BLEEDING THROUGH’S BRANDAN SCHIEPPATI: THE GREEN EGGS AND SLAM INTERVIEW
If you are reading MetalSucks, I assume that you hate Bleeding Through. They don’t have beards, don’t sound like Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, or Cynic, but they do have short hair and breakdowns — in short, the formula for MS reader-repellent as far as I can tell. But even if you’re a butthurt internet metal dork, I hope you are at least smart enough to give them the credit they deserve. After serving time as a founding member of the equally-awesome and underrated 18 Visions (read my definitive history of 18 Visions on Stuff You Will Hate for more info), Brandan quit to do Bleeding Through full time — a decision that at the time we thought was ridiculous, but proved to be very smart. As one of the first groups to play what we now call “deathcore,” they’re also one of the very few bands from that era who’s not only still around but still relevant.
BT singer Brandan Schieppati is a busy man, getting ready for an upcoming tour as well as the launch of his Huntington Beach-based fitness company Rise Above Fitness, but he was kind enough to answer a few questions for me. I’m sure it sounds geeky, but I’ve been a big fan of BT since 2000 or so, so I was really stoked to do this interview — thanks to BT alumni Javier for setting it up!
Your newest album came out a bit ago — from what I’ve heard it sounds a little bit more Slayer/thrash-inspired than your last one. Can you tell us a little bit about it, and how you ended up on Rise Records?
Well, our new record is a little bit more thrash/black metal inspired. I think through the band’s exsistance we have always had a very strong thrash/black metal influence, ’cause we all grew up loving fast intense music, and we really wanted the new record to push those influences. I think after all these years, BT is known for playing fast, intense music, so I guess we are just doing what we do. In short, personally I really get annoyed with a lot of newer band that just play the same fucking breakdown.
You’re one of the few metalcore bands who’s not only been around for 10+ years, but stayed relevant — I see kids in Bleeding Through shirts at shows all the time. How have things changed for you since you started, in terms of the industry, yourselves as people, or both?
I think that biggest thing that changed is how much of a capitalist industry the hardcore/metal scene has become. I’ll be the first to say that when you are on top it’s pretty great, because you can support your family off of playing music that isn’t mainstream, which 99% of bands can’t do. Through the last ten years, the only reason we have lasted and stayed relevant is because from day one we have only cared about playing shows and sharing our music with people. Making money was a bi-product of hard work and focus. Personally, I hate the way things have become — it’s just a huge dick measuring contest between 10,000,000 bands. I want no part in that.
Most bands put out one good album then suck shit, but to me Bleeding Through gets better with every album — I think you really found your voice on The Truth and keep perfecting that style. In your eyes, how has the band progressed over the years? What do you think of your earlier material when you listen to it now?
I think that easiest way to explain it is we never really listen to what other bands are doing, which I think a lot of bands do. When we write a record, we listen to older BT and see how we can make it better. Our earlier material was raw but still intense, with age we just learned how to expand and mature our music.
Back in 1999 or whatever, almost nobody in the hardcore scene had keyboards, mixed blast beats with breakdowns, had a rock/metal-inspired stage presence, or a lot of the other things that Bleeding Through did. As one of the people who pioneered the style, how do you feel when you see literally hundreds of bands today doing a style that you had a pretty big hand in creating? Do younger bands give you the props you deserve?
Well, imitation is the highest form of flattery. We set out to do something different and didn’t know if people would even like us, we were just hungry for something more. Being a pioneer of something is very fullfilling for us. I think there are certain bands that take our influence too far, but you’ve just got to smile about it. We know we are old now because every new band that we tour with gives us props even though we would think they hate us. It’s a very cool thing.
As I recall, the reactions to Bleeding Through were pretty mixed at first — I think it went over most people’s heads because they’d never seen anything like it and they just didn’t know how to process it. I’m sure you’ve said this a million times, but what was your initial inspiration on the band’s direction? What made you leave 18 Visions and do BT full-time?
We just wanted to make people talk. From Being in 18V I learned that you’ve got to make people react, even if it is in a bad way. You just gotta carve your own path. BT was supported locally, but not very much everywhere else. That just made our drive stronger. Nothing comes easy in life, you just have to believe in what you are doing and be true to yourself. I left 18V because I had an emotional connection to BT. The lyrics where therapy for me and I didnt have that feeling with 18V. I never wanted to be a singer though.
In some ways, you’re kind of in the awkward place where neither hardcore nor metal purists like your band: your hair’s too short for the metal dorks, and you have keyboards which makes you lame in the eyes of 19 year-old mosher kids. I sort of feel like metalcore is one of those styles that “critics” or whatever hate, but kids love. How do you deal with the haters, or do you even think about it anymore?
Hahaha — we have always been the enemy to purists and it makes me laugh. I really don’t give a fuck about what people say about us. Most people have never had the opportunity to do something they love for this long. Fighting for your band is just part of it.
18 Visions “The Psychotic Thought That Satan Gave Jesus,” featuring a 20 year-old Brandan
The nearly-unknown NEW BLOOD, vintage 90s Reno sxe mosh!
Excessive Force– “You said you’d always be true, but you’re a weak motherfucker and you never had it in you- proud to be, proud to be STRAIGHTEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEDGE!!!!” You’re fucking moshing!!!!!! If this song doesn’t make you want to punch someone in the face, we’re not friends!
Fall Silent’s 1996 album “No Strength To Suffer” is almost completely unknown these days, which is tragic– they were repping Malevolent Creation and Solstice (see the liner notes to this album where they thank “all Alex Marquez bands for inspiration”) a full decade before it was cool for hardcore bands to be into death metal
I grew up on the West Coast around the same time you did, and I lived and breathed hardcore. 18 Visions, Excessive Force, Throwdown, Fall Silent, Gehenna, etc., fucking tore it up, but I feel like they never really got the recognition they deserved nationally. Looking back, what are your thoughts on that scene?
I loved the scene back then. It was scary and honest. I just don’t think the industry was the same and could support those bands — now there are managers, lawyers, A&R, radio, and mass marketing. It was just a different time back then. Night and day.
One of the things that I really appreciate about Bleeding Through is that you guys have a sense of humility and work ethic that you don’t necessarily find in every band. You came up in a pre-MySpace era, do you think cutting your teeth in the DIY world has anything to do with that?
Absolutely man. Most bands don’t know about pay phones or driving around lost for five hours ’cause you dont have a Tom Tom or iPhone. That made us who we are and the struggle was fun — it was an adventure back then. It was fun breaking down in your 200 dollar van in Kentucky because you were out in the world with no guarantees of success, and it was a rush.
Finally, if Javier Van Huss is the Paul McCartney of CHAINREACTIONCORE, and Keith Barney is the John Lennon, where do you fit into the CHAINREACTIONCORE lineup??
The Henry Rollins.