Interview with Duke Hagin from Southern Decay on Stench Radio

duke haginInternet radio access is usually available on a global scale. With a little webcasting know-how someone can connect their computer to a server and stream a full-fledged internet radio station. I would imagine that marketing the station to build an audience might be more difficult than devising the station itself. I stumbled upon Duke Hagin’s show Southern Decay on Stench Radio. It was great to see that his program consisted mostly of underground metal and classical music which reached thousands of people. Duke agreed to an interview after I was interested to see how his program came to be.

Howdy Duke Hagin! Thank you for taking the time to have the Death Metal Underground inquire about your exploits. What inspired you to get into internet radio?

Just to put this into perspective, as of this interview I am 24.  Around the time I was 10 or 11, Limp Bizkit and Korn became a huge part of my life.  I often recognize these shitty “nu-metal” bands as my gateway to a taste in finer music, despite being well aware of bands like Metallica and Slayer.  I was in marching band in high school and I was largely a loner, but I did have a small group of friends I would float around to and expose new music to.  Some people might be surprised to find out, considering the type of music I play on my show, that Rammstein is amongst my favorite bands.  I exposed friends to Rammstein, Korpiklaani, and other bands and in turn I was exposed to bands like Darkthrone, Mayhem, Venom, Immolation, Dimmu Borgir…the list goes on and on.  During these times my friends and I would hang out on various IRC channels and stream music for each other.  This is what largely got me interested in broadcasting to the masses.  I enjoy exposing people to things they’ve probably never heard before.  Obviously my preferences in music, Rammstein and Korpiklaani aside, have drastically changed and I hope that my work is allowing people to enjoy something new to them.

Stench Radio is owned by Stig Stench. How did you get into contact with him? Was it easy to convince him to let you have your own show?

How I met Stig has nothing to do with music.  When I was a senior in high school, I was very much (and still am) involved in professional wrestling.  Stig was a manager for a group of various wrestlers and I would volunteer for a locally based wrestling promotion.  When I found out Stig was a fan of black metal, we hit it off.  He eventually persuaded me to get involved in the actual show and became a mentor of sorts to me.  We lost touch for a while after I graduated high school and moved on to college but we got back in touch a bit after Stench Radio was launched over three years ago.  One month I’d ask for a 30 minute show and it wouldn’t happen.  The next month I’d ask for a one hour show and it would never come to fruition.  Honestly, I begged for almost three years to have a show and he was gracious enough to give me a three hour time slot.  I consider Stig a great friend and although we may not agree on a lot of things philosophically, he is very near and dear to me.

Your show Southern Decay on Stench Radio is different than most of the other programs on there. Why did you decide to bring extreme metal to a punk oriented radio station?

Stench Radio has a large audience.  I mean no disrespect to the other DJs by saying this, but you can only hear so much Black Flag and Sham 69 and no on-air personality before you get tired of it.  If I wanted to listen to robots play music, I’d put on Spotify or something.  Stench Radio has attitude and that’s why I wanted Stench Radio to have a show that is complete chaos.  I do my best to be personable and have fun with it.  When I first started the show, I was incredibly nervous.  Over time I think I’ve found my style and the audience has been more and more responsive each week.  I hope to continue to learn from my listeners and learn more about myself as this experience presses on.

Most of the shows on Stench Radio reach thousands of listeners in over 40 countries. Was there marketing involved to help build the audience? Has your show been well-received?

Stig has connections everywhere.  The man has built an underground empire from nothing and what’s great about it is that it is a tight nit community with a very loyal fan base.  Marketing has mostly been through promoting shows locally in Austin, TX and via social networking.  The network is completely listener supported and nobody is making a dime off of this.  As far as my show being well-received, there was some initial backlash from the guys who want to hear nothing but punk 24/7 but I’ve grown on a lot of people I hope that trend continues.  It’s been getting more and more exciting to do a show each week, especially when I get to conduct interviews.  My interviews so far have not been great on my side but that is something I am definitely working to improve on.

Being that you’re based in Texas and sometimes feature Texan bands on your program, do you feel that it’s a duty to support your local scene through your program?

I regularly play tracks by Hod, Plutonian Shore, The Black Moriah, Id, and Morgengrau.  I hope to keep that list growing.  I wouldn’t say it is my duty to support these bands.  It is an obligation.  They pour everything they have to make the scene in Texas what it is and I refuse to be a leech.  I want these bands to succeed and I want Texas to be a hotbed for metal.  As far as I’m concerned, there is no reason this state can’t have something on the level of Maryland Deathfest.  Rites of Darkness (bullshit aside) and Sacrifice of the Nazarene Child were magnificent fests but there needs to be a stronger foundation.  There are a few smaller fests that mainly feature local acts that pop up here and there but there needs to be something stronger.  This needs to reach out further.  I mean no disrespect to any promoter in this state, but I feel that by exposing these bands to a large audience I can help break ground on something big.  I don’t know what that something big is quite yet, but I hope that one day, in some city in Texas, we can shut down a street or park or fairground and bathe in the glory of what these bands do with thousands of other people.  “Big things have small beginnings.”

