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Interviews

Immolation - Ross Dolan

31/08/07  ||  Lord K Philipson

Immolation
Global Domination: You guys don’t need any fucken introduction so let’s get fucken going. Good morning/afternoon/penis to you, kid, how’s it fucken hanging? Left or right? You survived the latest tour with Krisiun, Grave and Dawn of Azazel it seems. Did you guys enjoy yourselves and while we are at it, what’s yer most precious moment of the tour? I’m sure Bill Taylor isn’t included in it. Or at least I fucken hope not.

Ross Fucken Dolan, the kid, the hero, the myth Ross Fucken Dolan: Whats up kid, its hanging well and I thank you for asking!!!! Yes, we did survive 5 weeks throughout Europe with the Krisiun, Grave and Dawn of Azazel guys. It was a phenomenal tour for us because we were touring with all very killer bands, and mostly all people we have toured at one time or another in the past. We had done a US tour with Krisiun a few years back and both a European and US tour with the Grave guys, so it was cool to know we were going out with friends and bands we not only enjoy, but respect tremendously for their hard work and passion throughout the years. The Dawn of Azazel guys were a new addition, but they were great guys, a great band and a tremendous live act, so all in all we all had a great time. The shows were all great for the most part and everyone had fun, which was really the main thing at this point in the game. Their were so many great moments of the tour, and most of those moments were not the actual shows, but just the times when we were all hanging out on the metal bus and just enjoying ourselves. Our afternoon in Prague with yourself, Mr. Lord K, all the late nights on the bus with all the bands, our day off in Nice, you hitting the mosh pit every night during “Harnessing Ruin”, there are so many I cant keep track. And of course, how can we forget the night of a thousand lemons… hahahaha!!!!

I remember one time at this tour (for the ones who don’t know – I played session guitar with Grave on it) when you guys read the coverage we had on you guys in Audio Autopsy… You weren’t exactly all fucken non-lemon about the fact that most of the comments dissed yer production on “Shadows in the light”. While played on a laptop somewhere on tour it didn’t really sound all that bad, but when I got home and went thru it again it actually sounds pretty crappy production-wise. Are you satisfied with how it sounds? It’s definitely dirty and all that but is it on par with albums released in 2007? I’m sure you guys would do better with a stronger production, then again – I’m just a kid.

Ross at some gig somewhere Well, people criticizing our production is not a new concept for us. What is the standard, and who says its the standard? Production was never an issue with great classics like Possessed’s “Seven Churches”, or Metallica’s “Ride the Lightning”, or any Venom albums, or Celtic Frost, or early Kreator, or any of the classics back in the glory days. We listened for the feeling, the power of the music, the moods and the dark atmosphere that the songs created, not how clicky the kick drums were, hell, we didn’t even know what a kick drums was, we were just fans and listened to it as a whole. We didn’t dissect it, we appreciated the whole piece. Fortunately for us, we never followed what was cool, or what was trendy or what was the “in” thing to do, if we did, we sure as hell wouldn’t be playing Death Metal for 20 years. We do this because we love it, and we do it on our terms. Our music would not sound good with an over produced sound. Alot of the creepiness and darkness that exudes from our songs is made even more haunting due to the production.

The production on the new album allows the listener to hear all the instruments as they should be heard, as if you were seeing us live. Metal was always abrasive and dirty, so why spit shine it, we like it raw and dirty, and thats all that matters to us. What people need to understand is that we do this for ourselves first, so we need to be happy first and foremost. If other people like what we do as well, well thats great, but we never get overly concerned with overthinking things, we do what feels right to us. Production is an individual thing, and everyone listens for something different when they listen to music. We don’t think our production is perfect by all means, there is always room for improvement, but we are happy with it.

Do you think that anyone outside the band and the closest friends actually have the slightest of clues what I meant with “non-lemon” in the question above? I won’t ask you to elaborate further on this lemon subject but just tell everyone what the fuck a true “lemon” is.And how the fuck did you guys even come up with that in the first place? Whose idea was it? And more importantly, why?

