Interview: Blake Harrison (Pig Destroyer, Zealot R.I.P., Hatebeak)

Blake Harrison 2019 (Photo by Andy Jillson)

Hazy Eye Music Media is proud to post another interview in a series of interviews I’m currently conducting with some of my favorite artists. I’m stepping outside of my comfort zone and have begun picking the brains of some phenomenal musicians. This time I, Andy Jillson, was fortunate enough to interview Blake Harrison.

 Harrison is a musical artist most known for his work with American grindcore masters, Pig Destroyer. He has established himself as unique sampler and noise-maker within Pig Destroyer, but also adds creepy sonic chaos to all the bands he lends his talents to. Continue reading below for my full interview with Blake Harrison.

Blake Harrison 2019 (Photo by Andy Jillson)

AJ: Hi Blake! How are you?!?

BH: I’m doing well. This is tough on everybody, but I’m hanging in there.

AJ: For those readers who may not know, can you tell us a little bit about who you are, bands you’ve been in, bands you’re currently in, types of music you play, and what instruments you play? How would you describe yourself and what you do professionally? Who is Blake Harrison?

BH: Getting right into the tough questions, huh? I’m Blake. I used to be a couple of bands that some readers may have heard of, Triac and Daybreak. Currently in Hatebeak, Zealot RIP, and Pig Destroyer. My profession (and I assume you mean the musical aspect of my life) is to generally jump around, have fun, and make a hellacious racket. That could basically sum up “Blake Harrison” in a musical nutshell.

Zealot R.I.P.’s first show/DC 2019 (Photo by Andy Jillson)

AJ: Can you tell us a little bit about Pig Destroyer? When did you join the band and what is your role?

BH: I joined in late 2006 before we wrote and recorded the Phantom Limb record. I trigger samples and use harsh or ambient noise to try to bring a different dimension to our music.

AJ: How did you end up becoming a member of Pig Destroyer?

BH: I’ve known the guys forever. I booked one of their early shows, and after getting to know them, I’d travel with them out of town sometimes. We did a 3 day run with Whitehouse and Donna Parker/Jessica Rylan joined them doing some noise onstage. Scott decided he wanted to add more of that element to the band, so I raised my hand and offered up my very novice services. It’s still a growing and learning process for me.

AJ: What are the live performances like at a Pig Destroyer show?

BH: Mostly, our performances involve a lot of stage diving and general chaos. Our fans are pretty rabid, so they like to jump onstage and scream into the mic. We’ve had crazy things happen on stage before. The crowd became so wild, they started throwing trash cans around. Once a guy in a chicken suit proposed on stage at a show.

Pig Destroyer

Stream Pig Destroyer’s newest album, Head Cage, on Spotify

AJ: Can you talk a little about the making of Pig Destroyer’s 2018 album, Head Cage? When and where was it recorded? Any particular sound or concept in mind during the writing and recording process?

BH: Scott intentionally wanted to write a more groovy/hook laden record. He wanted to have small variations on the riffs. We recorded it in our studio where we practice, but didn’t really want to produce it so we got Will Putney to mix it. As far as a theme…there’s not really a direct theme, but there’s a (mostly) underlying thread, about modern society and how information can hinder modern people.

AJ: How was touring for that album? How did fans react to Head Cage when it was released? Any good memories or funny stories from the road?

BH: We don’t really tour, aside from the occasional weekends here and there. We got to play some fun shows, with some rough drives (for us anyway). We got really into the song “Two Headed Dog” by Roky Erickson.

AJ: Would you say Head Cage is stylistically different from Pig Destroyer’s previous two albums? If so, in what ways?

BH: Head Cage is way less “grindcore.” I don’t think that there’s any way for our records to not sound like us though.

AJ: Can you tell us about Zealot R.I.P.? When and how was that band formed and what is your role?

Zealot R.I.P.

Stream Zealot R.I.P.’s self-titled EP on Spotify

BH: Zealot RIP was started years ago man. Jason (drummer) and Mike (guitar) had been kicking the band around for a bit, but couldn’t really seem to find people they thought gelled or were committed enough. I moved to the DC area a couple of years ago, and was trying to start another band so they asked me to scream.

AJ: How many live shows has Zealot R.I.P. played?

