Mephedrone (bath salts), mushrooms, a new kind of acid—and in the case of Miami face-eater Rudy Eugene at one point—weed? So far, pretty much every official explanation for the wave of bizarre crimes slowly blanketing the planet has hinged on drugs with histories that make their purported roles unlikely. No wonder people are holding on to the zombie apocalypse hypothesis, CDC be damned. At least it provides a common thread.
But (apart from the Haitian variety) zombies are still mostly fictional (kinda), whereas She’s Still Dead are very real. And the reality lurking like a half-eaten penis in our collective McGMO breakfast trough is this: the current upsweep in global gore production commenced within days of a recent development in the NOLA-based horror-punk quintet’s unlife.
“I’d like to think that us going back into the studio would have something to do with the current wave of violence.” guitarist Kevin Dredge offers during a break in tracking guitar overdubs with White Zombie alum J. Yuenger for the Keeper of the Witch EP, slated for vinyl and digital release later this year. “All the shit that’s been going on, like with the guy cutting himself and throwing his intestines at the cops? That’s straight-up, true-life horror and I totally dig it. I know a lot of people shy away from that and think it’s the vilest thing ever. But I play in a horror band so I think it’s awesome. Remember the MMA fighter who ripped his training partner’s still-beating heart out of his chest? That was right around the time the band started.”
For dudes so eager to take responsibility for so many egregiously unnatural acts (even as they battle evil Feds in their effort to become the first U.S. metal band with a gig in Cuba under their belts), the band are surprisingly chill in real life. A trio of videos (soon to be a quartet) documenting the EP’s making depicts them and Yuenger having a swell time together without wasting a single second.
“We tracked drums, bass, and most of the guitars in one day at Piety Street,” Dredge says, “a big studio that’s like $1,000 a day. We’re recording everything else at J.’s place. I attribute the efficiency to the fact that we’ve been practicing a lot. We also just recently played a string of shows. We went into the studio with the mindset that we had this amount of time and we had to fucking bust ass. We weren’t interested in messing around. As a result, we went in and just fucking nailed it.”
What we hear of the title track reveals a band as hell-bent on going as far beyond the neo-trad horror rock (think: “Misfits in their prime”) of last year’s Immortal, Eternal as they are on getting everything right ASAP. Dredge, guitarist Taylor Suarez and Yuenger even ended up with time left over to experiment with feedback and tape manipulation.
“The idea came from Black Flag’s “Police Story,” Dredge says. “The song starts off with really slow taped feedback that speeds up until it’s really fast. We thought: Oh cool! Since we’re recording on tape, let’s try to recreate that. Violent, chaotic feedback is a big part of our sound. We had so much time left over that we were able to spend some time recording guitar feedback. We’re going to incorporate a lot of that on the record.”
Eager as he is to emphasize the band’s ever-extending reach into the grave they only started robbing a couple years ago, Dredge also makes no bones about Yuenger’s role in the recording process. All available evidence bears him out. In every video, the producer comes off way more like a facilitator than a boss.
“We’ve all been in other bands,” Dredge says, “and we’ve all worked with other producers. The thing about J. is, we’re all friends. He’s not just some guy who points mics at you and tells you what to do. He genuinely cares about what we’re doing. Earlier today, he said, ‘it’s a real pleasure recording you guys, ’cause I don’t have to do much. All I have to do is say, okay, I’m rollin’. Let’s go.’ That’s a great thing to hear from one of your childhood guitar heroes.”