SXSW Music Interview: Deathchant
A few words with L.A. death metal trio's frontman TJ Lemieux
Industrial noise grinds against white-hot feedback on "Pessimist," wherein Deathchant coaxes mushroom-cloud distortion and asphyxiating, six-string brain zaps. On its eponymous January debut, the Los Angeles trio treats massive fuzz volume like the Holy Grail.
"We tried fitting speakers in any nook and cranny, had amp heads on hampers and cabinets, and our full-stacks tucked away in closets," recounts frontman TJ Lemieux of the group's two-day recording process in a secluded cabin. "Everything was mic'd, so everything felt like it was breaking and falling apart. It was hot, claustrophobic."
Blitzkrieg riffs burst with a Seasons in the Abyss abandon on the first half of "Control," while abusing guitar solos on "Breathe" ricochet like Thin Lizzy's lead-guitar ascension. Not everything lends itself to "heavy metal," however. Check out the telescopic collisions of beauty and despair as Lemieux's muffled, guttural voice claws at prison walls of distortion like something wretched trying to escape the inferno. Ironclad chords interpolate low-end bass grooves on "Ritual," and Middle Eastern drone warps psychedelic on "Trigger."
"I lived in India for about a year and always liked the round but chaotic rhythmic interplay in their music," said the singer. "I remember once playing with these dudes that lived in a hut in a village called Nila, and we would all just drink beer and let loose on these meditation prayer songs. Like, 'Sit down, light one up, and jam. Enjoy the journey.'"
Lemieux lights up a joint.
"We're not interested in giving you an MP3 file to jog to."