JOHN FRUM – A Higher Level Of Artistic Death Metal
May 14, 2017, a year ago
When members of The Dillinger Escape Plan, The Faceless, and John Zorn’s band get together to jam on some progressive, emotive death metal, you just know the results are going to be good. And with John Frum, they are, the band laying down an absolutely killer debut in A Stirring In The Noos, a very Human Remains-esque journey through weirdo death metal that is progressive without being noodle-y and has a groove without being cloying.
“I feel like I got so confident with Dillinger that I kind of got immune and numb to opinion,” says bassist Liam Wilson, who also plays bass in Dillinger, “and now I’m all of a sudden I feel this pang of like, oh shit, people like it, now I have to actually support it, nurture this child.”
Wilson is currently spending the year busy with his day job’s final hurrah; while that band is obviously a lot more popular than John Frum, Wilson gets something out of this band that he doesn’t with The Dillinger Escape Plan.
(Photo - Kristie Krause)
“What I personally was lacking in some of Dillinger’s music was this deep emotion besides frustration and release,” he says. “It’s different, more subtle, creepy, scary, uncomfortable, and to me it taps into that [idea of a] bad trip, like I can’t even get out of my own fucking skin or head right now, I’m just so deep in whatever it is I’m thinking about. All that just swells into this.”
“Swell” is an apt descriptor for John Frum’s ugly, pulsing death metal, the band crafting those swells together, old-school style, which is something else Wilson doesn’t get from Dillinger these days.
“It was an opportunity to jam with local people and get in a basement and bang it out, because Dillinger doesn’t really work like that, or hasn’t in over a decade,” he says. “We’re not local; Dillinger’s not local. So the idea of having friends in town was cool, the idea of just being able to express different things and write different ways, being a little bit more conceptual and artsy… there was just a lot of other things I wanted to say, and it just naturally came out. There was a John Frum muse we tapped into, and we just kind of watched our hands do the rest.”
The band has only played one show to date (and it was instrumental), but Wilson says some live appearances will happen after the release of the album, which is coming out on Relapse Records. And audiences can expect to see something a little different every time at those live appearances.
“Pretty much every solo—guitar and drum—were all improvised [on the album], and they will be live,” says Wilson. “Whether that is going to fall flat on its face certain nights, I don’t even care, I just think it’s going to be something that opens us up again. Save a little room for the muse.”
But don’t expect to see the band hit the road for any extended periods of time. Wilson says that John Frum is more about unique artistic expression than doing the standard death metal road-dogging.
“I don’t think anybody in the band right now, other than just romantic itchings, wants to get in the van for six weeks and slog it out,” he admits. “I’ve paid that due. Not to say I wouldn’t do it; I’ll bleed for John Frum, absolutely. There are just certain things where it’s different. When I was 20, I could do whatever the fuck I want. And I did. I’ve been a pirate for 17 years. But it’s different now, and I want it to be different. I have a kid and don’t want to be a shitty dad that’s away all the time chasing some dream that doesn’t pay. And it’s not about money; it’s just making sure that it’s sustainable. I don’t need to bleed for this art in that way; it doesn’t need to happen in that way. And I’d rather this be a grander performance art statement than just four dudes getting out of the van on to the stage beating it out. That’s not what I feel like this project is calling me to do.”