Pig Destroyer - Pretty Girls Make Great Corpses
By: David E. Gehlke
Phoning Blistering while on the road after getting off from work, Pig Destroyer electronics man Blake Harrison warns "I might have to put you down if I see a police car...they enforce that in Maryland now." The eventual country-wide ban on using cell phones while operating a motor vehicle is a novel one, sure to inconvenience those who like to gab and drive, but will probably save some lives and speed up the flow of traffic in the process. Harrison said it's a $500 fine every time a driver is caught driving while talking on the phone, with additional penalties for the dolts who text while driving. Portable phone devices are the worst thing to happen to driving since dashboard dice. (Disclaimer: Yours truly has a flip phone and can text without looking. That doesn't excuse me from dolt category, though.)
Aside from being on the lookout for the men in blue, Harrison was understandably stoked to be back on the press trail for the release of the band's first album in five years, Book Burner. For a variety of reasons (all of which Harrison was more than happy to relay below), Pig Destroyer was in sidetrack city since the release of 2007's critically-acclaimed Phantom Limb. Once the band (rounded out by singer JR Hayes and guitarist Scott Hull) hooked up with Misery Index drummer Adam Jarvis, the wheels were set in motion for Book Burner, an album that is as furious as anything PD has done, coupled with Hull's warped riffing and like usual, Hayes' lurid, twisted lyrics, sure to make anyone with a regularly functioning stomach squirm. It’s another visceral display of power-grind, accomplished in a brief, but fulfilling 32 minutes.
The new album and more were on the docket with Harrison, who thankfully, wasn't pulled over while talking to Blistering...
Blistering.com: The obvious place to start is that it has to feel good to have a new record out, especially after five years.
Blake Harrison: We’re thrilled. There’s been a lot of mitigating factors in getting this shit out. We got kicked out of our practice space a few years ago, we built a studio to record and practice, then we started having problems with Brian [Harvey, drums]. Then we got Dave Witte [Municipal Waste] and we started the record with him, but he had some issues that prevented him from doing Pig Destroyer full-time. But then we got Adam Jarvis. I know to a lot of people it seems that for the past five years we haven’t been doing anything, but that’s not entirely true. It’s been a long journey and a relief.
Blistering.com: You’ve always stayed out of any direct categorization, as in you’re not a straight grind or power-violence band. So when it comes to putting a new album out, your name is in the clear because you’re not associated with one particular trend. Do you get that feeling too?
Harrison: That could be true. I think the fact we never play or rarely play [laughs]. So for a lot of people, we’re different. It’s like, “They don’t play and they’re not coming to my hometown anytime soon.” But I know the label is really behind it and they’re pushing the record.
Blistering.com: You’re a rare breed in the sense bands have to tour to make money since no one sells albums any more. You almost have to make your albums that much better.
Harrison: [laughs] I don’t know how to respond to that. We do what we do. This record, we made more of a concerted effort to make it angry and stripped-down. Get rid of some of the pretension on some of the other records. But Scott writes what he writes and it wouldn’t have come out any other way. I don’t know if we would have put this kind of record out two years ago…it wouldn’t have been the same record.
Blistering.com: Let’s talk about Adam Jarvis. He’s familiar to most because of his work in Misery Index, but what’s he like in terms of how he fits within the Pig Destroyer framework?
Harrison: He’s amazing. He’s a phenomenal talent and a great dude. He brings so much energy. We played Calgary a few weeks ago and he’s like “These songs are a workout!” And I’m like, “Dude, you’re fucking flying!” It’s great…it sounds like a new band.
Blistering.com: Do you think things started to stagnate with Brian in the band?
Harrison: No, but I think Scott wrote more to Adam’s strengths. We had a couple of songs when we still had Brian in the band, but when Scott realized what Adam could do, the songs took off. There were a lot of factors to letting Brian go. We didn’t say he was kicked out, but we didn’t say he left. I wouldn’t say it got to a point where things were sterile, but it was a decision we made, but I don’t know if things would be the same. I know Adam is a beast of a drummer and it’s incredible working with him.
Blistering.com: From the sounds of things, some of the material on Book Burner is your fastest to date, or at least up there. Was there anything Scott threw at Adam that he couldn’t play?
Harrison: [laughs] There actually is. There’s a song we scrapped, we may revisit it, or Scott will use it for Agoraphobic [Nosebleed]. Neither Scott or Dave could play it [laughs]. It was in some crazy time-signature. It was really fast. When Adam got through trying it, he said he wasn’t sure if he could do that one. Not saying that he can’t, but when it was time to do it, no. I think it was one of things that was in 9/16 and was crazy.