Monday 15 July 2013

Interview: A Pale Horse Named Death

Doesn't make sense living today...

"I stress a lot running everything for the band and there is pressure for me as well. But I am an artist and I need to present my art to the world, so I do what I do. But once I am on stage I get pretty comfortable and have fun."

Brooklyn, New York native Sal Abruscato gambled and won with the début album from A Pale Horse Named Death. Known primarily as the drummer for bands such as Type O Negative and Life Of Agony, he made his first step into centre stage with 'And Death Will Follow Me'. Showcasing a melancholic blend of gothic-tinged doom metal and grungy southern rock, Sal and collaborator Matt Brown were quickly snapped-up by SPV's Steamhammer imprint and a full touring line-up hit the road.

Now in 2013, Sal and his cohorts have returned with their sophomore offering, 'Lay My Soul To Waste', which continues to solidify Sal's status as a songwriter. Intravenous Magazine caught up with Sal to talk about his transition to becoming a frontman and how he has coped with writing a follow-up to such a strongly received début.

Intravenous Magazine: Your second album ' Lay My Soul To Waste' has been out since the end of May. How has it been received so far?

Sal Abruscato: So far it has been pretty good, the reviews are positive and the fans love it.

IVM: The A Pale Horse Named Death sound was firmly established on the first album. Was this a conscious effort or did the songs naturally progress in this direction?

SA: It was pretty natural for me and Matt to progress in this direction. It was obvious it needed to go this way and we are happy with the results.

IVM: How do you feel A Pale Horse Named Death has developed as a band since the release of the first album?

SA: We became better at what we do. We solidified our live shows from touring and got tighter as a band. I really enjoy playing live with the guys.

IVM: Considering the praise that the début received upon it's release, did this affect how you approached writing the second album?

SA: Well we approached it with the attitude that it needed to be better than the first. Also bringing production and mixing on Matt's end surpassed the previous album.

IVM: Both 'Lay My Soul To Waste' and it's predecessor 'And Death Will Follow Me' are intensely personal albums. How was it for you making that leap as a songwriter?

SA: A lot of work and long nights tweaking the songs before I brought them to Matt to record. [It] Was very personal to write my words down and convey feelings.

IVM: Thematically the albums are full of allusions to death, drugs and suffering. Where do you get your inspiration and do you find it is a cathartic process for you?

SA: It comes from inside my head and what I absorb in life. I am complicated with a lot of emotions and dark moods. I can easily write about bad things. It is somewhat therapeutic for me as well but I never feel satisfied and have my mind on the next idea.

IVM: You'd previously been associated primarily as the drummer for Type O Negative and Life Of Agony. What was your drive to become the front-man of your own project?

SA: Just wants to change life up a bit and try something I always wanted to do. It was time to move on and I saw the end of LOA coming so it was important to write a new record for me.

IVM: Is the position of lead vocalist/guitarist/songwriter one that you are comfortable with?

SA: Yes and no. I stress a lot running everything for the band and there is pressure for me as well. But I am an artist and I need to present my art to the world, so I do what I do. But once I am on stage I get pretty comfortable and have fun.

IVM: You took A Pale Horse Named Death on the road as soon as possible, taking in both North America and Europe. How do you feel the songs translated to live performance?

SA: Actually we have only toured Europe and will finally tour US in the fall. I think we translate pretty well live and fans gravitate to us once we start playing.

IVM: The band includes Matt Brown, Johnny Kelly and Eddie Heedles, who are all well known for their work with other bands. Did you feel that calling on them would overshadow the music at all?

SA: No, I thought they would be a great addition to the band. Matt is my partner so we have a good thing going together. No overshadowing here.

IVM: You've recently gained a new bass player in the for of Dave Bizzigotti. How did he come to fill the spot?

SA: Eddie brought him in, they were friends for a while and spoke highly of him.

IVM: You've recently shot a video for the track 'DMSLT' with director Aaron Beaucher. How was that for you, and are you happy with it so far?

SA: It was great for us we had fun. So far I am happy but I also have not seen the finished product. It was a nice experience working with Aaron.

IVM: Are there any plans for more videos to support the album?

SA: Not that I know of at the moment. But our first has to come out still, so one at a time I guess.

IVM: 'Lay My Soul To Waste' once again features artwork by Sam Shearon. How did you come to work with him and what do you feel his style brings to the presentation of the band?

SA: Sam was writing to me for a few years about working together. APHND was right up his alley and he really can grasp the vibe of the band. It's works well the music and art together. It's been great thus far.

IVM: Finally, what are your touring plans for the rest of the year?
SA: We are going out in the fall in the US and hopefully Europe after the holidays. Hopefully with the labels support we can continue to tour often.

'Lay My Soul To Waste' is available now via Steamhammer. For more information on A Pale Horse Named Death, please visit their official website.

(Photographs by Candy Lust 2013)

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