Noah: One of the big reasons I wanted to do this interview with you was based on some posts you made on the Intestinal Disgorge Facebook about your opinions on art and your opinions on- I guess, I don’t know how you’d phrase it- the overall concept of Intestinal Disgorge. Talking about how being a joke project and being serious weren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. And that’s something I thought to myself for a long time, with just the general absurdity of death metal and grind and all those constituent genres, you can be expressing certain feelings and certain ideas in an absurd way but ultimately the sentiment behind them is serious.
Ryan: Absolutely, yeah. Basically I was just trying to get across the point that seems to be lost on a lot of people, that we are very much a satirical kind of themed project. And I would liken it to something like Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal,” in that the message is quite serious- the message of his writing in that instance, you know- but that it’s delivered in a satirical, somewhat absurd fashion. That’s what I kind of mean by it: they’re not necessarily mutually exclusive, but we can be satirical and then through that satire be trying to make a point. Which is something we’ve been trying to do, and it’s why I always have kind of billed Intestinal Disgorge as failing to convey a profound sense of irony. Because it seems to be lost on a lot of people.
N: I’ve been listening to Intestinal Disgorge for like ten years, since I was a freshman in high school, now, moving up through my adult life. Intestinal Disgorge was always kind of an interesting band for me and the handful of other people I knew who listened to them, because you guys weren’t a band that I followed- that people followed, necessarily- you were a band that we checked in on like once a year. I was a big fan of the early albums- you kind of lost me during the mid-period- and then I came back around the “Depravity” era. And it was always interesting to see how you guys kind of progressed, what direction you were moving in musically, whether I agreed with it or not, because it was different each time. But it was interesting what you were saying there about Intestinal Disgorge being satirical. You know, I’ve always found the mark of satire to be that it’s got a specific thing that it’s a parody of, so, in your opinion, what is Intestinal Disgorge necessarily a satire of?
R: Right. Well, it’s basically a satire of the conventions of grind and death metal. The thing that I’ve always tried to hold on to is that it’s always really been about the sound of the music for us. The whole point of doing this band was to make incredibly obnoxious sounding music. Whether that be really extreme to the point of it being difficult to listen to, or becoming so ridiculous you just don’t know what to make of it. And I’ve never wanted to have song titles, never wanted to have lyrics, and I don’t really care about any of that stuff- it’s really about the sound for me. So we figured we’re gonna have to do all that, we’re gonna have to have song titles, gonna have to have these lyrics (sometimes), so we’re just going to satirize all the conventions of this genre. Because it’s patently ridiculous when you look at it. Which is why the first album was all about shit. Because it’s-
N: It’s a great album. It’s phenomenal musically, I think.
R: Well thank you. Yeah, and that’s still my favorite album, I’ve just been chasing that ghost ever since.
As for the target of our satire, we’re poking fun at the convention that the songs have to be about pathology, or they’ve got to be about some sort of murder, and that you have to go through it in some kind of narrative fashion, and you have to have an album that has like sixty tracks and all sixty tracks are these incomprehensible messes of pathological terms and all that other shit. So we just wanted to be completely ridiculous about it. And that’s really what it was. Because I’ve always hated the conventions, I’ve always hated the rules, I’ve hated all that shit, because from my personal experience, I’ve never fit in anywhere, I’ve never had a clique, I’ve never had a movement that I felt sympathetic with, even when it comes to music. Like Intestinal Disgorge, we’ve never really been embraced (if that’s a surprise). We’ve never been embraced by labels or by many fans, and that’s just fine. And so it’s really just about calling the conventions into question, to have people maybe wonder or at least be aware of the fact that these are conventions and they they’re not necessary.
But behind all that, to really kind of answer your question much too late, is that freedom of expression would probably be the fundamental point here. It’s that it doesn’t matter what I’m saying- it’s kind of a Voltaire type of thing, “I may not agree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it”- that’s basically what we’ve been doing. So it is satire on one hand, while on the other hand we are saying “you should ask yourself why it’s not okay to say these things.”
N: Yeah, I understand. That’s a sentiment that a lot of bands in this avenue have expressed. Which leads me to a couple different questions which I was interested in talking to you about, the first one being the most pertinent. I understand the satirical reference to death and grind convention and freedom of expression, but typically a band that’s just gonna satirize death and grind convention doesn’t go on in one shape or another for eighteen years. So in that context I wonder, while the satire might be the immediate aesthetic of the band, what kept you going for almost two decades now? Under this name, with this imagery, with this musical idea?
R: Actually I think that’s a great question. And the answer is that I honestly, honestly cannot articulate why it is that I continue to write music. And that’s not just with Intestinal Disgorge, that’s with any of my projects. I don’t know why I continue to do it. It’s kind of like this expression that has to occur, and when I’m asked to articulate why it is, I just don’t know. Because there’s a lot of times I don’t want to do it and I’m really frustrated with music, and there’s times where I fall out of love with it and I loathe it. And I’ll still spend most of every day in my free time just writing music. I just kind of have to do it. This might sound like a cop-out, but it really is the best I’m able to answer this question.
As for releasing it, I could keep it to myself, why do I keep on releasing it? Again, it might sound like a cheesy answer, but I’m hoping that there will be kids out there who… I defined my entire existence as a kid based on the music I listened to, you know?
N: Yeah, me too.
R: Yeah, and it was everything to me and it gave me an identity, even though I didn’t fit in with the rest of the fans and I didn’t get along with them. I get this cliché notion that maybe there’s gonna be a kid or two out there who feel the same way about the stuff I release. So I figure, that would be cool if I could do that.
N: You want to give it the opportunity to work if it can.
R: Exactly. And if I could give that back – I know, it sounds so… just like pabulum, platitudes here – but I think that would be great if I could inspire someone. And not inspire them in the way that some people have been inspired, which is to take us very literally and use it as kind of a carte blanche to be like “yes, we’re gonna go beat on some women and champion Intestinal Disgorge.” You know, that type of shit.