Well, like “funnel”, we can’t take credit for “lemon” either. Both are from the Cannibal Corpse camp, and from doing so much touring with those guys back in 1996 and 1997, they kind of rubbed off on us a bit. Just some silly slang they would throw around in a funny way, and a lot of times they fit the situation perfectly, so we just took the ball and ran with it. Here’s a perfect example of a lemon… Grave leaving the tour a week before it was finished. That was a total lemon. It would have been great if you guys could have finished out the tour with us, but we know you had other obligations, but by leaving you broke up the brotherhood and all the bands wished you could have finished it off. Another lemon is when you fell and busted your head open in Nancy. That was a total lemon, and you were in the funnel the next day!!!!!! My shoes on the tour were a lemon, and everybody let me know it each and everyday!!!! So, there are a few examples of the Lemon.

The Lord and The Ross I heard alot of great things about you guys before meeting you, stuff like you not being very American in the way of behavior (coz we all know Americans can be a major pain in the ass since they believe they rule the universe) and so forth. Meeting you guys every day for a month sure makes it easy for me to testify that you fuckers are some very down to earth people with your hearts in the right places. Why aren’t you fuckers having a rockstar attitude considering you are obviously legendary and shit? It’d be ok for me if you were, becoz you are cool. Or wait here, it’s getting confusing… Answer the fookin’ question, whatever it was, or I’ll go all lemon on you. Remember that I’m fucken bigger than the the whole of Immolation combined, you wouldn’t wanna fuck with me. But hey, I’m quite sexy. What was the question again?

Well thank you for the kind words. We are just happy to be out there and touring. We are all blue collar guys that still work day jobs, and we realize everyday how fortunate we are to still be able to create the music we love, tour all over the world meeting great people and seeing such great places and still have fun doing it. There is no room for attitudes or anything like that, we are all just people working our asses off to feed this addiction of ours. Every band on the tour has worked hard to get where they are, and we have all had extremely rough times and have all sacrificed a lot to do what we do. there is a mutual respect that comes with that, and I respect anyone who has the balls to dedicate their lives to something they are passionate about. At the end of the day, its about enjoying the ride, and if you can’t enjoy it why do it.

As far as I know, you and Bob are the only remaining original members of the band. What happened to the other guys? They realized that crack and whores is a lot more fun than playing dirty death metal and traveling with Swedes and Brazilians on a bus? Keep in mind I’m not exactly that read-up on your history.

Ross and Bob in Prague Yes, this is true, Bob and I are the only original members left. Of the original “Dawn of Possession” line up, tom had to leave the job because of his business and family commitments, and our drummer Craig at the time left for personal reasons. Craig is now playing drums in Goreaphobia again and helping out Incantation on their European run. Since then, our second drummer Alex left for personal reasons, job and family and a slight medical condition at the time the prevented him from touring with us. Now we have the most solid line up we have ever had. Steve Shalaty is our drummer now and he is talented as fuck and really adds a tightness and control to the band that we have never really had. And Bill Taylor came in right after the “Failures For Gods” album before “Close to a World Below” came out, and his playing and dedication to the band speaks volumes for us. We are just happy to have such a solid line up with all four members dedicated and hungry to move the band forward.

I heard Immolation a few times before seeing you live for a month, but can’t say that I really knew much of yer material, or even thought you guys were any good. My opinion’s changed thanx to the tour, you know. Being able to see what you guys pull off musically is fucken impressive. Do you think this is a rather common problem when it comes to your music? I mean, I can’t say I thought you guys did all of that fancy guitar stuff that is pretty much unmatched in the world of death metal. You sure got yer own style, I guess that’s safe to say, huh?

I would agree that live is really where its at for us. We are definitely a live act, and love to play these songs to a crowd that is there to enjoy what we have to offer. The albums sometimes dont do the songs justice, but once you experience the songs live, it all makes sense. We seem to get that reaction alot from people. They were maybe on the fence about us, but once they saw us live they become instant die-hards. I would say that one thing we have achieved over the years is creating our own unique style. It took us a while, but I think by the “Close to a World Below” album we had ironed out most of the quirks and felt comfortable with the direction the band was going, and how the music was evolving. From that point on we just fine tuned everything and built upon that foundation. We are definitely an acquired taste, and some people don’t get what we are doing right away. There is no instant gratification with any of our albums, it takes time for them to grow on you, and then they start to seep in and infect you.

