An enigma and personality as much as he is a black metal musician, Scott “Malefic” Conner of Xasthur, returned this summer with a new record Inevitably Dark. Part reluctant love letter to a genre he can’t seem to escape despite all the baggage that goes with it, and part self-exploration of an inevitably aging metalhead, Inevitably Dark is, just as the name replies, a return to the sound that has defined Xasthur, for better or for worse. We spoke with him about this inevitable progression towards his latest work and the process behind the music.
Let’s start by talking a little bit about the new record. I know you’re back to having a lot more black metal influence after swearing it off for a bit—can you talk about how that came to be?
I think there is that influence for sure, but I also think this record can be recommended because—I hate to use the word “genre,” but it has, like, maybe eight different genres on it, blues, heavy rock, whatever. I can’t really think of another record like that, and I think most people are afraid to do something like that. But you definitely can’t say all the songs are the same—To me, that’s the biggest thing that recommends it.
Can you talk about what informed this slightly heavier, more black metal record as well as what inspired you to pull in so many influences?
I don’t really pay attention to influences because I don’t want to mold myself after what someone else is doing. You can get inspiration from something, but I don’t want to be influenced by it. I just want to completely do my own thing. I’ve been that way for years, and it’s become that way more and more as the years go by. When I started, I didn’t even start out trying to make songs; it just kind of happened. The funny thing, before this record, I bought a BC Rich, and I just started coming up with black metal and death metal riffs, so I decided to make a few songs from what I was writing.
That makes sense, just kind of playing what came to you instead of worrying so much about, “Oh, does it fit this genre? Is everything on the record fitting in with this sound?”
Exactly, and the new guitar got old again, just like the old music got old again, eventually, and now I’m back to doing my own thing.
What was the writing and recording process throughout the album? When did everything come about, and what was the process like of getting it all together?
For the past few years or so with this particular record, I’ve had this plan in my head for what I’m gonna write. I wanted to make sure that everything was up to my standards. I wanted to make sure everything was fast enough, technically enough, weird enough. I wanted the songs to sound dark and unusual enough to fit in on the record.
What were some of the big conceptual ideas you were trying to tie in with that darker sound?
Well actually the lyrics are there, but the vocals are not because they would have to be sung, and I don’t have a singer. So maybe someday they will be added, but the lyrics are there anyway. I do want to say about the lyrics, I never name names, and I want to say “names” plural. For people who are a little confused and take shit personally, the lyrics are just about people. Like really fucked up people, people who are fucking crazy but call me crazy.
Sometimes people will say, “You’ve got some black metal songs on the record; how come there’s no singing, no black metal screaming?” It’s because I don’t have any meaningless black metal lyrics to scream. I didn’t write “Freezing Moon”-type black metal lyrics to just sing in a black metal voice, you know what I mean? So that’s a point that I’ve been trying to get out there, and I think Decibel is probably a good place to finally make that point.
So, the lyrics, even though they aren’t physically being sung on the record, are there, and are about something deeper?
Yes, they’re a lot more about what I’ve seen and dealt with, some personal stuff. Things that I know for a fact are real. I didn’t, and I can’t, make this shit up. It’s fucking insane, but I can’t make it up; I’ve really seen that shit. People are like, “Where the hell did you come up with this? It’s too crazy to be real!” Well, it’s too crazy to be made up or fake, too. It’s also a good way to get things out of my system. It’s kind of like a mirror; it goes in a lot of different directions where I question myself and question what I’ve seen. So it’s very mirror-oriented. It’s not really a projection thing, but it is a way of getting things out of my system.
Order Inevitably Dark from Lupus Lounge here.
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