skeletonwitch scott hedrickTalking to Skeletonwitch guitarist Scott “Scunty D.” Hedrick was like talking to a long-lost bro. The dude is just so incredibly down to earth, straight-forward and easygoing that I felt like I’d already known him for years despite the fact that we were speaking for the first time. Scott spoke a whole lot about Skeletonwitch’s roll in the metal community, about that community as a whole, and the general “we’re all in this together” attitude of pretty much everyone who’s involved in metal right now. We also chatted about the new Skeletonwitch record Breathing the Fire (October 13), working with producer Jack Endino, being able to tour with so many different types of metal bands, Twitter, and Scott’s fanboy reaction to praise bestowed upon his band by Enslaved.

Our chat, after the jump…

First question to get things started off right: if you could only choose between metal, pussy, alcohol, or weed for the rest of your life, which would you choose?

Oh fuck. [Laughter] That’s really tough. I’d probably go with metal because it’s never let me down.

Pussy, alcohol, and weed have all let you down?

Well, some of them have let me down and some of them have led myself to let myself down. Metal has always been good to me.

skeletonwitch-breathing-the-fireExcellent. Speaking of metal, you guys have a new record on the way. Do you want to tell us a little bit about it?

I’d be happy to. Our new album is called Breathing the Fire, and of course it’s on Prosthetic Records as was the last one. It comes out October 13th. We recorded it in Seattle with Jack Endino who you are probably aware of. He’s an amazing producer. It was really fucking killer working with him. It’s a massive improvement in the quality of sound. It’s definitely in another realm from the other records that we have which were done on a pretty tight budget. The first 2 were released without any support from the label. So it’s really exciting to get it out there.

What’s Jack’s style? Is he a real hands on, get inside the songs kind of producer or is he more of a knob-twiddler/tones kind of guy?

He’s a little bit of both, but I would say he’s more on the side of knob twiddler/tone kind of guy. The cool thing about Jack is that one of the reasons I wanted to work with him from the start, besides all of the [obvious] stuff, [is that all of the other stuff] he’s already done that we’ve heard was killer. We were thinking “would he be good for us?”, considering his organic production and how unsterile his recordings sound — while sounding huge — he’s probably the guy. When we asked him to do it to see if he was interested, the first thing he said was “I don’t care what the budget is, just send me some demos of the new stuff and send me the last record. If I don’t like the music, I’m not working with it. I don’t give a shit. I have the money I need. Don’t try and convince me this way.” I was like “I love this guy” because he really still gives a fuck about the music. If he is going to put his name on it, he cares. That was rad. He works with each band differently. He doesn’t have a certain setup like “let me just put you through the High on Fire ringer and you’ll sound just like Death is This Communion. Oh do you want the Toxic Holocaust set or maybe you like that old Soundgarden record” or whatever. He doesn’t do that. He asks what you want and kind of analyzes the band by listening to the music. He’s willing to get as involved as you want him to or would let him. He’ll offer suggestions.

One of the funniest things, and I think it’s on video somewhere, is when Nate was tracking guitars and there is a part in this song (it might be “The Spoiler of Human Rights”) where he was playing these chords and he laid down one guitar and started doing the second one. Jack was like “what the hell is that? What are you doing?” “What do you mean?” “Those chords, they don’t sound right.” He made Nate play it over and over. “I don’t get that. What are you doing there? What do you call that chord?” He kept really running it into the ground and offering his opinion, but ultimately he digressed and said “seriously though, tell me what that is?” Nate just looks at him and goes “it’s bad ass heavy metal, Jackie.” “I’m sold, I’m sold. On we go.”


So he’ll throw in his 2 cents for sure, but he’s really awesome with tones and knob twirling and stuff. He’s a mad scientist, and he works 12 hour days – noon to midnight at least. The whole process is the band and Jack and no one else. He doesn’t let anybody else fuck with it which is rad.

skeletonwitchWhat was the writing process like for you guys this time around? Was it any different than Beyond the Permafrost or was it more of the same method?

It was about the same. Everyone kind of knows their roles in the band and how they fit in. One difference maybe is that Nate has always been the main songwriter. He’s the cook and everyone throws in their ingredients and their ideas. He took an even larger role in the songwriting on this one, I would say. He’ll come to me and say “hey Scottie, I have no idea what to do for this part. Write a lead over there,” or “I don’t like this. Can you make this better?” He really laid down the foundation on this one much more so than the last one. So that’s a change, but the main idea stream was still the same, where Nate and I write independently and then give each other CDs, cassettes, 4 tracks and stuff. Then we’ll learn each other’s parts and hash it out that way. We’re not one of those bands that sits around and jams together. It’s more calculated. We kind of go into our own little rooms and do our shit and emerge later to see what the other one has.