You also feature Classical Music on your program. Why?

There is a very simple answer to this question.  You must pay tribute to your kings.  Without the old, there is no new.

What are your favorite bands?

I’ve already embarrassed myself and declared myself false by admitting that I like Rammstein and Korpiklaani, so I hope to salvage some “cred” with this answer.

I love Midnight.  I open every show with a Midnight track and I close with Saint Vitus’ “Blessed Night”.  I’ve also recently gained a great deal of respect for Revenge, especially after seeing them at Maryland Deathfest this year.  Antaeus and Aosoth are great.  Marduk is up there along with Wodensthrone, Embrace of Thorns, Pseudogod, Immolation, Katharsis, Desolate Shrine, Adversarial, Nosvrolok, Profanatica, Beherit………….

Since your show is still fairly new, do you have any special plans for it in the future? Theme based shows?

I have interviews coming up with Humut Tabal and Plutonian Shore.  As far as themed based shows go, the only one I’ve done so far was the show that aired on April 20th, for obvious reasons.  I played a lot of classic rock, doom, sludge, and “stoner” metal that day.  This Saturday (6/1/13) I am doing a live show from Chaos in Tejas.  The Chaos in Tejas show will largely feature bands playing that festival such as Absu, Manilla Road, Satan’s Satyrs, Speedwolf, and much more.

Thank you for your time. Please share any last words and resources for our readers to check out.

My show airs on Stench Radio from 3PM to 6PM CST every Saturday.  Again, Stench Radio is completely listener supported. Donations are appreciated to cover server and equipment costs.  I am in the process of having a series of patches made as well so keep an eye out for those.  You can reach me personally on Facebook as well. Keep your hammers high and support your local scene, no matter where you are.

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Re-engaging vital elements – combustions in underground demonolatry

Desecration Rites – Hallowed Depravity
Wiht – Wiht
Into Oblivion – Creation of a Monolith
Bloodfiend – Revolting Death
Exylum – Blood for the Ancients
Logistic Slaughter – Biophage

Desecration Rites – Hallowed Depravity

As if poisonous arachnoids had woven a sticky web around a hermit of the desolate Pampas, the multitude of savage Angelcorpsean riffs blasts from Desecration Rites’ rehearsal room with hardly any control or structure for the confounded listener to immerse in. The Argentinian blackened death duo did not have the time to execute all matters properly here because of unfortunate circumstances, and it shows in the deprecated, spastic rhythm of machine, the hysterical frequency and bouts of unclean guitar work all over the place. If something is keeping these dogs of sequences under leash, it is the deep, rumbling voice of Wolf intoning Faustian misery from the bottomless depths of darkness, occasionally unwinding power lines of similar effect to Craig Pillard’s majestic demon voice in the eternally classic Onward to Golgotha. For the modern death metal fan expecting a digitized, synthetic robot surgery there is probably no more horrific sight than this deluge of an album, but internally it is far more hypnotic, intricate and deadly than one could hope for. Just listen to the freezing pseudo-Nordic moments of “Death Sentence to an Agonizing World” or the ethereal, solar and jarring interlude of “Carnal Dictum” and you might just get a slight moment of hope in the future generations after all.

Wiht – Wiht

This British debutant lets loose the heathen wolves of war with a triumphant fanfare akin to Vlad Tepes’ famous Wladimir’s March before leading us to a journey of mountainous black metal landscapes, Graveland-esque meditations, ancient English fire-lit caves and Zoroastrian philosophy. The same sort of extended pagan tremolo epics (18 minutes of length at worst) that made countrymen Forefather and Wodensthrone veritable trials to sit through are pretty close at hand here, but the sparkling energy of youth helps a lot; there is a wildness and intrigue that contributes variation in sense even when there is none in content. Much of the logic of the songs seems to be emotionally stringing disparate sequences into a journey or a fictional narrative, which is essentially never a bad choice but some of the material here could be cut off to be brutally honest. Sound quality is the pseudo-spatial vacuum of too much reverb common for demo-level bands, but the instruments are clearly audible and the mid-rangeness is efficaceous. Unmoving and halfhearted chants and throwaway happy riffs are the blight of heathen metal, but Lord Revenant possesses sufficient pathos to allude to traces of occult evil and memories of ancient war at the same time; while this effort is not enough to coin him as a master of British metal, it would be a disappointment to hear these same songs performed by a more professional, disinterested voice in the future, or see him disappear without a trace after such a promising start.

