Metal Mofos’ Isaac Sauers recently had a conversation with Death Metal Pope frontman Father Damn. Check it out below.
Metal Mofos: Father Damn, how are you? What’s going on today?
Father Damn: Packing up my house. I’m making a move down to North Carolina from Long Island. Just recovering form a long night. We played with Crowbar in Ammityville.
MM: Well hopefully you aren’t moving into Charlotte during all these riots.
FD: Oh man, I hope they’re over by then. I’m moving October 3rd. I don’t really watch TV so I didn’t even know they were going on at first. I feel like a scumbag.
MM: Yeah, I don’t watch TV much either. I pretty much get all my news from Facebook.
FD: Exactly. I saw someone marking themselves “safe”, and I was like whoah, what? What’s going on? I looked into it a bit. It’s just craziness.
MM: Oh for sure. So tell me a little bit about Death Metal Pope. How’d you get started?
FD: It’s funny. Death Metal Pope has been around since I was 15 years old. I’m 25 now. My friends and I used to just mess around and make stupid songs, like joke songs. We had a serious band at the time but didn’t have a name, but we had this joke band called Death Metal Pope so we just took that name. I can’t really even tell you where it came from at this point in time. This phrase just existed to me since I was just a kid.
The original Death Metal Pope broke up when I was around 18, and I had been playing in a hardcore band with my brother called Detriment. I really love hardcore and love the DIY aesthetic. They probably have the best DIY mindset in any genre of music ever. But I love Black Sabbath and Slayer, real metal bands, you know? So we decided to start doing Death Metal Pope again. Not really out of frustration with the hardcore scene, but I just wasn’t really making music that I wanted to be making. We just went full speed ahead with it.
MM: Tell me about your new EP, Harvest.
FD: We had one before this called Tardus Mortem which was basically all written by my bassist. He needed some people to play for it, and I agreed to do it because I’ve been friends with him since like kindergarten. It’s all very slow doom metal with death metal vocals. We thought this was cool but not really what we wanted. We were then thinking Let’s do what we want to do though. Let’s not do the easy thing. For us the easy thing has always been, well we can’t sing or do this so let’s just yell. So we decided to make a new EP with the music we wanted to make but were too scared to do. Everyone in the hardcore scene around us were like you’ve got to be angry, you’ve got to be tough, but I’m not an angry guy. The new EP let me express some feelings of sadness but not through an angry way. So we cut the new EP and it was released September 6th and it’s going really good.
MM: Awesome. Getting lots of good feedback so far?
FD: Yes, it’s been overwhelming. I had never really sang in my life before we went to record the EP. I just always wanted to. I felt like I was writing the lyrics and everything and was just like I’ve got to do it. I hope it sounds good. Everyone was then like why didn’t you do this like 10 years ago? I didn’t know I could. I guess I was just limiting myself and letting other influences get in the way of what I really wanted to do.
MM: I really like Harvest as well which is why I wanted to get in touch with you to speak to you and get the word out. Harvest has a bit of everything musically speaking. There’s doom stuff, death metal growls, and a song with more of a thrash or even hardcore feel. Can you tell me about your writing process for the songs?
FD: I felt like every other time I thought about who I wanted to sound like or the type of song I wanted to write, but this time around I wanted to shut everything off. I went in to write songs and not just riffs. That’s how it came out being so varied. Everyone listens to lots of different music. Nobody just listens to one band. So I figured why just sound like one band? I don’t want to pigeon hole myself. I want to be able to play with thrash bands, and be able to play with doom bands, and punk bands. I just wrote something that I think has something for not everyone, but a lot of people.
MM: Yeah, it’s a great EP, man. Tell me about the song “Harvest”, the title track. It’s got a bit of everything itself. It has doom elements, death metal vocals, and a great guitar solo.
