The Fastest Man in Metal: Skeletonwitch’s Scott Hedrick

by Cosmo Lee

Guitarist Scott Hedrick of Skeletonwitch is speed metal. In the 2019 Los Angeles Marathon, he finished 69th out of over 25,000 runners, placing fifth in his age group with a time of 2:53:31. That’s a 6:37 per mile pace – while fiddling on his phone listening to music, and after a late night of ramen and beer. We had to learn more.

Have you always been a runner?
No. For most of my adult life, I ran a tiny bit, maybe three days a week, maybe three miles each time. I was also a heavy smoker. I can pinpoint it to when I ended a seven-year relationship that had run its course. I had this major life change and moved out into my own place and started doing my own thing. I found confidence and started writing so much more music. My creative side and running became weirdly linked. I would go for these runs and listen to what I was writing, which was the majority of Devouring Radiant Light.

How did you choose the L.A. Marathon?
I like to run every day, but I don’t time myself. I don’t have quotas, like I have to run X amount of miles or for X amount of time. So going into it, I had no preconceived notions of how I would do. I just thought, “OK, I’ve moved to LA, I’ve been here for about a year now, and I’ve run one marathon. Why don’t I do another one?” The LA one just happened to line up where I wasn’t on tour and I wasn’t busy.

So, you had no training regimen?
No. To be fair, I averaged about 10 miles a day of running. But I wasn’t on any sort of plan or schedule. There’s a whole running culture that honestly I’m not a huge fan of – all the expensive gear and bullshit. One of the nice things about running is that there’s a very low barrier to entry. Put on a pair of shoes, maybe spend a little bit of money on them, and that’s it.

I see headphones in your race photos. What were you listening to?
I flipped around a lot. I started off listening to the Hellacopters, one of my favorite rock ‘n’ roll bands, and I felt like I was going too fast, like I was getting too hyped. I thought, “I gotta downshift,” so I put on Keith Jarrett, the Köln concert.

It’s very meditative.
Exactly. That was my jam. Fela Kuti is another huge one for me for running. About midway through the marathon, I put that on. One of my favorite bands of all time is Popol Vuh, the German band that scored a bunch of Herzog films back in the day. I don’t run to a lot of stuff that typically people would run to. I run to a lot of ambient music, a lot of composers.

Do you go running while you’re on tour?
Absolutely. Between running and walking around here in Austin today, I’ve probably run about 20 miles today and walked another mile or two.

This is all for fun?
It’s for physical and mental health. It’s very meditative for me. It’s very solitary. When you’re on tour, you’re crammed up in little spaces, and there’s no privacy. When I run, I put on headphones, and I listen to whatever music I want. I listen to podcasts. I listen to music I’m writing.

How does your band feel about the fact that you’re miles away?
Our bassist Evan runs sometimes. He doesn’t do as much distance, but he’s a super healthy guy. He’s kind of on the same tip; we’re pretty healthy these days on tour with diets and exercise. He totally gets it. The other guys, they’ll tease me a bit. They’re going to a craft beer bar, and I’m putting on little shorts.
How rock ‘n’ roll is it to be running while on tour?
I’ve had so many people come up to me from looking at my Instagram and say, “Dude, I run all the time.” There was one guy wearing corpsepaint and a trench coat. You’d have him pegged for some basement dweller who never goes in the sun. He was like, “I love seeing your running posts. I run four days a week, and it’s not ‘cool’ to run.”

Do you think it’s not cool to run in the music world?
I personally don’t feel that way. I do think there might be a latent jocks vs. creatives high school thing, like, “Oh, you’re working out, bro.” You don’t have to be a total meathead just because you’re exercising and taking care of yourself. It’s been proven that one can get oneself into a state where five chemicals are released more heavily in the body, and essentially you become more creative. You become more focused, and you get more shit done. Google has built it into culture of their workplace. The military has studied it. I partially feel like that’s what the “runner’s high” is.
The sports term for that is being “in the zone.”
Yes, exactly, like when you see a football or basketball team really syncing up. It’s not like that every day, but almost every time I run, I solve a small creative problem or have a small realization.

Try to keep up with Scott on Instagram @hedricksw.