At The Metal Crossroads with Withered

Presenting the many facets of extreme metal with verve and intelligence, Withered deliver a challenging soundtrack that expands the mind as well as the senses.  Dualitas is the latest album, and it’s bound to impress all that encounter it’s dynamic wrath.  Past tours with Marduk and Mayhem have helped to spread the word on the mighty Withered, and at press time, the band was signed on to participate on the very next edition of The Blackest Of The Black Tour, headlined by the legendary Danzig!  We recently caught up with Withered to find out more about this compelling entity.

Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Withered, and how long the band has been together.
My name is Mike Thompson. I’m one of 2 vocalist/guitarists. Withered was formed in mid 2003 so that makes us just a little over 7 years old.

Where is the band based out of and what is your local metal scene like there?
We’re based in Atlanta, Ga. The metal scene here seems to cater more towards the “blue collar” metal crowd. It’s a lot stronger for doom and progressive metal. Extreme metal does ok around here but it’s nowhere close to the popularity of doom metal or progressive metal. We have a lot of friends and camaraderie with other bands but I think that’s what ultimately drives us to tour as much as we reasonably can.

How does Dualitas compare to the previous Withered recordings?
Well, being our latest, I think it achieves the next level of maturity for the band in regards to song writing. It definitely preserves our sound I think but just exhibits the growth we’ve experienced over the last couple of years. Also, the production has also stepped up a good bit since Folie Circulaire. Dualitas also explores a much more focused concept where our previous albums were a little more abstract and perhaps a little cryptic lyrically. This time around, I wrote song explanations and even a philosophical essay that is used as a foreword for the album.

Is there any story or concept behind the Dualitas title?
The general idea behind the entire record is to challenge yourself in the exploration of perspective. To truly grasp the full gamut of a subject or cross-roads in life, one must realistically conceive all possible perspectives whether rational or irrational to truly understand anyone else’s potential motives. It’s also about tearing down every “truth” you’ve accepted in life and really analyzing its validity and how much of an impact it makes on you subconsciously in day to day life. So, the title, Dualitas is a neo-latin term coined by St. Jerome to describe spiritual duality. It somewhat sums up the concepts throughout the album.

Where do you get the ideas for some of the lyrical content on the CD?
Most of it is from my general ponderings as I travel or have any time to myself. I read a lot of literature on existential philosophy, nihilistic philosophy, esoteric spirituality and religious origins to offer me conflicting and/or harmonious perspective on life’s biggest questions. New perspectives introduced from these studies fuels new ideas for me that I applied to this album.

Who did the haunting cover artwork for Duelitas and how much input did you have on it?
All of our album artwork is done by Paul Romano. He’s an incredible person and artist. He is also someone who truly gets our music and shares our outlook. Because of this, we never give him any ideas about visual representation. We may spend some time discussing the concepts behind the album and listening to demos to establish the mood. Then, we let him do whatever he wants. We’ve never rejected any of his ideas and they always far exceed our expectations.

What was it like touring with the legendary Mayhem and were they cool guys to hang out with?
Man, it was cool. We had a great time on that tour and those guys were very nice and respectful to us. Ultimately, they are metal fans who truly believe in what they’re doing (just like the rest of us) so, that commonality always has a way of encouraging camaraderie on tour.

Marduk must have been outrageous to hang out with. How did that tour go?
That tour, though only 4 days, was fantastic. Marduk is one of the more focused, centered, and intelligent bands we’ve toured with. I really enjoyed the musical discussions I had with Mortuus regarding song writing, dynamics, and melody. Awesome guys to hang out with and a great live band. I watched their set every night.

You were supposed to go on tour with Behemoth until we heard about Nergal’s heath issues. Have you heard from Nergal at all since he started treatment for his leukemia?
Yes, that is an unfortunate situation for those guys. We haven’t heard from directly or anything as we’re not really friends. The tour would have been our first real introduction to those guys. Hopefully he pulls through it. Considering his traditional demeanor and will power, he has a damn good chance.

The big news is you are on the upcoming Blackest Of The Black tour with Danzig. How did you wind up on the show and have you met Danzig as of yet?
Well, obvsously, we were scrambling to find a new tour after the Behemoth tour was canceled. The Blackest Of The Black Tour was being put together around the same time so we just submitted for it and, after all the normal logistic stuff, we were offered a slot. It’s a pretty good break for us and we can’t wait to play these shows. No, we have never met Danzig.

What could one expect from a live Withered presentation?
We try to project a lot of emotional intensity live because that’s what we experience at each show. When everything comes together at a show, everything else disappears except for the experience of the music. I think that is translated well to the audience and we start to feel their participation. Nothing in life has ever topped the sensation of a good live show.

What is it you’d like a listener to remember the most after hearing Dualitas for the very first time?
I’d hope they would get a sense of the emotional journey that happens throughout the course of the record and that would fuel their interest in the lyrical content to take them to the next level and encourage multiple listens. That’s what we hope to achieve with each record.

Any messages for metal fans here in the Los Angeles area?
L.A. has always been good to us. I’d just like to say thanks for all the support we’ve received and can’t wait to get back out there and perform again.

Withered consists of Dylan Kilgore on vocals & guitar, Mike Longoria on bass, Mike Thompson on vocals & guitar, and Beau Brandon on drums.  Be sure to check out their latest masterwork Dualitas, available from Prosthetic Records!

Interview by Kenneth Morton

Withered on Myspace

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