The legendary Ringworm will be unleashing their new album, “Hammer of the Witch,” on March 18th via Relapse Records. This band has created some of the most chaotic and crushing metal for over twenty years now, and “Hammer of the Witch” is possibly their best offering yet. Their skillful mix of hardcore and metal has created a unique sound over the years, and it has brought together fans of both genres into a giant and loyal following for this group. With a busy touring schedule ahead of them in 2014 in support of this new record, Ringworm will continue to leave their mark on the scene unlike any band before. I recently got to speak with front man, Human Furnace, on the upcoming record, the career of the band, his thoughts on success and more! Check it out below and be sure to pick up “Hammer of the Witch” in a few weeks! You won’t be disappointed!
Metal Mark- We are here to talk about the upcoming record from you guys, “Hammer of the Witch,” and I didn’t think it was possible, but this might be the heaviest thing you’ve released yet!
Human Furnace- You’re not the first to say that (laughs). I don’t know man. Musically Matt handles most of that stuff, so that “heaviness” is just what came out of him this time, and people really seem to be digging it. As a band our main goal is to go above and beyond anything we’ve done before, and musically and lyrically, this one hits on all cylinders I think. We try and push ourselves in our music as far as we can, and the “heaviness” you hear would be the end result of the recent writing sessions, but we are excited for the fans to hear it. We really put everything into it, so hopefully they dig it.
MM- As you’ve heard over the years, the extreme side of metal has gotten better and better. The younger generation is pushing the boundaries more than ever, yet the legends of the scene are still sticking to their roots, but growing as well. Do you pay attention to the scene when writing, or are you guys still more influenced by the music you grew up on?
HF- We are definitely still influenced by what we grew up on. Being in our early forties, we are in that generation that is defined by our roots, and that still has the biggest influence on us today. We still rock the early thrash, along with the crossover stuff like D.R.I. and Agnostic Front ya know. People can say we are stuck in the past, and we are a one trick pony as this point, but it’s a trick that’s lasted longer than most bands, so I’m fine with that.
MM- One thing that fans everywhere, including myself, has always respected about your band is the style of your band’s music. The mix of hardcore and metal that brings together genres, to where your music could possibly be called it’s own genre. When you hear a Ringworm album, you know exactly who it is right away. Is that something you always keep in mind when writing new material at this point in your career?
HF- Yes and no. We are pretty simple man. To be completely blunt, Matt writes the songs and I sing to them (laughs). There’s no studio magic or anything like that with us. We are old school. I agree that we have that trademark sound, and that’s awesome, but I don’t think it’s deliberate on our part. We’ve just stuck to our influences and what we love, and the result is what you’ve heard over the years. Over the past few years we’ve seen more bands mixing the two styles, which is kind of weird that it’s finally clicking after all these years, but it’s helped us a lot too. We still have people coming up to us saying they’ve heard us for the first time and had no idea we’ve been around for so long, and that’s cool as hell. It’s definitely a better time for a band like ours to be around than when we started, but we aren’t ever going to change our sound for anything. From album to album, we’ve stuck with what we know and never tried to surprise anyone, and I think people really respect that.
MM- One thing that really impresses me with “Hammer of the Witch” is the flow of the record. No matter how insane each track is, they really flow together well, and it’s truly an album you can listen to from start to finish. I know that’s a long concept today with how music is listened to, but how much importance do you put on that for this release?
HF- That’s cool as hell you can hear that. That’s basically one of my jobs in the band. I don’t have that much work to do with the song writing. I’ll listen to it and have some suggestions, but nothing too major on the music side of things. When the music is done, it’s my turn to go in there and do my part with the vocals, and from there it’s almost complete. After that, the whole vibe of the record, the flow as you said, is something I really take pride in. With our style of music, it’s important to keep the energy alive throughout each track and have the record flow in a way to where the listener doesn’t want or need to press next. It’s super important for me. It is a dying art form now though, as you mentioned. The format that people listen to music is a lot different from when we started out. Now it’s on the iPod and on shuffle most of the day. So even if you love every song, you may not hear them back to back, which is mind blowing to me, but it’s just how it is. The beauty of a record is how the songs mix together, and if you hear one song by itself, it may lose some of that magic or importance, because you’re missing out on what came before and after the song. As I said before, we are still old school. When I listen to records, I listen to it from start to finish. I always have and always will. So we definitely put a huge importance on that, and since it’s one of my main responsibilities in the band, it’s cool that someone hears that and appreciates that.
