Interview with Vincent of Centuries 2013

By Bradley Smith

 

As I am somewhat new to Centuries I was wondering if you could fill me and my readers in on a bit of your History?  How did you get together and what were your goals when it comes to Centuries?

 

Dan and I had been in a band together previously, and when that ran its course we started Centuries with a few close friends, Eric being among them. The past five years have been a tumultuous period, and despite rapid band member changes and fill-ins, especially on drums, Dan, Eric and I still remain the concrete members of the band.  When we started, we had no clear idea of where we wanted to go with the band or what we wanted to accomplish.  Being in a band was simply something all of us had to do.  We were all very young, and each minor achievement exceeded all prior expectations.  All of us used to hang out nearly every night of the week as it was, so now those nights became practice, even when there wasn't a single show booked in the future. As we got older the spontaneity and the initial excitement had faded, but we began to realize that the band, in whatever form at the time, had become a very conscious commitment for the three of us. I think that's when our sound started to change and solidify.

 

Your New album Taedium Vitae, is hitting the streets right about now and I must say it is some truly scathing hardcore.  How does it represent Centuries and how do you feel it is growth and expansion from your earlier work?  I understand that your deal with Southern Lord came about rather quickly, how did that happen?

 

We're extremely glad to hear that you enjoy it.  Whereas we have only written music for EP's and split records before, this was the first time that we had to put our heads down and write a complete piece.  In my opinion, the songs on this LP solidified the various stylistic elements we wrestled with in previous years and I feel that we somehow were able to find the pinnacle of whatever style it is we've worked out.  The ideas are more thought out and we were able to experiment more than ever before. 

 

We were on a short tour when we received an email from Greg.  He was interested in hearing some of our previous releases and asked that we keep in touch.  It didn't seem real at the time; it was incredibly sudden and out of the blue and we all did our best not to get our hopes up.  After several months of touring and writing we sent Greg a demo of what we had been working on, and eventually those songs became the first songs on this release.

 

Tell me a bit about the Broken Hymns release(LP).  What is it and what is on it?  Why is it only on LP format?  I notice a lot of bands these days skipping CDs and releasing their albums only on LPs and digital downloads.  Why do you think that is? 

 

Our most previous record was put out by This Charming Man Records (Germany) and came out as a split with Patsy O'Hara (also from Germany).  After our tour in Europe, Chris from TCM suggested the idea of combining all three of our short records, two of which were very limited releases and either all gone or on their way out.  We thought it was a great idea, and added the demos that would later become part of Taedium Vitae to the tracklist.  Halo of Flies wanted to have Broken Hymns released in America simultaneously, which we're extremely grateful for.

 

Prior to your asking, I've never actually taken notice of the fact that Broken Hymns was strictly on LP format.  Besides a single tape back in 2008, all of our releases have been vinyl records.  Because of the availability of MP3's, I myself have only purchased music in record format, so in terms of releasing own music the option of using CD's never crossed my mind.  In my opinion, the record format has a lot more to offer aesthetically than CD's.  I would speculate that when seeking to own a tangible copy of music (most likely in addition to downloaded MP3's), spending the money on a record seems much more rational.

 

After hearing the Torch Runner = Committed To The Ground LP you wanted the same sound for Taedium Vitae, correct?  What was it you liked about the sound and how did it apply to your music?  In other words, what were you trying to capture with that production and how do you think it translates to your music?

 

I was blown away when I heard Committed to the Ground.  Kris (Legitimate Business) recorded it in a way that was extremely heavy and abrasive, yet when you wanted to focus on the sound, you could bend your ear towards any particular instrument and hear it with perfect clarity.  Committed is an album with all of the benefits of a well-produced record without losing any of the raw sound desirable for the genre.  We wanted to have all of the details made audible, all of the tones perfectly dialed in, while maintaining the feeling that the sound is almost getting away from you all the while.  Kris went beyond our expectations.

 

What things currently disgust and enrage you guys as far as inspirations for the lyrics and music of Centuries?  After reading the lyrics to the album I feel two distinct topics take center stage, isolation and a sort of jaded sadness.  Am I anywhere in the realm of truth here?  And if so, why are these two subject matters preeminent to Centuries? 

 

I would have to agree that those two topics are definite themes throughout the album.  As a band, while being close friends for so long, and watching ourselves and each other getting older, I feel we're more and more painfully aware of a sense of disillusionment within our lives.  We're always struggling to blame it on our jobs, or our geographic location, but I think it's something beyond that.  Seeing adolescence from the far end definitely changes you.  Everything becomes more bleak, more premeditated.  Even the smallest successes or joys in your day to day life are fought for, whereas a youthful demeanor finds that the small joys pop up with little or no effort.  I think we're finding more and more that the subcultures we used to cling to or identify with as a way of pacifying the serious world are just as contrived or false.  I think the best way to articulate this feeling is to think of a moment in which you've hit bottom and there isn't anything to look towards in terms of relief; the typical songs, books, friends, etc. seem foolish or irrelevant.  We've each had moments like these and have discussed them.  That's what this album has done its best to articulate. 

 

I read that you feel a stronger connection with the cities/scenes of Tampa and Miami versus West Palm Beach.  Why is that?  What about those two scenes has helped Centuries develop a stronger bond with them?  Are there any bands in either scene we should be on the lookout for?

