“I WAS WORRIED I MIGHT RIP MY F*CKING ASS TAINT”: METALSUCKS INTERVIEWS DEICIDE’S GLEN BENTON FOR EASTER
Something I can now add to the “Didn’t Think I Would Ever Do That” list: calling Deicide frontman Glen Benton’s cell phone and reaching his voice mail. It’s a curt but somewhat friendly message, and I’m about to leave my number and scream “Pick up the phone, Jehovah you whore!” when the other line rings. It’s Mr. Trifixion, the guy that’s been pissing off parents and churches since he was barely out of high school. You might have to wait for a pew in a megachurch, but Satan returns calls fast.
There’s a good number of people reading this who’ve developed an opinion on Glen Benton whether or not they’ve ever met or talked to him: he’s over the hill; he cancels tours and disappoints fans; his last records with the Hoffman brothers were disasters (this is true); his decision to brand an upside cross on his forehead makes the worst drunken tattoo look like art. Oh, yeah, he also shot a squirrel once during an interview (also true). You rarely hear the good stuff: he’s one of the most important figures in death metal history; he faced violent threats from censors and animal rights extremists throughout the 90s; and his discography includes classics like Deicide’s debut and Legion. He resurrected his career in 2006 with the surprisingly melodic The Stench Of Redemption, after everyone assumed Deicide had flatlined; on ensuing albums, he aired his dirty laundry with extremely personal songs.
He’s also fucking hilarious. I’m told in advance that this might be a short call because Benton has been sick, but he answers every question and tells many jokes during nearly an hour-long chat. Nothing was off limits. Glen might seem like a complicated person – and in many respects, he is – but he’s about as old-fashioned as they come. He likes to hang with the family, ride motorcycles, fish and votes for people who wouldn’t hesitate to shut down a Deicide concert. He also loves to talk smack – anything is on the table – and there’s nothing as American as talking shit. Say what you want about Benton, but he doesn’t dodge a single question, doesn’t apologize, and still loves playing metal. In some ways, he’s become the crazy old uncle of the scene, the guy in the van down by the river. Join us for a MetalSucks chat about intestinal distress, UFOs, and the end of Deicide’s melodic period. Just remember: he doesn’t care what you think.
You’re off the road now, right? Are you still enjoying touring at this stage?
I had a blast. I didn’t want it to end and it wouldn’t have, except that I got food poisoning in Dallas. I really fucked myself up. I would have done another ten or fifteen shows because I’m loving it that much. Before I got sick we were doing twenty-one or twenty-two songs a night.
Me, [drummer] Steve (Asheim), and [guitarist] Kevin [Quirion] were at a Waffle House. Steve and I love it, but Kevin doesn’t enjoy it as much. We’ve been out on the road for three weeks, so we’d been eating Waffle House for three weeks. So we go and I get my favorite — three pork chops and some eggs, right? And the fucking guy throws two pork chops on the grill, but the meal is three pork chops. After he almost completely cooks these two pork chops, he throws a raw pork chop into the mix. Well, obviously, you know what can happen when you mix raw and cooked food. About six hours later, I’m in a sushi restaurant a few blocks down from the club, and I’m spraying yellow water and puke out of both holes at the same time. I sprayed the whole bathroom of this place.
The dreaded double fire hydrant?
Oh yeah. I’m down at the venue and I’m trying to clear myself out, puking and shitting in the bathroom, and trying to clean myself up enough so I won’t make an ass of myself on stage. I don’t want a YouTube video out there showing this for thirty years. So, I get up there and I can’t remember how many songs I did, but it was about three-quarters of a set. And I was worried I might pass out or rip my fucking ass taint. I went to Austin and juiced myself up with some five-hour energy drinks but was still dry heaving from the night before. I pulled all the muscles in my chest and tore my diaphragm.
Did you finish the tour?
I couldn’t do New Orleans. I can’t believe I’m even talking to you now. By the time we were an hour outside of New Orleans, I couldn’t even breathe, and said I need to get home and go to a doctor.
Did you go to a hospital?
