DEATH METAL POPE is a metal band from Long Island, New York. Formed in 2014, the band has captured a sound and vision that takes influence from all genres of heavy music. The three-piece released their first EP, “Tardus Mortem”, in 2015, a doom-laden offering of depression. With “Harvest”, released in September of 2016, came a strong shift in sound. The newest offering is as diverse as it comes for a metal band, with changes in tempo, aggression, and dynamic from the first song until the last. It ends with Young Graves, which MetalNexus describes as “Doomy and dark with wailing guitars, hypnotic rhythms, and a massive musical thickness, the seeming cautionary tale is a lumbering, dense ending of epic proportions to this fantastic record.”
Your bio notes that the name came from ‘a string of words with no meaning’. How did that come about?
When Marc (bass) and I were in eighth grade, over ten years ago, we started a joke band and called it Death Metal Pope. I don’t even know where it came from; it just sounded funny, so we kept it. We had another band, a more serious band, but couldn’t think of a name. So, eventually, we decided to take the name Death Metal Pope and shorten it to DMP – we were too cool for jokes like that at the time. Now, not so much. The other joke band became the Hypah Eyebaws. This is not a lie.
Years later, the name Death Metal Pope has just stuck with me. It’s been a phrase that’s been in my head for so long that it’s not even the slightest bit weird to me or my friends. I really like the name. It allows us to do pretty much whatever we want. We aren’t demanding that anyone take us seriously if they don’t want to.
Sounds like you guys like doing live shows. How often do you play out? What are some of the venues you like?
We try and play out as often as possible. Since July, we have done three tours, all booked by ourselves. If we could, the perfect life would be about three weeks of touring with two weeks home, repeated indefinitely. I don’t care how big the venue is, all I look for in a venue is good sound. Basements are fine, too. But really, nothing beats a room that just sounds good for heavy music. A lot of reverb – I want to make it sound big, especially the drums. I think the best sounding venue we’ve ever played is a spot called 123 Pleasant Street in Morgantown, West Virginia. Beautiful mountain area, with some really great people working there, and the sound is out of this world in that place.
Why did you choose the title Harvest?
It’s based on a story by Ray Bradbury, called The Scythe. It deals with death and making hard decisions. Sometimes, you get much more than you ever bargained for. Read it. It’s a great story. I remember reading it and just being so inspired. There is so much material hidden in the words of great authors. H.P. Lovecraft, Arthur C. Clarke, Richard Matheson. The list goes on.
How did you guys get together?
I’ve known Marc since I was about four or five. I’m seventy-two now, so it’s been a long time. I don’t remember there being really a conscious decision to start making music. It just happened after being huge fans of heavy metal and electric guitars. Our drummer begged us to be in the band and so we obliged. I’ve been regretting it ever since. It has quite possibly been the worst decision of my entire life. We have to put sticky notes on his drums so he can remember what to hit. And Marc, don’t even get me started on how bad he plays. I’ve just known him too long to shake him off. God, I hate him. I hate my life.
Your music combines elements from everything from ‘classic’ metal to death metal to stoner metal. How would you describe it?
It’s just heavy metal. There are too many styles to really nail one down. We’ve been lumped into doom metal, but I think we are more versatile than that. We got a review not too long ago that said we had a bit too much variety and it may be hard to find a fan base, which I thought was the most hilarious thing in the world. I love when bands have a lot going on. I would describe Death Metal Pope as “something for everyone”.
Who were your major influences?
There are so many, but I will keep it to three: Black Sabbath, Danzig, and Type O Negative.
What are you up to next?
Recently, I’ve been sitting down more to really hone in on some new songs and get ready for another release. I’m thinking it’s probably going to be a full-length, but that can change. EPs are just so much more convenient. Besides that, a tour in January, and then a tour in March with our friends in Graviton from Massachusetts. We are always on the lookout for touring opportunities. And if we can’t find any, we will make it happen ourselves. Which we always do. Because no one likes us.
What are your favorite new releases?
I am loving the new Metallica! I think it is heavy as hell, and the production is like a fresh air. Besides that, the new Kings of Leon album, WALLS, is outstanding. I really love that band. I felt the album before this was a little dull, but WALLS is just phenomenal. And Homewrecker’s newest EP might be the best they’ve ever come out with. I love those guys.
I heard you guys were super rude and unlikeable. Are you really that mean?
Are you fucking kidding me? What kind of question is that? You read our bio, didn’t you? A band’s bio is law. Don’t question things like that. How dare you. If I ever see you in person, so help me God…I will buy you a milkshake.
You’re a three piece now. Do you see yourselves ever adding other members, or are you all set as far as that goes?
We did the three-piece thing and it has been awesome, but I would love to add more members. I wanted to see if we could succeed using as little as possible, and I think we’ve been doing a good job. I would love to expand and get another guitarist, and even eventually someone to play keyboards. I love organs and synths. I think they add such a great dimension, and they can be used subtly, too. A lot of people think keyboards and picture some dude going apeshit on a keytar. That’s not what I mean.
Favorite practical joke?
My favorite thing in the entire world is to mess with people. Currently, my favorite joke is telling the rest of the band that there is an awesome secret that I am waiting to announce. I don’t tell them the secret, I let them guess. The answers I get from them are hilarious. The truth is there is never a secret. I just like winding everyone up and making them drive themselves crazy with possibilities that don’t even exist. I’m not a sociopath, but I would love to be one. So I try my best.