Does it ever get tough being in a band with brothers?

Well, not really. It’s probably tougher for them because brothers like to fight occasionally. Nate and Chance have usually one or two good fights a year. I don’t know if they really had one in 2009 yet, so they might be due. We’re all friends and we all hang out with each other outside of the band and stuff. It’s not like they’re grouped together and always agree on things and stuff like that. They don’t gang up on the rest of us. It’s fine. My brother does the management too, so there is extra family involved and shit.

It seems like, from an outside perspective, that you guys definitely have a lot of good will in the metal community right now. You’re definitely on an upward trajectory, so to speak, and seem to be gaining fans and getting bigger and better. Do you feel that from the inside, or are you just doing what you’re doing regardless?

I don’t know if I can answer by saying “a little bit of both,” but I kind of want to because you hear that sometimes that we’re getting good will. More people are definitely showing up to shows that we play. That’s rad, of course. The last tour we just did, Stone Dead for Summer Tour with Saviours and Trap Them, we played in some cities we never played in at all before nor had Saviors and stuff. When 150 kids show up to San Luis Obispo or something on a Monday night, it was really surprising and awesome. You can tell that things are getting a little bit better, and with social networking sites like Myspace and Facebook and Twitter, people have direct access to you so you’re hearing it more from people and getting more friend requests and things like that. You can tell that things are going in a really good direction, but we really don’t think about it too much. It’s not something that we’re that conscious of because we kind of just do what we do.

We’re just fans of metal playing metal and having a great time doing it and enjoying it. It’s always fun when people are along for the ride with us. We feel like people that are into our band and interviewers like yourself or Rob from Metal Injection, they’re just cool dudes that love and support metal. We kind of feel like we’re all in it together. It’s not like “our band is doing this. Watch us, interview us.” It’s kind of like “yeah, metal fucking rules. Let’s just promote it all together.” We kind of have an odd sense of community and a brotherhood with everybody. I don’t think enough bands have that, or I just don’t see it enough. We’re just metal fans doing it so we get stoked whenever anybody cheers us on or helps us out in any way. We keep it pretty grassroots if you will.

skeletonwitch scott hedrickThat’s cool. It definitely seems like you guys can go out with any number of different types of metal bands, which is cool. You guys just did Trap Them.

Yeah we brought Trap Them and Saviors out.

And you guys have done tours with all different kinds of metal bands, yet people in all those different crowds seem to like you just the same.

Yeah, it’s weird. It’s really killer that we’re able to do that. It’s really funny to see how certain people portray our band like journalists and stuff because it’s “death metal band Skeletonwitch is touring with Dying Fetus”, “black metal band Skeletonwitch is touring with Nachtmystium”, “thrash metal band Skeletonwitch and Toxic Holocaust are hitting the road together”. Call us what you will, but those tours were fucking fun. We don’t really think about that too much, but we’re lucky that we’re able to do that. We still annoy all the bands on tour with us equally with our goofy sense of humor and obnoxiousness. That’s universal as well.

Do you think any of that has to do with your record label Prosthetic being a very diverse label itself?

No. [Laughter] They’ve been involved a little bit with certain tours, but a lot of the touring (most of it I would say) is stuff that we wanted to do and stuff that we sought out ourselves. When we did that tour with Danzig, I was so happy the day I called up the label and said “guess what? We’re touring with Danzig.” They were like “yeah right”. “Yeah fucking right we are. Check it out. What did you do for us today?” Just teasing them. He was like “uh working on this and that.” I was like “you don’t have to answer that, I’m just busting your balls.” We take a lot of pride in getting a lot of stuff together ourselves. Not to say they haven’t had a hand in it, but with the Nachtmystium tour, we’re friends with Blake and just called him up and said “let’s hit the road together.” We started up and did it. With Saviours and Trap Them, we were planning on touring and were like “who’s out there and who’s available and wants to do this?” Those 2 bands got brought up. We contacted them and went for it. They’re [Trap Them] actually on our label now. We really throw around ideas for bands we want to tour with and have them try and help us get them. They don’t say “why don’t you try a death metal tour, then a black metal tour?” We like to mix it up. It’s more fun.