N: Well I can definitely identify with that. I’ve been in a few bands and everything- not anything that’s ever gone anywhere or had a lot of longevity- but definitely one of the reasons I played music was to try and bridge the generational diaspora between myself and all the people around me when I was a kid. But I remember when I first started playing music, around the same time I started listening to you guys, Intestinal Disgorge was definitely an influence to me, just in terms of being a weirdo fourteen, fifteen year old kid wanting to hear the most extreme thing he’d ever heard. I think that on a lot of levels, in the circles that I talk to people about music with, Intestinal Disgorge is something that’s still fairly revered as far as extremity goes. Because it wasn’t merely a matter of being faster than everyone else, heavier than everyone else; there was a definite sense of chaos and animosity to it that’s still compelling today, that I think is unmatched in certain dimensions by anyone else. Actually, bridging into that, of the projects you’ve done that I know of- you know, projects like this one obviously, Hordes of the Morning Star, Howling Void, Normpeterson- this is definitely one of the most formless and most chaotic projects but it’s also the one that’s endured the longest, the one that’s kind of just kept on existing no matter how many lineup changes and breakups and reunions. So why is it this one, this most formless, seemingly incoherent project is the one that’s stuck with the longest in your musical career?
R: I think that maybe it’s just a reflection of my state of mind. That, like you mentioned earlier, I’m looking for the most extreme, weird thing; that sense of discovery for me, that’s always been present. And I’m always looking for that type of music, and I’m always hoping that maybe I can do something equally ridiculous or more ridiculous than what I’ve done before. I’m always trying to just spread out and get more chaotic and get more extreme. And like you mentioned, the animosity, that’s very real. Despite the satire and everything else, there’s of antipathy underneath. Towards the world in general and life in general, which I put all into the music. And it just never goes away because life never gets better for me. It only gets worse. Still, music has always been a hobby to me. I never had any delusions about having a career in it.
N: Well definitely not with this kind of music.
R: Oh, certainly not with this music. But just in general, I know that I’ve never been an interest, you know what I mean? I think that might have something to do with the fact that it keeps going and going, because there’s no business plan. I have no sense of, “I’m trying to market this shit.” I’m not trying to promote it ever, except just to the people I know want to listen to it. You can call it a cult band of sorts. I just have no interest in any of that shit, so I have no plan. I don’t look at it and say “Oh, well the market doesn’t seem to be bearing a new Intestinal Disgorge album this year.” It’s basically just a reflection of how I deal with living, to be honest. The only way I can keep going, the only thing I really enjoy, is making music. And that sounds kind of sad, but I’ve gotten to this point in my life where I enjoy just nothing about my day, and so the one thing I can enjoy is the music. And when people actually give a damn about it, it means a lot, and it’s not something that I plan. So I really enjoy doing things like an interview, talking to someone about it, because people usually don’t give a shit.
N: There’s a place for everything somehow, even for Intestinal Disgorge. So back to the original topic of parody and satire. I don’t know how much self-indulgent Googling you do for Intestinal Disgorge or anything, but actually… it’s interesting hearing you talk about it being a parody, it being a satire of certain things, but this actually isn’t the thing that makes Intestinal Disgorge stick in my mind and a lot of other fans’ minds. There’s plenty of noisegrind out there, there’s plenty of chaotic, sloppy, half-improvised, demo-production, shitcore records out there. But the thing that Intestinal Disgorge communicated was that you were going for a kind of a slasher movie atmosphere, but I think intentionally or not, you guys managed to go way beyond that and generate a musical atmosphere that was genuinely disturbing. Just looking at the more subtle song titles, things like “I Can’t Stop”, “Please Catch Me”, “Kill After Kill After Kill”. These were things that for me, as a younger guy getting into the really extreme reaches of the scene, really stuck with me in a way that the straight pathological, absurd shit really didn’t. So I wondered if you would be able to communicate if there was a seed of something more; an attempt to go to a level psychologically beyond what a lot of other, similar bands were doing at the time.
R: Absolutely. And, strangely – well, I don’t even know if it’s “strange” or not – the impulse to have that brave, disturbing and serious undertone was a result of my influence from listening to projects like Whitehouse.
N: Oh, you see, I always figured- especially with the newer music- that power electronics had to be a substantial influence, just thematically.
R: Oh, absolutely, and probably moreso than grind and death metal to be perfectly honest with you. Whitehouse and Atrax Morgue would be things I was big into and still am. And other weird things like Naked City. I was always listening to things that were not necessarily grind and death metal at the times that I was doing Intestinal Disgorge shit. But then there’s a project like Whitehouse that I find disturbing on so many levels. And every level is joyous for me. The more uncomfortable or the more disturbed I get by it the more elated I am. I don’t even know why exactly, but it is what it is. So you’ll have song titles with Whitehouse, too, that are innocuous-sounding…
N: But those end up being the most disturbing once you’ve listened to it a couple times and reflected on it.
R: Exactly. And it was never in-your-face, like the really ridiculous song titles like we would have, where it’s simply some pathological bullshit.
N: But that definitely came in a few albums in for you guys; things definitely got more subtle a few albums in.
R: Oh, absolutely. And some of that was an attempt on my behalf to be a little more coherent. To try and not be so formless at times and direct what we were trying to do. But – and I know this is probably frustrating to hear – as much as I try to intellectualize these things and figure out exactly what’s going on, I cannot do it. And I think maybe that’s why I’m doing so much music; because I can’t write these things out and I can’t explain them. And so maybe without having to articulate things, if I can just make a sound and throw it at someone, that might make it a little more clear.
N: The progression of Intestinal Disgorge throughout its career is something that’s always interested me. I started listening to you guys right before “A Cockwork Whore Binge”; my favorite is actually “Whore Splattered Walls.” I think that was probably the peak of Intestinal Disgorge, although there’s certainly been albums since then that I’ve really loved a lot. But actually one thing that I want to address- and I’m gonna pull no punches- what the fuck happened with the mid-era?
N: What happened with albums like “Vagina” where it was Intestinal Disgorge, just now doing shitty pseudo-crust punk- you gotta explain that to me.
