Staring Into the Abyss

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I don’t go to many shows being that I live in rural Central Missouri. So when the mighty Origin somehow got booked to play 30 minutes from my hometown in Columbia, Missouri I had to go. Not only for this interview but to witness arguably the most intense band around in a live setting. I was curious to see how the technical maelstrom of Origin translated live. Needless to say, even with a pain faced, triggerless James King, limited space and a relatively small (surprisingly female heavy) crowd, watching the eclectic racial mix of Origin perform live is a sight to behold. Particularly noteworthy are diminutive but always grinning bassist Mike Flores and guitarist Paul Ryan who literally mesmerized me with their fingers. After metalcore openers River Runs Red and local death metal act Omichron, I caught up with Paul Ryan to dig deeper into Origin…..

The first think I really want to know before we get into the album and stuff is what the heck happened with John Longstreth-why the split and why is he unable to stay in one band for any amount of time
Well basically right after I, I, I came out we did a bunch of really grueling tours; we had three week off before we were supposed to tour with Nuclear Assault. He came to me and said he didn’t want to tour any more and that he had something set up with Skinless. We were OK with that but we came to the point where we wanted to hit the road hard again and start preparing for the next album (Echoes of Decimation.)

Is he hard to get along with? I met him on a Skinless tour a while ago and he seemed OK and is inarguably one of the best drummers in metal today but he can’t seem to find a steady ‘home’.
John is just his own person, we still shoot the shit and are friends. With us it just came to a point where it had to end. I saw him recently touring with Dying Fetus, so he’s still drumming and I wish him the best. He’s going to be great whoever he plays for.

You found James King as a replacement. Was finding a drummer that could do the same things as John a priority for Origin?
Absolutely. We had to find someone to fill the gap; we could come out with anything less than a drummer as skilled as John. James has stepped up, and we a totally happy with him, but there’s no hard feelings between Origin and John.

How did you find James King?
He was playing in a band called Unmerciful and basically we had it down to James and some other guy, but James was closer to home and knew John, so we went with him. He’s only been playing drums for 4 years man; he was a killer guitarist before he played drums.

Did you intentionally go out and find a drummer that could do the things John Longstreth could so as not to lose your style of continuity between albums?
He was just the best drummer we could find. He is the right man for the job as he can do all the things John did, but also brings something new to Origin.
He has defiantly has grasped on to what we are wanting to do. He not unpredictable he’s solid and plays the same thing every night. Now he’s grasped out brutal stuff we think he is also going

What does he (James King) bring to Origin?
He has defiantly has grasped on to what we are wanting to do. He not unpredictable he’s solid and plays the same thing every night. Now he’s grasped out brutal stuff we think he is also going to allow Origin to maybe explore some more technical material.

So you are thinking of changing things up? Even though the first three albums have been pretty much continual speed, you ended Echoes of Decimation with a pretty impressive groove, is there more ‘experimentation’ to come? Or maybe you are content to blast your way through eternity?
[Laughs] Intensity definitely is something we want to keep, but I think we can keep the intensity level up but by the same token out next album will be out fourth album and we want to add something a little different. Our sound is so over the top, we just want to do something a little different, something we have never done before.

The next album will still be on Relapse I assume. Are you happy on Relapse?
We love Relapse, we seem to be one of the more consistent and still death metal bands on the label. I like all metal and Relapse seems the be introducing some diversity, but I’m proud to still be a death metal band on the label that started out as a death metal label.

I recently spoke with Mike Smith of Suffocation, and he seemed a little perturbed that Relapse bands like The Dillenger Escape Plan and Mastodon were such high promotional priorities for the label. Do you feel the same way?
I could see that but I’m not really worried about it. They certainly need more advertisement; they are one of the best bands around. Relapse has plenty of death metal like Nile, Skinless and such, so death metal certainly still has a place on Relapse. Relapse is no doubt diversifying, but they still have some of the best bands around in their respective genres. Nile is a big money maker, who can blame them for promoting them.

Let’s talk about Echoes of Decimation. After I, I, I really put you on the map, what was the process for giving a follow up album some identity instead of re-doing I, I, I.
We wanted to bring some new ideas, the guitar style changed a bit, we had a new drummer. We used some more rhythm solos and stuff.

Speaking of solos, the wicked solo in the middle of “Debased Humanity” is just killer, how did you come up with that?
Without out getting too technical is a six string sweep arpeggio all the up the scale all the way up to a 5 string sweep all the way down. It adds texture and melody I think. We will be playing that tonight [and let me tell you, it fucking ripped-ET] along with some old stuff.

Speaking of older stuff, it seems you debut wasn’t too well received as some called it mindless speed, but with I, I, I people were all over you. Was the difference in reception due to the death metal climate at the time? The first album came out during the death throes of melodic death metal, while I, I, I came out after Nile seemed to reawaken the scene’s more brutal side
Well part of it was mainly due to were a ‘new’ band, and until we start touring then came up with I, I, I to really blow the naysayers away.

How did you get in a mindset to improve on I, I, I?
It was hard, we took 9 months to find a drummer, which hurt, but once we found James we needed him to learn the old songs before we started on new stuff. We let him have some input so he could put his stamp on the new material.

What made you put the studio footage on the new album?
Well we had a new drummer, an new guitarist [Clint Appelhanz -also formerly of Unmerciful] member and didn’t want to do a basic band photo as we thought the artwork [by Robert Black] was so good we didn’t want to ruin it with a band photos, the album is more serious, there’s no silly samples, so we wanted people to identify who we were and that footage helps. Early on, people did even know who James King was; the studio footage lets you know us a little more.

Speaking of samples, the ‘Dogma’ sample that start “Inhuman” from I, I, I is one of the most well placed and appropriate samples I’ve ever heard on a death metal album. But why didn’t you open the album with it?
Well, basically we felt the album opener “Larvae of the Lie” was so crushing that the sample, which says “Anybody that isn’t dead or deaf”, is in past tense; it sort of means “OK, those who survived the first track better get ready because here comes more”.

Lets talk about your song titles and album names. Origin avoid the usual satanic gore fare in favor of sort of a Sci-fi lean, how do you decide that?
Well it starts with a song title, and we go through the titles and pick a song titles that fits what we thing the album. Echoes of Decimation just seemed to fit what the album encompasses. Songs about burning churches and zombies just isn’t right for us.

Is there any alternate outlet for Origin members to do anything other than blazing death metal-do you have any side projects?
I can only speak for myself. I play all kinds of music, I play just about anything, I just don’t think Origin fans are ready to hear any of that. I want to please Origin fans, not make them listen to other stuff that I might be doing. I don’t want anything I write or record associated with the Origin name.

What’s the immediate future for Origin?
Well we got 51 dates in 51 days with 30 of them supporting Malevolent Creation. We got some big dates like Milwaukee and we are headlining the Ohio Death fest.

So how the hell do you end up in Columbia, Missouri? Is this a warm up gig
Not really, it just playing so many different venues let you prepare for anything that might happen on stage, we do the bars and the arena and they all offer something different, I like them both. Little bars can be so intense sometimes.

And as my bruises prove, Paul was most definitely correct…….


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