While the internet is largely in agreement that 2016 has been one of the worst years on record, Meek is Murder have had a very good 2016. They completed their first European tour, played some killer shows Stateside and released a killer EP in Was. To find out more about the band, I interviewed drummer Frank Godla and guitarist/vocalist Mike Keller about the new release, touring with Svalbard, the cancellation of Temples Fest and the importance of Slayer among other important subject matters.
Jack: Hey guys, thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. How are you guys doing?
Frank Godla: Amazing! I saw Metallica play a small club show this week, so I don’t think it could get any better!
Mike Keller (Guitar): I’m ok.
Jack: How did Meek is Murder form?
Frank: I run a website called Metal Injection, and used to work with an awesome band called The Red Chord often. One day I noticed they had a new guy in the band, and I made it a point to talk to him. His name was Mike Keller, and he told me about this one-man demo he made at home, and gave me a copy. It was ‘Mosquito Eater’ by Meek is Murder, and I got hooked on it pretty fast. I naturally started to drum along to it while I practiced. One day, while TRC was in town, I ran into Keller once again and told him I enjoyed the music and started to learn some of the songs. I mentioned, if he ever found himself in New York and wants to jam out, that’d be something fun to do. Sure enough, a couple weeks went by and he sent a random text saying that he just moved to Brooklyn, he is no longer in TRC, and he’s down to jam if I’m still down. I guess it was fate!
Keller: We met Sam in an internet scam. He plays bass but is secretly a way better guitar player than me.
Jack: Your genre on Facebook is called ‘Brooklyn whatevercore,’ are music fans too obsessed with pigeonholing bands into genres?
Frank: Obsessed is a strong word, but I think music fans like to categorise things in ways that are easier to understand, and communicate. “Whatevercore” is just our own answer to anyone that asks us to describe the sound of the band. That’s a silly question to ask any band, really.
Keller: I disagree, I think meticulously sub-categorising music is maybe the most important part.
Jack: Has being from Brooklyn influenced your band?
Frank: Considering that pizza is the 6th member of the band, most definitely.
Keller: A lot of great bands come through and a lot of great bands are from here. We’re really lucky to be able to hang out with them sometimes.
Jack: You’ve just released your latest album Was, are you happy with the response?
Frank: We are incredibly stoked on the response! Truthfully, I’m always just happy people gave it a spin in the first place, since there are so many releases out. It means a lot to know that some people trust what we do enough to be worth 20 minutes of their time. The fact we received a lot of press for the new album is equally amazing. I grew up reading every metal magazine I can get my hands on, so to see us in a few this year just blows my mind.
Keller: Yeah, we tried something a little different and I think it kind of worked.
Jack: Did you approach the recording different to any previous releases?
Frank: I personally feel like we were more prepared for this recording than our previous albums. It’s always a little hectic when a recording date is coming up, but this time that didn’t stop us from re-working a couple parts, or me re-writing some drum fills.
Jack: What inspired the cover art?
Keller: I wanted to portray the passage of time ravaging an otherwise mundane scenario. Sort of like how our scars make us who we are. Anyway, I sketched a crumbling room with a chair in it, and wanted to stage a photo. A couple days later I came across a picture that so perfectly captured all of that, plus I didn’t have to trash my bedroom. It happened to be taken by a good friend of ours: Dan Miccio, who plays drums in Tiger Flowers, a band we’ve played a hundred shows with.
Jack: In May and June you toured Europe with one of my favourite bands, Svalbard, how did the tour go?
Frank: The tour was amazing on so many levels. I first saw Svalbard at a UK fest in 2015, and met Serena [Cherry, Guitarist/Vocalist]. That lead to us working with them on our first European tour, and I honestly couldn’t imagine a better set of people to travel with. We played some incredible shows, in amazing places, and made some unforgettable memories with some of the best people in the world. We couldn’t ask for a better time.
Keller: British people are so polite!
Jack: What do you like about Svalbard’s music?
Frank: Svalbard’s music is so huge and heavy yet so ethereal and melodic at the same time. It’s almost like elephants dancing with butterflies. They’re incredible musicians, and have a unique gift to captivate an audience no matter what kind of metal you’re into. It’s an honour to watch them work.
Jack: You played Holy Roar Records 10th Anniversary where I saw you and thought you were excellent, how did you find that show?
Frank: It means a lot to be welcomed into something special like a label’s 10 year anniversary, even though we’re not on the HR roster. We can’t thank Alex Fitzpatrick enough for that. The festival was an amazing time top to bottom, the food, the bands, the venue, the staff, and of course the audience. We’re really stoked our first time playing London was such a memorable one!
