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Misery Index

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Fans of death metal, punk and grindcore, Misery Index is for you ! Being on the roads of the entire world for almost a decade, the band from Maryland is on its way to reaching a thousand shows. Tonight, the band has stopped in Luzern with a full death metal tour package. I had the pleasure of spending a moment in the tour bus with Jason Netherton, singer and bassist of the band, to speak about music, religion, politics, his love of nature and the end of humanity ! Pics : Luzern show and Jason's blog []

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Let's start with the very beginning. When you first got into metal, back in the 80s, what attracted you to it, I mean not only as a kind of music but also as a subculture?
Well I guess everyone in highschool is sort of looking for identity and trying to figure out what they're gonna be or whatever, and for me I just sort of stumbled across some albums in a record store one day, some Iron Maiden, stuff like that, and I just sort of went with it and started to hang around the metalheads in school and find out about more bands and adopting that sort of anti-establishment position. You either go with the punks or the metalheads. I guess I felt more in place with the metalheads, I don't know... I liked the music better.

You also like the social issues oriented lyrics of punk and grindcore.
That came later. I was pretty unconscious about all that stuff through highschool. But later, after I went to university, I became more interested in social and class issues and stuff like that.

What kind of studies did you do?
International relations. And that sort of opened my eyes to a lot of things in the world and how power revolves and orients itself in different ways among countries and classes and stuff. So that had an impact on me and that's when I started seeking out in metal more conscious lyrics that aren't just about fantasy, killing and stuff like that.

So that's when you got attracted to the grindcore scene?
Yeah. I was already in Dying Fetus at that point, we started this band in 1991 and in the late 90s we started to turn the lyrics more about social reality and politics, and at that point I left the band to finish university and I started Misery Index as a project and I wanted to make this band more overtly political. And that's when I started to listen to more punk and grind.

Okay, I thought you left Dying Fetus because you wanted to go into a different direction musically.
No, it didn't have anything to do with music. Misery Index wasn't even supposed to be anything as serious as it's become. The first few years it was just supposed to be a studio project, but after I finished university we had label offers so I decided to jump in and see how it goes.

When you realized you had time for music again, you didn't want to get back to Dying Fetus?
No, they had already moved on and found other members. It was already more solid and I wanted to do something that wasn't into that sort of brutal death metal style. Although I liked that, parts of it, and wanted to take parts of it, I wanted to have more punk stuff in it.

You toured with Dying Fetus this year, that was the first time since 2003.

So I guess you're still in good terms with John Gallagher [vocals/guitar], even though you left the band?
Yeah, we're friends since we were kids, since highschool, so we still often hang out, whenever we can.

Do you still dig their music?
Yeah. Well, the new album especially. I wasn't into the one before it too much, War Of Attrition. It was a little... processed. But their last album, Descend Into Depravity, sure has its moments. I'm just as much as a fan of a good riff with a good hook than John is and I think he definitely brings the hooks out on a number of songs on that record.


Let's talk about Sparky [previous guitarist of Misery Index], he wasn't on the first EP Overthrow. So back at the time, what was he doing, was he still in Dying Fetus?

Right, he was in Dying Fetus for another six months after I left, and then he wasn't in a band. And when we started doing shows we got him in the band on second guitar and he was with us all the way until this year.

About his leaving the band... You said in other interviews that it was for personal reasons. I just wanted to know if he's gonna come back in the band?
He quit in April, he wasn't happy doing this anymore. He was doing a lot of touring, he was getting older and he had more and more problems with his hands and back, pain from the touring. It took a toll on him, and before a tour in the spring he told us that he would step out and spend more time at home, you know. So we've replaced him with another friend of ours, Darrin Morris. He's pretty much in the band, we haven't made any formal announcement yet, but once we get done with the touring this year we'll ask him if he's definitely a 100% percent on board.

Can you tell us a little bit more about him?
He was in a side-project of ours called Criminal Element, which we had going for several years [also with Adam Jarvis and Mark Kloeppel of Misery Index]. He was just in that, as a guitar player and he was sort of the natural guy to ask, because he lives in our area and he's a phenomenal player.

