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Connor Garritty (All Hail The Yeti)

Interview with Connor Garritty from All Hail The Yeti
by Anton Sanatov at 10 November 2016, 8:31 PM

There’s always a story isn’t there? Be it true or make-believe, there is always a plot. And this time it was no different, as Metal Temple got the opportunity to get on the wire with ALL HAIL THE YETI’s Connor Garritty to talk some story of our own and discuss the tale behind the band’s latest offering “Screams From A Black Wilderness”.

Hi Connor, how are you?

Great, thanks.

Would you like to get started?

Sure.

I’d like to start by talking a little bit about the new album – “Screams From A Black Wilderness”. What can you tell us about some of the themes that you explored on this particular record?

They range anywhere from stories that are completely made-up, ones that I just wanted to tell, that I thought about. Some of them are true stories that had happened in history or of current events. They all just tie in together to make an interesting campfire tale.

So are you much of a reader? A fan of fiction perhaps?

I am yes, but I am also a non-fiction fan as well. In my opinion a lot of the stories and things that have happened in the past and history are equally as interesting as certain fiction narratives. It’s almost like taking something that really happened and telling it like a fiction story.

It can be said that the album has a very feral, animalistic quality to it. Was this the intention?

You know…anytime we do anything, it’s never really too contrived. We just get in and do what we do. We write 20 songs and pick the best 10 or 12. Whatever happens; happens. I think that between the four of us it’s just the artistic differences that come out of us. We each just contribute our own. I believe that it would be arrogant to say that it was thought out rather than to just say that it was totally ALL HAIL THE YETI.

There also appears to be a lot of female manifestations throughout the album. Is there any story behind that?

Not really. Like I said before, it’s not something that we planned to do beforehand; it just kind of happened that way. “Lady Of The Night” is a continuation of “The Art of Mourning” from our first record. Basically, the guy, who is a gun for hire, lost his family when he made an attempt to get out of that life, and he became this vengeful guy, who was hell-bent on debauchery and just wanted to spend his time in whorehouses and work in the mines. And ‘lady of the night’ is a term for a ‘prostitute’ in the old west, so that worked itself into that one. In “Daughter of the Morning Star”, the ‘morning star’ is in reference to Satan of Lucifer and what happened to her is that she decided to take the evil side of things. She was a witch, a good one, a pagan. And these Christians they prosecuted her. They raped and killed her and left her for dead. And she took in the power of the devil and became the daughter of the ‘morning star’. So these are just cool stories that come about. And again, there are pieces of truth to them, but not as much as certain songs.

What is your writing process like?

It starts off with Alan and I. He comes in with a riff and I’ll have an idea for a subject or certain ideas for a song. Then he and I will get into his little home studio and kind of hash out a skeleton of a song, and then once we have something worthwhile to bring to the guys, all four of us will get in a room and turn it into what it becomes. And then from there, when it’s time to record, our producer will come in and add his two cents.


“The Witch is Dead” is inspired by Wizard of Oz, is it not?

Kind of… We just tried to experiment with some nursery rhyming. It’s something that we’ve always done; as is the case with the first record, with the fee fi fo fum. We just like the swing of it. It was something that we came up with and said: “let’s do it”, and applied it to the concept of having had someone in your life that didn’t do you so well. And that’s what that turned into. Not so much inspired by the Wizard of Oz as inspired by burning a witch I guess. (Laughs)

You guys are originality from California correct?

Ah, most of us are originally from Canada, but we started the band in California. The band is based out of Hollywood, LA.

Oh…well that pretty much answers my next question then. I was going to inquire into the fact that you guys have a much colder, more northern vibe to your sound - very much akin to 36 CRAZYFISTS.

Yeah, definitely.

So that takes care of that.

Yeah…I moved to California 16 years ago and started the band in 2006, so I’ve been here a long time; but Canada tis where I grew up. That’s where Junior - our drummer - grew up, and Alan is from Vancouver. So the band is 75% Canadian, but it was formed in Hollywood.

And you guys have some of your roots in the blues, correct?

