8th October 2015
Interview by Demitri Levantis
On the first night of their UK tour at Nambucca, London, we caught up with the New Zealand Dgroup Ulcerate to chat about Death Metal today and how their homeland is doing in the world of Metal. We spoke to drummer Jamie Saint Merat, who has been with the band since 2002.
You’ve come all the way from Auckland, what do you think of New Zealand in the metal world today, do you think it has a good scene?
I think internationally it’s starting to get a good reputation and locally it’s difficult because it’s so small so shows are few and far between. And bands do die out quicker than I think they do overseas because it’s quite hard to get out of New Zealand but it’s quite hard to hit a ceiling in terms of things you can do like touring. You’re limited to three or four cities so you don’t get the same experience as you do when you’re in Europe or the states where you can spend a whole month touring. And if you don’t get to that stage it feels like you burn out real quick.
Where in New Zealand has the best metal scene at the moment?
I guess Auckland and Wellington are the best, always have been, but Christchurch also has lots of good bands.
Can you recommend any other good New Zealand bands that deserve strong recognition?
Witchrist, Vassafor, Sinistrous Diabolus, Stone Angels, Heresiarch – there’s lots of good stuff there.
So is there a concept to any of your albums?
They’re loosely themed but not concept albums. It’s not like each song tells a story it’s more like loose concepts for each one. Everything is Fire was based on the idea of concepts throughout time like morals or how things are perceived over time. On Vermis we’ve been looking at oppression and The Destroyers of All, especially with the cover art was dealing with how humans are animals and it’s super arrogant for us to elevate ourselves above them.
When can we expect any new material from you? Will you be playing any tonight?
Nothing new tonight. We’re about six songs into the new album and at various stages of completion so nothings ready to play live yet.
What are the main non-musical influences on Ulcerate like any particular writers, films or artists?
I wouldn’t say there’s anything non musical. There’s stuff that we like but I wouldn’t say there’s any main books or films – there might be on the lyrics but you’d have to ask Paul Kelland that if there’s anything that’s crept into his writing. From the cover art there’s some really good artists but I don’t really draw inspiration from that.
Have you played in the UK before? And are there any particular venues or cities you like to play?
This is our third time, and we played Scala in 2009 and we did the Purple Turtle in London last time which was super cool. We did Birmingham last time too and Edinburgh. I guess we’re looking forward to going back there so it’s good they’re on the tour.
Have you played any festivals this year?
Not this year but we might next year. It depends when we get the album done.
What bands do you enjoy playing our touring with the most, are there any bands where each member is like a best friend to you?
It all comes down to personality as these are people you’re going to be stuck with for long periods of time, and for us we think musical wavelength is essential, so Bell Witch for us is fucking perfect. They’re from the other side of the coin stylistically but there’s a lot of crossover which we love. We’ve had many moments in the past when we’ve been talking across people over music and we end up not finding any common ground. We’re really passionate about how this music should be played so when you get someone who isn’t gelling with your ethos it does make it a bit difficult to get along.
If you were to describe Ulcerate’s music to someone who has never heard it before, how would you do it?
The first thing would have to be, is do they know anything about metal or its history. If they don’t and they’re like 60 years old I don’t think they’re going to get it at all but if it’s someone into metal I’d say it’s very dark, oppressive death metal but it’s very dynamic from many outside influences. It’s hard to say.
What do you make of death metal in general today?
There’s two sides to the coin, on one side it’s super commercialised with lots of plastic, computer sounding shit coming out but on the other side there’s a real resurgence of proper underground stuff which is really cool. There’s a lot of good English bands like Grave Miasma and Lucifyre and I think people are getting annoyed with what death metal has become in the last 20 years it’s stepped away from what it began, being really filthy, ugly music.
What do you make of Deathcore?
I really, really hate it. There’s not a single band from that style that I like. To me Deathcore is like it’s picked up on the gimmick side of the music, it’s taken blast beats and down-tuning and there’s just no substance to it.
What are your personal favourite bands, which do you listen to most and would always recommend to people?
Well that’s a bit of a moving target. Stuff I keep spinning again and again at the moment are Mgla from Poland, Kriegsmaschine, and classics like Immolation and Goreguts.
Finally, what do you enjoy most about being in a band?
I enjoy everything about it, playing live, the writing stage and the business side of it. Once it’s all going well it’s quite fulfilling.
Well thank you very much and looking forward to seeing you play live tonight.