by Russell Holbrook
Buzzing guitars slash across your soul. Pounding drums pummel your brain. Wildly fluctuating vocals tunnel through your flesh and into your heart. You feel your spirit move. You aren’t sure what to do. You might destroy something. Take heart- You are not having a break down; you are listening to an I-DEF-I record.
Hailing from Manchester, England and formed at Salford University in November 2001 by Tom Clements and Kev Gaffney, I-DEF-I brought their horror infused noise to the underground’s attention in the middle of the first decade of the new millennium with the release of an EP, one full-length, and one mini-LP, before calling it a day near the end of the decade. However, the band’s music and legend have gone on, continuing to receive airplay and gain fans around the world. This has led the band to re-release their mini-LP, Bloodlust Casualty, and their full-length, In The Light of a New Day. To my recent delight I was able to shoot out a few questions to Tom, Paul, and Kev in regards to what the band is up to these days. Here’s what they had to say.
How important do you consider music to be to the horror culture and community? What role does it play?
It’s very important. I think you could culturally draw comparisons between the metal community and the horror fan community – often seen as outsiders, against the norm or whatever, at least in past decades when society was less diverse as a whole. Both heavy music and horror culture often touch on and cover ‘taboo’ subjects, the darker side of life and society and the darker side of fantasy situations. They go hand in hand a lot of the time with music providing the soundtrack to films, music being used to enhance tension and emotions in film and so on and forth.
What do you love about dark music? What attracts you to it?
As with the previous question, dark music often touches on subjects that aren’t as mainstream as some others, or subjects that are taboo, against the grain, graphic, violent, sexual, more for an ‘adult’ audience and such like. It attracts ourselves as we are all fascinated with the darker side of life and big fans of genres such as horror, thriller and zombie films. Dark music fits well with any kid of dystopian or apocalyptic imagery and a love for each one can help enhance the other. It also often contains the best riffs, drum beats and bass lines coupled with addictive breakdowns.
How do you respond to the prevalent belief that listening to this type of music is unhealthy?
Is it still prevalent? I know in the past that metal was oft maligned by mainstream society but I think over the last decade a lot has changed. Here in Manchester it is now officially a hate crime to verbally or physically abuse someone for being of ‘metal/emo/goth’ culture and society as a whole seems to be more tolerant after tragic incidents like the murder of Sophie Lancaster. I guess people just assume, on a surface level at least, that the dark lyrics and image can translate to a real world association with these things, but music 90% of the time, with the odd exception like say, Burzum or something, is mostly just entertainment and some sort of marketing package designed to shock and even exploit these stereotypes and reputations – Lordi, Cradle Of Filth whoever. I think people are more aware of that nowadays and a bit of face paint, some piercings and tatts etc get less of a ‘second glance’ than in years gone by.
What inspires you to create?
General life. Relationships. The news. Things we’ve experienced in the past, both recently and in years gone by. The music industry. ‘Normal jobs’. We like to absorb as much as we can and elements of all of it are squeezed in to our sound.
What is your favorite type of horror media?
Film, definitely. We all grew up on the first few Halloween films with stuff like H20 coming out in our late teens and early twenties, early Jason Vorhees, early Freddie, Critters, Arnie movies like Raw Deal and Predator, early Die Hard and Lethal Weapon (granted those are action not horror but still….), Blair Witch, Candyman, Jacobs Ladder, IKWYDLS, Event Horizon…..The Exorcist and Amityville being passed down to us by friends a few years older…all the great original stuff. Our Manager Noz likes a lot of old vampire stuff and western stuff too. In more recent times we’ve loved the Resident Evil franchise and tv shows like The Walking Dead.
What are your goals as a band? As individuals?
As a band is a tough one to say as we actually split in 2008. Since then we’ve re-released a few things digitally and still get fresh radio play and coverage – a few ‘Track of the Week’ awards in 2013 from places like Amazing Radio and in late 2017/early 2018 we’ve had a few news pieces, reviews and interviews published. We lived in each others back pockets for most of our career, management included so we tend to re-emerge on to social media and digital retailers every few years, have some drama or other kicked off by some comment or other after a few weeks of peace, then go back underground again.