R: Right. The primary thing there was just doing something different. I’d gotten to a point where I didn’t really have too many ideas, and there was a line-up change right around the “Cockwork Whore Binge” days. And the other people that were getting involved wanted to do the old shit that I’d done, but I didn’t want to do that anymore. So then I thought, “What about this other shit I’m listening to?” Because, for example, Dahmer would probably be the biggest influence for the mid-era even though we didn’t really sound like Dahmer-style grind. But I loved that type of shit, that crusty grind shit. I’d always listen to it, and I had always been fascinated with bands like Regurgitate just throwing d-beats all over the fucking place. So I admit, I was like, “Well, I want to try and blend this with what we’re doing.” And so what I wanted to attempt to do was blend jarring, chaotic shit with the more standard grind shit. And whether or not it was successful… Well, it probably wasn’t. (laughs)
N: Well it’s all in the eye of the beholder. I just know that… obviously the albums that everyone still talks about are the first three.
N: Then there’s the mid-era and a lot of people fell off there, and it appears to me they’ve been starting to pick back up in the newer era of Intestinal Disgorge over the past few years or so. So I’m interested in hearing your perspective. You said that “Drowned in Rectal Sludge” was still your favorite album-
R: Oh yeah.
N: Throughout the rest of this illustrious career of Intestinal Disgorge, what else do you see that really sticks out to you?
R: Definitely the first two albums. I still wish that we could make albums like that, but for some reason I just can’t do it.
N: Well, you don’t have Pissy, I mean, come on.
R: Well, yeah. But even if we had Pissy in the band I still don’t know how we did it. It’s a bit of a mystery to me. A lot of “Drowned in Rectal Sludge” was not planned the way it turned out. It just happened, and we couldn’t believe it. At the end we were so incredibly proud of it because it was just something beyond what we thought that we could even do.
N: Well if I remember correctly, you guys wrote most of that while you were still in high school.
R: Oh yeah. I was a junior when we recorded it, and it came out right before my senior year started.
N: Okay, so that would be 2000 when “Drowned” came out. So how did a bunch of Texan high school kids get in touch with Lofty Storm of all labels?
R: Hah, that was really just serendipitous. Basically, the Brazilian band Gore had contacted me. So I was speaking to them back and forth through email because I was just obsessed with any kind of Brazilian goregrind at the time, that was my thing. So Lofty Storm was, to me, the biggest fuckin’ label in the universe. So the guys from Gore basically said, “you know, we really dig your shit, we know this guy Marco from Lofty Storm and we’re gonna go ahead and tell him to listen to you.” And when Marco first listened to it, the first song I sent him didn’t have any bitch screams on it. It was kind of an older song we had done, and he was like “yeah, this is cool, we can work with this.” He really didn’t know what the hell he was getting, which I think is hilarious. I think he was just expecting like a Last Days of Humanity type of goregrind album from us. But I was telling him as we were recording, “this is getting really fucking weird, man.” I thought he just gonna say fuck this, you know, “I don’t want to release this.” But instead, he loved it, and he was like, “oh yeah, we’re definitely releasing this shit.” And I’d never thought anything was going to come of it, I mean, I really didn’t. And it was really funny to me how that album really picked up and all of a sudden I had people e-mailing me and wanting to talk like we were a real band or something, and I never really thought of us that way.
So that’s how the Lofty Storm thing came around, and to this day, there’s never been a country that’s been more loving to us than Brazil. It’s weird that we seem to have a lot of fans there, and we’ve released albums on other Brazilian labels since then. In fact, the latest album was just put out on a pro CDr by another Brazilian label, so there’s been three or four of them. So I don’t know what’s in the water there or what’s going on, but they seem to really like what we do, and I think that’s just awesome as hell. They sure as hell don’t care here in Texas.
N: Well I can imagine being such a fan of that scene. I remember when I first started listening to you guys, I was a big fan bands like Lymphatic Phlegm too.
R: Oh yeah.
N: They were always a favorite of mine. Lofty Storm, you had the first couple on that, I got into you guys when you were doing the Sonic Death weblabel thing. And that’s how I found out about some of the affiliated projects such as Bitch Hunter, Ballgag, stuff like that. And that feels to me like – at least, from what I saw – that was when Intestinal Disgorge was firing on all cylinders. You know, you had IxDx getting pretty big in that super underground, niche noisegrind scene, you had these other projects from you and the other members popping up left and right. Even if they didn’t necessarily lead to anything there were demos coming out, there was this constant production of material. And I remember you guys were basically dominating that little weblabel for a long time.
R: Yeah, and it was quite productive. You know, those were the college years. And I sure as hell wasn’t paying attention to what I was doing in school. So to me, that was what it was all about. And yeah, there was just a group of us. And most of us are still in contact, and we’re still all doing this shit. And to this day, I’m still putting weird demos out; little has changed for me in that regard. I mean, looking back on that whole period, those years do feel like a sort of golden age; the kind of days you wish you could go back to. But believe it or not, the pace really hasn’t changed all that much for me. I still throw out as much useless music as I did then.
N: Well I guess it’s a little less distinct now, just because – obviously – Intestinal Disgorge is a much smaller project than it used to be back in the day. Wasn’t there a period of time where you had something like six fuckers working on the same music, dropping in and out on different instruments?
R: Yeah, we did. A lot of the time when we would record, we would simply record at someone’s house. And there would be people there. And it went like, “hey, why don’t you get in here and do something?” Because for us recording was about having fun and laughing and just being jackasses; we were just having a good time. We’d just hang out and shoot the shit, but hit the record button first. So anytime anyone wanted to get involved in anything, and I’d say “can you play an instrument?” And the answer would be, “no.” And I’d say, “good, so pick this instrument up and play it.” Or: “Can you sing?” “No!” “Well, get over here and do some fuckin’ vocals!”
N: That does bring me to another question I’ve thought of for a long time. I guess this applies more to the earlier albums. How much of that was actually written and how much of it was improvised?