Do you think the role of the independent musician — the way you guys set things up for yourselves — is a lot more important these days?

I definitely think so. Record labels, especially the larger ones, are really in trouble right now. I think it’s kind of funny because they preyed upon musicians in a lot of awful ways for a lot of years. I’m talking mostly about the larger labels. It’s definitely more important now. Then you have so much more direct access to fans and the music community in general again with the social networking sites. You can get your own album on iTunes and sell it. A lot of bands are finishing up their record contracts and releasing shit on their own or on their own with some distribution help from their former label or something. If you want to try and survive today playing music, which is pretty fucking tough to do, you really kind of do it yourself. You can do that with the help of a label. That’s why I like Prosthetic because they let us essentially do it ourselves, but not. For instance, we can’t get our CDs in Best Buy [on our own]. For an average metal kid who maybe lives in the suburbs who doesn’t know about underground metal, Best Buy is good in a sense that he might discover something cool that he maybe wouldn’t because there isn’t an indie record store down the street. The label helps us with a lot of great stuff, but they still permit us to kind of do things our own way. We couldn’t do it without them, and they couldn’t do it without us.

You’ve twice now mentioned social networking sites. Are you personally the one behind the Skeletonwitch Twitter and all that?

Yeah. That’s probably why I mentioned it twice because I’m in the Twitter dementia.

Twitter is pretty fucking cool but also kind of . . .

Lame at the same time?

Overwhelming. Yeah, it can definitely be a little bit weird. What are your thoughts on it?

At first I was apprehensive about it. I was like “really? fucking Twitter? I’m going to tweet? What the fuck is this? Oh Jesus.” Then I was like “okay, I’ll try it out and see what happens.” I started the account and after a few days, I got a direct message from Enslaved on there. I was so fucking stoked. That’s what kind of did it for me. I was like “yes, now I can talk to Enslaved on Twitter. This is fucking sweet.” I was just so stoked that they sent us a message out of the blue, “hey what’s up guys? Looking forward to the new album.” I was like “whoa, fuck. Awesome.” So for things like that, it does have some cool benefits where you can contact people and talk to them directly. Ultimately, it’s a tool that can be used for good or evil, like anything. It’s at your disposal, so if you want to be a douche bag on that all day and talk shit to people and spam it up with boring shit, you’re welcome to do that. If you just want to get the word out about our new album or show some funny pictures from tour and let people know what you’re up to, then it’s good. It’s really up to the user. I’m okay with it now. It took me a minute.

Yeah, I’m kind of in the same boat. What are the upcoming touring plans for Skeletonwitch?

In mid-September we take off in Rhode Island, and we’re touring with Children of Bodom and Black Dahlia Murder. That’s going to be killer. We’re really excited for it. It’s maybe 3ish weeks and there are a lot of Canadian dates on it which we’re also really excited about. We haven’t been to Canada in a long time and some of the cities that we wanted to play on this tour we’ve never played before. We do like 3 weeks or so with them with the last show in Phoenix, and then at that point Children of Bodom do something else. I think they’re going to Hawaii and then maybe Australia or something. They get crazy. Us and Black Dahlia and some other bands may or may not be doing a trek together since we’re already out there in Phoenix. Then the next thing is trying to get our asses back over to Europe then maybe sometime during the winter doing a headliner again if we can. Get the chains out for our tires again.

Definitely. Is the plan pretty much to stay out on the road as much as possible to promote the record?

Yes, definitely. We love being on the road, and we live for the road. It’s the most fun. After we’re home for 2 days, we’re calling each other “what are you doing?” “I’m home.” We’re a family. It’s like “I can’t stand these guys,” near the end of a 2 month tour. “I can’t wait to go home and sleep in my bed.” Two days at home and I’m like “let’s go guys. Let’s do something. Let’s hang out. Let’s practice.” We love it. Absolutely.

That’s awesome man. Congratulations on everything. I wish you guys all the best. I can’t wait to hear the new record. And thanks again for the kind words for the site [before the interview]. We never know who reads it, but the other day I was talking to Devin Townsend and he said he was a fan and I just freaked out. That was really cool.

Isn’t that the fucking craziest? That’s what I was kind of saying too about we’re all in this together. The same way when you’re putting your effort and your blood and sweat into something and somebody like that comes along “dude, I’m a fan and it’s awesome.” You’re like “no fucking way.” You get excited. There are definitely fans of your site. I’m one of them. You guys and Metal Injection are fucking great. I read them every day. It’s awesome.


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