Killing Addiction are a death metal band hailing flom Ocala, Florida, and were founded in the late 8os. Their first full-length album Omega Factor (1993) has reached a cut status not just in Florida, but around the globe. Their newest EP Shores of Oblivion was released on 20. october 2016 via Xtreem Music. We had the great pleasure to talk to Killing Addictions singer/bass player Pat Bailey. In this interview we talked about differences between the 90s and now. About what made Killing Addiction reform in 2006, about their recording process, and about the passing of their guitarist, brother and friend Chad Bailey.
MJM: First of all, please introduce your band? What are your inspirations and core ideas?
Pat: Killing Addiction is primarily influenced by old school music from several genres even though we’re a death metal band. The three founding members (the guitarists and I) have written music together since I was 12 years old. Musically, we’re influenced by bands such as Carcass, old Napalm Death (especially Mentally Murdered), Slayer, Sacred Reich, Kreator, Death, Morbid Angel, Bolt Thrower, Autopsy, Pestilence, and Atheist. There are many others that we like, but those I’ve listed here had a direct impact on our own song writing. My vocal style is heavily influenced by early Napalm Death, early Bolt Thrower, Kreator, Carcass, and Immortal.
Lyrically and thematically, we’re about the corruptive impulses of human beings. That’s essentially the meaning behind our name – human suffering that is a result of deliberate human decisions. I’ve never really been inspired or interested in the gore or occult themes found in death metal. I’m not opposed to them, I just can’t relate to such things, and I prefer to write about our shared human experiences.
MJM: You are active from the late 80’ but had a 12 year long break from 94’ to 06’. Why did that break happen and what made you come back together again?
Pat: The break was the result of two related things, the first being the departure of our drummer, Chris York. After the initial wave of success for death metal bands in the late 80s and early 90s, there was a fairly significant lull. It didn’t take long for the scene to become oversaturated by bands that weren’t really offering anything new.
It’s not really any different than what happens now online. The only real difference is that you were more aware of it at a local level, because the ease of instant communication hadn’t yet arrived. The internet has made it arguably worse, because anyone can upload anything regardless of whether or not it’s creative or good.
So, as a result of all of the derivative music, and the overall waning of the initial rush of death metal’s introduction, a vacuum developed in the scene and bands felt it. York decided to move on and, at the time, we lived in an area where there was no viable replacement. Realizing that, it wasn’t long after until we decided to call it a day, which I think was a smart decision.
It was also the internet that prompted us to start up again in 2006. I hadn’t done much thinking about Killing Addiction in the interim years and had resolved it to be something that I’d never do again, because I was in a different place in my life – literally and figuratively. After a move to Los Angeles, and return to Florida, at some point I searched online to see what kind of presence we had after so many years. There was surprisingly more than I expected, including people referring to us as a cult death metal band. It was shocking, and it wasn’t too long after that before we started having passive conversations about picking up where we left off. It was evident that the scene was much stronger than it was when we left it.
MJM: Did the metal scene change in the twelve years you were on hiatus, and if it did, how do you perceive it? And did your attitude and way of working change with it?
Pat: As is often the case, some things change and some don’t. The scene was definitely much larger and accessible, which was a pleasant surprise. Nowadays, everyone has heard of death metal, even if they don’t like it. Back then, the vast majority of people weren’t even familiar with the genre. It took the internet, and its younger generation, to change that.
One thing that hadn’t changed, and still hasn’t, is the oversaturation of bands, but I don’t think that’s something that will ever change now, and it’s not only true of death metal. It’s true of most genres and not even limited to music. Not everyone was born to be an artist, regardless of the kind of art, but that doesn’t always stop people from trying. It takes dedication and can be more work than people may anticipate.
We tend to approach things differently now than we would have back when we started, which is to be expected, I think. Experience changes how you understand what works and what doesn’t, both creatively and from a business perspective, because being in a band is very much running a business, if you want it to amount to something. You can’t neglect either aspect and expect to succeed.
MJM: How is it to be playing together in the same lineup after almost 20 years (note: If I’m not mistaken you did not perform live from 94 until 2013)?
