KILL SCREEN 034: For Sean Beasley of DYING FETUS, Killing Time is His Business

Photo by Hillarie Jason

At the time of writing this intro, Baltimore die-hards Dying Fetus are busy preparing for quite the year. Following their special “old-school” set at Metal & Beer Fest: Philly on April 13, the trio sets out yet again throughout North America for a month before heading over to Europe to bludgeon the summer festival circuit. While their time on stage will have audiences begging for death—or, in the case of Philly, stopping at nothing and destroying the opposition—it’s that time in between that leaves the band begging for something to do. Sean Beasley, bassist and growler for the decades-long pillar of brutal death metal and today’s player character, knows how to come prepared before being thrown in the van… er, bus. “You live on top of each other. You wake up and you see each other, you go to sleep with each other,” he explains. “It’s an easy, little thing just to break it up.” But with so much time to break up along the way, it caught the attention of former tourmates and friends of the column Frozen Soul, who relayed this inside info to Decibel’s nerdiest duo.

This love of the game, however, is far from isolated to his hours on the road. A lifelong joystick junkie, Beasley has decades of experience across several generations of platforms and the trophies to prove it. On the road, in his home, with friends, flying solo, his preferences for all things digital boil down to a single word: “fun.” Our hour-long conversation covered a wide variety of topics and genres with the good-natured bassist, revealing an open mind when it comes to all things gaming and taking our questions in stride (quite literally, as explained later). With only a week and a half before returning to the spotlight, however, we’re happy to share Beasley’s murderous intent for his future of free time. “I travel for a living,” he exclaims. “I need entertainment, bro!”

What was your first gaming experience?
My first? Atari 2600. I’m old. [Laughs]

Do you remember what year, what game, anything like that?
I think maybe Football, with the three guys. They had, like, eight pixels a piece. Maybe.[Laughs]

Do you remember at the time thinking, Wow, this is amazing?
I was definitely blown away right away, you know? Especially after you got past the eight pixels, it’s like, Alright. [Nods] Missile Command, games like that, I was like, This is amazing already. And it was barely anything. But it was a lot better than how it started.

Was there a bit of excitement with your family then?
Yeah, my sister, she doesn’t like them now, but she liked them when we were kids. My dad liked them when we were kids, when it was new.

Did you keep up with them or was there ever a period of time when you just fell out of interest?
No, I kept up with them, I think, pretty much the whole time. I remember there’s weird days, like, before Sega when there’s 10 different systems in a year that popped up, but I didn’t really keep up at that point.

Was it a good family bonding activity?
No, it was super competitive. [Laughs] The opposite of that.

The way it should be! Was there a point at which you realized that gaming was more of a lifelong interest or did you just know right from the start that this was something that you were really going to be into?
Probably early teens or something. Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Sega time, I guess.

Was there any particular title that hooked you?
Joe Montana Football on Sega! And then [NHL ’94], of course, for everybody. I got the game, I wasn’t a huge hockey fan, and now, all of a sudden I knew all of the players’ names, I’m into the game. And then I start watching hockey all of a sudden because of the game, really. Wasn’t the other way around, you know?

I guess Star Wars games would be the other thing back then. What was the first flying one? It was, like, right after the Star Fox stuff and all that. It was Jedi Starfighter, I think. It had, like, Obi-Wan and Mace Windu on the cover or something? It’s kind of cheesy. [Laughs]

What have you been playing lately? What are your favorite titles or series that you would say?
Always hockey on PlayStation. I like club hockey. Everybody plays. Each guy’s a human, so it’s six on six. It’s great. I love that shit. You’re forced to work together no matter what. It’s better than—for me—shooters or any other sports game. You know what I mean? And, of course, Madden and stuff like that. Red Dead [Redemption] 2 was recent. That was a great game, but it just took forever. It was just so big. I just bought the new Call of Duty and Skull and Bones on PlayStation. I play PC on tour and usually I’m playing older games. Got some Assassin’s Creeds. My PC’s from, like, ’16 now—I gotta buy a new one. That’s coming soon, either the next tour or the one after, I’m gonna get a new PC. But I’m doing mostly older games on this thing.

