Exclusive interview – hellfest.fr: INTEGRITY [Dwid Hellion (vocals)]
“Some people call us hardcore, other people call us metal. I don’t really see it as us being ambassadors of hardcore or trying to embrace that movement”
Diwd Hellion – Tilburg – April 21, 2017
How the hell are you?
Pretty good, pretty good.
What pieces of pop culture have heavily impacted Integrity?
I don’t know about that. I don’t know much about pop culture I guess. Is Star Wars pop culture? That sort of stuff doesn’t really have any influence on me at all. I saw those movies for example when iwas a kid and that was cool to see but it doesn’t really spill into the band or anything like that.
So there aren’t any non musical influences?
Well I like a lot of strange aspects of art like Dada-ism, surrealism and I’m a big fan of Francis Bacon, especially his painting and philosophy. I think that has to do with a lot of influence in the band as well.
What’s your relationship with Dada?
I like the collaging in the artwork. I’m a fan of that. There were guys that did poetry off that concept of collage. I don’t use it but I like the idea of it. Juxtaposing words together that normally wouldn’t be in sentence or a line can create a sort of explosion in your mind of possibilities you would never put into that context.
I feel in the past few years there has been a renewal of interest in Integrity.. would you agree?
I’m happy to hear it, that’s nice! I’ve never noticed that, it’s probably just due to the records we are making.
You’re from Cleveland, one of those that has a weirdly rich musical history… when you were living there did that impact you at all?
I don’t know if it impacted me necessarily but there were people I was friends with and that I ran around with who would do a lot of stuff with music too. That was weird to see. I used to buy acid from the guitarist of Nine Inch Nails. They were obviously more of a radio band. I used to have an apartment building in downtown Cleveland, it was actually like a loft, and on the 6th floor that’s where Trent Reznor interned for a studio and they made their first record there. That’s not stuff I listen too but those were people in my building.
Why did you move to Belgium?
My wife is from Belgium and it has good beer!
You talked about buying acid, which at least in my understanding of that scene wasn’t a huge factor…
I’m not sure. It probably impacted the music but it wasn’t part of the scene as such. Me and my friends did but I don’t know if other people were doing it or whatever. It was good for me. I liked it. It made me see things differently and a different way to make things. I guess it just started to awaken different things inside my mind and the way I would interpret colors and shapes and put things together for artistic and musical reasons. You’ve probably heard of MK Ultra when they were testing different drugs on people, mostly inmates or people who were not allowed to say no. They would test it on these people and have all different results and weird things would happen. Obviously some people went crazy but other people became super smart. It’s not for everybody. It can be sort of a creative steroid though and it can kick up your creativity though I haven’t done it in decades. When I lived in the old warehouse building there used to be a vault and I would sit there in the dark just imagining things while on LSD. I loved it.
Have you ever had a desire to revisit that?
I haven’t, but I could if I wanted to. I haven’t had any interest though. I’ve done mushrooms… not too long ago. Last summer we played Amnesia Rock Fest in Canada and someone gave us a bunch of mushrooms and that was alright. It’s a different context though. I’m no longer a teenage kid. You have more recklessness then.
What has motivated you to keep doing hardcore for so long?
I don’t know if it’s considered hardcore by the book. It has its own kind of culture to it and we are sort of the black sheep of that scene. We do more metal stuff which makes the hardcore people dislike what we do and say it isn’t ‘correct’. Some people call us hardcore, other people call us metal. I don’t really see it as us being ambassadors of hardcore or trying to embrace that movement. We do of course have yelling and some of the riffs that fall into that category. Other parts though sound like cock rock with the solos.
You’re playing Hellfest in a few months – how do you feel about that?
I’m looking forward to it. We played four or five years ago and it was a lot of fun. We drank a lot of Jack Daniels. There was some sort of endorsement and these girls gave us a bunch of Jack Daniels.
Is there anything you are especially looking forward to this year?
I haven’t had time to look at it this year, I want it to be a surprise! I really enjoyed Hellfest though because we got so wasted. Most festivals end up feeling kind of like the same thing. You sit backstage and wait and then you perform. There’s certain people or places where you find friends or helpful people and that makes you have a fun experience. I played Roadburn last year with another project and that was a great time. I got to see G.I.S.M who, when I was a little kid, were my favorite band. They still are one of my favorite bands. They had never played outside of Japan outside of Roadburn last year. It was great to see.
What appeals to you about G.I.S.M?
Much like our band they had a lot of cock rock solos and stuff and I liked that and the vocals are rough and kind of strange and unusual. The artwork is cool – it’s kind of like Crass, it’s a collage and a little more politically oriented.
Do you do visual art yourself?
I do the art for the records. Outside the records I do drawings, collages and paintings. The drawings are simplistic, splattery and horror themed.
What do you do for your day to day?
I work in a car factory. Some people know who I am. They have the idea that if you have a record out you should be a millionaire in a mansion but the world isn’t like that. I have too many out! I need to get my private jet soon. Maybe with the next one! You gotta eat! What’s cool is there are a lot of people out here tonight are from where I am from in Belgium, especially the Amenra and Oathbreaker guys. Every year I do Halloween in my neighborhood which normally isn’t celebrated in Europe. Every year the Amenra guys bring out their kids.
What do you love so much about music?
Sometimes you can transcend yourself and have a spiritual experience with it. Whether it works every time remains to be scene but it’s almost religious – like speaking in tongues or something!
Interview: Matt Bacon.