Friday, June 1, 2012


Mike Abominator at MDF 2011 - (photo - Brian Pattison)

Gravehill have captured and bottled the essence of GT era death metal. To say they kicked our asses is an understatement. It's our pleasure to have Gravehill a part of this year's A Day Of Death 2012, now let's get down to the rotten soil with vocalist Mike Abominator!

GT - How did you and the other members of Gravehill first come together to start the band?

Mike - Gravehill started in 2000 with Thorgrimm, original bass player/singer Mike Apokalypse and original guitar player Bastard Demon. I would actually show up to their practices and hang out and party with the guys since they were all old friends of mine, I think Thorgrimm and I have known each other for over 23 years. Those guys got together and were playing this crazy ass old school black thrashing death metal and I fuckin loved it! NO ONE was playing this style, ESPECIALLY in America. That original project fell apart and everyone went on their own separate ways by the next year. I always thought “what a waste of a great band”. 

Then Thorgrimm and I decided to start up the exact same type of band come the end of 2006. It was my idea to use the name Gravehill. But I had to get the OK of my friend and original singer Mike Apokalypse. He gave me his blessing and we moved forward. Some might think it was lame to do that, but I guess it was my goal to be in a band like Gravehill anyways, something that I have always wanted to do. Blame ME for that. Then we actually grabbed musicians from some other local bands to get started and we got together and got the death noise rolling out of hell. We had a trifecta of younger guys to join the ranks at first with KK Reaper being the first guitarist we asked to join us. 

Then we snagged Bodybag for the 2nd guitar. KK didn’t work out and Zyklon A (who called himself Vorgoloth at the time, hahaha what a fag) was in another band that we were sharing a studio with. He was also recording a demo for us at this studio as well. So we grabbed him for the 2nd guitar at this point. I was playing bass at first for most of 2007 as we shaped our sound and wrote songs. Then we had a friend named Behemoth that we asked to join us and play bass for us, so I could concentrate on vocals and terrorizing the crowd. Confused yet? Haha. Well, to clarify, the early line up that started playing our first shows was:  Myself on Vocals, Bodybag on guitar, Zyklon on guitar, Behemoth on bass and Thorgrimm on drums. But shit has changed over the last few years as J Corpsemolester has joined on bass in 2008 and Matt Hellfiend has joined on 2nd guitar in 2010. 

GT - What were you early shows like?

Mike - Those early shows will always be something special. We had our first show at an outdoor venue that I used to promote at, and it was all “friend” bands that played (most of the bands that were on the bill aren’t even around anymore!) Then we did a west coast tour with our friends in Splatterhouse that was killer! Even though both shows in Washington State got cancelled, we had some great times and made our mark I feel. We also got to open for Enslaved at a big theater in our home area right after we got back from that first short tour. I remember coming out on the stage to our first “big crowd” at that show and the more mainstream kids in the front row were like “WHAT THE FUCK?!?!” They saw this pissed off bald guy covered in blood, giving them the death stare. Hahahaha That was fun man! Funny enough that show was on Corpsemolester’s birthday! He wasn’t even in the band yet, he was just a good friend at that time. Most people would just stand and stare at the spectacle that we had going on. 

I mean, bands had used leather, spikes and blood before. But it wasn’t something that was a normal thing. It was used more with black metal bands I guess. But we had a totally FUCK YOU attitude, and still do. And we played really ugly, simple and caveman death metal that was based in 1985 (again… STILL DO!) So that set us apart. We came to fucking kill. It was a war to us and we had a chip on our shoulder! STILL DO! Bahahahaha.

During soundcheck at MDF 2011 - (photo - Brian Pattison)

GT - Growing up as a metalhead was there a particular band/song/moment that grabbed you and made you realize that you had to be a death metal front man?

Mike -  There were certain events that changed my life. Like the first time hearing Sabbath, Priest and Kiss. The first time I saw an Iron Maiden album cover. That then led to the next phase. I think what really got me was the Venom footage of “Witching Hour” on the Ultimate Revenge 1. The way that video knocked me in the brain just changed me forever. I loved Slayer and Exodus on there too, but Venom was the band that I would fuck me up real good. Then when I started going to shows and live performances, seeing some legendary sets by the bands that I loved helped to shape me. 

