The Bodycount Continues, Make Them Die Slowly’s second album, is just out. I took the opportunity to ask Duncan Wilkins and the mysterious The Void some questions.
Hello and first of all thank you for your time! Could you please introduce yourself and Make Them Die Slowly for those who don’t know you yet?
Duncan Wilkins: Hey, thanks for the interview. I’m Duncan, you may know me from the likes of Fukpig, Mistress, live Anaal Nathrakh over the years. Make Them Die Slowly is my latest project, and it’s probably the one project over the years that I identify most closely with, given my love for all things horror and exploitation. The Void is our vocalist, but he’s a man of few words, so he’s kindly let me take the lead here, and he will contribute where he can.
The band isn’t even alive since a year, but you already have an album out, called Ferox, and The Bodycount Continues, which will be released on October 31. What is the secret behind so much productivity?
Duncan: The fact that the world has been put on hold for most of the year definitely helped! Just to give a bit of context, the genesis of the band kinda happened a year or two just as a text conversation between me and Mick (Mick Kenney, ed). We’ve been friends for twenty plus years and we’ve always talked about doing another band or project together and the idea to base it around horror movies took me like a second to decide. I then wrote the lyrics to what would eventually become Eaten Alive, thankfully I’d saved a photo on my phone of these scribbled down lyrics which came in handy a couple of years later when Ferox took shape. In March I think, Mick sent me over a fully formed album. As to where he got it from, that’s another story. But I grabbed a small pile of films and books, and wrote all the lyrics in a day. Then The Void took over for vocals and the album was finished in a week. I’d never seen something finished so quickly. Then maybe a month after Ferox was released, the same thing happened with The Bodycount Continues, maybe the lyrics took just over a day this time. It’s just a case of me being super familiar with the subject matter. There’s a really strong shared sense of direction between us and I’ve already got the next couple of albums mapped out.
You are based in England, and Officer R. Kordhell, your partner in crime, is in the USA. How do you manage to create music together? Is it easy for you to collaborate?
Duncan: It’s much less of an issue than you’d necessarily think to be honest, much less given how connected everyone is nowadays. We all know what we want the end result to be, so there’s almost like a subliminal telepathic shorthand between us when it comes to the music.
Can you tell us the story behind The Bodycount Continues?
Duncan: The Bodycount Continues picks up exactly where Ferox concluded. The police arrive at the scene of The Void’s crimes, where he was left for dead. Spoiler alert – they don’t last long. It then follows the Void and his slashers through the woods, as well as one track telling the backstory of one of them. There are still one off tracks based on some of my favourite films, but the storytelling aspect is a lot more pronounced this time round, with even a few of the standalone ones having subtle links to the overarching storyline.
We already had some songs out of this new album, and even videos. Can you explain us how The Terror Begins video was recorded? Did you want to recreate your music’s oppression with this video?
Duncan: It’s very difficult to get all of the slashers together, so it was quite fortunate to get them all in the same room, and most importantly without spilling too much of the crew’s blood!
The Void: The Terror Begins is one of our more oppressive and atmospheric tracks, so it was important to conjure a similarly claustrophobic feeling with the video. We also wanted to pay homage to the inspiration behind the track.
Some songs also have videos with horror movies parts, how do you choose them?
Duncan: For some of our videos it’s quite straightforward and boring in that we’ll just borrow parts from the movie the particular song is influenced by. Looking to the future I’d definitely prefer to film our own take on said material going forward, enabling us to really tell our own stories.
The Void: My own personal aesthetic is influenced by the style of many of the killers from the classic Italian giallo movies of yesteryear, so using clips from that era seemed natural.
I know that it’s hard to imagine for now due to Covid-19 worldwide crisis, but did you already think about live shows? I know that the band is supposed to play on stage, but what can we expect?
Duncan: There was zero thought around us not doing live shows in a fashion when Make Them Die Slowly was spawned. Having spent ten years playing with Mick in Nathrakh, and the prior ten years playing with him in various other bands, there was no way that we were not going to take this on the road. Obviously the world had other plans, but we’re not in any particular rush, so we’ll sit back, bide our time and let the hunger grow for both us and our fans. We want our shows to be as memorable and as sonically intense as Nathrakh shows, but with a much higher sense of theatricality. That’s the theory anyway!
Make Them Die Slowly’s music creates a special ambience, based on horrific and dark elements as well as violence, it somehow reminds me of movie soundtracks. Have you thought about creating a movie with your music as soundtrack?
