Broken Flesh is a Christian death metal band from Oklahoma. Recently, we got together with the guys to talk about their history as a band, and their newest album, Warbound. We talk about where they came from and the mission for their latest release, and they spill some of their crazy stories from the road.
So tell me a little bit of your history as Broken Flesh.
Kevin: We actually formed in October of 2004, so we’ve been going for about nine years now. This is our fourth recording: We’ve done a demo, a live demo and we’ve done a full-length album that came out in September 2009 called Forever In Flames. Then we did an EP in 2012 called Stripped, Stabbed and Crucified, and now the new one, Warbound. Lopez and I are the original members of the band. We started the band with another guy named Steve Maxwell. There have been a lot of lineup changes, but I’ve got to say from being in the band from the beginning to now, this is the most solid lineup we’ve ever had – everybody’s on-board with doing ministry first, and then music second. It’s great to be in this band.
Where did the band name come from?
Kevin: Basically, we need to die to ourselves. We need to die to our flesh to allow Christ to dwell within us, to really come forth and achieve what God has for us to do.
What would you say is your mission as a band? What does success look like for Broken Flesh?
Jacob: To further the kingdom of heaven.
Kevin: Seeing Behemoth get saved.
What sets Broken Flesh apart from other bands out there doing death metal? The metal scene gets pretty saturated with the same thing over and over again, so what sets you guys apart?
Kevin: I don’t know if anything sets us apart, but it’s kind of the way I feel. I read an interview with Webster from Cannibal Corpse today, and what’s cool about death metal is that each band tries to outdo what’s been done before it. That’s what keeps death metal fresh, each band trying to outdo what they’re into, what they’ve heard and what they like to listen to. In the realm of death metal, it keeps everybody pressing forward to be the next heavy thing, the next fast thing, the next brutal thing. So I guess that’s about it. We’re all very competitive.
How do you keep things fresh when it comes to death metal? Does it come through songwriting, or the musical ability?
Kevin: Well, we build songs. Instead of just writing tunes, we actually build songs. We try to write a real heavy riff and then write a riff that’s more brutal and heavier than that one is, and so on and so forth. Then, we’ve got a drummer that tries to play so hard, so fast and so crazy that it’s hard to keep up with so it makes it really easy.
Jacob: Yeah he’s really good at doing things like that.
You talked about building songs. Is that usually how it works with songwriting? Do you all write together?
Kevin: We all will be in the room together; all the writing is basically done together. I’ll get the guitar and start writing riffs, and sometimes Jacob will pick up the guitar and start writing riffs. So we’ll sit down and yea or nay all of them, you know? Some of them will last two or three months before we ax them. We’re very picky and very critical of everything we do and everything we write. It takes a while to write a song, actually.
Speaking to that a little, how does the newest record fit into that? How does it differ from your previous material? Is it a concept record?
Jacob: As far as Warbound differing from anything else that we’ve done so far, we really just tried to go as brutally over-the-top as we could. As far as finding a niche in “slow brutality” versus “fast brutality,” specifically off of Warbound, we went a little more slam death metal, exploring the more doom-style side of brutality. Yet, we still tried to keep the core of everything fast. So I would say it differs in that way.
Is there a main theme around Warbound?
Kevin: There’s really not a main theme around the record, but the theme around the title track is about the return of Christ as he’s portrayed in Revelation 20. The way he comes back with varnished bronze skin, with white shining from the holes in his hands and his side, with fire in his eyes and crowns upon his head, with a robe dipped in blood, riding on a white horse. We kind of added our own imagination, and got hooked up with this really awesome artist named John Zigg, and he put it together for us.
Jacob: The album artwork was done well after the songs and lyrics were put together. It was kind of an afterthought.
What are you most excited about with Warbound?
Kevin: For me, the lyrical content on the album — what it’s got to say. With the hard copies of the CD, there is a lyric booklet inside, and I guess that’s the most exciting part because our lyrics are very much based around the Bible. A lot of times, the lyrics are just straight Bible scripture, verse-for-verse, from certain books of the Bible. The Bible says God’s Word never goes out and returns void, so that’s the most exciting thing about this to us, as well as with every recording we’ve done. God’s Word is going out and being spoken over these people whether they realize it or not.
Do you have any favorite tracks from the new album?
Jacob: For me, probably “Acrid Stench”.
Josh: Probably “Acrid Stench.” “Scorned” is one of my favorites, as well.
I saw online that you’ve been signed before, and now you’re independent. Which do you prefer? What are your thoughts on the advantages of being on a label?
Josh: If we could get picked up by a label that would actually help us, we’d probably prefer Nuclear Blast or Metal Blade. We don’t want to do it unless someone’s going to take us to the next level.
Is that why things didn’t work out last time?
Kevin: No, that whole thing kind of fell apart last time. Don’t want to get into personal reasons, but no hard feelings from us towards them, but sometimes people fall on hard times. But it’s all good.
Switching gears a little, do any of you guys have families, with kids or anything?
Jacob: I’m married, but I do not have any kids yet.
Kevin: I’m married. I’ve been married for 21 years, and I’ve got a son and 3 daughters, and they range from 17 to 27.
So how do you guys keep up with your families, especially being on tour and away from them?
