot of things to go around the world and play this music for everyone.
You’ve no doubt created a Whitechapel legacy of sorts. It’s kind of like you looking back and thinking on how far you’ve come.
Yeah definitely, it’s a surreal kind of situation because my mid-teenage self would have never seen this coming.
Alex Wade [guitar] and a Mark xx produced, mixed and mastered the record. So would you agree that it was beneficial to have Alex on the production side of things so he could really capture what the band was going for as opposed to having an overt outside influence on it?
Well yes but then again there’s not one person saying how it’s going to be and sound. There’s no one person in the circle of production that tells us how it going to be. We are the creators of the music and the engineer obviously captures it and has his input on what it could sound like with his suggestions. But we are in complete control of our writing and if we were stuck on something the producer obviously has his input and helps. But we’re all a family and we are all in control. It’s really nice to not have someone saying "this is the way it’s going to be" and that’s the reason why we chose to stick with Metal Blade Records. They’ve never pushed us around, they’re here to support us and actually get our music out there. They let us have our one artistic integrity and creativity.
You recorded drums down in Florida then came and did guitars, bass and vocals back at Alex’s home in Texas. Do you think that created a really great environment to work in?
Oh, definitely. It was so nice to be able to sleep in my own bed! I didn’t have to get on a plane, or get in my car and drive anywhere. I mean i did get in my own car and drive ten minutes to the studio but it wasn’t like an hour or a few hours trip anywhere. There was nothing like that. I could go record what I need to then go home to my own couch, TV, bed and all the things I have personally. I don’t have to stress about being in a place I’m not familiar with. So it’s much better I found to do most of it all local.
So I’ve got to ask this but when do you think you’ll be coming back to Australia? We were all very disappointed that you couldn’t make it down here for Soundwave but we were also very understanding too.
There’s stuff in the works right now. It’s not one-hundred percent grounded and we’re not fully sure of it yet but it’s in the works. We’re talking about it, we want to get down there and please everyone we can so we’re looking at getting down there in the very near future.
Let’s talk about the DVD coming up. You ran a crowd funding program on Indiegogo and you were swarmed by donations. How does all of that feel to have that immense support to surpass your goal like that?
It’s incredible. Like I said, if I was just some guy in a band and asked for thirty-five thousand dollars, everyone would laugh in my face. But myself and the band have worked so hard to get to where we are now that we can ask for that. We want to put it out for these people, the fans. But we needed help and the fact we had that many people who will give their hard earned money that they got themselves to us was crazy. Not everyone can just ask for donations. It’s definitely a very humbling thing that we’re so appreciative. It shows there’s still good people in the world and that they are affected by what you do.
You’re very well known as one the best screamers around. You have a very powerful voice to you so I want to know when did you discover or teach yourself how to do this?
I kind of started getting into the idea of screaming at about sixteen, seventeen as I’d always been a guitar player. I wanted to try it out and see if I sounded stupid or if I sounded good. The first song I think I ever tried it with was ‘[sic]’ by Slipknot. I turned it on and just tried to follow along to and my friends told me I sounded pretty good. I kind of gave it up for awhile after that one time and kept playing guitar, and then I was in a band and we played some shows and then we broke up. I played guitar for that band and then I wanted to try being a vocalist, see if it was something I wanted to do and so me and Ben started writing Whitechapel stuff and I did vocals on our first demos and it went from there I guess. So I was around sixteen when I started playing with the idea of doing vocals.
How is the support back home for you guys? Deathcore isn’t exactly the most socially accepted genre so what do your neighbours and family and friends think about you choosing this career path?
It’s pretty great actually. I mean some family members and friends don’t really understand or like this music but they still support us. At least we’re not drug dealers or committing crimes on the street and preying on innocent people you know? We’re actually making an honest living whether people agree with the content or not, we’re not doing anything illegal. Our family members support us and follow us through because like I said we’re not doing anything they can be ashamed of or whatever.