Since metal’s genesis, bands have endlessly sought to conjure the next step in the genre’s caustic evolution, consistently attempting to write something weirder, faster and/or more extreme than what has come before. In the modern day, that’s a hard task, but – doing their best to carve out a distinct sound that pummels listeners into oblivion, Northern noisemongers Bodies On Everest employ all manner of noisy techniques to create a sweltering inferno of impenetrable mayhem, marring the sort of filth-ridden riffs you expect from sludge with ominous droning, curious electronic musings and infernal vocals that could be tortured cries emanating from hell itself.
Describing their music as “dungeon wave” – Bodies On Everest are a must for anyone who enjoys the oppressive oeuvre of Primitive Man or Sea Bastard, but sludge this ain’t, as A National Day Of Mourning pushes the genre further into increasingly corrosive territories with a unique urgency. Introducing the album, the band says: “…two bass players, one drummer, vocals and a board of electronics were all played at once and repeated back infinitely. This record is the very urgent and desperate result of an accident…Welcome to Hell.”
Stream the self-proclaimed “funeral dirge for modern life” in full, and hear from the band themselves, below.
Every time we’ve seen Bodies On Everest compared to another band, your response has been “we have no idea who that is”. Could you say a little about where your sound comes from and what your influences are?
We were always going to do something slow and murky and repetitive, because we’re all very bad on the instruments we assigned ourselves to play, like The Monkees in a way. Like how Davy should have drummed rather than Dolenz and Dolenz should have been up front? that sort of thing.
Basically everything kind of happened by accident or circumstance. We didn’t have any real rules or any idea about what to sound like, we kind of just played slow and coated it in chaos, working it out very haphazardly as we went along. A spirit inherited from discovering Load Records at 17 years of age. There was no one particular band, but we did have a Beyoncé flag and Soundgarden poster in the practice space.
Something that struck me about the new LP is that there seems to be some kind of narrative running through it, albeit a fractured one. Authors like William Burroughs, J.G Ballard and even David Peace sprung to mind. Is storytelling something that you aim to do via BOE’s music?
Half the time we’re playing live, we’re basically either saying “WHYYYY DADDYYY” or just talking gibberish because we’re all way too out of shape to really do any remembering, or anything properly. I once shouted the lyrics to the theme from Big Break at a gig in London and nobody seemed to notice.
For this album, there’s a running theme overall. Unlike the last one where we waffled on about love, doing cocaine in space with a hard-on, and burning public memorials down with your piss. I suggested the title an age back and thankfully we all liked it. Eventually, if I can put on my community college art course dropout cap for a second – the name, the words and the spirit all came together under the idea of death being made physical colliding with the advance of technology.
I was thinking of a particular day where a friend made me watch the footage of Budd Dwyer shooting himself on live television minus context, names, dates, everything. Suddenly I just had to live with those weird and anonymous 30 seconds forever. Everybody who saw it did. It becomes a morbid punchline, and as information becomes more readily available you come to realise somebody’s family had to live with it directly. Somewhere, there’s a room where it all happened inside a building built on a street where a body was wheeled silently along corridors, across pavements and into the back of an ambulance. There’s a bag full of evidence, artefacts and personal belongings.
That video makes that private grief everybody’s, suddenly. It’s death on tape. VHS becomes industry standard, live television gave it to the world, the internet strips it down to impact. The process is there from start to finish. You’re kind of just left to wonder about death from an early age, and you’ll never really understand it. Like life though, it’s there recorded for you like the rest of history if you really, really want to see it happen.
I’m boring myself so I’ll add that there’s also a song about wearing a coat made of pubes and driving to the next village to kill people while wearing it.
You’re on record as being big fans of Taylor Swift. What odds do you think there are on Ryan Adams covering A National Day of Mourning like he did with 1989?
I’d say zero unless he agrees to go arse over teakettle into an orchestra pit and break his arm again like when he played The Royal Court in Liverpool a couple of years ago. That’s my one caveat. Stern but fair.
