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An Interview With Kvlthammer’s Carl Byers

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For my money, the gnarliest band going in Indy right now is Kvlthammer. No fucking question. Their new record Oath (which you can download/stream here) is a highly addictive slab of whisky-soaked, nihilistic black-and-roll that’s the perfect soundtrack for your next angry drunk. We were fortunate enough to get guitarist/vocalist Carl Byers to answer a few questions for us via email about the new record.

Indy Metal Shows: So first of all, congrats on the new record–the Indy Metal Shows crew absolutely loves it. What’s the reception been like for Oath thus far? I would imagine that having it premiered via Noisey upped its profile considerably.

Carl Byers: Thanks, we’re really proud of the new record. The Noisey premiere was killer and hopefully a few people enjoyed the new songs. I don’t know how to gauge what impact it had other than seeing play counts on the Soundcloud player, but Kim Kelly rules and we appreciate her supporting us.

3540384348_photoIMS: Part of what I dig about Kvlthammer is that it doesn’t sound like any of the members’ past bands (Coffinworm, Demiricous, Lair of the Minotaur). How deliberate is that? Did you all just start jamming one day and that’s the sound that came out, or did you set out to do something different than your other gigs?

CB: Not sounding like past bands is very deliberate. I can only speak for myself, but Kvlthammer is an intersection of the things about punk and metal that I love most – it’s more or less the band I’ve always wanted to play in and is influenced by the music that is closest to me. Motörhead is my favorite band, and I let that influence show as much as possible in the material I contribute. But we all have common ground that’s been a focus from the beginning of the band: Motörhead, Venom, early Metallica, Black Sabbath, etc. and D-Beat. Initially, the band was a concept between Nate Olp, Dustin Boltjes, and me to get together over a weekend to drink a bunch of whiskey and write/record a record, leaning a bit more on the black metal side. The first time we got together we wrote ‘Pathless’ and ‘Hate Is Not Enough’ in the first 30 minutes, so things moved pretty quickly early on. I think this round of songs that are on Oath are stronger than the first album, but the spirit is very much the same.

IMS: Gear question: I really like how filthy and nasty the guitar and bass tones are on Oath. Can you talk us through your rigs?

CB: Sure. I’ve always used pretty much the same setup for Kvlthammer: Burny Les Paul (early 80s Custom or early 90s RLG-60 Super Grade) > Ibanez TS9 Tubescreamer > ’81 100-watt Marshall JMP > Emperor 4×12 cab or Marshall 1960 Lead 4×12 cab. Up until we started writing for Oath I kept my pedal setup to a minimum, with just a tuner and a Mr. Black Supermoon reverb in the mix besides the Tubescreamer, but I added a Stomp Under Foot Green Russian fuzz, a Boss DD-6 then a Moog Minifooger Delay, and a Crybaby Wah pretty soon after the first record was done.

Nate has gone through a couple different amps since we started, originally using my Peavey VTM 120 head before trying a few others (Orange AD120, Marshall Super Lead 1959RR Randy Rhoads signature), but a few months before we recorded the album he picked up a Soldano SLO-100 and that was his missing piece. It screams. His rig: Epiphone Les Paul Custom Pro Silverburst guitar > Boss DD-6 delay, sometimes a phaser pedal > Soldano SLO-100 > 80s Marshall 1960B cab.

Bob plays a Fender P-Bass > Sunn Concert Bass amp > Ampeg 4×10 bass cab.

When we recorded Oath we didn’t do too much differently. Bob used an Ampeg SVT Classic amp instead with this custom built Civil War Big Muff in front that I have from Daredevil Pedals. Nate and I used the 90s era Orange 4×12 cabs that were at the studio instead of our own and did some clean parts using a Fender Twin Reverb and a Leslie Rotary Speaker unit. Some of the solos were through an Orange OR120 amp.

IMS: I see that you’ve releasing the album on cassette. Any plans for physical releases in any other formats, like vinyl? And why do cassettes?

CB: Yeah, our buddy Antonio who does Small Hand Factory records offered to do the cassette release, which was awesome. No plans for other formats at this point, unless someone wants to work with us to release it on vinyl. Cassettes are a great and economical way to make a physical release, although I think I’m the only one in the band that actually still buys them/listens to them. Haha! I’ve always liked them as a format, and I feel like it fits the aesthetic of the music we’re making. Ideally, I’d really like to see Oath and our first album on vinyl, but none of us have time to properly promote or distribute it so we haven’t gone that route to self-release our music on another format besides cassette.

IMS: It seems like most of you in the band have been part of the metal scene in Indy for quite a while. Have you noticed any changes over the years, for better or worse?

CB: We all grew up playing in punk and metal bands. Of course, a lot has changed and will continue to do so – I don’t think it’s worth pointing out anything in particular or comparing then vs. now. Things move in cycles and hopefully there will continue to be people in Indianapolis making and supporting independent punk and metal music for a long time.

IMS: Last question: now that the record is out, any touring plans?

CB: No touring plans at this point, but we have some things we’ve talked about doing later this year. For now, I’m focusing on playing drums in my other band, Final Void, and Josh is tearing it up on guitar with Sacred Leather. Once there’s time to focus in on Kvlthammer again I’d imagine we’ll have some new songs ready to go pretty quickly and get out of town a bit.

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