R: It’s a weird blend; the majority of everything is improvised – I can say that out front. Almost every Intestinal Disgorge song is improvised, but it’s not improvised as a whole. It’s more like I’ll improvise the drums: I’ll simply hit record and I’ll go and play the damn drums. Then I’ll go back, and I don’t care what it sounds like, that’s gonna be a song. And then I’ll pick up the guitar and go through and record a track, and if I like it, then I’ll record it again on the other side and that’s that. So it’s sort of improvised but there would also be some editing going back. But the drums, for instance, that’s always purely improvised. And they would build up from there, and as I would spend more time on something, it might have more direction to it as I work on it, but it always starts the same way, which is off the top of the head.
N: I did notice the first album is definitely substantially incoherent; the improvisation is quite obvious. But on “Whore Splattered Walls,” that’s when I started hearing more distinct, somewhat more traditional death metal and grind riffs here and there; not always, but on certain songs. So that’s a question that’s always stuck out in my mind, because it felt to me like there were certain songs that might have been jammed out two or three times in a loose structure and there were others that were clearly just blasts of noise.
R: Actually, yeah, now that you mention it, there are a few songs that would be jammed, but by far, the vast, vast majority have never been played in a band setting or anything like that. But a lot of that took place on the first two albums. When we first started out, we were more or less a band, and we did play a couple shows here in town back when we were in high school. So there were a couple of holdover riffs – if not entire songs – that made it onto the albums. And you can definitely hear those on the first ones, where you can tell “okay, so this is…” The songs that sound like Haemorrhage songs is how I think of it.
N: That’s definitely a comparison I would make. That or old LDoH, Old Mortician, that kind of thing. There’s definitely some riffs I can detect there.
R: Yeah, and you’re spot on with the influences too.
N: So I’m imagining that things got a little bit more coherent in the mid-era, because albums like “Vagina” and “Sociopath”- those are definitely distinct songs. It’d be hard for me to believe that that was still almost wholly improvised.
R: Well, again, each of those songs still began improvised on the drums. But on those albums I would go back and spend more time working on riffs over a song once the drums had been recorded. But it was still that same pattern where I would go in there and record an hour’s worth of drum tracks just straight through, and I’d go back and start one track and I’d sit down and try to write a riff to it. And there’d usually be one or two riffs for the song, and the rest would be like, “I want this to be improvised or that.” But yeah, I certainly spent a hell of a lot more time thinking out riffs and during the whole recording process on those two albums specifically. Absolutely.
N: I did definitely notice that. I guess it’s a little bit easier to see it in terms of you doing this crustier, more traditional grinding sound, meaning that the drum beats and the improvisation aren’t going to be as spastic. There’s gonna be a lot more d-beats, there’s gonna be a lot more shit that just makes it end up conforming to a certain structure by definition.
R: Yeah, for sure.
N: So I kind of fell off with you guys during that mid-era because I like a lot of crust/grind but it wasn’t the Intestinal Disgorge I was looking for. But then, in 2010, “Depravity” comes out. You guys disappeared off the internet for a while and you popped back up and finally got CDs back in stock, and I ordered a copy of a couple of your old records, and you sent me a free copy of “Depravity” along with that, and I listened to that, and it really took me by surprise. I’d like to know about that album – what brought you in that direction – because I have a lot of commentary on where you went there.
R: By that point in time, I was definitely getting sick of the mid-period sound. And so once again I found myself saying, “okay, so I want to do something different.” And that was also the last album we had Pissy on. I didn’t know at the time that he was getting ready to say, “fuck it, I’m tired of playing music, I don’t want to do this shit anymore.” But it was very much a throwback; we were trying to recapture our old spirit, which is something I try to do every couple damn months now (and I fail every time). We wanted to get back the extremity we had sloughed off.
We were reconnecting with Brazil, again, on that album. Actually, our friend of Marco from Sonic Death told the guy from Humanos Mortos to check us out and he turned out to be really stoked about it. We were trying to make a really fucking ugly album this time. We wanted to make it very hateful and noisy. But the process of songwriting and everything was still very similar to what we had been doing.
N: Well it was a very interesting album to me. I was definitely enjoying it a lot more than the mid-period stuff, but something that struck me was that the songs on the album seemed to be moving in a sort of parallel direction where on one level the noise was definitely back but it was a lot glitchier and more electronic, not coming so much from the instruments clashing. Also, the riffing on it seemed a lot more distinctly brutal death metal. I’ve described it to friends as noisegrind with a slam every other song. So were the influences there more pure brutal death metal and power electronics? Because it doesn’t seem as grindy as it used to be.
R: Definitely. The main thing – and like you refer to the electronic thing as glitchy, as that was definitely going on – one of the reasons for that was that me and Jacob, one of the other guys in the band, we were making our own synthesizers at the time, or trying to, I guess I should say. Just trying to make little nanosynths, little eight dollar contraptions. Jacob had actually made one and soldered it into his guitar, so it was on board of his guitar, so we were really getting into bringing actual electronics back into it. Obviously, we were being self-conscious about it, trying to give it an organic sound despite being electronically produced.
N: Well I think it worked out very well. I’ve never really heard anything exactly like it, though it’s probably a little less immediately distinct than earlier Intestinal Disgorge. It’s definitely a remarkable record in a lot of ways.
R: We also used a lot of weird instruments on that album, too. Like there’s a lot of violin on that album.
R: Yeah. It’s a violin played with absolutely no knowledge or skill on how to play a violin. We were able to make the most irritating sounds out of a violin, it was fantastic! I liken it to nails on a chalkboard, these weird sounds you can get out of them. And we had a clarinet as well that we didn’t know how to play, but it would make this amazing squealing sound. If you don’t know what’s making them, I think it’s really interesting, because you’ll just be wondering, “what the hell is that noise?” I think it fires off your imagination.
N: I guess the thing that struck me most about it, after hearing albums like “Vagina” and “Sociopath,” is that it definitely felt like a return to darkness. I mean, you talked about how through the history of the band and how you’ve been satirical and parodic of death metal and grind convention, but that didn’t come out in this insistent way as it did on albums like “Vagina.” But “Depravity” really scaled that back a lot, made it a lot more traditionally dark in the Intestinal Disgorge sense.
