Mark Hensch is allowed to question Knoxville's Generation of Vipers by their 'Grace' alone. See what our intrepid reporter learned about one of the South's most atmospheric, fluid, and abstract metal bands.
HHH: First off, thanks for giving me a chance to delve deeper into your art. Like most bands forging their own strain of this variety of metal, things are still very experimental and each band might have very little in common with any other. I'm interested to see who or what drives GOV in the direction that it is heading!
Generation of Vipers: Our sound has evolved tremendously since the early days of the band. We are all interested in fairly different types of music, books, etc., but we do tend to usually find common ground when we write music together. As is the case with most bands, our music and vision is a very collaborative effort and we all have our own elements that we bring to the overall sound of the group. There is really no one thing that drives us in a certain direction.
HHH: How did the name 'Generation of Vipers' come about? There's a definite grandeur to it, and in a lot of ways it fits your sound. For example, the vibe I get off of the name is that the state of human nature isn't very pretty. It is a very interesting term, and can be taken in many directions thematically. Where exactly did it come from?
Generation of Vipers: The term "Generation of Vipers" actually comes from the Holy Bible, particularly from the book of Matthew, but it actually appears a few times throughout the book. To sum up the meaning of the term very generally, it is basically symbolic of the corruption of man/woman---the inherent evil in all people if you will. It was a term that we felt accurately fit the sound, vision, and lyrical focus of our music. We could go much deeper than that, but that is the short answer to a very involved question.
HHH: Your debut, four-song album is entitled Grace. What themes or messages are you trying to convey with such a title and the songs themselves? There is an almost spiritual element to the proceedings, and I'm wondering if you guys are perhaps looking a bit higher?
Generation of Vipers: The basic theme of the record is about being humbled by grief. We wrote this record within just a few months of forming the band and at that time there was definitely an element of tremendous personal loss that was going through the band that really affected the way we were writing music. We wouldn't say that there is a spiritual element to the record, yet an element of personal growth or enlightenment.
HHH: For what is essentially a trio, GOV has a very full-bodied, robust, and outright LOUD sound. How do you put so much weight and power into your music when a band like say Cult of Luna needs so many more members to do it?
Generation of Vipers: Some of it has to do with the gear that we use (particularly in a live setting), but most of it has to do with the intensity of the music and the juxtaposition of loud/soft, dark/light, etc. and using that to an advantage to create more engaging sounds and experiences with the listener. We tried for a very long time to incorporate another member into the band, but nothing ever worked out and we eventually decided that we really didn't need anyone else to achieve what we wanted to do.
HHH: Speaking of bands like Cult of Luna (or ISIS, Minsk, Neurosis, and Pelican), which bands inspire you to write the kind of music that you produce? Though you are obviously going for a more atmospheric brand of heavy, I'd personally argue that you don't have much in common with the aforementioned bands and you'll probably be heading in your own direction down the road. Sound true?
Generation of Vipers: While we most certainly listen to those bands and are influenced by them to an extent, we listen to many other types of music outside of the world of heavy music. We are not only influenced by music, but also books, movies and other forms of artistic expression and entertainment. We simply enjoy writing and performing dark heavy music and find it very engaging. It is something that we are all influenced by, but we have always strived to do something different than those bands. We don't want to mimic our influences, yet expand on the ideas and inspiration that they instill in us---combining all of the things that we love about music and art to create something far greater than the sum of its parts if you will.
HHH: Going now into the realm of concerts, how exactly does a band like yours approach concerts? Do you let the music speak for yourselves, or is it hard promoting something far removed from say the moshpits of thrash or the sing-alongs of power metal?
Generation of Vipers: It is hard sometimes coming from where we live and playing the type of music that play, for people to accept and understand what we are trying to do. The only band remotely close to our sound musically that is from our hometown is a band called Place Of Skulls, which features Victor Griffin of Pentagram and Death Row, but they have unfortunately broken up. They played more traditional doom metal, but their music is very heavy and dark much like our sound. There are just not any other bands around our area that play the kind of music that we play. When we play out on the road we do get a better reception, but it's still hard for people to wrap their heads around sometimes. It's not music that is easily digestible or classifiable and I think that some people have a hard time trying to figure us out.
HHH: As mentioned earlier, there is a religious undertone that I get off your music. How do you feel about the state of organized religion in our world today?
Generation of Vipers: We are not a religious band nor do we have any kind of agenda. I can't speak for the band as a whole, but I (Josh) personally think that organized religion is somewhat dangerous given certain circumstances. Not all organized religion is completely bad, but for the most part I feel it typically just perpetuates ignorance, hatred and fear. Believe in whatever fulfills that need in your life and respect each other for our differences. It should be as simple as that, but obviously and unfortunately never will be.
HHH: It is interesting to note but one of the band members in GOV is a chick! Does it ever get rough splitting the band dynamic equally between male and female ideals?
Generation of Vipers: There has never been an issue with the male/female dynamic in the band. We each respect one another and each person brings forward their own specific ideas and personality to the group dynamic.
HHH: Your band is already making plans for another recording. In what musical direction will the new material be? There are so many elements inherent in GOV's sound as is that you could honestly span a few genres with a couple EPs all at once or something!
Generation of Vipers: We are going to begin recording our new record in 2 weeks and the tracks on it are definitely different than our first record. The sound overall is much darker than our previous material and much more sonically heavy than before. There are some riffs on this one that will just pound you into dust, but there are also a lot of ideas on this record that we have not previously experimented with before as well such as dual drumming for example. All of the ideas on this record are much more cohesive and matured than our last one. Overall, our newer material is somewhat similar in sound to our previous efforts, but we are branching out to explore a lot of new sonic territory as well.
HHH: Last question folks. Thanks for doing this with me today and best of luck. The final interrogation is thus: If you could say anything about your band right here, right now, what would it be? This is your chance to get your voices heard!
Generation of Vipers: Thank you for taking an interest in what we do and please check out www.generationofvipers.com for more information!