The Irish metal scene is a complete mystery to me. Aside from Primordial, Invictus Records and, uhhh… that’s about it, I literally know next to nothing about headbanging on the Emerald Isle. So, when the fine folks at Catharsis PR approached me with the opportunity to listen to and interrogate long-running Irish deathgrind merchants Abaddon Incarnate, I jumped at the chance, hoping to gain a little insight. The band has recently released a split 7″ with their American counterparts/brothers in grind Phobia.
THKD: Abaddon Incarnate has been around since 1994. To what do you attribute the band’s longevity?
Steve Maher: Hiya, well first off, we’re not sure if we started in late 94 or early 95 as we ditched the old band which were banging away in since 92 and evolved into AI so to speak. But longevity yeah, I guess it’s a tenacity, or a diehard attitude. Or just brutal stubbornness, me and Bill have been a constant driving force in this band since the start so I guess we just need to keep writing songs and performing live. Every time we do an album we are real eager to get the next one started so there is always a carrot on the stick.
THKD: What is it about grindcore that you find inspiring? What drives you to create and play such aggressive music?
Steve Maher: The beats and the sound just fill my brain 100% there is no room for anything else and I am satisfied when I listen to this shit, death metal and grindcore has been my obsession since I was a 12/13 year old kid and I first heard Napalm death, morbid angel and deicide and Carcass
THKD: How did the split with Phobia come about? Had you been in touch with them beforehand?
Steve Maher: No we’ve never been in touch with Phobia about this release. I met them in 2003 at the Fuck the commerce festival in Germany but we had no idea we would be doing a split. The label (underground Movement) organized it all.
THKD: Abaddon Incarnate contributed 3 tracks to the split. Is there anything tying your three songs together thematically/lyrically? What are these songs about?
Steve Maher: Chthonic Sacrifice is based on two things, first a book I read as kid called “the glass knife” by a guy called John Tully which left a mark in my mind thereafter, and second a discovery channel program on human sacrifice. I never wrote about South American occult/religion before and it’s pretty bloody and extreme so I thought why not? Vermin apocalypse is about the futile attempts by the plague doctors during the Black Death to heal the sick. Johnny king (our drummer) suggested I write a song about these guys back when we were recording “cascade” but nothing came of it. “Crucible” is about trying to break out of alcohol and drug addiction, the drink and drugs are a armor you use to keep the world out and you got to remake yourself within this armor so your strong enough to walk free among the people outside. But it’s written as a black magic prayer, so it’s usual satanic “self overcoming” attaining godhood etc. I mean how can you be your own god if you’re a drunken joke of a human stumbling out of control from one calamity to the next?
THKD: When and where were the tracks for the split recorded? How quickly did they come together?
Steve Maher: They were recorded in Nebula studios in limerick here in Ireland. They were written pretty quickly but they took a while to record because I had a bike crash and broke my collarbone in between sessions so the whole thing got drawn out a lot longer than was anticipated.
THKD: What do you like about the split release format? What are the advantages of doing a split release for two bands as well established as Abaddon Incarnate and Phobia?
Steve Maher: It’s a good chance for fans of both bands to hear the other, there’s shitloads of Abaddon Incarnate fans who have never listened to phobia and vice versa so it expands both bands horizons. Also it’s cool to have plastic out too.
THKD: Aside from both being grindcore bands, how do Abaddon Incarnate and Phobia compare? What other traits do the two bands share and what sets you apart from one another?
Steve Maher: Hehe, we are different in a lot of ways, the similarities would be we are both really fucking extreme, it doesn’t get much heavier than a split from phobia and Abaddon Incarnate.
Steve Maher: Not really, the internet is a global community now so we both recorded in our respective territories and the label did the rest. Mp3s can be emailed so we don’t have to rely on the postman to get his drunk arse out of bed and drop the CD in the letterbox anymore.
THKD: To outsiders, Ireland isn’t well known for grindcore. Is there an Irish grindcore underground the rest of the world doesn’t know about?
Steve Maher: Good grind? I’ll eat your face, sarcosis, the whole crust dbeat thing is becoming more trendy now.
THKD: What Irish bands were important to you growing up? Who are some current Irish bands people should be listening to?
Steve Maher: I only started listening to extreme Irish music around the age of 14, Morphosis, primordial and paranoid visions, later Brinskil bombeat were pretty good. These were influential to me personally and were big in my world back then. Nowadays there is so many cool bands, death metal you can check out Nephridium, warpath, Morphosis ( still going after all these years ) Zealot cult, Putrefy ( still going after all these years ), Overoth, condemned, zombiefied. Also, not death metal but have a listen to altar of plagues, geasa, then there’s doom stuff like wreck of the hesperes, and other older cool stuff like Scald for example. Irish metal is becoming really international nowadays, When we all started out if a band toured Dublin, Galway and Cork we thought they were going to be massive. Irish bands are getting on European tours, American tours, playing festivals, we have some decent labels and good promoters to bring large acts over and build bridges.
THKD: What are you personally listening to right now? Do you have any recommendations for THKD’s readers?
Steve Maher: I’m listening to the latest immolation album majesty and decay and Type O negatives Life is killing me a lot the last few weeks. 50% of that type O album is shitty Beatles crap but there are 3 or 4 killer tunes there also. I’ve also been banging out repulsions horrified quite often, carcass symphonies is getting a fair few spins and also I’m listening to way too much nile.
THKD: Are the members of Abaddon Incarnate involved in any other projects? Is the Irish scene as incestuous as say, the Scandinavian scene?
Steve Maher: Johnny plays in altar of Plagues, and also another band called sobd who I haven’t heard yet, Steve f plays in a crust band called “twisted mass” and also a gore grind band called sarcosis. I used to play in Geasa for 10 years and bill plays in a ambient dance thing called alibitrax and a Depeche mode covers band to pay the mortgage. Yeah it’s pretty incestuous, Irish and Scandinavians both like fucking people from our own families.
THKD: What does the rest of the year have in store for Abaddon Incarnate? Do you have any other releases planned for 2011? Are you working on any more new material?
Steve Maher: I want to record at the end of 2011, but nothing concrete is set yet. We have lots of new material, we just need to organize it.
THKD: Are you touring at all this year? Do you enjoy playing live? How would you describe an Abaddon Incarnate live show to someone that has never seen you?
Steve Maher: We are playing 3 dates in the Uk with general surgery in may, 2 dates in Ireland with basement torture killings from London in June, then a 20 date south American tour in Ecuador, Peru and Colombia next august. I really enjoy playing live, it’s the pinnacle of being in a band, what it’s all about. Abaddon Incarnate live show is typical 4 dudes with shaggy hair and manky t shirts screaming and grinding until everyone’s heads implode, usual stuff.
THKD: Are there any final thoughts you’d like to add?
Steve Maher: Final thoughts, Final thoughts? That’s a shitty obituary song right? Cause of death and slowly we rot slay. I sat beside a Old dude with grey hair in a suit on the train today and he was listening to slayer reign in blood, and also sitting there was a teenager with a emo fringe and some weird annoying screamo crap coming out of his earphones, I’m getting old and I’m fucking glad I have nothing to do with that screamo shit. But reign in blood is awesome; altar of sacrifice is probably one of the top 5 songs ever written in this universe. Thanks for the interview, cheers for the support.
The Abaddon Incarnate / Phobia split is available now via Underground Movement. http://www.underground-movement.net
NOTE: The Abaddon Incarnate songs featured in this interview are from the band’s 2009 full length Cascade, not the aforementioned split w/ Phobia.