DEICIDE (Steve Asheim) INTERVIEW
Eleven years ago the Florida-based Death Metal quartet Deicide released one of the most spell-bounding extreme Metal albums of all tmes – a record that provided many hour of pure enjoyment for my young self. In view of that, and following the relese of the band’s latest belter “To Hell With God”, it was with sheer pleasure that I found myself battling through the massive crowd stationed outside the London Underworld on the evening of the 18th of June. Having survived this gruesome exercise, I was soon led to the backstage area of the venue where I sound found myself sitting fac to face the band’s quite pleasant sticksman Steve Asheim for what was to be a short but quite to the point chat.
By Yiannis (John) Stefanis.
• Hi Steve, good to be able to talk to you again even for a relatively short time, which is totally understandable as in less than one and a half hour you’re due on stage.
Steve: No problem.
• In “To Hell With God” we have another really good deicide album – a very positive thing considering all the rumours that were circulated a few months ago regarding the band’s status and future. I guess that simply by releasing your tenth studio album and going on tour in its support you are making the strongest statement, right?
Steve: Yes, sure! I mean, we did the record and now we are on tour, working endlessly to promote our music. Now, people seem to like it a lot and that makes us really pleased. Most importantly, we have managed to bring many of the new songs in our live set and they, in turn, make our shows much better than before. The younger people in our audience really dig these songs and they want to hear them live and when we do play them they tend to recognise them, so…it’s been a good response for our new record so what we want to do know is to get out there and do some gigs for it.
• When you were going through the actual creating and recording process it must be very difficult to step back and see things objectively – be more critical over the progress of your work. Now that the album is finally out and you have had the chance to see how the new material comes across on a live environment, how would you evaluate it as a Deicide release?
Steve: Hmm, well the album has definitely changed a lot from what it started to be, but that has obviously been for the better. Now that I have had the time, as you said, to listen to it properly I can certainly say that all the effort we put behind its creation was certainly worth it. As I said before, everyone ‘digs it’ so, looking back, yeah – you’ve got to let it do what it has to do. As far as the writing process was concerned everything happened naturally.
• So, if you were to compare “To Hell With God” with its predecessor “Till Death Do Us Part” (2008), which I find a bit more…maybe ‘complicated’ is the right word here, how would you describe their main differences? For some reason, “To Hell With God” sounds to me more closer to “The Stench Of Redemption” (2006) in the sense that it has a better balance between the extreme and the melodic parts featured in the ten compositions on offer. What is it that you did differently this time round?
Steve: I don’t know; maybe the…the rhythms were a little bit less chaotic or something, you know? Maybe there was a little bit more room for the riffs to…to be handled better and get a better sound out of them! And also the way that the songs were put together, I think, created a better base for leads and vocals to be out on there more effectively.
• When I last did an interview with you during the release of “The Stench Of Redemption” (2006), you explained to me the whole process of how that album came to life, stating pretty much that all the riffs were provided by you. Did you follow a similar approach with “To Hell With God”?
Steve: Yeah, that is how we tend to go about things. We come up with a whole bunch of songs which we demo out. Then everyone will hear those riffs/ideas and they will do what they want to do with them suggestions wise like, “cut this”, “put that” or don’t put that”, you know? So, ideas are passed around and everybody has their own way on how they want to deal with them and so it is very important to get everyone’s opinion on things as that is a way of ensuring the creation of a better song. I don’t like to say things like “play this” and be a tyrant about things; I prefer to take some criticism and make sure, in return, that things sound better in the end. So, that is how we go bout it really.
• What would you say were the biggest challenges with regards making this album from the point of the original inception of the general idea to the time that the end product was ready?
Steve: Well, a lot of songs had some major overhauls arrangements-wise, but that was not such a big deal as they ended up becoming much better in the end. It took us some time to figure out what to really do with them, you know? Were we to start some of them over, could we save them at the form that they were? These were the questions we were faced with and it took us a day or two to reach certain decisions that we made but eventually managed to ‘save’ quite a lot of them….editing, it all boils down to editing as it makes a hell of a difference in mot cases.
• You have mentioned that a lot of these new songs have already found their way into the band’s set list of a short tour that includes a few UK and European dates. For as band such as Deicide that has released so many classic songs thus far, it must have been quite a task to come up with a set list as such, right?
Steve: Well, that is indeed very difficult as we have to go through each of our albums and pick up the best material that we have created. There are certain songs that people really want to hear and so we have to include those, and there are also a bunch of new songs that we want to perform so we make sure that we pick those as well. Some of these songs are pretty hard to perform but they also happen to be the ones that end up sounding the best live! So, we pick those and then it’s easy to fill in the rest. There are songs that we have been playing for years and which we consider to be ‘fillers’ so we were finally given the chance to ‘dump’ some of them and just stick to those which we feel that have the power to move Deicide forward. So, there are no weak moments in this set; we will blast things out with our music and we hope that people will enjoy our performances. We are very focused on keeping the energy high during our shows. We have been recording music for twenty years and so we have a lot of material to ensure that our set list is the best possible.
• Did you find that, with regards the new material, you had to make many adjustments in order to perform it on a live environment or was the original intention to write the album in such a way that it can easily be recreated on a live setting?
Steve: We always record our material in such a way that it will be possible for it to be performed live. In a studio environment you always try to make your songs sound as far out as you possibly can and then when the time comes to play these songs live you realise that it may not be possible to do that for whatever reason. I mean, when we layer a bunch of rhythm guitars and then we put the leads over I often ask myself “fu*k, how are we going to play that live” and that is why we tend to stick more into the basic type of songs…anyway, they are all good choices, you know?
• Though there are a few dates here in Europe, I did not see any festival entries on the band’s Face book page. Do you have plans on attending any of these summer festivals like Wacken?
Steve: No, I don’t think that we are doing any of those festivals this year; we’ve got a couple of festivals that we are going to be doing, one of which is Metalcamp in Slovenia and after that we will try to get a few dates in Australia followed by another American ‘run’ which will take in March next year. As I said, people really dig this record so what we want to do is to get out and play stuff for them.
• I understand that the short time provided to me for this interview is almost up, so, with regards the future of the band, are there any plans of what should be expected from Deicide in the next couple of years?
Steve: Well, we will try to get as many gigs for this new record as we possibly can and I guess that, eventually, it will be time for us to start working on a new record and so we will simply go at it! We will begin writing songs as we always do and let people once again see what it is that we got to say.
• Steve, it’s been a pleasure talking to you. Thank you very much for your time and I want to wish you every success with regards the tour for “To Hell With God”.
Steve: Thanks man, I appreciate it – enjoy the show!
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