If hard, fast, furious, and in-your-face extreme music is what you are looking for then look no further than Whitechapel’s newest offering This Is Exile. With their trademark three guitar assault these guys have crafted a record that will be a welcome addition to fans of the Death Metal genre. They are currently part of the Summer Slaughter Tour featuring The Black Dahlia Murder and Vader and they have shared the stage with Darkest Hour, The Red Chord, Cephalic Carnage, and The Devil Wears Prada. I recently caught up with guitarist Alex Wade and spoke with him about their tour and their new release This Is Exile.
What can fans expect when they pick up a copy of This Is Exile?
Alex: Something new and different for our genre as well as us in general. There’s a lot of new stuff going on in the writing compared to the older material. I feel like the new CD is a more matured form of metal for our deathcore genre, incorporating faster more percussive death metal riffs as well as some really epic and memorable dark melodies. There are also some cool and unique effects going on in the guitar work as well.
You are currently on the road on the Summer Slaughter Tour alongside metal heavy weights The Black Dahlia Murder, as well as Vader, Kataklysm, Cryptopsy, Despised Icon, Aborted, and Psycroptic just to name a few. How is that going?
Alex: We are having a blast and really enjoying ourselves. It feels great getting to share the stage and become friends with some really talented and influential bands. It’s kind of intimidating playing with so many extremely talented bands but I feel like we’re holding our own out there.
Your brand new CD titled This Is Exile was just released, now that it is complete how do you feel about it? Are you satisfied with the outcome?
Alex: Yes we’re very satisfied with the release. Everything from the artwork, to the writing and recording came together very nicely, almost like pieces of a puzzle. The producers Jonny Fay at Backyard Studios and Zeus at Planet Z Studios did a phenomenal job at working together to give us an extremely tight and crushing CD while still retaining our raw and natural sound.
What is the hardest part about being in a touring metal band and what is the biggest obstacle your band faces?
Alex: Band members tend to butt heads quit often on the road which can be very stressful but we do a pretty good job at keeping our heads cool. There’s always an occasional explosion but usually it fizzles out quickly and we can get back to focusing on our performance. The biggest obstacle right now for us is just our tour schedule, it’s very hectic and we’re slammed right now for 2008 so we all just have to be strong and keep our cool while being out on the road so much and not go crazy and kill each other.
Your lyrics are infused with heavy detail and raw emotion. What is it that normally gives you inspiration when writing lyrics and is there a theme or themes behind the writing of this This Is Exile?
Alex: This is a question better answered by our singer Phil but I know he is inspired by lyrics that invoke negative feelings and emotions. The raw power of lyrics that can just piss you off and fuel your hate is an amazing power vocalists have. A lot of our older material was very “gore” based and had to deal with a lot of the killings of Jack The Ripper but the lyrical content on the new CD is more mature and there is a concept that flows through out the CD that the lyrics and songs were written to.
What is your view on the current state of Death Metal? How do you identify with the rest of the underground scene?
Alex: I think it is regaining its popularity. With the noticeable boom of the deathcore genre I think it is helping a lot of the new kids in the scene find out about all of the old school death metal bands that the new wave bands are influenced by. And vice versa, some of the more receptive old school death metal heads are hearing about all these new wave bands that get to tour with the old influential bands and that draws them into the fan base as well. We fall in a good area between the new school and old school crowds, I feel our sound is new and fresh that draws the younger crowd in while at the same time still retaining the brutal elements that the older crowd is into as well.
When you are on the road for a while I am sure you see and experience many different things you might not even have known existed. Are there any stories that stand out in your mind as being exceptionally strange or odd?
Alex: Being on the road we get to see all kinds of strange places and people, it’s a very interesting experience to say the least. One time we were driving down the highway and there was a Ford type truck on the side of the road completely engulfed in flames. That’s not something you see every day you know, it looked like something out of a movie. When we drove by you could feel the heat from the truck in our van, it was intense.
Are there any outrageous stories or tales from the road that you would care to share?
Alex: One time in Virginia Beach there was an incident with a gun being drawn on our tour when we were out with Impending Doom, Beneath The Sky, and Too Pure To Die. It’s a long story but needless to say it was scary as shit and everyone ran like little girls. No shots were fired though thankfully, but it was still a very terrifying moment.
All of that passion that you play with must be tough on you physically. How do you prepare for the physical demands of a tour?
Alex: Try to eat as healthy as possible to keep our immune system built up. Drink plenty of water to flush all the yucky stuff out of your system. There’s this stuff called AirBorne we try to take regularly, it has a lot of vitamins and minerals packed in it so it helps keep you healthy. A lot of stretching before and after your set always helps and for me personally good hygiene on the road always helps. That’s not the case for everyone, sometimes it’s like a who can smell the worst contest but for me I’ve got to shower and brush my teeth as often as possible.
What is the toughest lesson you ever learned in the studio and on the stage?
Alex: Toughest lesson in the studio is that sometimes when a person can’t really nail a part in the recording they need to step down and let someone who can play the part better record it. You just have to drop your pride for the better of the record and whoever can play the part the best needs to do it. On the stage you have to be mindful of your other band members around you. If you’re going crazy and get to close to someone, sometimes some pretty painful injuries can come of that. So always be aware of where you are as well as everyone else in the band.
Besides musical influences what other artists and philosophies contribute to the main messages you try to convey to the listeners?
Alex: Whitechapel isn’t really a message band, we aren’t trying to deliver a message or sway our fans on any beliefs. We just try to write the heaviest, most violent music possible. If we had any message it would definitely be a negative one.
What is next for Whitechapel?
Alex: With the completion and release of This Is Exile now our schedule is just tons and tons of touring in support of the album. We’ll be doing tours all over the US and Europe attempting to gain new fans and strengthen our fan base. Probably in about a year we’ll start writing new material to record for our next release. Just gotta keep touring and putting out solid albums for our die hard fans to enjoy!