Seplophile at the Funeral Home (photo - Brian Pattison)
A side effect of releasing our book, GT was quite hopeful, would be a shot of adrenalin to the system of a once great underground scene. A couple years on from the dust of the book's publishing having settled, it would appear that the medicine is working with the Buffalo NY scene starting to bubble again with more people becoming active, more shows happening (many of them standing outside the now set parameters of other gigs) and more bands stepping up to the plate with genuine quality music. GT brings you another interview which was destined for the return of Chainsaw Abortions zine, this time with Buffalo death band SEPLOPHILE!
GT: Seplophile formed in 2010 by veteran members of various Buffalo based bands. Give us a brief background of what went into Seplophile and what brought you all together?
Greg: The band was formed in early January 2010 initially by Al and myself, a few weeks later we added Shawn to the mix on bass, then about a month after that Matt joined the band on second guitar, and then Colin joined up in June of that year of vocals. Al and myself had been in a band years before (From This Day, Shawn was in that band as well but after I was long gone) after I had left in 2004 they continued until the summer of 2009. By that time I (as well as Matt) were in our second stints in Herod, after I had done a couple years in Sons of Azrael. We (Herod) had some downtime planned as the other guitarist, and lead vocalist, Jesse entered fatherhood for the first time, during that downtime Al and I decided to start a death metal band. We had been in bands in the past that had definite death metal elements, but we had wanted to start a band with the dominant influence/sound being death metal. The initial songs pretty much wrote themselves, even if they were a bit one dimensional, but I think if the desire to create is there, writing is never a problem. One demo, a bunch of shows and songs later, and a full length in the works, and that about brings us up to speed.
GT: The band burst onto the Buffalo scene with a choice slot opening for Malevolent Creation. Did you expect the gigs to come so fast and furious during the bands infancy?
Greg: Absolutely not. There had been a drought in extreme metal in Buffalo for quite sometime, and even the bands that were around and killing it, were mostly overlooked or lumped in with the local hardcore scene, as that was the dominant scene in Buffalo for a very long time. Shows for really any type of metal were sparse, and we had initially anticipated playing maybe 2-4 times a year locally, getting out of town if the opportunity was right as well. Very low expectations. After that Malevolent Creation show, all of a sudden, shows started appearing out of nowhere. The quality of the local bands, the Funeral Home, and yourself are a big reason for that. Needless to say, we eclipsed our 2-4 show max about 2 months after that Malevolent show.
Seplophile at Club Infinity (photo - Brian Pattison)
GT: I once overheard you tell someone that you write most of your riffs on an acoustic guitar. What made you go with that unusual route for writing death metal riffs?
Greg: I have an acoustic guitar at home, I love playing it, and with most of my gear at our rehearsal space, the acoustic is the best, most convenient option. Not to mention, if a death metal riff sounds killer on an acoustic, it'll sound even better ripping through my amp full blast with proper distortion.
GT: Does the band write songs as a collective unit or do you tend to write songs individually then bring them to rehearsal and do any tweaking there?
Greg: A lot of the initial Seplophile material was kinda prepared either by Matt or myself individually with Al. There was some collaboration obviously between Matt and myself, but I think it was good for Matt and I to prepare material on our own with our first batch of songs, just to kind of get an idea as to how each of us would interperet death metal. Because of that, I feel collaboration is more apt to happen for the next batch of songs, as we know kinda how each other writes this type of music. It helps sometimes to have a few different cooks in the kitchen so to speak, if i had written all the material, we'd be a very one dimensional, fast death metal band. With Matt and myself writing, we're a very three dimensional, multi-speed death metal band, haha.
GT: You have a deep love for power metal acts such as Helloween. How much do those power metal acts influence the riffs you write for Seplophile?
Greg: In a way, anything I, or we, listen to influences Seplophile, even if it's a sign of where not to go. But yeah, I'd say that style of metal influences us. Matt and myself are huge fans of classic heavy metal, and if you dissect a lot of our material you'll see it's (for the most part) very traditionally arranged, a la verse/chorus/verse/bridge/chorus, that's definitely derived from our classic metal sensibilities. I think that's important to have, i love music that has strong structure and meat on the bone to sink your teeth into. There's nothing wrong with having simple, or "catchy" song structures in death metal. That being said, we're also not afraid to riff it up and use the abilities we've attained over the years as musicians. We will never be technical just to be techincal, nor will we be simple just to be "old school". Everything we play has a purpose and we follow no codes or rules that aren't self imposed. We are a death metal band, plain and simple, and if you listen to us it's my opinion that you'll hear bits and pieces of everything that's created the death metal "sound" from 1985 (or whenever someone else thinks it started) until today.
GT: This summer Seplophile will finally begin venturing outside of WNY for shows. Why has it taken so long for you to begin doing out of town shows?
Greg: Well we had played a show in Rochester in October of 2011 with Decrepit Birth and Decapitated, but other than that the reason why we haven't gone out so much is because of scheduling. Lame as it may be, we ain't kids anymore, and job and family scheduling does make going out of town a little more complicated and difficult. We've all done our time in the past as far as road slavery is concerned, (we all spent the majority of our 20's broke haha) and family and paying bills are a higher priority at this point in our lives. In order to tour "right", you gotta hit it hard and for a long time, time which we don't really have anymore. The number of shows I've played in the last 9 years outweighs my recorded output by a lot and I'd rather stay home, and practice our craft and improve ourselves as a band, and get some more recordings out there. At this point in my life the creation of the music is more important than the performing of it live, but we will continue to play out when we can, because we enjoy it, not because we have to.
