For those readers who do not know Reverend Kill yet, can you introduce yourself and the band and tell a little bit about your history?
Hey man, I am Don Stenhouse, lead/rhythm guitarist of Reverend Kill. The others in the band are Teran Wyre (lead/rhythm guitar), AJ Kovar (bass), Les Sarfi (drums) and Paul Merkl (vocals). The band started back in 2004 - well the idea anyway. I just decided to do things my way. After years and years and years of trying to deal with rock star members and their little demands I had enough and started recording new tunes, playing everything and writing all the words myself and programming the drums. After I had the first CD made I just started to show it to people and those who liked it jumped on board. I knew that these people would be coming and going and I kind of designed the band so this could not affect it. And for those who choose to stay, well, they are totally equal and very important to me and the band. We have a killer lineup right now and we are all friends and it feels good man!
If someone does not know your music, how would you describe the band and your sound to them?
Well, I like to say we are just a Metal band. There are way too many subgenres of it and I don't want to waste brainspace playing that game. We are a mix of the old and new and I am very much a death metal guy, so that should kind of show in places. But we are not normal death metal, we are kind of traditional metal death metal. Maybe just call it modern metal. We do have a lot of various styles in our music so it is hard to peg.
Alright, that concludes the introduction then, let's get on with the interview: congratulations on the new album, 'War & Conflict'! It was quite a nice surprise to me. I suppose you are quite happy with the result yourselves?
Yes, it is a cool disc and a good progression from the 'His Blood Our Victory' disc. We are pleased with the result that Joe Sikorski of CMSS Studios in Calgary gave us. He is an old friend and it is cool working with him we have a great deal of respect for him and the way he does things.
After 'His Blood, Our Victory' scored a decent 78 points, the second Reverend Kill album to be reviewed by our magazine now scores a very nice 83 points. Unfortunately we did not get a copy of the 2005 album 'Reverend Kill' to review back then, but it seems your scores are going up. (I agree the polls population is not quite scientifically approved - Sicktus) Do you think you are getting better by the album?
I think the music we are putting out is staying true to the vision. We are about writing songs about things, not trying to impress with virtuosity like so many others do (especially here in Canada). Every time we go into the studio we are better prepared and I think that goes to show with each recording. The first disc has some cool tunes on it as well, but at the time it was just a grab band I rounded up to get going so it is not the way it should be. And the dude we recorded with totally flaked out so it did not get finished up properly either, which is a shame. We are going to re-record it and sell it as a 2 disc set with both versions here sometime in the near future. I would say the first disc production is kind of weak and the singing is clean (kind of a Slayer/Motörhead feel) which was not what I wanted but you got to do what you got to do and Steve Withrow, our original bassist and vocalist, did a great job. Our fans here have kind of endeared the disc so on that note it is cool. But it is a big change from the first one to the 'War & Conflict' disc. Musicwise though I think we are on the same path just evolving.
How have the reactions to 'War & Conflict' been so far?
People seem to be liking it! We are just getting it out there right now. A lot of things have changed over the last year and it has made the release of this disc slow, so we are hoping people dig it. The shows out here seem to be going fine and by the looks of the pits I think the kids are digging it.
How would you describe 'War & Conflict' in your own words?
Well, the disc is kind of a lash out at the people behind the wars and atrocities through time and also a tribute to heroes and battles fought. Plus we like to remind those who glorify themselves through war that they are fucked.
Am I right and is this somewhat of a concept album on, well, 'War & Conflict' through the ages?
Yes it is man. We tried to cover all the different angles of war, like the politics and lies and manipulation of people. As well as all the different cultures around the world and some of the crap they have had to deal with. Right from the dude that starts the war and never sees action to the one who fights hard because they believe in freedom and democracy. We also take a look at some barbarians and their fiendish acts as well.
Whilst on the subject of the theme, can you tell us something about the lyrical content of the album? Who wrote them, for instance? And what is your inspiration when it comes to themes and lyrics?
Well this disc Graham Harris (vocals on the albumdisc) wrote the words for it. When Teran and I write songs, we sometimes have a title for the song and an idea of what it represents and we would explain that to Graham and he would write the song lyrics based off of that initial idea. For inspiration we usually just feel it come along. It is hard to say where it comes from, it just appears in our heads and we go with it. I like writing lyrics so I like to be involved with the theme of the song. Other than that Graham wrote this one.
