Oct 122015

Godless Angel Logo on brick


(Here’s an interview I conducted by e-mail with Derek Neibarger, a strong supporter of our site, the creator of the Godless Angel death metal project, and an all-around good dude. And at the end of the interview, you’ll find a discount code for the latest Godless Angel album, Harvester of Shadows.)

Hi Derek, thanks for letting me bother you with some questions.

Being interviewed about something you love is never a bother, it’s a privilege and I’m grateful for the opportunity!


I know you’ve been both a fan of heavy music and a musician yourself for over 20 years. But did you have other interests in music before getting into metal?

As a kid I was really into drawing and comic books. I was absolutely convinced that I was going to be working for Marvel or DC when I grew up. Every penny of my allowance was spent on comics and I would spend hours in my room reading and drawing my own characters. I still love to read comics, mostly DC titles like Nightwing and Swamp Thing, and I’ve even come up with some ideas for a Godless Angel EP based around some of my favorite villains.


When and how did you get into metal?

My first exposure to metal came in the form of bands like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden in the early ’80s. MTV was taking off and they would play concerts late at night on the weekends. That was my introduction to a lot of great bands. I remember seeing a Motörhead concert and watching the entire show with my jaw on the floor. I had never heard anything like them, they were so raw and aggressive.

My first taste of the truly heavy stuff happened in 1985. A friend of mine had just bought the new Slayer album, Hell Awaits, and wanted me to hear it. Half-way through the first track I knew I had just found my new favorite band! I left his house, drove straight downtown to my favorite record store, and bought it on vinyl. I didn’t have a killer stereo like a lot of my friends, just a crappy little record player in an ugly, blue plastic case, but it was good enough. I listened to that album over and over, every single day.


One evening I was drawing pictures while “Kill Again” blasted through the cheap little speaker. My Mom came into my room with a dust cloth to clean. She was wiping the top of the dresser where I kept my record player and albums. She picked up the Hell Awaits sleeve, looked it over and gave me that look that said, “What are you into, now?”. Then she ran the cloth over the demonic artwork, set it back down, and went about her chores.


Godless Angel flames and horns


I’m going to throw you some questions that have become standard in your own interviews of other people:  What was the first metal album you bought and what was the first metal show or concert you attended?

My first metal album was Iron Maiden’s Piece of Mind. I purchased it for one dollar at the Flea Market. My first metal concert was the “Clash of Titans” tour featuring Slayer, Anthrax, and Megadeth. That was amazing! I nearly lost my mind when Slayer came on stage, and they were just incredible!


What was the first band you played in, and what kind of music was it?

My first band was called Burning Corpse. A friend of mine had just started playing guitar and he asked me to play bass in his new band. I had no idea how to play but that didn’t stop me from agreeing to do it.





I sold all my childhood toys at a yard sale, everything from Star Wars to G.I. Joe, and made a hundred dollars. My Mom drove me down to the music store and loaned me an extra twenty-five dollars to buy a used Ibanez Rickenbacker bass. She also drove me to band practice every weekend and later on, after she realized I wasn’t just going through a phase and she was going to have to listen to me play every single day, she would drive me to the music store for lessons from a jazz bassist. She would sit in the car and read her romance novels while I frustrated the hell out of an inebriated middle-aged gentleman who just trying to make some extra money in between gigs.

I was really good at learning things by ear and mimicking the hand positions and finger picking that he showed me, but I was an utter failure when it came to reading music. I just couldn’t do it and he eventually gave up trying to get me to learn it.


Derek performing 1992 2


Getting back to your question, Burning Corpse was supposed to be a metal band along the lines of Judas Priest and Kiss. I got stuck on double duty as bass player and vocalist because the other kids couldn’t sing and play at the same time. We wrote three songs and recorded them by putting a cassette player on the floor with some blankets over it to keep the sound from distorting.

I played it for some of my school friends and one of them asked me if we were a punk band. I couldn’t figure out why he would think that until years later when I realized that the reason was because I couldn’t sing in key to save my life and we were all ridiculously sloppy on our instruments. We thought we were a metal band but to everyone else we sounded punk, which is both really sad and pretty funny!