Would you care to explain to me why in the holiest of cocks the “Harnessing ruin” track made me slamdance, hit people and almost stagedive during the tour? Is that track the one you’d say is the easiest one for people to get into? It’s got a bit more of a traditional way of being composed compared to alot of yer other stuff. Right? Nope? Either way, it’s a fantastic tune and the natural follow-up thing to ask would be: Why aren’t you fuckers writing nothing but material like that? If you did, I’d grace my ass with a huge Immolation logo and call you guys my fathers. With the exception of Bill, ofcourse.

Ross “Harnessing Ruin” is probably one of our heaviest and catchiest songs. It has a great militant feel, which works since it is about war, and it never stops, it just keeps moving forward like a freight train. Compared to some of our earlier songs, this is a very simplified song as far as structure goes. We actually tried to make a conscious effort to make the entire “Harnessing Ruin” album more stripped down and a bit less complex, so as a result, it is a much heavier and thicker sounding album, probably our heaviest. We always try new things with each release. We never stray too far from the original formula, but we do add different elements to each new album, and I think the diversity of our albums makes them special. If they were all like “Harnessing Ruin”, it wouldn’t be interesting, just as if it were all fast, it would probably lose something. We have always tried to create a certain dynamic with our songs, blending a variety of different moods and tempos with some dark melodic guitar solos and overlays. This is what seems to work best with us. But you can still get that ass tattoo if you like!

“New” drummer Steve… He’s some piece of work when it comes to technical playing. But, have you ever realized he’s kind of a soft hitter, even if he’s a damn good drummer and a terrific fucken guy? Where the hell did you find him anyways and what did he play with before? Is he yer best drummer yet? Not that I know how many drummers you had during yer career, but I’m sure most of them sucked.

This is Bob, not Steve Steve is a phenomenal drummer and a good person. He is extremely dedicated and passionate about playing, his dedication to the band in just under 5 years has been tremendous and we are very lucky to have him be part of the band. His induction into the band was a little stressful for him since he had to jump in to fill in for our previous drummer Alex with only 3 days before our US tour with Grave started. He flew in with under a days notice and learned 10 songs and ruled the Immolation drum kit for four weeks straight. We were amazed and grateful that he was able to help us out, and we knew at that point the job was his. He is a very controlled and precise drummer, with a very relaxed style of playing. His timing is phenomenal and his ability to absorb new material is mind blowing to us. Can’t really say enough positive things about him really!!!!!

Are you scared that I’ll use a photo of you in nothing but a towel from the tour, taken in Paris, in this interview? Or maybe one where you are asleep and someone put a very nice hat on you? Would that be better? You gotta take care of that legendary death metal status. Or hey, I think I might have some shots of you soundchecking, dressed in a very nice pair of shoes…

If you have seen the “Bringing Down the World” DVD, you will know that we are not afraid to make fun of ourselves and have a good laugh about it. We are a bunch of goofballs and love to have a good time, sometimes at our own expense, but its all in good fun. Oh, and there goes the shoes again, I think there are some pictures of you sporting the legendary boat shoes… hahahaha. We all had some unique moments on that tour, but again, all in good fun.

Hey, where's the fucken boat?! You know we can’t let the shoe issue just go away like that… Those goddamned shoes yer wearing all the time, were they even hot in the 70’s? Hell are you thinking? Did a sailing boat come with that purchase? I fucken hope so.

Thats fucking classic!!!!!!! I was just laughing reading the question!!!!!! You shut me down pretty good “Hell are you thinking… Did a sailboat come with that purchase”, just classic… thats why you are Lord K!!!! Hey, all I can say in defense of my shoes is that they were comfortable and easy to squeeze in my suitcase. I am not really a very fashion savvy person, I really don’t care what I look like most of the time, I am all about comfort and feeling good. I actually left those shoes in Europe after the tour… they were pretty defeated from carrying me around for 5 weeks, especially on the hike up the mountains in true native American Indian fashion!!!!! Oh well, I have a new pair now, and a new sailboat!!!!!

I noticed that none of you guys hardly get drunk on the road. Why is that? Can’t you guys party like the rest of us? It’s not like you need to be sober to play yer shit. Well, when I think about it, you prolly do becoz you have all these fancy riffs that I couldn’t play if my life depended on it.