A walk-in clinic. I think I lost fifty pounds. [A few months ago] I stopped eating carbohydrates. I started this back in October. I’ve been on high blood pressure medicine for a few years and because of the weight loss my doctor wanted me off of it. I’ve been getting my exercise chasing after my ten-year-old, cleaning my house, mowing my yard, doing my chores. I don’t need to pump weights to get my exercise. I’m constantly moving.
I told the promoter in New Orleans that I was completely committed to rescheduling their show for September or October when we do a secondary tour. I plan on fulfilling my obligations to the people in New Orleans. If anyone is upset, relax, people get sick. And if you can’t get over that, go fuck yourself.
Deicide has had a creative renaissance ever since The Stench of Redemption. What’s given you a second wind? The two albums before To Hell With God were basically about anger toward ex-bandmates and ex-wives. What keeps you going now?
If I didn’t love what I do, I wouldn’t do it. I love this. As far as creating, I think the best songs are life experience songs. It’s like in country western. The dog died, my wife ran away, the truck won’t start. That makes the best songs, life experience. My best work was done when my heart was lying in the toilet.
Were people surprised you took your music in a personal direction?
Well, I think Till Death was our least liked album. But it was like therapy for me. It was our last album for Earache, so put two and two together on that one. My last record for another label [2001’s In Torment in Hell for Roadrunner] wasn’t my best either; put two and two together on that one. I save my best stuff for the people who appreciate my work. The Stones did it; a lot of people did it. When it’s time to complete your obligation and the relationship has soured, some people create shit. Some people don’t understand that, but people in the business do.
I liked Till Death Do Us Part.
I think it’s a great record. If you’ve ever been through a divorce or fucked over or screwed over by a person, that record applies to you. It’s about anyone that’s ever hurt you. That’s my revenge record, standing my ground and letting you know that I’m not going away.
What was up with all the retirement talk when that record came out?
It was bullshit stuff that was just blowing up. I was heavily involved in the custody battle for my son. I put it out there that if I have to retire to maintain custody of my son that’s what I’m willing to do. And if you can’t understand that as a human being, that a father’s love for his son is more powerful than anything, I don’t know what to tell you except you don’t have a heart. It was me putting that out there: if I have to, I’m done.
But I don’t have to. Why? Because the courts and lawyers understand that I have to work and they understand what I do in a way is a service. I take care of my bills and responsibilities with this. So you can’t deny me an income. It would like be telling Stephen King you can’t write novels anymore, telling Anne Rice you’re a bad parent because you write books about vampires. You can’t do that in this world. We don’t live in Stone Age anymore.
I remember a story from the early 90s about how you were visited by child protective services.
I was having a dispute with my neighbor. They kept calling the cops because we practiced in the garage. The last straw they had was calling child protective services. When they came over to the house we were on break and my son was sleeping in his crib with a fresh diaper on, the house was completely clean. We were in the garage drinking Gatorade. When [the police] came over and then saw the neighbors just standing there they knew it was unfounded. Those people eventually moved out and I threw a brick through their windshield as they were leaving. It was a beautiful scene. I gave them a little parting gift.
Is our culture more understanding of a person like Glen Benton now, or do we have more right wing lunatics that ever, some of them running for president?
The people we have running for president are nothing more than talk shows hosts. It’s a farce, an absolute joke. There’s no one with any sincerity, no one real. I want to see a real person run for president. I want a real person with real person problems running for president. Some rich guy with rich guy problems, they think us schmucks at the bottom don’t mean shit.
What about a guy like Rick Santorum, who has some of the same views as your old foe Bob Larson?
He has as much of a chance of winning as I do [laughs]. Y’know? I can tell you the Democrats are rallying behind Obama and the Republicans are struggling but will rally around Romney. I hate to say it, but get ready for four more years of Obama.
Would you vote Republican?
I voted for Reagan and I voted for Bush.
Did you vote for Bush II?
Once. I voted for Gore the first time. I was one of the lost Florida votes for Gore [laughs]. I also voted for Obama because I wanted to see change in the country. I travel around the world and don’t need to hear fucked up opinions about us. But they are opinions about the guy running the country. We need to bring all our kids home, get the hell out of all these other countries and focus on making this the best country in the world. Why can’t we do that? We’re falling apart fast. I’m a child of the 70s and I was lucky I was able to taste that innocence.