Burning Corpse was forced to call it quits after the guitar player’s parents found out that he had been using their credit card to buy gear. It wasn’t exactly “Behind the Music” worthy, but everybody has to start somewhere.


I gather that you’ve played in lots of different bands over the years.  Could you give us an idea of which parts of the musical spectrum those bands were involved in?

Most of the bands I’ve been in have been some form of metal, whether it was ’80s hair metal or ’90s alternative/grunge metal. I’ve also played some punk, jazz/blues, and indie rock. I’ve played the role of bassist, vocalist/bassist, and just vocalist. I have a mid to high vocal range, which seemed to be very appealing to bands in my area. Every vocalist audition I ever went too resulted in an offer to join the band. I never thought I was a great singer but other people seemed to like what they heard. I’ve always contributed heavily to the songwriting in all of my bands, even when I was just the vocalist. 

In my teens I desperately wanted to be in a band like Slayer or Exodus but Lawrence just wasn’t a metal town. Punk was fun but it lacked that satisfying crunch and the tendency for over-the-top guitar heroics. In the end I had to go with the closest thing I could find, which was hard rock and hair metal. That eventually gave way to grunge and nu-metal. By time I became aware of the extreme metal scenes in the surrounding cities I had already developed a style and skillset around the aforementioned genres. 


You live in Lawrence, Kansas now.  Have you lived in Kansas your whole life?

Yes, I’ve lived here all my life. My parents were living in Desoto, about ten minutes east of Lawrence, when I was born. Then they moved to Overbrook, a little spot in the road about thirty minutes west of Lawrence, before I turned one. When I was five we moved to Lawrence and I’ve been here ever since. It’s a very liberal little college town in an extremely red state. The Westboro church is in Topeka, about twenty minutes west of here. They’ve always hated Lawrence and used to picket here often in the late ’80s and early ’90s.

Lawrence has always had a really good music scene, mostly made up of punk, indie rock, jazz, and bluegrass. Topeka is the home of the excellent Origin, and Kansas City has seen the birth of a really top-notch death metal scene over the last decade. I only recently discovered that there are some really good black metal bands in Kansas City, as well.


Derek performing 1992


Were you involved in any touring during your time with other bands?  If so, what was the most memorable one?

When I was twenty I became the vocalist for a very cool punk/funk/metal band called 2 Car Family. We sounded kind of like a schizophrenic Faith No More. The summer after I joined we squeezed all five members and three girlfriends into a shitty blue van towing all our gear in a little trailer we borrowed from an Elvis impersonator (true story!) and left Lawrence for a tour of the East Coast.

For a handful of gigs we teamed up with a couple of young, unsigned bands from California called Neurosis and Green Day. They were all really cool and fun to hang out with. We felt like a big gang traveling from show to show. Green Day was using a renovated half-sized school bus and I rode along with them on a couple occasions. 


Kerry King V


I have so many great memories from that tour. We had a peanut butter sandwich picnic with Green Day by the Washington Monument. One promoter let all three bands crash at his home. We made spaghetti for dinner and ate on his wrap-around porch while we watched fireflies in the front yard. I vividly remember seeing the six-foot-plus bass player from Neurosis decked out in all black, tattoos and chains and long black hair, washing dishes with a small pink kitchen apron tied around his waist.

At one show our keyboard player discovered he left his stand at the last show. The drummer from Neurosis turned his drum cage into a makeshift keyboard stand. We had a lot of problems with our van and even ended stranded on a highway at one point (how is that for a tour cliché?). The first night we met Green Day we told them about our van troubles and they immediately went to work looking at the engine and crawling under the van in an effort to fix the problem. 

One of my favorite memories of that tour is the time all three bands played a pizza parlor. It was small restaurant with a tiny stage in one corner of the dining room. There were customers with their children eating dinner while Neurosis blasted out their signature evil doom metal a few feet away. It was one of those super surreal experiences that sticks with you for the rest of your life. And I have a confession to make about that show. I told the bartender I was in Green Day so I could get their complimentary pitcher of beer. Sorry guys, that was a shitty thing do! 

