We’re All Okay, We Promise: An Interview with Bloodbather
Metalcore isn’t a slur anymore, or at least it never deserved to be. With an influx of younger bands reaping the best from back-catalogs of bands like On Broken Wings, Skycamefalling, and Disembodied, the once-derided style has entered a renaissance all its own, with its standouts not difficult to spot. Broward County, Florida’s Bloodbather swings their music like a battle-axe into naysayer faces, living up to their namesake with flying, crimson colors. This quartet split 2018 from head-to-toe with the release of their second EP: a crushing, virulent seven-song massacre that has been turning heads clean off since its release. I spoke to the band about the Pressure EP and everything that goes into making Bloodbather the real deal.
How did Bloobather come together?
Jeffrey Georges (vocals): Matt [Stokes] had a couple songs on his hard drive in 2016, basically thought it'd be a fun idea to track over the songs. Ended up writing “Consequence” for fun, posted it on the Internet -- plenty of people liked it so we decided to do a whole EP as an Internet project. Then we decided to make it a real band shortly after we got asked to play shows in the area.
Who did you play your first show with?
Georges: It was a Gouge Away record release show actually! The singer asked if we could open up the show cause this band Axis (amazing band by the way) had to drop.
Maddie Champagne (bass): Sam and I’s first show with Bloodbather was at The Ground in Miami when we opened for Whitechapel, Carnifex, Rings of Saturn, and a couple others. Super wild.
Sam Jimenez (drums): Her and I joined earlier this year when Bloodbather’s drummer quit and they parted ways with their bass player.
Gouge Away is amazing (as is Axis). Those are wild line-ups for first shows too. What bands were you all in prior to joining Bloodbather?
Georges: Matt was in Deviant. I was in this deathcore band called Tribe. Sam, before he joined, was in this band Natsuki that he still plays shows with and this is pretty much Maddie's first band. Matt and I actually bonded cause we would do tours with Tribe, Deviant, and this other band called With Locusts and Liars. We knew each other prior but I think that's when the chemistry really started musically.
Matt Stokes (guitar/composition): I was in a band called Deviant; Bloodbather was supposed to be my side project at first but quickly became my main.
Champagne: Bloodbather is my first band, but I’ve been a musician forever, so it’s cool to finally be doing something with it with these lovely dudes.
Jimenez: I’m currently playing bass for a local band named Natsuki. I filled in on drums for a different local band and that’s where Jeff first saw me play. He actually didn’t know I was a drummer.
Which bands have been particularly inspiring to each of you as musicians and to you all as band?
Stokes: Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, and The Cure are my biggest inspirations music- and image-wise; I take from genres non-metal to switch up how we sound to kind of distinguish originality from a genre that can be “repetitive.” Genre-wise, we all love Code Orange, Disembodied, and Martyr AD.
The influence of industrial, goth rock and 1990s/1990s-inspired metalcore is strong throughout your two releases. For bands like Martyr AD and Disembodied, what drew you to their sound?
Georges: When I first heard songs like “Heroin Fingers,” “Anvil Chandelier,” and “Forget Me” by Disembodied, I was pretty much captivated by how they could go from chaotic to agonizing. Martyr AD’s straight chaotic energy drew me in and pretty much inspired me to wanna be in a band like that.
Stokes: The chaotic energy and panic chords drew me in on the first listen.
If God Only Knew the Rest Were Dead and On Earth as it is in Hell are two of my favorites from that era. Very distinct and dark. On bands with a more theatrical image, such as The Cure and Marilyn Manson, how do you incorporate that image and sound into that of Bloodbather?
Stokes: I think Marilyn Manson specifically brings a sort of shock and constant panic with his sound, also a very strong sense of structure with the songs. The Cure all around sets moods and tones in their songs that are very cohesive in albums, I try to emulate that to the best of my ability. Things like layers and a wide range of synths with heavy guitars mix very well.
Jimenez: I’d like to add, being that those are huge influences for the band, their appearances offered even more shock value or at least something to talk about. As a band none of us are afraid to wear a dress on stage, wear makeup as a guy or crop tops and netted shirts. We’re definitely a band that wants to do whatever the fuck we want. No limitations and we’ve already rose past the judgement.
Champagne: And we’re not afraid to do some crazy makeup. Matt always looks pretty as fuck. Fishnets are a must. Absolutely!
That's an awesome way to approach your band's image. Much respect. In addition to Robert Smith and Marilyn Manson and their general goth imagery, what other genres, subcultures and cultures contribute to this fluid imagery?
Stokes: Gothic and early 2000s Emo for me mostly.
Champagne: Most of it comes from goth and emo honestly, and some punk.
