I’m meeting Chip King outside Audio in Glasgow, and it somehow seems very fitting to have a chat with The Body’s singer/noise maker. Audio is based underneath the railroad tracks of Glasgow Central Station in the end of a dark damp tunnel, so the perfect setting for a chat with the frontman of one of the scariest noise bands on the planet right now.
(((o))): So this is The Body’s first European tour. How’s it been going so far?
Chip: It’s been really great! We’ve been very well received so far and it’s been great seeing all these different places. We had a long drive from Amsterdam where we were two days ago as we took the ferry to Dover and then drove up to Glasgow. But when I was a kid my dad, who was in the Army, used to be stationed down in England, so for me personally it’s been great seeing this place again, it brings back memories.
(((o))): Would you say things are different over in Europe compared to the US? For example, Europe has a lot of amazing festivals right now, like Roadburn, Temples Fest, Desert Fest, Heavy Days in Doom Town, Doom over Leipzig Festival and many more.
Chip: Yeah, Roadburn was amazing! Walter and all other people that are involved really put so much energy into that festival to make it so great. And it returns as they seem really positive on what they’re doing. This seems to be the general vibe I’ve noticed so far in Europe. People putting themselves out there to do lots of stuff for bands that are touring and I think it’s really refreshing. We also played Doom over Leipzig and everything so far has been so well done. The way you get treated over here as a band is different than in the US; it’s a lot more accommodating and supportive. In the US we have the Maryland Deathfest and a couple of other things and people are really psyched to get similar things happening in the US as well.
(((o))): I understand you’re on tour with a different drummer as Lee [Buford] doesn’t fly?
Chip: Yeah unfortunately Lee couldn’t make it. We tried to come over on a freighter but that didn’t really work out. So our friend Matt [Melon] decided to help out. We’ve been making music as The Body for 15 years now and I know Lee a lot longer than that, so yeah it’s of course different with Matt, but it’s been working out great. It’s quite funny as Matt plays in Pissgrave from Philadelphia, which is a black death metal band and he’s more used to playing with blastbeats, like real technical fast playing drums, so it’s fun to see him with The Body. Pissgrave is probably one of the better bands on the East Coast by the way.
(((o))): So, Lee just sits grumpily at home for missing this adventure?
Chip: No not at all, we’ve tried to get him over so he’s a bit sad he couldn’t make it, but he realises it’s better for the band. There was so much energy and effort already put into the trip that it kinda made more sense for us to come. So much money and time has gone into it so we just said let’s make this happen. We’re looking into ways to get Lee over somehow for a future visit as he’d be psyched to be here. But the charisma and vibe is there between Matt and myself. Before the tour we practiced a few hours each night for 8 days straight to get Matt up to scratch. Which was all great fun as Lee was there as well and I told him to play more blastbeats!
(((o))): What inspires you? I’ve read somewhere that you’re a big Neurosis fan, so they must be an inspiration?
Chip: Neurosis have always been inspiring, but I’ve recently been listening to a lot of older music, like early Judas Priest and for years when I was in Providence I was listening to all the local noise stuff and experimental things. I’ve just been trying to branch out on the classical stuff. I see so many bands on tour that when I get home I just want to hear different stuff. It’s kinda all over the map.
(((o))): The Body released a cover CD and you also released this Dead Cops/Cop Killer 7”, did you guys like to show the world what kinda stuff inspired you or what you like to listen to?
Chip: Yeah we did this whole cover CD, with covers of Danzig, Sinead O’Connor, Black Flag, Grass and Judas Priest. We kinda wanted to show what we like to listen to, but it was also just like let’s have some fun and see what happens when we try it. The CDR we’ve done, which is all covers, we did that just before going on tour as we didn’t really have anything to merchandise with at the time, and especially in the USA if you don’t have anything to sell, your tour can be really really short. Everytime we did something like this it turned out being lots of fun and being really happy with the result.
(((o))): In the UK and Europe the doom scene has been exploding lately, it’s been doing really well. Like in the UK bands like Conan have lifted a lot of bands and the scene in general to the next level.
Chip: Yeah, there some great things happening here at the moment.
(((o))): The Body’s music kinda fits in this scene but also does something more unique I think. You’ve said something about a lot of bands just playing the same Electric Wizard riffs all the time. What’s your opinion about that?