FD: Thank you. You can thank Scott Wino (The Obsessed, Saint Vitus) for that. He’s one of my biggest guitar influences. I just think he’s so straight forward with what he does and pretty melodic. I’m not into those real big shredders with sweeps and tappings. I pretty much stay to the pentatonics like all my guitar heroes have done. We didn’t really know what we were going to do vocally for this song. The EP before was all death metal vocals and I wanted to transition to our new style. I started out with death metal vocals, then went in to clean vocals, then as the second song comes in and it’s heavier but it has all clean vocals. You’re used to it by then. Then we break that groove for the third song and play as fast as we can. We just completely changed gears.
I tried to envision our album the entire way through. I always try to write more than one song at a time so I get a feel for the end result. I wanted to combine our past elements with the first song then make a transition into our uncharted territory.
MM: Looks like you have a tour about to get started. I’m sure you’re looking forward to it. Have you done tours like this in the past?
FD: Yeah, it’s actually crazy because I’m still in my hardcore band Detriment. We’ve been touring for awhile. We’ve done Europe, East coast, and the Midwest. We’ve done a lot of shows. I’ve always felt kind of spoiled though because our second tour was in Europe. Someone found us on YouTube and got us a tour in Europe. So things were going well for awhile. We never really had to rough it. In July of this year I decided to see if we could book a Death Metal Pope tour ourselves. We loaded up our minivan and just did it. We booked it like two weeks in advance. We’re going out in October down south then back up north. Booked all ourselves. Playing basements, house shows, and real venues. I really like the DIY thing and really having to work for it. Not that many people really know what it’s like to just go out there and do it yourself. It’s scary.
MM: Is there a certain city you’re looking forward to visiting the most?
FD: I don’t think we are playing Salem, but we will be in Massachusetts. We played at a sushi bar there in July. They have a stage in the back there. It’s like a real venue. It was just awesome. Coolest place I’ve ever been too. I’m a huge horror movie guy. The town embraces Halloween year round. We probably aren’t playing Salem in October, but we will definitely visit there so I’m looking forward to that.
MM: Yeah, I love that stuff too. Is the Death Metal Pope logo from the old Nosferatu film?
FD: No, everyone thinks that which is understandable. He’s Barlow from ‘Salem’s Lot.
MM: Oh ok, yeah I’ve read the book. Great stuff.
FD: One of my favorite books. Everything we do has some influence taken from literature and movies. Harvest is actually based on a book by Ray Bradbury story called “The Scythe”. “From The Dust Returned” (second track on Harvest) is actually a book by Ray Bradbury. Ray Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, and Something Wicked This Way Comes.
MM: Ok, cool. Yeah, I know Ray Bradbury. So what’s next for Death Metal Pope after this October tour?
FD: Well, we actually have the next 5 months planned out already. November is booked. We’re doing about 19 dates in January. We’re making it out to Texas and coming back around. Then back to the Northeast in February. I’m looking to go out of the country in the spring of next year. It’s amazing what you can do if you just put your mind to it. I know that sounds silly but people ask me all the time how we get these amazing opportunities as a band since with this lineup we’ve only been an active band since like May. The answer is always just do it. Reach out to people. It sucks when you get told no and people don’t want to give you the time of day or listen to you. I’ll email and call a lot of people. I’ll call venues to speak with people. I’m persistent and probably annoying, but I get things done. That’s how we are doing so much stuff.
MM: I said earlier I found your music on Bandcamp. Is that the preferred method for people to hear your music?
FD: I would say listen to it wherever you can get it. I’m more than willing to give music away for free. Listen to it on Spotify. The cool thing about Bandcamp is that it has the option that if you want to support the artist you can give money. I think it’s a cool move on Bandcamp’s part. That alone is respectable. If you want to listen to it on YouTube or Spotify I don’t care. Just listen.
Be sure to catch Death Metal Pope this October in a city near you, and look for more tour dates coming in the next few months. Support new metal!
Give Harvest a listen through YouTube here: