Exhumation is a brutal death metal band from Indonesia and here is an interview with guitar player “Ghoul” of the band
Where were you born and where did you grow up?
GH: I was born and grew up in the same wonderful ancient city Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
What sort of kid were you growing up?
GH: I have lived in a small suburban coastal area for almost 20 years, a proper middle-class family home. I had neither particular musical background nor literature. My family were a farmer. My small life is plain but surprisingly I play it right.
What sort of teenager were you growing up and did music play a big part in your life during these years?
GH: Ambitious and radical, that’s the word teen meant to me. I don’t see music define my life but literature instead. That’s why I ended up studying English Literature and art 10 years ago because I didn’t want my anger to take away my youth in this horrific existence. These majors sort of gave me a new magnitude about how I want to live life to the fullest.
Now when did you discover metal music in general and then when did you discover underground metal? What were some of the 1st bands that you heard and did you get into them right away or did it take a few listens to get into the extreme side of metal?
GH: The presence of metal music, in general, came into my life when I think I was at elementary school. Some bands like Metallica and the others Metal MTV has shaped my way of life over here. But my suburban life might be once again made me away from this sort of music. I had no critical media to expand my knowledge and dig its art back then so I moved to the city to seek a fortune since I have always been fascinated with dark music. I joined a local metal community despite I knew this would end up nothing on my end but I need some valid information to shape my underground framework.
Now I don’t which member of the 2 is doing the interview so this next question is broken down 2 ways. If this is the guitar player then why did you pick up the guitar and did you ever take any lessons? Who are some of your favourite guitar players?
GH: Many moons ago, there was a picture of Joe Satriani and Paul Stanley hanging on the wall of the music studio where I usually learnt to play my broken fingers. And the studio owner has always been telling me wonderful stories about those two. It was like mad love at first glance, they seem to stand out above all until now. I never took a guitar lesson because I think not necessary for my own peace of mind because I know I will never be someone who could attain such a level of expertise. Being a pervert in literature is more than enough for me. And I think I like to keep my sort of guitar skill remains raw and sloppy with heightened motivation to play extreme music. That is honesty to me.
Now I know the band is based out of Indonesia. I personally don’t know much about the country. I know the band started over 10 years ago. Has there always been a decent or strong metal scene (by meaning that I mean places to play, stores to pick up underground metal, etc) or is it more having to get your metal fill by way of the internet and not having many places to play or see live shows?
GH: Before the internet era, there were many reliable extreme metal shops across this country. And I can safely say Indonesia now is a sort of global hub for the extreme metal scene since the Hammersonic Festival held in the mid-2000s, particularly the brutal one. I think it is not just a metal festival but more like a showcase in terms of metal showbiz where some bands can build such a solid establishment in one of the world most populated country. But there was something beneath your feet over here, some growing underground scene fairly from East Java, Yogyakarta, West Java to the capital Jakarta. But the thing is popularity is somehow taken its toll in this island, as far as I concerned. That’s why you really can’t find many promising savage bands that much.
Now how did the 4 of you find each other (Grave, K, Ghoul, Bones)?
GH: I and Grave also Kusnan were in the same high school. I sang in Exhumation before Bones joined Exhumation in 2010, fortunately, because I think the band would go nowhere without his golden voice.
How come the drummer you have used since 2011 (A.K) and J (2013) are only used as live musicians and not full-time members?
GH: We had a permanent drummer before the A.K era but too much drama. On the other side, numerology playing a significant role in Exhumation particularly after our debut was released. And now we stand as a duo, even better. In regards to J status, he is the mastermind of Headkrusher, we don’t want to ruin his focus with his main band because there is a substantial demand if somebody joins Exhumation.
Now, what year did the band exactly form and what were the early practices like? Did you fool around with any cover tunes or was it let’s write some original tunes right away and see where it leads us to?
GH: Middle of 2008, I think I was in the end of my second semester of senior year of high school back then. There was a kind words from my former guitarist Kusnan, “I just wanted to play music to make people scare of Exhumation”. And the history was made; we are collectively composed our own unreleased song. To Hell and Back from legendary Venom was the first proper cover song we ever did, and this has been shaped our musical horizon.
Early on what would you saw some of your favourite bands were?
GH: I think Metallica, I fancy the band because my good comrade told me Metallica emerged from two names, metal and vodka. I bet he knew if their music says nothing about my obsession, at least I have the vodka side.
Now how long was the band together before you released that 4 bands split CD, which had 2 of your tunes on it? Where these the first 2 songs that you wrote together?
