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An Interview with Mike Naish of Shroud of Vulture

Our local scene has recently seen a resurgence of new bands outside of the stoner/doom genres, with new releases from Obscene and Fleshbore immediately coming to mind. The latest one we’re thrilled to feature is Indy’s Shroud of Vulture. While their music still has elements of the doom sound that has earned our scene national recognition, it’s the mix of black and old school death metal that make it one of the most refreshing local releases this year. It also doesn’t hurt that the band is made up of a who’s who in the Indy metal scene, including Nate Bracey (Kata Sarka, We Must Dismantle All of This), Justin Rea (Tunguska, Black Goat of the Woods), Billy Boswell (Phunkbot), and Mike Naish (Astral Mass/Apostle of Solitude).

Shroud of Vulture are releasing their demo Valium I on November 25th, followed by a release show on December 15th at State Street Pub with Obscene (also celebrating their release of Sermon to the Snake) and legendary Muncie death metallers Legion. I was fortunate enough to catch up with bassist and local treasure Mike Naish to talk about how the band got together, their demo, and more. 

Shroud of Vulture Indy Metal Vault

Indy Metal Vault: Hey Mike, thanks for agreeing to this interview. We’ve been following your musical career for a couple of years, but never got the chance to speak with you about it.

Shroud of Vulture is a departure in style from what most people might be used to from you. How did the band come together? There seems to be a bit of a shortage of quality death metal bands in Indy (at least compared to the stoner/doom scene) – was that in any way the impetus for you all coming together?

Mike Naish: First of all, I wanted to say thanks on behalf of the band for your interest. We greatly appreciate it and are grateful for the opportunity.

Yeah, that is definitely true about this band, the local scene, and what I have done in the past. I don’t think that we initially intended to fill any scene voids. It started by me replying to an open post on Facebook from our first drummer stating “Who wants to start an Ahab tribute band?” I think that the original intent was for the band to be far slower than what we do today…much, much, much slower. “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Ideas start as seeds in one person’s mind, and then grow into something completely different when additional tastes and style begin to influence it.

IMV: All four members of the band are veterans of the Indy music scene, and if I’m not mistaken at least a couple of you are playing in more than one band at the moment. Is it difficult juggling multiple commitments like that? How do any of you find time to have non-musical lives?

MN: You hit the nail on the head: we are fortunate to all have had experience playing shows, recording, and touring. This is a huge benefit as we spend our time writing songs and managing the band rather than teaching one another how to be in a band. We can be more focused that way.

I definitely have a few projects going on at the moment with Apostle of Solitude and Astral Mass in addition to Shroud of Vulture. It is a constant scheduling exercise having multiple projects. The problem with multiple projects is that rescheduling practice is almost impossible if something comes up. We seem, however, to be able to still spend quality time on band business even when we cannot get together.

I would classify myself as ‘highly energetic’ or ‘highly productive,’ and my days are relatively structured to ensure that I have time for work, bands, and the rest of my life. The key is to have focus around how you spend your time. As a band, we make time to get together and spend a lot of time collaborating to ensure that we are productive when we get together. We function as a unit or team: everyone has a job, and we work together to make shit happen.

IMV: You’re getting ready to release your first demo, Valium 1. How representative is “Screwdriver,” which is an absolute fucking ripper, of the rest of the demo? Also, I’m curious as to where the title came from, because the last thing I think of when listening to the track is chilling out on benzos.

Mike: Another huge compliment…thank you. ‘Screwdriver’ was the first song that we wrote as a band. It is absolutely representative of the demo, but we have taken a different course with the new material that we are writing. Songs that we write intentionally sound like Shroud of Vulture (at least to us), and things that don’t sound that way are shelved or saved for later use.

Think of it in terms of being repeatedly stabbed with a blunt instrument rather than a beverage…I will defer to Nate (Bracey) regarding the origins of the name.

Nate Bracey: During the writing process for this demo, I had been working on some ideas for songs about the struggle I was dealing with in regards to the balance between substances, work, and my personal life at the time, but with that concept taken to its most logical extreme. The song “Screwdriver,” as Mike said, was the first song we put together, and while I’d say it’s representative of most of the rest of the material on the demo, I feel like I can see the growth in between the tracks. It’s based around this idea that we all have something bigger and brighter to look towards; whether it’s the stars in the sky, fame and glory, or just getting out of a shitty town to grow and become something different than what we were. Everyone has it, and this character was so enamored with the brightness of the stars at night, and so disgusted with himself and his surroundings, that he sees the only way out is to punch star shaped holes in himself (with a screwdriver, duh) to let his selfishness and desire for brightness completely take over any semblance of humanity. It’s a violent song, about horrific and complicated emotions, and I felt it deserved a soundtrack that would encompass it.

