Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Interview with GAG of Vomitous Discharge

Gag is a great christian grinder from Germany. He's had several projects, but perhaps his most well known is Vomitous Discharge. VxDx was featured on several christian and secular grind splits and compilations. He also released a handful of stand-alone releases. 
VxDx first started with an extremely gorey grind (with lots of vocal pitch shifting), but later transitioned to a more modern grind.  No songs have been released since 2010, and Gag has no plans to do so in the near future. So please, take the time to read this interview, then scour the interwebz for his music. Anyone who loves their grind groovy and gorey will find exactly what they need here.

Questions for Gag of Vomitous Discharge
1. What is your testimony and how did you begin your relationship with Jesus?
I was raised in a Christian family, so I considered myself a Christian from the beginning. I can’t remember a time when I did not see myself as one, as I was always going to the kids programs at church, youth groups, the church service etc. Looking back, being a Christian was more like a family tradition for me until my teenage years though, because I didn’t really allow Jesus to guide me and have an effect on my life. Especially not during puberty, when a major part of one’s existence seems to revolve around being cool and to fit into the gang, to be accepted by your colleagues at school etc. This changed when I was about 15 years old, so in 2000, more or less. I had developed a certain interest in harder music through my guitar teacher back then, who still plays in a thrash/death metal band today, and I had read about the band Mortification. Even though I wasn’t living a really Christian life, I still didn’t want to listen to satanic music, so reading about Christian death metal was quite something. After listening to Mortification’s “The Silver Chord is Severed” and “Break the Curse” (which didn’t convince me 100% yet) I ordered a double CD re-release of the albums “Scrolls of the Megilloth” and “Post Momentary Affliction” and when I listened to these two albums it was simply the heaviest and most brutal music material I had ever encountered so far. That had quite an impact on my faith, because it was then that I realized that living a Christian life doesn’t necessarily have to be boring and dusty, but you can really live with and for God and still have your own, maybe very special hobbies, like playing brutal metal, which you can use to glorify him. So it was around that time that my faith became an actual conviction and my relationship with Jesus started, even if somewhat small, and it developed into an actual relationship over the next few years, linked to my desire to play in a Christian metal (preferably death metal) band as well.

2. How/What inspired you to start Vomitous Discharge? What inspired the name?
There were, in fact, two main things that came together at the right time in early 2006. But to start at the beginning, I formed a Christian metal band with a few guys from my church/its youth group in late 2003 and we called ourselves Cured Leper (the band’s name changed to Pesticides in 2007). At first I was the rhythm guitarist and singer, later on (in 2004 or 2005) I switched to vocals only. The idea was to play death metal, but in the beginning our songs were rather a mix of basic thrash, black and doom metal that slowly developed into actual death metal with old-school, technical and brutal elements. Over the years, I was getting more and more into heavier and more brutal styles of underground music, mostly in the death metal and especially in the grindcore and goregrind areas, so at the time that was really my thing and I wanted to play brutal stuff only. Therefore I was sometimes feeling a bit frustrated when the guys came up with a new song that started out quite brutal, but then changed to something more melodic at a certain point.
Then in the beginning of 2006, we bought a digital recorder for Cured Leper to be able to record rehearsal tracks of our songs. Us owning this device spawned my idea to form a one-man-band in which I would record all the instruments by myself, one after the other. That way I could still sing in Cured Leper “like I should” and at the same time go for the more extreme kinds of music that were incompatible with the band’s sound.
So my idea to form a grind project was there, but it was a very thought through decision to go for goregrind and not grindcore. I saw that there was simply so much stuff going on in the goregrind scene that was and still is just so wrong to me, mainly in terms of album artworks and themes/topics, like the promotion of murder, rape, misogyny (that especially in the porngore sector, obviously) and other things like that. I felt that I should contribute to making alternatives to such material available, since the Christian sector didn’t have that much to offer. There were only Vomitorial Corpulence (great band throughout, still one of my goregrind and grindcore favorites today), Empty Grave (though way more noisegrind and noisecore than goregrind, if you think about it) and a few others that I just discovered later on, like Carkemis and No Return To My Vomit. What also struck me is that not only were there so few bands, but these few bands also had only very few releases out there as a whole, which is a pity.
So I decided to play goregrind and the idea was to do something that looked and sounded quite similar to non-Christian goregrind, however with a different meaning behind the pictures and titles used. I wanted to have a name that fits the goregrind thing perfectly and that would also describe my sound in an appropriate way. Vomitous Discharge simply stuck once it came to my mind. I thought and still think that it sounds really cool and that it fulfills that purpose of describing the music quite well.