I started out as a guitar player. I then moved over to bass and back and forth for a bit. I really didn’t start as a front man until much later on, just a few years ago. But I wasn’t just influenced by just singers or guitar/bass players. I just loved the whole band performance and wanted to be a part of it. It just so happened that I ended up doing what I did in certain bands to be involved in some way. I got pretty good at playing, but I hit a wall at some point. I also got lazy. So I figured, “I can just be a fucking front man and talk shit, terrorize the crowd!” hahahaha.

The bands that really changed me when I saw them live back in the day where the classic sets by Metallica, Slayer, AC/DC, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Kiss, Rush, Motorhead, Kreator, Destruction, Celtic Frost, Sepultura, Dark Angel, Sadus, Obituary, Autopsy, Morbid Angel, Napalm Death, Entombed, Dismember and the tons of other bands that I forgot. Sabbath, Priest and Kiss got me started. Venom would be the band that made me want to PLAY in a band. Slayer was the band that drove me even further with the total aggression and terror. Napalm Death was the band that took THAT even further. And then my favorites like Hellhammer, Discharge, Autopsy, Bathory, Sodom and others finalized the deal.

Gravehill at MDF 2011 - (photo - Brian Pattison)

GT - What vocalists inspired you?

Mike - I like attitude and power as a combination. The first person that scared the shit out of me was Ozzy. Then he became my idol. Yeah, he didn’t have the muscles of Conan, the strength of Superman or the cool stuff of Batman, but he would end up killing all of them regardless! Hahahaha. With the way that I worshipped my original “BIG 3” I would also dig Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons. And of course Halford had those pipes of madness. Dianno and Dickenson would also become my next idols. But it was Cronos, Lemmy and Bon Scott who I would eventually really get into as far as attitude. They just had that “FUCK OFF!” look and were total bad ass motherfuckers on stage. They had the voice AND the attitude. They ruled the crowd. You HAVE to be a bad ass to front a metal band, in so many ways. THOSE guys were! And some of them that are still alive still ARE bad asses. Once I heard the next wave of the heavy shit, of course I liked Evil Chuck, Kam Lee, Chris Reifert, Lee Dorrian, Tom Angelripper, Quorthon, Tom G., Jeff Possessed, Mille Kreator, Scott Carlson and LG Entombed.

GT - As you've played shows across the USA, have you noticed any regional differences in crowds?

Mike - Crazy and raging metal heads are pretty much the same all over this earth. Some cities have more people, and even crazier fans. And surprisingly, it has NOTHING to do with the size of the city. SOMETIMES, bigger cities have smaller crowds and “metal heads” either don’t show up, or are kind of spoiled to have so much going on in that city. 

Some of our best shows have been in smaller cities like Dekalb, Illinois, San Antonio, Texas and Portland, Oregon. Even a place like Cheyenne, Wyoming has some of the coolest and best metal heads around. BUT, as an example, a huge city like Chicago also is one of the best places for metal and has some of the best metal heads! And even in places like New York and our home area of Los Angeles, we have had great shows and there are some crazy ass metal heads there as well. In the end, we are all one big happy, smelly and dysfunctional family. It really doesn’t matter where ya come from. 

So far, metal heads from Indianapolis to New Jersey to Seattle to San Diego to Kansas City to Baltimore and more places all over have all been the same! The numbers of them might change from time to time. But as long as we can have a front row of head bangers, some diving from the stage and everyone else going crazy in the place we are playing, Gravehill is one happy fucking band! It can be 10 people or 10,000 people, we will bring the fucking death!

at MDF 2011 - (photo - Brian Pattison)

GT - Is there any one show/event from the time surrounding the release of your first album that stands out in your memory?

Mike - There was a big fest that we played right around the recording of our debut album. It was the California Metal Fest and it was at a big and major theater in our home base of Anaheim, California. It was a HUGE event for that year. We had to sell presale tickets for the event to be a part of it, and pay those dues. We had been doing the recording over at Trench Studios in Corona, California with our good friend John Haddad. He runs the studio out of his house. And we had friends coming over to get tickets from us at the house and the anticipation was pretty big for us on this fest. I mean it  was a huge event. Now the recording of that album was a big haze of partying and playing death metal for hours! Hahahaha. But we spoke often about the fest and it was always on our minds. Once the day of came, it was time and we got to the venue bright and early that Saturday. This fest was to be headlined by Carcass and also had Suffocation, Exodus, Repulsion, Samael, Toxic Holocaust, Decrepit Birth, and tons of others. There would be about 2500-3000 people there I would say and it was a packed venue. We did play early when not everyone was there, but we played for about 900 people. It was the largest crowd that we ever played for at that time. We did make MANY new friends and fans at that show as well. Since there were also “metal core” and “death core” bands playing, I had to talk a lot of shit during our set. But for the most part, the people liked our set.