Could you please describe the earlier Reverend Kill releases in your own words?
I would like to think they are like just the first couple chapters in a big fucking book man. A Big Book of Fucking Metal. I hope any Reverend Kill fan looks back at these discs and enjoys listening to them. I love every tune we have and I hope all the metal mongers will also. And if you know the story of the band, you will see and feel this progression listening to these tunes on these discs. Plus they kind of pay tribute to some of my older bands as well, because Reverend Kill was a changing point, where I went back to the basics and made a new plan. I know each of these discs are not perfect but they are what they are and we stand with them man. Many tunes off the first disc are part of our set at every show. We want to re-record it just to hear it with the death metal edge to it as well. And with 'His Blood Our Victory' we made a couple mistakes in the studio that kind of suck, but it also is what it is now and it is a good listen and a good learning experience. It's all Reverend Kill man.
How does a typical Reverend Kill song evolve?
Just practicing with the metronome. Finding riffs, experimenting with riffs, filtering through them, and at the same time kind of getting a feeling of what the song should be about. By the time it is all together, throw down a cool bass line which sometimes is the first riff made too. Then program some drums, give it its name and give it to the singer to make up some words. With Graham the words are usually fairly intellectual and if I write them they are stupid and gross and we always try to tell a story so you get a picture in your head and have something to connect to.
Where does Reverend Kill get it's musical inspiration? I hear a lot of heavy metal influences, although it is still mainly a death metal album, would you agree?
Oh yeah for sure man. The heavy bands of the 70's. Hendrix, Thin Lizzy, Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, Sabbath, UFO, Priest, Maiden, Motörhead, you know, all the killer bands. They all had so much soul and the metal vibe was always heavy at the shows. Back when it was so new that bands only had a killer tune or two on each cd, not totally metal yet. And then of course Mercyful Fate, my personal faves. Slayer and the first couple of CD's by Metallica, Suicidal, Venom, right up to Cannibal Corpse, Nile and Behemoth and everything brutal now. Fuck man, it is so numerous the influences I could write a book. We all listen to the same kind of stuff. Teran is a little more friendly to the nu metal stuff than the rest of us and I am a little more to the old shit, but that is cool. AJ likes the older stuff and he is writing some pretty cool new tunes with us now as well which is great for the next cd. We all love brutal death metal though. But I guess to sum it up I would just say metal is our inspiration.
What is really prominent within your melodic death metal is the Iron Maiden influence, would you agree? According to my colleague who reviewed 'His Blood, Our Glory', this was especially true with the song '666 Conspiracy'...
Man it is unintentional, we just write what we write. I would like to think that Mercyful Fate Sherman/Denner were more the influence, but we are ripping it fairly quick. Vocally Graham loves Maiden and I think he kind of paid tribute to them with this song. It was originally called '66sixtynine' and was about making love to a rotting corpse. We are a two lead/rhythm guitar band and switch solos constantly, much like Maiden and Thin Lizzy (who are a major influence too). It is actually cool to be compared to them cause they are metal man. I hope in time those comparisons disappear though. We were compared to Amon Amarth as well. Honestly, I never really heard them until I read that and I listened to them (killer fucking band) and I see the comparisons, but we are caught in our own little bubble out here and if we sound like these others on one tune we will not on the next, we plan on constantly growing but we always want to keep the Reverend Kill style of metal in it.
I've read somewhere that Reverend Kill used to be called Reverend Maiden, is that true? Is that a link to the Iron Maiden sound in your music?
I have always played originals. Never played covers except for just fun and forgot them fast. I listen to Reverend Kill more than anything, and of course all of the bands that are part of our metal scene here in Canada. But at the same time I think we are all influenced by Maiden in one way or another. If you are not, I don't think you are very metal. We were never called Reverend Maiden though, Reverend Kill was the character in my black/death band Deimos that I played. It was also the name of the production company I had when I was putting on metal shows in Calgary, so the name has been around for like 15 years man. I think the comparisons are because of the twin axe attack. And we try to write cool bass lines too. We see the comparisons too man but you know what? We do not want to change because this is the way we love to play, it feels good. We want to try to get heavier. Hopefully people just dig the tunes and give us a chance to come play them for them.