Chip: There are so many bands out there that are playing the same riffs and I feel like not a lot of people are trying to push their music into a different direction. To me it gets a little stale, but for other people these types of bands are the greatest in the world.
(((o))): It’s well-known that The Body is fascinated by death and suicide. And you guys love guns as you have posed with guns in your press pictures and mentioned in other interviews how much you guys love guns. Is that all part of the message The Body likes to get across?
Chip: I feel like it’s all kind of an issue of how much you appreciate life. What is living if you’re on the way to dying? It’s kinda like the trap of mortality.
(((o))): We always react in our most pacifistic way when there’s another mass shooting in the US as there is such a different view towards guns in Europe. The laws are also a lot different over here and it’s much harder to get a gun. Do you think that’s part of the reason why these things happen in the US so often?
Chip: Part of the problem may be the fact it’s easier to get guns in the US, but at this point there are so many guns out there already, so many illegal guns that if you change the laws now there will still be millions and millions of guns, but it might be a start. But it will also affect people who legitimately and legally buy guns and safely own them and use them, it takes away their ability to do that, but those guns are still going to be in the hands of people who will use them for any reason they seem fit, without having any responsibility whatsoever. A lot of the mass shootings, like that happen in the US, but also here like in Dunblane and Norway for example, a lot of times it comes down to something like mental illness, but also our culture seems a lot more violent and we have a big fascination with violence in the US, which I think we’re all kinda are you know. In terms of everything we see and how we live.
(((o))): The Body releases a lot of albums, EPs and splits and a lot of these are on various labels. How does that come about? Do you get approached by these labels to release with them?
Chip: Yeah, well we know Matt of RVNG Intl. from back in the days in Arkansas. He’s a good friend of ours and we released I Shall Die Here on RVNG. We release a lot on At A Loss Recordings, which is run by another friend of ours, Joss. And when Bettina asked us to release an album on Thrill Jockey we were pretty excited about that too.
(((o))): Some people might have been a bit surprised to hear The Body released an album with Thrill Jockey. Do you plan to stay with them for more releases?
Chip: Thrill Jockey has been nothing been great, so we’ll stay with them but we can do smaller releases and do whatever we want with anyone else, but Thrill Jockey has been nothing but perfect. It was funny, because when Bettina first approached us we were like ‘sounds like a weird mix’, but it’s been natural and amazing. And it seems to open some doors to other people that hadn’t heard of us before so that’s great. Yeah, Thrill Jockey has been super supportive.
(((o))): The Body has been very prolific lately. What else do you have planned in the near future?
Chip: It’s nice to keep doing other stuff, to keep it fluent. We got a couple of exciting releases planned. At A Loss will release a split we recorded with Neil of Krieg, which sounds like old-English punk, very primitive and repetitive. On top of that it includes some programming stuff as well, lots of noise stuff and soundscaping, and both Neil and I sing on it. It’s a great collaboration as Neil has been doing the whole US black metal thing like forever and has great integrity and isn’t someone who’s jumped on the bandwagon like 10 years later. Neil also has an intense live performance, so were hoping to play some more shows together where we can collaborate live on stage.
Collaborations are lots of fun as we’re quite loose as a band because there’s just two of us, and we’ve been playing together so long now, it’s kinda fun to see what happens when there’s another element in there. We’ve been playing a lot with an extra drummer lately or with someone doing extra sounds over the music, so it’s been real fun to bring that into the studio as well.
(((o))): Talking about collaborations, how did you get to work with The Haxan Cloak on I Shall Die Here?
Chip: When we recorded Christs, Redeemers and the collaboration with Krieg, at the same time we also recorded other songs for RVNG and Matt had mentioned to maybe send it to someone else to mix it and do some other stuff with. We initially tried someone else and that didn’t really work out well, but Matt knew someone else at Tri Angle Records, which was Bobby, or The Haxan Cloak, and he was interested. So we sent the first couple of tracks and when we got them back we were like, ‘wow this is awesome!’. He added a lot to the tracks which blew my mind, it was great. We intended to be more collaborative but Bobby saw it more as remixing.
We’re also releasing another collaboration with Thou, which we’re going to record soon. And there’s a split release planned on Thrill Jockey with friends of ours of Rhode Island.
(((o))): Thanks a lot for this chat Chip, really great to get to speak to you!
Chip: My pleasure and enjoy the show!
Shameless self-portrait with Chip