by Ryan Meehan
Bodyfarm was founded in the late summer of 2009 by Quint Meerbeek (drums) and Thomas Wouters (guitars, vocals) with the intent to play quality death metal that possessed a mind of its own. Their self-titled EP (2010) received great response worldwide. The band released their debut album “Malevolence” in the summer of 2012 on Cyclone Empire. So far, Bodyfarm has built a good live reputation in The Netherlands and Germany by playing on festivals such as Extremefest and Neurotic Deathfest. Bodyfarm will release their second studio album, “The Coming Scourge,” through Metal Blade Records in North America, following festival performances at Hell Inside, Zombie Fest and Eindhoven Metal Meeting. We are excited to have Thomas Wouters of Bodyfarm as our guest today in 7 questions.
RM: What is the origin of the name “Bodyfarm” and how did you guys come to meet each other? Did you all have the same interests as far as wanting to focus on death metal as opposed to the seemingly countless other subgenres that exist in metal today?
TW: Back in the summer of 2009, Quint (drums) drove me home from a show I played with my punk band in Rotterdam. As we started talking it turned out that we both weren’t happy with the bands we were in at that time, so while driving home I asked Quint if he was interested in jamming together and see what would happen. A few days later we met for a few beers and we found out that we loved the same bands. 2 weeks later we went to the rehearsal room to jam some riffs, and we wrote the first song in litteraly 15 minutes! We decided to do lyrics about the Bodyfarm, a forensic institution in the USA where dead bodies are decomposing. We decided to call our band Bodyfarm a during the process. During the recordings of our debut EP (self-released in 2010) Bram Hilhorst was hired as a guitar player, and Mathieu Westerveld pickud up the bass. Mathieu left a few months ago, and is now replaced by Harry van Breda, who was our long time studio engineer and session bass player.
RM: “The Coming Scourge” will be released on February 18th through Metal Blade Records…How does this record differ from the material on “Malevolence” which was released about a year and a half ago?
TW: The production is way more heavy and professional. Ronnie Björnström did an awesome job on that. Besides that, the songwriting sounds more mature and a bit more melodic. The material varies from traditional death metal, to blackened parts. Sometimes even some doom metal parts. Malevolence was traditional death metal all the way. The Coming Scourge sounds more versatile. As a vocalist I really improved the last 2 years and you can really hear the difference. The songwriting went real smooth and we rehearsed like hell. I think that really payed off in the studio.
RM: How do you feel that the band has changed and grown as songwriters in the five short years that you’ve been together? Does it feel like longer than that, or are things like time irrelevant when the main goal is to create art that is as brutal as possible?
TW: The band has grown for sure. We are now experienced studio musicians and know what to expect from eachother. But the thing that has improved the most is our live appearance. Since the European release of the new album in September last year, we have played shows in Western-Europe allmost every week. The experience you gain from those trips as a band is huge, but also a crucial part in the existence of a growing band. We really enjoy being on stage and we are siked for every show we play, and people in the crowd notice that. But it feels like we’ve been together for only a year to be honest! We still have a lot of fun and we became good friends. Still having the same goal and vision after almost 5 years and only 1 lineup change is an accomplishment in my opinion. We have only just begun!
RM: The vocals on “Unbroken” almost sound like they have an early Obituary feel to them… Who are some of the metal artists that you really draw from when it comes an influence on your sound? And does having a second guitar player (Bram Hilhorst) give you more freedom to concentrate on what you have going on vocally by having a dual guitar attack?
TW: A few of my favorite vocalists in death metal are Martin van Drunen (Asphyx/Hail Of Bullets), Marc Grewe (Morgoth), Jörgen Sandström in his early years with Grave, Johan Hegg (Amon Amarth) and indeed John Tardy from Obituary. But I can’t say that their sound is an inspiration for me. I will never sound like them and I don’t want to, because you cannot copy a sound. As a death metal vocalist I don’t think you can teach yourself to growl in a particular way. You just have your own voice and the only thing you can do is practice to make it sound better, higher and lower. Bram is a very steady guitar player, and he gives me more confidence on stage. I have to focus on both my guitar and my vocals at the same time, and the knowledge of Bram backing me up is enough to give a good performance.
