Current vocalist of The Famine, Nick Nowell, took some time and had some fun with our second interview about The Architects of Guilt.
I was fortunate enough to get a promo copy of The Architects of Guilt and it is a beast. Did you know it was going to turn out this well?
We had our hopes, but with Chris being in New York and us not really playing shows, we had fallen out of sequence with most of what was going on in music and in metal specifically. After the album was about half written, I think we could all tell that this was going to be a definite reboot of The Famine that was on The Raven and the Reaping. With me switching from bass to vocals and bringing Jonny in, it almost felt like we had a second chance to record our first album. We went into the recording process with that kind of youthful honesty, and I hope that as a result, these songs are more vibrant than they are comfortable. We all had something to prove with this album.
With the oversaturation of the metal genre and all its sub genres, what does The Famine do to try to separate yourself?
Well, like I was saying, none of us are more than tangentially aware of what’s going on in metal right now. I’m not even up to date enough on what subgenres are popular right now to discern relevance, and I think I can pretty much speak for all of us in that regard. We just tried to make a record that serves as a culmination of our influences. This album isn’t a response to try to set the current nature of metal back on course, we’ll let Mastodon do that. The simple answer is that this is a heavy, uncompromising and raw record because that’s the kind metal that we love and hold dear. There was no conscious effort to try to make Attack Attack! look silly, they seem do that well enough on their own.
What do you think of breakdowns? Overused/Overrated or not used enough?
Strife should do more and everyone else should cut it out. We get it guys, kids love them. They also love McDonald’s and Boone’s Farm. The key to all of these things is that a little bit goes a long way. Seriously though, if it’s in your repertoire and you trot it out every now and then in a new, interesting way, knock yourself out. Just don’t expect anybody wearing a Sadus shirt to give you the time of day. Pantera and Sick of it All had their own versions of breakdowns, who am I to issue a decree?
What is your favorite track off the new album and why?
Depends on how the mood strikes me, but right now it is “VII The Fraudulent.” It was one of the first songs we wrote for the record, and the very first song for which I wrote lyrics, and it set the pace for how I was going to approach composing the rest of my parts for this album. The tone of the song is also genuinely disgruntled, so it’s great for laundry day.
How many tracks did you end up recording that didn’t make it on the album?
With Braxton we only recorded the 11 tracks for the record. We talked about doing a Sepultura cover, but it didn’t make the cut for various reasons. I’m sure Andy will push for it again next time, and I’ll keep suggesting something off of “Eaten Back to Life.” Before the studio burnt down, however, we had amassed a nice little collection of songs, and riffs, I believe only two of which actually made it on to the record. I’m not sure how many songs we discarded and/or lost, but trust me that this record is better for it. We needed the fire to push us out of our comfort zone.
What does 2011 look like as far as touring?
The current state of touring is a little strange right now. Because of the economy, fewer records are being sold and concert attendance is down. Because of fuel prices and the dip in the music business, tours are more expensive to execute. Now we have situations where bands like As I Lay Dying and Demon Hunter are touring together. Even though both bands are headliners, they are hedging their bets when it comes to touring. Every time two powerhouse bands like that get together and tour, it eliminates touring opportunities for bands like us, because we rely on a headliner like As I Lay Dying to fill the seats. We want to tour; we want to play these songs in front of as many people as possible. We are aware of and willing to endure the sacrifices necessary to put this album into action on stage, but the fact of the matter is that we aren’t 20 years old. We have wives (Mark has 3, in fact), we have children, we have jobs. I have a Chihuahua named Baxter who would be crushed if I couldn’t provide for him in my absence. Our greatest hope is to be able to tour on this record to the largest extent possible, but I can’t say what that entails right now. Just know that we will tour for this album, and that if you see us coming through your town, we need your support and camaraderie.
I know a lot has been said about the album artwork; however, what kind of interaction did you have with Ryan and Don Clark at Invisible Creature? How did this concept/artwork come to fruition?
Ryan Clark deserves all of the praise and none of the criticism for the artwork on this record. He and I discussed what the band did and didn’t want the album to be, and I listed some influences, most of them directors. He took the vision and executed it perfectly. If this artwork affects you positively or negatively, it is doing what we wanted it to do, and we have only our friend Ryan to thank for that.
If there is just one thing you wanted people to take away from The Architects of Guilt, what would it be?
I think the underlying theme of this album is hope. The lyrics are uniformly dark, and they’ve already created a little controversy, even on your website. I didn’t set out to write a controversial album, I wanted to write an honest album, and I guess that’s really the message of The Architects of Guilt. Honesty makes us uncomfortable. That’s why “Kids Say the Darndest Things” got ratings and that’s why we don’t talk about things like racism, homophobia, and sexism in schools. When confronted with all of this negativity and anger, my deepest desire is that the response is to hope that things can improve. After we hope, we can believe, and then we can do. If the narrative of this record becomes “Chris leaving The Famine marked their steep De-Christianization and I don’t want any part of it now!” because we don’t have any praise songs on this record, these songs are both for and about you. If this album is the sterile needle against the dirty Christian bubble, so be it, but I’d like to believe that it has the power to be a beacon of light in so many other ways.
If your family is anything like mine, they hate all forms of metal/hardcore. I know they have to be proud of your work, but do they listen to your music in their spare time? (Does your mom/dad blast “Ad Mortem” or “Killing for Sport” while driving around town
Jonny’s dad regularly asks him how things are going with “The Phantom”, if that’s any indication of how our families feel. Mark and Andy’s wives are supremely supportive of what they do. If you ever come to a Famine show in North Texas, look for the lovely lady with The Famine shirt by the merch booth, that’s Mark’s wife. My mom, sister, and grandmother came out to our Ft. Worth show with Living Sacrifice, Becoming the Archetype, and To Speak of Wolves. They stood a few rows back with their earplugs in and took in the whole experience. I don’t kid myself by thinking that anyone in my family drives around and listens to “The New Hell” on repeat, but I’m glad to know that they support me in theory even if they don’t necessarily in practice. Also, after seeing me do hair whips for a half an hour on stage, my grandmother has quit asking me to get a haircut.
The Famine is:
Nick Nowell – Vocals
Andrew Godwin – Guitar
Mark Garza – Drums
Jon Richardson – Bass
Look for an upcoming contest where you can win a copy of The Architects of Guilt and possibly more