Talkin’ Bout Flex: Misery Index

Since Issue #75 – the Christmas-themed GWAR issue from January 2011, now out of print – Decibel has been bringing you left-of-center B-sides, rarities, live recordings and new songs from top-tier metal bands via the outstanding Flexi Series.  Hell, we even offered you a box for’em so you wouldn’t have to leave your Flex exposed.  As we prepare to drop the next sixty (!) revelations on your ass, we thought it would be fun to dig into the stories, the circumstances surrounding these recordings, to reveal how truly heavy this series really is.

This month, we spoke with Mark Kloeppel of Baltimore’s Misery Index about his band’s contribution to the series – a cover of Sepultura’s “Primitive Future.”  Misery Index’s song can be found in our current issue (#135, January 2016, Lamb of God cover), but you can also check it out right here while you read Kloeppel’s comments on the recording’s origins and execution. 

When were you approached to contribute to the Flexi Series?

I believe it was sometime early-to-mid this year.  Albert Mudrian and our drummer, Adam Jarvis, had been in contact regarding some other matter, and Albert, I guess, thought it would be cool for us to be a part of the Flexi legacy.  We were pretty honored to have been chosen to represent the five-year anniversary of the series.  The series itself is a really great idea to put back into print music publications, and it’s awesome to see it’s gone on this long.  It inspires some killer B-side rarities and collaborations that you might never have heard otherwise.  Keep up the good work!

How did you choose to cover Sepultura’s “Primitive Future”?

We had been talking about covering this song for years now.  Adam and I always wanted to do a Sepultura cover, but perhaps a more obvious track choice.  In fact, we occasionally do an old-school Sepultura cover set with John Jarvis from Pig Destroyer and some other various friends we call Clenched Fist.  So, Adam and I already knew a lot of those songs.  It was our bass player/vocalist Jason Netherton’s idea to go for the deep cut off Beneath the Remains.  That’s his favorite Sepultura song, and the Decibel Flexi invite gave us a good excuse to actually finish up that cover idea.  We thought it’d be more novel to do a track that hasn’t been covered a million times, although I’m sure there are other covers of this track somewhere.  That album has been out a long time.

When and where did you record the song?  How much of your personal schedule had to get shifted around, and how much time and energy did you put into pulling the recording together?

The drums were recorded during the sessions for our latest record on Season of Mist, entitled The Killing Gods.  They were done by Scott Hull (Pig Destroyer/Agoraphobic Nosebleed) at his Visceral Sound studio in Bethesda, MD with production assistance from our lead guitarist Darin Morris.  When we went over to Wrightway Studios to finish the record, we ran out of time to finish up the cover.  So, we just put those drum tracks aside for something else in the future.  Then Albert called, and we had a good excuse to use them.  We finished up the guitars, bass, and vocals with Ryan Vincent (Legend) at his Apollo Audio studio near Columbia, MO.  We spent about a day tracking everything with Ryan, and it went incredibly smooth.  He’s somewhat of an unknown guy, but was really, really pro about it.  Our lead guitarist Darin Morris is a pretty awesome engineer in his own right, and he was able to record his own lead in his home studio where we (and a few other ‘local Maryland bands’) do preproduction.  He did a really great job reinterpreting the lead to better suit the cleaner production we have here.  From there, all the tracks were brought back to Drew Lamond and Steve Wright at Wrightway Studios in Baltimore for mixing and mastering, and…Voila!  There you have it.

Time- and energy-wise, it really wasn’t a big deal to get it together.  As I said before, we were all intimately familiar with the material.  I think it took me a day to learn the song, and day to track everything.  The hardest part was the vocals, honestly…not performance-wise, but otherwise.  If you go back and listen to the original, while reading the original lyric sheet, things don’t quite match or make total sense.  But I understood the sentiment.  I didn’t add any words, but made a few subtractions for clarity’s sake…literally and auditorally.  Ya know, I could’ve kept it exact, but would’ve sounded really strange in our more modern and clear production.  Certain words and phrases would not have been simply lost in the wash of reverb.  Additionally, Max Cavalera was a young kid when he did this track.  English was just barely his second language at the time, and it was also a deep B-side not requiring the exact attention-to-detain of the A-side tracks…so, I get it.  However, for our production’s sake, the vocals, and the lead too, needed a little ‘cleaning up’ to make sense.  By ‘cleaning up’ I mean painstakingly picking and choosing aspects of the track in order to completely honor the original in a more modern-ish production.  By ‘modern-ish,’ I mean…it’s not 1989 anymore.  But, to honor that sound now, we need super solid tracking with utmost clarity and loud mastering, while retaining ‘rawness’ and without any faking of instruments or falsifying editing.   That was our approach, and I think we did everything justice.  Now…if I hadn’t told you any of that, you probably wouldn’t even notice anything, since it all just sort of smoothly passes by in the production.

Your Flexi is orange.  What do you think about that color choice?

Albert chose that color to honor the orange tone of the original Beneath the Remains album cover.  Seems fitting, and looks great.  Good choice!

What is your favorite Flexi so far?

I think this Church of Misery/Repulsion [coming soon!] thing may end up being my favorite.  Love both of those bands.  As far as past releases, I really enjoyed the Cattle Decapitation track, but I enjoy all their recent tracks.  The Jungle Rot and Napalm Death was killer too.  There’s just so many to pick from now…it’s been five years!!!