Nobody in the band really drinks. Bill will have a drink from time to time, but over all we don’t. Bob and I are the most non-partying people you will ever meet, but we still have a great time and enjoy the silliness that comes form all the alcohol. We may on occasion have a drink or two, but it is rare. I just think it really comes down to being in control of myself and my actions, and I just don’t like to worry about doing something stupid or offending someone out of my own stupidity. And I just don’t like the taste of alcohol. Besides, I could never play our songs after having some drinks, not in a million years.

Now I want you to honestly rate your albums on a 1-10 scale, where 10 is equivalent to.. well, something awesome and 1 is a lemon the size of Mount Everest. Also, I want you to use one word, and one word only, to describe what each album is to you.

“Dawn of possession”: 8 – OLD.
“Here in after”: 7 – BIZZARE.
“Failures for gods”: 7 – BUSY.
“Close to a world below”: 8 – DARK.
“Unholy cult”: 9 – COLD.
“Harnessing ruin”: 8 – HEAVY.
“Shadows in the light”: 9 – ANGRY.

That's a nice hat that goes well with the shoes Out of all those albums, which single tune is your favourite. I’m asking this for the people who never heard you guys. What tune best represents what Immolation is about?

This is a difficult one, but I would have to say “Passion Kill” because it represents where the band is now and it is a very catchy and sinister song. It is one of my new favorites, and it is cool to play live.

You sure seem to like fire, judging by the artwork you guys use. Is fire metal? What’s so fucken cool about fire anyways? Whatever, I gotta say that I absolutely love the shirts you guys gave me. I’m sure there’s fire on them.

Fire is certainly metal, and it really works well with what we do visually. It has certainly made its way into a few of our album covers including the new album, and it kind of goes hand in hand with the meaning of Immolation. Immolation is usually associated with people burning themselves to death as a form of self sacrifice. So there you go, fire it up and give us your soul !!!!

I’m having a hard fucken time coming up with 30 questions for this interview. It might be becoz I’m not too familiar with you guys, I’m more a fan of you guys as persons than a band. Does that make me gay? Or does it make any sense at all? Is there anything you’d like to ask me for a change? I always wanted to be interviewed by Ross Fucken Dolan. You are that fucken cool. And we haven’t covered me enough in this feature.

I think that makes you GAY... hahaha, just kidding… there he is!!!!! So K, you were truly a superstar parading around in just your shower towel during the show in Nancy (night of a thousand lemons part 1), but did you ever think you would just be decimating people in the pit like you did on this tour? It was definitely classic to see you in there every night, so were you inspired by the music or by my fancy footwear? No, seriously, it was really cool that you had the chance to fill in for Jonas on the tour. It was also cool that you fit in so well with the Grave guys and you were truly part of the band during that tour. Did you think going in to the tour that it was going to be as memorable as it was, or did you have some reservations since you were the “new” guy? (ok, that was my serious question)

I thought I was too old for decimating people in the pit. I blame it all on the fabulous “Harnessing” tune, haha… I had no expectations for the tour and the experience exceeded anything I could have possibly wished or hoped for. Great times, sad times but overall one of the most precious moments in my life so far. So now when I have been interviewed by Rioss Fucken Doland (this is how it fucken goes when you type too fast), let’s head back to you and Immolation. What was the reason for changing the logo to a regular font after the debut of yours? I must say the new, clean logo looks a hella lot better.

Annihilation of the wicked? No, Immolation of the chicken! That is exactly why we changed the logo design. We still use the old logo here and there, mainly on our T-shirts, but with the new logo there is certainly no doubt as to what it says. There were some people who gave us shit about the change, they weren’t so happy, but you win some you lose some. I think they will be just fine in the long run.

Is there one single promotional photo of you guys where Steve is not wearing a cap. If so, can I have it?

No, I don’t think there is. You were the picture lord on the tour, I’m sure if anyone could have gotten one, it would have been you kid. We may have taken a few with him without his hat, but that boy and his hat are joined together for life. Its part of who he is, and people actually recognize him by the cap and beard, totally weird !!!!

