Nullification is a very cool death metal band from the Philippines and here is an interview I did with bass player/singer Rozel Nikko
Where were you born and where did you grow up?
RL: I was born in the city of Manila and grew up in the Metro. But we relocated to Laguna at the beginning of 2010 and practically grew to adulthood here.
Did you have many friends growing up?
RL: Not really. Most of my friends are my cousins and nephews that are close to my age. I was finicky about company when I was a little tyke so I only really hung around with folks that I found interesting and had their heads screwed on properly. Glad to say that most of them still stuck with me now.
Did you get into music at an early age or did that come later on?
RL: Absolutely. I had a great foundation in music growing up. My parents were into classic rock and early heavy metal like Metallica, Scorpions, Guns N’ Roses, Deep Purple, and Led Zeppelin, among other types of music. But my biggest influence when I was little was my oldest cousin who introduced me to the more extreme thrash metal and some entry-level death metal. When we moved to Laguna my obsession with extreme music only grew. That’s when I discovered the more underground bands and didn’t stop since. I guess, that’s the long and short version of it.
What event or events made you want to pick up the bass and did you ever consider the guitar or drums?
RL: Here’s the thing, I’m actually more of a guitarist than a bassist. I mainly play the guitars in my brainchild “Formless Oedon”. I only play bass in Nullification and in our other band Desolator; primarily out of necessity because both bands already have their very talented and fabulous guitarists who I’m glad to be mates with. As for other instruments, I’ve always wanted to learn drums and the piano, but never really had the chance.
Who are some of your favourite bass players and how good of a bass player do you think you are? How was it decided you were gonna sing for the band and who are some of your favorite singers?
RL: That’s a tough question, I admire more guitar players than bassists and can only name a few off the top of my head. But my favourite bassists would be Roger Patterson, Tony Choy, David Ellefson, and Cliff Burton. As to why I do the vocals for the band, it’s simply because I’m the only person in the band that can do this style. When Andrei our drummer first told me about this project that our guitarist and main songwriter Jayson has been trying to form, he told me that Jayson needed someone who can emulate the vocal style of Martin Van Drunen. I already use a similar style to this so I said it would not be a problem. And I also ended up being the lyricist for the album so it was easier to create a style and phrasing for the vocal parts.
Now all the band members have been in various bands, before the formation of the band this interview is about and that’s Nullification. How did the other members find you and how easy was it for all you guy’s from the early days of the band?
RL: It was easy because three members (me, Andrei, and Jonathan) are in the same 2 bands (Desolator and Formless Oedon). While Jayson is our mate and he was actually the original bassist/vocalist for Desolator back in their thrash metal days. So, we were already in contact with one another and have been going to shows together for a long time. When Jayson told Andrei that he wanted me and Jonathan to join his project (which later became Nullification) we didn’t hesitate and were quite enthused to create yet another band ha ha!
How hard or how easy was it to separate writing songs for the other bands you into the band Nullification?
RL: I’ll start with the problematic part—time constraints. All of us have a family now and I am about to be a father we all work full-time with very different working schedules; with most of them working night shifts. So, we have very limited time to record, which can get frustrating. But the beauty of it is that we can record remotely in the comforts of our homes. Writing is easy because all three bands we are in have their principal songwriters. For example, I write mostly for Formless Oedon, Desolator is more of Jonathan and Andrei’s ideas, and Nullification is mostly done by Jayson. But despite this, everyone contributes to the final structure for each song crafted. It may seem not very easy to some but this is how we enjoy doing it and it works for us. The key is that we set a period where we only work at writing for this or that band. That way the ideas are not convoluted and the influences of each band do not seep into the others.
Now from the 1st note I was transported back to the ancient days of death metal and your vocals remind me of Patrick from Pestilence a lot, which is great, cause to my ears he is one of the death metal singers of all time. Your thoughts on what I just said?
RL: I appreciate that. I met Mamelli when they played in Manila in 2019. While he is a great vocalist in his own right, Martin Van Drunen deserves most of the credit for that style of vocals which could be heard in Pestilence’s ‘Malleus Maleficarum’ and ‘Consuming Impulse’.albums. I wanted to create a similar style to that but with more range and versatility like in Ripping Corpse. I guess I did alright and didn’t quite butcher it ha ha!