GT - Was the release of "When All Roads Lead to Hell" purposely planned to be released just prior to MDF 2011?

Mike - YES! We knew it would work out very well for us if we could manage to get this fucking album out by May 20th, and more importantly, in time for MDF. It was the #1 PRIORITY to do that. And thanks to Ryan Butler our Engineer and friend, and Matt at Dark Descent, as well as Rob and Rhett being able to take time off and trek out to Arizona to get shit done with Ryan, it came out on time for our plans. When you can make your mark at a festival of the caliber of MDF and get some stuff out there, it is a positive thing for the band obviously. There isn’t a bigger fest in the U.S. of THIS type of underground gathering. So to be able to hit so many metal heads was key for us. We might seem dumb, but we ain’t no dummies! Bahahahaaha.

at MDF 2011 - (photo - Brian Pattison)

GT - On the subject of MDF 2011 - 90+ degrees, in direct sunlight, decked out in full leather jacket and covered in blood - how the hell did you not pass out on stage there?

Mike - You know what, I’m not going to lie, it SUCKED in that way. It was HOT! I mean it was suffocating. Sunday at the time that we played was THE WORST heat of the weekend. But you know what, those fans payed A LOT of money to be there. And there are some classic bands and sets jamming and taking place. So we HAD to give our all to get through that one. And I know those fans don’t want to hear any whining and crying about ANYTHING. So I had to try and put a positive and funny spin on this situation. Plus, all of those people were in the same boat with us! They were all hot and sweaty and hung over. We tried to bring them out of it a little. I saw our good friends out there banging away. I saw some new fans banging away. I also saw those who think we are cheese dicks smirk at us and talk their shit, whisper in their buddies ear while we were playing, hahaha, that’s fine as well. We really don’t give a fuck. I saw posts after that had quite a few people saying, “I didn’t like that band at first, I thought they were dicks and over rated, but they changed my mind during that MDF fest!” And THAT’S a cool fucking thing. We did some talking with our music at that  point. Anyways, I got off track there. After we played that set, it was time to die. I felt bad for our friend Brian from New Jersey, he was standing right in front of the stairs leading down to the back stage area, and I was like “GET THE FUCK OUT OF THE WAY!” bahahaha. Also the guys from Malignant Tumor were also back there telling us “good set” and we tried not to ignore them, but we were so burned out and fucking tired at that point. My girlfriend poured ice cold water all over me and I must have pounded 4 of those waters within minutes myself. It took me about 15-20 minutes to recover from that set. Being old and fat also sucks! Bahahahaha. But it was worth every ounce of energy and blood that we put into it!

GT - What was your personal highlight of MDF 2011?

Mike - VOIVOD was so special for me. They sounded like they did in the late 80s, the last time that they REALLY kicked ass. Their later stuff is cool, but they were never the same after their prime era. But their set was CLASSIC, one of the BEST since they were always one of my favorite bands growing up. CIANIDE took the fest for me though. They were always and under rated favorite of mine and death metal legends. To be able to also make friends with them over the last couple of years is awesome! But the way they played songs off every album they did and threw in other classics was just perfect! They were CRUSHING! So Cianide was #1 and Voivod was #1a. Other highlights included DOOM, NUCLEAR ASSAULT, KYLESA, EXHUMED, MALIGNANT TUMOR, TRAGEDY, AURA NOIR and some others that I can’t think of. 

at MDF 2011 - (photo - Brian Pattison)

GT -  Any chance of an east coast tour in 2012?

Mike - You know what Brian, I will NEVER say the word……… CAN’T SAY IT! But a U.S. East Coast tour is not in our plans for 2012. As much as we would LOVE to do such a tour, I doubt it will work itself out for 2012. We did a DIY tour in 2010 and lost our asses, so we just can’t do that again. NOW that being said, who knows what will come up! Things change and we might end up doing a larger scale tour with a bigger band. We are even picky about that type of stuff. It is not out of the question for us to head out to the east coast and do 3 shows over a weekend, like a quick trip out, something like that. It makes much more sense to do that. But we shall see how it all unfolds next year. I will tell you this, we have some of our greatest fans and friends over there on the east coast, and we want to come back out again to kill for you all! We will keep everyone posted with the latest news on this topic. We really need to hit other places that we haven’t been to yet like the South and Florida as well. But everything has to fall into place and work out for that to happen. NEVER say never as I said. If it was up to us, we would visit our East Coast Horde once a year! WE FUCKING LOVE YOU MANIACS!