Keller: Svalbard drove us there, because they are so polite. Also, we couldn’t find the steering wheel.
Jack: At the end of that set I was one of the many fans who was keen to shake hands after your set, do you find it strange people want to shake your hands, get stuff signed and take photos with you?
Frank: Not at all. We’re all friendly dudes, and love meeting anyone who appreciates what we do. People like yourself are helping us spread our noise across the world, and we couldn’t be more thankful for that! At the end of the day, we’re all huge fans of metal artists too.
Keller: Please don’t touch me or look me in the eye.
Jack: Many bands lost out on money and had to cancel tours as a result of Temples Festival’s cancellation, how did it affect you?
Frank: Temples Fest was to be our last show on the European tour, so we were already mostly done with the tour by the time the cancellation was announced. To be completely honest, I wasn’t the least bit surprised. A few weeks before our tour began, the Temples promoter went MIA, and I sent email after email to no avail. When we got to Europe I continued to email him for an advance on the show, and heard nothing back. So the cancellation announcement was more of a relief that we can make other arrangements. In the end, our friends in Svalbard and Employed To Serve were quick to organise a proper end of tour show for our sake. Again, this shows what kind of awesome people they are. Ultimately, we didn’t lose any guarantees since we made it up at the Bristol show, but I do feel bad for the bigger bands who focused an entire tour around that festival appearance, and were forced to cancel tours.
Keller: It sucked a bit, but the makeup show was very sweaty and fun. Svalbard booked and played it even though they weren’t even on Temples, because they are so polite.
Jack: You appear on ‘Meantime Redux,’ the Helmet tribute compilation, how did you become involved with this?
Keller: Mike Vitali from Magnetic Eye Records hit us up and a handful of really awesome bands had already signed on to take part, so it sounded like fun.
Jack: You covered ‘Better’ for the compilation, why did you pick this song?
Keller: I took a listen back to Meantime and that one stood out as one we could adequately ruin with our brand of nonsense.
Jack: How did you discover Helmet’s music?
Keller: Beavis and Butthead, duh.
Jack: Does Keller still have the cab that was owned by a member of Helmet?
Keller: I do. It’s an Orange 4×12 and it sounds incredibly nasty and looks like hell.
Jack: As Frank also runs Metal Injection I’m interested to know your thoughts on this. Is print journalism dead or will there always be room for it?
Frank: I grew up subscribing to loads of metal magazines, so call me nostalgic, but I’d like to think they’ll always be around in some way. If anything, I feel what I do with Metal Injection is more of an homage to how magazines and MTV would conduct themselves. Especially with a lot of the documentary / editorial pieces I’ve been releasing.
Keller: I think we were in a magazine last month, which is pretty crazy.
Jack: Aside from the Candiria gig, what are your upcoming plans?
Frank: Our album “Was” is now released on vinyl, so we’re working on getting it in stores across the US and Europe. We’ll also be playing a show with our friends in Car Bomb later in October. After that, we’ll be making some plans for the next tour sometime next year. I imagine there will be some pizza, burritos, and high fives in between all that as well.
Keller: Write more. Tour weird places.
Jack: As you one of your songs is called ‘Marty McFly’, is Back to the Future your favourite from the trilogy?
Frank: We’re all huge fans of Back to the Future, but I personally think it might be THE best trilogy in cinematic history! That’s right, come fight me.
Keller: One of the reasons Back to the Future remains king is that Bob Gale and Robert Zemekis have retained the rights and refuse to allow anyone to remake them. We don’t need another Indiana Jones movie. Please stop shitting on my childhood, Hollywood.
Jack: Finally, Slayer’s Reign in Blood turns 30 in October, does this album mean anything to you?
Frank: Reign in Blood is still to this day THE benchmark for what a thrash metal record should be. “Angel of Death” and the controversy over the lyrics was a pivotal point in metal history. The fact it was released on Def Jam Records, a predominantly hip hop label, made heads turn to the point their own distributor refused to work with the album. Rick Rubin’s genius approach to the recording by cutting out all the reverb to make it as fierce as possible blew people’s minds. Lombardo’s drumming was on top of the game and hugely influential to drummers including myself. The album art, by New York Times comic illustrator Larry Caroll, is one of the best and most evil album covers in metal history. And this legendary piece of work that turned the metal world upside down was so short, it managed to fit on a single cassette tape TWICE! So yeah, I’m pretty into the album. [Laughs]
Jack: Thanks for your time guys, come back to the UK soon!
Keller: I’ll check it out.