Full Of Hell interview by John Silva

Full Of Hell interview

The first time I heard about Full Of Hell, I was working at a DIY venue in Indianapolis. I wasn’t at the show they played but it was clear they made an impact, as the next day my friends were gushing over them. They wouldn’t stop talking about the band from Maryland that was “heavy as fuck.”

That was over five years ago. And in that span of time, the band has grown from a small DIY outfit to a staple of the extreme metal scene. But despite reaching a noteworthy level of success, the band hasn’t strayed from their DIY roots. When I emailed them to request this interview, I thought I’d get a response from some random-ass management company. Instead, the band’s front man, Dylan Walker, responded within mere minutes: “Hell yeah! We love Razorcake!”

On a chilly day outside The Cabooze in Minneapolis, I talked to Dylan and Spencer Hazard about that DIY ethic, and how it has helped them establish an intimate connection with fans all over the country.

Dylan Walker – Vocals
Spencer Hazard – Guitar
Interview by John Silva

Full Of Hell
How would you describe your music to your grandma?

Dylan: When I describe my music to my grandma, I just tell her we’re a metal band. It’s too complicated for her.

Spencer: Yeah, exactly. “Annoying.” She wouldn’t like it. [laughs]

John: Just tell her it sounds like someone screaming at a garbage disposal.

Spencer: Even that might be a little complicated for her. It’s easier to just say it’s a heavy metal band.

John: You guys are based out of Pennsylvania and Maryland.

Spencer: Yep.

John: How does the dynamic of living in multiple cities affect the band?

Spencer: It doesn’t really because three of us live in the same general vicinity. But I’m moving to Philadelphia as soon as this tour’s over, so it’s gonna cut down on practice time. We’ll plan out practice a couple days a month, that’s it. Philly’s still only two hours away.

Dylan: And when we tour so much, honestly, I think we have a little bit of an advantage. We play live so much that we’re really comfortable playing with each other. And since I sing, with the internet I can just send demos up. It’s pretty simple.

John: How did you guys first become introduced to heavy music? It’s not the most accessible genre.

Full Of Hell
I think we all got into heavy or extreme music the stereotypical way. Skateboarding, punk, playing the Tony Hawk games. Being introduced to stuff like that. Our area’s kind of isolated from music—or a scene in general—so having Myspace really helped us find extreme and underground stuff, ‘cause we didn’t have older siblings or peers showing us extreme or super underground music.

Dylan: My mom gave me a lot of punk CDs when I was a kid. She got me into the Sex Pistols and the Ramones and Bad Brains and stuff. So that was my intro to punk, through my parents. I was pretty lucky. And I had a friend in middle school who got into brutal death metal years and years before any of us thought it was cool to listen to.

John: He was ahead of the curve.

Dylan: Yeah, he was the gross kid with Cannibal Corpse shirts on picking up dead cats off the road. So he definitely introduced me to death metal at a time where I wasn’t even ready for it.

John: Going along with the subject of heavy metal being inaccessible to some people, I’ve read a quote from you that you’re trying to make your music more inaccessible with subsequent releases.

Dylan: That might be slightly out of context. I think that with the second collaboration we did with The Body we definitely wanted it to be more extreme and less accessible. With our music it’s just doing what we want to do. It might be more accessible, it might be less accessible; it just depends.

Spencer: I don’t go out of my way to be like, “I want people to absolutely hate this!” It’s just what comes out of me is more extreme than the last thing. I also think that getting better at our instruments as well as getting older makes us more creative and able to have more dynamics in our music and able to change it up some.

Dylan: Through a certain lens—I think even the last LP—some people think it’s a little more accessible. Maybe it’s just a hair more straightforward. But that was just what we felt like writing at the time.

John: Do you feel like that helps you build a more intimate relationship with the fans who stick with you even as your sound is changing?

Spencer: Yeah, we’ve become friends with fans that we’ve seen at every show since we first started playing certain cities. We’re really good friends with some people in New York; when we’ve played shows where it’s literally just that person in a loft somewhere, and they’ve supported us ever since.

Dylan: That’s probably one of the better parts of this. It’s such a niche; the people who are into it are really into it. This style of music isn’t a “get big and famous and be a rock star” type of music, it’s like an artistic expression. And so there’s a lot of emotion that goes into it and it’s cool. It’s like a community.

