How could we possibly forget the remains of MUTILATED, undoubtly one of the most talented death metal bands to raise the French national banner. Exclusively formed of fanatical late 80s die-hards, their sound could be nothing but similar to that of the American death worshippers of the same era, contaminating the world with their hysterical riffs while combining cleverness and power of performance, the kind of stuff that simply blow your bowels out. But Hell didn’t await the band who suddently ceased all activities. However if you track down their discography I can say it won’t disappoint you for the result is clearly satisfying, listening to the majority of their recordings proves it well. And a band that had gained a massive recognition from the metal crowd can’t be wrong I suppose.Before the birth of MUTILATED, Michel and Jackhammer were already delivering a crushing death metal while in MUTILATOR, testing before the fatal hour their musical capacities; unfortunately the band splitted up within a year. And later on, as MUTILATED went also drowning down in a pool of blood, ABYSSALS kept bearing the torch left by the former, driven once again by Michel who didn’t hesitate to use the latest compositions of MUTILATED.Having met someone under strange circumstances who later turned into a regular collaborator, that person let me know that he would be able to contact the vocalist/bassist Philippe Herbaut, with whom he had a long and strong friendship, for a possible interview. That leads us to the day when the storm finally boomed and made it possible to pay a sincere homage to that cult myth that provided us so much thrills. Open minded and humble, Philippe Herbaut answered this interview with much humour.So, I’d like to dedicate this interview to Philippe Guilloux without whom it would have never been done.
01 - Hi Phil! Thanks a lot for spending some of your free time answering my questions
and thus making a place for MUTILATED in my pages. In any case, I hope your answers
will be as explicit as my questions. lol
Phil : Hi Ron, this is the last interview I do about MUTILATED (unless Drucker asks me
for it!!). I hope that you’ll enjoy it and that it will bring you as well as your readers a
bit of light.
Ron : Phil, I didn’t know that Drucker was a fan of Mutilated since the very first demo,
he kept the secret well. Do you often invite him at home? lol
(note: Michel Drucker is a very famous French TV presenter, currently aged 65)
02 - Well, starting this interview I’d like you to tell MUTILATED biography until the very
end, for all the metalheads who didn’t have the opportunity to know you
Phil : That will be short because MUTILATED made two demos, ‘Psychodeath Lunatics’
in 1988 and ‘Ressurected’ in 1992. We also recorded a 45rpm in 1993 that was
never released. The vocals didn’t fit, that is to say I messed it up!!! I got fired shortly
after, and that was a great relief because our relationship within the band was far from
the top level back then. Then, by the middle of the year, MUTILATED splitted up
and ABYSSALS saw the light of day, in 1994, with both guitarists, myself on the bass
and Jackhammer came back to join.We had founded MUTILATED as a trio in 1987,
there was Michel (guitar, vocals), Jackhammer (drums) and me on the bass
(they pushed me doing vocals too in 1990). Jackhammer left in 1990 and was
taken over by Guillaume, who stayed until the end.We played several gigs across
France (Paris, Lyon, Nice, Mulhouse and so on) with bands of the time.
03 - If I have a few neurons left in spite of all the beers I drank since the 80’s...
MUTILATED was only a ghost then... because the first official formation from
1987 was called MUTILATOR, and only a rehearsal/demo saw the light of day.
Why did you decide to change your name? Maybe you wanted to avoid a conflict
with the Brazilian thrash band that already existed under that name?!
MUTILATOR began with a thrash metal feeling as exposed by two fuckin’ great
covers of SLAYER ‘Black Magic’ and CELTIC FROST ‘Dethroned Emperor’,
that tape benefitting a very audible sound. That said when listened to carefully,
one can hear various dialogs happening between you during the recording,
one of them particularly caught my attention: “une vraie salope, enculé de
ta mère” (“a true bitch, you motherfucker”). François or Michel seemed to
be very ‘tired’ too. I would also like to know if the ‘Omens of Dark Fate’ demo
was recorded under nice conditions?What was the average age of the band
members then and what recording apparatus did you use? To end this chapter,
could you give me the motivations that pushed you to form MUTILATOR?
