California-based quintet Fiends at Feast came out of nowhere and impressed the hell out of me with their debut EP, Shadows of Extinction (see review). It remains one of the best metal releases I’ve heard so far in 2011 and the band’s attention to craftsmanship and willingness to work hard to accomplish their goals make them a band to watch. I spoke with vocalist/lyricist Loki about the making of Shadows of Extinction and Fiends at Feast’s plans for black/death metal domination.
THKD: For our readers who may not be familiar, can you give us a little background on how Fiends at Feast got started?
Loki: Fiends started sometime in the spring/summer of 2008 when David and Sammer met and started jamming some cover songs, then not long after that they met with Nathan and the original drummer (a girl who got replaced by impalor few months after). I was in another band, but I got an offer to audition for the band and I got asked to do vocals. From there Fiends have played some good shows and others not so good, but always with big visions of getting noticed locally and nationally.
THKD: Fiends at Feast’s music strikes a good balance between black and death metal styles. Was this intentional or just a natural part of the band’s evolution?
Loki: I think it comes naturally to us, we have diverse taste in music and what we do is just use some of the influences. We do try to keep the old school death metal, but I think black metal is a huge influence on us (especially for me) and what you hear on our EP is the result of everyone’s creativity and obsession with music.
THKD: You recently released your debut EP, Shadows of Extinction. What were you looking to accomplish with this release and are you pleased with the results?
Loki: We are pleased with the results, definitely after having some experiences with other engineers I think this is so far the best. What we are trying to accomplish with this recording, I guess, just like a lot of bands, is to get signed to a record label and expose what we do and enjoy doing. Touring is one of Fiends’ goals as well.
THKD: Let’s talk a little about your lyrics. What are some of the themes you’re singing about on Shadows of Extinction? What inspires you to come up with lyrics? Are the lyrics a collaborative effort?
Loki: I come up with lyrics at very random hours, sometimes when I’m waking up (hahaha). My inspiration comes from people forcing others to believe their crap. I have a very low tolerance for stupidity, ignorance and poor behavior, I think you can say a bit of a sociopath. Look around and you’ll know what I mean, especially the ones who copy other bands to make a name for themselves and that is just one example. I also like to use metaphors to describe certain things which some people don’t get and I don’t care if they do or not.
THKD: What is your personal favorite song on Shadows of Extinction and why?
Loki: I think “pariah” is one of my favorite ones I guess because it has a piece of my life in it. It has the obsession with death, depression, hate, obscurity and hate for organized religion, although “scars in my soul” has a big attachment as well.
THKD: What can you tell us about your vocal technique? How do you prepare yourself to record vocals or perform in a live setting?
Loki: I don’t like to think I use any special technique, all I do is try to sing from the stomach rather than with the throat. My inspiration started in the late 80’s but it wasn’t ’till I heard Chris Barnes that I said to myself “fuck I wanna do that shit like him” and make use of the vocals as another instrument. At this moment my inspiration has been black metal way more than any death metal singer and as always I try not to copy anyone but learn from them and do my own thing. I do warm up for the recording but when performing live I just let my demons take over (haha).
THKD: How were the songs for Shadows of Extinction written? Do you work on songs as a group?
Loki: All songs were and are written as a group (band), most of the time Sammer and David work on riffs in their spare time, then we all work with whatever they have and everyone gets involved to shape the songs.
Loki: We had a hard time coming up with the artwork and at the end we came up with the idea of having a drawing of a landscape that represented the area where we live and gave some feeling of obscurity with the raven and the dead corpse in the fox hole. It doesn’t have as much of a connection to the lyrics as we were hoping for but, I guess you can link it with the endless obsession with death in the lyrics.
THKD: Fiends at Feast hails from Santa Cruz, CA. What is the metal scene like there? Do you get much local support?
Loki: The metal scene is not so great but I guess it is just like any other place, and to be expected when you play this kind of music in an area where hip-hop, reggae and other genres are more predominant. We do appreciate the support from the handful of metal maniacs that come to our shows. As I say many times on stage “you fucking maniacs”.
THKD: How does your environment/surroundings inspire Fiends at Feast? What is it about California that inspires dark and heavy music?
Loki: I don’t think any climate gets us inspired, but we do get some sort of motivation when we see bands playing the same old shit that other bands have done or playing some commercial sound, a thing that Fiends is always trying to stay away from. We are trying to write a new blueprint with our style and our own way.
Loki: We had a good time and we would like to think that it was a success. We had people who came from San Francisco, Hayward, San Jose, Salinas, Sacramento and Alameda and it seemed like everyone got involved with our performance. I do enjoy performing live most of the time, sometimes I don’t feel the energy I need to get in my zone although a lot of the times I wish to bite the head off.
THKD: What is the best way for fans to get a hold of Shadows of Extinction?
Loki: Our merchandise can be purchased at our gigs for now, we are currently working on setting up a Paypal account or indiemerchandise account, any suggestions? (hahaha). We have our EP in our local record store Streetlight and we hope Rasputin’s agrees to sell our EP as well.
THKD: What are you listening to right now? What bands do you find inspiring/influential as far as what you do with Fiends at Feast?
Loki: At this moment the only genre I listen to is black metal. I think it has a lot more to offer on many levels and ways to be performed compared to death metal. On my list right now are Orcustus, Impiety, Sadistic Intent, Black Witchery and Endstille. I feel influenced by this and other bands in the way I perform with Fiends but I think my twist evolves from bands like Behexen, Immolation and Shining.
THKD: What does the rest of 2011 have in store for Fiends at Feast?
Loki: We are working on new material to possibly record as soon as we are ready, but for now a tour in California/Nevada is in our minds and exposing what we have worked so hard to accomplish.
THKD: Are there any final thoughts you’d like to add?
Loki: Stay dark and away from friends.