Integrity is one of those bands that people either love or hate. There is no middle ground for this band, which is basically a vehicle for lead man, Dwid Hellion, to express the darkness that exists within him.
Through all the line-up changes and stylistic changes Hellion has remained committed to his dark art, creating a musical legacy that is hard to beat. As he readies their next missive, entitled "Suicide Black Snake", which will be released by A389 and Magic Bullet in mid-June, he is taking the band on the road with a tour of the United States that starts at the Webster Underground in Hartford, Connecticut and includes stops at the celebrated Maryland Deathfest and Chaos In Tejas, before hitting Europe in late July.
We sent the ex-Cleveland Devil, who very rarely does interviews, a few questions and here are his responses on a variety of topics concerning his art and the band. (You may or may not be surprised by what he says about his hometown of Cleveland.) (It also must be mentioned that this show also features reunited Massachusetts true metalcore heavyweights Overcast, as well some hard-hitting up-and-comers in Ilsa and Homewrecker, which makes for a can't miss show for fans of hardcore in the Nutmeg State.) So without further ado, the Devil speaks.
On the new record, you once again are working with Robert Orr. Why did you decide to use his talents again? What does he bring to the table? Rob is an incredibly talented musician and he and I are great friends. Rob's guitar leads resonate within my soul. He never ceases to amaze me.
How does the new record, Suicide Black Snake, fit into the band's lengthy catalog? Why did you decide to go with A389? "Suicide Black Snake" is our latest recording. Each Integrity album has its own personality and sound, which differs from one another. The vinyl is on A389 and the CD is on Magic Bullet. Dom and Brent are close friends with us, and we have released EPS with both labels in the past.
What gives you more satisfaction these days, music or your non-music related art projects? Are they on equal footing? Or has this changed over the years. Also, do the two work together to help fit the band's aesthetic? It's expression. My music and artwork definitely flow from the same source. I would say, "equal footing". Sometimes I am feeling more inspired to draw, other times music might be where I find my voice.
Do you think people over-emphasize the importance of Cleveland in the formation of your sound? Why or why not? Do you think the band's sound would have developed the same regardless of its location? Actually, I haven't lived in Cleveland in well over a decade, and none of the band members live in Cleveland. I am not certain if people still consider Integrity to be from Cleveland, and if they do, I would have no idea about what significance that location would have for the people listening to our music. Cleveland is not an exotic location. I think the band developed because of the individuals involved in the writing. The location was not important for me. Cleveland was not very receptive to this kind of music when I lived there many, many years ago.
At this point, what do you like more, creating the music and putting it out or playing live? Or do both have a special meaning to you? Creating music is a rewarding process unto itself. Expressing yourself on that level is quite a privilege. Playing live, we get to see how the music interacts with the audience and we get to publicly exorcise our demons.
What are the plans for Integrity going forward? Can we expect more records, or more touring, or a little of both? We start our North American tour on May 23 in Hartford, Connecticut at The Webster. This will also be our official record release show for our new album, Suicide Black Snake. After Connecticut, we head up to Canada for a couple dates and then to Maryland Death Fest. From MDF we head south and play various locations in Dixieland and eventually we reach Chaos in Tejas which concludes our North American tour. End of July we have a month long European tour.
Brass City Boss Sounds Presents: Integrity Overcast Homewrecker Ilsa Thursday, May 23, 2013 Webster Underground 31 Webster Street Hartford, CT All Ages - 7:30pm - $15 advance/$20 day of show