Phil : MUTILATOR was the band of Michel and Jackhammer, founded in 1985/86.
I didn’t take part in that line-up. They recorded that demo ‘Omens of the Dark
Fate’ at Alex’s of AGRESSOR who had a small studio. They played a gig only,
with Alex on the bass, in Geneva (Switzerland). That wasn’t a change of name
only, we wanted to start on real death metal basis, and as a consequence
I became a permanent member in MUTILATED. And there was indeed that
Brazilian band being active at the same time.There was no cover on that
demo, only original compositions. You may have listened to a rehearsal tape,
I don’t know (?), as I wasn’t there I can’t tell you more about it.Michel
was 17 and Jackhammer was 2 years older. MUTILATOR was created simply
because Michel was an excellent guitarist and Jackhammer an excellent
drummer. They were the only ones playing death metal in France in 1985/86.
04 - Finally, MUTILATED was born, a first demo ‘Psychodeath Lunatics’ was recorded
in 1988 with definite death metal orientation. What did happen in your heads
for not wanting to play thrash metal anymore? Where did the idea of playing death
metal come from? Were you satisfied with the final result? Was this demo
positively welcomed by the fanzines? The demo title expresses a mental dysfunction
of the human being... could you give me more details about the lyrics centered
around that topic? For what reason did you not take part in the recording, despite
the fact that you had already join the band???
Phil : I don’t consider MUTILATOR as a thrash metal band but as the first death metal
band from France. Then MUTILATED kept its ‘cult’ status because, in my opinion,
it has never turned old fashioned, and has kept and well kept its initial flavour.
Many bands got it right because we were in touch with MORBID ANGEL,
NOCTURNUS, NAPALM DEATH and so on, with whom we had excellent relationships.
The crowning of death metal came naturally after that of the heavy metal,
power metal, speed metal, thrash metal, and so on.
I was involved in a death metal magazine called D.O.D. (Decibels Of Death)
with Laurent, who was the boss. Through that we discovered the evolution of
all the metal movements until death metal.You know, we have been
satisfied with anything. That remains a demo recorded in a small studio in
countryside near Le Mans. But it is true it got us known to the whole world.
I had made a press book then (I burnt it after I got fired!) and I can tell you
we got only good reviews, except by the guys who didn’t know then what Death
Metal was like, most of them writing for national magazines. Everyday we got
mails from all over the world, that was a fantastic period.Michel was at
the origin of everything,compositions,lyrics,mailing.Hecarried everything on his
shoulders. As for myself I was a newcomer, Michel had asked me if I wanted to
be one of them by proposing me to play the bass. I immediately answered
YES, and 8 months later we entered the studio for the recording. So I did what
I could do but that wasn’t enough. Michel replayed all the bass parts. My debut
was really terrible, I was a beginner among very experienced musicians.As
well as being really talented on the guitar, Michel spoke english as if it was
his maternel language. Consequently he also wrote the lyrics. The demo title
was found by us two, I found the beginning and he the rest of it. I’m
interested in the psychological side of the human being for a long time.
05 - Listening to the 3 tracks from the first demo,
I’d say your musical level was already pretty high,
with the same abilities for musical composition as
MORBID ANGEL who were, if I’m not mistaken,
your main influence along with POSSESSED,
INSANITY and INCUBUS (Florida)? Did you
have some private lessons? What was your composition
Phil : Ahahahahahahaha… death metal lessons at the time!
That’s too funny!!! There wasn’t a ‘metal guitar
assimilation method’ at the time. Most of french people didn’t know that style of
music.The first time I went to a thrash metal gig was in Belgium,that was the
KREATOR/DESTRUCTION/RAGE tour in 1986 (I had missed VENOM/METALLICA in
1984 in Paris and SLAYER in 1985 in Belgium). But that’s off the topic. Michel was a
guitar god, he could reproduce anything, or at least many things, and that
was why we could do so many covers, notably MORBID ANGEL, SLAYER,
POSSESSED, RAZOR, PENTAGRAM (Chile), and so on. Pure happiness!
