Deeds Of Flesh
As a sentimental tribute and musical farewell to Erik Lindmark, Nucleus is obviously not just another Deeds Of Flesh record. From the emotional standpoint, how difficult it was to enter the studio and finish recording it without the person that basically personified the band?
Jacoby Kingston: It was very difficult. Emotionally I felt compelled to come back into the band and help finish the album. Mike Hamilton as well. Once our brother had fallen, we felt like it was up to us to be good stewards of the band’s legacy. However, the music had already been written and recorded nearly a year before Erik’s passing. He had been sitting on the music for a while and had not really had a chance to elaborate on the story or lyrics. That made things pretty difficult when I came into the fold, because Erik turned a corner on Of What’s To Come in 2008, and he really changed the lyrical direction for Deeds. Up until then, he and I both wrote about the dark side of the human condition, mostly from a non-fictional standpoint. Erik turned the material more sci-fi and futuristic once I left the band in 2007. That being said, it took a team of us to finish off the record and do it justice.
Nucleus is also a mighty, almost brash demonstration of who’s who of extreme metal. There has probably never been a death metal record with so many notable names pulling together to bring it to fruition, especially given the noble cause behind it. When you were contemplating such a wide collaboration, were you aware of its historical significance?
Jacoby Kingston: That’s pretty cool when you say it like that. Honestly, it was a plan that Mike and I had once we heard about Erik’s death. We had made so many friends over the years, that we wanted a real tribute to take place on the album. Erik and I had always sung with dual vocals on past albums, so we thought it was only fitting to add some friends to the fold on this record to help fill the empty void that Erik had left. The fact that these legends were so willing to submit the vocals was a real testament to the death metal brotherhood that exists out there. We are honored and very proud of the group of guys that showed up in full force on this record, to make it as great as it could have been. Having some months that have passed since its release, I’m still pretty shocked to be part of such a big project.
The fact that all those people said yes, do you see it as a tribute to Erik himself, or to the band’s perseverance, importance, and, ultimately, its legacy? Or was it a little bit of both?
Jacoby Kingston: Probably a little of both. Erik was a pioneer and I know the guys understood that, but he was also a friend and a real help to the genre of brutal death metal throughout the years. When Erik and I built up Unique Leader Records, our goal was the further recognition of technical death metal throughout the world. When I left the label in 2007, Erik pushed on that and really took it to the next level. Half of the guys on the album are all from past Unique Leader bands, so they are the ones who I am sure appreciated that fact. The rest of the better-known guys were either good friends of ours from touring or just from having mutual friends and past contact with us. Either way, the fact that they graced us with their presence is friggin amazing and we are humbled by it.
Between heavyweights like Mullen, Corpsegrinder, and Lemay, that were all presumably adored and admired by Erik, whose appearance enhances the sentimental value of this album the most in your opinion?
Jacoby Kingston: For me, it’s Luc Lemay. Erik and I were listening to Gorguts, Considered Dead and Erosion Of Sanity when we started Deeds Of Flesh. They were a big influence on us musically with the unique time signatures, etc. I’m just bummed I forgot to ask Luc for a big Hueewwww! We had met Luc in Montreal years ago and Erik had contact with Luc on the last album, when he asked for tablature for Orphans Of Sickness, which Deeds re-recorded on Portals To Canaan. That being said, Frank was also a big one for me. I was a huge Suffocation fan from the beginning. Frank came to us through Derek Boyer, who played a tour with Deeds in Brazil when I couldn’t make it down there. He was also on Unique Leader early with Decrepit Birth. Derek is a good friend of ours and a longtime Suffocation bassist.
Unlike previous Deeds Of Flesh records, Nucleus features no shortage of orchestral soundscapes, making it arguably the most melodic and cinematic record of the band’s career, that could easily serve as a soundtrack to some action pack sci-fi movie. Would you agree that the narrative about the apocalyptic space battle and its immediate aftermath didn’t only influence the lyrics on this album, but some of the musical decisions as well?
