We got to speak with Josh Welshman the lead vocalist of Defeated Sanity!
MPM: First off, how are you doing during these unprecedented times and those who don’t know who you are, would you introduce yourself to what you do?
DS: Hey man! Doing as well as one can through all of this. For those who don’t know me, I’m the vocalist for Defeated Sanity and also a professional Recording/Mixing/Mastering engineer.
MPM: As someone who’s been following Defeated Sanity since 2013’s Passages Into Deformity and enjoyed every album the band has done, you joined the band in 2016 when Disposal of the Dead // Dharmata and this year the band released The Sanguinary Impetus and is considered to be the first album featuring you on vocals and let me say that you absolutely killed it front to back. Looking back on this release, how was the songwriting process, lyrics and artwork all came about?
DS: I’m glad you enjoyed the new album so much, as well as my performance on it. So this album as a concept began quite a while ago when Lille started writing the material for TSI, I’d say right around the time of the release of Disposal/Dharmata. Not too long after, we started talking about the lyrical concept of the animal kingdom in depth while we were on tour in Asia in 2017, and from then on it was just a process of Lille getting the songs written and finalized, then beginning the recording process. The process of writing the lyrics and vocal parts primarily took place over the Fall/Winter of 2019 before we went into the studio in January to track vocals, mix, and master the album. Lille and I worked on the lyrics and vocals together in their entirety, every word and line was a collaborative effort. The artwork was a bit of a struggle since we didn’t have any concrete vision for this one, just some very broad ideas without any definition, so Jon Zig helped us to translate what we were thinking into what eventually made the cover art.
MPM: Since Defeated Sanity are one of the biggest names in Brutal Death Metal, what inspired you to be a vocalist and were you self taught taking lessons or just learned by ear hearing notes?
DS: I’ve been doing extreme vocals since I was really young, probably 11 or 12 years old, and I was always fascinated with Death Metal from a vocal standpoint, and spent years exploring what my voice could do and trying to push my own boundaries. Listening to bands like Cannibal Corpse of course from a young age, then moving onto more underground bands like Disgorge, Putrid Pile, and Circle of Dead Children later on made me really find my niche. I would rehearse along to some of my favorite records to try and expand on what I could do vocally, and to this day I’m still learning new ways to use my voice.
MPM: Since the band has been with Willowtip Records during the release of 2010’s Chapters of Repugnance, how was the reception for The Sanguinary Impetus overall been treating you guys and with a label like Willowtip Records, how was the relationship been working with them?
DS: Willowtip have always been very supportive of us, since the beginning of our relationship. As far as the numbers go, The Sanguinary Impetus has been our must successful release to date, as far as initial sales go. Needless to say, we’re all extremely happy with how the album has been received!
MPM: What’s your overall thoughts on the Brutal Death Metal scene as a whole than it was two decades ago with new bands on the rise creating vicious music?
DS: It’s quite hard to keep up to date in the scene for me personally to be honest. I don’t tend to be as caught up on new records/bands as I’d like to be, but I can say that the Death Metal underground has reached further and branched out a lot in the past two decades. There are a lot of great bands in the scene these days, many of whom we’ve gotten to perform with along the way, a lot of promising up-and-comers! So it’s always reassuring to know that the scene is still very much alive.
MPM: What songs off on The Sanguinary Impetus were considered to be your favorites off on the album from a lyrical standpoint and what motivated yourself to create such thought-provoking and intelligent themes ranging from Gores, Murder, and Nihilism?
DS: It’s really tough to pick favorites because we all find special things about each song, it’s a very dynamic and evolving album. If I had to pick a few, I’d lean to “Entity Dissolving Entity”, “Dislimbing The Ostracized” and “Propelled Into Sacrilege”. The lyrics on this album were tough in many ways, but Lille and I are really proud and excited about how they turned out. We essentially picked a subject/species for each song, and took a sort of ‘National Geographic’ type of narrative regarding certain aspects of their nature. One song will be about a species’ brutal reproductive habits, while another addresses how the effects of climate change can cause an already savage predatory instinct to become even more vicious out of pure desperation. We took these narratives and tried to write the lyrics in such a way that it’s poetic and obscure enough to be thought provoking and artistic, but still decipherable as a story/narrative.