There were no guitar tabs at the time (that was a pain in the ass),
we had to get everything by ear!!For the compositions, Michel worked
with Jackhammer. As for myself, I had a job so I couldn’t actively rehearse
during the week.
06 - At the end of the 80s death metal was still standing in the shadow of
thrash metal, i twas only in the beginning of the 90s that that musical style
gained a wide exposure with the appearance of many new bands... Do you
agree with that? Do you feel proud of having been a precursor? Have you
stayed humble unlike some others who turned heavy-headed today about that?
Phil : In the shadow? MANTAS/DEATH, DEATHSTRIKE/MASTER,GENOCIDE/
REPULSION, MORBID ANGEL had all released two albums, TERRORIZER had
released their famous album, and I forget many others. In the beginning of
the 90s there was a boom, but there already was a whole avant-garde that
had started this movement. But maybe you want to say, if I am not mistaken,
that there was no precursor to death metal in France. If this is it, I agree!!!
We didn’t feel like precursors because that style already existed here and
there on the planet. We were only in the right place at the right time.
07 - I think that nowadays more and more metalheads get interested in the
underground scene… How do you explain that new phenomenon? Do you think
it could be kind of a ‘trend’?
Phil : I think they look for something else, something new. I have the feeling
that there is nothing more to add to that style. There are also too many bands
who play the same shit in a self-centered way. You always go back to the origin,
there are many talented and promising bands in the underground. They often
have an amateur touch, but maybe that is one thing appreciated too.
08 - I presume that MUTILATED has already answered some interviews for fanzines.
I’d like to know which ones retained your attention and why? I remember Septicore, Peardrop, Putrefaction, Holocaust, In my veins, Stregoica and Fallen were excellent fanzines but unfortunately most of them don’t exist anymore. I think that that new technology that is the Internet gives a wide exposure to webzines which number
increases every day, and that is why many people prefer (for economic reasons) downloading interviews for free. That said, some hardliners kept the old flame
burning such as Slayer Mag, Snakepit and son on. Your feeling about that please?
Phil : Mutilated is nothing but a dead star now. We don’t have the same number of
requests for interviews as we used to have. The one for Slayer Mag was atrociously
painful. If my memory serves me well, there were sixty different questions. You
will never change the mentality of the eldest (what do you think about that,
Laurent? Metallion? Ha ha...). The paper medium is very important to them,
they made their first mags more than twenty years ago in those conditions.
There is this little nostalgia touch in every one of them (I stop here about that,
I feel tears coming out!). In the same way they like collecting vinyls. That
said, it is far easier to get interviews through the net.
09 - Coming back to MUTILATED discography, the second 3-track demo ‘Ressurected’
with its beautiful glossy paper cover was recorded 3 years after ‘Psychodeath
Lunatics’. Why having waited for 3 years to make that second demo? Another
question comes to my mind... how is it that your demos are so short? How
many copies were sold? Are your proud of your compositions compared to those
of the first demo?
Phil : If you have an original copy of the first demo, you must know that the
cover was printed on high quality paper too. We had a pretty tumultuous life as a
band, we were in Sarthe when we recorded ‘Psychodeath’, then a year later
Michel and Jackhammer decided to go back home, that is to say to Ain. I followed
them to Bourg-En-Bresse in 1989 to go on with the band. Then Michel had the
wonderful idea to move to Nice to be with his girlfriend, so we didn’t play together
before 1990/91. Later on Jackhammer left MUTILATED, so we had to look for
another drummer and a second guitarist. That was why we could’t release
anything for 3 years. What is commonly called ‘demo’ is an insight of what
you can produce. It is useless to record a high number of tracks to send them
all to the labels. They know very well after one minute of listening if they sign you
or not. I don’t remember precisely how many copies we sold, I’d say about 500.
We were perpetually evolving, year after year. We felt our style with more
and more precision, and the new fact was that we could bring our own musical
and lyrical ideas, which was a mini revolution.
10 - I had heard after the release of that demo that Osmose Productions had
proposed you a deal you turned down for the reason that Hervé Herbaut allowed you only 760 Euros for the studio. Right or wrong?