GT: When I offered you the chance to be Kam Lee's backing band for A Day of Death 2011 you quickly jumped on it, but just as quickly learned that Matt would be unable to play the show. How hard was it for Seplophile as a band to learn all of "From Beyond", teach Tony Lorenzo the Seplophile set list and still fit in normal rehearsals with Matt during the first half of 2011?
Greg: Very. Life's a journey and a lesson, and if I had that over again, in retrospect, I can see what could've been done differently to make that an easier process. It's was probably most unfair to Tony, who had to learn 18 songs he either had never really heard before, or was only vaguely familiar with. He was a champ though, stepped up big time for us, and played the shit out of those songs. I definitely think the Seplophile set suffered as a result of my insistence of placing more emphasis on learning the Massacre material, because let's face it, there was no one there strictly to see lil' old Seplophile play 3rd on a fest full of underground metal legends like Deceased, Insanity, Rottrevore, and Kam Lee. As a headliner, we had an obligation to learn the Massacre tunes as best as we can to make sure we didn't make Kam look shitty, or you look stupid for picking us as his backing band. I think we succeeded in not letting either of those happen.
GT: When I gave you the call on July 13 (2011) to let you know Kam was with me and we were on our way to rehearsal did you feel any apprehension/nerves?
Greg: Some nerves, no apprehension. Apprehension leads to doubt, doubt kills confidence, and no confidence leads to shitty performances.
Day 2 of Kam Lee rehearsals (photo - Brian Pattison)
GT: Those two rehearsals with Kam seemed to go pretty well. He seemed to fit right in with the band like he belonged there and not at all like an outsider. Were you happy with those rehearsals?
Greg: Absolutely, I looked at it like this: We were a band for 3 days, we had 2 days to be a tight for the 3rd day, we had little time to fuck around, but like a true band, we did find some time to have some fun amongst the business. We cleared through a couple cases of beer, shot some shit and got to know Kam a little, which was cool. We wanted Kam to be comfortable and at ease with this room full of strangers that he was going to headline a fest with in 2 days. Us being fairly easy going dudes I think Kam was able to drop his guard quick, hang out, drink a few beers, and rattle our walls with "wipe-outs". It was a great time and Kam's a cool guy. You saw me smiling, it was total genuine fun.
GT: When the time came for you guys and Kam to take the stage, did you feel any added pressure of knowing that the old schoolers in the crowd who had seen Massacre in '91 would be watching you with a very critical eye? Despite a minor flub or two were you happy with the bands performance that night?
Greg: Actually I wasn't worried about old schoolers watching us. I knew that as long as we did our job, they would get into it. Billing be damned, I went out there with the attitude of: "I'm in Massacre for one night, I have to perform these songs as if I've written them". Shawn, Tony, and myself were not gonna stand up there like scared kids in the shadow of an underground legend. We are dudes who've spent a lot of time on stages, we know what it takes to put on a good show, and we acted accordingly. Any flubs we had I thought were like you said, minor, and more of a result of either over enthusiasm or monitor troubles. Except for "Skulls", that was just lack of preparation as we had just learned it the last rehearsal before the show, haha.
Kam and Greg at A Day of Death 2011 (photo - Brian Pattison)
GT: Seplophile has been known to cover Cannibal Corpse's "Skull Full of Maggots" live, yet when given the opportunity to play the song in the presence of two original Cannibal Corpse members you chose not to, even though Alex was hoping you would. You had an opportunity to play it and perhaps even get one or both of them to join you for it, yet you declined, why did you chose to pass on playing it especially knowing you may never be given another chance to play it in their presence?
Greg: Well we hadn't played the song in like 7 months, and we didn't think it was the right place for something like that, would've felt crass. It was a charity event, and to me it would've seemed like we were trying to get a "Cannibal seal of approval" by either playing that song or having those dudes play it with us. I wouldn't want anyone to think we were playing this show for any other reason than for the reason everyone else was playing it, to help out our friend. I'll take a seal of approval from Cannibal Corpse any other day of the week, just not that day. As you know, we did a Voivod cover instead (Tribal Convictions) as that's a band that we love and Tony loves too.
GT: You are currently in the studio recording your debut full length. How has the recording gone so far?
Greg: Recording has gone well, all we have left to do is record bass, vocals, and lead guitars and we'll be done. It's been 2 and half years in the making and we're pretty excited to finish it up. The vocals, rhythm guitars and drums were recorded by Scott Nadolinski, bass and leads are being recorded by our other guitarist Matt.
Kam Lee band after A Day of Death 2011 (photo - Brian Pattison)
GT: Besides the show June 23 show in Cleveland, do you have any other out of town shows lined up or in the process of being lined up?
Greg: We're also playing the Sevared Records "Brutality Reigns 2" fest in Rochester on June 22nd, besides that and Cleveland the next day, we have nothing planned for out of town until at least the fall. I'm getting hitched and need some time to lock down the family aspect of my life for a bit before I can worry about hitting the highway again.
GT: Any final comments?
Greg: Thanks for the support now, in the past, and hopefully in the future Brian. You're one of the reason's Buffalo's had a bit of a resurgence for metal, and it's appreciated by all of it's practitioners who know what's up. Also, readers, keep an eye out for our debut album "Mesonoxian", it should be finished by the end of May, stay tuned to our Facebook page for updates.