Jacoby Kingston: The orchestral soundscapes come to the band from Craig Peters, who was also on the last album, Portals To Canaan. Erik asked Craig to have more input on this album and that’s where the more melodic tones come from. Personally, having nothing to do with the music myself on this album, I welcomed the new direction and think the music is really well written. It’s a bit different from the normal Deeds sound, but it’s also very similar if you listen closely. Ivan on bass and Craig on guitars did a lot of research on the old songs when helping write the new album. I’m sure Erik approved all of it and was happy with it or he wouldn’t have let it on the album. That being said, I’m sure the idea of the alien aftermath did influence the sound a lot.
Were lyrics responsible for the direction and overall sensibility of the music or was it the other way around?
Jacoby Kingston: The lyrics were all written after the music on this album. We did have some song titles, which pointed us in a direction, but we had to come up with all of the content from there. A few of the song titles had to be changed to fit the new story arc, since we didn’t have Erik here to explain his vision for the lyrics.
Do you sometimes miss the themes the band was dealing with back in the early days? Do you think you might revisit them at some point in the future, once this cosmic journey is finally over?
Jacoby Kingston: I do and I don’t… I miss the nostalgic Viking songs for sure, so we may entertain that route at some point, but the gore thing has been done to death, literally. Besides, I’m less angry at the world these days ˗ or maybe more angry (laughs) ˗ so there is going to have to be a lot of thought put into where we go from here. Time will tell.
Is it true that Onward, the last song on the album, represents a symbolic, honorable send off for Erik, the last proper Viking farewell? Whose idea was to end this album with that touching tribute?
Jacoby Kingston: Erik and I are both of Swedish descent, so Viking blood is surely in our veins. It was always one of our favorite subjects to write and sing about. Since Erik didn’t get the Viking funeral in life, I figured we could give it to him in music. The song is all Craig Peters. He had written the track for a personal project and showed it to me and suggested maybe we use it as the final send off. With just a few tweaks, it fit in perfectly for a great ending. The last Onward scream comes from many of us in the band and friends as well.
Craig and Ivan managed to preserve the signature Deeds Of Flesh writing style on Nucleus while putting their own stamp on it. That said, adopting the patterns of another musician’s musical thinking and writing the music while operating within the limitations of those patterns is probably the most difficult thing to do for any musician. Would you subscribe to that notion?
Jacoby Kingston: I’m not sure, I’ve never tried that. It’s a thought for Ivan and Craig to reflect on. But I would say the next album may be tougher. For Nucleus, they had Erik overseeing the music and he actually wrote a third of it as well. Next time, the guys will have myself to help, but Erik was an original thinker. Emulating his style is going to be a difficult thing to do moving forward. Either way, if it’s not a Deeds record, it won’t leave the jam room. I’ll make sure of that.
That said, with the band moving on and Craig and Ivan continuing to take care of the music, would you like them to maintain that same restricting mindset and keep adhering to the established songwriting principles, or would you like them to embrace the unknown and start composing music that is entirely their own?
Jacoby Kingston: I am open to anything that is heavy, driving, and brutal. Sure, we need to keep some semblance of our identity, but I’m not opposed to new ideas. That being said, we sure as hell aren’t going soft, simple, or overly repetitious, that’s for sure.
Now that he’s gone and nobody will ever get to meet him again, would you care to say a few words about Erik Lindmark and his personality outside of music? How would you like him to be remembered and, knowing him the way you did, how do you think Erik himself would have liked to be remembered?
Jacoby Kingston: I knew Erik as a very driven guy. We would practice six days a week. He was always striving to better himself as a musician. The guy wanted to learn how to play drums. So, when we were roommates, I would leave for the day to go to the beach or drink with buddies, and he would go to the jam room and play drums for hours… That’s what Erik would want to be known for, ambition for bettering himself. He was also a good husband and father. He loved his big, dangerous dogs, BBQ and beer, and gaming with Matti Way. Personally, he was not an outspoken guy or boisterous. That was my problem which is why he would always make me do the talking at shows (laughs). Most of all, he was as loyal a guy as you can imagine. Loyal to his family, loyal to his music, and loyal to his fans.
What about him as a person are you going to miss the most?
Jacoby Kingston: Probably just the comradery and comedy of hanging out and talking about life. We didn’t get to do that enough. When we were together it was usually about music, business, or both. We would either be discussing our music or someone else’s.