Chad [Green] and Michael [Munday] from Frozen Soul outed your gaming habit to us. They said, “He had his gaming laptop with him and open more than we did on both of the tours that we did.” What were the games that you remember playing on those tours?
With them, I was playing Shadow of War, the Lord of the Rings game. I think I was at the end of The Witcher 3. I was going back to that. What else was I playing? I have so many of them that are just older games on Steam, basically.

Is that because that’s what runs well on the gaming laptop?
Yeah. It’s an Alienware, but it’s old now, so I need a new one. But everything ran incredible back then on it. But now, Red Dead 2 would run and then start glitching out a little bit. It’s not acceptable, it’s just not as fun. When you’re glitching around, looking, like, Where’s my horse? [Laughs] But Skyrim or Witcher 3 or something like that plays great. The Call of Duty games or Battlefields.

Is gaming on the road kind of a must for you? Is that something that you always look forward to?
Yeah, definitely. It’s “hurry up and wait” on tour. You’ve got to become a professional time killer. When we’re not jamming or sound checking or doing a meet-and-greet or something, it’s boring as shit. We’re all looking to kill time. And everybody’s like, “Alright, you watching movies or something?”

“It’s ‘hurry up and wait’ on tour. You’ve got to become a professional time killer. When we’re not jamming or sound checking or doing a meet-and-greet or something, it’s boring as shit.”

Are there any particular types of games that you find really catch your attention when you’re out on the road?
Not really. It’s just whatever is interesting. I just played on PlayStation that game Days Gone. It’s a couple years old now and it was on my list forever. It was free on the store. I just had it there, and then I just tried it one day. It was great. Then I played it to platinum. A game like that would be great on tour, but that wouldn’t run well on this thing, probably. But, you know, I haven’t tried that yet. Something like that was great. That was a good story, actually. It got bad reviews, so I didn’t play it.

Exactly! So many reviewers panned it, and I [Michael] was like, Eh, I don’t need another open-world game.
Same here. I was like, There’s a lot of games like that. So then I’m thinking, Eh, it’s a bike, it’s a zombie game. It sounds kind of cheesy. And then the story starts. And then I’m watching the whole movie. I’m not skipping the movie. And I’m like, Alright, wow, that’s cool. Damn, this bike is nice. [Laughs] It’s supposed to be in Oregon forest areas, so it’s a lot of wooded area and everything changes, and it looks great. It’s not all super colorful, like some Black Desert stuff or something. But it looks amazing and the gameplay is so good. Smooth. It’s not clunky, glitchy, none of that. Especially with the bike, I was surprised how well it worked out. You go from one game like Red Dead, if you even bump into somebody, he draws a gun on you, “What the hell?” But if you’re in another game like The Witcher, you can just jump on that horse and go, like, 60 miles an hour. [Laughs]

Do you typically follow reviews?
If it’s a brand new game—like, a $70 game—and you just look and see what people say, especially if it’s really bad, is when I don’t check them out. If it’s, like, four out of five or something, then who knows? Maybe they’re in the middle, maybe they don’t like what I like. And then there’s a bunch of reviews that are awful. Usually, that’s a good sign that it’s not that great. And that’s how it was, from what I remember. And they were definitely wrong.

When it comes to the AAA stuff where it’s $70 bucks for a new game, I’m [Michael] like, I’ll let IGN tell me if this is worth it or not.
Seriously! Yeah, something like that just to see like what someone says.

There’s definitely been a couple times where I’ve been burned. But I’ve definitely heard the same thing about Days Gone. A lot of people have been like, “The reviewers were just absolutely incorrect.”
I saw some thing, they were talking about the world itself, how it looks, and how responsive the bike is to you. And I was shocked how good it was at being responsive. It wasn’t too easy, the bike’s definitely jolting around and everything. It’s not smooth and simple, but it was just good. It was realistic and it was easy enough where you could control it. It was great. I was shocked how good it was. And the things they said were completely wrong, too. It wasn’t like, Oh, OK, I see why they said that. But it’s not that bad, it wasn’t like that. It was like, Well, that’s totally the opposite of what I think. That’s crazy.

Especially fighting the hordes and stuff like that. I played Zombies on Call of Duty and stuff and it’s easy—you can just back up and get them all lined up and just start mowing them down. This game, they’re constantly running around you, getting to the sides and you’re constantly backed [up] like, Fuck! And then you gotta figure out how to get them lined up again, because they’re constantly surrounding you. The AI with the hordes and the zombies was pretty good, too. They’re constantly trying to get behind you.

