Zero Tolerance Interview (issue 12)


1. Firstly, could you give me a brief introduction to Indigent – how it all got started and how things have progressed?

I started bass guitar at thirteen and had played in a couple of school bands, including an atrocious rap-rock RATM rip-off (English public schoolboys rapping, awesome stuff). I still jam with the drummer from that band, he's actually very good, but anyway. So I was playing in a band and I got into extreme metal through Opeth, and from my other band experience I'd become interested in recording, so I tried writing my own stuff and saved up to get some home recording equipment. I was holidaying in Spain with a friend, as one does, who also liked metal a bit, and we chatted about me doing a solo thing, and I decided on doing comedy grind-style music under the name "Satanic Beer Cult" (I was hilarious when I was fifteen). At this point I was still very much a metal newbie, so I really didn't have much idea of what I wanted the music to sound like, and I became more influenced by Opeth, In Flames, At The Gates, My Dying Bride, Anathema, and other more melodic bands, so the music changed direction somewhat and I ended up with the demo.

2. How has the music evolved since 2002 – and what directions do you see it taking in the future?

Well in 2002 I was fifteen and just discovering metal, so the music has matured and I've tried to make the sound more original since then. I've got the start of a "Satanic Beer Cult" song that I recorded while messing around with my spanking new recording gear, and it sounds pretty silly, it's called "Inebriate the Infants", and is basically very standard sounding, badly recorded death metal. My list of influences is constantly growing and I listen to more prog and weird stuff now. As for the future, I've got plans for the next Indigent release, which will be more experimental, may well feature other instruments, and hopefully a real drummer! But we'll see…

3. I realise that you play all the music for Indigent, but what do you see as your main instrument?

My first instrument is actually the parsnip whistle, closely followed by 'cello, then probably bass, then guitar. I'm much more versatile on bass than guitar, but I'm better at playing metal style guitar than I am playing metal style bass. - how did you first begin to play music? I started the 'cello when I was five. I come from a very musical family – my parents both sing, my mum's a music and piano teacher, and my sister plays and teaches saxophone and violin, so I've been very well supported from a young age. I wanted to play the sousaphone (a type of tuba that you hold around your neck) when I was five because I'd seen it on the awesome TV programme "Rainbow", but needed my adult front teeth, so Mum got me a 'cello instead, and I forgot to switch to the sousaphone when my adult teeth grew… - what led you to metal? The dark hand of our master Satan. That and, embarrassingly, I'm a mallcore kid! I started playing bass when I was thirteen, mainly because I wanted to play in our school blues band. A guitarist and I used to jam and formed an atrocious Jimi Hendrix covers band. He started to listen to some of the heavier stuff that was fashionable at the time – Papa Roach, Linkin Park, all that bollocks, and I must admit that that was what I listened to as well for a bit (this was the same guitarist that I was in the RATM wannabe band with, he got a Whammy pedal and everything). I used to buy Metal Hammer for the cover CDs and read an article about Opeth, describing them as "perhaps the best band in the world", so I thought I'd give them a go. So basically, nu-metal and Metal Hammer led me to metal.

4. What improvements do you feel you have made from the 'Indigent' demo to 'Simulacrum'?

The music is more varied and better constructed. I think the riffs have improved, and the album sits together as a whole better. The production is definitely an improvement, and I think the vocals have probably got a bit better. I'm constantly increasing my range of influences, too, which can only be a good thing. With the demo I was also still trying to find a sound that I liked, so it's more immature in some respects.

5. What has the feedback from press and fans been like to 'Simulacrum'? And what are your feelings on the CD now that you have been able to live with the finished product for a while?

So far pretty good, there have been a few kind of average reviews as well as some excellent ones, but all that I've seen have pointed out that the music is out of the ordinary. People who heard the demo all think it's an improvement. As for my feelings… I have to admit I do indulge in a bit of musical masturbation and listen to it myself sometimes. Overall I'm very happy with it. A few things with the production could be improved, and there are a couple of sloppy moments that I could have ironed out. Some of the song structures could also do with a bit of work I sometimes think. For various reasons it took me a year to record, so the music was actually a year or more old when I managed to get the CD finished – some of the riffs were written as long ago as 2003.

6. What would you say are your main influences musically and creatively?

Band wise, Opeth, Death, Carcass, Strapping Young Lad, (old) In Flames, Katatonia, My Dying Bride, Anathema, At The Gates, Iron Maiden, Meshuggah, Tool… mostly. Everything I listen to that I like influences me in some way or another, including metal, various forms of progressive music, rock, soul, funk, jazz, classical... not necessarily in terms of musical sound but sometimes when playing around with riff structures. Future Indigent stuff will probably be more influenced by non-metal music. Perhaps I should do a hip-hop CD featuring 50 cent and P. Diddy (or whatever the feck he's calling himself these days). Hmm…

7. Do you have any plans to transform Indigent into a full band – if only to facilitate live performance? Do you want to perform live?

Yes I'd love to perform live! I just never managed to find other musicians who like metal and would want to form a proper band. I'll have to leave it until after I've finished university, too, time being the bitch that it is.

8. I notice that a lot of your lyrics are attributed to Bleakmage. Who is Bleakmage? Why do you choose to use an outside lyric writer when you are so completely responsible for and in control of every other element of Indigent?

Bleakmage is an anomaly in the time-space continuum. I "met" him on the Snakenet Metal Radio forums, I can't even remember how I knew he wrote lyrics, but I wasn't confident with my own lyric writing so got in touch and really liked the lyrics he sent me - weird and dark. He also writes poetry and is currently finishing a third draft of his first book (which I've read half of, it's pretty sick and strange, all very interesting), and is half way through his second book. He got something published in Scifantastic a while back, when it was still web-only. Oh, and if anyone wants lyrics written he's a true mercenary, so feel free to contact him at bleakmage AT gmail DOT com

9. Indigent is quite an unusual name for an extreme metal band – can you tell me why you chose it and how you feel it applies to your music?

I like one-word, effective band names like Cynic, Atheist, Sceptic, and Carcass, and I asked Bleakmage for some suggestions – one of them was Indigent. Like you say, it's a little bit unusual, and its meaning doesn't give an indication of what the music might sound like, so it leaves a lot of scope for different lyrical and musical ideas. There's no grand concept or anything.

10. What lies in the immediate future for you and Indigent? And what long term goals and ambitions do you have for Indigent?

I want to become big in Japan.

…and finally could you recommend an album that you think people should check out? Old or new, just something that you rate highly.

Bomfunk MC's – In Stereo

Thanks very much for taking the time to do this Richard – look forward to hearing from you.

No problemo, thanks very much for the opportunity to do an interview with your excellent magazine!

Chris Kee

Last Updated: 25-Sep-2006 17:49