Phil Bozeman, Whitechapel's front man on the new album and his Diablo 3 addiction

Put the controller down, Phil...

Whitechapel’s vocalist Phil Bozeman is in lock-down. He’s in self-imposed exile and it’s all because of Diablo 3 and Modern Warfare 3. Video-games – the silent killer. As he admits playing video-games “...is pretty much all I do if I’m not doing music.” – And why the fuck wouldn’t you?

So why did Whitechapel wait until their fourth album before releasing a self titled? Put simply: “We kind of thought that this was the best representation of our band and just wanted our name to be the title of the album. That was pretty much it; there was no concept behind it.” Phil sees it as their best album so far, adding that “We’re hoping everyone else sees it the same way.”

So have you ever been to Whitechapel, in East London? “No, I haven’t but I think a couple of the guys went there when we were there, I think two years ago?” I advise him not to bother; I lived there for a number of years; it was a shithole. He suspects this may be true “I gather from a lot of people in England that it’s kind of a shit-hole. That’s what people have said.”  

So having three guitarists, is composing a democratic process or does it just degenerate into huge fist-fights? Apparently not; “Our guitar player Ben (Savage), he usually works that out and paths everything out because he does the majority of the writing so he paths everything out and the parts everyone gets to play so it’s pretty much settled with him so it makes it a lot easier and it works out a lot faster.”

Is it more difficult to play live with three guitarists? “No, though at the very beginning it was kind of muddy and sounded kind of shitty but we’ve matured and have played together so long that we’ve gotten better at it; we’re stronger with three guitar players because we have three guitar players that can write material and it’s not as much of a struggle as it used to be. We still deal with certain hardships, say like on small stages and stuff like that but for the most part, I think it works out.”

How have the lyrics evolved from A New Era of Corruption (2010)? “I feel this one’s more straight to the point; the secret behind the lyrics; usually they’re a little more...I wouldn’t say ‘artsy’ but I would say they’re a little bit harder to figure out whereas these ones are a little more straight forward.”

I can’t believe I actually asked the following question; I should have reworded it but it just fell out of my big, stupid mouth: Are you a dark bastard or just good at writing dark lyrics? Phil doesn’t take offence, which is a relief: “I think everyone has a dark side but I’ve just experimented over the past ten years of my life; I guess it’s become like second nature to me.”

Would it be fair to say that you pushed yourself a bit further and delivered a wider range of vocals on Whitechapel?  “Yeah, I tried to do more high range vocals on it because a lot of people know me as a lower and mid-range vocalist. I tried to do more higher pitched screams on it and it sounds more aggressive too whenever I do those. I feel I just wanted something different on it to show I’m not just a lower, mid-range vocalist.”

Drummer Ben Harclerode has been with you guys for about a year and a half now; how’s he fitting in and contributing to the song writing process? Phil is both enthused and impressed: “Oh yeah, the possibilities with him are endless. It just makes it that much more easy to write and we don’t have to hold back anything because we know he’s gonna nail it no matter what so he’s just brought in a whole new level and a whole new element to the band and it’s really helped us out a lot. Any sort of musical style, he can play and that makes the writing for us more diverse and more dynamic.”

The album was produced by Mark Lewis (Chimaira, Trivium, DevilDriver, The Black Dahlia Murder), how was it working with him? Again, Phil is impressed with the partnership. “He had a lot of great ideas and he was really smooth. There are always gonna be times when things get kind of rough but even the rough times were easy. He’s one of those producers where if he did every CD from here on out, I wouldn’t care – he’s that good to work with and he nailed the album, everything sounds great. It’s kind of a no-brainer to go with him and he’s really fun to work with; we went out and hung out and he’s just really easy going and just a blast to work with.”

Phil tells me the drums were recorded at Audio Hammer Studio, Florida but the rest of the album was actually recorded at Alex Wade’s house.

And what are your favourite tracks on album? “I would say (Cult)uralist, the last song Possibilities (of an Impossible Existence); Faces is another really good one and The Night Remains; they’re the four tracks that stand out for me the most.” So you’re looking forward to cranking them out in a live setting ? “We’re really excited to play these songs live, not only because it’s new material but they’re a lot of fun to play.”

Whitechapel are part of the bill for the Rockstar Mayhem Festival along with Slipknot, Anthrax, Slayer and the recently added Motorhead. It’s a huge stadium tour around the US and Canada, plus Whitechapel will also be playing a shitload of side-shows. It kicks off towards the end of June; are you keen to see anyone in particular? “Definitely Motorhead and Slipknot – I’ve never seen that band [Slipknot] live and they have one of the most intense live shows out there so it’s really gonna be something to tour with them.”

And what about your next tour for Australia “I think some time next year, whenever summer kicks back in, around January or so. I think that’s when we’re supposed to be coming down there.”

So do you still enjoy touring? “It’s fun, man. This is what we’ve dedicated our lives to; it’s hard just like anything else but for the most part it’s our job and we love our job, it’s just part of it, you know?” Phil’s just grateful to be able to do what he loves; as he points out “I never would have been to the countries I’ve been to if it wasn’t for this; it’s definitely ticked a lot of goals and aspirations that I’ve wanted to do on my list. I never would have made it out to Australia or Europe so it’s definitely a privilege and we’re very thankful for what we’ve been able to do.”

You’re originally from Tennessee and you’re still living there so it must be rather pleasant, what’s it like? “We’ve got a lot of mountains and stuff like that. We live in a really big valley. It’s really just nice and green.” Nice and green, just the way we like it...

And finally, seeing as you’re a video-games addict, what’s your verdict on Diablo 3? “I love it. I played Diablo 2 for the longest time and I pretty much wasted a whole summer playing that game; I never went out anywhere, I just sat at home and played it the whole time – it’s just so addictive, it’s ridiculous...it’s pretty much all I do”

Video-games.  Surely a drug by any other name. Thanks for tearing yourself away from that controller, Phil.

Whitechapel’s fourth album Whitechapel. Available 19th June 2012.