Indulging in Sound: Dylan Walker on creating the atmosphere behind Full of Hell
Interview by Parisa Eshrati
After releasing one of the most savage albums of 2017, Trumpeting Ecstasy, Full of Hell is back in the studio and preparing for their most technical album yet. We spoke with vocalist Dylan Walker via email ahead of their set at Northwest Terror Fest to discuss the song writing process of their upcoming release, absorbing his environment to create lyrical themes, Spinal Tap moments, and more.
Let’s talk a bit about your upcoming album. I read that you’ve been taking more time with the writing process and the band has been focusing more on technical skills. What specific concepts are you able to flesh out more now that you have a stronger instrumental range?
When we take more time to work on things, as opposed to rushing, we’re able to sit and look for what we generally don’t see until after recording...the things that drive us kind of crazy. It’s nice to be able to have the time to try and see things from a different perspective and predict what might need to be changed, rather than seeing it after it’s too late to do so. Since we aren’t rushing, we also have this new luxury of being able to let the songs breathe. Spencer [Hazard, guitar] is able to write and rehearse full songs, and then have second thoughts and tear them apart again. In the past, we just worked really quickly. We still work quickly but we are trying to be more cognizant about taking our time to really give it our best. As far as technical skill in a literal sense, that’s just something that’s come with the years we’ve been playing together. Each one of us has gotten more comfortable in our own shoes, and all the records we’ve done have helped us find our footing.
Even though you’re on a bigger label and you’re taking more time to work on the album, what have been some limitations for this record thus far and how are you working through them?
The only limitation I can really think of is that we live spread apart. I’m in central Pennsylvania, as always, Spencer is in Philadelphia and the boys are still down in Ocean City. This means our time together is limited. However, that doesn’t really affect how we normally do things anyways. It’s pretty insignificant in terms of limitations.. I think previous albums have actually had more limitation than this one, and that’s pretty exciting.
I read that you’ll also be more direct on your themes this record. Is there a reason for stripping back lyrically? Is there ever a fear of your intentions being misunderstood by being too metaphorical?
Oh, I’m definitely not stripping back anything. I’m not sure where I said that, but I must have misspoken. If anything, I’m going to stop explaining themes and links between songs and albums and make things even denser than before. I’m tired of explaining what an album means to me on a personal level. As far as I’m concerned, my intentions when writing are my own, and by explaining it in detail, it takes away some of the atmosphere and magic of the record itself. My interpretation stops mattering once we release the album. That’s when it takes on a life of it’s own. I want the person reading the lyrics to be able to draw their own conclusions and find their own meaning. When we released Trumpeting Ecstasy, I made a mistake in attempting to explain where the album was coming from. Once it was written it had it’s own lore and I should have let people find what they want to. Explaining it is killing it, honestly. I like the metaphor to be deep, and because I want people to draw their own conclusions, there can be no misunderstanding.
On that note, your lyrics have always been very poetic but it seems even more intricate in Trumpeting Ecstasy than in previous releases. Has poetry become more of an interest for you in recent years? If so, who are some of your favorite poets?
Admittedly, I’m not into poetry. I like to write visually though. Words have supreme power over the senses. Choosing the right words can really paint a vivid image for the reader, whether they’re direct or metaphorical. I’m really interested in finding those words that strike you deeply.
I read that the title of your last LP was inspired by all these old scripture signs around your hometown in Pennsylvania. Aside from that, how else do you feel like your music has been a product of your resistance towards your immediate environment?
It’s more like an absorbing of my environment. If it’s something I can’t stand I take it in and put it back out into the world on my terms. Sometimes it can be positive. I could also answer that literally and say that the sonic harshness of the music is a direct resistance towards our surroundings.
I feel like Full of Hell gets grouped with a lot of grind/powerviolence bands, but a big difference is that you guys allow for more physical space and tempo changes in your songs. How have you figured out when to hold back and restrict that urge of just being purely fast and noisy?
We like to play fast. It’s tough sometimes because everyone wants a band to be categorized, but we’ve never thought of ourselves as a grindcore band, definitely not a powerviolence band. When were were just getting started it definitely bothered us, but we grew up over time and now we know that it doesn’t matter what kind of label you get slapped with. As far as learning to be more dynamic, that’s definitely taken time. I think instinct for us is to play fast, loud and noisy. We are learning that if we bring in mid-slow tempo stuff into our set, it makes the fast sections feel so much faster, and by contrast the slow shines as well.
Herzog was a big inspiration on the last record. Any other films/film makers that have impacted your writing or thematic development for the upcoming record?
At this point, no films have been sticking in my brain. I’m sure some will come around! The last record definitely had some aesthetic influence from Ben Wheately, Werner Herzog and Gaspar Noe (always).
You’ve done some real great covers in the past, i.e. Devo, The Melvins. Any plans for upcoming covers, or any songs you’d like to do? What if y'all actually had to be an Incubus cover band (like this Thou meme got us thinkin’), what song would you do?
We don’t have any plans for new covers, but we’ve been covering a Brutal Truth song, which we also recorded for an upcoming surprise record. If we had to do an Incubus cover... I honestly don’t know what we’d do, I hate Incubus and can’t even name one song title :(
Any other splits or collaborations in the works? Or if not, who would you like to reach out to next?
Maybe! I know that we are going to resurrect The Body/FOH collab next year for some shows. I would love to do something with Justin Broadrick..
In all your years of touring, what have been some of your most Spinal Tap moments?
We’ve definitely gotten lost in some cavernous backstage areas.. Equipment breaking at the worst moments, slipping and falling dramatically on stage, fighting at immigration, playing on practice amps to 8 people in weird villages, police confiscating vans and equipment, SWAT team raids on shows, trading animal organs for merch.. Honestly this could be it’s own very long paper. Yes we’ve had many embarrassing and strange moments.. With more to come.
What can we look forward to for the rest of the year?
We are about to go on tour with our good friends in Gatecreeper. It should be a great tour, and we are playing Northwest Terror Fest along the way!!! Very excited for that one, Probably our only show in the region for a long while. After that, we will finish up this LP and go to Europe in August, We have another short US tour planned for the fall to go to some places we’ve missed the past few times, and then we will end the year by recording.
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