About the two other members, Adam and Mark... They've been in for quite some time now. It seems like it's finally a really solid line-up [five other guys played in the band since 2001].
Yeah, they've very much become the core of Misery Index and the driving force behind the writing and stuff like that. Adam joined in 2004 and Mark in 2005, so it's been a pretty solid line-up with those two guys and myself.

And it seems that Mark is getting more and more involved with the lyrics and the music writing.
Yeah. You know I've been writing all the lyrics for Dying Fetus and Misery Index all the way up until a few years ago, so I thought it would be good to have some other voice in there too, to vary stuff up a bit, rather than always having my approach to things, my style. He also went to school, he has an english major so he has a good background at writing and has a good knack for that too.

When you got these two guys, did you make any special request about their taste in music? Like, was it important that they liked grindcore as well?
Hum, no. At the beginning, when Adam first joined the band, it was more about "could he play the songs good enough to tour?". We were really looking mainly for a tour drummer at the time and he came in and nailed everything. And he has only gotten better since he's joined the band. And it was the same with Mark too. We got him primarily just because we needed another guy, someone who could play, first of all. But then, when we came around for writing, I introduced them to a lot of more underground types of grindcore and punk they've never heard before and since then they've grown to like some of it, not all of it, and they adapted their writing style to fit what the Misery Index sound is, and I think that really came into fruition in the last two records. It took a few years to adjust. Discordia was definitely an adjustment album, we didn't really know how to work together at that point, we just sort of went in and wrote and record it quite quickly. In retrospect, I think we would have liked to have more time to do it, but it was a necessary learning.

Is Adam also involved in the riffs writing or does he just write his drum parts?
Primarily writing drum parts. Sometimes we write riffs around his drum parts, so in that sense he get a hand in that as well.

Do you have a voice in the drum parts that he writes?
We all are open for criticism and if it's something that he feels strongly about, we'll try to meet in the middle and make accommodations so that everyone's happy.


Heirs To Thievery was released a few months ago now. In retrospect, what do you think of it? When it was released you seemed really happy with it, do you still like it that much now that you may have a more critical view on it?
Definitely love it, we think it's our best release. And it certainly was the direction we wanted to go in with it. You just always wish you had a little bit more time to tweak and do some little things to the recording to make it more fair-able. But overall we're really happy with it, and if anything we can nip-tick and say "this is too loud" or "this is not loud enough" or "this is too high or too low", but overall we think it's good.

There are many people screaming on this record [Mough from A Warm Gun, Richard Johnson from Drugs of Faith/Agoraphobic Nosebleed, Erik Rutan from Hate Eternal, John Gallagher from Dying Fetus, Vince Matthews from Criminal Element], how come?
It's just fun. I guess it's a tradition in our scene. When we have our friends do guest vocals on our record it sort of adds a little bit of variety to it in small ways. We had a handful of local friends who we could invite in and the one who wasn't local was Erik Rutan [producer and vocals/guitar in Hate Eternal] in Florida. He has his own studio so we were able to get him to do some vocals relatively easy for us. That was just a way to spice things up and have our friends involved.

Over the years, you released a lot of EPs and splits, with Commit Suicide, Structure Of Lies, Bathtub Shitter and Mumakil.
Yeah, a handful through the years.

Why so many splits and how do you choose the bands you do the splits with?
We just do it for fun, mainly. We haven't done one in a few years, I think we gonna do another one early next year. It's just something that just sort of happen, between albums. Just going into the studio and just spontaneously write some songs and release them for fun on a friend's label. For example the last one we did with Mumakil [grindcore band from Geneva], we played a show with them in the UK, and we were just blown away by them. We had like three songs, we just wanted to do a split so we contacted them.

How do you choose which songs you gonna use for an EP and which you gonna keep aside for an album?
Hum, I guess we don't have like a grand plan of what's gonna be on an album and what isn't. We just sort of figure it out on the way.


In your lyrics, you talk a lot about politics, economy and so on. I read somewhere that you were a big Neil Peart fan [the drummer and primarly lyricist for Rush]. He sometimes writes about social classes [for example the alienation of middle classes in american suburbs]. Was he an influence to you, do you write about these kind of subjects partly because of him?
Hum, no, I'm more a fan of his writing style. The whole political angle came in the late 90s when I was in university and started learning more and more about things and wanted to write about something that was really meaningful, so that when we're screaming these songs on tour night after night we're really screaming on something that is of actual concern to us. Although I appreciate Neil's stuff, it wasn't a direct influence or anything, it was more everyday life and stuff like that.