MM- Very cool. So far you’ve released two tracks to the masses, and they’ve had great responses to them, but are the any other tracks that you are super proud of or incredibly excited to play live for the first time?
HF- Honest answer? All of them (laughs). On our upcoming tour, we are actually doing a lot of the new stuff, which is cool, because we are incredibly proud of it. I think this is the first time that we will have played this much new material live off of a new album after it’s release, but I think the fans will love it. At least I hope so (laughs). I’m excited to play them all though man. “Psychic Vampire” will be a lot of fun to play, and that’s definitely on the upcoming set lists, but there will definitely be a lot of new material on the upcoming run. This record, as good as it sounds now, will be a whole new monster live I think. The songs have amazing energy and we are more ready than ever to get out there and start bringing it to the people.
MM- Just talking to you now, the excitement in your voice is pretty awesome to hear. After all of these years, do you still get that same shot of adrenaline when releasing new material, because that’s what it sounds like to me.
HF- Definitely man. Absolutely. It’s a funny thing, because of how the scene is now, but I look at it like this. We love our music. We love writing new albums. We love playing shows, and that’s really all that matters. We aren’t making a living off of this band, and that’s okay at this point. For a group like us, you have to be doing it for the right reasons. Personally, it’s the best way to vent my frustrations. It’s a necessity for me, because I’d probably be a complete maniac if I couldn’t do it. We’ve definitely had our ups and downs, but our passion is definitely still there. We’ve had stuff that’s happened to the band that would destroy any other band out there, but we are still here, and not done yet. For myself, to be in a band with guys that feel the same about the music and playing shows like I do, that’s just awesome to me. We are still writing records, still playing shows, and fans still love us, so the excitement is definitely high on all levels.
MM- Speaking about your careers ups and downs, you guys have been through a lot, and people always want to know what to do to make it in the scene. For me, I think it’s more important to know what not to do. What would you say on that?
HF- That’s a great question. I think it depends a lot on how you look at it. For me, I think we are a pretty successful band. We’ve managed to stay around, not kill each other, and still be relevant in 2014. That’s success to me. Some people may look at it and say well you’re not making a living, or you only played for ten people and went home broke, so it’s a matter of how you look at it. I look at how the positive side of things at much as I can when it comes to this band. One thing we’ve never done, and what I would say not to do, is jump on trends or what is current at the time. That dates you, and with people’s attention spans being so short now, it’s only a matter of time before that trend is done and your band will be extinct. You will always be “one of the those bands,” and to make it out of that label is pretty much impossible. It’s been done, but for us, we just stick to what we know and love. We love our music, and we wouldn’t play it if we didn’t. Yes, it’s not filling our wallets with enormous amounts of cash and we don’t live in mansions, but we are still here. For any band from any genre to have been around as long as we have, and to go through what we’ve had to go through, I think anyone would be proud and we definitely are. People may be confused when I say we are successful, but I stand by it, because we are in my mind.
MM- Well said. Not only do you have the new record coming, but many tour dates ahead of you in 2014. For the last question, is there anything you’d like to say to the fans out there about the upcoming year for Ringworm?
HF- First off, thank you guys for the continuous support of the band. We’ve been around for over twenty years, and we have some of the most loyal fans out there, so thank you. We’ve never worried about critics or anything like that, we let the music speak for itself. As I said earlier, we are really proud about “Hammer of the Witch,” and excited for everyone to hear it. If you dig it, spread the word and let your friends know. For us, the main thing I would say is to come see us live. That’s what keeps us on the road and doing what we do. This new stuff is going to sound insane live, I can guarantee that, so we hope to see you all out there.
"Metal Mark" 2014 Hammer of the Witch Human Furnace Interview relapse records Ringworm