3. What message were you trying to convey to whomever picked up a copy of your releases?
I already hinted it in the previous answer, I wanted to make things look like a completely regular goregrind release, but with an obvious different message and meaning once you check out the song titles. The center of my message was God’s victory over everything satanic, demonic and sinful. Therefore, I addressed several things in my song titles that God will someday eradicate for good, incl. several prominent sexual perversions that keep being advertised in gore- and porngrind. There were also a few songs like “VomitGore ChristCore” that I would rather put into the worship category, as they point out the purpose of Vomitous Discharge: the glorification of Jesus and the project’s focus on him. Quite a few songs also referred to the concept of our flesh dying, so that our lives can be more focused on God, and also some tracks about the sinful human condition. My song titles on the split with xBarneyx and Whorifik dealt with the fruits of the Holy Spirit in a non-gory way, even though the songs themselves were clearly goregrind.
But you asked me what message I was trying to convey and as a matter of fact I know that not everybody got the message. There were Christians speaking out against my project because they couldn’t see the project’s focus, even though I publically posted comments about all my song titles and their meanings on the web (myspace, back then) to make things really clear. I also know that several regular goregrind listeners didn’t take note of the spiritual background of the project that much, they just listened to it because they enjoyed the music and they didn’t pay attention to the meaning of things. But I do know that there were a lot of people that understood was I was trying to say. Some enjoyed it a lot, some did at least respect it and others sent me hate-mails, cursing me etc. Even though the last-mentioned bugged me at first, I guess it’s mostly that kind of response that shows that my message was indeed very clear to a lot of people, which was a good sign to me.

4. How did you record? Explain, and if you can, include what software you used?
In the beginning, I recorded with the Zoom MRS-4 recorder and did all the mixing with the software that came with it. Then I used Audacity to cut the end and beginning of each song and that was it.
To record the material, I bought some microphones for the drum kit and a small mix-board to be able to do the drum tracks, then I recorded guitar and finally vocals. On the “Severe Head Trauma” demo CD-R, there were only natural vocals, without any effects added. Later on I bought the Digitech Vocal300 effect pedal that allows you to create gore vocals if you know what settings to use and how to “sing” into the microphone, so all the following goregrind recordings featured both processed vocals and natural vocals.
In 2009, I decided not to use the Zoom device anymore and switched completely to Audacity, but the basic procedure remained the same: one instrument track after the other, but from then on also with bass guitar, which I think was a pretty good addition to the sound of VxDx.

5. How much involvement did you have with the 6 way Sin decomposition split?
I remember that the split was planned as a 4-way at first; I was invited by Eternal Mystery, Demonic Dismemberment and Flactorophia to do this split with them. I came up with the title and did the initial draft of the cover; I think you can still find the cover of the 4-way split floating around on the net. After we did our initial plans and some initial artwork, I remember we got kind of stuck when we got to the point of finding someone to release the CD. I think it was about that time that Chris Valentine from Vomitorial Corpulence got interested in this split and asked us if he could join with some Vomitorial Corpulence tunes that the band had been recording after a rather long break. These were in fact demo recordings but turned out pretty cool, and of course we didn’t have to think twice if we wanted to be on a split with Vomitorial Corpulence... :-) It was a real pleasure for us to have them on board. In the end Chris was a major help for all the planning and actually getting things done, I don’t think we could have done the release without him. He also helped a lot with the artwork; he refined my version of the cover. Also, he financed 3/5 to 4/5 of the CD-pressing (500 copies), 1/5 was financed by me and José/Flactorophia contributed some funds as well. It was also his idea to invite Engravor to the split, which ultimately made it the 6-way that got released.
(I’m aware that most of my answer is actually about Chris’ involvement and not mine :-) but I really wanted to show how much he helped the project progress.)

