In the midst of unsettling times – as time has ever been – it is difficult to rationalize the nature and existence of humanity: On one hand, one can labour on under the presumption that we live in a just world where sins will be punished, crimes will be brought to justice and all will be made right in the end. However, the truth would seem that punishment is borne more not by the perpetrators of injustice, but by those who are most vulnerable. Does the fragile nature of humankind give our existence any more value? Perhaps. But through the ages, the eye of the beholder has been obscured by the bloodshed and the shadows of our deepest fears.
TBR speaks with The Lion’s Daughter’s Rick Giordano about sonic experimentation, their work to help less fortunate creatures and above all, their recently released album that reflects the harsh realities of life: Existence is Horror.
TBR: You guys just released a new full-legnth with Season of Mist titled Existence Is Horror. Point blank, how would you describe it to Johnny Metalhead who has never heard The Lion’s Daughter?
Rick: Haha! Man I’m really not too sure. I really hate genre pigeonholing and I feel like if we called ourselves black metal or death or doom or whatever we’d just be posers because we know we’re not really any of those things. But yeah, there are elements of the above I guess. Throw in a love of Voivod and horror movie soundtracks.
TBR: Existence Is Horror follows a bit of experimentation over the past year or so. Did the collaboration with other artists and breaking some new ground have any sort of influence on your approach to writing or was it more a matter of getting back to roots with this one?
Rick: It did at first. After working with Indian Blanket on the collaborative record we did together, we actually started writing music that was much more melodic with traditional song structures and a lot of clean vocals. We had probably written like eight full songs before we were like “Wait a minute, fuck this.” It wasn’t working and just didn’t feel natural, so we pulled a complete 180 and just started writing the scariest shit we could come up with. So yeah, we got back to our roots in a way, but were much much more focused than we had been before. We had a clear vision.
TBR: Clearly, your songs are pretty dark and reflect a lot of the difficult and shitty aspects of life. Without going into unwelcome territory, was your worldview always so dark?
Rick: Me personally, yes. I remember as early as like four years old being introduced to other kids and just being like wow, I hate all these assholes. I preferred being alone and watching Star Wars or playing with He-Man toys and shit than being around other people. I actually had a pretty good childhood because my parents were cool and I stayed in my own little world. Once I had to actually go out into the real world I realized that this place fucking sucks.
TBR: It was great news to hear that it’s being released on Season of Mist. How did that come together?
Rick: We were just fortunate enough to have dudes from Misery Index and Pig Destroyer and a couple others putting our name in the label’s ear around the same time, so they started to check us out and luckily saw something in the band they liked. So the lesson there is be really cool to bands that you play with because they might just do you a favor one day!
TBR: It’s a great recording: Heavy as all fuck but with just the right kind of spit and polish. Anything to say about the time spent in the studio or are you guys more of an “kick ass and get outta there” kind of band?
Rick: Well we used to go in and just do everything live and then overdub vocals. Most of those older recordings are first takes of just ripping through shit. In 2012 we recorded our first album and an EP in the same day. With this record we kind of just did whatever Sanford (Parker) told us. We’re huge fans of that guy and the records he’s done so it was like okay do your thing man. We’d do drums, then bass, then guitars one song at a time, usually two per day and then get into the overdubs which was the fun part.
We probably had 30 or more different effects pedals laid out at one point in time, and that was before busting out the synthesizers and everything else. It was a blast to layer all that stuff in and create atmosphere. I was a little overeager and blew out my voice on the first day, so had to come back a couple weeks later and finish them up with Brian Scheffer who owns the studio. But who cares, vocals are the least important part haha. I couldn’t be happier with the way the recording came out. It’s the exact sound I had in my mind when we asked Sanford to produce.
TBR: The cover art is absolutely killer. Who’s the artist? Any particular back story with this piece?
Rick: An Italian painter named Paolo Girardi created that piece for the band. Yeah man, it’s absolutely incredible. We just sent him a rough mix of the album with some lyrics, and I gave him a brief description of the vibe we wanted. And then a week later he turned around with THAT. It’s absolutely perfect.
