Having released a new EP this year and playing a smattering of shows recently I caught up with In The Company of Serpents sludge maestro Grant Netzorg for a quick Q&A about Ain-Soph Aur, their recent show in Dallas and of course talk horror, metal and beer, PLUS spaghetti westerns. Yee-haw and hail Satan.
You guys played your last gig in Dallas, how was the show there and how was Dead to a Dying World?
It was a killer time. James from Dead to a Dying World orchestrated this show, which was a benefit for ACLU Nationwide, and it was a pleasure to do it. It’s always great to catch Dead to A Dying world live- they’re incredibly cathartic, and have an awesome, genuine intensity.
Ain-Soph Aur is out, what would you say the response has been to that? You have to sell a lot of those things yourself, Bandcamp is the only visible gauge the hesher public has for actual sales, and the crowd that comes to the shows.
I know I dug it (Ain-Soph Aur). We talked about that at the Power Trip show. The spaghetti western influences are so apparent if you’re into the sounds of any Sergio Leone movie, Ennio Morricone shades are painted throughout ITCOS music, especially this newest album.
Thanks! The response has been pretty positive so far. The deluxe editions, which were a bit of a labor of love for me, sold out pretty much immediately, and it has been generally well-received in all of the press pieces I’ve seen. The spaghetti western vibe in the more eerie atmospheric pieces has definitely resonated with people. We’ve experimented with similar sounds on earlier compositions like “Rendered Unto Ash”, “A Union of Opposites”, and “Blood from Stone”, but this is the first time we’ve applied that sort of veneer to a whole record, and I’m really pleased with how it opened up my writing & approach to our music.
I’m a big spaghetti western fan so I can really appreciate those homages. What is your experience with that movie genre?
Growing up I really loved Sergio Leone’s “Man with No Name” trilogy, with Clint Eastwood, and watched all those films dozens of times. Ennio Morricone’s scores for those films had an epic quality to them, and the guitar sounds he’d employ have definitely stuck with me and have wriggled their way into how I like to approach cleaner parts. Although it’s not a Spaghetti Western per se, another one I love is Alejandro Jodorowski’s “El Topo.” The union of Western aesthetics with esoteric/occult spirituality is a particularly alluring combination to me, and it’s one that I tried to express in my writing on Ain-Soph Aur.
Although I haven’t watched many spaghetti westerns recently, I did pick up a copy of the original “Django” film starring Franco Nero when my beloved cult movie video rental store finally closed its doors last year. As far as newer films from the broader western genre are concerned, one that I really love is “The Proposition.” It’s unflinchingly brutal, and the Nick Cave/Warren Ellis score is a haunting masterpiece.
We love horror around here and it’s truly a movie genre embraced by the metal community at large. What do you have to watch around Halloween? You gotta like some horror.
Totally! I’m not nearly as big a fan as I was when I was younger, but we love to break out some horror once that autumn chill hits the air. For the last few years my wife and I have had a lot of fun watching anthology series with lots of little vignettes. The “Creepshow” films are probably my favorites in that vein, but we’ll throw on other classics like “Trilogy of Terror: as well. Some of the more recent ones like “Trick or Treat” and the “ABCs of Death” series have some gems in them too, but can be hit or miss.
I grew up watching lots of the classic slasher series like “Friday the 13th,” “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” & “Halloween,” and still love to throw those on from time to time as well. I get a kind of goofy joy from watching the more ridiculous later entries in the series like “Friday the 13th: Parts VII & VIII,” but my wife has a pretty low tolerance for super campy horror so I don’t watch those quite as often.
What was your childhood experience with horror like? Which movies were off-limits to you as a kid?
I was always fascinated by things that scared the shit out of me. My parents didn’t want me watching too much horror, so I would squirrel stash some of my VHS collection behind furniture and books where they wouldn’t find them. I really love “Alien” and “Aliens” (and to a lesser extent, all of the other sequels and spinoffs) to this day, and that’s something I picked up in my childhood. I don’t know if you recall these, but in the early ’90s Alien action figures were huge, and I got into the “Alien” movies through those toys as a boy. My childhood dog was named Ripley after Sigourney Weaver’s character in those movies, so I was pretty obsessed. I still consider “Alien” a masterpiece of genuinely terrifying film, and I return to that series regularly.
Reflecting back on it, many of the films that scared me most as a kid are the ones that I still find to be killer, authentically unsettling films today. “Candyman” falls in that category for me, and I’ll still throw that on today and be blown away by it. The original “A Nightmare on Elm Street” was fantastic as well, and the pre-camp/one-liner Freddy is a pretty terrifying villain in that one. I have a memory of sneaking out of bed when I was maybe six-years old to sneak downstairs where my sister was watching the original Nightmare, and even though I only caught maybe 10 minutes of it, it was responsible for probably a cumulative month of lost sleep if you counted up all the hours that movie kept me up at night as a kid.
What do you drink with those movies?
Depends on my mood, really. In the fall, when we tend to watch more horror movies, I’ll break out barleywines and barrel beers that I’ve been cellaring. Big hefty high ABV beers pair wonderfully with the onset of cold weather and a good horror flick. The rest of the year I will typically stick to gin-based cocktails, wine, & scotch, although I do love crisp, full-bodied pilsners and sessionable sours when the summer heat is in full swing.
Which breweries (and beers) do you want to name drop?
Speaking of sessionable sours, I love TRVE Brewing, and consider them to be at the vanguard of that style. Zach, their head brewer (and drummer in Khemmis) is a master of his craft, and I love the way he has emphasized high-quality, locally-sourced ingredients over whatever exotic fruit or hop varietal might be trendy to toss at your beer. I know he has gone out of his way to ensure TRVE works almost exclusively with local farms, and that speaks volumes to the integrity they bring to their approach.
I also dig Black Sky Brewery, and love the laid-back clubhouse vibe of their taproom. Whenever I go, there always seems to be a big group of battle-vest clad metalheads playing Magic or some heavily strategic tabletop RPG, having a birthday party, or generally just having fun and raising hell. We’re pretty spoiled in Denver to have not one but two great metal-centric beer spots. I also love that they’re nothing alike, and specialize in completely different styles, so it doesn’t feel like either is really in competition with each other to be “the metal brewery”. This isn’t Highlander, there can be more than one.
What’s next for ITCOS? You have a show August 5th. Shameless plug, 1-2-3-GO!
We do indeed! On Saturday, August 5th, we will be playing the Hi-Dive with our friends in Former Worlds and Matriarch. Former Worlds are on tour from Minneapolis, and their drummer, JJ Anselmi, was actually the founding drummer when be began In the Company of Serpents. JJ used to live in Denver, and we wrote the first self-titled ITCOS record together. He ended up moving to California shortly after we recorded that album, but not before helping me figure out who I wanted to continue on with as In the Company of Serpents. That wound up being Joe (Weller Myer), who at that time was playing in the outstanding Royal Talons. It should be a rad show, and will probably be your only chance to see every member of In the Company of Serpents in one room together!
Thanks again, Grant.