Do you have a laptop that you’re eyeing up for the next tour?
I mean, I’m looking at them, but I’m not sure yet. That was the weird thing when I started doing gaming on desktop. I think I was really in when Skyrim came out, as far as playing desktop stuff. And then it’s just too much to keep up with. You gotta constantly change it, know all the parts, what’s out, what needs to be updated, all that crap. I didn’t feel like following all that. Console’s more fun. That’s why for touring, I’m just gonna get whatever is in the machine, and it’s gonna last how long it’ll last. I’m looking at the Alienware again, but I got a 19-inch screen, so it’s a bitch going through the airports, you know? Carrying it around. But it’s great when you’re sitting there.

You said that you prefer the consoles for the very reason of just the specs in general. What are the consoles that you have now?
Just PS5 right now, PS4 downstairs in front of my treadmill.

Are there any PS exclusives that have really captured your interest?
Definitely the God of Wars, the first three I loved. I just started the one—I just have too many games—the one that went Norse, I guess? Looks cool. What else is PlayStation exclusive?

Spider-Man, Bloodborne.
Oh, Spider-Man! I love that first one. God damn, that was incredible. Yeah, I was surprised how smooth it was swinging around. I was digging that, that was a great game.

Bloodborne is the big one for me [Michael].
Yeah, I didn’t like that one for me. Any kind of action or RPG like that, if they’re too slow, I don’t like the slow games. The big [mimes slow-moving swing of an axe]. Ugh, Jesus Christ. I like [them] faster, like Ni-oh or Ninja Gaiden. I’m playing Sifu on PlayStation now. It’s faster. The slower games, I don’t know. I’m just like, This is so slow.

What is the most important aspect of a game to keep you interested?
It’s funny, it’s different for every game. Like Days Gone, the story hooked me. I was surprised. I didn’t skip any of the movie stuff, which I usually always do halfway through the game, basically. “Okay, I know. Yeah, whatever.” So that was the story. But then I’m a trophy hunter, so I’ll get platinums on PlayStation. If the game looks like you can get the platinum, I’ll do that, and then that’s the motivation. It’s got to be fun, though, or I’m not gonna play it. The motivation is different every time. And hockey, that’s the only sports game I play pretty much every year.

How many platinums would you say that you have?
I got 51.

I [James] think I have two. [Laughs]
[Laughs] A friend of mine goes, “How did you get those?” I was like, “I don’t know!” I don’t like those story games, I don’t know what you call those type of games where you just run through like a movie.

“Walking simulators.”
Yeah, it’s, like, a six-, eight-hour game, you get a platinum on it. It’s just kind of boring. I do have one of those—Game of Thrones [Telltale Games, 2014]. But that was it, it’s my only one. If you just wanted platinums, you could play those, but god. [Laughs]

Was there any one platinum in particular that took you forever to get?
Witcher 3, probably. That one was hard. Red Dead 2, I’m at 99% or whatever. I still can’t get the last one, it sucks. You need, like, one wolf, right? And you’ve got to study it with the binoculars. And the second it happens, it attacks you. And once it sees you, you can’t study it anymore. You can kill it, but you can’t study it. It’s kind of glitched out where I’m like, Man, fuck! [Clenches fists] So, yeah, I just kind of gave up on that one now. That was my pandemic game, actually. Most of 2020, I was playing Red Dead 2.

Obviously, nobody planned for the pandemic. But did you go into that [thinking], This is an incredibly long game, this is what I want to play? Or was it just coincidence that you were playing it?
I just happened to be playing it. I mean, it was new at the time. It came out, I wanted to play it and then that happened. I don’t remember exactly when it came out. It was right around when it started, I think. It was fun. You start getting used to how to deal with the horse and the traveling and all that, so you’re not bored sitting there looking at it just going [mimics riding horseback with blank, wide eyes]. You start figuring that out. It makes the game a lot better.

Did you always have that completionist streak in you, even from earliest days of gaming?
Yeah, even before the trophy thing or anything. It didn’t matter what it was. If it was fun, if I liked it a lot, I wind up just doing everything.