I could go on and on about all the crazy, awesome, and eye-opening things that happened during that tour; talking to a homeless woman on a park bench in the nation’s capital, seeing the ocean for the first time in Maryland, performing live on the radio in New Jersey, watching blue sharks and stingrays swim underneath a pier in Florida, being offered drugs on a crowded street corner in Times Square. It was my first time leaving the safety of Kansas without my family and I returned home a totally different person.

Years later I would travel to the East Coast again with a different band to participate in the CMJ Conference in New York City. It couldn’t compete with the magic of my first trip there but it was still wonderful, mostly because I was there for a few days as opposed to one. I spent a lot of time walking around Manhattan and just being in awe of everything. I bought fruit from a street vendor, had my first-ever limo ride, and almost got beat up by a saxophone player on a subway platform just because I took his picture.

My most vivid memory of my second trip to the Big Apple is from the last day before we headed home. I had caught a cold and was feeling lousy, but our bass player Steve, who I hung out with a lot on the road, convinced me to get out of bed so we could try to catch a ferry to the Statue of Liberty. We didn’t make it and ended up walking back to the hotel. As we passed between the twin towers we paused to just look up at them and take it in. I remember everything about those few minutes; the cool breeze, the sun beginning to set, the sound of nearby traffic, the comfortable silence between two friends as if we knew what the experience would mean somewhere down the road. A few years later Steve was killed in an auto accident. Every September 11th I think about that special moment we shared.


dying dead undead unholy


What got you motivated to start making music through your solo project Godless Angel back in 2012, and how long were you out of recording music or playing in a band before you started Godless Angel?

My last real band called it quits in 2001. I had been experimenting with home recording via computer for two or three years prior to that. I had found some free drum and recording software and I started using them to make demos of new song ideas. When my band broke up I knew I was done with live performances. At that point I had been “paying my dues” for seventeen years and I was burnt out. I wasn’t enjoying being on stage, anymore, and I was sick to death of dealing with difficult band members and the drama they thrive upon.

Touring was also cutting into my father-son time. I spent way too much time on the road feeling guilty about not being there for Forrest, who was born in 1993. He’s an amazing young man. He started playing guitar in his teens and one of the first songs he taught himself was an acoustic number I wrote called “That Song”.

Back to your question; I was done with live performances but I definitely wasn’t done being a musician and songwriter. I upgraded my recording setup and started cranking out songs. I started by recording new and improved versions of some of my favorite songs from my band years and then moved on to all new material. I was like a kid in a candy store, trying out things I always wanted to do in the studio but couldn’t because of limited time and money. A lot of the new tracks were stacked with layers of guitar and harmony vocals.

I started posting my songs on YouTube and they got a pretty decent amount of attention, but not always the good kind. My lyrics tended to be very political and when I tackled religion the response was huge. I had Christians and atheists battling it out in the comment section and it got pretty heated. The sad thing was that nobody was talking about the music; they were all focused on the lyrics. I spent countless hours recording really great music but the topic of the song stole the show. That would have a huge impact on my approach to lyrics later on. For Godless Angel I wanted the lyrics to be fun and timeless, and more importantly I wanted the spotlight to be on the music.

During that time I made several attempts at writing heavier songs similar to the kind of music I had been listening to since my teens, like Slayer and Cannibal Corpse. The results weren’t good. I had spent too many years doing other styles of music. I could hear the thrash and death metal riffs in my head but I couldn’t get my hands to translate them. I would try to do it, get frustrated, and give up. I was starting to have a difficult time getting motivated to write and it really bothered me that my songs were nothing like the music I was listening to everyday.


year one


In 2012 I decided that I something had to change. I had a “song graveyard” on my hard drive filled with dozens and dozens of ideas that I just couldn’t get motivated to finish. I was worried that if I couldn’t get through this mental block I might end up not writing at all. My plan was to just start writing and finishing death and thrash songs, regardless of whether or not they sounded like the music I was hearing in my head. I figured if I just kept pushing myself to complete the songs instead of giving into my frustration, eventually I would bridge the gap between my head and my hands. The style of hard rock and alternative metal that I had spent so many years perfecting had to go. This new project was going to be all about completely reinventing myself as a musician and songwriter and with the help of my wife, Chrissy, we decided to call it Godless Angel.