People ask about reunion shows, not in the hordes, we’re realistic, literally a few here and there, we got offered a couple of gigs in Switzerland circa Xmas 2017, but to be honest we exist primarily as a cult, underground, nostalgia, I guess ‘archive’ act for a handful of loyal die hard fans nowadays. Jobs, kids, life changed etc.
We covered a lot of goals in our time – a slot at Download Festival in 2006, tours and gigs with Stone Sour, Fear Factory, Mindless Self Indulgence, Breed 77, Viking Skull, One Minute Silence, Dry Kill Logic and many more. Recorded a BBC Maida Vale live Rock Show session in 2005. Had interest from a few major labels and A&R’s. Had the fastest selling and something like 3rd or 6th biggest selling releases on Copro/Casket with ‘Bloodlust Casualty’ – first thousand copies flew out, although Forever Never, Panic Cell, Vacant Stare and a couple more did more units over time on the label.
I guess the one thing we didn’t follow through on fully which we would’ve liked to would be more touring in Europe and touring in the USA or Australia.
We played in France in 2008 and had some good press and radio there, but split before we “fully” pushed it out there. Always had good press in Italy, Germany, Holland and more too. Had some interest from festivals like ‘Rock En Seine’ but by the time we called it quits in November 2008 only really a major label deal would’ve saved it, if that even. We were tired and it was time to move on in life. Had a blast 2001 – 2008 though and it’s wicked to still hear tracks on new podcasts in Spring 2018 – shouts to Horror Addicts, Heavy Metal Horrorcast and more!!!
Do you consider I-DEF-I a horror metal band? If not, how would you classify yourselves, if at all?
I’d say more ‘horror influenced’ – tracks like ‘Red Light On The Murder’ which was is hugely influenced by Saw and movies of that ilk. Not sure if we’re a ‘horror band’, overall though, I’d put that tag more on bands like Wednesday 13, Gwar, Green Jelly, Marilyn Manson or that kind of thing. Our image and fashion is more urban/street even though we use a lot of gothic fonts and very styled artwork and logos etc, we’re not really a face paint and blood kind of band. Necro, Insane Clown Posse, Twizted, Gravediggaz and hip hop stuff gets called ‘horrorcore’ too but again, lyrically we generally move in a different way to those kinds of bands, much as we probably share some fans. Our lyrics tend to be more personal / reflective than gore orientated. We have a song called ‘The Horror’ but that’s more about the industry and stuff, a similar vibe to that Chimaira concept – ‘The Dehumanizing Process’. I’d say we’re just contemporary / modern alternative metal that could crossover to audiences of stuff like Horror, wrestling, true crime, 1%-ers, whatever.
Was Mrs. Voorhees a model single mother?
Not really but was she any worse than Mrs Myers? Tough question. She definitely shouldn’t be supervising kids swimming classes any time and doesn’t like she knew the value of a well balanced, nourishing diet. Or being strict about homework before play time.
Would you rather have coffee with Slayer or tea with King Diamond?
DEAD SKIN MASK. Gotta be Slayer. One of the ‘big 4’ and we love a bit of South Of Heaven and ‘Reign In Blood’.
Where do you see the band headed in the future?
For the moment just YouTube lol There are a few historical clips of us on Tom’s personal channel – acoustic at National Record Store day in 2008 and a few more, currently no plans for shows but that may or may not change, but right now we have some very recent newborns to deal with. It’s humbling and great to still get interview requests and we had a few news pieces from different webzines in all of UK, USA, Canada, Italy, Australia and France in 2017 which was wicked. Some old stuff is out there if you search though – fan recorded tracks from gigs, Angel Of Metal interviews and other bits.
Tom, Paul, and Kev- Thank You so much for talking with me and answering a few questions for the fans and readers!
Many thanks for your time and questions Russell and huge thanks to HORROR ADDICTS!!