Duncan: I can’t say that we’ve actively thought about creating a movie to soundtrack, but that’s definitely not a bad idea. Thinking about it, both Mick with Professor Fate and me with my FEROX1980 project have dabbled with soundtrack-type material in the past, so it’s certainly something we’d consider if the opportunity arose…
Where does this fascination for Horror come from?
Duncan: It’s pretty much down to me. Since I was a kid I’ve always loved weird creatures, monsters and aliens. Star Wars ruled my life as a kid, and in particular my two favourite scenes were Mos Eisley cantina, and the Jabba’s palace scenes; filled to the brim with weird and wonderful characters. Coupled with the ritualistic weekly visits to the video shop, that was really where the obsession started. I’d always end up getting something like the Last Starfighter (SF movie from 1984, ed.) or something more age-appropriate, but I’d always have to be pulled away from the horror aisle, where i had a feeling of almost daring to look at the vivid, lurid scenes on the VHS cases without giving me nightmares. Then when I was like six years old I watched Poltergeist and I couldn’t sleep for ages ‘cause of that fucking clown! Over the next few years I continued to build myself up to watching these films, until I caught Bad Taste on BBC2, while they were showing a season of banned films. For some reason the synopsis sounded more like a Monty Python film, and after watching this gloriously OTT splatter classic, I realised that it had more in common with Monty Python than it did say, HP Lovecraft or something. Ever since then it’s been pretty much horror non-stop. I’m particularly fond of the whole video nasties era and Italian zombie and cannibal films in particular – although pretty much anything made in the eighties I’ll find something to enjoy.
The Void: I remember the first time I was ever exposed to horror. I was a child and I was taken to the cinema where what I witnessed stuck with me forever. I was repulsed, I felt sick and I had to be carried out of the cinema screaming. I’ll never watch it again, but I’ll never forget its name…..’The Care Bears Movie’.
What do you think about recent horror movies?
Duncan: It’s almost a cliche to bemoan contemporary horror films now for just being thoughtless remakes, plastic CGI-fests or clockwork jump scare ghost train rides. But that’s to forget some outright classics that have sprung up recently. CGI will never, ever replicate the tactile gloopiness of the classic practical effects, so I’m definitely inclined to jump on that bandwagon, although remakes not necessarily so much. Remakes to me are just like cover versions. I don’t buy into this theory that once a film is remade it just disappears into the ether. The original is still there, it’s always been there, and in most cases it eventually stands as a stronger film in comparison to a botched attempt at what made it great. I’m off on a tangent so to bring it back on track, the likes of Martyrs, It Follows, Get Out and Hereditary are just a handful of recent films that are amongst the best the genre has ever offered.
Do you remember the first time you picked up an instrument? When and how was it?
Duncan: It would have been around 1997, just after finishing high school and I was treated to a second hand guitar by parents for finishing my exams. It was a standard red Stratocaster copy, probably the same as thousands of ‘first guitars’ across the world. Didn’t learn to play it in the usual way, no lessons or books really, and to this day I couldn’t show you a specific chord if you paid me. This all was in the early days of the internet, so I basically printed out a load of Helmet tabs. A perfect starting point given that their riffs are so lean and stripped down. Over time I then just kinda worked out how riffs work rather than knowing what like, ‘G’ is!
How did you discover Metal music back in time? What was the very first Metal song you ever heard? And which one made you think “I want to create a band and play on stage”?
Duncan: Easy, I saw the video for Can I Play With Madness by Iron Maiden when I was 7 on Top of the Pops (seems like a relic from a bygone age now but was a staple prime time music show / chart rundown type thing here in the UK). I knew I liked whatever this Heavy Metal thing was, as I’d heard a couple of AC/DC tracks before, but this video with the spooky demon creature in the clouds grabbed my attention, and the music seemed so much more exciting and vibrant than anything I’d heard before. In terms of what made me want to get up onstage, it’s hard to put my finger on. I was the kind of little kid that didn’t mind getting up onstage and dancing at Christmas parties and stuff, so I guess there must be something in me that always wanted to do it, a need or desire rather than any kind of master plan.
Your musical journey started since a while now (more than 20 years if we consider Mistress as the beginning), what can you say about it? Did you think that it would last this long? Do you think you improve yourself again as a musician?