My first album, Year One, is the chronicle of that journey. You can literally hear my style and technique changing and evolving from one song to the next. I think that’s pretty cool!


Harvester of Shadows


You signed with the Finnish label Inverse Records for the release of the latest Godless Angel album Harvester of Shadows earlier this year.  How did that collaboration with Inverse come about?

Inverse contacted me in early 2014, not too long after I posted Year One on Bandcamp. They sent me an email asking what my plans were for the next album. I was working on the Dying Dead Undead Unholy EP and I wasn’t really sure if I wanted to get involved with a label, but regardless of that I still did a wicked happy dance after I read that email. As a metalhead from Kansas I’ve always seen Finland and that general region as a kind of mythical home of extreme metal. Just the idea of Godless Angel being sought after by a real record label from that faraway land was pretty damn exciting!


As someone who now has experience both as a totally DIY operation and as a band with some label support, what would you say the pros and cons are of each approach?

Working with Inverse Records was an amazing experience. Just knowing that as a solo artist I was able to accomplish something that none of my bands ever even came close to is an unbelievable confidence booster. I got chills seeing a label name instead of “independent” in my Metal Archives listing.

In the years leading up to it I wasn’t looking to get signed. After my last band ended I didn’t want to waste another minute chasing after that prize. I just wanted to record all the hundreds of songs floating around in my head. After Inverse came calling it took several months and lot of long conversations with my wife to convince me to give it a try. But once the decision was made I realized how much it meant to me. I had finally been “discovered”! It just took three decades for it to happen. Feel free to laugh at that, I certainly have!

Anyway, back to your question! Having label support resulted in a lot of exciting opportunities and experiences. Starting a few weeks before the album was released I began to get interview requests from blogs around the world. I’ve done my fair share of radio and magazine interviews here in the USA during my band days, but this was way more fun. Not only was I talking to people in places like France and Sweden but the focus was all on me as opposed to me and four or five bandmates. Reviews also started coming in and they were mostly positive. Inverse was also able to get my music on radio shows both here and abroad, which was amazing! Listening to a broadcast in a foreign language and suddenly the words “Godless Angel” followed by one of my songs was so exciting and surreal. The label also put Harvester of Shadows on sites like Amazon, Spotify, and Itunes. All of this was such a drastic change from what I had done on my own it made my head spin.

As exciting as all of that was I’ve decided to go back to doing it on my own for the new album. From the outside that may seem like the definition of insanity but from my perspective it makes perfect sense. It wasn’t until the release of Harvester of Shadows that I realized everything Inverse did for me was something I could have done for myself all along. It’s all about taking advantage of the endless resources that the internet has to offer. Getting interviews, reviews and radio play can be as simple as messaging someone through Facebook.

A couple decades ago there was no way an artist could interact with the industry without the help of a label, but that’s not the case anymore. The internet has leveled the playing field. I’m insanely proud of the album I made and eternally grateful to Inverse for everything they did for me. But as a solo artist who doesn’t tour there’s only so much a label can do for me and I realize now that I can do all of that and more on my own.

There was one downside to being a signed artist, and it’s entirely possible that this is just a side effect of my growing popularity. The day before Harvester of Shadows was released the entire album suddenly appeared on dozens of torrent sites. Some of these sites post the number of times something has been illegally downloaded. By my estimate Harvester was downloaded over three thousand times, and counting.

My feelings on this are mixed. My wife is disabled and we barely make it from paycheck to paycheck, so I really could’ve used the money from those lost sales. At the same time I know that one of the main reasons so many people downloaded my album is because it was free, and it makes me happy knowing that so many metalheads are listening to Godless Angel. It probably won’t be the last time my music ends up on torrent sites, so I have to try to see the positive side of it. When and where it’s possible, I’ve added comments to the Godless Angel torrents asking people to follow Godless Angel on Facebook and visit my Bandcamp page. If you can’t beat ’em, use them for free PR.