Speaking of that insane drive Erik had, it is well known that he insisted that all other band members should be held to the same high standard in terms of their commitment to the band. Was it hard to have such a professional mindset and basically dedicate your entire life to something that didn’t pay the bills at the time? Was that maybe one of the reasons why you left the band after Crown Of Souls came out, apart from the impending fatherhood?
Jacoby Kingston: That’s exactly it, but I respected how serious Erik was about the music. I wouldn’t have been able to put the time into the music that it required, so I retired. I also knew that if I was bringing a child into the world, death metal was not going to pay the bills. I had to find something else to make the future work and I understood that that would mean leaving the band. Not that I was ever into the music for money, but when you are going to become a father, your life becomes not of your own anymore. It’s time to protect your family, which means security for their needs. There were other factors that got me out of music as well, mostly with the drinking and the lifestyle of it. Those who knew me understood that I burned the candle at both ends and probably wouldn’t have made it much longer had I not made a major life change.
Now that you’re back to the fold, do you find it hard to keep your music career from interfering with the responsibilities you have as a father and role model for your kids?
Jacoby Kingston: So far, it hasn’t been a problem. I’m not rushing to go on tour or anything, and the music part of it doesn’t interfere. In fact, I got my daughter involved on the intro song on the new album and she did the voice over. My wife is a metalhead, so she’s been super supportive and my littlest one seems pretty amazed with the music actually. It also helps that I’m not stressing about where the next meal is coming from.
Now that your older daughter is presumably starting to develop her own taste, would you say that she has enough understanding and tolerance for the eccentricity, extremity, and oddness of the Deeds Of Flesh music? How demanding it is for someone of her age to comprehend and appreciate those things?
Jacoby Kingston: Shoot man, even I couldn’t appreciate extreme death metal until I went through the layers of classic metal, thrash metal, then onto death metal, then brutal death metal. It was a progression for me, so I wouldn’t expect her to understand it or even like it at this stage. However, this album experience has taken dad’s crazy music more into the cool realm with her since I got her involved. I think if they experience a show some day, that will be the real page turner. We’ll see.
Do you find it important to manifest your sense of good music taste in your kids, or do you think that they have to find their own way? More experienced parents claim that interfering usually backfires and makes kids go in the opposite direction, just for the sake of it.
Jacoby Kingston: My wife and I play music around the kids, but I don’t blast them with hardcore death metal though, who knows what that would do to their brains. We are starting with old school classic metal and adding in some more melodic stuff my wife loves, things like power metal, old Nightwish, operatic metal, etc. That should eventually help them to appreciate melody and distortion. That being said, I’m not going to restrict what they listen to for the most part, except for gangsta rap, booty rap, and shit like that… If they take to it, that’s great, but I’m not going to force it on them. Again, if they see a show someday, then they might understand what dad really does in the band (laughs).
Knowing that if something requires deep contemplation and considerable time investment most people prefer to take a rain check, do you think that you being a metal musician could help your children understand that almost everything worthwhile in life and art often dwells on the outskirts of the mainstream culture? Was such realization beneficial for you, as you were growing up and developing your taste and personality?
Jacoby Kingston: I’m not digging so deep into those life lessons just yet, but maybe I will someday soon. My personal experiences through Deeds were always that we were underappreciated by normal metal fans and especially critics. I think we were more appreciated by musicians, which in a way is a great compliment, but you do struggle when you on are the fringe of music. If you stick to your guns, you’ve got to just be happy with that, which we were. I think we did the best we could do with what we had. That is why Erik and I built Unique Leader, to help those other bands on the fringe.
Looking back at all the years you spent with the band during your first stint with it, when were you the happiest, or at least the most content as a person? The period of recording which particular album coincided with the best period in your private life?
Jacoby Kingston: To be honest, my private life was a total mess during the period when I was in the band. Sure, I had a lot of fun playing music, touring, and running the record label, but personally, I think I was pretty much just an alcoholic most of the time. If I had to pinpoint a time when I was the happiest in the band, that might have to be touring with friends in Europe, the U.S. and Australia, and New Zealand. All the early Bloodletting tours in the U.S. were great times. Traveling sucked, because we had terrible vehicles, but time spent with all those bands was great. When I left the band, it was my friends that I missed the most. Another point at which I was always happiest was when we were writing new songs. That moment when you discover a new riff and play it over and over. Creatively, that is super satisfying.