Duncan: Having just hit 40, it does seem pretty mad that I’ve spent half my life doing this. I’ll always be proud of my contributions to all the bands I’ve played in, even if it’s just me giving it some welly onstage. It’s weird in terms of longevity as I’ll always see my contributions as minimal in many ways, but I guess I just surround myself with talented friends who don’t mind having me hang around! I’ve never really seen myself as a musician in the traditional sense, as my knowledge of actual musical theory and so on is zero. Despite growing up a metal fan, in retrospect my approach is 100% Punk Rock. Feeling, fire, aggression, that type of thing. The one thing I’ve gotten better at moreso than being a ‘musician’ is knowing my limitations and giving my all within those parameters.
The Void: On this album I’ve particularly tried to work on my vocal patterns and pronunciation. What’s the point of telling your victims what you’re about to do to them if they can’t understand it?
I know that Covid crisis fucked up a lot of things, but how did you deal with it as a musician? How does it affect your personal life?
Duncan: We wrote two albums over the course of like four months which says it all! To be honest I was ready for a break in a lot of aspects with regards to gigs and stuff so from a selfish perspective everything getting put on hold hasn’t really affected me too much. It does completely fucking suck for the people who’s livelihoods depend on this industry, so I’ve got to put it into perspective that I’m lucky in that sense. The lockdown did delay me in getting back to work as I was between jobs at the time so I was financially hit by that, which sucks, but I had a new creative outlet in Make Them Die Slowly which gave me something to be excited about. There are many, many people out there a lot worse off than myself so I count myself lucky in that regard.
Aside from music and Horror, what are your hobbies in life?
Duncan: I’m a massive geek. I’ve always had a few bands on the go, and obviously I love horror movies. I’m a huge pro wrestling fan so that would come in third, although please don’t confuse that with necessarily a current day WWE fan! With whatever time I’ve then got left I cram in collecting vinyl, movies, Warhammer 40k stuff and a shitload of podcasts. The Void: Stabbing, slashing, slicing. The odd strangulation here and there.
What is your best and your worst musician experience ever? Maybe you have some kind of “special ritual” before getting on stage?
Duncan: There’s no special rituals involved. Plenty of dumb ones though! A cigarette, some Jack & cokes, a wet of the hair and some press-ups and we’re good to go! Best experience onstage was probably the first Nathrakh show at a festival in LA, although I’ve been lucky enough to constantly experience new highlights on a regular basis around the world. Worst was probably a show in Prague where I was already up against it having consumed a gentleman’s amount of Jäger before the show. All things considered I held it together pretty well, until about two songs from the end I went over on my ankle and completely fucked it. Couldn’t put any weight on it so I had to kind of lean against the tour manager for the last ten minutes or so, so to the untrained eye I must have looked like a complete fat drunken prick. And then I pissed myself back at the hotel, so that parts definitely on me.
What if I ask you to compare Make Them Die Slowly’s music with a meal? Which one would you choose and why?
Duncan: There’d be a few courses…some lovely burgers from Crumbs Crunchy Delights, cooked by The Greasy Strangler. The Stuff for dessert. And a hot-dog, but that chaps cock that got chopped off in Cannibal Ferox as the sausage.
Do you think that some musicians or vocalists could add something to Make Them Die Slowly’s music as guest appearance? If yes, which ones do you have in mind?
Duncan: Stock answer – King Diamond. An absolute no-brainer that one! Although, speaking of brains, I’d love Hellmouth from Send More Paramedics on our new album as I think the subject matter would be perfect…
The Void: I’ve murdered more band mates than I’ve let live, although I’d definitely give John Carpenter, Claudio Simonetti or Fabio Frizzi a pass were they ever to show interest…
Which bands would you dream to tour with? I let you create a tour with Make Them Die Slowly and three other bands of your choice!
Duncan: That’s too difficult, I’d be too split between bands sonically close to us and those I’m influenced by! But at a push, I’d go for Make Them Die Slowly obviously, Zombi – as they’re a great middle point between soundtracks and a more traditional rock band, GWAR for the total OTT splatter fun even if I’m not necessarily a huge fan of their music, and the UKs own Video Nasties as they’re awesome and I think we’d compliment each other really well.
That was the last question for me, a huge thank you for your time, last words are yours!
Duncan: Thankyou for your time and the kind words! It’s really appreciated, as is everyone who’s taken the time to listen to one of our tracks, buy some merch, or reached out to us online. I’m personally very humbled by the response so thanks a million.
The Void: Murder Night isn’t over yet. The Void will return.