Have you been happy with the reaction to the Harvester album by fans and reviewers?

Yes, most definitely! The response has been great! There have only been a couple of negative reviews and even then they still had positive things to say. Some of the reviews made comparisons to Slayer, which to me is the greatest compliment I could receive. I actually got a little choked up the first time I read that, just the idea that this thing that I did all on my own and put my heart and soul into would end up being compared to my idols. One reviewer stated that the guitar work on “To Shred the Soul” “has shredding that would make Kerry King give a nod of respect”. I nearly fell out of my chair when I read that!

The interactions I’ve had with fans have been amazing, as well. I actually get requests from fans outside of the USA asking for autographed photos. How crazy is that? I’ve had to use Google Translate to read and reply to email from fans. It’s so surreal to be standing in line at the post office with a stack of envelopes containing signed photos of myself to mail to fans in other countries. That’s the kind of stuff that leaves you smiling ear to ear. I almost feel bad for really famous musicians who receive so much correspondence from fans that they have to hire someone to do it for them. One-on-one interaction with fans is so much fun!


mailing autographed photos


On my Bandcamp page I’m selling Godless Angel guitar picks for a dollar. If you add another dollar to your order I’ll post a custom video of me signing your photos and shredding with your guitar pick before bagging it and putting it in the envelope. I’ve had several fans take advantage of this offer and absolutely love doing it! The two dollar price doesn’t even cover shipping but that doesn’t matter. It’s a super-fun and awesome way to interact with my fans.


I know you’ve started work on a new Godless Angel album. Based on the one instrumental demo track you were kind enough to share with me, it sounds like you’re making some changes compared to what Godless Angel has done before.  I’d say it sounds like a more progressive take on death metal (though I realize that’s a kind of nebulous term). How would you describe the direction you’re following in the songs you’re writing for the new album?

Yes, there’s a new album on the way! I had originally planned to release it on Halloween but it’s taking much longer than I anticipated to complete. Hopefully it will only be delayed by a couple weeks or so.

I’m doing things a little different this time around. Harvester of Shadows was very black and white, stylistically speaking. Half of songs were thrash and half were slower, groove oriented death. All of the new songs fall into the latter category but I haven’t done away with the thrash entirely. I’ve incorporated that, and a little doom and some blastbeats for good measure, into the new tracks in small doses. There’s more consistency from one song to the next but there’s also way more going on within each song. They’re also longer than the songs on Harvester; all of the new tracks are over five minutes.

“Progressive” isn’t a word I would’ve thought of to describe my sound but I think it fits. Starting with “Blackened Tongue”, from Year One, I ditched the conventional songwriting format. Godless Angel songs don’t have verses, choruses or rhyming lyrics. I write a series of riffs, or sections, that don’t repeat elsewhere in the track. For the new album I’ve really pushed myself to come up with more complex and unconventional riffs, and more of them. Up till now my songs have averaged seven or eight sections per song. The new tracks are averaging between fifteen and twenty.

Chrissy and I were discussing the new album the other day and we calculated that if I was still using the traditional verse-chorus format it would only have about seventeen unique riffs. But because of the way I write now it will actually have over sixty-five unique riffs. I’ve really stepped up my game for this one and I think the fans, and hopefully some new fans, are going to notice.


Me and Flea


Are you trying out any new instrumental techniques on the new album, or any different approaches to the drum programming?

Yes, I’ve made some big changes for the new album. I’ve been using the same drum software since about 1998. It’s a very basic and easy to use, you just enter all the sounds a measure at a time and save them as wav files which can then be pasted together to make a full track. My favorite feature is that it allows you to create your own drum “kits” using any sound you want. 

I’ve been using the same kit for several years and I decided to expand it to include more toms and crashes. While I was searching for audio samples I came across some really good stuff and ended up making a completely new kit from top to bottom. It sounds amazing, definitely the most realistic drums I’ve ever used! I’ve literally tripled the size of my kit, so it’s taking me a lot longer to write the drum tracks. But it’s totally worth it!

