We got to talk with Pete Slate from Florida’s death/doom metal band Druid Lord today!
MPM: First off, thank you for taking the time in doing this interview. Secondly, those unaware of who you are and your contributions could you introduce yourself to what you do in the band?
DL: Absolutely! I appreciate you taking the time to interview me regarding Druid Lord. I’m Pete Slate the original guitarist that started this band back in 2010. I write music and help lyrically. Prior to Druid Lord I was in a member of the FL band Equinox during the early mid 90’s. Prior to that I was in the band Acheron and played on the first album “Rites of the Black Mass.” I even had a very short stint in the band Incubus (Death Metal band) from Louisiana.
MPM: The band has recently released the sophomore full-length album Relics Of The Dead and was released through Hells Headbangers Records. Could go over how the songwriting process, label and challenges this album was going into compared to past releases?
DL: This is actually our third album. Our first album Hymns of the Wicked being released on HPGD 2010 and re-released on Doomentia Records. “Relics of the Dead” was written over the course of a year and a half. I had a few unused guitar riffs left over from our 2nd album that I used for the song “Thirteen Days of Death” and that just kicked things off. We knew we wanted to get more aggressive on this album and have faster guitar riffs and drum patterns mixed in with the slower parts. I’ll write some guitar riffs and then get together with my drummer Elden Santos to work out the patterns and structure of the song. We tend to write the music first with a song title in mind. Once the skeleton of the song is put together Tony and I will start getting lyrical ideas.
Hells Headbangers was on board from the start, so we know that was taken care of. Covid did slow things down for us. We recorded most the parts at Tony Blakk’s studio and then had Dan Lowndes Resonance Sound Studios for the mixing/putting everything together for us. The final process was to master the album with Greg Chandler at Priory Recording Studios in the UK. Both Dan and Greg have been doing death metal for a very long time and are masters at their craft. Because of Covid we were not in the studio with Dan so it’s a lot of communicating back and forth to get things right. Sending music back and forth was time consuming but we were able to finish the product as far being recorded/mixed/mastered by July of last 2021. We had Daniel Corcuera paint the front and back cover for us and that was finished around the same time. Once everything was finished, we sent the recordings/artwork to the label from there it was just a waiting process to manufacture the CD/Tapes for the Jan 21st release date.
The biggest difference between this album and “Grotesque Offerings” is the tempos and guitar structure. As I mentioned before we went in with a more aggressive/faster approach. We all come from a death metal background so combining both elements made sense.
MPM: As I was listening to Relics Of The Dead I was not only impressed by the song structures, craftsmanship and lyrical content but I love how methodical and slow driven these songs came to be which I feel the doom and death metal signatures is so well played. Would you say this album is diverse and experimental sounding compared to Grotesque Offerings?
DL: I would say more of a continuation of that style from the second album. When Grotesque was written we were in a very strange phase. Our line-up changed mid-way into the writing process. We were under the gun to finish the last few songs and get them recorded. Where “Relics” we really took our time to make sure all the parts of the songs fit together perfectly. It’s a journey that weaves this creepy vibe of the guitar riffs with the drums, the vocals add to the overall eerie sound. Then we add our instrumentals. It’s a progression from our last album in the fact that we are really finding our method of writing and our process has matured.
MPM: Druid Lord’s been around since 2010 from Florida which is home to some of the greatest bands in extreme metal today. Whether it be Morbid Angel, Deicide, Monstrosity, Death, Hate Eternal, Obituary and Atheist to a extent, how does it feel to be apart of the underground scene for extreme metal not just from Florida but music all around?
DL: It feels really good just to be a part of the overall scene and contributing music that our friends/fans can get into. Equinox was around for a very long time, but we just missed the BIG Tampa explosion when all the labels like Roadrunner and Earache where down here picking up and signing bands. It was this huge deal around late ’89 – ’90. Druid Lord is such a different band and I feel like the scene has revitalized over the last 5 years with some amazing bands. Very cool to be a part of it.
MPM: Are there any particular tracks from Relics Of The Dead you consider to be your most favorite and proudest in terms of tonality and meaning behind it?