What about someone like Dave Mustaine who became a Christian and supports Santorum?
He’s a prolapsed rectum. One minute you’re in, the next you’re out. Let’s just say prolapsed rectum.
Do you ever think of calling back into Bob Larson’s show?
Is he still alive?
He’s still on the air.
Not really. We all know about Bob. Bob knows we know. And then Bob gets asked questions he can’t answer anymore.
Are things with family now good?
Yup. I have my son and I have a wonderful woman in my life that enjoys helping me raise him. For the first time in my life I’m ready for any battle sent my way. I tell people I’ve had something and lost something, had something and lost something. I don’t give a shit. You can’t kill me; I’m already dead. I’m a prehistoric cockroach! You might stomp on one of my legs but I will crawl under the shed, come out in a few days and bite your nuts. I’m the Madagascar cockroach, the hissing and pissing ones, the one that pukes and pisses out of its ass.
How did you meet the new person in your life?
We met several years ago as I was leaving a venue. A few years ago we reconnected when I was in Miami. We ran into each other.
Is it strange for people, say a potential romantic partner, to have this image of Glen Benton versus the person they end up meeting?
Listen, man, anyone can testify that I’m worse. You think I get a handful in the public eye, you should see me behind closed doors. But I’m just kidding. I’m a big kid with a big ugly beard and big cross on his forehead. I enjoy laughing more than anything else and I like having fun. I like potty talk time. My significant other can handle me; she has the education for it. I’m special needs [laughs].
Has being in a good place personally been good for you musically?
Now that Kevin is in the band, we’re writing and have already grossed a few albums of material. We just need to rehearse it. I’m not a guy that likes to put out a record every eight months because you lose your integrity, your lose inspiration, you lose all of that. I’m old school kid. As kids we’d wait years for a record to come out. And when it came out you were psyched for it. But now people are mechanically shitting out these records. I’d rather have a record with ten songs on it, nine of them awesome, then five records in five years but only five good songs. I also like my albums to reflect where I am.
Personal issues with [former lead guitarist] Ralph [Santolla] aside, what’s it like to have Kevin as an integral part of the band?
We’re tight, machine tight with Kevin. As a lead player he’s quadrupled his ability. If you give someone an ability to shine they will and he’s shining. I will tell you on the next record we’re moving away from the whole melodic thing and going back to the attack.
Something like Legion?
Yes. We’re totally getting away from the melodic thing. It’s done. To Hell With God is the last of it. When I said To Hell With God I really meant to hell with Ralph [laughs].
I think Jack [Owen]’s playing with Deicide is incredible, and he’s very underrated.
Let me tell you something about Jack. When the call came for help, the first person that was in was Jack Owen. I’ll never forget that, because he saved my ass. He learned our set in twenty-four hours and showed up to practice and played it better than those other two morons. I have a lot of respect for him. The guy is like a Wurlitzer jukebox. Name a song and he can play it. He’s an encyclopedia. Underrated? Yeah. He blows away almost anyone. Don’t let his country corn charm fool you.
When he was still with Cannibal Corpse, I heard him sound check once to “Sweet Home Alabama.”
[laughs] Yeah, he’s a good old boy at heart. But that’s what we are, a Southern band.
Do people constantly ask for the old stuff, or is there an attachment to the melodic stuff from the past six years?
It’s a mixed bag of tricks. You have the fans who want the older stuff and the kids who want the newer stuff. It’s great, but it allows me to retire some stuff I’ve been paying for years. It’s hard to ditch some songs people consider classics. If it were up to me, I’d play all new stuff.
It would be hard to ditch “Dead By Dawn.”
I know [laughs]. But every time we tour we throw something different in there.
Have you been to Latin America recently? Deicide’s fan base there is huge.
We’re setting up something now. We have an offer for Colombia and I think we’re going to take it.
Is that one of the few times you feel like a Beatle?
[laughs] Yeah, especially when the little Peruvian ladies with the Frank Sinatra hats are all waiting at the airport for me. The greatest thing about South America is that they are so forgiving. They understand people have lives. If something happens and I don’t make it down there they aren’t mad; they are glad to see me when I do come. Because they know what life is all about. They know life isn’t perfect, and neither are people.