How easy was it coming up with the songs and the lyrics for this debut release? How did you come up with the name of the band and the name of the album?
RL: Jayson wrote all of the guitar parts for the album and I guess he’s been very inspired when he wrote them. He recorded everything in only a matter of 2 weeks and that’s when I started writing the lyrics. I told them that I wanted to create something that feels and sounds sci-fi. I was fortunate that they all felt the same way so I started working on sci-fi themes. I like creating concepts so I decided to create a sort of lore for the ‘Nullifier’. Being the sci-fi nut that I am it wasn’t too hard to create a concept for the lyrics. As for the band name, I just thought the word ‘Nullification’ would sound cool and it hasn’t been taken yet.
How did you come up to work with Personal Records and is this like a project type of band, with the other bands you’re all in being more serious or is this band just as serious as the others?
RL: This band is just as serious as the others, but we’re not trying to be too competitive. We do not have that “we’re here takeover” attitude in us. We’re just a bunch of dudes who enjoy making music, playing em, and sharing them with everyone who enjoys this madness as well. We definitely aim to play live and hopefully abroad, too. Because that’s the hardest part of playing this music in our part of the world. The local support here is close to fuck all and it’s ironic that there are more people overseas that would recognize your music than at home. That’s why we decided in all our bands to skip local “record labels” and aim for international labels that actually know how to promote a band. We were lucky enough to catch the interest of Personal Records through Raul of Memento Mori. I approached him via Facebook about this band in July after we’d finished recording the album. He wanted to give it a chance but gave it a pass because his schedule’s already been fully booked until the end of 2022. So, he told me to approach Jacobo of Personal Records instead. So, I did, and after listening to the materials Jacobo made a contract and we signed with their label.
How is the scene where the band is based and what are some of your favourite death metal bands?
RL: I’d be lying if I said that the scene here is good because it really isn’t. There isn’t a unified scene with local areas tending to only host their local bands. That sounds good in theory but the thing is we are in a country with more than 7,000 islands and not a lot of local bands. So, some good bands never make it past their demo days for the lack of recognition and support, they don’t get to play gigs as local promoters tend to book the same old bands that they’re mates with. Not enough love is given to relatively new bands, especially to the younger folk. That being said, having produced only a small number of bands in the past 30 years, it’s easier to sift through the ones that are actually great at what they do. My personal favourites are Pathogen, Legion, Vassago, Power Abuse, Inferium, and Seizure. And if you haven’t heard of them, you definitely should!
Would you like to be able to play some live shows if possible?
RL: Hell yes! We’d love to play this music everywhere!
In your eyes and ears what makes a good or great death metal song and why are there so many generic death metal bands out there your guys are a breath of fresh air and just reading Ripping Corpse in the band’s bio brought a huge smile to my face as I am also from NJ and I was around back when they were as well?
RL: There are tons of decent death metal out there and every style or sound has been made. What you could do about it to sound great is to create a unique brand of your own. Easier said and done but it really depends on who’s listening. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder or so they say! And that is amazing, Ripping Corpse will always be one of the greatest bands to ever surface. Very unfortunate that they called it quits too soon!
How quick was it for you guys going in the studio to record this album and who came up with the cover work for the album?
RL: We never recorded in a studio, we set up our own with very simple machines. The reason is you save quite a lot of money by having a space of your own and you get to manage your time indefinitely. We have a property that’s very remote and tranquil that works best for us as a studio. And we set up our equipment there and do everything in a day. Mixing and mastering take longer than recording. As for the artwork, it was my idea and we all pitched in on what else should be included and what the character of the Nullifier should look like. I think the artist Ov Exvn Infernuz really nailed it. The Nullifier looks imposing in that artwork.
Please plug any social media sites you have at the moment.
RL: We have a Bandcamp and a Facebook page that people can follow. But that’s about it. We don’t really have an Instagram or Twitter page set up. We’re too lazy for that ha ha!
Horns up for doing this chat and any last words to wrap this up, the floor is yours my man?
RL: Thank you. We really appreciate you taking an interest in our band. Hopefully, I’ve managed to provide insight into the band and whatnot. Thanks to everyone who’s supported us and taken an interest in what we do. More Nullification will come in the future and hopefully, we get to play wherever you are in the world and have a chat over a few beers!