R: Absolutely. And like you just mentioned- what I think you’re hitting on here- it’s like “Vagina” was the peak tongue-in-cheek album. Honestly, at that point in time – and I usually don’t give a shit about any of this – I was hearing from people, “You’re a misogynist, why are you a misogynist band, why do you hate women,” and all this kind of shit.
N: That strikes me as incredibly interesting just because… who the fuck is saying this? This is Intestinal Disgorge, a band that at the peak of their popularity thirty people listened to.
N: Who is so sensitive enough yet still that plugged into the underground scene to actually confront you about that?
R: That is the question to begin and end all Q&A sessions. It really is. How could you possibly think… even if we were some sort of bad influence, we’d be responsible for corrupting the equivalent of, like, a dry cleaner’s. Like, two or three people. It’s ridiculous. But we would play a show every now and then back in ’07, ’08, and that’s when I would meet people. Because I don’t really socialize with people. So when we’d go play shows people would talk to us in the shows and they’d be like, “You know, I really want to be into you, but I just can’t get on board with this violence against women,” or whatever. It was always just flabbergasting to me. Like, don’t you realize what’s going on here? But obviously the answer’s no, they don’t realize what’s going on here, and that’s also a reason why I don’t really like playing shows.
I got to the point where I was like, if you’re going to accuse us of all this shit, we’re going to put it in your face and revel in it. So that’s why “Vagina” was such a ridiculous album. It was very much meant to be living up to people’s expectations of Intestinal Disgorge.
N: Well, I’ll give it to you, the lyrics are pretty hilarious. I do love them.
R: Well I’m glad for that. And the funny thing about those is that we made all the lyrics up during the recording and then went back and transcribed them. So that’s why a lot of them don’t really make much sense.
N: I always wondered if they were actually syncing up with what was said on the songs…
R: Yeah, sometimes. (Laughs)
N: As much as I’m not into the album, I still put on… “Bitch I’m Drunk” is a great song to wake up to. Phenomenal lyrics. So who was writing the lyrics on those mid-era albums? Was that you, or…?
R: It was really all of us because we would all do vocals on every album. If we did write lyrics they would never make it to the song. And we would always get caught up in this Dionysian fervor, where you’re just kind of running around the room, literally, screaming. Eventually, these strange statements come out. And the more provocative they seem the more hilarious it becomes. So yeah, we literally went back and transcribed the lyrics for “Vagina,” and so some of them are not correct because we don’t know what we said. We just wrote whatever it sounded like.
But yeah, it’s always been a collaborative thing. Everyone just says what they want to say, and then we look back on it and think that was either funny or that was just stupid or whatever.
N: And either way it’s fine.
R: Oh, absolutely, I don’t give one damn. I love it whatever way it comes out, really.
N: Based on what you’ve been saying about the band, I would like to – not so much musically, but kind of spiritually, if that makes any sense – draw a comparison to XXX Maniak.
R: For sure!
N: It’s another band I’ve been a massive fan of. Lot of controversy about them, when they got into that weird pseudo-breaking up period, about them being a joke band, being a serious band – I always thought that was immaterial, similar to you guys. I firmly believe in a kind of death of the author theory when it comes to art, in that ultimately what the audience takes away from a piece is much more crucial than what the intent of it might have been.
N: XXX Maniak and Intestinal Disgorge, I feel, are cut from the same cloth in that they’re these bands that were conceived as sort of ridiculous and parodic from the get go, even if the sentiment and the feeling behind it is serious. But I guess there might be a distinct difference when you’re on the other side of the CD, so to speak, when you’re just hearing this without context, without seeing the goofy recording sessions, anything like that. I think there’s an aspect to your music, and XXX Maniak’s music, and other bands in the same vein, where there’s definitely an intensity and a darkness to it that’s always compelled me a lot.
R: I think that’s exactly what’s going on here. That there is an authentic level of very disturbing thought that goes into it. But in our case – I can’t speak for XXX Maniak – it’s always done as an exercise in, you know, what can you tolerate? How dark of a thought can you tolerate, and more specifically, how dark of a thing can you laugh at? If I couldn’t find humor in everything, and especially in the bad things in life, this would be totally unbearable. And I’ve always been bothered by restrictions placed on humor, and restrictions placed on thought, restrictions placed on expression, words, everything. It just drives me absolutely batshit fucking insane when something is supposedly an inherent, natural right – you have the freedom of expression – UNLESS. You have the freedom to say anything, EXCEPT FOR. That type of shit just drives me nuts. I never fall on the side of moderation, never fall on the side of balance; I always go to extremes. That’s just how I am.
So if there’s a serious undercurrent to what we do, it really is the confrontation with this idea that there’s reality and that there’s what you want to make out of reality, and we’re focused on finding what reality really is, and who gives a shit what kind of overlay we put on it. And reality, to me, a very dark, very fucked up, very meritless kind of thing.
I actually think it’s great that you get that same spirit from XXX Maniak, because we were actually supposed to do a split with them way back in the day, and it was supposed to be on Sonic Death. But Sonic Death folded and there was also something else on XXX Maniak’s side so it didn’t happen, and it just fell apart. But that was going to happen and that was one of the things I was really excited about, but it didn’t come to fruition. As I’m saying this, I actually have an XXX Maniak CD within arm’s reach, which is weird because I have very few CDs these days.
N: And then you’ve got the other link there with XXX Maniak doing a split with Lymphatic Phlegm back in the day, continuing that closed circle of Brazilian goregrind. It’s interesting to hear that was such an influence for you. I listened to a lot of the old Brazilian stuff and I never really identified that, necessarily, as an influence on you guys, but looking back, especially some of the nastier, more puke-noisy guys down there, releasing shit on blearily Xeroxed fourth-generation cassettes I had…
But back to analysis of the discography. Between “Sociopath” and “Depravity” you had a big series of splits as well as a couple cooperative releases – a couple collaborations – that I was always interested in hearing but never got to run into, like the “Standing Naked Outside Her Window” collab with RxAxPxE, the one with Boar, Endometrium Cuntplow, all of these. I thought they were really interesting but they were incredibly hard to get as an Intestinal Disgorge fan. I don’t even know where I would find those now.