John: The first time I heard of Full Of Hell was in 2012 when I was working at a DIY venue in Indianapolis and you played a show there with Code Orange Kids. What has been the role of DIY spaces throughout your career?

Full Of Hell
 Fostering our band entirely. Spencer was really good at booking DIY tours and those were the only places we would ever play and we still play them a lot.

Spencer: People think that now we do package tours and play with bigger bands. Most of the time—to even get out to or come out from these bigger package tours—we’re still just playing house shows and basements. It’s not our goal to play these gigantic venues. It’s just that we’ve got these opportunities and we’re gonna roll with it, but we’re not gonna look past our DIY background.

John: Speaking of your DIY background, you guys still book a lot of your own tours, is that right?

Dylan: Less than usual. The stuff that we book anymore… if we do something with close friends we won’t let anyone else book it. When we do stuff with The Body, it has to be booked by us. ‘Cause it’s just stupid to let somebody else have a hand in something and add cost to something that I could just book on my phone with friends around the country. When it’s a conflict of interest is when it’s a package thing like this. I don’t want my friends to have to sign some contract to book like, a big package of bands. But us booking never completely leaves the formula.

John: Does that come from a place of ethics or necessity?

Dylan: Ethics. We want to be intimately involved with every level of the band.

Spencer: ‘Cause even when we do the package stuff or work with a booking agent, we make sure we pick out each band opening for us in the city, or what city we’re going to. We hate when we get on packages and the bigger band on the tour has no idea what’s going on with the tour, or doesn’t care. We want to have involvement with the band in every aspect.

John: Getting into the music, you guys layer a lot of samples into your tracks. For example, the title track to your most recent LP, Trumpeting Ecstasy. What drives that, or what’s the artistic purpose?

Dylan: It adds depth to the music. You can color a song anyway you want. With the electronics, that was all Spencer’s vibe in the beginning. He just wanted to add more layers and more intensity to the music, and it kind of freed it up to do that. And with audio samples, a lot of bands before us always did that.

Spencer: With Trumpeting, when we wrote it, like I said earlier we won’t specifically go out to be like, “Oh, we need to write this record or this record.” But with Trumpeting, I wanted a more straightforward record. And we’ve always been influenced by bands like Dystopia and Gasp where a main part of their sound is having samples.

Dylan: And Neurosis always had really sick layered samples. It just adds atmosphere.

John: So do you play to a click track when you play live?

Dylan: Fuck no.

Spencer: Absolutely not. No.

Dylan: Never. Never will. I’d rather break up. We will never play to a click. No offense to bands that play to a click, ‘cause that’s kinda cool but that’s not our genre.

John: Can we talk about the art for Trumpeting Ecstasy? I really love that artwork.

Dylan: It’s great.

John: What was the concept behind that?

Dylan: We’re really big fans of this artist, Mark McCoy. We just sent him all the lyrics and the motif of the record and let him do exactly what he wanted. And that’s what he came up with.

John: And when you first saw it were you like, “This is perfect.”?

Spencer: We were actually kinda confused. We were thinking more along the lines of a Youth Attack type of thing, ‘cause that’s what he’s known for. But we sat with it for five minutes and then we were like, “This is actually perfect.”

Full Of Hell
 I remember thinking, “This is a little on the nose. I never in a million years would have wanted a portrait of a flaming nun on the front of that record.” But I sat with it a minute and then was like, “No, this is beautiful.”

John: How did you guys link up with Mark McCoy? He’s done previous artwork for you.

Dylan: As a fan, we just contacted him.

John: One last question. I’ve read you guys are really into food. What are your favorite nasty fast food places?

Spencer: Most of them.

Dylan: I think we’re pretty in love with fast food. I really like Flying J Pizza. That’s a hidden gem that he [points to Spencer] showed me. Flying J Pizza is actually fucking awesome. 7-Eleven pizza is really, really good.

John: It’s probably cheap, too.

Dylan: Yeah it is, but it tastes so awesome. It’s like that weird kind of pizza where it comes straight out of the oven and within thirty seconds it’s stone cold. It’s really weird.

Spencer: We try not to go to McDonalds or Burger King, but when we’re in other countries and it’s literally the only thing around, we usually go to those places.

John: Plus, it’s consistent. It’s the same no matter where you go.

Dylan: Exactly. You get that nice, consistent low level that you can rely on.


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