Valium 1 started out as a goof we toyed with very early on in the band. We were sort of playing on the idea of a drugged-out death metal Black Sabbath kind of vibe; even though the music has changed, that concept stuck.

IMV: In terms of the production, the recording sounds fantastic. What was the process like? Where was it recorded?

MN: Thanks for the compliment on the recording. I am sure that you hear a lot of stuff, both good and not as good, so that compliment means all the more to us.

Carl Byers from Clandestine Arts Recording came to our practice space and recorded all that was unholy on the Lord’s Day of Eostre (April 16, 2017). We managed to get all of the drums, bass, and guitar in a single 10 or 12 hour day. Nate filled in the vocals a few weeks later.

It was a pretty easy process: show up, make evil, get drunk, watch your bandmates deliver a couple of flawless takes, eat pizza, and lament having to work the next day. It does not hurt one bit that Carl knows what the fuck he is doing. He also mixed and mastered it for us. He has an ear bent already to our style, so that worked in our favor quite nicely.

IMV: Since you all seem like pretty busy dudes, what’s the writing process like for SoV? Is it a collaborative kind of thing, or does one person tend to take the lead in terms of riffs and arrangements?

MN: I feel comfortable saying that each member contributes to every part of every song regardless of what they do in the band…there is no ego or bullshit. Justin is a goddamn fucking black/death metal riff machine. Working with him has been easy for me, despite the fact that we did not know each other when we started the band. Billy is nothing short of amazing behind the kit…he is a fucking clock. He brings everything that is missing between guitar and bass. Nate writes all of the lyrics and acts as a coach while the rest of us are working through the riffs. Nate knows what he wants to hear and intrinsically knows how to tweak things to complete the phrase or song.

Justin and Billy generally get things started riffing on new shit as they get to practice earlier than Nate and me. They often have three or four riffs mostly baked by the time we get then, and we jam them out until we are all satisfied with our parts. We don’t write in the traditional sense of ‘verse-verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-solo-repeat.’ We write what sounds good to us. We also record every practice so we have a rather extensive backlog of material to use.

Shroud of Vulture Indy Metal Vault

IMV: Since the standard influences question feels a bit played out at this point, I’ve started asking bands this instead: if each band member had to pick one album he felt was most important to his individual approach/playing/etc.on the demo, what would it be and why?

Billy: Nug Nascentum – Potslammer; Soma – Windhand

Mike: Every record that was released by a local band in the past three years. These are my motivators for innovation and quality. We want to stand out in the scene and contribute something unique and expertly executed.

Nate: Nespithe, by Demilich, and Mental Funeral, by Autopsy. The vocals on that Demilich record are so out of control evil and deep, and I wanted to focus on doing that, since most of the projects I’d been involved with over the past few years had focused on high to mid-range vocal styles. It was one of the first records that combined that real gnarly “brutal vocal” style with actual groove and melody, and I fucking fell in love with it. Mental Funeral is perfect from start to finish, and why the fuck wouldn’t you want to make something that aspires to that gruesome greatness?

IMV: What can people expect from the upcoming release show with Obscene? Will you have physical copies of the album available? What formats – cassette, cds, vinyl?

MN: We intend to play the demo in its entirety plus possibly preview an unreleased track. We have a ton of new material and are excited to maybe play a new one for the release show.

You can expect evil…in the form of CDs, tapes, and tshirts. Evil tshirts are always cool.

IMV: Are there any plans to do any regional touring to support the release?

MN: No, not really. We like being a little mysterious, although we acknowledge that those days are numbered for the most part for us. I feel happy that we have had mostly good reception locally, and I think that i can speak for the band when I say that we are all ready to get out on the road in support of a full album. We are busily writing material and expect to go back into the studio in 2018.

IMV: Thanks again for taking the time to answer a few questions. I’ll leave the last word to you – anything else you’d like to add?

MN: Shroud of Vulture tries to combine what we see as the most important elements of what we like (black metal, death metal, D-Beat, and thrash) and what is happening in the local scene (stoner, doom) while remaining absolutely brutal…recorded and live. The stoner/doom scene has grown rapidly in recent years, and we don’t want to alienate any of our buddies in that scene. However, none of us have much interest to repeat the past. We will make use of that which is in front of us and fake the rest.

You can purchase Valium 1 from the Shroud of Vulture’s Bandcamp page here and connect with them via Facebook and Instagram.

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