Whereas if you missed a show in the United States…
I have the New Orleans promoter calling me saying everyone in New Orleans and Louisiana hates me now and I’m not welcome back. And I say I gave you advanced warning but it wasn’t good enough. But I think he’s getting over it and we’ll work it out. I mean, I perforated myself.
Are you still having fun?
Absolutely. At any moment my life could be over. I’m not going to spend every waking moment worrying.
If you ever go back and watch YouTube videos of yourself from the early 90s – I think your entire life is online – what do you think of the kid in those videos?
I think, “I can’t believe you got married.” I was a kid having kids. That’s what I think. But it’s all good. My hairline might be receding, but I think I’m in better shape now than I was twenty years ago.
Do you get recognized outside of a metal audience or can you do your own thing?
I’m one of those people that until you get a glimpse you don’t recognize me. But I do get recognized. When I’m on my Harley people might pull up. Some people who see me are at a loss for words, like in the supermarket. Is this guy going to beat me to death with a head of lettuce? I have a few fans at the local supermarket so I’m actually treated well.
What about all the Internet haters?
They’re a bunch of thirteen-year-old kids with smartphones that have nothing better to do than to go around hurting people’s feelings. I think they are the cancer of society that’s eating away at the goodness of our country and our moral integrity. They are immature and arrogant. When I was growing up, I was told if you have nothing bad to say about something don’t say it at all. If you want to go around saying rotten, horrible things about people you’ve never met then whatever. I can honestly say I don’t read reviews. I don’t read interviews. I don’t read Blabbermouth. I don’t read any of that shit. I watch Fox Channel 13 news, that’s it. If you think you are going to affect me, go fuck yourself. Because the only thing you are doing is making yourself look retarded. I’m not exposed to it and my family isn’t, either.
What about bands that are coming up now that live in this world?
I feel sorry for them. They have more against them then what I had, and anybody can try to be a musician now. I’m an originator and not an imitator.
When you started, you had to worry about predictable enemies, like censors and evangelicals. Now people are attacked by their own community.
It’s part of the business. You have a lot of shit stacked against you. But the world is a different place. A lot of the things that were stacked against us are no longer in the equation, censorship for one. Or, going to play places and getting banned.
Do you want to set the Bigfoot story straight?
[sighs] I will put it straight for you. I remember it like it was yesterday. I never came out and said it was Bigfoot. I don’t know what it was. That’s what I said back then. It was a large gray–brownish animal that leaped across the road. I pulled my vehicle off the road and pulled my .45 out of my glove box. I saw an animal snapping branches and going into the woods.
I called Florida fish and game. At that point I had Bigfoot trackers calling my house. It was put down as an unofficial sighting of what is supposedly the Florida skunk ape. I wasn’t drunk or high or anything close. I don’t know what it was, but there are a lot of things in the woods of Florida that are unexplained. I’ve seen Florida panthers walking through my backyard. I’ve seen alligators eating other alligators. And you have to remember there was someone who lived near me who released all of these wild, exotic animals the state wanted to take. They are still roaming around. Okay? Before you make an ass of yourself and say I’m crazy ,listen to what I say.
A few years ago when I was doing a show in Orlando, I saw what was later identified as a UFO near an Air Force base. Not only did I see it, but the rest of the guys in the bands saw it. It was on television that night. Does that make everyone else an idiot, too? Before you try to make me look like a kook, just know I saw something. But I’m not an anthropologist. It was some kind of crazy animal. I made a mistake of telling people and I’m still talking about it.
What’s worse, being chased by evangelicals or Bigfoot hunters?
I’d rather deal with the Bigfoot people. They’re a lot nicer. And, listen, they don’t think I’m crazy. They tracked it through the woods. I’ve had famous Bigfoot trackers contact me. I had to change my phone number. I don’t care who believes me. It was no big deal. Until you just mentioned it I hadn’t thought of it in ages.
What does retirement look like for you?
I’m thinking about going to the Keys and becoming a professional fisher or catching lobsters. I love the sun, love fishing, and love the water. That’s my route. Something relaxing, something where I don’t have to scream unless the boat is sinking.