Interview: Tomb Mold (2023) | From The Bowels Of Perdition

Conversation with

Tomb Mold

Back when you were tossing around band names, how long did it take to nail down this particular one? Why Tomb Mold?

Derrick: It was two four-letter words, looked good as a logo. Nothing too deep to it. I think I suggested it to Max.

Does the fact that “The Enduring Spirit” has been showered with praise partly by people unaware that you were great already on “Primordial Malignity” and “Manor of Infinite Forms” make you feel a certain way, or are you completely fine with some people not appreciating or even understanding the journey that led to this album?

Derrick: Everybody has a different entry point with a band and everyone has a different relationship with each record of a band. Some listeners might be happy only listening to one of our albums, I’m not going to hold them accountable for not celebrating our entire catalogue, or vice versa. I have no ownership over songs that are available for public consumption, so it’s best not to think about it.

Payson: I’m thrilled that anyone chooses to listen to our music. It’s nice to have a diverse enough catalogue that people have the option to access various strains of Mold.

What would you say to critics who believe that “The Enduring Spirit” is inspired by the sound that brought Blood Incantation considerable success in recent years?

Derrick: That feels like a lazy comparison if I’m being honest. You’re implying that we modified our sound because of another band’s, what, commercial success? That taints the achievement of our new record and I’d hate for you to imply that Blood Incantation is doing anything outside of a pure artistic pursuit. Blood Incantation and Tomb Mold share similarities in the sense that both bands play death metal with some technical leanings and are both great at world building, but harmonically and melodically speaking, we are worlds apart. Lyrical content too. They’re their own band, a great band too. We’re just as inspired by a band like that as we are by a band like Afterbirth or Jimmy Eat World. Music is music.

Payson: I would say we are inspired by everything we hear.

One could argue that your basic, rudimentary demo tape layouts feel almost like an insult to the intensely colorful, vibrant covers of your last three full-lengths. Is there any deeper meaning behind that juxtaposition?

Payson: No deeper meaning, we love the two distinct methods of presentation.

Derrick: Again, it feels you’re propping up one thing and dismissing another. There is a theme to our tapes just like there is a theme to the LPs. The LPs are a more professional approach, sure, but each tape improves sonically and is always a DIY affair. I love how our tapes look. The recording, mixing, mastering, layout and design are done in house by Max and he does a fantastic job.

In the absence of relevant music-related arguments, people who dislike the band tend to discredit you on account of your appearance and bearing. The inevitable question is why would anyone care about a group of posers who don’t fit the mold if they weren’t bloody good at what they do, right? Is having all that hate coming your way the ultimate proof you’re doing something right?

Derrick: It means we are being true to ourselves. I can’t speak for my bandmates, but I’m personally ok with people making fun of how I look and carry myself. Everyone is guilty of ripping on someone for their appearance. The obsession with it just reveals some suppressed feelings they have about themselves or deeper feelings about others that they don’t want to confront.

Payson: Ultimately, all that matters is the music. Talentless people need a distraction from accomplishing nothing.

Tomb Mold Interview 2023 (The Enduring Spirit)

In hindsight, would you say that the progress between “Primordial Malignity” and “Manor of Infinite Forms” was perhaps even greater than that between “Planetary Clairvoyance” and “The Enduring Spirit”?

Derrick: I don’t think music works that way. It’s not always linear. One might argue that “Manor of Infinite Forms” is a step back from “Primordial Malignity”. What if I was to tell you that all of the songs were written in the same period? What if “Blood Mirror” was written before the bulk of the songs on “Primordial Malignity”, but we felt it didn’t have a place on that LP? The intention of each record is unique, and each showcases something different. It’s hard to say one is a greater leap than others when the majority of the records we made were done in a three-year span.

Payson: Truly a difficult metric. Actually, I think “Primordial Malignity” and “The Enduring Spirit” actually occupy a lot of the same tornado alley.

Although that probably changes daily, could you name one song from each of your full-lengths that you currently feel the strongest about, “The Enduring Spirit” included?

Payson: “Merciless Watcher”, “Two Worlds Become One”, “Accelerative Phenomenae”, “The Enduring Spirit of Calamity”.

Derrick: “Servant of Possibility”.

Are there any songs from “Manor of Infinite Forms” and “Planetary Clairvoyance” that retrospectively feel like you could have gotten more out of had you worked on them even more diligently?

Derrick: No, I think the fun with those songs is the more time and years we spend playing them we unlock more and more within the songs. They sound great on the album, which is a documentation of a point in time, but the songs can evolve over the years. In ten years from now we can play “Infinite Resurrection” and it won’t sound like the LP version but something more consistent to our play style at that point in time.