You take a strong stand against any kind of organized religion in your lyrics. But on your blog [] you quote an agnostic manifesto from Ron Rosenbaum. Do you consider yourself an atheist or an agnostic?
An agnostic. I just don't think you can know a 100% percent sure that something isn't there. We only know what we know. A hundred years ago, we thought we knew everything but there was so much more out there to learn, and it's just a continuing process I think. And to say that something isn't there, to me is like not having faith in science or possibility of discovering even further, like the origins of the universe, eventually. I don't necessarily think it'll mean there's gonna be some supreme intelligent entity behind it all, but at the same time I just think that the atheist point is just far too rigid and it's a finality of saying "there is none, that's it, there's nothing after, there's nothing before", but they don't have any way of proving it either.

Okay. Where do you get your inspiration from, besides the news?
I think I just have a really compassionate world view and I believe that everyone should have the right to leave in peace through self-respect and in that regard I think that human rights is essential, the environment, everything is sort of tied into it. So when thinking of lyrics it's always something you can pick from. For example in the new album, The Carrion Call has a sort of environmentalist approach to it, while other songs like Fed To The Wolves sort of criticizes the way our school system destroys or crush creative, alternate ways of learning and using the imagination, in favor of a more processed... hum....

One-sided point of view?
Yeah, it's almost like, I guess standardized approach to education. I know it was a necessity at some point but I think there's other ways of learning, which we can maybe tap into. But yeah it's this sort of issues or points which relate to the human condition and that we can write about I guess.

So you didn't like school but you liked university?
Yeah! Well... I liked school but I felt that it was very limiting in a sense that the teachers and everything would just push towards these sorts of numbers and everyone had to learn the same thing the same way, like assembly line. And in the end I found it uninspiring, uninteresting, and although I read on my own, I think that there are other ways... Maybe I just didn't have the write teachers. I had a couple of good teachers in university, they really knew how to tap into each person's potential, rather than writing them off if they don't show interest in learning this way.

Do you like to read books, watch movies, and take some inspiration from this kind of things? Like, on The Carrion Call, there's no human on the planet anymore, and that made me think about some science-fiction movies like 12 Monkeys or The Road.
Yeah I guess it's not a very good picture of humanity, in a sense that it views humanity more as the problem with the earth, and if humanity was to be removed from that, the earth would turn into a more viable, sustainable place... like in homeostasis [when a system maintains a stable condition] with itself. But I do think, in retrospect, that I don't have a misanthropic view of it. I think that humans are an important part of the ecology, it's just that our relationship with it has to be reconfigured, for ourselves and for the planet. But The Carrion Call view certainly fits death metal (he laughs), it's kind of a very visceral view, using very specific language to describe the earth's return to a time before men.


You sometimes headline festivals like Obscene Extreme or Mountains Of Death...
Yeah, sometimes (he laughs).

You also played in bigger fests, like the Hellfest in France. I was wondering if you get any special treatment when you headline festivals, more attention from the backstage crew or whatever.
Not really. In those festivals everyone sort of lumped together backstage, there's no special treatment. I think there might be special treatment for Mötley Crüe or Slayer or something. But at this level, it's more low-key, more down to earth, everybody is friend with everybody and there's no separation like that. Especially in festivals like Obscene Extreme, which is more punk, and Mountains Of Death which is pretty small, it's more like a family reunion sometimes.

You seems to be eager to play those festivals, since when you played Obscene Extreme you didn't even get paid.
Yeah he just bought the flights for us. The promoter have been asking us for years to play and there was always a timing issue, and that festival is not a big profit venture for him.

So you went there to hang out with friends?
Yeah, and we love Czech Republic, we hang out, we see great shows...

Did you do some sightseeing around a little bit?
I did yeah, I went for a hike in the forest around that town, it's called Trutnov I think? It's cool.

That leads me to my next question. You seem to be quite a big fan of hiking and you love birds especially, right?