TBR: It’s been a few years since it was released, but you guys also did a collaboration with Indian Blanket called A Black Sea. How did that come about?
Rick: Joe from Indian Blanket is actually Kenny from Fister’s brother and we’d been friends for a while. He sat down and played the song that became “Wolves” on an acoustic guitar for me and I heard something in my head that just made sense. The idea of making a record together was so strange and seemed like such a challenge that we had to explore it. We didn’t really know what we’d end up, but I think it’s pretty interesting.
TBR: Having followed The Lion’s Daughter for awhile, it was a really interesting surprise to you guys doing something so different. Clearly, you guys had put in a lot of work. What was that whole experience like when it came to writing and recording
Rick: Haha! Man, it was really exciting but also kind of a nightmare. We’re used to working as a three-piece and suddenly there are nine motherfuckers in a room trying to figure shit out. Joe and I vibe really well and get ideas rolling really smoothly, but we’re both kind of alpha control freaks. I’m honestly probably way worse than he is, so it became difficult at times. I think we argued for like four days straight about whether or not to put bells on one song. Haha! I’d actually like to go in and work on that record a little more if we could. Parts of it sound unfinished to me and I don’t think some ideas were fully realized because we ran out of time in the studio. In the end, I think we’re all really proud of that record though.
TBR: Are you guys looking towards doing this level of experimentation again?
Rick: We’ll see. When we started this band the idea was to keep trying different things, but I’m not sure what’s next. I throw a lot of bad ideas at those guys constantly and every once in a while something actually sticks. So yeah, the idea of doing the same thing twice is really boring to us. We have kind of a weird idea for the next record, but you just never know what’s actually going to work and what’s not. You gotta search for that thing that sounds right.
TBR: Just last year, you guys released a split with Nights Like These with the proceeds going to local animal shelters. How did that come about? What drove the idea of helping out with the shelters?
Rick: Well we had wanted to do a benefit show for Stray Rescue, and we also wanted to do a split with NLT because they’re old friends and had just reunited. So we just combined the two ideas and got some sponsors on board and made it a fundraiser for both St. Louis and Memphis animal shelters. It was a huge success and we’re really glad we did it. I’d love to find a way to do even more. I think it goes without saying that dogs are better than people.
TBR: For awhile there, St. Louis was looking like it could be an album cover for The Lion’s Daughter with everything going on in Ferguson. Would you say that St. Louis has had any particular on the band and/or your personal outlook? Or is that not really a factor?
Rick: Man I don’t know if its a factor. All the shit that went down in Ferguson didn’t really make any of us any angrier than we already were. We’ve all lived here for long enough to know how the cops are here, and this city is just generally racist as fuck. Although there have been some successful bands and some good media coverage, the scene here is still super small. Check the average heavy bands’ tour dates – a lot of them don’t bother coming here.
If anything, I’d say the only influence this scene has on any of our bands is that we all like to write good shit for each other. Its a really cool thing when a band full of your best friends is able to knock you on your ass.
TBR: Talking with Kenny Snarzyk years ago before we were introduced, he described you as the most misanthropic person he’d ever met. Would you say that’s a fair and accurate assessment?
Rick: Haha! No, I’m not really that bad I don’t think. Kenny is also like the funniest, most upbeat, happy person I know and everyone likes him so you’ve got to consider the source. Haha! I mean, I definitely do think human beings are scum and we shouldn’t exist. All we do is hurt and kill and destroy and suck. Fuck I don’t know. Maybe he’s right. Haha!
TBR: On that note, any predictions for the new year?
Rick: Not a one. I’ve learned that every single time I think I know what’s going to happen or predicate an outcome, I am always wrong, so I’m not even gonna try. faceI’m sure it will be a year full of pain and disappointment for all.
Existence Is Horror is OUT NOW on Season Of Mist