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Servants of the Mist
It didn’t take Servants of the Mist too long before they went into the studio to record and issue the follow-up to last year’s Suicide Sex Pact EP. Gross Knowledge of Genital Mutilation brings three brand new compositions and one cover to the masses interested in truly depressing Sludge and Doom Metal performances. After such a crushing experience, I couldn’t help but reach out to the group with some questions. Guitars Ed Tober, one of the founding members, took the time to address why this is a digital only release, the value of physical releases today, and much more.

First of all, Servants of the Mist formed in 2010, but the band has only started issuing material since mid-2013. Why did it take so long before the band started releasing anything?

Ed:
We recorded a have a half dozen songs from that era. We did not mass distribute them. The reason being that we were still discovering our sound and identity. The songs Stillborn, Servants of the Mist, Savior, Devil calls, Teeth, and Blackout the Sun are all from 2010/2011. They can all be found on You tube somewhere. The Daydreamer single was not actually a single but a 2 song EP. The additional song “Flesh” was never released but can be found at servantsofthemist.reverbnation.com. I think the release date was 2012. Those songs were recorded using different production strategies and band personal. We feel like those songs are not indicative of who we are now.

In 2013 you released a single and the successful Suicide Sex Pact EP. Why did you go this route instead of waiting to get maybe one or two more songs down and issue a full-length?

Ed:
Suicide Sex Pact are 3 songs nearly or over 30 minutes in length. I don’t like the time it takes to record a full length. If I have some songs I like, then I want to get them out to the public. The length of the songs also play a part in my decision to release 2 to 3 songs at a time. Three Servants songs can be as long as 30 minutes. I want to release something every 6 months are so. I also don’t want to produce an album with 2 or 3 good songs and 5 songs that suck or don’t particularly represent our true intentions or state of mind.

What is the writing process like for Servants of the Mist? Do you find composing new material in the Funeral Doom Metal style a lot more difficult than traditional Doom Metal?

Ed:
I write most all the material and lyrics. Richard Smyth JR. also contributes lyrics . I write music that comes from the sadness in my soul. It is rage, fear, and love that serve to inspire me. I don’t set out to really write any particular style. I take the conflict within and create sound.

Upon listening to Gross Knowledge of Genital Mutilation, I heard a lot of different styles going on, picking up on some Crust Punk, Stoner Rock and Sludge Metal. Were there any other genre’s you tackled on here (if so, what?) or perhaps tried to incorporate but just didn’t seem to fit?

Ed:
I never set out to mimic any particular style. The listener interprets the message, the vibe and the style. I just write from the perspective of a disturbed individual. I have engaged in and been betrayed by traditional values and ideas. I want my music to be my fury and rejection of ignorant morality. I am complex and where my feelings lead me is the direction the music takes.

The band did a cover of the infamous GG Allin track “Commit Suicide.” What prompted you to record this for Gross Knowledge of Genital Mutilation? Also, how much of an influence is he to you and the other members of the band?

Ed:
We have always wanted to do a cover song. We debated on several songs from several bands we admire to put on the EP. I eventually just said fuck it!. I have always loved GG Allin. The song commit suicide was sadly a song I strongly related too. I cant speak for the majority of the band. I have always loved GG Allin for a variety of reasons. I felt he spoke to me and my alienation. His lack of modesty and extreme stage antics represented my anger, confusion and sadness. It took me from self pity to empowerment. The blood from his body was my blood. GG Allin made me feel ok about being slightly mad and perverse. I love him and miss what he could have contributed artistically if he was still alive. I find solace in knowing that the way he died was really the only way he could die.

At the start of Gross Knowledge of Genital Mutilation, it seems the band tackles more of a psychological stance then anything, even with the choice of covering “Commit Suicide” thanks to the audio samples you used. But then there’s the title track seems to go for more of a shock value approach from what I can decipher of the lyrics. How exactly does this song fit in with the whole picture?