R: They should all be online. The majority of them were put out on netlabels, so they were strictly digital, but there was basically a time when I was really interested in the whole collaboration idea. I didn’t want to collaborate with other grind-style bands because to me it would just be incredibly boring, so I was getting in touch with a lot of noise acts and seeing who wanted to do some shit. To my own surprise, it turned out that there were people doing their own noise shit that knew about us, and I was like, oh, that’s kind of cool. So let’s see what the hell happens. We then did like three or four collaborations. And especially the one with RxAxPxE was really fun, because the guy behind that project, Martin – a really cool guy – is a devoted Intestinal Disgorge fan, and that idea cracks me up. I mean, it flatters me, it really does, sincerely, but at the same time, I couldn’t see myself even being that much of a fan of my own shit.
N: You know, I sort of expected to hear that from you, but it’s weird looking back now to me hanging out in Florida as a death metal kid in my teens. Sitting outside our local bar where… fuck, I don’t know, some no-name local death metal band was playing in Tampa, us just drinking whiskey out of Solo cups outside, talking about the last Intestinal Disgorge split. This was a thing that actually happened in my local community, not among everyone, but among total grind maniacs? Yeah, that was definitely a conversation that occurred.
R: That’s awesome, and that goes back to what I was saying earlier, how when I was young, it just was me and Pissy and my friend Nick, and we were the only people we knew of. We were the only people we had ever met that listened to any of this shit. And we would sit around and have these discussions and talk about this type of shit, and to hear that this similar shit was going on where people would talk about us in the same sentence, that’s awesome shit. Like even though I’ve said over and over again that we never fit in anywhere, and I’ve never felt like we fit in anywhere, that’s cool as shit to hear.
N: So after “Depravity,” a couple albums, probably the ones I’m most unfamiliar with in the discography: “Dripping in Quiet Places” and “Abject Horror.” I’ve heard bits of either of them but those were also released during a period where I wasn’t paying too much attention to the activity of the band. It felt like kind of the last gasp of old Intestinal Disgorge before the recent kind of rebooting of the project with the new aesthetic. Do you have any comments about those? Because those are probably the ones that are least known in the catalog of the band.
R: Your insight continues to kind of astound me, to be honest. It’s spot-on. “Dripping in Quiet Places,” we did that right after Pissy decided he was done with music and shit. And to this day, he doesn’t play, doesn’t do any of that shit anymore. He’s got a family – I don’t know WHY, but he decided to do that – so it was just Jacob and I at that point, which is the line-up still. We were like, okay, so Pissy’s gone, and we very intentionally said the bitch scream is gone. That era is gone. So we’re just gonna do something kind of different. And what we wanted to do with “Dripping in Quiet Places” was a very noise rock influenced album. And I don’t think we were overly successful trying to mimic stuff like Hella and Lightning Bolt.
N: I was about to say Lightning Bolt…
R: Ah, shit, I love Lightning Bolt and Hella and bands like that. So I reckoned I could make a grindy version of those type of bands. So it was that and the Naked City thing, we were trying to throw in some kind of improv jazzy shit too, and that was the whole point of that album. So we recorded that over at Jacob’s place. Actually it’s an interesting album to me, but I don’t listen to a lot of my own shit. I do, sometimes, listen to that album because I think there’s some interesting shit on it but no one ever really heard it. And that just goes with the territory now: when we release something, no one fuckin’ knows.
N: Well, now that you guys are back to being more active on social media with the last couple albums, I think there’s a rediscovery of a lot of that mid-era stuff that got lost in the shuffle for Intestinal Disgorge fans.
R: I hope so. It is weird how we’ve submerged and resurfaced and submerged and resurfaced, but that was a period where no one really knew what was going on. So “Abject Horror” right after that, was like, screw the actual drums, we’re going back to (mostly) programmed drums just like the first album, so “Abject Horror” was very much a throwback trying to say, “we’re going back to the way it used to be, we’re done with all that other shit.” So that was the idea there. So “Abject Horror” and the other two albums after that, they’ve all just been digital releases on fuckin’ Bandcamp. But all of them have had some weird physical release too.
N: Just like a cassette on the side thing.
R: Yeah, there have been cassettes and Cdrs; they’ve all come out on weird formats. I really like the whole idea of being able to write these albums and slap ’em out there, and people get them immediately. You don’t have to wait or send physical copies to people who don’t even want to listen to them. I quite like the whole digital thing. I know it’s killing the business and it’s killing people’s careers, but I just gotta be honest and say that I don’t give a shit, because there was never anything there for me and I’m a selfish bastard. I don’t care if I see the whole damn thing go down. So I really like that I can record some shit and put it out there, and there’s like ten people out there in the world that follow what we do and they’ll grab it and hear it, and that’s awesome to me.
N: That goes back to what I was saying earlier: throughout the time I’ve known about you guys, Intestinal Disgorge was a band that my friends and I would periodically check up on. It was a band that existed in its own universe. It didn’t have ties to other bands, it wasn’t part of a discrete scene, so it was just this thing that spun around erratically. And you’d check back six months later; maybe they dropped a split or something, maybe they didn’t. Even if they did, it’d probably be impossible to find anyway. So Intestinal Disgorge became this curio cabinet for this incredibly underground grind and noise scene.