I actually have some shots without the cap but since those 2, Steve and the hat, are so linked, I’ll keep them away from the public. Anyways, you have a tour coming up this fall. Can I join? I couldn’t play your stuff but I can drink quite well. What’s yer expectations for this tour anyways? Sure it won’t be as fun as the one we did together, you know this, right?

It’s going to be really hard to top the tour we did together just because of the people involved. I mean, the tour was successful and the shows were killer, but everyone who was part of the tour, including the crew and drivers, were all great people to be out with. I can’t say enough how fun the tour was for us and what a good time we all had. There were no sour moments, (well maybe one or two, but who’s counting) and everyone really got along great. We just finished the summer festival run in Europe, which was great, but in a different way. It was just us in a van for three weeks with a lot of hotels and down time, which was also great, but not the same. Now, we hit the states in November with Suffocation and Skinless, but we will all be traveling separately so there wont be any late night craziness that one may encounter while on a tourbus. The Suffocation guys are really cool and friends of ours, and we have toured with the guys in Skinless and they are totally cool as well, so we are looking forward to this run. You can join us as long as you get in the pit every night and show us how you Swedes tear shit up!

Soundchecking in Germany As mentioned (I think I did anyways. If not, fuck it), you have been around forever but only released 7 albums. 7 albums might be a respectable record for a band but considering you have played together for some 500 years – shouldn’t you have at least like 15 albums out? Is composing for Immolation a hard task? And isn’t it frustrating to spend all that time on writing, just to enter a studio to get a muddy production that really can’t bring forth all the details? I know you love these production questions, haha…

Well, it all about quality and not quantity!!! We did have a five year gap in between the first and second albums which did ruin any momentum we may have had with the first record, but we were back on track once “Here in After” came out in 1996. The writing process is never really that tricky, and it never really lasts longer than about 2 or 3 months the most, and this goes for all the records, with the exception of the first one which came together between 1988 and 1991. I think we just really know what we want out of our music and at this point know how to achieve it. I do agree, sometimes, especially on the earlier albums, alot of the additional guitar parts or drums stuff got lost in the mix, and this is sad since there was some really great stuff that got pushed into obscurity, but in the live situation it all comes to life. I think we have resolved this for the most part with the last few records, but it is a continual evolution and learning process with us.

What is single-handedly the worst song you ever did? One you wish you never recorded. The one track you’d like people to hear that definitely will make them stay away from you guys? And why the fuck did you record it in the first place?

For me, I think most of the second and third albums make me cringe now, not because they are not good, but because they could have been much better on all accounts, songwriting, production, playing, etc. We just didn’t really know when enough was enough, so there were alot of unnecessary parts, and the parts that were good, came and went and never returned, so looking back, it would have been cool to tighten those albums up a bit. I am sure the fans would disagree, but what can I say. I don’t really dislike any of our songs, of course there are songs that just aren’t fun to play live because they are very hard to get into for myself, so I imagine it must be hell to the listener, haha.

Being a rockstar and all (I know the situation), why is it that Bob is still single? He’s a good looking guy and I’m sure that he gets some offers on the road. If I was a chick, I’d hook up with him. How is it with the other guys and yourself? Kids, marriages, domestic violence? Lemonilia Lemonstein?

The shoes! THE SHOES! I will give you Bob’s number and maybe you can have a go at him. Bob just hasn’t met the right girl yet. He is just very picky and he is always working, so he really has no social life outside of the band, so it is hard for him. As for the rest of us, Bill is still single and playing the field, Steve and I both have serious girlfriends, and none of us are married yet. Luckily, no Lemonilias’ in the mix!!!!

The questions are just pouring out of me now. Who wins, Gonzaga or Couture? And if you don’t know what this is about, I’ll go all Wanderlei Silva on yer small ass. (Well, now we know who won. Couture is king!)

Tank Fuckin’ Abbot !!!!!!!!!!!

Since you are an old-timer and know shit I have to ask this. What happened on “St. Anger”? Can you see Immolation being able to put out something that bad down the road without realizing it? What album would you say is your “St. Anger”, coz I’m positive you can’t love them all. Isn’t “St. Anger” one of the most abominable metal albums of all time?

Lets just say it ain’t no “Ride the Lightning” or “Master of Puppets”. What were they thinking… I don’t know. I am very happy to announce that there are NO “St Anger“´s in the Immolation discography, thank you very much!!!!