Phil : Ask it to Michel, only he can tell. The mails were directly adressed to him.
11- My blood brother Philippe Le Guilloux, whom you know very well, taped two excellent old live videos of MUTILATED from 1992 for me (I thank him with all my heart). The first show was filmed at Rail Theatre in Lyon and the second in Mulhouse where your performance on stage was as intense as technically impeccable, enough to make the greatest metal bands jealous... Did you give much importance to
your live performances to give your fans a high dose of adrenaline? I am curious to
know which show will forever remain in your memory?
Phil : Oh yes your blood brother Phil (whom I salute while I am at it!)!!! We were
always at the top for our live performances. That was powerful, intense... to sum
it up that was primary death metal!!! That one in Lyon was particularly good,
we had a great sound and were warmly welcomed by the audience. In Mulhouse
they had no idea about what was falling down on their heads, they understood
nothing. That didn’t prevent us to play a fucking good show!!!
12 - One year later a two-track single was recorded, but the tapes were kept
rotting… What happened actually ?
Phil : I am the one to blame!!! The atmosphere within the band was catastrophic
and miserable. We (me and the drummer) had been warned at the very last
moment that we would go into a studio (January 1993) to record a single.
I didn’t appreciate at all to have such a deadline imposed. I went on holidays
to Holland to relax and on my way back I went to the studio in an equally relaxed
state. As a consequence I fucked up the vocals and probably the bass parts too!!!
Then I got fired and got what I deserved!!!
13 - There used to be the custom of tape-trading, that reached its peak at the time
with an uncountable number of tape-traders around the world. So, as I know
you were involved in it, could you tell me with whom you were in touch? Tell me
about a few bands you discovered through it
Phil : ‘Custom’ is a manner of speaking, actually it was the only way to get to know
all the new bands. And all of the tape-traders couldn’t play on the same ground,
you had to have enough to trade with the others. The other way was to buy
tapes but it could quickly become expensive. Both Laurent (of D.O.D. and Snakepit)
and I had our specific niches: he traded audiotapes and I traded videotapes. We
were living not to far from each other. There already were well known bands
such as MORBID ANGEL and DEATH, and there were all the others like
NECROVORE, INSANITY, FCDN TORMENTOR, INCUBUS, POISON (Germany),
NYC MAYHEM and tutti quanti.
14 - I’d be charmed to know the list of your foreign penpals, and the known
bands with whom you had the best human relation?
Phil : ‘Human relation’, you mean ‘carnal’? No one (ha,ha,ha,ha...)
Ron : Why, you became a bi-sexual? I don’t think you are, I bet your pants
get wet everytime you have a look at Lorie Bravo of NUCLEAR DEATH, I think
you have pretty strange tastes about women, but well all tastes are in Nature
ha ha! That said you would really match each other since she is as old as you
are, you know. When is the date for marriage? Can I be the DJ, I’ll play only chamber
music such as Epica and all similar shit! lol
15 - Oh yeah! I got a kick in the ass last year when I heard
that MUTILATED discography was to be re-pressed onto
vinyl. The copy I got with Philippe Le Guilloux (fuckin’
thanks brother!) is the american press limited to 500
copies, I have heard that there also was a brazilian press.
Could you light my lantern over these reissues? What is
your opinion about the work of Foreign Legion Records?
Phil : These are bootlegs so out of our reach!!! The principle
is, generally, to not ask the bands for the authorization. I took it as a honour that
there are still people interested in us. The most amazing fact is that there
were two presses, brazilian and american (both in different colours!) out in the
same time. That regain in interest for a band that disappeared about 15 years
ago is extremely bizarre!!
16 - To my biggest surprise the third band formed by you in 1993 just after the
split of MUTILATED was ABYSSALS, to which a page is dedicated to on Metal-Archives.
