Interview with Lich King 2008

By Bradley Smith



Necromantic Maelstrom has made it through to a second pressing.  How does that make you feel?  Why didnít any of the labels you approached (Witchís Brew and Heavy Artillery) pick it up originally?  Do you think they are regretting their decision now?  Did they cry themselves to sleep over missing out on Lich King?

Nahh, I don't think they're regretting it. Witches' Brew was undergoing some kind of hardship at the time and Heavy Artillery wanted a touring band- we can't tour at present because we've got severe bassist problems... like on a Spinal Tap level. Every time we get one some kind of ego problem crops up and things go sour fast. We've had two bassists since then, and are without one again. I think we've exhausted the bassist pool of the area and so we're continuing to have me do them when we record studio tracks.

I understand you are working on a new album.  I also understand it will be brutaler and fasterer.  How are you approaching it and what are you planning on doing to achieve such lofty goals?

MUCH brutaler, MUCH fasterer, MUCH betterer. We're approaching it from a faster perspective, and hitting the hard points harder. The songs are more epic in scope, with fewer weak points. This album will also see guest artists... we've got Konrad Kupiec from Diamond Plate turning in a KILLER solo on the song Office Politics, a mystery guest celebrity doing vocals on Toxic Zombie Onslaught and I'm trying to coax another mystery guest celebrity on board. It'll be a hard sell but I'm trying.

I understand that you guys pretty much Annihilate the audience when you play live.  Doesnít that make it hard to keep a solid fanbase if you keep obliterating your fans?  How do you trick future audiences into seeing you live?

Well, given the bassist situation this thankfully allows our fans to rebuild their numbers for months at a time before being turned to ash. It's almost a blessing. Beyond that, if we destroy too many fans we might have to start playing weaker shows, allow some of them to live. Maybe do a Manilow cover or something. People might just survive that.

Are you tired of the thrash revival tag yet?  I mean it is really just starting to get momentum but still it is already out of control with both bands and media hype, etc.

Nah, what I'm worried about is signs that the revival is collapsing under its own weight. A lot of bands are getting signed in a rush and I just want the labels to not start thinking they've made a mistake. I've heard rumors about a pretty big thrash revival band and that their label is regretting signing them, I've heard that execs at a certain label are a bit nervous about an upcoming tour, etc... indications that maybe the revival is reaching its peak. I think if we all keep from rushing at the paychecks and make sure it's the best thing for the music and fans, things will keep progressing to a sustainable level of awesome-ocity.

What makes the old American thrash scene so much more interesting/different than the old German scene?  What do you think of the whole black metal affinity for the old German scene?

I have NO idea what the old or current german scene is like, as I tend to not get along with german thrash. I don't like Destruction, I don't like Sodom, I don't like Kreator... I dunno, it all just goes against what thrash is for me. It's like speed for the sake of speed, without the chunky cinderblock riffs to dice it up now and then. Any time this comes up someone says "you just haven't listened to (album)" or "you just haven't heard (band)." No, I really just don't like the sound. Black metal-influenced thrash is worse, as black metal is just unfathomably unlistenable to me. Oooh, satan. Really? Satan? I'm so impressed with your scary evil.

I was listening to Necromantic Maelstrom the other day and I thought it was less than flawless.  What must have happened to me in order to come up with that opinion?  I mean I read some of your opinions on what sort of mental and physical state a person has to be in order to see the album this way.  But what about me in particular?

If you think the album was less than flawless in any but a production or vocals sense, you're clearly a dude with serious narcotic problems. I recommend cutting back on huffing WD-40 fumes and coming around to realize that music just doesn't get better than when you're flying with the King.

Do people take themselves and their music too seriously?  I mean thrash can be some serious fun! Also what about the fans that are too serious? Do they ever hassle you for not being all sinister and evil?

I'm happy to say that people that like their music sinister and serious don't really give us shit... they're free to keep chasing the L.A. and Mexican bands that go crazy with the evil thing. We cater more to the pizza n' beer style thrashers, even though we don't have any songs about pizza or beer or partying, any of that. I think thrash is at its best when it doesn't take itself that seriously. Thrash is fun, thrash is energetic. Listen to black metal if you enjoy lyrics about a darkyned altar stained with the blood of the innocent in a forest of despayr, blarrrgh. Me and my friends, we're making songs about monsters and movie serial killers and fun shit.

Upon hearing your music what are some of your favourite musicians who had made up responses to the music and how has affected most people who listen to it?

Alex Skolnick heard Necromantic Maelstrom, then walked into a room and stared at a blank wall for three and a half hours. Some say he was trying to come up with a way to apologize to Testament fans for failing them. Scott Ian heard Lich King and smiled, shook his head and cut off his raccoon-tail goatee. "Won't be needing THIS anymore," he said. James Hetfield heard it and said "Ewwww, what's THIS? It sounds YUCKY! Yucky-POOOO!" He then skipped away, flailing his sweatband-clad arms.

So you got a late start in thrash according to something I read.  Does that make your current view and participation in thrash more or less valid than someone who got into a long time ago during its original heyday?

I don't think it's more valid, but it's definitely not LESS valid. I like to go to war with people that argue that their view on things is more valid than others'. I do it myself, but only if someone says something stupid like "sure I like thrash metal, I listen to Green Day." If someone starts some messageboard war about how fucking TRUE they are and that someone else in the know about thrash is a poser, I just like wading into battle and slapping their stupid cheeks.

When holding a guitar, how do you feel?  Are you some sort of immortal hero?  Do you think you can conquer Guitar Hero III with your actual skillz?  Is a guitar an extension of you or are you an extension of it?

Good, yes, no, and neither.

What are your future plans for Lich King?  Any new concerts to tell us about or any world ending struggles in fantasy kingdoms that you guys have had to overcome?

Well, the plan now is to shop the demo around to a few companies, maybe get someone to pick LK up and release TOXIC ZOMBIE ONSLAUGHT on everyone. Beyond that- start writing songs for the third album.

Iíll leave any Final Words to you.  Make them Deadly Funny!!!!  Or Else!!!  Heh heh.

I have labored a week over this one and I think this is how I'm going to do it. Okay, this is really funny. Like dangerously funny. Ready? Take a deep breath and read on.

Knock knock.
Who's there?
Jim Martinez.
Come in.