I’ve also been spending a lot of time teaching myself some new guitar techniques. Solos are a big part of the Godless Angel sound so I think it’s important to expand my vocabulary as a guitar player. I’ve been working on my two-handed tapping and trying to move around the neck a little more in my leads. The solos on Harvester of Shadows were very Slayer-esque, a lot of whammy and fast, chaotic shredding. The new album will still include those kinds of leads but I’m also going to be incorporating more melody and a bit more atmospheric sound. When you’re writing songs that over five minutes in length you can’t just repeat the same thing over and over, so you can expect to hear a lot more variety this time around.

In addition to all of that I’m also experimenting with some other types of instruments on the new album. I don’t want to give away any more than that but I can guarantee it’s going to be killer.


Chrissy and Me


Will the new album again have a lyrical focus drawn from horror and sci-fi?

The lyrics for the new album will still be horror-fiction. I’m a horror and science fiction addict and I think Godless Angel has some of the best lyrics I’ve ever written. I came up with a title for the new album and Chrissy thought of a really cool lyrical theme to go along with it. She and I will be collaborating on the all of the lyrics just as we did for Dying Dead Undead Unholy and Harvester of Shadows. I love having my wife involved in Godless Angel. She’s been listening to my music for over seventeen years and she really gets it. She knows how my mind works and what I’m trying to do as an artist. Godless Angel is better because she’s a part of it.


I know you’ve been a life-long Slayer fan and that Slayer was a big influence on Godless Angel’s music.  And if I’m not mistaken, your axe of choice is a Kerry King Signature Metal Master V.  What do you think about the new Slayer album Repentless and how it stacks up against the rest of the band’s discography?

I’m a full-on Slayer addict, that’s for sure. In addition to my beautiful Kerry King guitar I also have a Slayer strap, guitar picks, posters, buttons, wrist bands, wallet, bumper sticker, and about seventeen Slayer t-shirts. All the interventions in the world wouldn’t break my Slayer habit.

As for Repentless, I LOVE it! It has everything that makes Slayer great; hyper-aggressive thrash riffing, face-melting guitar solos (several of which are provided by mega supreme badass, Gary Fucking Holt!), relentless Drums of Doom courtesy of Paul Bostaph, and Tom Araya’s one-of-a-kind incendiary snarl. It’s a hundred different kinds of fucking awesomeness. But I knew I would love it before they even recorded a single note. Slayer has never made an album I didn’t like, and this one is no different. I think parting ways with American Recordings and Rick Rubin was a great move. Terry Date’s production is the best I’ve ever heard on any Slayer album and Nuclear Blast has done a killer job promoting it. 

I know a lot of people were saying Slayer should call it quits after Jeff Hanneman passed away, but I most definitely was not one of them. Jeff was one of my heroes who I idolized since I was a teenager and I was really heartbroken when he died, but he wasn’t the only reason I love Slayer.

King is an excellent songwriter and I never doubted for a second that he would be able to write a killer album. Paul Bostaph is an amazing drummer and I actually prefer him over Lombardo. His history with the band is extensive enough and important enough for me to consider him an “original” member. By way of explanation, I don’t agree with recent statements that the current line-up is only half Slayer. It’s two-thirds because Bostaph has earned his place and deserves to be included alongside King and Araya.

Which brings us to Holt. Nobody but him could’ve taken Jeff’s place. The history and brotherhood between Slayer and Exodus, Holt’s friendship with Hanneman and King, and his insane shredding skill makes him the best and only man for job.

To summarize; Repentless is awesome and Slayer still rules.


Dimebag Dean


You seem pretty loyal to lots of death metal bands that you’ve probably been listening to a long time.  Do you feel that you’ve branched out at all in your listening in recent years, or are death metal and thrash still your main meat and potatoes?

Death metal is definitely my favorite genre and thrash is a very close second with the obvious exception of Slayer who will always be number one in my book. I like black metal but it’s more of an occasional mood thing, not a daily dose. My tastes are definitely leaning heavier as I’m getting older. I have a really hard time getting into music with clean vocals; I tend to do better with single songs as opposed to listening to a full album.