BH: How many? Ha, like 4 so far…we were starting to get off the ground when the whole COVID-19 thing started. That kind of took the wind out of every band’s sails.

Zealot R.I.P.’s first show/DC 2019 (Photo by Andy Jillson)

AJ: Any news/updates about Pig Destroyer and/or Zealot R.I.P. you’re able to share? (rehearsals, new album, videos, live releases, collaborations, tour etc.)

BH: Touring? No, not now. Except that everything Pig Destroyer had scheduled for 2020 is re-scheduled for 2021. Pig Destroyer is also releasing an EP of some songs that were only available digitally before (w/ some Throbbing Gristle style noise tracks tacked on). We’re currently working on releasing a live record from our last two shows in October of 2019 at St.Vitus Bar in New York. Zealot R.I.P. is releasing an extended EP on Three One G Records that combines our demo, and some other tracks. There are no real solid dates on any of that right now.

Zealot R.I.P.’s first show/DC 2019 (Photo by Andy Jillson)

AJ: Can you tell us about Hatebeak? Isn’t that a “death metal” band you formed w/ a parrot named Waldo as the lead singer?!? When and how was that project formed and what is your role within it?

BH: When?!?! I don’t remember to be honest. 20 or so years ago, I think? Basically me and MRK (who was in Triac when I was also in it) wanted to have a little more fun. I came up with the name and “concept” then we decided to both write whatever we wanted. We both play guitar, bass, program drums, and arrange Waldo’s vocals.

AJ: What gave you the idea for Hatebeak? Did you happen to know someone w/ a metal parrot?

BH: Basically, that’s the gist. Waldo has a unique talent, so we thought it’d be fun.

Stream Hatebeak’s Number of the Beak & Birdhouse by the Cemetery on Spotify

AJ: Anything new coming from Hatebeak in the future? Any news you can share?

BH: Never say never, but there’s no real plans with Hatebeak ever. If we feel like doing it and it seems fun to us, we do it.

AJ: If Hatebeak were to go tour, what requests/demands would be on your rider?

BH: Ha, well we can’t go on tour. It would be really unfair to Waldo to subject him to those decibel levels and travel. What’s the old adage for show business? Never work with kids or animals? But I guess we’d have Guinness, whiskey, and birdseed on the rider.

AJ: Can you tell us about Triac? When and how was that band formed and what was your role within it?

BH: Triac has been around for 20 years or so…I was the second singer, the first “official” singer. Triac started as a couple of friends that wanted to jam two extreme forms of music (grind and doom) together.

Zealot R.I.P.’s first show/DC 2019 (Photo by Andy Jillson)

Stream Triac’s album, Dead House Dreaming, on Spotify

AJ: Can you tell us about Daybreak? When and how was that band formed and what was your role within it?

BH: I know I sound like a broken record, but I met Tony who was working at Reptilian Records at the time (and now owns Celebrated Summer in Baltimore), and we wanted to do a fast power-violence band. We knew Keeve and the other guys from impromptu jams, and that was it. I played guitar in that one.

AJ: How have you been staying active/keeping yourself busy since coronavirus altered our world? Have you written any new music or worked on any other projects during 2019-2020?

BH: I’m fortunate enough to still be working. I’m an engineer for an AV consulting firm, so I’ve been busy doing that. I’ve been writing a fair amount of music for my H.P. Lovecraft inspired project, Tentacles of God. I’ve added/had some collaborations with Krinkles (featuring Jay from Crowhurst), Matmos, Sterile Prayer, and I’m remixing some stuff for a project called Trace Amount. I always have to keep busy. Other than that, just trying to keep the house clean and hang on to my sanity. I’ve been going on a lot of hikes with my girlfriend and the dog.

AJ: Can you talk a little more about your H.P. Lovecraft inspired project, Tentacles of God? Is it a solo project? How long have you been working on it? What is it that draws you to H.P. Lovecraft?

BH: Yeah, TOG is just me. I’ve been working on it off and on for about 5 years now. It’s not really a thing I like to put pressure on…so I do it when I feel like it. H.P. Lovecraft was really the first author who inspired a mood for me. His writing is pretty dark.

Zealot R.I.P.’s first show/DC 2019 (Photo by Andy Jillson)

AJ: When and where was the last show you played? What do you remember about it? Anything particularly interesting about your most recent live performance?