After you've recorded the album, Graham Harris (vocals) and Vince Cardellini (drums) left the band. What led up to this decision?
With Graham I think it was just too hard for him to commit to what we wanted to do. It is a shame, he is a great guy and I wish him all the best. And With Vinnie, man, I think he was trying to prove a point, I think? Not really sure but I got no time for those games, we got goals set and they are bumps in the road of metal we travel. But at the same time he was a great guy and I wish him all the best in the future as well. Paul Merkl is a great vocalist (brutal as fuck) and an old friend and Les Sarfi is an old, old friend and a great drummer and we are getting tight and feeling good. Les is adding a little of his own dynamics to the tunes and it is awesome. That new band just hitting stride vibe is great. Now we want to go pound out some shows.
I've read on your site that you've found the replacements fairly quickly, how did you find them?
There is a big scene here and a lot of musicians and lots of new ones joining in all the time and we are friends with lots of people here, so it is fairly easy to keep things going. It is a lot of work though man. I am old friends with both these two new guys though. They stepped in when the others backed out, we had obligations to keep. They realize the goals we have set.
What or who is the backbone of Reverend Kill?
I guess that would be me cause I am not going to let it die. But it is very much a band man, Teran has been here a long time and it is his as much as mine and AJ and the others I hope are the last to join.
Will this album get any live support? If so, where will you guys be touring?
Fuck man, we will tour anywhere we can if we are offered. Canada is so big and we go out on tour often but it is a lot of driving. Europe would be awesome and we have friends in Asia and the Middle-East we would like to play with as well. Fuck, we would like to go everywhere if we ever get the chance!
If you could decide on one thing for Reverend Kill to accomplish, without having to take money and conflicting schedules into consideration, what would you want to do?
Tour everywhere and be a working/touring metal band, just like Motörhead. Fuck, if we had the cash we would make a killer show to go with it, if we could we would be just like Priest and Maiden with the big show, big crew, just like a circus!
What does the future hold for Reverend Kill? Do you for instance have a 'wishlist' when it comes to the future of Reverend Kill?
Hopefully tour man. We will be making a lot more CD's. We just want to get out and pound with other bands in the underground metal scene and hopefully rise to being one of those bands that all metalheads like to bang out too. And meet as many metalheads as we can, because we love playing and hanging with other bands and fans. Right now we have a new CD half written. Six songs in so far and it is sounding very Reverend Kill once again. We are excited to record with this lineup and it should hopefully be here pretty soon. It is -30c here so it is a good time to write. We are also hosting a birthday show for Chuck Schuldiner on May 13th. We have the actual Death backdrop he used on the final tour that we are playing in front of. Eric Greif, the manager/lawyer of Death, will be there and on shared gear all our bands are going up to play a couple Death songs and a couple of our own. We did it last year too and it was a killer time. It is a bunch of cool young and older bands out here and both Divinity and Into Eternity are playing on it as well which should be a fun night.
If you could pick just one show, festival or location to perform the entire 'War & Conflict' album as a whole, where would that be?
The Hammersmith Odeon, with fire and smoke and naked women, blood and guts, monsters everywhere. You know, an all out spectacle!
What would be the number one reason why someone who has the opportunity to go and see Reverend Kill should definitely come and visit your shows?
'Cause we are gonna fucking rock ya!
What is your opinion on the Canadian (or Calgary) metal scene? What lesser known bands would you want to advice our readers to check out?
I love the Metal scene here. It is thriving. It is growing. And all the bands are fucking killer. All of Western Canada is cool. Fuck, all of Canada is cool. Here in Alberta we have bands of seasoned vets like Exit Strategy and Dead Jesus pounding out awesome shows every time. These are some of the bands that are around here that we play with: The Order of Chaos, Death Toll Rising, Quietus, Kryosphere, Martial Law, Corpse Stone, Path of Sin, Psychomantium, Kataplexis, Darkness Rising, Chisolm, Phantom Limb, Day One, Autaric and tons more man, way too many to name but these are some killer bands. Check out www.albertametal.net, it has a bunch of mp3's. It is the hub of our local scene.
Any famous last words?
Thanks for taking an interest in Reverend Kill. We totally appreciate it. Hails!