Pat: Playing with these guys is great. Honestly, I’d never want to write music, at least not metal, with anyone else. We’ve done so for so long that it makes things easy. You understand each other on personal and creative levels, which means you know what everyone is going to bring to the band. We’re not just bandmates, at this point we’re family. We’ve known each other since middle school and high school, and we were friends before Killing Addiction was even a band.
Being in a band is about collaboration. It’s not important that all of your individual ideas are used all the time. That’s an unrealistic expectation. Not every idea works, even when they’re yours, and that’s okay. What matters is that the songs are as good as you can make them, regardless of who wrote the parts. There are other ways to contribute to the process to help refine the music and make it better.
It took a bit of time to get used to playing live again. I had to get used to vocals, which I hadn’t done in years. Getting them back to where they were before we stopped took about three months. The first year of shows got us back up to speed. It’s obvious to us and others that we’re a different band now than the one that played those shows. There’s more to playing live than knowing your own parts of the songs. Successful live acts are those that perform well as a unit, and part of that involves knowing how and when to recover if something goes wrong, whether it’s a performance problem or technical problem.
MJM: On october 20 you released a new EP “Shores of Oblivion”, would you like to say something about it?
Pat: Yes, that’s correct. Shores of Oblivion was released on October 20th by Xtreem Music (Spain). We’re very happy with this recording, and it’s been well received so far. The only regrets we have are that this is the last recording we’ll ever have with my brother’s performance on it. He was one of our guitarists, and he unfortunately passed away last September. The other regret is that it wasn’t completed in time for him to see the final product, although we are very grateful he did get to hear the final mix.
MJM: Is it in any way connected to your previous work? Perhaps the 2015 EP, or some future works?
Pat: Shores of Oblivion connects to When Death Becomes An Art (2015) and to some of the aspects of our debut full-length, Omega Factor (1993), that earned us much of our fan base. The music and arrangement is, in ways, an extension of When Death Becomes An Art. The same kind of thinking went into the music and production. It would be easy to combine the last two recordings and have them feel like a seamless recording.
The connections to Omega Factor are evident in that we’ve deliberately moved a few degrees back to the sound we had during our roots. The writing itself is more mature and structured better, but the sound itself draws from the kinds of things you’d have heard us writing back then. It’s unapologetically old school death, which is what we’ve always loved – a combination of the death metal and thrash elements that influenced us as kids.
MJM: About the recording itself, where do you record and who is writing your material? Do you use cutting edge technology or try to keep it old school?
Pat: Like the previous recording, Shores of Oblivion was recorded at Helton Music here in Ocala. Ray Helton is an awesome guy and he knows how to get results. It’s always a great experience recording there and working with him – very laid back and ready to keep going until it’s done right, not just good enough.
Chad was always the main creative force in Killing Addiction – the most prolific writer of all of us. That’s just as true of this recording. He simply never stopped writing, which sometimes seemed like both a blessing and a curse. Sometimes you want to take a bit of a break, because writing new material can be taxing, but Chad was always willing to keep writing. However, it did make things easier for the rest of us. Now that we’ll have to pick up the slack, one of my own personal goals will be to not only write more, but to make a conscious effort to write in a way that mirrors Chad’s writing style. We don’t want his absence to dramatically impact our sound.
We approach the recording process with the perspective of doing whatever gets the desired results. Modern technology being what it is, the level of expectation for production is set very high. It’s much easier to get good sounding recordings nowadays, but you still have to know what you’re doing. No amount of technology is going to be a complete replacement for skilled sound engineering. It only acts to complement one’s expertise.
We don’t shy away from using technology, out of some purist ideology. However, if we can get something done the old-fashioned way, we’re likely to do so rather than rely on the technology as a crutch.
MJM: And the last question: do you have any tips for the newer generations?
Pat: I’d say do what you can to avoid being overly derivative of genre stereotypes of all kinds. However, in saying as much also understand that music doesn’t have to be original to be good. It’s very difficult to be original this late into the genre, but that doesn’t mean you can’t set yourself apart from the herd. It just makes it more difficult. Try to think of ways to promote yourself outside of social media. Many new bands seem to rely solely or too heavily on that sole source.
If you take time and make a conscious effort to craft your sound and images, it will pay likely pay off. As a band, everything that you release represents you, whether it’s music, photos, or merchandise. Be sure you’re always professional. If you want to be taken seriously, you have to behave and carry yourself accordingly.