BH: The last show I played was with Zealot R.I.P. at Haydee’s in Columbia Heights on 11/23/19. It was a great turn out for such an off beat venue (it’s a Mexican restaurant). There were a ton of interesting things about that show. Zealot R.I.P. released a beer in collaboration with Champion Brewery in VA, and I had about 20 people scream into the mic at some point. So all in all…good fun!

AJ: I mainly cover shows in DC, MD, and VA; and most of my readers attend shows in the DMV. Any particular shows and/or venues in this area you’re fond of? Any good memories or stories from DC, MD, or VA?

BH: This is tough. I’ve basically been involved in the music scene for 30 years. In DC I love the Black Cat, but really miss The Pinch. I think Hasan (and others) have been doing a great job with getting metal shows to Atlas Brewery in DC.  In Baltimore I’ll always have a fond place in my heart for the Ottobar, Metro Gallery, and The Sidebar. As far as shows…like I said, I’ve been around for a bit.

AJ: What have you been listening to lately? Any particular artists and/or albums you’ve recently discovered or rediscovered?

BH: When working I listen to a lot of podcasts (mostly True Crime) or put movies on in the background. I can’t engineer and listen to music. I get too into the music and not into work. Recently though I’ve been digging locals, No Mas, Brainpan, and Drugs of Faith. Wake from Canada put out a great record recently, the new Zombi is KILLER. But, I go all over the “rock” map so to speak. I like everything from Depeche Mode to ZZ Top. I recently tried to get into some of the mid period Alice Copper records…spoiler alert, I couldn’t get into them.

Zealot R.I.P.’s first show/DC 2019 (Photo by Andy Jillson)

AJ: Are you are record collector? If so, what are a few of your most loved/valued records?

BH: 100% a record collector. I’m old school. I really like having the physical copies of things. My rarest is a Police, I Can’t Stand Losing You, single where the cover was banned. Also have a copy of Unholy Passion signed by Glenn Danzig.

AJ: Have you watched or read anything interesting lately?

BH: Me, and the other guys in Pig Destroyer are big movie fans. Possesor, Uncut Gems, Evolution, and Mirrors were all new movies I really dug. As far as reading, I try when I can, but haven’t really read anything interesting enough to mention in an interview.

AJ: What are your best memories/proudest moments of being a musician?

BH: This is a tough one…you know the proudest moments I have are connecting with the fans. Trey Spruance (Mr. Bungle) once told me that he was a HUGE Pig Destroyer fan. That was quite the compliment.

AJ: Most embarrassing and/or awkward moments playing live?

BH: FINALLY an easy question. We were playing in the Netherlands and my pants fell down on stage…that wasn’t that awkward though.

AJ: If you could collaborate w/ a couple musicians of choice, who would it be?

BH: Al Jourgenson, Mitch Harris, Morrissey, and Keith Huckins.

Zealot R.I.P.’s first show/DC 2019 (Photo by Andy Jillson)

AJ: Can you name a few of your favorite bands you’ve been on tour with?

BH: Hanging with the Napalm Death and Carcass guys is always an honor. The most fun is playing with the EyeHateGod guys. I thought I’d come home in a body bag.

AJ: Top 5 All-Time favorite bands/artists?

BH: This is a TOUGH one…
Prince, Beach Boys, Hall & Oates, Despise You, and Napalm Death

AJ: Any advice for struggling musicians?

BH: It’s tough out there. I dunno, I’m an old man. We never really looked at playing grindcore as a “living” so I don’t really have any advice on that. Just be you. Do it well and be genuine in your music.

AJ: You’re able to have your own personalized “I’d rather be” bumper sticker. What does yours say? I’d rather be…?

BH: “I’d rather be drinking Guinness.” Probably not a great idea to have that on a car though.

AJ: Anything you want to add to this interview? Any last words for the readers?

BH: Things are rough out there right now, but you know, if we all stick together, have compassion for one another, we can get through this. Cheers!

AJ: Thanks Blake! Fin.

Zealot R.I.P.’s first show/DC 2019 (Photo by Andy Jillson)

Watch Pig Destroyer’s “Army of Cops” video on YouTube”

Much gratitude and respect for Mr. Harrison. Hazy Eye Music Media appreciates his willingness and openness. Stream Book Burner & Blind, Deaf, and Bleeding by Pig Destroyer on Spotify:

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