The Famine’s new vocalist Nick Nowell took some time to answer some questions for us.
So you guys are headed into the studio for your Solid State sophomore album. Who are you recording with and do you plan on having any guest vox on the album?
We are going to be tracking the album with Braxton Henry of Devourment fame, and then the album is being sent to Jason Suecof (Black Dahlia Murder, Job for a Cowboy, etc.) to be mixed. As far as guest vocals go, we haven’t made any plans to ask anyone, but I certainly wouldn’t be opposed to the idea if the opportunity presented itself. We definitely know some killer vocalists.
You guys have had a very hard past several months with getting a new vocalist and the infamous fire. How have you guys weathered the storm?
The personnel change wasn’t an easy choice to make. Once the decision had been made, however, the transition was actually pretty smooth. I had a history as a vocalist before The Famine, and I had been in the band since the start, playing bass and doing background vocals, so I already knew the material. Bringing Jonny in to play bass was also a natural choice, as he is a consummate musician and the nicest guy we know. The fire was a real curve ball. Nobody expects that phone call. I thought Mark was joking when he called to tell me until I got there and saw it for myself. Of all of the guys, I lost the least in the fire, though we all lost varying degrees of equipment, so it may have been a little easier for me, but the guys in the band were amazingly strong and gracious. As weird as it sounds, all we lost were things. They can all be replaced. What is important is that we all have our health and we have each other.
With everything that has happened was their any thought given to dissolving The Famine?
I’m sure this will come across as corny, but I think it really forged our will and showed us that even in our darkest hour, this is something we enjoy doing. I think from the day of the fire forward we all came to a silent realization that we’d still be doing this if we were just playing on practice amps in Andy’s garage to our friends and neighbors. It’s a labor of love, and I think that realization gave us all peace when we most needed it.
How was the outpouring towards you guys after the fire?
The response has been incredible. I would have never dreamed of something like that happening, but then to have thoughts and prayers and offers of help extended to us en masse by total strangers? We are clearly blessed, and that word isn’t generally in my vernacular.
How did you guys reacquire equipment after the fire?
Well, Jonny and I were fortunate enough to have most of our equipment at another practice space, and since I have enough musical equipment to start a one man band, we pretty much just moved what was salvageable into the new space, used my gear, and didn’t really miss a beat.
Did you lose any songs in the fire and if so did you try to remember and recreate them?
There are definitely a handful of recordings that are forever lost, but we had pre-production tracks of most everything we did, so we were able to retain most of what we had laid down.
Are there any central themes or concepts that you have for the album?
Definitely. The lyrics for the last record were much more of a group effort, whereas I’m handling the bulk of the lyrics for the new material. Conceptually, the album is going to deal with awful people, the awful things they do, and the extent to which we are all guilty of the same, the implied outcome being that we should really cut it out. There will be literary, historical, and social references to some really shameful things we have done and are continuing to do. The idea isn’t to be shocking or offensive, but I’m okay with stepping on some toes. If nothing else, I’d like people to think, and I’d like to be challenged. If I’m pointing fingers, I’ll save one for myself.
With a new vocalist, are you looking at taking a new direction sonically, or will it sound like the debut?
The album is definitely going to have a darker feel to it lyrically than The Raven and the Reaping. I wasn’t the lyricist or vocalist for the last album, and I don’t want to try to mimic or copy what Chris did. Our new material is much more dynamic. The last album came out of the gate and hit you in the chest at 160 bpm start to finish. This album is going to be heavier in that parts of it will be faster and thrashier than anything we’ve done before, but also that some parts will be slower and more precise. Bands like Suffocation and Cannibal Corpse are at their heaviest when they slow a song down to an uneasy lurch, and then launch into a speedy blur, and that type of songwriting is becoming somewhat of a lost art. At the risk of standing on a soapbox, we will never be the kind of band to take the breakdown or the singing chorus route. We are much more interested in finding new ways to make stomachs churn.
How many tracks are going to be on the album?
We don’t have a final number yet. We really won’t know until we get into the studio and put these things to tape. There were tracks and ideas left on the cutting room floor from the last album, and I’m sure there will be more of the same this time around.
Any ballpark date when you expect to release the album?
It should be out by Christmas, but we don’t have a date.