Something we like about BOE’s music is how immersive it is. Most of your songs break the ten-minute mark but there’s something about the atmosphere you create that means the listener almost loses sense of time. Is that an effect you aimed to create? If so, is the use of repetition and long-form songs part of that?
It’s something we stumbled upon more than anything, it was always going to be loud and repetitive, but when we started to play something in the practice room we’d eventually finish and realise 20 odd minutes had gone by.
There’s something about the right amount of volume and repetition that we’ve always been drawn towards. Anything that loud you tend to just want to hear as much as you can possibly stand, and I don’t know if the atmosphere would suit us stopping every three minutes to thank everybody and remind them they’ve been the loudest crowd this whole tour. Just get in, get out, and don’t give anybody a chance to pontificate about us or what’s happening. Let them know we’re here and try not to make anybody suffer the anxiety-inducing horror of attending gigs any longer than they need to.
How many bodies do you think there are on Mount Everest? I looked this up and there are estimates out there.
Wildcard option – not enough.
With the two basses, there’s a real power electronics/industrial feel to how your music hits. What was the thinking behind using dual basses and what exactly do you have against guitarists? I’m a bassist and know that guitarists are decadent and expendable, but I thought I’d ask.
Truthfully it’s because the only good guitarist in the band plays drums. If one of the bassists could play drums we’d sound like more like Nirvana right now. I think the sound is mostly down to us down tuning to ACAB from the start and now we’re forced to play in a tuning that doesn’t really allow any musical flourises. It’s good to have restrictions too – same reason the drum set up is very, very basic. It makes us work harder and think more to sound this horrible.
Which other bands from Liverpool would you recommend checking out? I remember Conan, Coltsblood and Iron Witch bringing Liverpool to my attention as somewhere where good heavy music was going on, but have things changed in terms of the metal scene now?
Chinsniffer, Horse Bastard and Corrupt Moral Altar from the metal scene, or the loud scene at least. Those are all very, very good.
Less metal, but there are incredibly good things coming from the big Cartier 4 Everyone collective, Kepla, Pale Master, Queen Zee, Ex-Easter Island Head. Everybody associated with Drop The Dumbulls. Further afield Moloch, Bismuth, Ommadon and Bruxa Maria are all excellent.
If the three of you got stuck at the top of Everest, who would you eat and why? Would you write a song about it?
I think I’d starve myself. It’d be great being up there just rotting forever. Don’t have to pay council tax or electric, water and internet bills up there. No Facebook event invites or anything. Just the eternal bliss of the unforgiving tundra.
Can you tell us how the CD (Third I Rex Records) and tape (Cruel Nature Records) releases of A National Day of Mourning came about?
Luck. Third I Rex emailed us about pressing our first album The Burning (2015, digital only) a week after we’d recorded the new record so we asked if they’d like to hear it and they offered to release it. Then we were going to self-release a cassette version of the album and I spoke to Steve from Cruel Nature about who he used for duplication and he offered to release it on his label instead. It’s ended up being the 100th release on Cruel Nature, which is a real honour.
Do you have any plans to tour around the new LP and are you working on any new material at the moment?
Nah, playing gigs is terrible. Not really, but also really. We’re trying to organise a couple of short tours with Lump Hammer from Newcastle and Casual Sect from London/Margate.
Our next show is at Sounds from the Other City festival in Salford on the 6th May.
We want to play Bristol because I love Bristol but I don’t want to have to pay train fare or for an Airbnb so if anybody out there wants us in Bristol please hit us up. This also goes for Llandudno, and anywhere near Sycamore Gap at Hadrian’s Wall from the hit blockbuster film Robin Hood Prince Of Thieves.
We’ve got another album worth of material already written and every time we practice we come up with some new things, ergo if anybody wants to drop megabucks on a 4xLP gatefold please contact us.
Intro: George Parr
Interview: Andrew Day