Interview with Ruben Rosas, guitarist for Devourment9th May 2013
Being around for as long as Devourment, since ’95, bands will see their fair share of struggles. Devourment has dealt with death, imprisonment and band break-up over the course of close to 2 decades. However with all these things the band has been able to persevere and get stronger as the years go on by.
Hailing from Texas, Devourment plays a version of slam death metal, with an incredible knack for precision, brutality and catchiness that has seen their fan base grow considerably over the years, as well as influencing many young death metal bands. The band has excelled on each release and I never thought they would top the 2009 ‘Unleash the Carnivore’ album, until 2013 rolls in with their ‘Conceived in Sewage’ album and it drops the Fifty Ton War Machine on the masses, crushing all those in its wake.
This album is classic Devourment, however with improved song writing, better production and catchier hooks. Armed with a more powerful label, Relapse Records, Devourment should be able to get on some killer tours as well as seeing this album hit markets, it was unable to before. This album will be on my best of at years end, it is simply crushing and vicious. I reviewed this album not too long ago giving it a 9/10 rating and I’m gonna take Ruben up on his nice offer to the last question!
I started to wonder to myself why the hell did the office building collapse on my way to work this morning, while I was driving by? Ahhhhh, it was due to me cranking Conceived in Sewage, in my truck, as it completely leveled an entire city block due to the sheer heaviness and brutality of the album. Some poor bastard fell off a scaffold screaming at me, ‘Hey, I hope you get fucked with rats’ to which I replied smiling, ‘Don’t forget, Today We Die, Tomorrow We Kill’ and he smiled as his chest burst open due to a ‘Parasitic Eruption’. There is no where on earth where you can read an interview relating to deploying a fifty ton war machine, pit beef, death metal and the Dallas Cowboys. So sit back, crack open a cold one and read this extremely in-depth interview with Ruben Rosas, the guitarist for Devourment.
Interview with Ruben Rosas, guitarist for Devourment
By Frank Rini
1. Congrats on your Relapse Records debut, ‘Conceived in Sewage’, it is positively crushing and your best work to date. What went into first signing with Relapse, how long the deal is good for and what went into developing the overall record concept?
Thanks a lot Frank! Glad you enjoy the new album! Relapse actually approached us at a show we did in New York City with Brutal Truth, Macabre and Malignancy. At the time however we were still under contract to record one more album for Brutal Bands Records which was released about a year later and titled “Unleash The Carnivore”. After that album was released, the contract was fulfilled and Relapse contacted us again to work out a deal which soon after lead to our second European tour which also included London as well as Moscow at the end of the tour, and later in the year hitting the USA with Cattle Decapitation for a month and then with Cannibal Corpse for a few weeks. The record deal consists of 1 album with the option of another.
The concept of the album “Conceived in Sewage” was the idea of Mike Majewski. We had actually toyed around with a few different concepts but ultimately the album artwork which had been in the works for a couple years, by renowned Japanese artist Studio Sho, was what we felt would fit the title “Conceived in Sewage” best.
2. Did Relapse pay for your entire recording and your stay in Florida, while recording at Mana Studios? What made you choose Mana and how was it working with Eric Rutan during the recording process? How did he help?
Relapse did in fact pay for the entire recording. However, through record sales we have to pay them back. So in essence they fronted the money for the recording but I think Erik Rutan, being the swell guy that he is, worked out a deal to get us in there. Working with Rutan was one of the worst experiences of my life and we probably should’ve avoided him like the plague… But seriously, I’ve never had the privilege to work with someone that cares about the final product as much as Rutan does. He pushes you to play your best, and sure at times it could get a bit frustrating but you will end up with a recording that you can really be proud of and he helps bring out any and all potential you may have.
3. How has the response been to the new record, sales, reactions at shows to the new songs and what will the touring plans be?
Overall I think the response has been really good! Most of the reviews I’ve seen have been really positive, some a little less positive and some just downright nasty! But hey, you can’t please everyone! We knew going into the studio that there would be mixed responses, but we as a band are very happy with the album and we have fun playing the songs and that’s all that really matters to us! We’ve only done a couple shows since the album was released, but the response to the new stuff live has been tremendous! Especially the title track!
4. In terms of artwork, I don’t expect puppy dogs and kittens on a Devourment cover, I guess, unless they’re ripping the shit outta each other with entrails all over the place..do you guys just develop the concept and then see what your singer, Mike Majewski, comes up with in his twisted mind? The main character on the album looks similar to the character on ‘Butcher the Weak’, was this intentional?
With this record, the album art was already being worked on before we even began writing. From what I understand, Mike came up with the concept and gave his idea to Studio Sho. During the writing process, song titles were brought to the table, “Conceived in Sewage” being one of them, and after seeing the art in full detail it was apparent that “Conceived” would be the album title. The character you see on “Butcher” and “Conceived” are in fact the same being, sort of our mascot I guess you could say. So yeah that was intentional.
