Shaun Farrugia – Vocals/Guitars
Leigh Bartley – Lead Guitars
Karl Watterson – Bass
Mark Farrugia – Drums
Australia’s savage thrash/death veterans In Malice’s Wake have announced their latest album, The Blindness of Faith. The album takes a look at the darker side of religion. I caught up with vocalist Shaun Farrugia to find out all about the album.
Your new album ‘The Blindness of Faith’ is out on November 13th?
Yes. We are actually putting out the first video for it tomorrow, it’s the title track called The Blindness of Faith. We are pretty pumped. It’s our fourth one. This one had taken us a long time; I think it’s been coming on to 5 years. We generally write slowly any way but there has been a heap of kids between us in the band. It’s not only that we do write slow, trying to get things right. We are pretty fussy. You have a heap of trail and error until it sounds good. The recording process took a year this time which just sort of blew out, I’m not really sure why because we got the drums done in a week.
That’s it you just get busier! We tried to do a lot more in-house this time too. I’d painted all our cover art up until the last album, but I took it back on for The Blindness of Faith. I was trying to learn how to oil paint at the same time and it just took forever. I reckon I took 1.5 years in the middle of that process with different versions. Even the video, I’ve tried to cut it together. I have all these little skills but I am also a bit of a perfectionist as well so everything took longer than it probably should have. It just blew out in a whole heap of ways.
I think people will find it worth the wait. It’s sounding pretty special and it has been really hard to sit on it for the better part of a year. It was finished in January. We also tried to do the label hunt and put a pretty solid looking press kit together. We sent it out everywhere, but it was going out just as Covid hit. I don’t think that helped, it’s not really the time for labels to be signing new bands.
Yeah. Who knows when bands are even going to be able to tour.
Exactly. I figured they are hard up enough maintaining the bands that they have and surviving.
We just got to a point where we gave ourselves until August, we sent out a second round of emails to the labels. I thought if we hit August and it looks like Melbourne is going to open up we would wait another couple of months and organise a tour. We had already decided that we were going to DIY the release anyway. We hit August and things were going down south really fast, so we said fuck it we are just going to release it. People siting at home wanted to hear new music.
This year has actually been really busy just getting things ready for the release. It’s taken a lot of work. We haven’t been able to rehearse because of restrictions but most nights I’ve been on the computer working on bundle art, merch designs. It’s been really hectic so it’s nice to have timed it so that we are still busy. If we had of been half way through the recording and had to stop for a year we would have been gutted.
There has been a few bands that were lucky that they finished their recording at the beginning of the year.
That’s us too. I know a few friends who have had to cancel tours that were already booked. It would just be the worse thing. So much thought and organisation goes into such a large tour. We were actually beginning the planning for a small two week Asian tour that we were hoping to do in July, that got stomped on early this year.
It’s been a really long time coming, it’s a pretty full on sounding album. We are really proud of it. This is our fourth album and I feel like with the last album ‘Light Upon The Wicked’ we really kind of hit our stride. On that album I feel like we hit a bit of a sweet spot, it’s still had that predominantly thrash sound but there is quite an influence of Death metal in there too. I’ve always been interested in that dark sounding atmosphere, and a good dose of melody in there too. I think we were so happy with the direction of the last album that we continued down that path with this one. We made a few things a bit more extreme and brutal and within that sound we just really focused on song writing. I just can’t wait for people to hear it. I’ve been listening to this album for the last two or three years. I’m really excited to have it out, we have our first release dropping tomorrow.
Your release date is Friday the 13th. Any reason for that?
We have a really great publicist doing our PR who is Michael Lueders from Black Roos. It’s the first time working with him and he has been unreal. I’ve had a heap of friends who have worked with him before, I’ve been at a few parties with them and they’ve been like you have to get onto this guy. He’s just so on the ball, he’s awesome. I’ve always done the promo myself for the most part. I’ve worked with a few other people before and I always felt like I could handle it myself. But since getting him onboard, he just knows how everything works, he has contacts and he works really hard. For me it has been such a relief to be able to ship that off to someone who really cares. So we were looking at dates with him and I originally thought October. He suggested stretching out just a little bit more, give us a little bit more time for promo and Friday 13th just sounds a bit spooky. I think a lot of bands had the same idea because there are so many releases that day now.
The Blindness of Faith touches on the dark side of religion?
