Psychomancer on death metal, fireworks & the importance of a good insurance policy...

Suggestions on the meaning of corn hole are most welcome...

After several false starts (and a scheduled Skype interview that went belly up), I eventually opted for an email interview with Psychomancer’s bassist/front man Duston Ballard. Hailing from Indiana in the good ol’ U.S of A, Psychomancer have undergone several incarnations while banging out their infectious blend of old school death metal. They have a new EP out entitled Inject The Worms. You should give it a go if you like your death metal rolled in the dirt and soaked in beer.

So Duston, what did you get up to for your 4th of July celebrations? Duston’s response is suitably deviant.  “Well, we drank copious amounts of beer and proceeded to blow shit up - including my new neighbours! Let me explain my new neighbours; they’re a young yuppie couple. They play beer pong and we smash beers one after another out the bottles. They play corn hole [I have no idea what this is - Al] and we throw knives at a log we have set up – and they look at us like we are just these animalistic barbarians (which we are), so anyway as the night proceeded I had these big rockets and one of our friends lit one and just threw it down on the ground and it took off - right in their direction and they all dove out of their seats and hit the dirt! Luckily it didn’t go off ‘cause I would be in the process of being sued right now…They were good sports about it - all in good fun! So yeah we had a good time.” That’s a proper bestial metal answer, right there…

And where are you right now? “Right now I’m at home, drinking a beer and doing this interview.” Just to clarify; Duston dwells in Michigan City, Indiana.  So what’s the metal/alternative scene like in Indiana? Any bands you’d recommend? “Well, you got us (Psychomancer), Yellowtooth, Pitchfork, and Necrodemon… that is about it… Not a whole lot going on around here, everyone is in Chicago".

What are you doing promo-wise? any tour plans? Any recent gigs? “Tour plans; well, of course we want to. Givien it be financially affordable! But we have some spread out gigs in the Chicago-land area lined up for now and we have been writing for the next album.  So we want to leave some time for that and hope to be recording by next year. We have some really good stuff in the making right now. The next album is going to absolutely crush, so we have been mainly focusing on that.”

And what do you love about gigging? Is Psychomancer well-behaved? “We try to be as professional as possible, and have a lot of fun.  We meet a lot of cool people and bands so when we go out we make a lot of friends and we enjoy sitting and watching the other bands and hanging out and having a great time. So I guess I can say we don’t act like idiots. There are times in the past that we have had some drunken moments of stupidity but these day it is a bit more relaxed.”

If we can touch on the new EP, Inject The Worms, for a moment - how would you say the band has evolved since the Amidst The Smell Of Rotting Corpses demo, or the Psychomancer EP in 2000? “Well, of course this name (Psychomancer) has a long history and with the history there have been many line-up changes; I am the only original founding member left and I only used to do the back-up vocals but our original singer stepped out so I said “Fuck it - I will take on the vocal duty from now on”. So with that and with new members come a whole new spectrum of influences and sound, myself having evolved as a musician and some of what you have here on this album are some old riff ideas I had a long time ago and didn’t get a chance to incorporate them - take Abhorrent Wings Of Decay for example; the bass break in the middle, I wrote that about 12 years ago sitting in my living room playing around. I always had that piece on the back burner waiting to find a spot for it to fit, same with the bass intro to Inject The Worms but as far as the overall sound that we have now compared to the past stuff, it’s more diverse and deep", In a recent interview.” Duston mentions how the band’s current sound has been labelled ‘more mature’ in comparison to earlier releases. He adds that “I can say that I really love the direction that it is going as far as overall sound especially in the new writing that we are currently working on now.”

So is the current line-up solid? “So far, yes!”

And what are some of your favourite tracks from Inject The Worms (and why)? “Just Another Victim; it’s very energetic and seems to get the mood right. Inject the Worms; it starts out kind of slow and progresses into a monster [this is very true], Abhorrent Wings Of Decay; that one is more of an  instrumental than anything else - it kind of goes up and down and is a melodic heavy song, a lot of people like that one. And then we have Chant Of The War Demons, which is simply a beast of a song that gets people head banging and moving. It’s a good closer for live gigs".

And what is it about the traditional death metal sound that you love so much?” I’m very much inspired by the Norwegian/Swedish death and black metal  - that what I primarily listen to most of the time. I love Death, Deicide, Obituary, and Suffocation; those are my four American favourites. I like stuff that has good structure and isn’t just a bunch of technical noise so that’s what I like about a lot of traditional death metal; it has structure. I do listen to a lot of different stuff though - classic stuff - even good folk music which I grew up around, as well as classic rock to metal. That’s why I like more of the well-structured death metal ‘cause I know that is where they came from as well.”

What are you listening to right now? “Right now I have Arcturus, High On Fire, Hate, Borknagar, Pentagram and Bloodbath on shuffle.” And who would you like to collaborate with? “ICS Vortex, Matt Pike, and Nicholas Barker – ‘cause it would be awesome!”

Just two more questions; why do you need a minion (also known as Jordan/Gordy)? “HAHAHA! Yes; Mister Gordy – well, his name is Jordan – he’s a good friend of ours. Super cool, funny dude - we always made him do all the heavy lifting. So it just kind of came about that we called him (or some of our other friends) minions. We send them out to get stuff and pick on ‘em – it’s all in good fun, of course.”

And I hear that you got a bunch of gear stolen in 2006 – did you ever get any of it back? “No, we did not - but home-owners insurance is a beautiful thing so we got a lot of brand new stuff for practically free.  So I kind of thank the fuck-tards that ripped us off for the new gear - the only thing we were sick about was one of the guitars was autographed by all the members of Hellborn. Other than that most of it was junk; I would have given the piece of shit bass that I got for like 175 bucks at a pawn shop to the fucker if he asked for it…”

So there you have it; Duston from Psychomancer, offering you wise words on the benefits of comprehensive insurance policies – and providing you with a nice slice of banging death mental care of Inject The Worms. Out now.