When you’re out on tour, is gaming more of a solitary thing or do you ever get time in with bandmates or tourmates?
No. [Drummer] Tre [Williams] used to play when Skyrim was out. He used to always bring his PC out. I see him here and there playing Fallout now—I think Fallout 4—but he’s not playing much anymore. Usually it’s hard to get fast internet. Even when the club has it—we don’t have it on the bus—usually it’s all glitchy. I think Chad [Green] was bringing his own thing with him everywhere in the States. And then he wasn’t gaming at all. He had his own internet disk, whatever it was, a little hotspot. But that’s the way to do it. I’m gonna start doing that in the future, I think. But in the past, unless you’re parked right in front of the club and all the buses are together, usually it doesn’t work out.

Story games feel very safe for when you’re out on the road. Do you typically prefer multiplayer games at home or do single-player story-based games still hold your interest?
Both. For shooters or sports games and stuff like that, of course being at home is great because you can go online and it’s fast. It’s not like being on tour. You don’t really get the same opportunity. We’ve done it in the past where I bring something for the TV on the bus, and then only a couple times people will play it. It’s usually our crew, then they get frustrated getting their asses whooped. [Laughs] So then it’s like, Alright, I’ll just bring my computer, just do my own thing.

So that was a push in the past, bringing a console or a gaming PC to set up on a bigger screen so multiple people could play?
Yeah, we used to always do that before. But then it was like, I don’t want to monopolize the TV. Let all the guys watch TV or whatever they want. We’ve got so many people—there’s, like, nine of us now on the bus. So, I can just set up and just be in my little world so as not to encroach on everybody else’s entertainment.

This interview is going up right before your appearance at Metal & Beer Fest and you’re going to be playing an old-school set. What would you say are some of your old-school favorites in terms of gaming?
Old-school ones? Man. Jedi Academy. I played it on PC, but now it’s on PlayStation and Xbox and all that. That was a good, old one, though. The first real lightsaber game [where] you could control it and actually manually swing it around. There wasn’t any preset buttons or whatever. That was a good one.

You seem to like the Star Wars adaptations to video games.
Yeah. I don’t play that many of them now, though. But yeah, I did.

What do you think it is about the Star Wars series that lends itself so well to gaming?
Lightsabers. If you’ve got a laser sword in a story, you’ve already got a good start. And I can’t believe they fucked it up so bad now. You have lightsabers and you fuck the story up—it’s awful. I hate the new ones. Can’t stand it. Hate all of them. So bad.

Are we talking films or games?
Films. When they drop the characters into games like Battlefront II, I don’t even want to play that.

Yeah, I [James] checked out on the films. Not to be too grumpy of an old man, but I just don’t care. I heard that last game [Star Wars Jedi: Survivor] was good, though.
Yeah, yeah. I got the first one, I think it’s called [Star Wars Jedi Knight II:] Jedi Outcast, the first one. Same character or whatever, that’s the second game. That was pretty good, but it was kind of easy. It’s a little easy. I got a bunch of games that I started but didn’t go that far into it. And then what’s the other one? Squadrons? That seemed pretty cool. But there wasn’t that many people playing it online.

PC gaming has always been a bastion for indie games, single-developer games. We’re seeing more of them getting a bit more recognition over time, even though it’s still underground. Do you ever do you have any interest in the indie titles or do you typically prefer the bigger AAA titles?
I like both, but usually it’s hard to discover the indie titles, unless you’re sitting there buying a bunch of $3 and $10 games. The free monthly PlayStation games come out. What was one called? [The Deadly Tower of Monsters], it was hilarious. It was acting like they were in a 1950s sci-fi set, like they were shooting a movie type of thing, but the creatures were really trying to kill you. It was hilarious. And then the guy’s making these smart-ass comments the whole time. It’s the same guy that talks in the Maneater game [Chris Parnell]. It’s hilarious, but that was an indie title. It was great. I platinumed that one because it was just fun and hilarious. And there was one called Rogue Aces, a little plane game. Love all the stuff like that.