Ed:
It is the sad reality of the condition of my mind. I struggle with terrible depression. Suicide can be a comforting thought. Remove yourself from the chaos of the world. The greatest thing about suicide is that it is your choice. Your life and your choice to end it should it no longer work for you. The title track is about sexual anger. It is not about shock value. Sometimes I hate my sexuality because of the emotional ramifications. We use it to humiliate each other. We connect deeply as one whole being to only have one or both people ruin it with their selfishness. We are instinctually programmed to seek it despite the destruction that follows. The title track addresses that. It speaks to my periodic hatred of women, my emotional vulnerability and my inability to control either.

In keeping with the psychology theme, looking at the music and the severe topics the band covers, do you feel that constantly performing material like this may be or perhaps already has affecting you or the others in some way, or would this be more along the lines of preventing yourselves from drifing into those very depths of madness these recordings glorify?

Ed:
I feel that covering the topics we cover are not a choice. These are issues and attitudes that have developed over years. The listener who spins a Servants cd is already in a place similar to where we dwell. You have tried to conform and been shit on. You have tried to love and been betrayed. You have made choices based on what is supposed to be right and found no answers. We advocate a life of excess and freedom of choice. No longer denying the asshole you are but embracing it in all its lovely realism. Our music can be therapeutic or it can be harmful. Our music is honest and unfortunately the madness we speak of is not hypothetical. I would like to think we all have that madness inside us.

In a recent interview you stated that there has been no label interest and that you “don’t expect any.” I could easily see Gross Knowledge of Genital Mutilation issued through Relapse Records of Southern Lord Records, a label you admit to wanted to be on. Why do you feel that way about the topic? Also, if you were, do you feel it would benefit the band, or just be more of a burden for everyone to bare?

Ed:
I suppose its pessimism and the reality of the business. I think we are as good as any band in our genre. The sheer number of bands makes it unlikely but not impossible to get major label support. I also create art as a way to control the monster within and not to receive accolades or praise. I like the prospect of a label for the fact that more people could relate to our psyche. I actually think it would be a good thing for us. I have also learned to expect nothing. We are not mainstream and the things we talk about could make us a hard sell

When putting this and the review together, I couldn’t help but notice Suicide Sex Pact is a “name your price” download on your Bandcamp. How is that working out for you? Have you had many high price downloads lately? Also, will you use that approach again for Gross Knowledge of Genital Mutilation?

Ed:
Its working out how I expected it would. Distribution for Suicide Sex Pact was very limited. How can I ask a set price for a band with no name or reputation. I think that is where a label could help us. We had very few purchases of Suicide Sex Pact. We have had nobody really want to pay a high price for any of the music. I would be feel the same way. I need a band to prove something to me before I’m willing to really support them. Gross knowledge will also be name your own price.

According to the accompanying press release, Gross Knowledge of Genital Mutilation is digital only. Would you mind explaining why in the world you are not making even a limited vinyl run available? Or are there already plans in the work to do so that haven’t been addressed yet?

Ed:
Vinyl is an idea but very costly and funds are limited. We will be printing up CD’s and tapes. Very few people buy music anymore. I asked a former band associate about the pro and cons of vinyl, CD’S and tapes. Most people download music. Very few people buy music from an unknown band. We hope that changes.

Given that Gross Knowledge of Genital Mutilation was released only eight months after Suicide Sex Pact, is it safe to assume that you guys may already by working on new material for another EP, or perhaps getting closure to releasing your first official full-length album?

Ed:
Always working on new material. I always want to top my previous release. I want more depravity, more sadness and more heaviness. We will have a new ep released more than likely before the new year.

Well, aside that and the upcoming show dates for August, what’s next for Servants of the Mist?

Ed:
A new EP, more touring and possibly obtaining some management to work with our PR company. We are motivated to bring our own hell to the next level. We are also realistic but will always continue to create art that speaks to the soul…

Thank you very much for your time, Ed! I appreciate it, and I really hope the new EP gets the love from fans it deserves. Take care!

Ed:
Thank you for your interest.

Servants of the Mist: Gross Knowledge of Genital Mutilation
Servants of the Mist
Interview conducted thanks to Clawhammer PR.