Dom A389 Records / Pulling Teeth
In November Pulling Teeth is touring Europe and they’re playing Tilburg on the 20th. The recently released ‘Funerary’ is one hellish beast of fast pissed off hardcore combined with some evil post-metal and other whatever noise stuff. To support this tour of them, we thought it was a wise decision to interview Domenic Romeo, mainman behind Pulling Teeth and A389 records.
I was already a follower of the Pulling Teeth sound, but with Funerary you’ve made the best record in your career. Nowadays I don’t listen that much hardcore because I think most new bands lack an own face. However Funerary is mixing a bunch of evil music with pissed off hardcore. Looking back now, how do you see Funerary? Are you proud of it? Are there things that could be better?
Thanks, I’m glad it made an impression. We didn’t release it until we were 100% happy with everything, and I think it’s a perfect representation of the band at that moment in time. I wouldn’t change a thing.
Do you think you can expand your sound even more into different (dark) territories?
Anything is possible. I guess it would really depend on what kind record we felt like making at the time… IF we even felt like making another record. Everyone is caught up in their own lives outside of the band, free time doesn’t come as easy as it once did, so who knows…
Funerary is dedicated to people who died during the recording process, does the name also refer to the fact it’s possibly your last album? Because as a band you did everything what you could do musically?
Only time will tell. If it was our last record, I’d be ok with it. I don’t ever want PT to be a band that breaks up, and then just gets back together. We treat PT as its own living entity that exists on it’s own terms. I prefer to be busy and then have periods of inactivity no matter how long they go for. New music will surface in one way or another, as everyone is constantly involved in musical projects. Pala, Hatewaves, Virgin Witch, Invitational, Ruiner4, Night Tigers, Alex Henderskin, and a bunch of stuff that is yet to be named.
My favorite song on the album is Funerary. It’s the perfect combination between My Dying Bride, creepy sounds and evil hardcore/metal. Can you tell me who wrote it and how the band created this epic beast?
The song is like ten minutes long, most of which is the same riff repeating itself.
It ended up becoming the centerpiece of the record symbolizing death and dividing the first and second batch of songs. I thought it would be cool to have different friends contribute lyrics and vocals about the end of it all, so I hit up some of my most interesting friends and invited them to contribute. Everyone recorded their vocals at home with the same snippet of the music and we glued it all together in the studio. The middle psychedelic interlude part sounds really creepy if you listen to it with headphones on, and Dwid’s part reminds me of the boiler room in the first Nightmare On Elm Street movie.
Besides the new album, Pulling Teeth released the split album with Irons this year. I think I can say that one is pretty overlooked. Can you tell me a bit how it came together?
The song Generals Of Dark Hymns was written/recorded during the same sessions as PDPI. Rennie Resmini (Starkweather) came down to Baltimore, did guest vocals on that song and it’s definitely one of my all time favorite PT songs. I love that riff in the middle. Usually songs that don’t make the albums are throwaways, but that’s not the case here. I actually think it’s kinda cool that you have to travel off the beaten path a bit to find it.
IF we even felt like making another record. Everyone is caught up in their own lives outside of the band, free time doesn’t come as easy as it once did, so who knows…
You also added some guitar lines to the Irons song Light Bringer’s End. Will Irons release more stuff and will you have some musical input as well?
My involvement with Irons was pretty minimal and didn’t go beyond playing on that one track.
You are the main behind A389 records; do you do this alone or with help from others?
Most of the work is done by myself early in the morning or at night when everyone is asleep… But I couldn’t do it without the help of Dwid Hellion, Linas Garsys, Kevin Bernsten, Baron Kirkpatrick, Hope Guzzo, Dundalk Bill and most of all the lovely Jenn Romeo, she’s the glue that holds it all together… We all share the bond that comes with devoting our lives to underground music. It’s not a 9-5 thing, everyone just helps out whenever they can for embarrassingly little pay.
Musicians and labels complain about fewer sales. In the niche of hardcore you are operating do you also see this stagnation?
Yes, without a doubt, sales aren’t what they used to be during the CD boom of the 1990s. But at the same time people that are into this subculture, subgenre whatever you want to call it, are very loyal to keeping it alive. A lot of the regular customers who order from A389 are people I know by name from years of correspondence and can have a conversation about bands with at any given time. A389 is like an umbrella for people that genuinely love the music and everything that comes with it.
Is one of the reasons to add special stuff (for example a Pulling Teeth flexi) to pre-order packages, to attract people to buy the physical copy instead of a download?
Its my way of rewarding people who support the label and all of our bands. A lot of people are compelled to pick the popular releases, and leave the new bands in the dust. I try to group things together so that people can discover a new band every time we put out a popular new release, and reward them for being open minded by offering a limited bonus release if you check everything out. It also helps deter people who would otherwise order the limited release just to flip it on Ebay. And I’m ok with record flipping on Ebay if people want to do that, at least this way new bands are getting heard in the process.
You are a father, I guess running a label and being a parent can be combined because you do both things at home. How do you combine being a parent, playing in a band and work? Do you ever sleep?
It just something you do and you get used to doing. Having an awesome wife, who helps me stay on top of things while keeping my workaholic tendencies in check, doesn’t hurt either. Sometimes I sleep in until 8am and feel like I wasted the entire day, I’m actually looking forward to sleeping a lot during the long drives on this upcoming Euro Tour.
