Knoxville deathcore merchants, Whitechapel, are currently on the road ripping faces off at the 2012 Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival. The band spent Independence Day in Boise, Idaho, and the Examiner was there to chat with vocalist Phil Bozeman and guitarist Zach Householder. The duo discussed Mayhem, the band’s new self-titled album, and the Randy Blythe situation.
Whitechapel formed in Tennessee in 2006, and includes bassist Gabe Crisp and guitarists Alex Wade and Ben Savage. All five have been together since 2007. New drummer, Ben Harclerode joined in 2011. The sextet has released four albums and one EP.
The band spent this spring on its own headlining tour prior to the start of this year’s Mayhem Festival; Whitechapel’s second appearance. Bozeman was excited about this year’s event. It’s pandemonium. It’s great. I’ve watched Slipknot every single night. I’ve never gotten tired of it. The put on pretty much the best live performance I’ve ever seen. And of course Slayer, that’s just legendary, and Motorhead too.”
With all the talent performing around them every day, I asked the guys what they learn and take away from seeing their heroes up close each day.
“Tricks of the trade.” laughed Householder. “I mean you don’t rip them off, you just watch how their production, behind the scenes, does everything. If you’re a band trying to do it, just watch how professional they do it. Just watching how smooth everything’s done. Not to mention watching them as fans. I mean these guys are legendary. All you can do is be a fan sometimes. I can’t take [Slipknot guitarist] Mick Thompson’s presence and put that in me. But that fuels me when I’m on stage as far as how I feel like I present myself, you know but not copying him.”
“It’s kind of like, I guess you could say, band college,” added Bozeman. “Obviously we would never try to mimic any band out there, because every band should have their own style. Of course there are only so many things you can do to be different— to get people’s attention. I mean a band like Slipknot did it. They’ve done what no one else has done. And Slayer is just a legendary thrash metal band, and they‘ve been doing it for so long it’s like they’ve reached that prestigious level. You watch these bands and you learn a lot.”
June saw the release of the band’s fourth record, which finds the band continuing to grow in style and sound. The guys talked about how this album compares to their previous efforts.
“It’s just a mature approach to music that we’ve written,” offered Phil. “A lot of the old fans, they fall behind the first album and just can’t progress to the next albums after that. It’s like a double-edged sword. I’m not asking people to like us. I don’t care if people like us. We enjoy writing the music that we do. I don’t think that we’re one of those bands that did a complete 180. We’re still the same band. We’re just getting older. Time has flown by. I don’t even remember being 23 anymore. It’s incredible just to see how fast time goes. At the same time there’s bands that start and they just get absolutely gigantic, but we’re just slowly climbing the hill. That’s fine with us.”
“Every album we take baby steps,” shared Zach, “and with this album anyway, it’s just thinking outside the box more. We still have the Whitechapel sound, but you gotta make it different every album I think. I don’t wanna do the same album every time. We wanna stick around for a while. We don’t want to just fizz out and die. It’s not that we’re trying to do something to benefit ourselves. We’re just trying to reach out to more people that can probably dig this album more so than some of the other albums.”
On the current topic of Lamb of God vocalist Randy Blythe, who was arrested in Prague on manslaughter charges just days before the interview, both guys appeared angry and frustrated with the situation, and the 2004 murder of Pantera and Damageplan guitarist Dimebag Darrell floated near the surface.
“I don’t know the exact 100% true story,” stated Bozeman, “ but it’s stupid. Especially for something that happened two years ago. Randy did not say ‘hey, come up here on stage.’ [The kid] did that of his own free will. You have control of your own mind. If you let it go and do something that you’re not supposed to do that’s your bad. Especially being 18 or older, you are responsible for your own actions, and [Randy] should not be held responsible for that.”
“I agree with Phil 110%,” added Householder. “ I can see with them having a right to be upset about it — it was somebody’s kid. They raised him, they loved him. And I understand where they’re coming from in a sense, but it wasn’t intentional, Randy did not mean to kill that kid, if that’s really what came out. That sh*t changed after Dimebag got shot.”
Both agreed that fans should not be getting up on stage, but in doing so those individuals put themselves at risk of injury. “I think it all just falls under common sense,” said Phil. “There’s always gonna be an accident at a show; people get hurt, kids get hurt. But people know ‘this is the risk I’m taking, no one is held responsible but me.’ Dude ran up on stage, a place where he is restricted from being – he’s not supposed to up there. And it’s just like, after what happened to Dimebag, I should be able to defend myself if someone is rushing at me.”
Whitechapel will spend the fall in Europe with The Devil Wears Prada and August Burns Red.
Watch the full interview with Phil and Zach at left and catch the band on tour in support of “Whitechapel”.
Rustyn Rose is a veteran music journalist who owns and operates Metalholic Magazine and Metalholic Radio.