MPM: Since everyone can’t tour during these times, what has kept you occupied during your free time?
DS: We’ve all been doing different things, I’ve recorded a few guest spots for bands like Virulent Excision and Devine Defilement, as well as a few collaborative projects with some good friends like that Inveracity cover I was a part of alongside Sasha Chrosciewicz, Brennan Shackelford, and Paulo Chanoca. My work as an engineer has been hit pretty hard due to the current economic climate, same goes for Jacob. Lille is probably already done with the next album by now!
MPM: What’s your stance on physical media versus streaming digitally in the music community?
DS: I am an advocate of physical media, as I like to be able to have something tangible with my music. I stream as well out of convenience, but also still buy CDs from friends’ distros every now and again. Most of my CD hauls happen while I’m on tour though, as I like to buy directly from bands whenever possible. I’m scared to get into vinyl because I know once I start collecting, I’ll have to own all of my favorite records, and I’ll go broke.
MPM: If Defeated Sanity were to create the ultimate lineup of your choosing of current and bands being disbanded whom do you see to be on the road with you?
DS: For me the dream tour would probably be alongside Disgorge, Deeds of Flesh, and Gorgasm. As a fan, I would NOT miss that show if it were even possible to happen!
MPM: When shows were a thing, do you prefer performing live shows or recording in the studio doing music? If so, what’s your pros and cons to both?
DS: My answer may seem contradictory, being that I work as a studio engineer, but honestly as far as Death Metal goes I much prefer playing live. Death Metal is a very aggressive and energetic kind of music, and it’s impossible to contain that kind of energy and passion within the confines of a recording. So much of Death Metal to me is in the energy of both the band/music as well as the energy that the crowd gives off. It is an interplay between musicians and fans that is a mutually beneficial experience, and in many ways therapeutic.
MPM: The first time I got into Defeated Sanity around 2014 when Passages Into Deformity was released, I noticed there were huge influences from Suffocation, Deeds Of Flesh, Devourment, Disgorge (USA) and Lord Worm era of Cryptopsy and upon listening to The Sanguinary Impetus your vocals reminded me of the mid to late 90’s of Brutal Death Metal when the genre became a huge global phenomenon. When doing vocals, how often do you practice learning the notes and overtime during your time with Defeated Sanity would you say you matured during Disposal of the Dead // Dharmata era or do you feel most vocalists doing the genre need to expand their vocals to bring dynamics or do you feel it’s gotten more presented over the years?
DS: So I would say that my (and most) Death Metal vocals aren’t as much of a tonal nature as they are a textural one. Over the course of my time with the band, I’ve explored and experimented with what my voice does naturally as well as what I can learn and teach myself to do. Early on I would try to perform songs live in a sort of congruency with whichever vocalist had recorded them. For Psalms songs I would try to be a little more guttural like Jens, deeper and more dismal sounding like Konni for Disposal and Passages material, and more aggressive like AJ for Chapters songs. Over time I’ve tried to find what my own voice is in this band through trial and error of performing songs differently on stage, and I think The Sanguinary Impetus is as strong of a representation of this as I had intended, and I’m very proud of my work on it. I look forward to hearing how my voice evolves between now and when we record the next album!
MPM: What are some of your favorite releases of 2020 that’s Metal or non Metal that you can recommend personally for those wanting new bands to discover?
DS: Granted I’m not as up-to-date as I’d like to be, I’ll say that the new Incantation record was great, Fearmonger from Beneath The Massacre absolutely crushes, Cytotoxin’s new album was also impressive, I’m probably forgetting a few important ones as well!
MPM: Before I ask my final question, I like to thank you for taking the time and effort in doing this interview as I’m sure many people are wanting to go back having normal lives again and I appreciate your qualities being a vocalist that you are and I love your style with Defeated Sanity. Are there any last words you like to wrap up this interview for your fans or information like to discuss?
DS: It was my pleasure! I hope that all of our friends and fans and all of your families find your way through these tough times. Once we reach a point where touring is plausible again, we will be back with a vengeance, and we can’t wait to finally perform this new album for you. Until then, cheers!
Interview by Jake Butler