Riding The Snake – An Interview With Integrity

Integrity 1With their latest release, Suicide Black Snake (A389 Recordings), experimental hardcore outfit Integrity once again underlined their position as one of the most forward thinking bands in their field. Ghost Cult scribe Christine Hager caught up with frontman Dwid Hellion to pride his mind on all things Integrity…

Dwid, since living in Belgium, have you picked up any other languages and would you ever consider incorporating that into an album?

A couple of years ago I wrote an Integrity song called, ‘Black Heksen Rise’. The word, “Heksen” is a Flemish word meaning “witches”. Obviously this was juxtaposed with english, but I like the effect that was given.

The vocal style on the title track of your latest album Suicide Black Snake reminds me a lot of Rwake; perhaps inspired by you guys?  Have any bands ever expressed to you the direct influence something you created had on them and if so, who are some examples?

Sorry, I am unfamiliar with Rwake. I was actually inspired by Howlin’ Wolf on the title tracks vocal delivery. Rob Orr (guitarist) and I wanted to intermingle more of the Delta blues sound into the new album, Suicide Black Snake’. A bluesy vocal seemed to fit the title track. Yes, some bands have confided to me that they were inspired to varying degrees by my music. It is not really my place to mention their names within this interview and that sort of emulation doesn’t really interest me anyway. I create for myself, and I aim to entertain myself first and foremost, the rest of the audience are simply eavesdropping.

Would you ever record and album using an up and coming engineer who might have some new ideas or with so many years under your belt, do you prefer to have someone who knows the formula to give you what you want in as little time as possible?

Doubtful, I am not really interested in trying to change my music to fit in with any current trends. My music is my own private entertainment. This often irritates people, because they feel an uncontrollable desire to follow whatever trends are currently en vogue. And anyone who isn’t following must be a threat to their conformity. The freedom afforded to me by not being enslaved by these fickle trends is priceless. I despise triggered drums and I am not very open to an outsider dictating to me how my music should be. In the past, I have actually quit record labels for this type of intrusion into the writing process of my music.

Have so many lineup changes over the years made it more difficult to make music, or would you consider it essential to creating the work you’ve come up with to date?

Integrity has existed for 25 years. That is quite a long time. Some members have left to pursue university/careers, others have lost interest in our music and went on to make other music, a few have left to join more popular bands, and a couple have been fired for being parasites. The fresh blood is definitely invigorating to the writing process and has definitely enhanced the bands evolution. The best Integrity albums are when I am working with a very creative guitar player who is willing to try new ideas. A good majority of our discography is to my own personal liking. However, a couple of our records I feel are not quite up to the standard.

Why have you chosen to give your music away for free through your label Holy Terror?

Spreading the virus of our music. This is our terrorism through music. Besides, people will download anyway. The frugal, self-entitled youth culture demands a free handout, so why not offer them the best quality rips directly from the source of the music? I think it makes perfect sense. When in hell, act as the natives.

Parents always seem to have some sort of subversive influence on their offspring’s taste.  What musical interests would you say you passed on to yours? Conversely, how has being a parent affected your music?

My children do not listen to the same type of music that I do. They prefer more uplifting, mainstream music for their entertainment. I listen to a lot of music that is quite rotten and horror ridden. I assume my children may subconsciously rebel against the music that their old man listens to. haha  All of my kids do enjoy playing music, so i guess that may have been an inherited trait. Thankfully, they don’t have the same contempt as I do.

What artwork have you been working on lately? Is the print work on Suicide Black Snake yours and if so, what did you use for the cell like texture on the bottom corner?

Currently I am working on an illustrated book, Vermapyre and a 45+ minute film for Dragged Into Sunlight. I have also been building guitars using household items for the Negromancy record label.Yes, I created the collage on the cover of Suicide Black Snake. I believe you are asking about the section of brain that the skull is licking as if it were a hallucinogenic frog. I created all of the artwork for the new CD/LP (the CD version has an additional booklet with more artwork). Some of the artwork is manipulated images that already existed, others are solely my creation. All of the images are weathered, worn and abused to reflect the music.

What’s next for Integrity following your tour?

We have some recordings that we are working on. In January Integrity will perform in Baltimore at the 10th annual A389 festival.

Christine Hager

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