According to your recollection, what were the most trying years for the band? Which of the Deeds Of Flesh records was the most difficult to record and why?
Jacoby Kingston: Inbreeding The Anthropophagi was a tough one. We were stepping up our speed and though we practiced a lot before going into the studio, we were pressed for time and there was a lot of pressure to hurry up and that was tough. That was also back in the day when punch ins weren’t as easy as they are now, so a lot of those songs were played all the way through in one take. We did the same on Gradually Melted and Trading Pieces, but the Inbreeding songs just went to a new level.
It’s fair to say that Deeds Of Flesh today are the ultimate benchmark for the entire generation of young, aspiring brutal death metal bands, to draw inspiration from and look up to. That said, back in the day when you were starting out, there were no established bands that served as a beacon to you, that were considered the gold standard for this particular variety of brutality. You literally needed to figure out that sound all by yourself.
Jacoby Kingston: For us, we were just standing on the shoulders of giants like Cannibal Corpse, Suffocation, Gorguts, and many others before them. They were our inspiration. We didn’t invent anything, but just found our own style of how to do something new. Back in the day, it was just about pushing boundaries of speed, aggression, and technicality. These days, that seems to be a normal thing. I haven’t listened to a lot of the new stuff, but some of the songs I’ve heard are fiercely technical and crazy fast. Still, I feel like there is a limit. Once you pass the limit, you’ve really lost something in the music. If a song has a soul, it gets lost past a certain point.
Do you enjoy listening to your own music?
Jacoby Kingston: I enjoy listening to our music after it’s recorded, especially the new album, but I don’t have it on repeat or anything. There is usually a period right after we finish an album, when I want to listen to it a lot to really soak it in, but that fades with time usually. That said, I’ve been listening to the last two albums before Nucleus over the past few years. I really had to study what Erik had done when I left the band, so I had Of What’s To Come and Portals To Canaan in my headphones a lot. The new album is just friggin killer, so I listen to it a lot to get those moments of greatness with all of the legends that are on it. Try this, put on Nucleus radio in your streaming service and watch the killer death metal you get with that! That’s what I’ve been doing lately. Might sound lame, but I’m proud of what we accomplished with the album and am still really enjoying it.
What is the most underrated Deeds Of Flesh album that didn’t get quite the recognition you felt it should?
Jacoby Kingston: Mark Of The Legion. That album was a complete driving machine and our first album with Mike Hamilton on the drum kit. It’s also the album we toured with Cannibal on, so it’s always been one of my favorites, even though it didn’t get a lot of recognition.
Speaking of Mark Of The Legion, there are opinions that that album marks the beginning of the second chapter in Deeds Of Flesh history, the same way Of What’s To Come marks the beginning of the third. Does the band intentionally push the needle every three albums and does that mean that the next one will see Deeds Of Flesh reinventing themselves once again, considering that Nucleus marks the end of the third cycle of three consecutive albums?
Jacoby Kingston: Probably yes. Every one of our albums is so different from the last, that we can’t just seem to stick to the same formula. It’s like a living organism. That being said, I think every iteration gets a little better, so I guess that is a good thing. I am already excited to write new material, so we’ll see where we land.
Which Deeds Of Flesh album cover would you deem the most iconic one?
Jacoby Kingston: Trading Pieces is pretty iconic. It’s simple, yet dark. The new album has my favorite artwork of all of them. We worked on that directly with Raymond Swanland and he got our vision exactly right.
What is ahead for Deeds Of Flesh? Do you have at least a vague idea about the direction the band is going to continue moving forward?
Jacoby Kingston: Time will tell is my answer. That being said, we already have big plans for 2022 that I can’t speak about yet. So, I do have a vague idea of what will happen over the next few years, but after that, we’ll have to see. As long as the guys are with me, we’ll keep writing and recording music. I think the future is still bright for Deeds Of Flesh. It’s not fading away anytime soon.
Copyright © 2021 by From The Bowels Of Perdition. All rights reserved.