Georges: I’ve always enjoyed the the masculine/non-masculine appearances, so I would just keep a balance of both or whatever I’m feeling at the moment.
That's wicked cool. Which goth and emo albums have influenced your sound the most, or are go-to favorites at least?
Stokes: My Chemical Romance and The Used.
Georges: I really like Echo and the Bunnymen, Bauhaus, and The Cure. Emo, I really like bands such as Taking Back Sunday, Sunny Day Real Estate, and Saosin.
Champagne: Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge by MCR is our entire aesthetic. Just kidding, but for real that album is a huge influence.
I was actually just listening to that the other day. Excellent album, for sure. You released your EP Pressure at the beginning of the year, and I've seen it make some waves already. Considering the addition of new members and the two-year span between Pressure and Justified Murder, how do you all feel the band has progressed?
Jimenez: It’s been incredible.
Champagne: I think we’re getting somewhere. It’s sort of crazy the amount of traction we’ve gained just over the past few weeks alone.
Georges: I think we've definitely found our sound for sure with this new release. Along with dedicated members that are able to get along all extremely well with each other and have fun with this music, which, in my opinion is the most important when being in a band.
We've also progressed not also musically, but made so many friends through this band and have gotten a lot of positive attention on the internet from people all over. The other day we saw people from Japan tweeting about us it was such an amazing feeling knowing its reached that far.
I never really believed the Justified Murder EP was a good representation of what we are, so I’m extremely glad to have put this record out for people new & old. Also having people from bands like Counterparts, Knocked Loose and Sylar talk about us really helped a lot in putting attention on us and I’m extremely grateful for that.
It's all well deserved. I've been alternating between that and the new Vamachara and Harm's Way LPs all year so far. With a stable lineup on hand, was there a clear goal when writing and recording, what are the lyrical themes that went into the album?
Georges: We wanted to put out the best possible record we could after having Sam and Maddie join around last summer. Before that we wanted to do basically three songs that sounded cool to Matt and I, which were the first two on the EP (they sounded completely different back then) along with a scrapped song. After their joining we still wanted to make cool mosh music, but now with a theatrical atmosphere and lasting memorable effect on the listener where they come back for more. Which is also why it’s so short, it’s easier to listen and replay an EP than a whole full-length. Especially since we wanted this to be the real representation of the band, we wanted to make the introduction accessible.
Originally the lyrics were supposed to be centered around suicide, while going through a rough time happening in my personal life, but decided to scrap the idea and decided to use it as an outlet for people I dislike from a personal level, people with power that are in politics, hate groups, etc., but yeah, the lyrics on this album I’d say are mostly personal rather than political like the Justified Murder EP.
Is there any new material on the horizon?
Georges: Currently, we're writing new songs right now!
What is each of your favorite songs off Pressure?
Georges: My favorites are “The Final Request” and “End.”
Champagne: “End” is my favorite. It’s the most fun to play live in my opinion.
Jimenez: Yeah “End” is sick. “The Hunt” is probably my favorite to play live strictly because the groove in the beginning is so fun.
Stokes: “End,” “Pressure,” and “The Final Request.”
Are there plans to put out a physical release for Pressure? Are there any tours in the works?
Georges: Since there's a lot of people asking for it we're definitely planning on doing CDs and possibly tapes in the future. We're considering on doing a tour for this year as well. It's just been hard since we don't have a van.
In the event of a tour, are there any bands you'd enjoy playing with?
Stokes: We love Sanction, Boundaries, and Vein!
Georges: Would really like to tour with bands like Knocked Loose, Sanction, Vein, Boundaries, Kaonashi, Buried Dreams, Typecaste, Orthodox, Mercy Blow… there's so much more as well, but it'd be a huge list. Oh yeah, Vicious Embrace and Year of the Knife as well how could I forget! Incredible bands.
Those are all great bands, I hope that comes to fruition. Going forward, what do you all want to accomplish with Bloodbather?
Jimenez: Honestly, we all have been grinding and struggling on our owns before this band started gaining traction. Personally, I would love to keep this momentum, continue to perform and create a viable living doing what we all love.
Georges: To be the best possible band we can be and to become a staple in the genre of music we play. I've always wanted to do something with music since I was young, and I feel like this band can grant those opportunities to us.
Stokes: Always do what we want to do and keep having fun.
I appreciate all your time! Was there anything else you would all like to add?
Stokes: Go vegan.
Champagne: Yeah, go vegan.
Jimenez: Maddie, go vegan.
Champagne: I'm working on it. Shhhh.
Georges: Being straightedge is powerful, veganism is important, Chipotle is better than Moe’s, and somebody buy us a van please!
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