Yea, I mean, Alan is definitely a blues-based guitar player, that’s how he learned; he learned by listening to the blues and that was one of his biggest influences. I grew up listening to blues-based Heavy Metal like DOWN, EYEHATEGOD, BLACK SABBATH, and a lot of the stoner-doom stuff from the 90’s to the early 00’s. Our sound definitely has that kind of vibe to it for sure.

And are there any other non-metal influences that have shaped your sound?

Oh I would think so. All of us have such a wide variety of musical tastes; anywhere from FRANK SINATRA, to FIONA APPLE, to PORTISHEAD, to a lot of the New Wave stuff from the 80’s. It all plays a part in what we do. It’s hard not to let stuff that has inspired when you were growing up not inspire you as a musician and writer.  Junior was into a lot of Classic Rock and a lot of Jazz, and Nick was into a lot of stuff too, and Alan was into Blues and SANTANA and JIMI HENDRIX. So there is just a huge variety of what has influenced us from the beginning.

A lot of songs can be very personal – “Mr. Murder” being a clear example. Do you every have any reservations about putting so much of yourself out there, or is that a sacrifice that you are willing to make for the music?

In the end it is all about what’s best for the song, and what best for the emotion of it. “Mr. Murder” is not necessarily about me, it’s tribute to our friend. So that one was a little bit easier to write, because he was such a good guy. It wasn’t something that I wanted to keep inside, I wanted everyone to know what type of person he was. I don’t really write too much about my personal experiences just because I feel like a lot of bands do that. I just grew tired about hearing about an angst-ridden mid-twenties guy’s relationship problems or his family problems. That’s where the whole thing of telling stories became something what we wanted to do. I wanted to let the listener to escape from reality and not worry about things. Because sometimes when you’re listening to negative connotations in a song it makes you think about them, and a lot of people seem to relate to that, but for me, it always made me think more about the negativity rather than escape from it. So I think that for us by telling the stories it allows the listener to step away from reality a little bit. It’s almost like watching a movie, or listening to a cool audio book, or reading a book. It’s different than just listening to some guy’s issues, so to speak. (Chuckles slightly.)

In your lyrics you are quite vocal in regard to questions of faith and religion Do you have a personal disenchantment with faith?

It’s ‘to each their own’ for me really. If you want to believe what you want to believe, that’s the beauty of where we live and where we come from, and the countries where we’re fortunate enough to have the freedom to pick and choose what we want to believe or what we don’t want to believe. For me, I come from a Catholic family where it was never forced on me, and I just saw a lot of things that just raised questions for me growing up. And as I grew older, and I was able to think for myself a little bit more and read more and expand my knowledge, it just didn’t seem realistic to me, all the deities of those specific religions, and the stories. And although they are cool stories, to me that’s all they really are: ‘stories’…tales that got passed down over generations. And for me it’s always been about the senses and what I can see with my own eyes and taste and smell and hear and feel. It’s just hard for to have faith in something that is a story made up by somebody. I have faith that the sun is going to rise tomorrow at the same time that it today, maybe a little bit later, and that it’s going to set at the same time and the tides are going to roll in. This is science; these are things that have been proven, that have happened. So for me that’s where the loss of belief in those stories comes from. I believe in myself and my inner soul. But again its ‘to each their own’ and everyone is allowed to believe what they want. However, once it becomes something that they’re trying to force on me, or trying to tell me that I’m wrong for not believing, then it becomes an issue.

What is the best feedback that you’ve ever received regarding your music?

One of the best compliments I have ever received was from Jessie Leach of KILLSWITCH ENGAGE. I don’t think that he was really a fan at the time, but he was at one of our shows. We were playing with 36 CRAZYFISTS and he’s a good friend of those guys. After the show he came up to me and we stood around and I had a really good conversation with him. Obviously, when you’re faced with someone of that stature and with so much influence on the metal community, you have to kind of just sit back and listen to what they have to say; because obviously they’ve done something right with their career. And although his band is a different type of talent than what I necessarily listen to, nonetheless he is a talent. He was saying his praises about the band and how good the band was and how we sound a lot different from a lot of the bands that are out there right now. And he said that I reminded him of a young Phil Anselmo of PANTERA. And coming from someone like that, who has done shows with PANTERA back in the day, and been all over the world and sold a lot of records, that really hit home for me; because obviously PANTERA had a big influence on my childhood and my music career. So that was definitely the biggest, coolest compliment that I have ever received.