We touched upon a lot of that in the last album. I think the darker and more brutal the music has become the more the anti-religious theme has wanted to rear its head and it just felt right. None of the other guys or myself are about pushing an agenda but there is so much dark history and examples of human horror around the theme of religion, especially organised religion. Writing the lyrics for this I just had a field day, there are so many events. If you look into any holy text they are full of violence and mixed messages. It just felt that there was enough in that topic that we could almost base a whole album upon the blind nature of faith. If you have faith in something it needs to be blind otherwise it wouldn’t require faith. It’s been interesting to look at that. It’s never been about being offensive for offenses sake it’s more of an exploration of the dark side of religion. There are a lot of different angles for the songs. One song is on various cults and worship, ones on the way different ideologies can’t coexist. Just look at how wealthy the Catholic church is while people are starving.
For each song we wrote I did a lot of back reading and tried to take the lyrics really seriously. Lyrics are so important to me. I find if an album takes itself seriously lyrically I can always get behind it just that little bit more. Putting time and care into lyrics is really important to me too. At some point that title came through ‘The Blindness of Faith’. The guys really liked it and it tied what we wanted to accomplish with this album sound wise and lyric wise.
I feel like faith is a really personal thing. There are a lot of people that practise in all sorts of ways. It can be a beautiful thing, but the biggest thing is when people are trying to impose their faith on others.
And the abuse of their power.
Any sort of abuse to the power or the feeling where you need to push your onto somebody else. That’s when it takes on a bit of a darker shade. It’s very important that people have the freedom to have their own faith or beliefs. The album was never about denying people that right or that freedom. It’s more about the dangers and I guess the awful things that have happened in the name of religion over the course of human history.
This isn’t a concept album then, more a telling of different stories through each track.
It’s more a unifying theme, definitely not a story line. Each track does focus on a specific area. Unbound Sinful Light is the story of the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve and the exchange of wisdom for that lack of innocence. Another song is about all the holes that are in the bible and how things don’t add up. One is around the Jonestown Cult massacre, that is a really fascinating story but also linked to faith. Each track looks at things from a different angle, but they all sit under the one umbrella.
Chris Themelco, the god, recorded and mixed the album. His name is popping up everywhere lately!
As it should be. The dude is awesome. One of the worse things about finishing the recording is that I don’t get to hang out at his place regularly. He’s a great dude, I’ve known him for about 15 years. I remember meeting him at some mates party and our bands (Orpheus Omega) were both just starting back then. He has built such an amazing skill set and business through Monolith Studios. We first worked with him when he engineered our live album, we did a live CD/DVD and he did all the audio. He did such a great job that we went with him with our ‘Light Upon The Wicked’ album. He was such an enthusiastic pro. He was able to get any sound he wanted but he was also really open to listening to what we wanted. We had heard a lot of his releases and it sounded very modern. That retro thrash sound and a lot of the releases had a bit more of a synthetic sound. We’ve always been a huge sound of natural sound especially the way Mark’s kit sounds so amazing in the room, so we wanted to keep that as much as possible. Chris is just able to pull off any sound you want so we just communicated what we were after. He just tried different versions, we’d get emails from him during the night saying he’d been up trying this or that. He’s an obsessed nutcase and I think to be good at what you do you need to have that obsessive level of passion. He just really does.
So we finished the last one with him and I was just so happy with the sound and the mix of that album, so it was never really a question of getting him in. I would have been happy with exactly the same sound, but I really do believe he has topped it. In four or five years we have learned a lot as well, we have all progressed as musicians especially Mark on drums. He’s more into his instrument than any of us. The drum sound on this album is just killer.
So to me it sounds similar to the last album, but the vocal clarity and power is 10 times better. This sounds angrier and cuts through, it rips your face off. It’s a really big, savage clear but natural sounding mix. He’s just the best.
I haven’t spoken to any one that hasn’t sung his praises
He’s also really good as a producer too. We always put quite a bit into thinking about how the songs are put together and rehearsing them. We have a pretty clear picture of what we want by the time we get in there, but he’s always got a lot of really good suggestions. I love working with him vocally too. He has ideas for layering, or he might throw in ideas for phrasing. He is just really great to bounce ideas from. He’s a songwriter, vocalist and guitarist himself so he really gets it.
That’s probably why he is so good at his job. He’s been were all his clients are.
Exactly right. He’s approachable and he makes the whole process fun. He pushes you but is really able to get the album to exactly what you pictured it to be and probably a bit better than that.
