Deicide is about to unleash their latest album upon mankind. “To Hell With God” is is a very solid album in line with “The Stench Of Redemption” and “Till Death Do Us Part”. Enough reason to have a friendly chat with Steve Asheim, drummer and the band’s principle song writer. Topics of this interview: Steve’s role in the band, Glen Benton’s antics and many other points of interest…
“To Hell with God” is due for release and the feedback seems to really good so far. Are you happy the way the album turned out?
Yeah I’m pretty happy with it. It’s quite heavy indeed. It took a while to get all the pieces in place but once we got everyone in there and got it all done, yeah it came out pretty damn heavy. I’m glad everyone is diggin’ it so far.
“To Hell With God” is a very solid death metal album, very much in line with “The Stench Of Redemption” and “Till Death Do Us Part”. How did you approach the creative process of your new album compared to two previous ones? What are your sources of inspiration?
The way I approach it and what my inspiration is are kind of the same. When I have to write I seclude myself musically and physically and just write and record ideas, one song at a time. Get them demo’d until there’s 8 or 10 songs, and then hand them to the fellas for scrutiny. We’ll hash them out further and go from there.
The situation within Deicide during the recording of “Till Death Do Us Part” was far from favourable. In all fairness you did most of the recording, while the other members were far from being commited. From the outside it almost seemed that the band was on the verge of collapse. How do you look back on these turbulent times?
You’re right, it was not the best time. We knew we’d be taking a break from touring for a while so we figured we’d take that time to do another record. And yeah not touring sucks when you’re a touring band. So I was not happy at all with the situation, but there was not much I could do about it. So I was fine with writing, it was a good way to stay busy. I do think the material reflected the general mood, it was pretty angry and twisted music. No, I do not look back on that period fondly. I do like that record though.
One thing that’s puzzling me is the fact that you do most of the writing and you’re the drummer, while Jack Owen and Ralph Santolla don’t seem to contribue that much, despite they’re both being accomplished guitarists. Especially Jack did a lot of writing in his Cannibal Corpse days. What are the reasons behind this?
I got so used to writing I guess they and I were good with me doing it for the first few records we did together. I mean, when we first got together to start writing “stench…” I asked jack if he had any material and he said he just wanted to arrange. I said fine, whatever. Hey I’ll write, I have ideas and I enjoy the process too. Jack did write a couple songs for the new record though, and it’s good to have some outside input. Keeps the record textured.
On “To Hell With God” the lyrics by Glen Benton are as venomous as ever, but nowadays he seems mellowed by age, certainly compared to the early days. To what extent does his lyrics reflects his current state of mind or are those lyrics a part of the Deicide tradition like the make-up in Kiss for example?
Eh you know, some things just come natural to some people and spewing out hateful invectives is just one of his strong points. He has mellowed with age in certain respects, behavior wise, maybe. But has stayed the same or even gotten more extreme in other ways. Like maybe his attitude, if that was possible.
To what extent do you share his views and what are your own views on religion and Satanism?
I generally do not support the notion of organized religions preying on people for money and support and then fucking your kids behind your back, or other religions out for conquest and domination. These religious types, you get too many of them in one place at one time and bad, stupid things start to happen. And I’m not calling out any one particular religion, I mean all of ’em. Then again, people should have a right to do and think what they want. It’s a fine line, you know. I think we just need smarter people.
As Deicide’s primary songwriter you don’t seem to get the same level of recognition or notoriety as Glen Benton and his antics. Is this something you’re content with or is this something you’d like to reverse in some way?
Nah, I’m totally fine with him being front man. I like it behind the drums and behind the scenes. I get to do my bit, have my fun and go on about my life. Now our old guitarists, it used to drive them crazy, GB getting all the attention and them not. Hehe I’d just laugh and tell them “There are front men and there are side men. Know your place…”.
Death metal has come a long way since the early nineties in terms of technicality, muscianship and development. What are your views on the current state of affairs from a veteran point of view?
I think it’s all going quite well. We’re all, all the old death metal bands I mean, getting more and more experience, our records and tours are getting better and bigger. I think everything is trending nicely. Something as extreme as death metal was gonna take a while to take hold in the cultural psyche of the world. But people seem to be getting used to it, so everything should only get bigger and better.
While Deicide may not the most technical band of the bunch, your music is still very intense. You’re not twenty any more, so how do you manage to keep your health and your drumming skills up to a proficient level?
Well, like anything you have to work at it. This may come as a shock to you, but I’ve been playing drums for almost thirty years straight. I was bound to get a little better somewhere along the line. I also work out a lot; have been for twenty five years or so, that’s probably not hurting the cause. Yeah anything worth doing, you have to put some effort into it. You get out of something what you put into it.
Time to wrap the interview. Can you describe your long career with Deicide in one sentence?
Two decades of fucking crazy bloody metal madness and still going!
Have you got any final thoughts or comments?
Thanks a lot for your time and hope to see you on the road!