That’s incredible.

Yeah.

And is there a particular quality about your band that sets you guys apart from your contemporaries?

I don’t know what it is that I would say; I can only attest to what I’ve heard from other people, feedback, reviews and the media. Obviously we’re not reinventing the wheel, because it’s hard to do that in this day and age in the metal world, but we’ve always just kind of stuck to what we do. I know a lot of bands nowadays look for things that are popular they try to emulate, try to get a captive audience. Like we’ve got to have these breakdowns in a certain part and we’ve got to have the Djent stuff going on, and we’ve got to have some keyboard or whatever. For us it’s always been just like you know let’s just do what we do. That’s the one thing about us: we listen to a little bit of new music, but we try not to listen to stuff that’s in our genre, because we don’t want to get influenced too much by what’s going on. And I think that’s one of the biggest things that helped us to kind of stray from the path and do our own thing; we just keep our nose to the ground and do what we do. And if it sounds like something, it’s something that we grew up listening to.

And as a fan yourself, which band have you had the chance to see lately that you have been truly excited by?

Most recent band, I mean, I have seen them a couple of times and I’ve been a fan of them for quite some time, and that’s UNCLE ACID AND THE DEADBEATS. They’re based out of somewhere in England. I was going to say Bristol but I don’t think its Bristol, I think it might be in London or somewhere outside of London; but I’m not 100% sure. Regardless, they just put on an unbelievable live show. And it’s just four guys, no smoke and mirrors, no crazy backdrops, no crazy-legs show; just really good tunes. They remind of a mix between BLACK SABBATH and THE BEATLES. And they’re just phenomenal, for me anyway. I just watched them and listened to their song structures and the musicianship and they were just capturing the audience with just their music and that’s all. And that’s really cool to see.

And you’re about to do a couple of shows with the Cavalera brothers, are you not?

Yes, we’re actually doing about 24 shows with them.

Oh, nice. How are you feeling about that?

We’re really excited. It’s, in my opinion, the two most important members of SEPULTURA, and this album hasn’t been performed by Max or Igor since the first tour they did for it back in ’96 when it was released. And SEPULTURA is another band that really influenced me as a young teenager growing up. So when we got the news it was a pretty good day for sure. (Laughs) We’re really excited, and this excitement kind of helps drive us to do a good job. We want to show these guys that we’re a contender and that we can hold our own with bands like them. It kind of almost motivates us or inspires us to work hard and make sure that we kick ass. It’s pretty cool. We’re really excited by the other bands on bill also; like COMBICHRIST and ONI, we’re excited to do shows with them too. It’s going to be a good run. It’s a good way to end the summer off and come into the winter. We couldn’t be happier.

Well, that’s it from me. Is there anything that you would like to add?

I don’t think so. I think we’re pretty good. We are coming back to the UK in November, so that’s going to be a fun one. We’ll be there for five weeks, and we’re pretty excited about that. We love it over there so we’re excited just to get on that plane and make the trip and spend some time over there, it’s great. It’s a great place.

Yeah, I’m actually planning on seeing you guys.

Oh, cool. Where are you?

London.

Oh, right on, perfect. I don’t know the venue that we’re playing at in London.

Oh, I think it’s the O2 Academy or The Forum.

Yea I think that’s it. Yea, London is a great city. I spent a few weeks there after our last tour and just did some tattooing and got to explore. I really enjoyed it, and we honestly really enjoy every bit of the UK. Those were definitely the best of the shows that we did over there and we’re excited to come back.

Well, thank you Connor for the interview, it’s been a pleasure. We truly appreciate you taking the time to speak with us.

No problem. Take care.



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Edited 19 October 2017
 

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