I was wondering if it's a way for you to get away from all the "metal madness"?
Exactly. Especially when you're touring, there's something about getting out and hiking in the woods, either with friends of alone. And having the bird thing is like a reason to do it, it adds more interest to it. But when I go out and do that, for a few hours and come back, it always make me feel better about being on tour, and you're not just sitting in a club all day, waiting around. So anytime we can get out and do stuff we like to do that.

You mean not you especially, but also the rest of the band?
I've got them into it. I think Mark and Adam especially, they also see the value of getting out of the van or the bus when we can to do some sightseeing and walking around. It's just an essential thing I think to keep your spirits up when you're playing shows every night for months.


You did some guest vocals on quite a few albums, like Neuraxis' Trilateral Progression, Severe Torture's Sworn Vengeance, Cephalic Carnage's Xenosapien, and a few others as well...
Is there a list of all this stuff somewhere ?

No, I did it myself (he checks out my paper).
I can not even remember all the ones I've been on (he laughs).

Also Eternal Ruin's Decomposing Salvation.
Yeah! I forgot about all these.

Blood Freak's Scared Stiff.
Ho yeah that's a new one! Yeah...

I guess it's the same as you told me before, just friends of yours who invited you?
Yeah, like sometimes it's just on tour, for example during the day we'll go out and do the vocals stuff in the studio in the neighborhood and then come back.

Are these bands you personally enjoy?
Yeah! I think they're all great bands.

You wrote a couple of article on The Number Of The Blog webzine. How come, and are you gonna write for them again?
If I had time. It's just a time issue, since this tour started in May. They actually asked me to do that. A couple of the guys at the blog really liked Heirs To Thievery, they wanted it to be their feature album of the week and in relation to that I did the interview and provided a couple of articles on other stuff.

Did you choose the subjects of the articles? [“North America Versus Europe – Who Wears The Metal Crown?” and “So Just HOW Good Were The ‘Good Old Days?’, A.K.A. What The Fuck Happened To The Death Metal Scene?!”]
Yeah, whatever came to me when I sat down.


Are you gonna do a video for this album, and if you do what song are you gonna choose?
It doesn't look like it now, there wasn't a budget from the label unfortunately.

Does it mean you sell this record less than Traitors?
No, it means the record label doesn't have the money for it (he laughs). I guess record labels these days are having a hard time. So I guess not, unless we do it ourselves. It's still a possibility I guess.

Is there any special direction you want to get in for the next album?
Yeah we don't wanna do Traitors or Heirs To Thievery again. We want to take elements of that and make something more ambitious. I think people think of us as a death/grind band, and I think that we're gonna release an album that's just more dynamic musically, with different kind of songs, some more straight ahead, some slower, it may even be a concept album. Something that's not gonna be expected from us. I think that's the thing we wanna do next.

But you already mixed slow and fast stuff before, on the last three albums you had your slow songs.
Yeah, we really like playing those and while we have the variety of songs on the records I think we just wanna have something which makes us more ambitious, a longer record, maybe up to an hour, a concept album to make something that is more interesting and even more dynamic that we've tried before. Just do something different.

Okay. Is there anything else you'd want to say?
Thanks for the interview, and check us out if you haven't before.

Interview : Arnaud M.

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Label : Relapse Records

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Liste des commentaires :


Merci dude ;) Ouais, il envoie dans les règles de l'art ! Et je suis curieux de voir ce qu'ils vont sortir par la suite, ça m'a assez intrigué ce qu'il a répondu je dois dire. C'est cool qu'ils décident de passer à quelque chose de bien élaborer, y'a tellement de potentiel dans ce groupe. Et quand ils partent dans des structures plus progressives (du genre Ghosts Of Catalonia), ça donne super bien. Bref, vivement la suite.

Posté le : 25.11.2010 à 23:11


Super sympa l'interview!
Bien foutu les questions!
Et putain il défonce le dernier album!!

Posté le : 25.11.2010 à 19:53


Merci pour le gentil commentaire. Oui en effet il a plein de choses à dire, et je conseille à tous d'aller lire ses paroles très riches (sociologie, politique, impérialisme culturel, anti-religion, anti-capitalisme, anti-conformisme, environnement, consumérisme, médias et j'en passe).

Posté le : 25.11.2010 à 19:52


ça doit vraiment être super intéressant d'avoir une discussion avec ce gars. Chouette interview by the way!

Posté le : 25.11.2010 à 15:03

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