EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: ULCERATE DRUMMER JAMIE SAINT MERAT
Ulcerate’s first-ever North American tour kicks off this Friday! We can’t believe it’s finally here, and we know we’re not the only ones; people in our circle and on the web have been buzzing about this limited East Coast run, with Tombs and Svart Crown opening, ever since it was announced.
In anticipation of the tour, I emailed Ulcerate drummer Jamie Saint Merat a bunch of questions about the band’s history, their thoughts on touring North America, their recent jump to Relapse Records, and what’s in store for the future. Our quick chat, below:
Are you excited for your first ever North American tour? Will this be the first time some (or all) of you have ever visited the U.S. and Canada?
Yeah for sure, it’s always a great feeling getting the opportunity to play in parts of the world where you haven’t before. North America definitely feels overdue for those of us who live in the arsehole of the world. It’ll be the first time ever to the continent for myself, although I think one or two of the others have visited as kids. But certainly no band activity.
How did the idea for this tour come about?
We were approached to play MDF and the idea to do a few side-shows sounded feasible. We’d love to undertake something more extensive, but due to a scheduling conflict with one of our guitarists Mike, the number of shows had to be kept to a minimum. We’re thinking of this as testing the water to see how things are for us over there, and with any luck we’ll manage something a lot longer in support of the next album.
Tell us how you chose the opening bands for the tour, Tombs and Svart Crown.
Tombs actually approached us after we announced we were coming and said they were keen for some of the shows. Regarding Svart Crown, in February we completed a month-long run in Europe with those French bastards. They’re fucking great guys so we decided to put it to them if they’d be keen to extend that tour, so to speak. I think these three bands combined is going to make for a very powerful show; it’s always a pleasure to share the stage with people who share a vision for how extreme music of any genre should be approached.
You guys have been together for over 10 years, but it feels like last year’s album The Destroyers of All really took the band to a new level as far as critical acclaim. Why do you think that is, and how does it feel to finally be so praised after all this time?
I guess so, although to be honest it’s hard to say from our perspective. But it does feel like with each album we do get a little more exposure here and there. And I think that’s probably also the answer to your second question there, maybe more people are just aware of what we’re doing now. Other than that I don’t really know. I don’t really see a jump in quality between Everything is Fire and Destroyers, for example; they feel to me like a solid continuation of the same sound. But we’re not in any hurry to become well-known or to develop a broad fanbase or any other superficial shit like that — if people dig or don’t dig what we’re doing then that’s cool, and it really doesn’t have any influence on how we’re approaching things. I actually think our geographic isolation helps in that regard.
Will you be playing primarily songs from Destroyers on this upcoming tour, or a mix of old and new stuff?
The setlist is more or less half Destroyers and half Everything is Fire tracks, although there’s often a track from Of Fracture and Failure in there at times. We don’t ever play any of the demo material as the songs have a very different vibe compared to the album material. We’ve yet to hear of requests for any of those songs from people overseas anyway.
You just signed with Relapse Records for your next album. How did that come about, and why did you decide to leave Willowtip?
Relapse got in touch with us shortly after we released Everything is Fire via Willowtip, and at the time we had one more album to fulfill with them so of course we wanted to honour that agreement. When it came time to organize a label for our next album, we just re-evaluated our situation and went with what was the best choice in terms of what we need from a support standpoint. We had other offers that didn’t suit what we’re into aesthetically, whereas Relapse really feels like they’re sticking to their guns in terms of an overall quality of releases.
Have you begun writing for the next album yet?
Yeah, we’re a couple of songs in, and things are sounding very fucked up so far (in a good way!).
Who are some other extreme metal bands from New Zealand that we need to know about?
Witchrist, Vassafor, Diocletian, Heresiarch, Creeping, Stone Angels — all allies and all great bands.
Do you have any future tours lined up? Any plans to come back to the U.S. soon?
We have a few dates booked for Australia later in the year, and then we will hibernate away until next year while we work on the next album. No more plans for the U.S. just yet, but as I mentioned earlier I think it’s really important for us to come back with a much fuller itinerary.