DL I’m proud of the whole album so that’s hard to answer. However, in terms of when we were writing the songs, I’d say the title track “Relics of the Dead”, “Thirteen Days of Death”, and “Festering Tombs but each song has it’s own feel too. “Mangled…” and “Immolated into Ashes are just as good”. We put these songs in a particular order so the whole album flows.
MPM: When I got into Druid Lord around the time Grotesque Offerings came out I would compare your band to artists such as Hooded Menance, early Celtic Frost, Autopsy, Acid Witch and Temple Of Void. Whom would you say are your musical influences as a musician that inspired you to become a death metal prodigy?
DL: Very cool. I’m friends with some of the above-mentioned bands and dig them all. I was influenced by a lot of the early Death Metal when I was growing up. Celtic Frost/Hellhammer had a HUGE impact. Those first three Celtic Frost albums did change my musical tastes in a big way back then. I was heavily into Possessed. “Beyond the Gates” is still one of my favorites all time albums. Bands like Necrovore, FL Incubus, Cirith Ungol, Slayers first 3 albums, The “Dead era” Mayhem. When Hooded Meance came out into the scene around 2009 I saw what they were doing style wise and saw the impact they were having. thought to myself it’s time for musical direction change.
MPM: You’ve been with Druid Lord since the band’s existence. What would you say had been the best experience about being in a band able to create music?
DL: Just playing live for people who truly know the music and appreciate what we are doing is a great experience. Meeting the concert goers, playing festivals, or touring on the road. It’s all very cool. Even in the sense of just writing a new song or sitting down and putting some killer guitar riffs together just feels damn amazing. I need this outlet in my life. Without music I would just feel so empty. It feels great just jamming at rehearsals.
MPM: Since live shows are making a comeback after 2 years of concerts being canceled and postponed, what bands would you like to tour with in the foreseeable future?
DL: We have plans to tour with our friends in Anatomia this coming November in Europe and those guys are great. The last Anatomia album was killer, 2020 saw our European tour with Hooded Menace get cancelled so it would be great to tour with them. There are so many bands now that I’m into. Mortiferum, Spectral Voice, Blood Incantation, Cerebral Rot, Tomb Mold, Ritual Necromancy, …the list goes on and on. We’d play with just about anyone that is like minded in that musical style.
MPM: How did the name Druid Lord originated?
DL: It was just a name I came up with. I had the name for years before the formation of the band. Just sounded fucking heavy. A Druid “king” or “ruler” of the dead.
MPM: Since the death metal scene has grown over the last two decades, what bands would you recommend for people wanting to be introduced to the genre for newcomers?
DL: The last decade in particular as produced some damn great bands. For someone getting into Death or Doom I suggest the bands I listed above. Labels Like Hells Headbangers, Profound Lord, 20 Buck Spin, Me Saco Un Ojo, Dark Descent, Parasitic, and many more are putting out great bands. Spectral Voice, Mortiferum, Disma, Dead Congregation, Acid Witch. My suggestions would be endless. HA
MPM: What are hobbies you enjoy in your pastime when not making music that fans may not know about yourself?
DL: I’m an outdoors person. Kayaking the rivers and springs of FL, mountain bike riding, hiking. Get me outside and I’m perfectly happy.
MPM: If you had to pick between recording music vs performing live front of millions of fans on stage what would be in your favor and why?
DL: Easy. Performing live. No doubt in my mind. Playing live in front of 10 or 1000 people is all the same to me. The energy on stage carries to the crowd and vice versa. When the crowd is part of the show and is interactive it’s an amazing experience.
MPM: Where do you see the extreme metal scene in the next 10-20 years with many bands on the horizon to push the boundaries for metal?
DL: I think it’s just going to get more popular especially with the unground exploding. There are tons of bands out there. The ones that really work take it seriously and keep at it are the ones that will break through. Seems every week I’m discovering a new band with a sick demo.
MPM: Lastly, thank you in doing this interview. Are there any last words to wrap this up?
DL: Thanks for the interview brother! We appreciate the support. People can check out our websites on Facebook….and
Interview by Jake Butler