I try to group things together so that people can discover a new band every time we put out a popular new release, and reward them for being open minded by offering a limited bonus release if you check everything out.
What are the pros and cons of running your own label?
Well, if you’re giving it your all you have no free time and no free money. But on the flipside keeping the spirit alive of something that’s meant the world to me for as long as I can remember is priceless.
Which criteria do you use putting out a record of a (new) band?
I listen to everything ever submitted and do my best to write everyone back. There are a lot of bands out there and everyone that makes an effort to be heard deserves a listen, a reply back at the very least. As far as what makes the cut, I usually know within ten seconds. Certain things just resonate with me, it’s just the overall vibe… oh and if there are swear words shouted within the first few seconds of the first song, I usually get embarrassed and turn it off. It happens more often than you’d think.
When you are not busy with music and label stuff what keeps you busy besides spending time with your child?
This is how I spend every day: wake up/do label stuff/go to day job/hang out with family/do mailorder/go to bed/repeat. Sometimes band practice gets squeezed in there if we have shows coming up..not much time for anything else. I need a vacation.
We were talking a bit more about holidays how relaxing it is. Domenic agrees…
I’ve been away a couple times with just the family and I love it. But when you have a family you’re always thinking about the next hustle, it’s what workoholics do haha. But my wife forces me to relax and not work sometimes, so it’s good.
Does it refresh your mind and give it energy to create new music and/or ideas for artwork & new releases?
I’ve never thought of it like that, but I guess it does. I get really excited when a record comes out looking and sounding awesome. I feel like I’m contributing quality to a world that’s overrun by quantity.
On the 20th of November I am the DJ at the Pulling Teeth show in the Netherlands, which songs should I definitely play and why?
A set consisting of nothing but KISS and ELO. This needs no explanation, start filling up your Ipod or whatever it is you DJs do nowadays. Also Mike (singer) hates Van Halen, so please play a lot of Van Halan.
What do you expect about the European tour and what can the crowd expect? Do you play mostly stuff of Funerary or can we expect also a few old Pulling Teeth hits?
Not really sure what to expect, we’re really excited to come back. We had a great time when we were there last in 2008. We’ll be playing a good selection of songs from all of our albums. No KISS or ELO covers though which is why we’re relying on you (the DJ) to fill in the void.
When you have a family you’re always thinking about the next hustle, it’s what workoholics do haha. But my wife forces me to relax and not work sometimes, so it’s good.
The end of the year is nearby. What are your 5 favorite albums of 2011 and why?
It’s so hard to pick five…
FULL OF HELL – Roots Of Earth Are Consuming My Home
Awesome fast crusty hardcore with noise/power electronics weaved in/out. Every time I see them play you can hear the vocalist over the band even with no mic. And these dudes have like 1000 amps set up. Crushing.
SERAPHIM – The Light In The Distance
Heavy and stonery riffs with great song writing, lots of catchy melodies and cool musical interludes. Part of the agreement for PT doing this upcoming tour was us insisting that we bring Seraphim along. Live they are incredibly dense sounding one minute and super timid the next.. they will blow everyone’s minds.
WITCH-LORD – Atomized In The Black Solarian
What Black Sabbath would have sounded like if they took real drugs. It takes a couple of listens to wrap your head around this release, but it’s so dark and heavy. I love it.
TWIN STEPS – Demo
This just blew my mind. Violent jangly hippy psychedelic pop is that it was described to me as by the dudes in Low Places. I think it’s the coolest thing I’ve heard all year.
INTEGRITY – Detonate Worlds Plague / RINGWORM – Scars
Integ can do no wrong in my eyes, they’re my favorite hardcore band of all time. This is six new songs they did with Rob Orrrr, and it’s the best stuff they’ve done in years. Classic Integrity, heavy nod to classic Japanese hardcore. Just perfect.
I love Ringworm too, another band I’ve held near and dear for as long as I can remember. Scars is a perfect mix of Birth Is Pain and Grand Venomous Design LPs. I love the title track. The guitar playing reminds me of King Diamond’s Andy LaRoque, and Furnacio sounds as venomous as ever.
Are there any new bands we must be looking out for?
All of the A389 bands (rather than listing them all, go to www.a389records.com and listen to the streaming media player) anything involving the Cult Of The Seven Crowns, Twin Steps, Cynarae, Astronomer are all cool bands to check out as wel… but most importantly and above all is: Hatewaves. Taste The Beast.
We played with you in Europe on your last tour. Maybe you remember. We recorded a new album last year and put two new mastered songs online, Human Demise, what do you think about it?
I remember playing with you guys! I remember a distinct Integrity/Ringworm influence. Great band!
Famous last words, some new stuff to tell that isn’t mentioned above?
See you in a few weeks Europe. Bring us any David Hasselhoff records, t-shirts and as many bottles of Chocomel you can fit in your bag. Shout out to SCOOTER. Also on the 21th of January there will be the A389 8th Anniversary Bash with Eyehategod, Integrity, Starkweather, Gehenna, Junior Bruce (Ex-Bloodlet), Pulling Teeth, Weekend Nachos and more. Check out the showflyer!
Thanks for the interview.Back to interviews overview