Hey, have you checked out this site, www.globaldomination.se, just yet? Pretty non-lemon, huh? It’s the one I’m interviewing you for, you know. It’s mine and it rules. Or are you way too pissed that we dissed your production in the edition of Audio Autopsy (that you won even) so you won’t give a fuck about my site?

The site is great, nice work there chief, but you just need to get some people who know how to appreciate a good production when they hear it!!!!! hahaha Hey they think the first two records are classics, so they get points for that. Definitely a non-Lemon site!!!!!

Considering the pace in which you release albums, the next Immolation effort should be out around 2012, correct? Have you started writing anything at all for it? Will the cover have fire on it? Please have fire on it.

That's not hair, it's a small fucken country 2012 is rushing it a bit don’t you think. Let the kids get a breather from the tour first, get some food and then worry about new material. These things take time and can’t be rushed in a lemony fashion. We probably wont start thinking about the new record, or at least start writing for it until sometime next year, probably summer time to be realistic. We are thinking about a late 2008 or early 2009 release for the next one, so we will see what happens. As for the cover, if you want fire, fire it will be. Maybe it will be my shoes on fire with a lemon in the background!!!

Talking about the pace of you releasing albums… It was 5 years between “Dawn of possession” and “Here in after”. 3 years between “Here in after” and “Failures for gods”. 2-3 years between the rest of the albums except for “Close to a world below”, which came out only one year after “Failures for gods”. What happened there? You guys did speed?

The 5 years between the first two records was due mainly to us not having a label, and the three years between the 2nd and 3rd was an artwork issue. After that point, we realized that this was not really helping our momentum, and in fact it hurt us in alot of ways. After that, we made a conscious effort to speed up the process and try harder to get the albums written more in a timely manner and not allow ourselves to get caught up in the day to day bullshit that wears you down.

We are reaching the end here soon. I forgot to take a copy of yer DVD on the road. Can you mail me one? Anyways, everybody and their mother is releasing a DVD nowadays. How has your sold and why should people buy it? Is it even remotely better than any of the other metal DVD’s on the market?

The DVD is definitely cool. It has a lot of stuff on it from the “Unholy Cult” tour and it also has some back stage stuff and an interview, but the shows are cool, especially the main one, filmed in Holland on the Cradle of Filth tour, so it was a huge show at a killer venue, and it looks really pro. It was our first effort, and we are proud of how it came out, but I think the DVD that comes with the “Hope and Horror” EP really shows what the band is all about now with the addition of Steve to the mix. Is is better than anything else out there, probably not, but it is us and if your a fan you will need to get it… hahaha.

Lemon or just a small taste of citrus:

Sharing a bus with 20 other sweaty men: small taste of citrus.
Showering every third day, at best: small taste of citrus.
Pasta with nothing but tomato sauce: small taste of citrus.
Hellraiser Fest, Leipzig, Germany: small taste of citrus.
Steve’s cap: small taste of citrus.
5 string basses: small taste of citrus.
Weed: small taste of citrus.
Alcohol: Total Lemon (eg. Night of a Thousand Lemons parts 1 and 2).
Prague: Lemon free.
Tour-cameras: small taste of citrus.
Nancy, France: great show, good people, but lemony aftershow acrobatics featuring Big K.

We have not covered sex enough in this interview. So, here goes. Bad sex or no sex? I don’t even know why I’m asking this.

Bad sex (is there such a thing???). No sex = Lemon.

Immolation on stage in Paris. Maybe... Thanx very much, kid. I appreciate the effort put into this and after all these years it was about time you guys were featured somewhere where it counts, namely Global Domination. Are you satisfied with yer answers? Have you lied somewhere in this interview, just to get laid? Spit out whatever you might have left to say. You guys are fucken phenomenal people, by the way. Keep that up. I hope to see you in Sweden one of these days so I can destroy people in the pit again. Take good care of yourself, don’t go lemon on anyone and round this bitch up by stating your final words. I love you. Seriously, I do. Cheers as fuck!

Thanks kid, it was my pleasure. Thank you for being patient with me for the answers. It was fun and I look forward to seeing it up on Global Domination!!!! Listen to metal and stay away from Lemons!!!!!