There has been a lot of interest surrounding the Hoffman brothers after their departure from Deicide. After some time under the radar, they reformed Amon with Jechael on bass and vocals to once again make death metal. Amon’s album, Liar in Wait, sounds like a mixture of old and later era Deicide with a different vocalist. Judging by how Deicide has pretty much rendered themselves irrelevant after the Hoffman’s departure, the potential for good death metal is in the Amon camp more than the Nu-Deicide camp. Below is an interview with Jechael, the bassist and vocalist of Amon.
Tell us about yourself, Jechael. You’re more prolific than people realize. Audiences are stunned by your virtuosity on bass while simultaneously doing vocals. What motivated you to get into playing death metal? Which bands have you played and recorded with? What all stands out as your greatest achievements?
For me, it began at around age 14, when I bought my first Morbid Angel album (Covenant) that I really began to take interest with it. I grew up in north-east Tennessee, where this type of music was not readily available or even remotely popular, for that matter. I had begun to play bass and guitar a couple years earlier, under inspirations such as your basic heavy metal bands like Metallica, Megadeth and stuff like that. The concept of death/black metal was not something I was even aware had existed, until the Beavis and Butthead episode, featuring “God of Emptiness” aired. Even though there was a very tongue-in-cheek approach to the material, from the show’s standpoint, I was immediately intrigued and wanted to learn more. Once I purchased Dark Funeral‘s Vobiscum Satanas I was never the same. There was something about that album that terrified me, at first, but I was in love! Since then, I’ve certainly amassed a nice collection of extreme metal.. as well as a plethora of other obscure stuff, like early Mortiis and Psychotica for example. I’m not someone who could be happy with only listening to aggressive music. Balance is key, in my opinion. However, my passion for performing live is centered around extreme music. I’m involved in a couple non-metal projects, but I don’t really have the same level of desire to take it to the stage.
The “Among Us” music video has a great production, featuring you clad in futuristic leather armor. Were the suits made by Gravedigger? There’s also some otherworldly imagery such as the CGI extraterrestrial. Sometimes I wish that the alien was real, and that its cameo appearance is because an advanced alien civilization secretly values the Hoffman brothers as much as we do. What kind of message were you conveying with this kind of aesthetic and symbolism? How does it mesh with your own personal worldview and beliefs? Is it similar to how the Hoffmans see the world?
Yes, the armor was created by Gravedigger at Digger’s Leather. He’s an amazingly talented smith, with an array of leather products that would impress Odin, himself! The message that we’re bringing to the table, is to keep your eyes on the skies. We (the band) definitely share a common belief that our civilization has been fabricated through genetic engineering (in addition to some natural progression and development); and that there is an ongoing experiment, to reach an end of one type or another. There’s so much speculation, information, and disinformation, that it’s painful to try and make sense of it all. I think our message is to simply be aware of any and all possibilities. I’m very excited to record our followup album to Liar In Wait. I have a few concepts in mind, that will likely get the gears turning for our fans.
The Hoffman brothers have helped make some of the best death metal ever! Now that the drama surrounding their departure from Deicide has subsided, what can we expect from Amon in the future?
I agree, and personally feel that Deicide definitely changed, following Eric and Brian’s departure. When that all took place, it was prior to me actually meeting them. So as a fan, I was majorly bummed once it all transpired. I had no clue, at the time, that this would open a door of opportunity for me. However, my heart sank, when I read they were no longer a part of Deicide. As far as the future of Amon is concerned… you can definitely expect more albums and a ton of live shows!
Your debut album, Liar in Wait, feels like the Hoffmans regaining their footing after years of stagnation in later era Deicide. It appears Deicide has completely devolved into a carnival act to supplement Glen Benton‘s child support payments. They merely release albums with hired guns to keep their brand alive. The Hoffmans must be aggravated by all of this. Do they channel their anger and frustrations into their music? Or is their expression akin to something like a return to their roots of making honest, non-corporate death metal?