6. Do you ever receive any backlash from the Christian community for doing splits with secular bands?
I think that I am my own biggest critic here. In fact, I can only remember one such occasion at the moment, which is a pretty negative review about the “6-way Sin Decomposition” split CD on some Christian blog or so. The writer had his doubts about Vomitous Discharge and how Christian the project really is because he was aware that I did indeed contribute a couple of songs to a release called “15 Ways Porn Gore Grind” a year later or so. I must admit that I can understand his concern and this story is one of the things that I’m really not proud of when it comes to the biography of my project. I emailed the writer to explain myself, but I don’t think he ever revised his review, so I’d like to add an explanation here.
I found out about that “15 Ways...” CD via some online advertising and saw that there were a couple of goregrind projects on it that I was interested in at the time. I contacted the label to get a copy of it, assuming it had already been released, but it turned out that one of the bands still didn’t submit their material and the label then offered me that spot on the release. Given that I had two tracks that were recorded for another release that never happened, I accepted his offer regardless the title (the artwork was not pornographic but featured some accident or autopsy gore photos) because I figured it would be cool to be one a split with those 2 or 3 bands I enjoyed. I also thought this would be a good opportunity to “reach out” and get my stuff to people that don’t have anything to do with Christianity.
A similar thing happened in 2009 when I was invited to a goregrind compilation from a secular label and I accepted, not knowing that the label would later create an artwork for it that features several pornographic images, which I just got to see once it was released.
Another thing that went into that direction is the split with xBarneyx and Whorifik in 2007. They invited me, but in the end, it was mostly distributed through my label, Vomit Bucket Productions (VBP). Both projects are secular and xBarneyx put a pornographic sound sample into one of his tracks. Being the one that distributed this release with that sample the most kind of bugs me today.
So these are all cases that I’m not too happy about nowadays. However, I also know that God can also use bad things and bad decisions to achieve something good, so I have hopes that my naïve intention of reaching out to non-believers worked at least a little bit and that someone was reached that wouldn’t have heard about my project or gotten to know about God otherwise.

7. How long ago did you start Vomit Bucket productions, and what inspired you to start it?
VBP officially started in 2007. I was about to self-release Vomitous Discharge’s “Festering Carcass covered with Rot” pro CD-R and I thought it would be cool to have a label logo on it, given that it was a professionally duplicated CD-R with pro-printed artwork. Inspired by the name Vomitous Discharge, I came up with the name Vomit Bucket Productions for that pseudo-label (I still think that this name has a really cool sound to it, hehe) and assigned the catalog-number VBP 001 to the release. From then on, every time I self-released something from VxDx, it would feature the VBP logo and a catalog-number. It was only in 2008 that I also released non-VxDx material on it, which was stuff from my death metal band Pesticides and some of my side-project material. It took another year until the first release that did not feature recordings by me in any way came out.

8. How are things going with Vomit Bucket Records?
Sadly it’s not doing too well. The past years have been a constant up and down, especially regarding sales. While things seemed to get a lot better by the end of 2013, 2014 was rather a down year again and since my time to produce releases also became more and more limited during the course of last year, I decided to really slow down now. The label is not dead, but there’s absolutely nothing planned at the moment (now = February 2015). I’ll see if I’ll still release some stuff from myself on it someday, which would most probably be something from my nowadays main project Ataraxy (harsh noise / HNW). Maybe I’ll still invite some other artists for once-in-a-while releases, but it’s nothing I see for the very near future. So just wait and see how things turn out.