Into Oblivion – Creation of a Monolith

More than one and a half hours of harsh, pummelling death metal is neither a mean feat to compose nor to listen. As if Wagner, Brahms or even Stravinskij decided in the otherworld that these wimpy rock/metal kids have had it too easy and possessed various souls to spend hundreds of nights writing progressive Romantic/Faustian death metal partitures, 20+ minute pieces such as the title track or “On the Throne’s Heavenward” lumber and crush with such interminable weight that it is hard to not feel like attacked by a divine hammer from above as designed by Gustave Doré. You can forget about them mosh parts, since this is material about as brainy as anything by Atheist, with slow-moving adagios and creeping crescendos more familiar from Brian Eno’s ambient music or Esoteric’s hypno-doom than anything in satanic metal realm. Vocals are sparse and it feels like about a half of the album is purely instrumental and this creates a strange calm suspension which might even feel uncomfortable; but compared to The Chasm’s mastery of technique, it still does feel like an essential emotional counterpoint or rhythmic pulse bestowing element is missing, and when the cruel vocals suddenly rip the air, it might even be perceived as a disturbance to the solemn atmosphere. Nevertheless, it is probable that they are going for exactly this synthesis of the intellectual and the primal; the emotional and the physical. So fortress-like, rational, calm and measured that it is hard to connect its spirituality with its death metal origins (even the previous Into Oblivion release), it is certainly an important statement while the cumbersome nature and certain academicism in construction (perhaps “filler” in metal language, the problem of the previous album as well) makes it a bit of an unlikely candidate for casual listening. Anyone interested in the future of Death Metal cannot afford to miss it, though.

Bloodfiend – Revolting Death

Heirs to the bludgeoning power of Escabios and other ancient compatriots, this recent Argentinian sect wastes no time with progressive anthems, intros nor filler in this concise EP of Autopsy influenced memoirs of early 90’s scathing death metal savagery. If the band has capacity for a challenging composition or a range of emotion, it’s all but hidden in this conflict of vulgar and intense demo taped riffs that could originate on any scummy cassette dug up from your older brother’s cardboard box vaults. Even most crustcore bands could hardly resist the temptation to fill the gaps out with something more liberal, but I am glad Bloodfiend do not resort to any loose pauses in their old school attack. The band is not yet quite there in the top ranks of death metal resurgence, but possess more than their share of contagious energy that will make for a good live experience and raise hopes for a more dynamic album.

Exylum – Blood for the Ancients

Brutal death metal cliches abound but also tasteful dashes of improvisational riff integration as California youth Exylum strike from the bottomless depths with a manifest of fragmented ideas like old Cannibal Corpse, Finnish death metal and newer black metal in a blender. Weird effected voices cackle, pinch harmonics abound, chugging is all but industrial metal, drumming provides a solid backbone and the ululation of the lead guitar harmonic reaches a hysterical plane of existence when the band lets go of identity expectations and go ballistic as in the end of “Worshiping the Flesh Eating Flies”. The worst thing on this demo is the tendency to fill space with something simple and stupid like the endless low tuned one note rhythmic hammering towards the end of the title track. When the band is in a more chaotic mode, as in the older recording “Ritual Crucifixion”, the confusion serves to imbue the composition with more blood and action.

Logistic Slaughter – Biophage

As persistence is the key to cosmic victory, it’s gratifying to see that this recent Californian cluster is not giving up in their quest to build a maiming death metal experience which was approached with streamlined Bolt Thrower and Cannibal Corpse tendencies in their last year’s EP. First threatening edges noted by the listener here are their improved musicianship with plenty of rhythmically aware palm-muting and tremolo NY style rhythm guitar riffs interlocking like the paths of ferocious large insects on flight while in the new drummer Kendric DiStefano they have a redeemer from the abhorrent pit of drum machine grind, even though his style tends to approach the robotic at times. The moments where this EP shines is when the brutal backbone operates at the behest of melody conjured by the leads of Mike Flory and Daniel Austi, such as the gripping mid-section of “Exit Wounds” and the Nile-ish mad arab string conjuration in “Litany of Blood”. I’m still reluctant to call this a total winner because there’s a lot of random chugging around as in generic bands from Six Feet Under to Hypocrisy, but there are also subtle technical flourishes such as the lightly arpeggiated bridge in “War Machine” that still keeps me liking this band and following its movements.

Written by Devamitra


 

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