Monday, May 9, 2016

Nucleus Interview

One of the best death metal bands around right now is Chicago's Nucleus! Having just released their debut full-length on Unspeakable Axe Records, it seemed like a great time to reach out to the band. Many thanks to Dave and the rest of Nucleus for this interview!
Skull Fracturing Metal (SFM): Congratulations on the release of your new album, “Sentient”. Nucleus has been around for a few years now and released a couple of EP’s to this point. What made this the right time for a full-length album?

Dave Muntean: We finally got to a point where I think the music was good enough to commit to an actual album. The lineup was solidified to a solid group of people that work together well, and it didn’t make much sense to release anything smaller. The Hegemony EP was mostly released just to test out how the recordings would come out, and get some higher quality sounding songs out prior to putting an album out.

SFM: Before we get to the music on the album, let’s talk about two things that always catch my attention. The first is the stunning artwork done by Dan Seagrave. How did you get into contact with him, and what was the process for designing the artwork? Did the band come up with the concept?

Dave: I mentioned something briefly to Dan at Maryland Deathfest, sent him a message a few months later and started talking about what we wanted. For the most part I like to let artists have mostly free reign, they know better than I do what will look [good]. I told him the themes of the band and the item title, but otherwise it was all in Dan’s court, and he really nailed it.

SFM: Another immediate point of interest is that your album was released on Unspeakable Axe Records. How did you connect with the label?

Dave: Someone outside the band actually shared our Hegemony EP with Eric from Unspeakable Axe, and he then contacted us about it, which was awesome. I’ve been a fan of UAR since the beginning. I kickstarted the first Birth AD, which then ended up being the first UAR release, so heard about them pretty much as early as possible. The lineup on UAR is consistently awesome, so it’s great to be a part of that now.
SFM: The album itself is fantastic! As a fellow musician, I’ve always been curious about how bands like yourselves manage to come up with those really twisted, sideways sort of riffs. What was the songwriting process like for this record? Did it differ from the previous EPs?

Dave: Mostly the same as how we wrote the EPs. In most cases guitar parts written and shared with everyone in the band to learn prior to bringing the song to a practice. Then at practice we get drums written, and everyone adds their own touches and variations to guitar parts. I tend to improvise all my vocal parts initially, and lyrics are the last thing written, so that the lyrics tend to fit the sound of the song.

As far as how we come up with the twisted riffs? That’s just what comes to me when I play, not even an intentional thing at this point, it’s just what comes most naturally. I also spend a lot of time tweaking songs after they are done, picking at individual notes in riffs to try and vary them and change them up. If anything, I have the most trouble trying to come up with some of the more simple straight forward riffs in our songs.

SFM: I noticed that all of the song titles on “Sentient” are simply a single word, unlike some of your previous song titles. Is there any significance to this?

Dave: I decided to do that really early in the album writing. The first few songs just happened to be one word, and I felt that gave the song titles more strength. I feel like the less words there are in the song title the more emphasis there is on that word and the more ominous or mysterious it sounds. I think it makes sense for what we are doing and chances are this won’t change in the future.

SFM: In the last couple of weeks, you guys have played some major shows. First was the CD release show, and then you guys also played the Milwaukee Spring Bash alongside bands like Wehrmacht and Hexx. How did these shows go?

Dave: Milwaukee was great. We have been going to Spring Bash for the last few years, and its always a great time, so it was cool to play it this time. Hoping more and more people start showing up, and Randy runs Spring Bash can start bringing better and better lineups every year.

The release show was also pretty insane. It ended up selling out, and was by far the most intense crowd we had ever seen at that venue. People were killing each other the entire set [SFM note: can confirm! It was a wild set!]. It was also great that we could bring up our labelmates Shards of Humanity up from Memphis to play with us.

SFM: What sort of touring plans are in the band’s future?

Dave: We are playing KC Blackdeath Fest in Kansas City. That fest is September 16th and 17th. Three other Chicago bands are also playing: Sons of Famine, Imperial Savagery, and Fin (Whos drummer recorded and mixed our album.)

As far as touring, due to all the members jobs we can’t really do extended touring, other than weekend runs and maybe taking a week vacation to do a short 8 or 9 day tour once a year or so. That being said, I can’t specify anything now, but keep an eye on our facebook page in the near future.

SFM: Given all of the hype surrounding “Sentient”, I’m surprised to see that you guys aren’t playing Maryland Deathfest this year (or similar festivals like California Deathfest). Do you anticipate playing one of these festivals in the future?

Dave: It’s a bit hard to tell how much the hype is from the inside.  Jumping straight onto something like those would be a pretty big jump, so not necessarily something we are expecting. I’ve been going to Maryland Deathfest every year since 2010 now, so obviously playing fests like those would be awesome eventually. Maybe one day.

SFM: There are a lot of great releases coming out in the metal world right now. What records are you guys spinning at the moment?

Dave: Some killer new death metal stuff I’ve been listening to would be the new Zealotry album “The Last Witness”, Vastum – “Hole Below”, The Scorched/Putrisect Split, Chthe’ilist – “Le Dernier Crepuscule”, Begrime Eximious – “The Enslavement Conquest”.

Got Pat and Dan to add some things they listened to as well.

Dan: Wormed – “Krighsu”, the Sick/Tired & Sea of Shit split, Priapus – “Depressant”, and Moonsorrow – “Jumalten Aika”.

Pat: The new Vastum album, Fin – “The Furrows of Tradition”, Jungle Rot – “Order Shall Prevail”, and They Die Screaming – “The Organic Phenomenon of Human Decay”.

SFM: Given the fact that there’s a lot of competition out there, how do you separate Nucleus from the pack in terms of getting people to check out your music?

Dave: It doesn’t make sense to think of other bands as competition. Having other bands playing in a similar style as us doing well if anything will get people to seek out more bands in that style, which in the end is a benefit. Luckily people can buy more than one album a year, haha. If anything I’ve made friends with more of these other bands since putting out the album than anything.

We don’t really do anything out of the ordinary to separate ourselves, other than trying to make sure we got kick ass art that would make people more likely to check it out, but in the end if people don’t like the music it doesn’t matter.  We just put out our music and hope some people out there enjoy it.

SFM: Any last words for the fans out there?

Dave: Thanks for checking our stuff out, go check out the new Unspeakable Axe/Dark Descent sampler cd, up on bandcamp now. Tons of good shit.

SFM: Be sure to check out and like Nucleus on Facebook!

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