There aren’t too many bands more metal currently doing the rounds than Goatwhore, so when we came up for the idea of this series they were always near the top of our list of targets. And then they announced that they’d be heading Down Under for some dates with the mighty Eyehategod… We knew we has to make the dream a reality, and ‘whore vocalist Louis Benjamin Falgoust II was happy to oblige with some highly detailed answers to our questions – enjoy!

What initially drew you to heavy metal music, and how has your relationship with it evolved over time? “It began with my sisters. I have two elder sisters and they used to be into the earlier forms of heavy metal/rock, like Def Leppard, Judas Priest, Mötley Crüe, Scorpions et cetera. I heard it and it stirred an interest, the sound and overall tone. That was the gateway drug, per se. I wasn’t much about what was being said as much as what vibe it was giving off. From there, I came across people equally into this style. Which provoked me to delve further into the genre/sub-genres. It may have been somewhere were people were outside listening to it in their car in a parking lot, crossing paths with a person at a record store, friends that would skateboard and do so with a jam box blaring punk and metal and even other kids with older siblings in the neighbourhood that had learned of the style through them. That interaction led me down a path into these other genres under the heavy metal umbrella. Then moving on to other bands like Slayer, Metallica, Venom and Celtic Frost, and then full on into the world of underground metal. Tape trading with people – Some would say it was a fad, it is a stage in life, but it never faded. It only got stronger. Even when heavy metal wasn’t at the top of it’s game, there was always the Underground coming up with new ideas and variations. The great thing I found in heavy metal through all of this, was that the earlier music I started with never really got “old”. It was an amazing return to the earlier things that brought me in and as I aged my consumption of it changed and became more solid of supporting it”.

Can you describe a pivotal moment or experience that solidified your passion for heavy metal? What was the first heavy metal song or album that blew your mind, and why? “It was a deluge of moments. It all came in so fast. I went from not knowing much about the music, to trying to find every source of it. It was the culmination of many experiences. Possibly a mixture of the first VFW Hall metal show I went to, to hearing more harder edged metal bands like Slayer and Celtic Frost, or when I purchased that Metallica’s Ride The Lightning tape after seeing the name on another kid’s folder in school. As I delved deeper I got more excited about it. The overall moments and experiences are countless”.

How do you think heavy metal culture and music have influenced your identity or personal beliefs? How has heavy metal influenced your personal style, or the way you see the world? “When I first got into heavy metal I wasn’t committed to the lyrical content just yet. It was the overall tone and vibe that drew me in. As time progressed, the lyrical content got more intriguing to me. Whether it was something dark and misanthropic or the voicing over political strife and societal issues. No matter the content, it would launch me into a quest to research the concept further. It would stir conversations with people that were of the same ilk or even outsiders. By doing this, it would take me down paths of thought I never really knew about and would start to mould ideas and opinions based on these journeys. Now, there is a culmination of topics within heavy metal, so at the end of the day the intake is like throwing everything into a blender all at once and hope for the best. I feel like you have to traverse all of this content with an open mind and understanding that you have an opinion and it should be left wide open for possible change to be able to experience life’s fullest moments with little to no bias. This is all to better the notion of being a solid human being to others and not to be an asshole”.

Do you have any rituals or traditions related to heavy metal? “I do have a basic one that most people do. I have saved all my tickets stubs from these events, even print out ones from more recent shows. I have even saved all the flyers of more underground shows I attended in my earlier years. Other than that, if you have been into heavy metal as long as I have, it is already a tradition/ritual returning to the music and songs that solidified my relationship with it from the beginning”.

What aspects of heavy metal do you find most captivating or resonant, whether it be the music itself, the lyrics, or the community surrounding it? “It is a culmination of all those elements. There is something very feral about the music that gives off an expressive outlet. Yet, it has a controlled chaos that creates this calm within all the disorders of life. Lyrical content is the ingredient to bring out a certain part or purvey on overall idea. When in proper combination makes the whole of life come together. This then creates the community that is behind it and supports it. It is more of the stages in heavy metal that resonate in a combined effort for me”.

How does heavy metal serve as a form of self-expression for you, either through listening to it or creating your own music? “Heavy metal/extreme music has always been an outlet for me to change my mood and get excited about things. If times are low and shit just isn’t going right, pop on the heavy metal. It doesn’t always change the real life situation, but it sure as hell changes the mood of it. When I create music, it allows me to voice my ideas, opinions and burdens about life. It is a therapeutic divulgence of all the concepts and angst culminating in my head. It is my offering to others that may have the same personal experiences or may just be interested in what tumbles in my head on a daily basis”.

Are there particular themes or messages within heavy metal that you find especially meaningful or empowering? “I stand on the line of fiction and reality within the overall themes in heavy metal, so I get a feeling from them across the board. In some ways the fiction lets you just escape it all and then the more real to life topics bring you back to reality. Whether it is the cruel dark truth of life or the perseverance of trying times. The end result creates who I am as an individual and person”.

In what ways do you think heavy metal contributes to broader cultural conversations or movements? “Heavy metal has always been an open book regarding its stance on life, religion, politics, history and the human mental process. Some bands are outspoken of the above mentions and some delve into a more misanthropic approach. In saying that, it gels with different fans as well. Some fans want the music as an escape and do not wish to confront such topics and for some it makes them see life in a different light or makes their opinions stronger based on the content”.

What are some of the misconceptions you encounter about heavy metal fans? “Heavy metal has been seen in many ways as Satanic or relating to Satanism, sacrifices, evil doings, etc. Some bands have imagery or a solid belief of esoteric teachings, but do not fall into this stereotype of what non-metal individuals claim, but even bands without this imagery or lyrical content get looped into the same generalisation by people that don’t really know about heavy metal. Heavy metal has a broad array of concepts and beliefs, just like any other group or groups of people in the world. It has a vast gathering of eclectic individuals from around the globe”.

Looking towards the future, how do you envision the role of heavy metal evolving, both for yourself personally and within the larger music landscape? Are you optimistic about what the future holds? “Heavy metal has expanded so much since I first stepped into the realm, so many different sub-genres and variations to it. It has also created groups of listeners into these variances. Some hold to more traditional styles while some embrace it all, some like only one genre, while others like every genre. The best thing about it, is that even older styles are accepted along with newer, whereas in the past when something wasn’t being talked about anymore, it lost it’s flame. Now everything still holds a strong stance within the overall world of heavy metal. There are some things I don’t listen to because it isn’t my preference, but I accept it as part of the overall reach of heavy metal. I remember when they used to say heavy metal is dead, blah blah blah. It wasn’t. It was working in the underground to evolve into a bigger beast. I am very optimistic on the overall trajectory of heavy metal. It doesn’t have to be this popular than everything sort of thing, as long as it creates new paths and evolves in the years to come”.

And finally, here’s your chance to say, in one sentence, “That’s what heavy metal means to me”… “When I first got into heavy metal and meeting people that were into it, it gave me a connection with people that I never had before. I met someone with an interest that was similar to my own and helped expand both of our interests. It opened up our discussions on things in life, our opinions and overall human interaction. Over time those relationships and ideas grew. The lyrical content went to darker domains and explored more into human existence and cultural conflicts, giving more insight to life as whole. What does heavy metal mean to me? It means a lifetime of interactions, experiences, a moment in time connected with a sound, a driving force of controlled chaos and fierce energy. That is what heavy metal means to me”.

Thanks for taking part!

Goatwhore Dates EHG