Oozing Wound’s Weil discusses dark comedy, ‘Earth Suck’ idea, why he isn’t worried about your silly little metal qualms

Photo by Sarah Cass

Photo by Sarah Cass

Chicago’s Oozing Wound burst out of nowhere last year to deliver one of the thrashiest, outright fun records of the year in “Retrash.” That Oct. 15 release brought us killer, morbidly hilarious tracks including “Everyone I Hate Should Be Killed,” “Welcome to the Spaceship, Motherfucker,” and “Sustained By Hatred (Rambo 4).”

Now, nearly a year after that record, the band is back with even-more-awesome “Earth Suck,” an album that crushes, mashes, and entertains fully over its seven tracks. This band should be on the tip of the tongues of all people hailing some of the finest new bands in metal, but you know how jerks are. Guys are funny, have a blast while they’re playing, must be something wrong. Nope. The dudes are tried and true, and guitarist/vocalist Zack Weil took time to talk with us about the second record he made with his bandmates—bassist Kevin Cribbin, drummer Kyle Reynolds—why they lean toward humor in their songs, if they consider themselves thrash, some of the very relatable subject matter behind their music, and what the FUCK is with that hilariously monotonous final few minutes of “Earth Suck” finale “False Peak.” Look, these guys rule, and this new album should scratch what itches cranky old thrash lovers like me who can’t find new bands that get it. These guys do, and “Earth Suck” is a black comedy gem that’ll make you feel OK throwing a lamp out a top-floor window at work.

MEAT MEAD METAL: The new record is called “Earth Suck,” which I’m sure you’re aware of. Sounds like it could be a pretty tongue-in-cheek title. Is that the case?

ZACK WEIL: Well, the idea of the “Earth Suck” is all the bullshit of life that holds you down like gravity. That’s the “Earth Suck.” Everything we do has a degree of tongue-in-cheek to it because I mean, we give a shit, but we kind of don’t. It’s a fine line, because we don’t want to come off as some jokey band, but at the same time, we’re not these all-black-wearing, angry motherfuckers who only want to have a bad time. I sometimes feel like that’s what people want out of metal, and we’re definitely not going to give them that.

MMM: Yeah, I mean, the way I’ve always looked at metal is there’s definitely a place for fun. Like, there’s no way you can listen to Iron Maiden and not have fun.

ZW: Yeah, there’s that total ’80s metal vibe where you try to have a good time. But there are those people who are just a bummer. I mean, with black metal, there are people who take themselves so seriously that it’s funny.

MMM: Hey, you guys are wearing face paint and you’re out in the forest.

ZW: (laughs) Look, I like the forest as much as anybody. But you know, just because you do take something seriously doesn’t mean it also can’t be funny. That’s sort of the mentality that we bring. If people think our concept is totally jokey, then that’s just their take on it. To us, life is funny and fucking horrifying at the same time. I mean, we could be a really depressing band easily, because we’re all bummed out by a bunch of stuff, but we’d rather not go that route.

MMM: I’m sure it’s a coping mechanism as well. Look at the amount of comedians who are funny as shit but have such dark histories that bleed into their work.

ZW: Dude, that’s exactly it. Look at Louis CK. That stuff that he talks about is so fucking dark, and so amazing. It’s like for him, saying it out loud makes him realize just how absurd everything is. And when you really think about it, those are the types of things that end up getting stuck in your head and need to get out.

MMM: Well, what are some of the things you tackled on this record from a subject standpoint that you tried to put sort of a darkly comic spin on?

ZW: I know for a lot of people, lyric writing is a cathartic exercise to get out whatever personal demons you hold inside. But I can’t confront it that easily without reading it and thinking, “Man, I’m going to sound like I’m 14 forever.” (laughs) So how I’ve dealt with that is by coming up with characters or just free writing until something emerges that I feel is an interesting concept that could be a fun song or interesting song or that is obtuse enough that people won’t be able to figure out exactly what I’m saying. Really, they all could be allegories for not wanting to go to work anymore. Yet there’s another about Lady Bathory picking a virgin she is going to sacrifice and bathe in her own blood. Will you know that from reading it? Probably not. There’s also stuff about politicians wanting money. I mean, “Hippie Speedball” about a roommate who could only go to work high. But it’s not just about that. It’s also about how work sucks.

Oozing Wound - Earth Suck Cover - 369 1440

MMM: Yeah, I wanted to ask you about “Hippie Speedball” and were that comes from. Because the band also had that one promo photo where you guys are just holding a bunch of pot.

ZW: Oh, the High Times photo, yes.

MMM: So I was wondering if it was autobiographical or fantasy or a mix of the two. But it sounds like it does have a definite origin.

ZW: I definitely relate to a lot of the stuff I’m singing about, but it’s not necessarily me. From a personal standpoint, I don’t go to work high. That sounds like the worst fucking idea ever. It’s mixing pleasure with this thing I fucking hate. For some people, that’s the only way they can deal with it. But for me, it’s not what I want to do, especially if I have to talk to people all the time high. That sounds awful.

MMM: I don’t know if you guys actively label what you do as thrash metal. That’s kind of what I get the most listening to Oozing Wound.