Dying Fetus is known for really over-the-top gore-soaked lyrics. Is that something that you’re also interested in with gaming, or do you look for stuff that’s a little bit of a break from that? You said that [The Deadly Tower of Monsters], part of the appeal was that it was so funny. Does that factor into what you look for in entertainment at all?
Not for games. For games, it’s whatever is fun, really. Sometimes it’s the gameplay, sometimes it’s a story. You said something like that earlier: “What attracts you to it?” It seems like it’s all that stuff, but it just depends on which game it is. It’s never the same thing, it’s usually something different every time for me.

We’re also seeing a lot of influence from video games on lyrics. Has there ever or would there ever be a game that you feel could be an inspiration for Dying Fetus lyrics?
Games don’t really bring something like that out. Story-wise, they’re all over the place, so it’s different. There’s not really, to me, a correlation. Music-wise, it’s fun for me because games or shows, you’re sitting there and can fuck around and jam to it. The Days Gone game’s got this little cheesy acoustic thing, but it was cool, it was catchy. It’s nothing metal, but it was just sitting there, catching in my head, because I’m playing the game so much. It’s on the screen, the song’s playing, I was getting a cup of coffee. I was like, Damn, that shit’s catchy. So, I pick up my guitar, I start playing it. The Mandalorian, those first two seasons were great and I sat there and played to that. So the music does, but not for lyrics.

Has any of that ever seeped into a song? Something like a melody you carry forward or anything?
No. [Laughs, shakes head] Games, it’s always gonna have to be something kind of atmospheric somewhere in that. It’s like a movie soundtrack where you’re trying to tell the story with them. You’re letting the action take place, though, and you’re complimenting it. It’s gonna be kind of weird, it’s not gonna be a song.

It’s not like you’re gonna write a tribute to Manhunt or something like that in Dying Fetus.
[Laughs] Manhunt, I remember that one.

I remember when Vader did the first Witcher song. It’s funny, I didn’t even know they did that song. I didn’t even know about the game yet. I was already touring with them. And I had found the game another tour I did with them and didn’t even know they did that first song yet. It’s a Polish/Slovak story, so they’re all about it. I was like, Wow, they fucking made a video for it! This is good! And it’s heavy, it’s death metal. But then they made that Netflix show and it’s a folky song or whatever. It’s catchy, but it’s not metal, not even close. It’s just funny, the difference. Going from a death metal band like Vader to a folky song with the same story.

We had no idea they did that.
Yeah, the first Witcher game. It’s a really old game now. Their games are seven years apart and the first one was a mouse-moving-your-guy type of thing. It was really cheesy. But yeah, they have a video on Steam. You can go on Steam to any of the Witcher games. You know that there’s videos and stuff if you slide down, people comment—you’ll see their video on there. The song’s called “[Sword of] the Witcher.” Look it up when we’re done. It’s killer.

I [Michael] can’t believe I didn’t know that. I feel like such an amateur right now.
Well, I didn’t know it either! [Laughs] I toured with them and didn’t know it. It’s got all these little scenes from the game in the video. He’s drinking his little potions and all the veins are coming out of his neck during the video. Even though it’s old animation, it’s still kind of cool, with Vader doing the song. [Laughs] I can’t wait to see [vocalist/bassist] Peter [Wiwczarek]. I’m gonna be like, “Dude, I didn’t even know you fucking did that!” We played a fest them… Damn, it’s been, like, a year, though. I didn’t even see it [then] yet, I just saw it recently.  Like, what the fuck? No shit. Who knew this was out there?

We’re seeing more bands doing songs for soundtracks. Would there ever be an interest for Dying Fetus to contribute to a radio?
Oh, yeah. That’d be amazing. Oh, that’d be the dream. For games, especially something brutal, like a new Manhunt. [Laughs]

I [James] was thinking, too, a super fast-paced trailer for a hockey game, slamming into each other.
Oh, yeah. When you see highlights and stuff like that all the time, it usually either sounds like metalcore or kind of thrashy stuff. You’ll hear metal, though, a lot in the highlights of hockey plays. That’s always cool. Even though the new one sucks and it’s awful—I gotta mute it now. It’s better than the rap music on Madden. [Laughs] I can’t even do it this year. UFC and Madden are 100% rap. There’s not even a rock song or even, like, the old-school football songs that they would play in some of the old games. Shit like that will be better than just non-stop rap music in the game.