RM: What can you tell us about the video shoot for “Unbroken”? What’s your take on the whole video-making process? Do you see it as something that’s necessary in an increasingly visual world, or as something that takes away from the raw sound of a band performing live with all of the performance elements present?
TW: Well, “Unbroken” is a song about perseverance in a war situation. You can look at the ‘war’ part metaphorically, if you like. As you can hear the song is about swords, shields and spears, but the guy in the video is a WWII soldier. The place where we live is soaking in history of the war: the video was shot between a nazi concentration camp, and a sovjet field of honor. These days it’s really important for a band to have an interesting video online. Not only for fans, but also for promotors and bookers. Audio alone won’t do the trick anymore. On the other hand I see a lot of bands who record a video clip in their crappy rehearsal room and release it with crappy editing. That won’t do any good to the song. We all have a certain budget and sometimes making a music video can be pretty expansive but if you do it, you have to do it as good as possible right away. I also think that you should be yourself in a video clip. No weird costumes or other crap, because you won’t be able to do that on stage. Keep it real.
RM: As a guitarist, what is the most important thing that you feel you can do in order to separate Bodyfarm from the thousand of metal bands throughout Europe as well as all over the rest of the world? What’s your setup like? Do you tend to favor old school cabinets like Marshalls; or do you go for a lot of pedals and try to seek out many different forms of distortion and overdrive?
TW: The quest to the best possible guitar sound is allways a long one. I have found mine in Jackson USA built guitars, a Peavey 6505 amp and an ENGL V60 cabinet. No effects beside a noise gate and a wireless system. I really hate effectpedals, because I like my sound as pure as possible. The same goes for Bram. Most new ‘old school death metal’ bands use the classic Boss HM-2 pedals. You know? The buzzsaw sound from all the Swedish death metal bands. They even try to recreate an old school production but this turns out into an audio disaster most of the time. We on the other hand, like a massive but clear production. We don’t live in 1989 anymore, so we like to use modern equipment to sound as good and brutal as possible. The best way to separate yourself from the masses is to do what you like, and not being a copycat. Listen to more genres in metal, you might get inspiration from it.
RM: What does the future hold for death metal? Do you think that there will eventually become a time where the genre is radio-accessible due to the severe nature of the grind that is everyday life? And do you think that something like that matters to fans or should they not concern themselves with whether or not their favorite death metal artists receive airplay?
TW: No, death metal will never be mainstream. Death metal lyrics are mostly about symptoms and nature of mankind; gore, war, hate and religion. The mainstream refuses to see those things, and rather see some skank riding a wrecking ball. The mainstream doesn’t care about real music like blues, hard rock, heavy- thrash- and death metal and I hope they never will. Real fans will buy a band’s album and merch, and I think they don’t want death metal to become mainstream either.
RM: What do you think is the biggest misconception North American metal fans have about European bands who play heavy music? Why do you think that stereotype has continued over the course of time?
TW: I wouldn’t have the slightest clue how metal fans from the USA feel about death metal from Europe. Europe has many countries and cultures. Even the differences between The Netherlands and Belgium are huge, and we are neighbours. Every band is different, and countries are not the same. I hope there won’t be misconceptions about that, haha!
RM: What’s up next for Bodyfarm in 2014? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
TW: We are confirmed for multiple big festivals, but most of them we can’t reveal yet. One of those festivals is Stonehenge Festival in our own country, with Possessed, Obituary, Immolation, Sinister and Impaled Nazarene. We will also be touring trough Europe this year, but I can’t reveal anything about that yet. Needless to say, we have started writing for the next album already.
Official Artist Page at Metal Blade Records: http://www.metalblade.com/us/artists/bodyfarm/
Bodyfarm on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Bodyfarmdeathmetal
Once again thanks for visiting First Order Historians and enjoying more of the internet’s finest in user generated content.