R: I think that’s spot-on, and I really can’t stress enough how we really just don’t fit in anywhere. And it’s not necessarily a problem. It’s a double-edged sword in some cases, but I’ve always been this way. Personally, I’ve never fit in, and any time there’s a group or clique or anything, I’ve always got problems with it. And when it comes to music, even when I’ve tried consciously to fit in with a scene, just to be a part of something, it doesn’t happen. It’s something I’ve gotten used to, and I sometimes wear it as a badge of honor, but at the end of the day we couldn’t fit in even if we wanted to. And if I could grow a comparison here, I would mention Macabre. If I have a favorite band in this world, it is Macabre. I feel like Macabre has never fit in with whatever they were lumped together with. Because some people call Macabre a death metal band, or they’ll call them speed metal, whatever the hell that is, or thrash, or murder metal, or whatever the hell it is. The bottom line is, when you hear Macabre, you know you’re hearing Macabre, and you’re not hearing anyone else. And I love that about them. And to think that maybe we’re similar in a way, that’s flattering as hell to me if that could be the case.
N: They’ve always been a kind of distant outlier band in the same way that Intestinal Disgorge is of the scene it satellites.
R: Right, and it just blows my mind, because those guys are so incredible in Macabre. I think they’ve been playing for like seven thousand fuckin’ years with just the same three guys, and they’ve always been so original and so entertaining, and no one gives a shit. But that’s simply how it goes.
N: That brings us to the most recent work for you and Jacob, announcing the huge shift which probably took a lot of people by surprise, from the traditional gore and rape and torture and toilets slasher movie shit of old Intestinal Disgorge to the equally overused Lovecraftian sentiment of the last couple albums. So what prompted the move over there? I know that you’ve dealt with some Lovecraftian themes in projects of yours like The Howling Void, but what made you switch Intestinal Disgorge over to this?
R: First of all, just very basically, I was sick and fucking tired of writing about these stupid gore tropes and the rape tropes and all that shit. I was just genuinely sick and tired of it and I wanted to move onto something else. But it had to be disturbing, obviously; it had to be something weird, it had to be something unsettling. And of course I’ve been obsessed with Lovecraft’s work my whole damn life. Even in my academic endeavors there was a time that I was almost going to pursue it academically, but I didn’t. Regardless, the thing about Lovecraft that drives me is the sublime. In other words, the sense of that which is not seen, and that which is not experienced directly, is infinitely more horrifying/interesting than that which is seen and directly experienced. And that is something that’s always fascinated me, and I think that no one’s really captured that spirit like Lovecraft did. Whenever they try to adapt one of his stories, I never watch that shit. If it’s any kind of movie or series, there’s no way in hell I’m going to like it, I don’t give a shit who makes it. Because I don’t want to see these creatures, because that’s going to ruin it for me. Because it’s always going to be better in my mind’s if it’s inchoate, if it’s something that’s never formed, that’s never definite. That the possibility of it is just beyond my imagination. That’s what drives me about it.
So with the last couple albums, I wanted to capture that disturbing, fucked-up atmosphere; to convey the same thing with our music. To convey this nebulous idea of utterly fucked-up, unnerving, haunting, impending doom that you can’t put your finger on. So it’s not so much a Lovecraft fanfiction album as it is an attempt to capture the same spirit. At the same time, we’ve jettisoned the satire and all of that other shit completely, because now it’s very much about making seriously disturbing music. Which I think we can do without resorting to the usual shit of murder and rape and eating people and eating shit and whatever else. So really the whole movement behind it is to make some extremely disturbing shit. And I don’t know if it’s successful or not, but for me it seemed that it was.
N: I’ve listened to a decent amount of the last couple albums and I actually enjoy them a lot. I don’t know if it’s a result of the aesthetic changing or if there’s a substantial musical difference too, but I definitely feel like the whole mood and the whole character of the band has shifted. It expresses something radically different musically as well as aesthetically. Now I’ve noticed that the glitchy electronics have really come to the forefront. The drum programming is still chaotic but feels tighter, in a certain sense. It actually reminds me – I don’t know if you’re familiar with them – of a Japanese tech-grind band called Noism-
R: Oh, hell yeah, man! For sure!
N: Obviously this is a much more chaotic, discordant version of that, but I still feel there’s that snappy, cut-up, glitchy thing they were doing. I really hear a lot of that here.
R: Absolutely, and the cut-up was the big thing, for sure. I did that type of shit in all kinds of manners. It’s predominantly programmed drums, but regardless, I would take the programmed drums and they would just be snippets taken out of context. And there’s also live recorded drums that I would also literally take, cut them up, take them completely out of context, and slap them together. I really like the idea, the aesthetic of almost flipping through a radio dial of the most horrifying sounds and moods you can imagine. And you’re changing the dial, so to speak, and it never gets any better; it just takes you deeper and deeper into this shit and you just cannot fucking get away from it. And of course I just love the idea of things changing constantly, which of course is a throwback to Naked City and related shit once again, like Mr. Bungle. Shit where it just changes from moment to moment to moment and at the end you just feel exasperated. The whole cut-up thing was definitely the driving force here.
N: So sixteen years in, completely changing the aesthetic of the band, was that more liberating or was that more intimidating, given just the sheer history and weight this band has behind it in its entrenched aesthetic?
R: It’s totally liberating. And of course we had talked about how we should maybe put Intestinal Disgorge to bed and have a different name, but then at the same time we wondered why the hell we should have to do that. Because it really is the same experimental attitude and the same spirit we’ve always had. We’ve just put a different coating on it; there’s a different skin on the skeleton now. But I do want to get away from being another one of those fucking gore bands. I would like people to, if they know about us at all, think about us as a very eclectic and eccentric kind of band.
N: Well I don’t think there’s any doubt about that.
R: I hope not; we’ve been beating that dead horse for a very long time. Because that’s what I’d like for people to walk away with: you don’t know what’s going to happen. You know it’s gonna be fucked up and you know it’s gonna be something very niche and very few people are going to listen to it, but I would hope that people always know that if there’s going to be an Intestinal Disgorge album of any sort, that it’s at least gonna be worth your exploration; to listen to it just once. Because I can’t stand the idea of putting out an album that’s exactly like the last one. Even bands that I enjoy, when they put out ten albums and every single one of them is interchangeable, it’s just a major waste of effort.