Recently I’ve found myself really getting into death metal albums from the late eighties and early nineties. A lot of it has to do with the production, I think. Metal albums from that time period did a way better job of keeping the guitars high in the mix where you could really hear the riffs. The drum work on those albums was much more interesting to me as well; they did more than just blastbeats on every song from start to finish.

Even though my personal tastes might be narrowing a tad, I still love hearing new music from any genre. I’ll give anything a listen at least once. Outside of metal I also enjoy country music, although my knowledge of the artists is extremely minimal compared to my borderline unhealthy obsession with metal. 


Switching gears, you used to be actively involved in the discussion threads at Metal Sucks and obviously had a lot of supporters among the readers at that site since you were chosen to “take over” the site for a day earlier this year.  But you’ve now withdrawn from that.  Why?

Metalsucks used to be really fun for me. I enjoyed commenting and the positive feedback I received. And of course being chosen to run the site for a day was a blast. I worked really hard to make it a special day. I got to interview several of my idols and I even ended up becoming friends with a few of them. Speaking of friends, I made several during my time hanging out at Metalsucks.

Unfortunately as time went by it started to become too much. I was spending more and more time posting comments and replying to others to the point where I felt like I was doing that more often than I was reading about my favorite bands and checking out new music. In addition to that it was obvious that the negativity in the comments was starting to spread and get out of control.

I was thinking about withdrawing from the comments community when I got an email from Metalsucks asking me to be a moderator. I have a hard time saying no when someone asks for help and so I agreed to do it. That was a mistake. As a moderator I saw a lot of really disgusting dialogue that I hadn’t noticed before. I was deleting a lot of comments but others didn’t technically qualify to be erased even though they were pretty gross. I blacklisted a couple people who posted some pretty vile stuff.

One thing that really bothered me was comments that I was seeing for the first time from users who I considered friends and thought were cool, but I was completely unaware of things they were posting outside of the conversations they had with me. It’s like they acted one way when talking to me but then became horrible assholes when talking to other users. It reached a point where I was spending so much time moderating that I wasn’t able to just relax and read the daily posts or make comments of my own, not that I really wanted to after all the sick stuff I was reading every day.

Unsurprisingly, I reached my breaking point and decided to bow out. At first I thought I could quit moderating and commenting but still drop by and read the articles but that didn’t happen. It was like my experience had forced me to see the entire blog in a different light. That’s not the kind of community I want to be a part of. I want to hang out with people who really love metal and who want to talk about and share metal that excites them. If all you’re going to do is whine and bash on bands then why bother?


ibanez rickenbacker bass


I’ve noticed in your regular comments at our site that you seem to follow the same kind of approach as the writers do in deciding what to write about — basically, it seems that if you can’t honestly say something positive about the music, you just don’t say anything, as opposed to saying that something sounds bad.  Am I guessing right?

You’re absolutely right! I can almost always find something I like about any kind of music. Even if it’s not an album I would ever buy or a genre I don’t particularly care for I’m usually still able to find something worthy of a compliment. For example, none of the albums on my mp3 player have clean vocals. It’s just not my thing. But I can still recognize a great singer. I can appreciate the talent and skill it takes to deliver a great clean vocal performance.

But if I try really hard to find something to appreciate in a song and it’s just not happening I don’t see the purpose in posting a comment.  In my personal experience there just isn’t much gained from being angry and negative. The internet is a huge place and although you may feel like you’re doing something important and meaningful by going on the attack and being brutally honest, in reality your words are just a grain of sand in the world’s largest desert. If you’re obnoxious and loud enough you might eventually become the big fish in a small pond, but other than that what are you hoping to accomplish?

You can’t honestly think that by saying something extremely negative you’ll deter other people from liking a band, or that you’ll convince the artist to change what they’re doing. I know some people try to sugar-coat their negativity as “constructive criticism” but let’s be real. Saying that a band “sucks balls” is not constructive criticism. Saying something like “I think this band would benefit from focusing less on superficial layers of studio effects and more on developing a tighter rhythm section”; that’s constructive criticism. But that’s not what’s happening on the majority of music blogs or in the comments from readers. 


