Musicscan: How big is the interest in Wretched being back with a new album? Do you get lots of requests from your fans and press people? What are they asking or telling you these days? Are there unexpected questions / thoughts, or something that is different compared to when you released your previous records?
Wretched: The response we’ve received so far with the release of two songs from Cannibal and the multiple studio videos available has been enormously positive amongst our fan base, both new and old. There are always a few fans that have complaints about the new material being different, or not as they expected. But those are few and far between, and the vast majority of our fans have learned to grow and mature with us throughout our musical career. We take enormous pride in all of the music we have written throughout the years, but we simply aren’t going to write the same album over and over again. Each album helps us understand our strengths and weaknesses as musicians and songwriters, which allows us to go into the next writing period with a greater sense of what we want to accomplish.
Musicscan: As (high) expectations sometimes lead to disappointments: do you somehow worry at this point? I mean Son Of Perdition has been released some time ago, and a lot of people only focus on current hypes and in-bands and forget about what they liked before within no time. Or not?
Wretched: There is certainly a level of anxiousness in waiting for the response from fans and people in the industry, but “worry” has a certain negative connotation and is not a word I would use to describe that feeling. It is more like the feeling a child get’s when they are about to unwrap presents on Christmas. It could be a sweet remote controlled car. Or it could be socks. Whatever response we receive with the release of Cannibal, we are just happy to have the opportunity to write and play the music we enjoy.
Musicscan: When a band writes the songs for a record over a longer period, I'd say that these songs can easily stand for a certain period in a band's career, right? But would you also say that Cannibal is representative for what Wretched wants to stand for in 2014, 15,…? What is to say in this regard?
Wretched: One thing that has remained consistent throughout the multitude of fan comments and reviews of our first three albums is that no one agrees on what sub-genre to classify Wretched. Which is perfectly fine with us. While some of these sub-genres serve a purpose in describing certain sounds, they limit a songwriter to what they “should” be doing and force an unrealistic point of view on the listener. We play metal. That is sub-genre enough for us. We have way too many influences to limit ourselves in that regard. This is where the writing over long periods of time becomes interesting. Over time our musical tastes and influences change. These new influences are then coupled with the musical proficiency we’ve gained from writing the previous albums. Right now Cannibal is everything we want Wretched to stand for. And again, in a year or two when we’ve matured more in our musicianship and in our musical tastes we will write and record a new album, and that will be everything we want Wretched to stand for.
Musicscan: Wretched has been playing a blasting extreme sound for some time now – did you ever imagine the band would be still jamming together in 2014 when you started it? It seems that the band is bigger than ever and still kicking out vicious metal. What keeps you interested in what you are doing, and what fuels the fire and your aggression?
Wretched: Just like any other band on earth, Wretched have had our fair share of bumps in the road. Members have quit and rejoined. Some have quit and been replaced. But the fact that we are still here almost eight years later, (longer if you count the band before it was Wretched), says a lot about how much we enjoy doing what we do. The fans, the music, the tours, the chance to see new places and meet new people, all of it together keeps us interested. As far as the aggression goes, no one needs to look too hard to find that. Fortunately we have a very healthy outlet: playing shows. As much as we love being on the road, there are plenty of things that can happen to cause stress. But those things only serve to make for a better live show, where we are allowed to let the aggression out. It is an endless and awesome cycle of stress and stress relief.
Musicscan: Looking on extreme metal in general you can find lots of sub-scenes and styles, the metal underground is changing all the time. Are there bands you feel connected with that might have a similar agenda to what you have with Wretched?
Wretched: The bands I personally connect with most are the ones that push the boundaries of heavy music by blurring the lines between these sub-scenes, and I think that plays a huge role in the way we write. For me, that goes for old bands and new alike. Rush, King Crimson, Yes, Slayer, Death, Decapitated, Behemoth, all bands that are technically proficient as musicians, but more importantly they are songwriters that have the ability to maintain a compelling atmosphere with their music. Newer bands like Fallujah and Rivers of Nihil are definitely holding to those standards and that is something we strive for as well.
Musicscan: For some time now the harder music scene seems to go even more extreme than ever before. Bands are pushing the boundaries as far as complexity, technical approach and extreme arrangements are concerned. What are your thoughts on this, and where do you see Wretched in the grand scheme?
Wretched: Technicality is a very powerful tool in the right hands. But an extremely technical song with no sense of structure is as appetizing to me as butter with no bread on which to spread it. There are tons of bands that have found the happy medium between insane shredding and structurally sound arrangements, but for me, structure is priority. I think that is something that comes with time in the extreme music world because of how high the bar has been set by all of these incredible musicians. When I first started writing heavy music all I wanted to do was shove as many notes together as possible, with complete disregard as to whether the song made sense as a whole. Those early years seem to be working in our favor now that we are paying attention to the architecture of the songs, because the technicality comes naturally after the foundation has been laid.
