Exclusive interview – hellfest.fr: CRYPT SERMON [Brooks Wilson (vocals)]
“Hellfest’s another one of those things. We could never have imagined doing this!”
Brooks Wilson – 22 janvier 2017
So how do you balance being grown up and being in a sick band?
There’s nothing complicated about it but you have to make sure the dividends pay off. You can’t have a normal touring schedule so we try and make sure the shows are worth it and we assume that we will make enough money to make it worth our time or if we don’t make any money it’s something that was worth our interest in being there. That can’t always happen when you’re kind of slugging through the day to day on the road. I suppose that we wouldn’t have any kind of notoriety if there weren’t the internet that could promote for us. Without being able to get the music out ahead of time no one would come to see us. We try to make the limited amount we can play worth it and get a big performance. It’s hard to play this kind of music than it might seem with th guitar solos and big vocals and arrangements but I think it lends itself to being sought after.
There’s not a lot of bands doing what you do as well as you do…
It was a more practical thing, coming from a more DIY background we had a demo before we ever played a show. We knew that we needed to get the sound and refine what we wanted to sound like before we played in front of people. I think our demo was online for at least several months before we played our first show.
So the goal is to only play the best shows and that’s okay…
Yes. Touring seems to be currently out of the question. Every member of this band has a career and several of us work in education. Hitting the road would require losing vacation days. It has to be a matter of quit your job kind of money. That’s why our availability is limited. It’s also why we’ve had cool opportunities. Scarcity breeds demand but we’ve jumped on those opportunities that are rare. I want to prioritize my family too. I want to see as much success for the band as possible since I might not have these opportunities ever again though. You have to strike a balance.
How does it feel to know you’re going to play Hellfest?
I’m really excited. Our friends in Vektor have already been and we share a practice space with them. It’s another one of those things. We could never have imagined doing this! You can’t predict the opportunities that show up. The turnouts will keep getting higher and the exposure will get better. It’s all off of one album to (Out Of The Garden – 2015) . A caveat to that though is having these opportunities has put a speed bump in the writing process especially since we focus so much on what the live show is. We practice a good bit for the live shows too as well as the writing process. When big shows come along the writing takes a back seat.
Are you planning anything special for Hellfest?
There might be something in the work but it’s kind of a pipe dream right now. It’s several months off but there’s a hope something very cool might happen but there’s only a small chance it will happen. That information will come to light and be more relevant in a few months.
When your kid is older, how will you explain that sometimes you have to get into a plane and play thirty minutes of rock and roll?
I was talking to a friend about that. At some point I would like my kid to come along. I would love to give my daughter that opportunity. In fact she and her mom were supposed to go to Maryland Deathfest. She’s been raised around music and at the age of two she knows I’m in a band. Sometimes when I go for a day or two she seems fine with it. Her mom is in school as well though so sometimes I’m on baby duty too! We treat the band as a job and try to be as professional as possible even when we are limited. Something can be lost in that though. We are fairly DIY in that we are homegrown musicians and we put all this together ourselves but with the focus on professionalism that DIY can lack.
So you never had a vocal coach?
No. It’s something that as I worked harder to improve I reached out to certain people. In Philadelphia there aren’t many coaches who seem like they would be ready to help someone with goals like mine in rock and metal. I love the pop music they teach but it’s not right for my needs.
How did you figure out you could sing this way?
It was not really a revelation. I’ve been singing my whole life. I grew up in the church and that music was a big part of my youth. Singing was not uncommon. I’d been in punk and metal bands where I screamed and country which I still do. Being a performer wasn’t the thing. At one point Steve (Jannsson – guitar) and I were drinking and listening to Manowar and he started playing it on guitar and I started singing and I was like “Oh, I can do that” Crypt Sermon actually invited me to play bass first, they formed before I joined, but at that point they hadn’t really found a singer so I decided to try it. When I found out I could make it work I quit smoking cigarettes and drinking so much and worked to clean up my voice. Between the demo and the full length it is distinctly more polished. It’s always going to be a little rough due to years in punk and metal but I’ve been trying to improve and my range and delivery has seriously improved. There are small windows of time where I can sing really loud in my apartment and I take advantage of those opportunities.
What do you love so much about music?
Music allows me to feel self-actualized. It’s not just about the music itself but the whole aesthetic. The sound and the art. Every element when it all comes together in a finished product and creating something to put out into the world and saying “This is the best I can do” and when you feel proud of it you get to have this feeling of “This is who I am” I get to put a piece of myself out there. It doesn’t represent the whole picture, like I said I do country music as well. You can put bits of you out into the world but you want to limit sides of you, you don’t want to show. It’s hard to separate the art from the artist but some artists can have controversial views but the side of them they put into their art doesn’t have to be controversial, it can still be a great product!
Interview: Matt Bacon.