ZW: Everybody calls it thrash. We kind of fight against it. What thrash means to me is 1983 and like five bands in the Bay Area playing faster versions of speed metal who also wanted to incorporate hardcore into it. It’s a movement as much as it is a sound. So to me to say that we’re thrash in 2014 makes me feel like we’re trying to be rehash revivalists or that we’re trying to do the same thing with white Reeboks and no laces and tight skinny jeans. That’s why I’m saying that we fight against that because we’re not writing from that standpoint or that mentality. We’re not trying to be a faster speed metal band. We’ve all played in heavy bands and all come from the noisy weirdo scene, and for us there’s been this refinement process of coming up with riffs and obviously we play with distorted guitars that not really punk and it’s fast, so it’s probably going to come off as metal. I mean, we don’t fight against that.

MMM: Well, for me, I feel like Oozing Wound does have that true thrash feel. It doesn’t sound like one of the younger bands that kind of tried to go through the steps and doesn’t get the heart of it. It sounds like you guys do.

ZW: Well, that’s awesome. I mean, we didn’t try to sound like any particular bands. Like you have all of those bands that tried to imitate Nirvana and they all ended up sounding like Bush. We didn’t want to go and try to imitate, say, Metallica, because it wouldn’t have sounded right. I respect the hell out of all those record, and I love a lot of ’80s and early ’90s metal. But I have no personal connection to that time or those themes, and to try to do something like that would feel completely disingenuous.

MMM: You guys followed up “Retrash” pretty quickly. Did you guys just have a lot of ideas flowing that it was time to get to work on something new?

ZW: We never really stop writing. When we did “Retrash,” part of that was we had an opportunity to record. A friend of ours was an intern at Electrical Audio, and he had a free day there. So we pretty much recorded the whole record in one day. So by the time that “Retrash” came out, we already had half of “Earth Suck” written. We actually originally intended to have the record out in August for the sake of having knocked out two records in one year. Hey, cool people have done it, and we wanted to be cool. (laughs) But it didn’t quite work out that way. But we also had the song (“Drug Reference”) we did for “Adult Swim” and we already have four or five songs worked out that we’re looking to maybe have out in the spring. Hey, we don’t know how long the band is going to last! Our drummer got married last week, and we’re all around 30. People tend to stop wanting to be in bands around that age. We’ve been in enough bands to know it’s not forever.

MMM: Jumping back a little bit lyrically, the first song on the record “Going Through the Motions Til I Die” kind of struck me as about trying to be productive but at the same time not really giving a shit. Am I on the right track?

ZW: (laughs) I try to keep it vague enough that you can read into it and interpret it the way you want to. I think in a lot of cases, the author’s intent is not the most important thing you can pull out of it. But I would say (your explanation) makes sense. It another one where it’s a character-driven thing, and there are a lot of angles you can look at it. I mean, even if that wasn’t the original intention, the three of us are stuck in retail and service industry jobs, and we probably will be forever. Well, until people start buying our records. (laughs) But knowing what I know now about the bands I grew up idolizing, I don’t think anyone ever gets away from a day job. And that is part of the “Earth Suck.”

MMM: Another track that jumps out is “Colonel’s Kernel,” not only because it’s a great title, but also because it isn’t necessarily just a thrash metal song. There’s a lot of punk and noise in there. And do you keep yelling, “I suck”?

ZW: It’s “I’m stuck,” but I like, “I suck” just as much. (laughs) It’s funny, but from a lyrical standpoint, a lot of times I just try not to fuck up the song we’ve come up with. Lyrics, vocals, it’s all about trying to make the riffs more interesting. It’s a song about a man stuck in a bed, so (“I suck”) could make sense, too.

MMM: OK, another song “False Peak (Earth Suck),” I don’t know if this is supposed to be funny, but the song ends with you guys playing the same part over and over again for about two minutes. People who hear it on vinyl might think the record is skipping. Again, I found it hilarious, but is that one of those things that also kind of builds on the concept of monotony?

ZW: If you found it hilarious, I think that’s great. We were jamming a lot, and sometimes when you’re jamming, things sound awesome to you. I have practice space recordings of that song where some versions are nine minutes and some are 10 (NOTE: Album version is 7:41). That was more about refinement and getting it to the right place. But yeah, that’s a part of it. There definitely is an overriding theme on this record about repetition. But when it comes to that ending, and you don’t know we’re going to do that and you don’t have a timer that’s tracking along with it, you won’t realize how long it’s going on. In the studio, hearing it play back, it was giving us all anxiety. There’s also this viola you can’t really hear that our friend Whitney (Johnson of Verma) was playing, and she does some really crazy shit that you really can’t quite focus on. I think that’s just the coolest thing. But yeah, those last three minutes are the embodiment of the “Earth Suck,” the sound of everything collapsing and blowing into some black hole. So were you laughing when you were listening to it, because if so, I think that’s great.

MMM: I was! I had no idea what was going on or where this was headed. It was just so absurd, but in a great way.

ZW: It feels awful sometimes. It’s such a cool feeling to control that.

MMM: I can just imagine the look on people’s face in a live setting.

ZW: I’d like to see that, too. We haven’t seen that yet because we’re usually headbanging too hard. (laughs) I think we’ve only played that song four or five times tops.

MMM: You should just do a really long live version that just goes on and on.

ZW: I’ve mentioned that idea. We should do a set that’s just that one song and then that last part for 30 minutes straight. Let’s see how long people can stand it.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/oozingwound

To buy the album, go here: http://www.thrilljockey.com/thrill/Oozing-Wound/Earth-Suck#.VDH9Z_ldXD8

For more on the label, go here: http://www.thrilljockey.com