For any of you who don’t know who Killwhitneydead is, they were known for using samples and movie clips in their music while adding their own twist of death metal that crosses over into deathcore at times. We take a moment to talk with the band’s founder and vocalist Matthew Rudzinski to talk about the new album, the old days and his label and everything in between.
TMF: Please introduce yourself and the band:
KWD: Hello, I am Matt (Rudzinski) and I am vocalist and “sample guy.” Kyle (Odell) plays guitar and bass. That is Killwhitneydead line-up currently. The band actually broke up in 2010, secretly. I kick started it again with Kyle in 2011.
TMF: How did Killwhitneydead start?
MWD: The idea started when traveling and touring with bands on Tribunal Records back in 2000 or so. We would all discuss silly ideas of side projects and I told some of them my ideas for KWD’s concept. An initial formation of KWD recorded a single song but it fell apart before I even tracked vocals. It wasn’t until I hooked up with Jeremy and Tommy from End Of All a couple years later that the first EP took shape. We recorded all the music in one day at Jamie King’s studio.
TMF: What does “Killwhitneydead” mean?
KWD: The short version is it’s just a play on the phrase “kill whitey dead” but I added an N and made it all one word. Yes, there is a Whitney out there but she and I are friends. It was just a weird name at the time to help the group stand out and it seemed to have worked. (laughing)
TMF: What influences your lyrics?
KWD: Life. Something or someone angers me and I write about it. With this type of band it’s usually only stuff that pisses me off that gets formed into songs. It’s kind of hard to write about puppy dogs and flowers while screaming my head off.
TMF: Many have called your music “misogynistic” or hateful to women, is that true or are they getting the wrong message?
KWD: By definition, no I am not misogynistic or else somebody better tell my wife! (laughing) But I can easily see how people could interpret those feelings from my lyrics and sample selections. When you break it down I have hated so many people to write these songs over the years. Are they all women? Not a chance, I am an equal opportunity hater. But KWD really just serves as a creative catharsis for me. I get angry and I write about it and get it out of my system. It’s been my version of therapy for a very long time. I have been told over the years that fans use the songs as therapy for themselves. The songs help people through some tough times and that is great to hear. Writing them helped me and in turn they have helped others too.
TMF: What were your hopes after releasing Inhaling the Breath of a Bullet back in 2002?
KWD: Absolutely nothing. Well, from a business perspective I wanted to break even on my label expenses for the EP, but other than that we had no expectations really. I mean how could we? We made up fake stories about who the band was and had no plans to ever play a live show. You have to really keep your expectations low at that point. (laughing)
TMF: Many people know your band for using clips from many movies and shows, what made you decide to use sound clips in your songs?
KWD: It was always something I loved hearing, but nobody did it as much as I wanted to hear in songs. So I knew whenever I started a band I was going to try and take it to another level. At the time, New Jersey’s For The Love Of was the band influencing how much I would use.
TMF: When did you start the writing process of Suffer My Wrath?
KWD: Kyle approached me near the end of 2010 asking if I wanted to work on a KWD record with him. He knew the band had just split up and it had been nearly three years since the band had written any new material. He told me had 10 finished demos just needing lyrics and vocals – which seemed simple enough. I took two weeks to write the lyrics and Shawn Pelata (vocalist for Line Of Fire) started tracking in January 2011. Little did we know it would take us 3 years to finish the album! (laughing) but we are very happy with the end result and we hope the fans will be too.
TMF: What does the album’s title mean to you?
KWD: The album’s title is taken from the lyrics of the first song “Sound The Alarms.” It’s just a song about fighting pretty much. But more importantly, it’s about standing up for yourself.
TMF: There seems to be a lot more metal influence on this album, is it?
KWD: For sure. Kyle and I have known each other for years. We are both very into old thrash metal so I knew when he had finished songs I was going to love working on them. This album was constructed unlike any other KWD album. I have never been given finished material to write lyrics for and more importantly try and place samples into. In the past I would be given parts and we would work things out in sections and everyone was involved. This go around I had to write lyrics that would work in a verse/chorus/verse style of writing which was definitely challenging, but at the same time made working on this material a lot of fun.
TMF: Who did guest spots on the album?
KWD: Shawn Pelata (Line Of Fire), Justin Reich (Vanisher), Matt Johnsen (Pharaoh), Stuart Smith (Jonin), Todd Houck (Jonin) and Thomas Clark (Jonin).
TMF: What is the theme behind the album?
KWD: There really isn’t a theme to the whole album other than I guess anger. (laughing) I wrote songs about all kinds of topics on this one; relationships, politics, drug abuse, media deception, celebrities, copycat bands, etc.
TMF: What is your favorite Killwhitneydead song you’ve written and why?
KWD: That is tough because there are so many. I would say “Sound The Alarms” is my favorite at the moment just because of how I chose to write the phrasing and things like that. I will admit I am very formulaic when I write but I had been listening to an album I have loved for nearly 20 years and somehow just recently it had clicked on how different the vocalist was to everybody else at that time. And it inspired me to try something out of the box from how I normally work. I know when people listen to that song they probably won’t notice anything odd, but it was how I approached the song which was the difference and why I think it’s now my favorite.
TMF: What bands influence you?
KWD: Well, it’s not really bands who influence me but vocalists. I have two that instantly come to mind and that is Jeff Walker of Carcass and Tomas Lindberg of At The Gates. Those are two of my favorite vocalists. If I could sing it would be Ronnie James Dio, but he has inspired me in other ways.
TMF: What do you think of today’s metal scene?
KWD: I don’t really have any issues with it. I guess the biggest thing for me, at my age, is trying to keep up with everyone I enjoy listening to. It’s really become informational overload out there and extremely difficult to compete that is for sure. Even though everything is at our finger tips with so much information flying around it makes it easy to forget about various bands. (laughing) Forget about me knowing about new bands out there, that is for sure!
TMF: Tell us about you creating Tribunal Records and Divebomb Records?
KWD: I started Tribunal Records in 1999 because it had always been a dream of mine to try and start a label and that is exactly what I did. I have been able to work with some amazing bands in the 15 years since I started it that is for sure. In 2008, I decided to start a label dedicated to reissuing old metal albums that I enjoyed when I was younger and it’s kind of just taken off from there. I am even working with new bands now at Divebomb as well.
TMF: What do you do when not working on Killwhitneydead or your labels?
KWD: Hang out with the wife and friends. I am just a regular dude like anyone else. I am not terribly exciting. Oh yeah, drink beer! (laughing)
TMF: Can we expect a tour again someday?
KWD: Not likely. However, I never say never, but as I turn 42 this year and despite how much I would love to come see all the fans, I just have different priorities in my life right now that don’t allow for 2-3 months of traveling around in a van. Several years ago things were very different in my life and I seized the moment and took KWD on tour, but now just in the 4 years since we played our last shows so many things have changed making it difficult. If I were younger I would do it in a heartbeat, but where I am in my life right now and the commitments I have makes it hard.
TMF: Any plans for this year?
KWD: We got the record out, that is about it. (laughing) We took nearly 4 years to make this album, so we are just happy to get it released to the fans finally. So we plan on just kicking back and letting fans soak up the new tunes. However, Kyle did mention working on new material the other day when we got together to sign all the CD booklets for pre-orders. So who knows what lies ahead.
TMF: Any last words?