Kevin: We don’t get to tour too often. Being independent, and being as fixated as we are on preaching the gospel – even (among) Christian music scenes – it’s really held us back as far as how far we can go. So we’ve just done what we can do, and thank God there’s Facebook! We’ve got a following in Brazil, Columbia, Chile, all over Europe, and some parts of Asia, and we’ve never even been there! So we’re really thankful for that. God is good, though. I’ve got a wife and kids who are very understanding because we’ve been practicing in my house for the whole existence of this band. It’s very loud. We don’t turn down and do an unplugged version of Broken Flesh or anything. It’s full-bore, every practice.
So no acoustic sessions!
Jacob: Nope, no joke!
What are some of your influences?
Kevin: Life, man.
Jacob: Yeah, just life. As far as bands go, that’s going to be a really long answer.
Kevin: All of us like Suffocation.
Jacob: That’s one of the main things you could say. Probably the most common ground we have is the band Suffocation.
Kevin: Me, personally, I like Slayer and old Metallica. You know, I mean before they quit. Before The Black Album.
So no St. Anger for you?
Kevin: No. No, no, no.
Actually I have a confession to make. St. Anger was the first Metallica album I ever heard.
Kevin: Are you serious?
Josh: Dang, dude, I’m sorry.
Kevin: Hey man, I got to see Metallica open for Ozzy in 1986 when Cliff Burton was still alive. The Master of Puppets tour. That’s like bragging rights for me. It was awesome.
Has music always been a part of everyone’s lives? Like even as kids?
Josh: Yeah, it’s been something I’ve just kind of grown up with. Jacob and my dad got us into playing guitar when we were really little, and he introduced us to Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd and ZZ Top.
Jacob: He really got our roots going. Music has always been a pretty big part of my life. The only reason I have anything to do with Broken Flesh – I’ve been in the band for four years – was actually inspired by Lopez. He was my drum instructor when I was 17 years old. He was like, “You should come check out my death metal band sometime.” So I went and checked them out in this little hole-in-the-wall ministry center out in central Oklahoma, and I’ve been hanging with them ever since. Somewhere along the line, God decided it was time for me to be a part of it, so that’s how it worked out.
Kevin: I got into music by the time I was 6 or 7 years old. My grandpa played guitar, and he got me started at an early age, so I started messing with it. I didn’t want to hear (him play), though, because it was all about country and I don’t want anything to do with country. But by the time I was 16 or 17, I started playing on my own, trying to figure out how to play heavy music, with no instructor. So I’ve been into it my whole life.
Jacob: Lopez, though, we rescued him from a Polka band out in Sweden (laughs). We made him play death metal drums and he hasn’t been the same since we let him listen to Godsmack.
Are they telling the truth or are they lying, Lopez?
Lopez: They’re full of it (laughs).
Talking a bit about the bands that are your influences, what have you thought of them coming back and doing music again? Like, Black Sabbath just put out a new album.
Kevin: Have you listened to that yet?
I haven’t, no.
Kevin: Well I wouldn’t run out and buy it (laughs). The music is great. I’ve been an Ozzy fan for a whole lot of years, man, and it’s good to see him up and doing something. He sounds like he’s trying to get back into the game. You can actually understand the lyrics. It sounds like old Black Sabbath. The production is great, but the lyrical content is the darkest stuff they’ve ever written.
If you had the ability to change something about the music industry, what would it be?
Jacob: That Christianity would be judged a lot more strictly, and it wouldn’t be so freely accepted to call (your band) a Christian band.
Kevin: I’ve got to agree with that. Being a local Oklahoma act, Lopez and I have been opening for bands together for eight years, for national acts like Cannibal Corpse. I’ve played in bands before this one, and over all the years, every time we’ve opened for a major Christian act, we get treated like complete dirt. But when we open for a secular act, we get treated like brothers. It’s really hard to understand.
Jacob: It’s hard to understand, because I thought the whole idea was that it was like a family. It’s really hard to even understand the reasons why. … If it were judged a lot more accordingly to what the Bible says a Christian is supposed to look like, then it seems like you would have a lot less posers.
Kevin: More action and less talk.
Last question: Any outrageous or embarrassing moments from tour?
Josh: I’ve got one. It’s a restaurant. Bojangles. Do not eat at Bojangles in North Carolina before a show (laughs).
Jacob: Kevin straight up threw up in his mouth while we were playing and had to swallow it so he could finish the song.
Kevin: And I don’t chew very well so I had to chew it back up again before I could swallow it, so it wasn’t any fun, man.
Josh: Oh, and at this most recent Cornerstone, we were playing on Sean Michel’s Arkansas Stage, and it’s kind of wobbly. Jacob, who’s about 6’ 3”, was stomping around on stage and knocked Kevin’s double stack straight over, like, eight feet down to the ground.
Jacob: It was two full stacks. I brought it down like Goliath, man.
Kevin: It was an earthquake on the stage.
Josh: Almost squished the dudes from Harp & Lyre.
Lopez: I kept playing (laughs).
Jacob: Yes! He kept playing.
Kevin: You could hear a pin drop because the tent was packed.
Jacob: I remember Kevin threw his guitar up, and the only thing he said was, “Well, now that’s over, we can talk about Jesus.”
Broken Flesh was posted on July 16, 2013 for HM Magazine and authored by Justin Mabee.