Mayhem 2012: Interview with Phil Bozeman of Whitechapel

Posted on November 11, 2013

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Q&A: Phil Bozeman of “Whitechapel”

By Rachael Mattice

The famous unidentified serial killer known as “Jack the Ripper” committed heinous murders of eleven reported women from April 1888 to February 1891. Most of the women were prostitutes and were all killed in the impoverished, foulest, criminally-induced East End district of London-Whitechapel.

The brutality of the crimes led to morbid fascinations that sprawled future organization dedications and attributes. One of these was a club of American journalists that formed a fraternity-like group in the summer of 1889 in Chicago’s newspaper-district saloon called the “Whitechapel Club.” It was decorated with mementos of crimes – murder weapons, human skulls and a coffin-shaped table; the reporters glamorized their familiarity with the rawness of city life and criticized one another’s work.

Learn more about: Chicago’s Whitechapel Club

The other is a sextet death metal band out of Knoxville, Tenn. named “Whitechapel.”

Days away from releasing their fourth, self-titled album and a few weeks away from touring with Rockstar Energy Drink’s Mayhem Festival, these musicians stand at the frontline of contemporary music as promising metal heads in their genre and in heavy music altogether. The growing signature sound that Whitechapel has developed is partially found in lead vocalist Phil Bozeman’s voice.

Fluctuating from deep growls to demonic screeches, not all in traditional patterned metal song construction, Bozeman’s vocals form the initial layer for listener’s to grasp onto. Also being the lyricist of the band, Bozeman writes the arrangements of words to an overall theme.

However, in the new album to be released June 19, 2012 in North America, Bozeman said the topics are more “scattered” which is an “important part of the record’s power.”

Journal and Courier producer and music journalist, Rachael Mattice discusses what life is like for Bozeman in Whitechapel, their new album “Whitechapel” and the upcoming five-week tour with Mayhem. Mayhem goes from June 30 to August 5. See Whitechapel perform at Mayhem hosted at the Klipsch Music Center in Noblesville, Ind. on July 15.

Listen to the new Whitechapel album: HERE(sensitive ears be warned)

Q&A

What is life like for Whitechapel on the road? Being a young band with guys in their mid to late 20s, what do you miss most?

“It’s hard because of what we do. I can’t tell you how hard it is to leave my girlfriend. We have telephone calls and the occasional Skype. It kind of sucks, it is definitely rough on the girls.

– How has your family received the music that Whitechapel plays?

“My family doesn’t really know exactly what death metal is. They know I am in a band, but they don’t listen to it. My grandparents haven’t really seen it.  They know what I do and let me do it. My grandparents have raised me since I was 15. They are pretty much everything to me, I respect them more than anything in the world.

-What stereotypes/challenges and social issues do you come across being from the South?

“It is pretty universal, the rest of the band deals with the same stuff, being from the South and from a Bible Belt, heavy music in general, no matter what it is about, they will be judged by everyone.”

When people have told you they like your music, what features do they attribute? What do people tell you they like when they listen to your music?

“A lot of people compliment me on my vocal style and people compliment us on our music writing ability, how it is somewhat satiric. People always compliment me on how I’m so small and how I have the voice that I have.”

-What is one of the craziest things that has happened at a Whitechapel show?

“We got a gun pulled on us on one of our tours. I wasn’t around when this happened but the rest of the guys said someone pulled a gun and couldn’t find the person he was looking for. Someone was shot at and someone was pistol-whipped. I don’t think they were drunk, they were just pissed off at somebody at the show and came back to try and find them.”

Have you seen any fans do anything really outlandish for your band?

“There has been a lot of people that have been getting Whitechapel tattoos lately like the name or the symbols. That is pretty crazy because they are branding themselves for the rest of their life.”

“One other thing I heard, but I haven’t seen it in person so I don’t know if it is 100 percent real, I’ve seen a picture of my face tattooed on someone. It is really weird and kind of creepy at the same time. It is definitely surreal for me.”

-What do you have to think of before a performance? What do you have to do to tap into a rage-filled mindset to perform with such death metal vocal intensity every time?

“It is all performance. You get pissed off and bitter. It amazes me how some people are so ignorant. The older you get the more bitter you get, but again it is still mostly for performance reasons.”

“I don’t want anyone to take my music 100 percent serious. The killing and the horror movie kind of songs, that is all just fake and crazy and weird stuff like Quentin Tarantino movies, it’s all for entertainment. Everyone of course has a desire to end the life of someone in the world, but obviously I am never going to do that. It is illegal, not worth it and just stupid.”

ALBUM

 -Why did you self-title this album?

“It was our time to be able to do that. There is no miracle theme behind the songs. This album just represents us as a band. It’s cool to just have the name and not worry about having a title for the album.”

-What challenges and turmoil have you all faced that led to such a dark, brooding opener? This being your fourth album, what lessons have you learned in the industry?