9. You’ve stated on your blog that during the goregrind era of VxDx, you didn’t actually use vocals. You would simply give “Christian titles” or make a biblical statement with the titles of your songs. Why did you make this choice?
That’s not entirely correct; I did always use vocals, it’s just that I didn’t write any lyrics during the goregrind days of VxDx. So the vocals were thought through vocal patterns, but without any words behind the burps. There’s just one exception: my cover version of the Christmas tune “Joy to the World”, for which I used the German lyrics :-)
But to answer your question, I took this decision because many secular goregrind bands don’t write any lyrics either and just go for titles. That didn’t bother me, because nobody can understand anything anyway, even if there are lyrics, given the most prominent vocal styles in goregrind, be it natural or pitch-shifted vocals. So it was mostly that in combination with the feeling that I would be able to pass my message by just writing appropriate titles. Basically, I thought writing lyrics would be a waste of time. I might come to a different conclusion today, not sure.

10. What made you move away from the gore and go towards regular grindcore? What made you start adding lyrics after this transition?
I was planning the split with Musikantenstadl Massaker, a funny secular electro noisegrind project from Germany. We wanted this to be released on 7” vinyl (which didn’t work out in the end) and I wanted my side of it to be something really special for VxDx, given the special format; something in the vein of my favorite old-school grindcore bands at the time (which I still love) that released fantastic 7” EPs: Warsore, Rot and Ulcerrhoea. Therefore I decided to write grindcore songs for this release and therefore the whole no-lyrics-rationale described in my previous answer didn’t apply anymore, given that all grindcore bands do write lyrics, no matter if you understand them or not. It’s just something you have to have in that genre and that’s good, I think. The songs were recorded in the same session as several goregrind songs for other releases, they were really meant to be something exceptional in the VxDx biography.
But some time passed and about 1,5 years later in late 2008/early 2009 or so, I had the impression that I said everything there was to say using the no-lyrics/titles-only approach. Besides that, I enjoyed doing these few grindcore tunes very much and felt they were the best VxDx material to that point, so I decided to change the project to a grindcore project from then on. The only exception to that is the untitled track on the split CD-R with No One Gets Out Alive, the final VxDx release that came out in 2010, that doesn’t have any lyrics and is a goregrind tune in the vein of the old VxDx material.

11. Have you ever considered picking up VxDx again?
Not really, but then again I did write down guitar tabs for all my songs because you never know what the future will bring. Who knows if I’ll ever need or want to remember how to play these songs, you know. I got this thought about VxDx coming back as a real band every now and again, with 3 or 4 members. I think it would certainly be really cool... but it doesn’t depend on myself alone and it’s also a matter of time. In fact, the main reason for VxDx to end in 2010 was that my university studies demanded more and more time and I just had to set priorities to my activities. Writing songs and recording them etc. really did consume a lot of time when VxDx was still active.

12. How are things going with your Splattered Nachos project?
Splattered Nachos hasn’t recorded anything since the summer of 2009 and I think it was in 2011 that I talked to the other member about it and we agreed that it’s over. But in early 2009 I started a humorous solo-project called The People’s Noise Project and I did some funny improvisation noisegrind and noisecore with that one instead. It became less active in 2011 and went on hiatus in 2012, but I did a new release last year and I’m thinking about doing at least one more, so let’s see what happens.
Back to Splattered Nachos, I’m thinking about making all our recordings available again though, most probably via a free download release. That should be happening at some point this year.