 

We grew up going to shows in West Palm.  They were violent and tough and completely missed the mark when it came to challenging oppressive norms.  Now, there simply aren't shows here.  When we became introduced to the Tampa and Miami (as well as Orlando) scenes we found that there were other people with similar ideas and perspectives.  We've met more than a few individuals who have become like family to us.  Shows in Miami and Tampa just feel like home shows.

 

Miami has a constant flow of new and awesome bands, too many to list.  Two of the most active now are Devalued and Nunhex.  There's also Super Mutant, a very young and very persistent band that has been a sort of rejuvenation for the area.  As always, Homestretch are a constant spot of pride for South Florida.

 

Florida is more known in the underground for its death metal scene.  I was wondering your thoughts on the legacy of Florida death metal?  Also, for me Florida hardcore is very underrated despite having some great bands coming out of it such as Culture, Morning Again, Bloodlet, Strongarm, and many more.  What do you think of Florida's contributions to hardcore and what bands stand out to you? 

 

Anyone even remotely interested in metal comes across bands like Morbid Angel, Obituary, Cannibal Corpse, etc. very early on.  I can recall learning one by one just how many of these old death metal bands were from Florida, specifically Tampa.  When you're young Tampa is somewhere out there, but as we got older and made trips to Tampa (roughly four hours from us) more and more frequently, it becomes surreal to think that all of those bands came from right there. 

 

Based on my own personal tastes, the most notable Florida bands for me have been Homestretch, Mehkago N.T., Cult Ritual, Shitstorm, Time to Die, Republicorpse.  More recently, Gainesville has had some incredible bands as well: Mauser, Ectoplasm, Radiation.

 

Staying geographically in Florida, but straying outside music for a moment, what do you think of the Trayvon Martin incident/Zimmerman trial?  Some feel it is an important statement on race relations in the US while others say it distracts us from truly important events like the Bradley Manning trial (Wikileaks) and other political subterfuge.

 

I personally felt incredibly disheartened by the fact that the blatantly racist prerogatives of Zimmerman, which in my own opinion served as the very cause and catalyst for the incident, have no weight in a court room.

 

I also found the outcome to be painfully supportive of the "stand your ground" law.  To present a situation in which one individual is an aggressor who carries a weapon regularly, and the other individual is the only witness of the shooting and simultaneously dead, to then interpret the situation as being incapable of producing enough evidence to find the shooter guilty "beyond reasonable doubt" is terrifying.  Definitely a step in the wrong direction.

 

From a wider perspective, I hate the fact that this one case has become high profile while it simply, and sadly, is not an anomaly.  Individuals, including myself, found themselves highly invested in the outcome of this one case while simultaneously allowing themselves to be ignorant of many cases pertaining to violence and race relations which occurred during the same time period.  I absolutely agree with you in the idea that media grandstanding can put up blinders and obscure a broader view.  I absolutely wish more people were attentive to the Bradley Manning case, just as I wish that as many people spoke about Julian Assange as they do about Edward Snowden.

 

After reading the album's inlay, I am wondering why the past must be treated as dead, to be spit upon?  What danger is there in the past?  Isn't there a certain romantic quality about nostalgia?  And if not, why? 

 

The inlay is meant to discuss the past in an abstract way, as a discussion of time itself.  The idea is to resist living your life in such a way that you spend your consciousness avoiding the present by either reflecting too heavily upon the past or contemplating the future without taking any action.  Of course the past is there to be observed, celebrated or despised.  Everyone has their favorite classic albums or films or novels.  But if those romantic notions are not carried into the creation of yourself in your own life, then the past if being viewed in a dishonest, non-genuine way.

 

I was struck that the Cover art for Taedium Vitae is similar to the cover art from the book Frankenstein by Mary Shelley from when I was in high school.  I was wondering if there was any correlation or is it a coincidence?  If it is not a coincidence, why did you choose that artwork and what are you trying to achieve with it?

 

The image used on the cover you're thinking of is a painting by Friedrich Caspar.  The same painting was also used heavily in association with Friedrich Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra, which was written a few decades behind Caspar's death.  The painting was used in the Zarathustra publications because it mirrors the prologue of Zarathustra in which he is standing at the peak of his isolation from mankind, a place of comfort in which he has made many revelations free from the herd-like behavior of man, but now must descend into civilization in order to teach man how to overcome himself (as an individual and as an intermediate species).  I decided to stage a photograph in which the theme of isolation was very heavily referenced to the Zarathustra cover and Caspar painting.

 

Any special Upcoming plans for Centuries?  I know Power of the Riff is coming up really soon and you guys are going to lay waste to that audience.  Are you looking forward to that show?  What else is on your radar?

 

Power of the Riff was one of the best shows we've ever played and an amazing experience for us.  We're still incredibly grateful for the invitation to play.  We're playing a couple of LP Release shows this upcoming weekend with Super Mutant, then leaving for a North American tour with Pray For Teeth (Pittsburgh) from September - October.  We plan on heading back up the east coast in November.

 

I'll leave you the opportunity to close by any comments that remain as the saddest note to every song, the distant ringing in (our) ears!

 

Being in this band is our conscious effort to put meaning into our lives.  It's our way of creating something for ourselves.  For people to notice the music we're making, and for you to acknowledge us with this interview means more than I can say.  Thank you for your time, for the questions, and thanks to anyone reading.

 

-Vincent, Centuries.");