Payson: I think it’s more likely we would have damaged the songs with excess scrutiny. The spontaneous element of those two records was a blessing, not an impediment.

Is there anything about “Primordial Malignity” that still rubs you the wrong way, or have you by now learned to accept it for what it is?

Payson: Some of my favourite Tomb Mold songs are on that record. “Vernal Grace”, for example, is a massive closing track.

Derrick: I love that album.

Are Dream Unending and Tomb Mold vessels for expressing completely different emotions, or bands that could meet halfway at some point down the line?

Derrick: Payson and Max aren’t in Dream Unending so I wouldn’t try to thrust that band on to them. I understand that people see a common thread between the two, but it’s very different worlds to me.

Does the quality of your music correspond with the quality of your life and the way you feel while working on it?

Derrick: Environment always plays a role. The season you’re writing in, your living situation, your social and personal situation. Music is always some sort of reflection of your life, whether you like it or not. It’s best to recognize it as a strength.

Whether you’re anxious, neurotic, troubled people, or content, peaceful ones, would you say that your music reflects those traits?

Payson: I am a very anxious person, but it doesn’t dictate who I am. I don’t think my neuroses are audible in my music or playing. Other aspects of my personality come to the forefront of my expression I think.

Derrick: I’m a pretty happy person at this point. I think the new album reflects that.

Tomb Mold Interview 2023 (Promo)

How eccentric are you? More or less than your music?

Payson: Our lives are significantly less aggressive than our music, but feature the same level of chaos and pinch harmonics.

Derrick: I’m sure we’re all eccentrics if you pull the curtain back but, at the end of the day, we’re just three guys with no friends.

What makes Max and Payson special as individuals for you Derrick, and Max and Derrick for you Payson? What’s the best thing about working with them and being around them, and what’s the most annoying?

Derrick: I can count on Payson to bring ideas to the songs that I would have never thought of. That’s why I’m so stoked he played lots of leads like I did on this album. Wide range of sound. Lots of great sprinkling on top of riffs. Max is great because he’s never hurting for drum ideas. Never needs direction and always pushes himself. They both place faith in me to write records to bring to them to help make special. I value that.

Payson: Derrick has a very strong vision. Even when the songs are in their roughest stages I think he can hear the fully fleshed out versions. Max is able to always exceed our expectations with the drums, and in turn, it cranks up the adrenaline in the practice space. There’s so much personality in his playing that I think it pushes Derrick and I to swing for the fences as well. Both guys are also very encouraging to me when I bring an idea to the table, and I really appreciate that a ton.

Do you feel that way too many metal bands these days rely on pseudo-intellectual blabber in order to come across as intelligent?

Derrick: I’m not going to knock any band trying to be true to themselves, and if the blabber is authentic to them, let it ride.

Payson: If I like the music I’m never going to be too fussed about how the band chooses to present itself, barring the obvious host of phobias and fascism that I have zero time for.

Do you feel that, unlike mainstream popular culture, metal and underground subculture in general reflect life at its rawest and most sincere?

Payson: Not at all. I think it’s equal parts sincere and contrived, just like everything else in this world. Underground and mainstream pop culture are the same, one just has a larger audience.

Derrick: There is as much a social hierarchy in the underground metal as there is in public schools, so I don’t see it as much more sacred than going to a Dead & Company show, or a Billy Joel concert. Go for the music, don’t worry about anything else.

Is having regrets essentially meaningless, considering that we are often too weak and incapable of changing anything about our future, let alone our past?

Derrick: Every day is a chance to change your life. When the time is right, it’ll be done.

Payson: Regrets teach us lessons. If you learn from them, your mistakes can lead to discovery and triumph. They are unique in that way. If I ever get to the point where I think the future is completely predetermined, I’d jump into a volcano.

Does the fact that we live in the post-authentic age where everything is passé before it even happens freak you out sometimes?

Payson: Sometimes yes, sometimes no. It definitely feels like art has a very short window of impact. That is a variable completely out of our control though. I don’t think it’s any harder to be authentic now than it was any other time. Often when it seems like the world is changing, it’s really just you.

Derrick: I don’t think about it. I write what I want to write and we create what we want to create. If nobody listened, we’d still create.

Do you see life and death as different sides of the same coin, or do you feel that there’s something deeply irreconcilable between them?

Derrick: Death is part of life, it’s unavoidable, but dwelling on it won’t help you either. Every day is a gift. Live for right now.


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