N: Well it’s definitely an interesting trajectory the band has taken. How do you feel, personally – I mean, you’ve been with this entity since its inception way back in the mid-’90s – now you’re here, almost two decades later, how does it feel looking back on eighteen years of history?
R: Oh, it’s embarrassing, man.
R: I try not to ever take it seriously as a history or a legacy, because to me it’s not any of that stuff. In my own mind it’s still very much this garage project that no one knows about. And as much as I would love to be able to make a living off music, I know that it’s not something for me, it’s never gonna happen, and I don’t play music that would ever be conducive to that type of lifestyle. So I try to treat it as a very hobby-like thing because I don’t want to think I’ve wasted the past twenty years. You know, from any kind of quantifiable standpoint it hasn’t been successful, but for me, it has been successful, because I’ve enjoyed the hell out of it. And I do love, sometimes, thinking of myself as some sort of grizzled veteran.
I like to flatter myself with that thought every now and again; I look at the kids and I’m like, “You fuckin’ kids, you don’t know anything about this shit!” That’s fun to indulge in every now and then because I feel myself getting older and I like the idea of being able to sit out on my lawn and yell at the fuckin’ kids. And if I can do that in the musical context as well I think that’d be great. But all in all I am surprised that I’ve amassed this – and I always say “I”, but it has always been a collaborative effort. It was my brainchild, and I am the one member from the beginning to the end and all that shit, but it’s very much a collaborative effort and it’s always like that and very weird. I do think of it as my life story, and that’s very pathetic. (Laughs) But that’s what it is.
N: I know that even during the heyday, so to speak, when you guys had probably your biggest following, mid-2000s, you were not exactly very active in the metal scene as far as networking with other people, keeping in touch. But now I see you posting mini-essays and rants on your Facebook page, interacting with fans more. What’s it like stepping into that public realm again, and what have you seen insofar as fan reaction, people coming back; in essence, has it given you any more perspective on what Intestinal Disgorge might have meant historically?
R: Yeah, but almost in more of a bad sense. The reason for the rants and stuff is that I never really thought of this as a serious thing, as an object to be studied, because I didn’t think anyone was really paying attention. But then when I started to see how people were… Like when you go to the Encyclopedia Metallum, and when you go to the Intestinal Disgorge page (which I didn’t know about until recently), and one of the first themes is misogyny.
R: I’m like, what the fuck does that mean? It’s absolutely fucking ridiculous to me. So I would get those rants going because I would sometimes feel like I want people to understand what I’m saying. And that’s not usually how I am about it. Usually, I think you should just take from it what you will and I won’t give a shit. And that’s great. But then sometimes it bothers me, and it’s not a good thing. I’m not proud of the fact that it bothers me sometimes, but it does. So I’ll go on Facebook and try to explain something, and as soon as I post it, I think, “that was stupid”. Why even try, it’s not gonna help; it’s gonna make me seem pretentious if anything. I need to get some hipster glasses and a fucking beard if I’m gonna be this way. It’s really not something I’m too proud of but I try to justify and explain what we’ve been doing when I see it’s been taken out of context. So that’s somewhat embarrassing but that’s what it is.
N: I guess to focus it down a bit more: eighteen years later, you’ve been in and out, popping in and out of the public eye insofar as the music goes. But it’s been an impressively enduring project. Not a lot of noisegrind – as reductivist as it is to call it that – bands have lasted this long and have been so prolific and stuck in peoples’ minds for so long. What do you see as Intestinal Disgorge as at this point? Are you just going to be these pissed-off upstarts on the fringes? Or do you have a certain direction in mind? Where should Intestinal Disgorge go from here, what should we expect?
R: Honestly, I want to grow it. And what I mean by that is I want it to grow creatively. I want it to explore every possible extremity that there is. I really am now for the first time ever interested in playing live, because I think there’s so many different possibilities of experiences we could have. And I don’t mean any kind of standard live show, but the unexpected shit that would happen, and the improvisation and all that stuff I think would be really fun. But it’s just so impractical I don’t see that happening. But I want it to go more and more in the direction we’re going now, which I think is a much more serious, much more fucked up direction. I would hope that maybe, someday, we could actually branch out and collaborate with people who are doing really interesting shit. But I understand that our reputation is not exactly stellar, and I don’t see too many “respectable” musicians who do experimental shit wanting to necessarily be involved with a band who did an album about shit. We’ve undermined our own credibility time and time again.
I just always want to experiment with sound, from day one to right now. That’s always what drives me. And I never know what’s going to be next, and I don’t know what kind of sounds we can come up with, and that’s exciting to me. I can’t wait to figure out what the hell we’re going to do next. And I guess if people are going to come along for the ride that would be fucking awesome, but I certainly don’t expect it. But just getting a sense that there are people following it is a really interesting thing to me, and it’s very inspiring, too. Just to be so fucking repetitive, it’s really all about the sound to me. Everything else is secondary. Any kind of words, any kind of themes, any kind of graphics, any of that shit associated with music is all secondary. And the voice, to me, is an instrument, so you don’t have to be saying words, I just want to hear it and feel it?
I don’t know what we could do, but it seems like we could go anywhere with this shit. I think that’s also very liberating about how we changed our theme and all that kind of stuff. Hopefully it shows people now that we’re gonna do whatever the hell we want to do. If I want to put out a pop album under the name Intestinal Disgorge, I’ll do it. Because there are no rules. Just like I don’t have to sing about gore and shit if I don’t want to, I don’t have to have blasts if I don’t want to. It’s so liberating to finally say, “hello, I’m an adult, and I can make decisions for myself.” And it seems probably childish, but it’s this thing I’m always going through. I’m trying to reify the fact that I’m autonomous, and I can do things, and I don’t have to play into any kind of limitations or any of that shit.
Because I think that at the end of the day we’re all small insects on this fucking compost heap of a planet. The most enjoyment I can get out of this ridiculous, absurd existence is just to do whatever the fuck I want to do. And I can’t do that in a lot of things; I can’t live the way I want because I gotta have a job that I hate, and there’s so many things I cannot do, that I don’t have control over. But if there’s one thing I have control over, it’s music.