Flyer for A Day of Death 2012, one of only two east coast dates in 2012 for Gravehill

GT - How did you get involved with Metal Maniacs Online?

Mike - Well, I used to do a little blog on my personal myspace page (remember THAT site? Haha) and I would talk about new bands that I enjoyed. It was a total rip off of the BAND OF THE WEEK thing that Fenriz of Darkthrone did, haha. But I felt the same as he did and wanted to spread some good music to people. I went on to help out a couple of friends with their websites and magazines and I interviewed Mark Riddick for one of them. Well Mark mentioned to me that his twin brother Mike also was the boss of Metal Maniacs now. Unfortunately the print magazine ended and now it was strictly online. But Mark mentioned that Mike was looking for contributors, and suggested that I contact him. So I did and the rest is history. Mike let’s me do WHATEVER I want to do and just let’s me do my thing. I don’t feel comfortable with just reviewing everything that every shitty label puts out there. I also don’t feel comfortable with doing interviews with just any band/artist. I want to be a FAN, so that it comes out killer. Some people just don’t talk all that much, some people LOVE to talk, and that is fine in both areas. But the fact that Mike lets me do my thing and cover what I want to cover is HUGE. 

GT - You seem to have a real fondness for the old death metal scene in your writings. You wrote that great piece on Glorious Times and recently did a great piece on the notorious Richard C and Wild Rags. Can readers expect more pieces on the old days?

Mike - Fuck yeah Brian! I was there man. I started getting deeply involved in the underground in 1987. I started writing letters to bands and zines and corresponding with them. I also started really getting more and more underground releases at Wild Rags Records and other local stores that carried anything that was over the top and brutal. What you and Alan had put together was amazing! I felt that the Glorious Times book needed to get out there to the masses and be seen! 

The piece on Richard I felt also needed to be seen. It was MY story from MY perspective. And you can bet your ass there will be more articles on the old days! Hahahaha. My perspective right now is a combination of a love for the old school AND the new school. My passion gives me a “bird’s eye view” of our scene and it includes great memories of the old days, as well as a hunger to find killer new music. I think that combination works well together with what I do. I have a respect for both the old guard AND the newer warriors. Of course, the old days were so exciting and it was the birth of an era! It will NEVER be the same, with that same feeling. It’s like a new love. But when metal is in your heart and soul, like it is for many of us, it NEVER goes away.

 And there are a few new bands that come out and blow all of us old farts away! It is ignorant of me to put down someone, just because of their age. I WAS THERE ONCE! And some of these kids remind me of myself back in the day. It is also ignorant to not help to “pass the torch” and let the next generation take over. I guess I have also tried to embrace this new technology and be positive about it. I will tell you this; smart phones have SAVED MY ASS on tour quite a few times lately. And things like google maps and social networking sites have also helped out so much! So it’s also lame to say “FUCK ALL THIS NEW SHIT!” hahahaha. But Brian, the old days are something that is set in time and history. It was groundbreaking and an insane time on top of it all.

 How fucking crazy were all of us to be a part of this? Without guys like you, Alan Moses, Ed Farshtey, Joe Pupo and the other maniacs that did zines back then, some of those bands wouldn’t get as far as they did. To me, you guys that did the zines were just as important as those who were in bands, that same passion was there. I mean, ask ANYONE that was in Slayer Mag how honored they were to get in there! Or even Uniforce! Mark was already influential with his scene even before he got known in Impetigo. And those old, classic and forgotten bands that I cover also deserve some due. There are always reasons why bands break up and disappear off the face of the earth. It doesn’t mean that they weren’t good! Some of them are just as good if not better than the famous ones we all love!

Gravehill at MDF 2011 - (photo - Brian Pattison)

GT - Any final comments?

Mike - Brian my brother, I want to thank you so much for this! Keep up the killer work and I will see you sooner than later I hope! THANK YOU AGAIN ALSO FOR THE GLORIOUS TIMES BOOK! ARGHHHHH! THE BEST EVER!!!!!!!!! Now to the Horde, or maybe some who don’t know about Gravehill or my work on Metal, don’t be scared and come check us out! For now go to Gravehill on Facebook for band info and merchandise links. And over at you can see some killer articles by ME! Hahahaha. You never know, you might find a band or album that you will like! HAILS OF HELLFIRE! 



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