WORDS: ADAM HOPKIN
“You know I wanna be remembered”, candidly utters Whitechapel guitarist Zack Householder in an all too human moment that many of us have similarly found ourselves in; pausing to assess our worth, legacy and ultimately our mortality.
“30 years from now I want to hear ‘remember Whitechapel they were sick”, he continues with a tone close to youthful aspiration. But this isn’t just ambition; this is the creation of something greater and more transcendent than ourselves, a shared experience of collective catharsis, joy or melancholy journeys. “I always had this feeling of trying to get to this certain tier of being respected within the metal world, but it’s hard so we are automatically labeled with the ‘they are just a death core band.”
Being creatively shackled is a frustration universally felt by all creative minds, fans yearn for the familiar, but inspired art always demands a progressive, bold perspective. “I’m not saying that everything is out there is shit.” Assertively blurts Householder, “The only way that things change is if you keep pushing for something different, it’s just really hard to do that these days when metal has been so pushed all the time.”
“The only way that things change is if you keep pushing for something different”
But as the guitarist explains, exploring the fringes of extreme music’s creative landscape doesn’t come easy and with every artist viewing their own work as unique, it can be disheartening to have “obvious” comparisons drawn or have the vision for future releases be weighed down by unfounded expectations. “The medium of metal itself is pushing the envelope, but it can only be pushed so far. That’s why you have to take extreme turns sometimes and experiment with new stuff and that’s how you innovate.”
“Let’s be honest man” Zack says adopting a ‘heard this a million times but so tired of explaining this’ tone, “genres are cool to describe a band, but they are silly. We just say that we are metal and we try to set the example that it is ok to be different.”
“Write music that speaks to you”, Householder vents, “don’t write because you are trying to be death core and be the heaviest and the most guttural like everyone else does in the genre, it can only be done so much.”
“iDon’t just fall into a gimmick because you feel that it is what is expected“
Putting their inspired creative ethos to practice, Whitechapel’s latest release, “The Valley” has been hailed as a transitional piece for the legendary Knoxville outfit, but with the group reasserting themselves at the forefront of the scene after every release, the bands next chapter could be an insight into the future of extreme music.
“We try and incorporate more material that isn’t just straight up metal and death metal now, Zach explains, “this time round it was literally all of us in a room here in my house in the studio, all sat around the computer together writing songs, it was a very collective effort.”
“Are you writing something just to fit into a gimmick or are you writing something that has vibes?” Zach questions, “Don’t just fall into a gimmick because you feel that it is what is expected, you have to feel it more than you write it.”
They say stand back to fully appreciate art. Perhaps this way the industry fat cats can cross their fingers, hoping fans can’t see the blatant cash grab some once respected and highly regarded pockets of the industry have come to be. But whilst we still have artists like Whitechapel vision and ingenuity wont be left by the wayside for profit.
‘THE VALLEY’ IS OUT NOW VIA METAL BLADE RECORDS.