The person who wrote the text described it as thrash metal, an opinion I don’t share
at all because when I listen to this fuckin’ great demo, the music clearly sound like
pure death metal influenced by the american scene. Excuse me if I am an ignorant
about that turn, but there are some shadow areas in my mind. For instance, why did
you record that demo under a different name whereas the style is still almost the
same? Was ABYSSALS a side-project after the death of MUTILATED or was it rather a continuation? Could you explain me why you stopped after the release of the demo? However, if my information is correct, you only played live with them, is that right?
Phil : The reviewer may have mistaken us for AGRESSOR??? If I had to stop and
stare at every bullshit I see, I would be changed into a salt statue!!! ABYSSALS
definitely was a death metal band, useless to recall it again and again!! Michel
wanted to put an end to MUTILATED. He created ABYSSALS with tracks from
MUTILATED indeed. With the minor change that the other guitarist was in charge
of the vocals. I wasn’t there for the recording of their demo, they recruited me
shortly after because they couldn’t find a competent bassist. We had the
opportunity to play live. It didn’t last for long since I succeeded in getting fired
again. And the band decayed with grace!!!
17 - Sincerily, what do you think about what you accomplished with these three bands
on a personal and artistic level?
Phil : I started from nothing and improved all along those years. I got the
position of bassist then bassist/vocalist then finally now guitarist. Looking
backwards, when I thik about all of this again, we completely ruined
all of our opportunities. We should have signed with one of the numerous labels
that asked us to do. And we came to know many people in that environment.
The best moment happened when we got invited backstage by MORBID ANGEL in
1991 and when Michel played Trey’s songs in front of him. Trey had to correct
him about very small mistakes only. That was great and unforgettable, the fact
that we so closely met the person the worshipped the most on Earth.
18 - Damn, I noticed a long period of musical inactivity for you since the split of
MUTILATED, 7 long years between MUTILATED and your comeback to the stagefront
with ACT OF GODS with MUTILATED ex-drummer to support you in that new adventure.
I’d like to know how you manage to chase the dragon away from your mind? Are you
still in friendly terms with your former bandmates?
Phil : I wanted to start a new band in 1994 but met a desertic void looking like
the Death Valley. I could find neither a guitarist nor a drummer. So I learned
how to play the guitar in order to record a demo all by myself. Too much work
for me so I called Guillaume to play the drum parts. And then we formed ACT OF
GODS with a third gremlin at the vocals. Nowadays I never meet them again,
even not Guillaume who was fired this year. The dragons are all at the bottom
of the well, their flames don’t reach me anymore!!!
19 - ACT OF GODS have got a page on MySpace, but I couldn’t find one about MUTILATED, surprising isn’t it?
(Ron : Question asked before the fanpage existed)
Phil : Your wish has been fulfilled !!!
Ron : Yes, now one of my penpals created one since you have answered this interview, it was just about time, thanks to him for this wonderful work.
20 - The year 2006 is plagued with bad memories… the death of Jesse Pintado, Denis D’Amour… nobody remained untouched, fans and medias alike. Could you share your feelings about some of the musicians your worshipped?
Phil : Premature disappearance of Jesse Pintado!!! We wanted to pay him homage with
the cover of TERRORIZER we did!!!
21 - Your turn to ask me a question now?
Phil : Will you buy me a drink if we meet giving the fact that 6 months were spent before I answered your request for an interview?
Ron : You don’t have to ask such a question, dear Phil. I invite you at any time you
want to my kingdom of obscurity to rediscover the glorious times that
enchanted our youth. That said, I’d like to invite the other Phil too and don’t
forget to come in company with a few succubus, I have heard that they are
abundant in your address notebook. Having played in MUTILATED didn’t bring
only bad events ha ha! Infinite thanks for having honestly answered the interview,
that will be a great relief to put the final dot to the story. Thanks also for having
understood my humour that is of course to get at the second degree, it is just
too stupid that it got so often misunderstood by very liable people about whom
I always wonder if they will ever get the true message metal carries...
22 - Well, I think I have forgotten nothing, would you have something to add?
Phil : Now we can do an autodafe with everything concerning MUTILATED and
spread the ashes all around!!! Keep going and have good DEATH METAL!!!
Special Thanks to Philippe Guillou For His GREAT Support !!!
Interview : Kanz-Noz