Musicscan: It is somehow quite impossible to describe your style of playing in a few sentences. You definitely mix up different extreme styles with a lot of technical stuff. It´s quite interesting to think about the influences of your band. There have to be quite a lot. What influences are we talking about? Do these vary within the band, and how did they change over the time of existence of Wretched, when you guys became better individual musicians and songwriters?
Wretched: All five of us have extremely diverse musical tastes. Those tastes overlap and diverge throughout the band as a whole. Listening to the music we play in the van on long trips can make your head spin. One minute it’s Radiohead, the next minute it’s Converge, and the next it’s 1930’s gypsy swing. Whether we are applauding each other for some awesome new artist someone has discovered, or telling each other how horrible what we are listening to is, the end result is the same; we have a better understanding of what we like and dislike in music. We’ll listen to some classical Indian music and I’ll think “I really enjoy the way this melody wraps back around,” or in some electronic music I’ll think about the skeletal elements I like or dislike, or how the chorus in this pop song couldn’t possibly be more boring. But whatever it is, it’s great to be around such diversity to keep you on your toes as a writer.
Musicscan: How do you guys make sure to develop as musicians and songwriters? Is there something you do on a constant base beside going to the rehearsal room and practicing at home? And do you still have to deal with limitations when it comes to the songwriting or are you in a position to realize all the ideas you have?
Wretched: Beyond listening to a vast array of musical styles, we love playing different styles. Several members, including myself, have other projects that are far from Wretched’s music. I think it serves greatly to go off and put your head with other musicians and find a completely different common ground and still try to create the best music you can.
Musicscan: Do you think it's more important for bands to observe the traditions of their style, or to push the genre's boundaries? Is there a way to achieve a balance between progression and tradition? What’s to say about what Wretched are doing in this regard?
Wretched: I think it is more important for a band push the envelope than to hold to tradition. The bands that spawned these genres were innovators pushing the boundaries of the music that came before them, why shouldn’t we do the same? I think in order to really pay respect to those visionaries, we as musicians should build upon the styles they’ve created and keep innovating. Wretched doesn’t sit down for a writing session and say “okay we are going to write a death metal song.” What we write is simply a culmination of the influences we all share, with hints of the influences we do not share, and a desire to do something new and exciting.
Musicscan: On the other hand: from my point of view your taste in extreme music has become more focused over the years. True? But were there any musical elements you meant to incorporate in the music for Cannibal by choice?
Wretched: Cannibal is definitely more focused, even more straightforward. That, again, is something that has just come with time. We have realized a lot about what we want out of a Wretched album and it has become easier for us to achieve it. We don’t want gimmicks or unnecessary pageantry in our music. We’re not going to throw a guitar solo in the middle of a song, just because it doesn’t have one yet. We want the melody and structure and groove to speak for itself. If there is one thing that we deliberately wanted more of for this album, it’s groove. I’ve always been a huge Decapitated fan, but I’ve never written anything half as groovy as those guys. Going into this writing process that is definitely something I tried to make a conscious effort to incorporate.
Musicscan: Cannibal seems far more straightforward, but also more varied than your last album. What influenced you while writing it? And do you tend to write your songs in segments, which you then piece together or do you project an entire composition from a single melody or riff?
Wretched: The writing process varies for us. Some songs we’ll write section by section, building off of a single idea. Some we’ll start with a simple structure and move inwards. The one constant in all of our writing styles is how conscious we’ve become of song structure. Whether we are basing an intro off of a chorus idea, or basing a solo off of a riff idea, we try to tie things together as seamlessly and subtly as possible.
Musicscan: How did you guys approach production this time around as compared to Son Of Perdition?
Wretched: We actually recorded and produced Cannibal ourselves, which was a huge difference. The album was then sent off for mixing by Jason Suecoff at Audiohammer Studios and mastering by Alan Douches at West West Side. Not having an outside producer’s ear to compliment or criticize each take was a completely new experience. It was nice in that we had complete creative control of the album, but we had to be brutally honest with each other and ourselves, and that was mentally draining at times. I definitely prefer self-production. The ability to sit and dial in exactly what tones we wanted without worrying about time constraints is enough to make me want to do it again.
Musicscan: Is there something like a guiding line listeners have to know about to get a better understanding of what you are trying to tell them with Cannibal?
Wretched: Eat humans. Not really, although there are a few lyrics that portray that image. Cannibal is more so about the innate human tendency to destroy and self-destruct.
Musicscan: Lastly: what type of “success” did you hope to gain with Cannibal?
Wretched: We just want to keep playing new places and getting people interested in what we are doing so that we can keep doing it. Hopefully we’ll see you soon.