GH: You misunderstood it, actually 3 way split with Nocturnal Kudeta and Goddess of Fate. And I think this was the very first proper and appealing 3-way split ever released in Indonesia, it went great. Yes, those were definitely the first songs we composed together.
Were you guys nervous at all about entering the studio? Looking back how do you think you did and what is your opinions on this split these days?
GH: Being in the studio is the greatest pleasure and rewarding experience in this mortal life. It is like an investment for a sustainable future right? There will always be a well-shaped argument and its insight, it means no issue entering the studio at all. But apparently, I think we have had a stage fright, which usually aroused in an individual by the requirement to perform in front of people. And I still have no idea whether it is performance anxiety or we are just itchy meeting some metalhead in general.
In 2014, another full length came out on Morbid Bastard Records called “Opus Death”. How did you end up coming up with that name for the release and also how did you come to work with Morbid Bastard Records? What are your thoughts on this release and is it still available these days? How easy or hard was it to get all these songs together? Is cassette the only format it came out on?
GH: We need an album title that could elevate us to a certain state of mind, something that is profound and has a substance under the banner of Devil’s Rock and Roll. Actually, there were two local labels that heighten our game in the sophomore, Morbid Bastard Records and Evil Prevails Productions. Both labels released Opus Death in cassette format. I think it was more like the nature of the comradeship between the band and those labels. We always wanted to elevate each other in our small circle. And I believe Dunkelheit Produktionen (Germany) and Pulverised Records (Singapore) still have Opus Death on both Vinyl and CD, well the album is available worldwide. The musical composition part was and is forever really a non-essential thing in our case. I think it was a simple task to write just sinister music. We have the urge to resurrect the real deal of Death metal spirit in an excellent way. And that day, we were thinking Death metal without substance was like holding a sword that begins to dull.
Now in 2018, band member “Grave” left the band. Did you ever consider replacing him cause you guys are a 2 piece only band now? Are you just content with having a bass player and drummer for live performances only?
GH: We don’t want to recruit another permanent devotee anymore. Since the band has been a duo, our days have always been going to culminate at a certain point where we always have a good amount of depth without being overly difficult and we have more intimacy than a mere extreme band. The other advantage of being two pieces also a quintessence of the magic number eleven when you see it from below. In fact, we have just asked our best friend from Detroit USA weeks ago, Sebek to join Exhumation as an additional and live session bass player.
Now it took 6 years (2014 till 2020) for a new release from the band? Any particular reason for the delay in releases? Was there any thought to the band calling it quits or you guys just needed a break from each other?
GH: The departure of Grave has indeed been a great downfall because our journey together such a high value that it would be worth, beyond rubies and pearls – but I know people come and go to the inevitable destiny and sometimes it affects our creative impulse.
I know that “Ghoul” is in another band called “Fornicate”. Tell me a bit about that band.
GH: Correct. I played in another dimension back in 2010-ish. It was pure USDM that quite simply music to bang your head to the grave. We never got a proper opportunity to release something physically and that’s terrible.
We fast forward to 2020 and we come upon your latest release, “Eleventh Formulae”, which I love, which came out on Pulverised Records. How did you end up hooking up with them, as they are one of the bigger underground metal labels around? Do you feel you did a pretty good or fantastic job with this release?
GH: Pulverised Records have been the centre of our pursuit before the Opus Death came out 6 years back. That was why we decided to flew over to Singapore years ago to play the madness in front of them just to ask a release consideration. And it is unquestionable, Pulverised Records have helped fuel the Asian extreme metal scene and its growing reputation to date. We are very fortunate to have them ride in our back. I personally have strong opinions on the matter you said, whether I feel good or not about the latest album. Never actually, my emotion towards Eleventh Formulae continuously changing and evolving along with time. As days grow darker, I still want this album more “Only Death is Fukk” sort of feeling.
How long were you in the studio recording this new release? Did the recordings go smoothly? Was all the music, songs, and lyrics pretty much ready to go when you were ready to go in?
GH: About a year. There were times when I was sick of the inappropriate emotion because of the recording process that took forever. The thing is I have been living 10 hours away from the studio for the past 5 years. I must go back and forth once or twice a month to complete my duty in the studio – time-consuming. Not everyone in the band appreciates this of course. Well, the whole songs were already there ahead of its time actually. But we can’t do anything, releasing Eleventh Formulae in the year of Ten was a bad omen. It won’t direct the band to the otherworldly pinnacles of personal achievement.
Now since there is only 2 of you, who played drums and guitar on this release?
GH: I shred the strings and Bones sings the gospel.
If someone has not heard the band what would you say you sound like? Why should someone pick or buy this new release?
GH: If you are worship metal sounding Death. Listen to Exhumation.