They had a NASCAR game. It’s, like, half metal and the other half’s rock. It was pretty good, I was shocked. I’m not really into just “turning left” racing games. It was something to do on the treadmill for a little bit.

You said you got the PS4 set up at the treadmill. Do you hit the treadmill and pick up a controller?
Yeah, sometimes. Other times, I just watch the movie or something.

This is amazing to me. I’ve [James] always wanted to find a way to actually play a game while doing something fitness-related. What kind of games do you play on the treadmill?
Anything. It’s farther away. I forget the size of screen down there, but it’s not as big as my living room screen. It’s pretty far away, so you can’t play something like Days Gone. That was kind of hard when you’re walking through the woods. I think I was playing, like, a basketball game, football—you can play any sports game. I was playing Family Feud and Wheel of Fortune and shit like that on there. It’s just an easier game while you’re on. I’m not trying to fall off the thing, you know?

I had surgery on my foot beginning of ’22. I had two surgeries—one in ’20, some cleanup thing and they messed it up and I had to get it fixed. So I’m not running, I’m walking, doing, like, four miles an hour right now. I’ve got metal in my toe and big knuckle in one of my feet right now, so I’m not running full-speed anymore. It’s easy to walk, it’d be different running. Running, I wouldn’t play anything besides, like, Wheel of Fortune or something easy. [Laughs]

When I play hockey, they all trip out. They’re like, “Are you really on the treadmill?” Because I don’t put the headphones on when I’m on the treadmill because I just start sweating. And I’m like, “Yeah, I’m not talking. I’m on the treadmill.” And they’re like, “For real?”

You’re not running on the treadmill, but does it feel more immersive as you’re getting sweaty when you’re playing hockey?
Especially when I was running before I had surgery or whatever, because then it would [pantomimes stumbling forward] slow down. Whoa! Scared the crap out of you when you set it for an hour and then it would stop. Like, Whoa! Hold up! And then you’re like, Damn, I just did an hour. You don’t even realize it. It’s better than a movie. Time flies quickly. You’re sweating your ass off and you’re like, Wow, okay, cool. Alright, sweet, I’m done.

You have fest appearances lined up this year and you have at least a North American tour, if not more that we don’t know about. What’s the game that you’re looking forward to when you hit the road in April?
I bought the big Assassin’s Creed package. It was, like, every game for $90 or something on Steam. I was gonna start with Black Flag, but if I buy a new PC, I’m not sure yet. If I buy a new one, I’m gonna buy something new. There’s no hockey on PC, which sucks. I don’t know why they don’t make it.

Get that thing, have everything running on ultra, get all these polygons.
I did that when I first got mine. It was lightning, it was so fast. With the PS5, you play a game like Skull and Bones—new game—and it gives you little hints at the bottom of the screen, you push left and right, you see the next hint or whatever. You only see one hint maybe, boom, the game’s already up. Couldn’t even read it, the game’s so fast. I love it. It makes it easy, too. It was funny, though, when you got a new game with the hints and you can’t read them. [Laughs]

Are there any other games that you’re looking forward to this year that are coming out, but you’re not going to be able to get in time for tour?
There’s some new South Park game [South Park: Snow Day!]. It’s a four-way multiplayer game coming out. I pre-ordered that one. That’s for PlayStation, though. I’m not buying anything new until I buy a new [PC], though. I’m buying everything new on PlayStation for now. I started shopping and then looking at all the different PCs. It’s just so many of them, it’s ridiculous. You’ve got the best big screen one, you’ve got the best small one, you got the best performance one. It’s like, Alright, what’s the best in general? Jesus Christ.

You mentioned South Park. Why not try to get Dying Fetus into that one?
In the game? That would be amazing. I mean, we were on the show.

Yeah, who knows? You take the vocals out of a part, play something catchy and then you can use it that way.

Just hit up [South Park co-creators] Matt [Stone] and Trey [Parker]. [Laughs]
Yeah. [Laughs] It’ll be great.

Get tickets Dying Fetus playing an “old-school” set on April 13 at Metal & Beer Fest: Philly 2024 at the Fillmore Philly here.
Get tickets to see Dying Fetus on tour with Full of Hell, 200 Stab Wounds, Kruelty and Psycho-frame here.
Make Them Beg for Death is available now via Relapse Records and can be purchased here.
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