13. What advice would you give to other up and coming Christian grinders? Both musicians and listeners.
I think this is a very good and important question.
My advice to listeners would be to be careful. When you start digging in the grind scene, you will most probably come across material pretty quickly that you will regret having seen sooner or later. I know that there are things that I wish I could un-see, but I guess the best I can do now is to acknowledge that this kind of stuff simply exists and take it as a proof for the fact that the Biblical statements about humanity being beyond screwed are all true. There is a lot of sick stuff around that can damage you, so you must be cautious.
Musicians, I think, should be careful not to go for not so intelligent clichés when it comes to themes. It actually makes me roll my eyes when I see Christian bands with titles like “Chopping up demons” or similar. I mean, of course it would be kind of cool if we could kill demons using man-made weapons, like in the Doom games or so :-) but as a matter of fact we can’t, even with Jesus by our side, and I don’t think we should choose such immature and “Christian-macho” content for our music and message. I don’t mean to offend anyone, so please don’t get me wrong, but I have the impression the amount of such material is substantial. Here I must also admit, though, that I might not be completely innocent when it comes to this kind of song titles/lyrics, given that several early VxDx song titles do sound similar and I might have inspired others to come up with rather silly titles, based on misinterpretations or misunderstandings. To make it clear, the actions portrayed in my titles were always referring to God/Jesus doing these things, like killing demons and sin etc., not me.
In addition, I guess being attentive about things like the ones I described in my answer to question 6 is also a good thing. It’s good that we can learn from one another and I hope that others won’t repeat the mistakes I did.

14. If you ever had the chance to, and all conditions were proper, would you have ever taken VxDx live and on tour?
Not sure if on tour, but I was considering playing live. Actually, it almost happened once. I was thinking about playing my original drum recordings through the speakers and do the guitar and vocals live, but in the end it didn’t happen and Pesticides played that night instead. It was probably better like that :-)

15. What got you interested in grind, noise, and gore music?
After getting to know heavy metal, melodic metal, thrash metal, death metal and black metal (in that order, step-wise), the next thing I discovered was goregrind. I don’t remember anymore how it happened exactly, if I read an article in a magazine or so, but I do remember the first goregrind band that I got interested in and from there I discovered other bands. I also found out about the regular grindcore genre then.
What raised my interest in specifically goregrind was the pathological/medical lyrical content of the first bands I discovered in combination with the fast music and twisted vocals. I found it pretty interesting and appealing. I also enjoyed the whole zombie stuff and related extreme but fictional horror material, even though it’s rather silly in most cases, of course.
What I enjoy about grindcore as a whole is the simplicity of the songs and their speed and energy. I have the impression that the best grindcore material nowadays comes from countries with big society issues and that it’s an excellent valve to let off some steam and shout out against injustice.
Regarding noise, if you mean noisecore that is done with instruments, I mostly enjoy its entertainment factor. One two three go, no holds barred :-) For me it was a good way to get rid of some surplus energy and simply have a good time doing it.
But if you mean noise music like harsh noise and similar abstract electronic music, then it’s completely different because I deem this kind of music as highly contemplative and meditative. Sometimes it does demand a lot from the performer and the listener, but that’s something I really like. I experienced harsh noise as a means to bring some subconscious stuff to light and deal with it in one way or another. On at least one occasion, I recorded material fuelled with a lot of frustration, sadness and bleakness and the process resulted in some of the best noise recordings I ever created with my project Ataraxy, in my opinion (I’m talking about the album “Darkness”). But as a whole I’d say that the things that got me interested into noise music and fascinated by it are the experimental and uncommon elements of this genre, there seem to be no limitations or rules.

16. What can you tell us about the great Jose of Flactorophia?
José was one of the very first people to buy the “Severe Head Trauma” demo from Vomitous Discharge, I think he was my first international customer. He was a very friendly person and I’m convinced that he is saved and that he is in a better place now, seeing with his own eyes what he believed when he was still with us. Therefore I’m happy for him, being with Jesus now is no loss but a gain for him for sure. It just saddens me that the way he went must have been quite painful (fire). I’m really glad I knew him and I look forward to meeting him for real for the first time (and not just by email or ICQ, hehe) later on when my time to go home to Jesus has come as well :-)