Godless Angel Guitar Pick


Do you have to work at being a nice guy, or does it just come naturally?  🙂

Are you mocking me?! Just kidding, lol 🙂

I do try to always be nice, but it’s not forced. This really is who I am. And I have been known to lose my cool every now and then, but I don’t I ever feel good about it afterwards. Negativity is draining but kindness is effortless. For example, a couple of months ago I was paying for items at Walmart. Behind me in line was an older gentleman in a wheelchair/shopping-cart. He was trying to take things out of his basket to put on the conveyor belt but he was having a hard time reaching them, so I excused myself to the cashier and walked back and helped him empty his cart. That was nothing to me, a few seconds of my time. But he couldn’t have been more grateful for the assistance. Sometimes it’s the smallest things that can make the difference between a good day and a bad day. I can’t rid the world of evil, but I can choose kindness over selfishness and negativity. 


working on my interview with Percy


I’ll conclude by again throwing you the Marvelous Round of Three questions that you usually ask people you’re interviewing:  What’s your favorite breakfast cereal?  What’s your favorite band t-shirt?  And are you a cat person or a dog person (I know you and your wife have both kinds of pets)?

Uh oh, I feared this day would come! I’ve been eating Frosted Mini-Wheats lately but if I had more time before heading off to work I would have strawberry oatmeal and toast.

Whatever Slayer t-shirt I happen to be wearing on any given day is my favorite! I know that’s cheating but there’s no way I could narrow it down to just one.

We have three dogs and six cats and I love every single one of them, but I’m probably a bit more of a cat person. But I could never have just one or the other. Every day when I arrive home from work I have to say “hi” to all of our pets one at a time; lots of wet dog kisses and cat cuddles. It’s the best stress reliever ever!


Derek, thanks very much for making time for this interview. Any parting words for our readers?

Thank you so much giving me the opportunity to talk about Godless Angel, I really appreciate it! Thank you to anyone and everyone who has supported this crazy thing I do in any way big or small, it means the world to me. The new album is going to awesome and I can’t wait to unleash it on the world. You’ve been warned!







Discount:  For our readers, Derek has created a discount code for the Harvester of Shadows Deluxe Edition album on Bandcamp (linked below). The code is “nocleansinging” and it will allow you to get the album for $1 instead of the normal price of $6.66.












  1. What a legend this guy is,totally humble with a nice supportive mum too.its refreshing to see someone not trying to be cool etc and just being themselves.now I’m off to buy one of those guitar picks.

  2. “Saying that a band ‘sucks balls’ is not constructive criticism.” Really appreciate the commentary on music commentary :). There are ways to suggest changes or state your preferences that still nenefit the artist and the listening audience.

    I always appreciate Derek’s comments. And I can’t wait for new GA. Enjoyed the interview!

  3. I always love seeing Derek in the comments. His enthusiasm for metal is unmatched by anyone, save maybe Islander. Oh screw it, all you NCS’ers are the most enthusiastic on the web.

    Good Dude! Good interview! Awesome cat!!!


      Thank you so much! This is just one of the reasons I love No Clean Singing so much, the community is made up of genuine, unpretentious, passionate metalheads who truly appreciate this awesome thing that Islander has created 🙂

  4. As I’ve always suspected from your many comments on various blogs, Derek, you belong to that rare breed of genuinely nice guys. It is now confirmed. This was a truly pleasant interview to read, and I wish you tons of good luck (and, hey, I even like your music, though I’m normally more of a black metal person).

  5. Derek, keep doing your thing man!

  6. Derek, lover of heavy metal and kitties. You rule!!! \m/

  7. What a fun interview. I liked it.

    Hail Derek!

  8. Nice read, i like this guy compotition, dosent get better than thrashy death

  9. “I told the bartender I was in Green Day so I could get their complimentary pitcher of beer. Sorry guys, that was a shitty thing do! “….No sir, that is a fucking legendary thing to do!

    Great read, thanks for the uplifting interview!

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