I’ve also been getting into video editing lately so the clip that is coming out tomorrow we have put together ourselves. I’ve been getting my head around it all. We’ve taken footage at every point in the recording process, so I am really keen if we get time over the coming months to make a short documentary of the whole album process.
A behind the scenes look.
I figure anyone in a band knows how It works but there are a lot of people that have never been through the recording process.
Before doing this I didn’t have a clue. The first few interviews I did they may have well been speaking another language!!
I remember when we were doing our first album and there are so many things that we would do different now. You don’t know what to expect that first time. Engineers are telling you stuff, and you just want to play your songs.
You mentioned vinyl before. We actually for the first time with this album we were going to get the vinyl done because we have always wanted to. We had budgeted for it and had it all ready to go. I’d made the art for the bundles and was half way through the vinyl booklets. We got the special master for the vinyl done and sorted and then we found out after that all that the album is a song too long to fit on. We were just gutted. We had everything ready to go and we were so excited. We tried different ways to try and make it work but there was just no way. We thought we could maybe drop one track, but I wouldn’t but an incomplete album on vinyl, what’s the point. We will have to keep the length in mind next time around.
I only seriously started my vinyl collection at the beginning of Covid. I think it replaced gigs for me.
Our bass player Karl has the disease, he’s right into collecting vinyl too. I have a massive CD collection and it seems like a slippery slope, so I’ve just stayed right away from it.
Big tip: Do not start!!!
There’s something about the large scale, I love looking at them. I’ll go to a record shop and look at the cover art on vinyl because it looks great.
I just love the sound you get when you play a vinyl.
I’ve heard it makes quite a difference to the sound and I think even just the ritualistic experience of putting a vinyl on and sitting to listen to it. So much of what we do is while we are doing something else, listening through your shit earphones while you’re at the supermarket.
There’s a band called Triptykon, I’m a huge fan of their music. It’s really dense and dark and has so much layering going on. I just wait till my wife is out of the house, set it up through the huge speakers and just sit there in the dark and just take it all in. By the time you come out of that you feel like you have been on a journey. There’s something to be said for taking the time to listen to new albums properly.
I’ve had this discussion with a few people. People either don’t have, or make, the time to just sit down and listen to an album from start to finish. An album gets released and people tend to just grab the few songs they like and whack them in a playlist. They miss the whole experience of actually listening, especially when it’s a concept album.
Miss the cracking songs on the second half of the album or a great closing track.
The band has probably spent months working out which order those songs need to go in.
I reckon even just on this album I spent about a fortnight with that CD in my car with different orders and seeing what felt right. It doesn’t seem like much but when you think about well this song has an intro that is slow and the next one kind of sounds slow, I don’t want to put them next to each other. Then there is the feel of certain songs too. You want the first few to come and smash you in the face, there’ll be a bit of a dip in the middle and then finish with a strong song. There’s so much agonizing around where songs sit. I remember being so stressed over this album and then when we finally listened to the order that it is in there was just this relief. There’s something to be said for listening from start to finish and giving the album the time.
And we had to have a chat about Adelaide’s New Dead Fest and Jason North!
That fest is probably the best kind of social/metal fest that I know of. They are all great but there is just something about the way Jason runs it and the venue (Fowlers/Lions Art Factory). There’s something about the way that place is set up, the different types of bands Jase puts on. The last couple of years he has always put on these huge international acts. The day just has such a feeling of excitement about it. We are always pumped, it’s the best day. You get to see bands; you play to a really great crowd. The crowd is always a huge crowd and there is such a good vibe. Then you get to finish off your night watching massive headliners. The year we played when we finished up we got on the beers and Napalm Death played, we had a blast. Mark was crowd surfing that night and got dropped on his head. We just always have the best time and we are hanging to go again. Jason works very hard on the music scene in Adelaide and I know how much he puts in. He’s a top dude and really good at organise the day, looking after bands and just making a real show of it. He does it for the love and I haven’t got enough good stuff to say about him.
Anything else you want to tell the people?
Our music video comes out tomorrow. We hope people get a chance to watch it. We’ve really put a lot of work into the album and we are really proud with how it sounds. The album is out November 13th and it is a cracker and if people manage to check it out they won’t be disappointed.
The first single off The Blindness of Faith dropped yesterday and it is a cracker. You can pre-order it here: http://www.inmaliceswake.com/store.html