5. The design is quite brutal and the drawings with the cover and state of Texas body parts is impressive to say the least. However there seems to be a lot of brutal violence depicted towards women in these pictures. Was this a conscious effort to do this? You’re a married man, with children, one of which is your daughter. How would you explain to her the cover if she came across it? Are you concerned as an individual/band what the message conveys, even if it’s not your personal viewpoint?
I’m sure it was a conscious effort, but Mike pretty much handles that area of the band. Our songs have always had the violence towards women aspect, but neither I, nor any of my band mates share any hatred for women. It’s entertainment, plain and simple. My wife, my daughter, my mother in law and other female members of my family have in fact seen our album covers and I can assure you they take it as nothing more than shock value imagery. At home I’m just Dad, but I can certainly understand that there are people in this world that consider us to be nothing more than filth; Not that I’ll lose any sleep over it.
6. I love all your releases, but it seems the musicianship and even the vocals really were developed more with this release, especially the songwriting. Seems like the songs are catchier, was this a goal you guys set out to do? What do you do to get better at the guitar and how many times a week does the band practice together?
I appreciate you saying that Frank. The songwriting aspect for this album was intentional on my part. I wanted to keep that signature groove, but I also wanted to hear that old early 90’s sound as well, which is a sound I’ve never grown out of. I wanted more flow, more variation more dynamics and overall more clarity. As far as what I do to get better at the guitar, just keep playing the shit over and over! Maybe even map out some clicks to play to! We try to get together a couple times a week, but our lives, schedules and distance between each other makes that hard to do sometimes, so for the most part we have to hit it hard when we do get together.
7. Name some good pit BBQ places near you. What are some good foods you like to eat/prepare?
Man, haha that’s a hard one! Not because there are so many around here either! I gotta say the best BBQ I’ve ever had is McClard’s BBQ in Hot Springs, Arkansas. I haven’t had anything else that even touches their BBQ anywhere. Around here there’s decent BBQ but I prefer the Tex-Mex here more than any other food. I do like to BBQ in my back yard though, usually rib-eye steaks, chops, ribs and chicken. I fucking love to BBQ!
8. How is the Texas scene right now? How has the music scene changed from the 90’s?
The scene here is a lot younger than it used to be. Back in the 90’s it seemed as though fans were more rabid and loyal to death metal, nowadays the shows seem to lack that intensity they used to bear when I was a kid. Maybe it’s just me, but people just don’t seem to rage hard quite like they used to. However there are still some killer bands all across Texas.
9. What made you want to stop doing vocals and bring in Mike as singer/frontman 8yrs ago? You were pretty brutal, also doing guest vocals on bands albums, like Soils of Fate’s ‘Crime Syndicate’. I do feel Mike is the perfect fit for the band, from his artwork to his style and dedication. Was it maybe due to the fact that he is a fellow Dallas Cowboys fan? How do you think our team will fare this year and was Romo’s contract too generous?
We actually had the late great original vocalist Wayne Knupp doing vocals for us when we decided that we would reform while I just transitioned to guitar. Mike was still on bass at the time. Then declining health and personal priorities led to Wayne’s ultimate departure from the band as vocalist and that’s when Mike stepped in. I don’t care what you’ve heard; Mike moving to vocals had absolutely nothing to do with the Dallas Cowboys, lol. As far as Romo’s big payday, I personally felt like GM Jerry should’ve waited out this coming season to see if any progression from previous seasons would be made before shelling out that kind of dough. I guess we’ll see what happens next season!
10. Outside of the band, what do you do for fun? What are some of your inspirations, as well? Work?
I don’t do much for fun to be honest. I have a wife, kids and a mortgage. My fun is usually with my children or the occasional night out with my wife. If repairing, remodeling and updating my home are considered fun, then you can add that in as well! I work as a sound/stagehand at a theatre in Irving, TX and my weekends are usually spent there so I try to make the best of any time I can with my family these days.
11. The situation with North Korea right now is pretty tenuous with the U.S. that might result in military intervention, hopefully not though. However if it were how do you think a ‘Fifty Ton War Machine’ would get deployed over there and would it be successful in quashing any type of uprising?
The Fifty Ton War Machine would have to be built in South Korea by Americans and it would completely destroy all signs of socialist life in that region. Of course the UN pussies wouldn’t allow that to happen because war isn’t what it used to be. There’s too much concern for civilian life these days while the world is quickly becoming way too overpopulated. I can think of a few countries that should just get fucking nuked already.
12. What do you like best about being in Devourment and where do you want to take the band, long term plans/goals?
Playing shows with bands I grew up listening to has to be the best part of being in this band. We’ve been pretty fortunate to have played and toured with some of our most favorite acts. I’m not exactly sure that I have any long term goals for the band. Hell I’ve been doing this shit for over a decade and pushing 40 years old now. I’ve been to places some of my family have only dreamt of seeing; played huge festivals with some great bands around the world and toured with some of the best people I’ll ever know. Can’t really ask for much more in this life!
13. Ruben, any final thoughts/comments for the readers?
Thank you Mr. Rini for the kind words and for the interview. Hopefully one day we can actually meet! I still have a place here if you ever feel like you want to come down and see a game at Cowboys Stadium! Stay Sick!