GODLESS ANGEL is one of these band names that at first sight might seem primitive but once you start thinking about it you realize that it is actually cool. Derek Neibarger answered my questions. ©2015 Anders Ekdahl
You have one of these names that does not really tell what kind of metal you play. How hard was it to come up with the name?
-My wife, Chrissy, and I came up with name Godless Angel by just putting different words together until we found a combination we liked. Chrissy thought the name described my personality and we both agreed it just sounds cool. I’ve purposefully avoided incorporating hidden meanings and social/political commentary into the music of Godless Angel. This project is all about enjoying the awesomeness of metal and providing a fun escape. That’s why all of my lyrics, which Chrissy and I write together, are horror fiction.
Could you give us a short introduction to the band?
-I created Godless Angel in the summer of 2012 as a means of embracing my metal roots. I began my music career as a bass player in 1984 and since then I’ve been in dozens of bands covering many different styles of music from punk and blues to indie rock and metal. But I never had the opportunity to do my two favorite genres, death and thrash. I’ve been obsessed with thrash since I first heard Slayer’s “Hell Awaits”, and death metal sunk its teeth in me with Cannibal Corpse’s “Butchered at Birth”. Godless Angel is the first time the music I write has been in sync with the music I listen to, and I’ve never been happier.
What would you say have been the single greatest influence on your sound?
-Godless Angel is heavily influenced by old school thrash and death bands like Cannibal Corpse, Anthrax, Obituary and Six Feet Under. But the single greatest influence would have to be Slayer. The dark melodies, single note riffing, chaotic solos and simple aggression of albums like “Hell Awaits” and “Reign in Blood” are like the bible of metal to me. King and Hanneman were capable of writing very complex riffs, but they could also pound you into dust with parts that were surprisingly simple yet very intense and ominous. I love that and I’ve tried to accomplish that same effect with Godless Angel.
What is the extreme metal scene like in your area? Do you feel that you are a part of a scene?
-I was born and raised and still live in Lawrence, Kansas. It’s a small college town and the music scene is mostly built around punk, indie rock, jazz and bluegrass. But fortunately we do have The Granada, a music venue that brings in bands like Enslaved, Amon Amarth, Cannibal Corpse, Cavalera Conspiracy and other cool metal acts. Origin is based out of Topeka, about twenty minutes west of here. To the east is Kansas City, which has a very good local death metal scene with killer bands like Marasmus and Torn the Fuck Apart. I haven’t performed live since about 2001, so I don’t consider myself part of the local scene.
Something I have often wondered about is if you feel that you are part of something bigger and greater when you play in a band, that you are part of a movement sort of?
-Being a part of full band is a very unique experience. Sometimes it’s magical and awesome, sometimes it’s not. When I was twenty I had the incredible experience of touring the east coast and doing a string of shows with Neurosis and Green Day. We were all just kids out there on the road discovering new places, making new friends and just hitting the stage with reckless abandon. Playing shows and touring was wonderful at first but over the years it became more difficult. I was getting burnt out and wanting to spend more time with my family. But I never tired of writing and recording, and technology has made it possible for me to not only record at home but to also reach fans around the world. Godless Angel has been featured on radio shows in Poland, France, the UK and The Netherlands as well as the USA. “Harvester of Shadows” was released on a record label in Finland. That’s worlds away from handing out cassette demos at local shows in Kansas!
When you play the sort of metal you play I guess you cannot have birds and bees on the cover of your album? What is a great album cover to you?
-I love album art that is done in a hand drawn comic book style, like the artwork used by bands like Cannibal Corpse and Iron Maiden. Vincent Locke, Albert Cueller, Larry Carrol and Derek Riggs have all created amazing covers. When I drew the artwork for my EP, “Dying Dead Undead Unholy”, and my new album, “Harvester of Shadows”, I was absolutely trying to capture that same magic! Monsters and demons with a lot of detail, bright colors and strong, well defined lines. That’s what I love to see in an album cover! The artwork for the new Six Feet Under Album, “Crypt of the Devil”, is a perfect example.
What is your opinion on digital verses physical? Is digital killing music?
-I think there’s room for both formats in today’s music, it’s just a matter of figuring out how to keep the physical format exciting for the consumer. I love buying a CD by my favorite band and looking at the artwork and reading the lyrics while I listen to the album. But I always rip the albums to mp3 because that’s how I listen to music most of the time. I have a sixteen gig mp3 player loaded with my favorite bands and I listen to it all day long at work. My favorite way to purchase physical music is through pre-order packages where I get the CD and something else like a t-shirt or poster. I think that’s a great way for bands to get fans excited about buying physical albums. Godless Angel is currently only available in digital format, but I’m hoping to be able to have a CD version of “Harvester of Shadows” to sell in the near future. It’s just a matter of finding a way to make it appealing to the fans. Instead of seeing it as one format versus the other, we need to focus on how the two formats can complement one another and work in unison.
What kind live scene is there for bands like yours?
-There are many venue options for death metal in my part of the country, but I currently do not have any plans to perform live with Godless Angel. But never say never! This project has already done way more than I ever expected. I started Godless Angel as a very self-indulgent venture with no aspirations beyond writing and recording songs that I love and sharing them on sites like Soundcloud and Bandcamp. Nobody was more surprised than me when I was contacted by Inverse Records, and I still can’t believe I actually have an official album out there. Hearing Godless Angel on international radio shows and doing interviews about my music is such a surreal experience! With all that’s happened I can’t rule out the possibility of performing live. We’ll all just have to wait and see what happens!
When you play live is it a happening or do you see it more as a party?
-I would love to see Godless Angel’s music fueling a massive pit, I think it would be perfect for it! I don’t know if a Godless Angel show would be a “happening” or a “party”, but I definitely think it would be a hell of a lot of fun!
What would you like to see the future bring?
-I’m going to continue to seek out creative to ways promote “Harvester of Shadows” so it can reach as many metalheads as possible and hopefully I will have a physical version available soon as well as new Godless Angel merchandise. I’m also about to start writing and recording new material. “Harvester of Shadows” has nine tracks and took me about six months to complete. I would like to have about fifteen songs for the next album, which means I need to start working on it now. Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to talk about Godless Angel and “Harvester of Shadows”!