“It was a stressful album, it was written very fast. We didn’t write this album over a period of time, we had to get an album out and it was really pressed for time. We put a lot of riffs that we had together and wrote more stuff. It was really tough, but it really brought out the best of us, I think. It showed how we can really work and what we are capable of doing. All of our emotions came out at once.”

-I’m really intrigued by the song ‘Culturalist.’ Tell me more about the ‘sheep-like’ nature of society you are referring to. Was there a specific incident that appealed to you when you wrote it?

“When you get on Twitter and Facebook, you just see the things that people write on there. There are people that I know and know that are out there that portray themselves on the Internet. They constantly post upside down crosses, 666, ‘God sucks,’ ‘God isn’t real’ … I say ‘oh my god’ and they respond ‘why would you talk to someone that doesn’t exist.’ It is comments like that that are so unnecessary or just piss people off for no reason.”

“Don’t do that to be cool or to make people think you are cool. They are not their own person. I think that is a sign of following and not leading or about being your own person. It is like a plague.”

“People expect me to be some party rock star and what I really do is come home, I sit on the couch, I play Call of Duty, I hang out with my girlfriend. I don’t go out and party I never go and do anything crazy, I’m just a simple person. That is who I am and I don’t care.  I don’t have to portray myself as someone just to impress everyone else.  People respect that I am not like that.  The people that are really ‘well known’ go online and talk about cocaine, blow and how they are doing drugs and drinking all the time and how they drive home drunk and I want to tell them that they are influencing kids. There are millions of people out there that will actually do it. There are kids out there that are that influential. You may never hear or know about it but you may be responsible for someone dying in a car wreck. I don’t want to be that person.”

“We are role models, I always think about how many people would kill to have a thousand dollars. Then there are people that spend that much money on drugs. There is a homeless guy on the street that would do anything for a thousand dollars and they are just blowing it on everything.”

“I called the song ‘Culturalist’ because it sprung up from all of that. I took the word ‘cult’ and the rest of the word culturist and how these people are like a cult following what everyone else is doing and not living and leading their own life. They are just throwing it all away just to be accepted by everyone else and I just can’t stand it.”

MAYHEM FESTIVAL 

 -How do you feel about touring with some of the FOUNDING FATHERS of metal? i.e. Slayer, Anthrax, Motorhead?

“Those were the bands I listened to when I was 14. Slayer – They put on some of the best live shows with crazy intensity. I’ve never seen them live and now I am touring with them. That is something I never saw coming, with all the stuff that they have been through they are doing a tour and we are really lucky. We were lucky enough to do the Mayhem tour with Slayer the first time and we are doing it again which is even more awesome.

“Then you throw in Motorhead and Anthrax and we’ve talked to those guys a couple of times. Everyone talks about Lemmy and it is going to be crazy to see him and possibly sit next to him. There are a lot of other bands we are excited to tour with also like The Devil Wears Prada. We are really good friends with those guys.

-Do you prefer outdoor festivals like Mayhem or indoor settings?

 “I feel like an outdoor festival is a commodity. I love doing them, they are one of those things that you get excited to do and then once it happens you don’t want to do it for awhile.”

“It’s a different story outside because there are people barbequing every night, the food is awesome, the grounds are great. You have big amphitheater grounds to explore and do whatever you want. It is the perfect tour scenery and setting. Mayhem is my favorite tour I have ever done. It is like summer camp for adult metal bands.”

Watch a live Whitechapel show from Summer Slaughter 2011: House of Blues San Diego 

-I can tell from your interviews, from your back-to-back tours and albums over the past several years that you are serious musicians, you want to taste this and make this a career.  What kind of individuals are you when you are not making music? What do you do? 

“I’m all about my family, my girlfriend, my dog comes first and my career is second.  I would never sacrifice them because that isn’t something that will last forever. You never know what can happen in life.”

-What will be the next high point after Mayhem Festival?

“Grow as a band, hopefully get more cool offers like Mayhem and progress.”

SOMETHING FUN

-I read this piece of information to Phil Bozeman about the Chicago Whitechapel Club.

The Whitechapel Club in Chicago, founded in 1889 and named after the London site of some of the crimes of Jack the Ripper, was a gathering place for reporters. The club was decorated with mementos of crimes – murder weapons, human skulls, and a coffin-shaped table; the reporters glamorized their familiarity with the rawness of city life while also creating the atmosphere of a college fraternity. But the club had an important practical function, too, for reporter’s criticized one another’s work there. Reporters became as sensitive to the reception of their stories at the Club as to the judgments of their city editors.

 -Thoughts on this?

 People are frickin’ weird, I have never heard of that. Sounds like a morbid work of art … that is pretty cool, I’ll have to look that up.”

Whitechapel- “The Darkest Day of Man” video from their last album “A New Era of Corruption”

Rachael Mattice is a producer and music writer for the Journal & Courier. She can be reached on twitter at twitter.com/ – !/RachaelM_JC

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Posted in: 2012