I believe the latter is true, in this case. From my interaction with the brothers, it’s never been a ‘Fuck Deicide, we’re gonna show em’ up because we’re pissed’ type of mentality. From day one, it was more like ‘We’re gonna do our own thing, and not get financially screwed in the process.’ I’ve always maintained a middle of the road mindset with the situation. I’ve heard the Hoffman’s side of the story, but never truly felt comfortable in proactively seeking the other side of the story, from Steve or Glen… or that it was even necessary. After all, what would it change or prove? All I can do is fill my part in the band, and be there for them and the fans. I can already feel a divide taking place in the Amon/Deicide community, which was inevitable, I suppose. You have diehard Hoffman fans and diehard Glen/Steve fans. I don’t ever see them all truly getting along. (laughs)
You’ve recently acquired the phenomenal musician Ronnie Parmer to play drums in Amon. The drumming that he displayed in Perdition Temple and Angelcorpse will be a great addition alongside the Hoffmans’ riffs and your vocals. Will he also contribute to the writing process being he plays guitar and piano too? Is the line-up locked-in solid now?
Yes, Ronnie has definitely proved to be a game-changer for Amon. Not only an amazingly fast and consistent drummer, but as you mentioned – just an all around great musician. I very much so hope that he contributes to the writing of the next album. And yes, I feel that he completed the line-up. He has gone well out of his way to prove that he is our guy! Such as driving an hour in each direction, to get to band rehearsal… often multiple times a week. He shows up, destroys, and had a great attitude about it.
Is there any truth to the TV program Ancient Aliens? It’s fun to think about the universe and the possibilities of alien civilizations out there in deep space. It retains the aspect of being scientific while also being shrouded in mystery. Most people want there to be more to empirical reality than how the physical world appears in their perceptions. If aliens ever visited Earth, would they be friendly or hostile? If they were hostile, would you join them in arms and destroy the human race with them? Perhaps we would be better off if we were conquered by a more advanced species.
Referring back to a previous response (speculation, information, and disinformation) in regards to Ancient Aliens, I feel that there are some great takeaways from the show’s material. It just bugs the shit out of me, how they tap-dance around any admission of solid evidence. Why the hell do they have to end every show with a question, and then respond by saying something like ‘We may never know…’ Let’s face it, if they had access to rock-solid proof, would the higher-ups actually let them put it on the air? No chance. That would be risky for the economic infrastructure; and potentially prove to be catastrophic. I personally feel that EBE’s have long since been involved with our planet and race. Some hostile… Some benevolent. (In humoring your concept) If I was in a situation to fight for or against humanity, I would be pro-humanity, for the simple fact that war has proven that an aggressor is not to be trusted. We wall watched the show V, hopefully! (laughs) But in all honesty, I don’t think alien invasions are something we should truly fear. They’re intelligent enough to know they can get the same result from a cataclysmic event, as they have often implemented in the past.
Seeing you’ve been acquainted with the Hoffmans for some time now, you must have heard a lot about the inner workings of Deicide. What is the scenery that they paint around the early days? What were their influences and inspirations? Where Morbid Angel went a more artsy and abstract route, Deicide was sheer visceral aggression. Where did this come from?
For sure, I’ve hear bits and pieces of life while in Deicide. A lot of good times, bad times, and indifferent times… as one could expect. I think the real bummer, from the brothers’ standpoint, is that they feel very betrayed by the financial workings of their final years in Deicide. They never mentioned wanting anything more than their 25% share in the band’s profits. However, somewhere along the road, that number changed to something that simply was not feasible for them. There may be some element of record royalties that I simply don’t understand, such as dividing royalties among who actually wrote the song. I totally get it, I suppose, but in light of looking out for my band-mates… I would assume that keeping things evenly-spit would also keep things positive and amicable. Which is what each member of the band and the fans deserved.
If you happen to know, where did the medallion come from on Deicide’s eponymous album cover, what does it symbolize, and if it has any meaning other than looking sinister?
I’m a little uncertain about the exact details, and I may be mistaken.. but from what I understand, the medallion was purchased at a market of some sort, and is a portrait of Mephistopheles. There are a ton of meanings and interpretations, but he was essentially an agent of Satan. It’s said that he wasn’t inherently evil, looking for souls to corrupt, but that he would come to collect the souls of those men, already damned. Quite poetic, really.