We got to speak with Kelly Kuciemba from Pacific Northwest’s death metal band Drawn And Quartered!
MPM: First off, thank you for doing this interview as I’ve been a long-time fan of the band for nearly a decade. Secondly, those unaware of who you are and your contributions to the band, could you introduce yourself to what you do?
KSK: Kelly Shane Kuciemba-Hails! Thank you for putting together these questions and thanks to anyone taking the time to read this interview. I play guitar and serve as a recording engineer on our last couple records.
MPM: Alongside vocalist Herb Burke, you and him are the originators that Drawn And Quartered formed when the band started in 1994 based out of Seattle, Washington which I am proud to call you guys hometown heroes of mine since I’m from the area. Where did the name originate and how did that came to be?
KSK: I originally conceived of a band called PLAGUE BEARER in 1992. There were a few other bands in the area working on DEATH METAL, ultimately I recruited some members of BUTCHERY and DISBELIEF to participate in recording 4 songs for PLAGUE BEARER. This recording resulted in a 4 song Tape that was distributed by MORIBUND RECORDS, I did a handful of shows as PLAGUE BEARER. Sometime in 1994 we decided to change the name to DRAWN AND QUARTERED. It was something Herb came up with, I liked it because it had the same amount of syllables as IRON MAIDEN! I still liked PLAGUE BEARER, and about 5 years later in 1999 I started doing music as PLAGUE BEARER again as well, and did several recordings over the years. In 2017 we started rehearsing and performing again as PLAGUE BEARER and have released 2 compilations and have a full length record coming out in Summer 2022.
MPM: Congregation Pestilence is the latest offering from the band and is the continuation to 2018’s The One Who Lurks. How was this album and the songwriting all commenced in comparison to previous material?
KSK: After I finished recording the tracks for ‘The One Who Lurks’ in 2017, I was inspired and wrote a new album of absolutely crushing pure sick brutal old school DEATH METAL. I then wrote a weird set of 4 songs in Drop A tuning I thought might make a good EP or split. I thought we might do the EP first then do the record. By 2018 our record ‘The One Who Lurks’ came out, and we started getting some great opportunities to play shows and Festivals all over the world. We kept discussing the EP. There were various obstacles to getting anything prepared for recording. By the time we were finally able to begin recording again it had been so long, I decided late in the game that we should go ahead and do a full length record. I didn’t want to dig in the full album I had already written, so a decision was made to record some songs that had been previously released in demo form on the ‘Proliferation of Disease’ Tape and CD. We chose our favorite songs from that release, songs that we had played live over the years. This made recording PROLIFERATION of DISEASE really easy for us, since we had a firm grasp of the 5 older songs, we just had to do something with the newer 4 songs in the Drop A tuning (we usually tune to B standard). Ultimately I think the new songs came out really good, and the older songs sound great too. The 4 newer songs were written and arranged by me and we went from there. The older songs on the record were mostly done a lot differently. The song Age of Ignorance was a game changer and began a new way of creating songs for us as Simon (Dorfman-drums) and I really began to be able to write and arrange spontaneously. This is something we’ve done a lot of as we’ve efficiently been working with demos I set to a click track. Some of the other songs were more collaborative with the arrangements, something I’ve been getting back to as time permits.
MPM: To Kill Is Human was released in 1999 and I consider that album to be not only underrated for death metal but it was ahead of its time that really struck with me when I first was exposed to Drawn And Quartered. What album from the band’s catalog would you say has been your favorite in terms of musicality, growth and evolution?
KSK: We self released ‘To Kill is Human’ in 1998 and re-issued it on MORIBUND RECORDS in 1999. ‘Hail Infernal Darkness’ is definitely one of our best in that regard.
MPM: When I first heard 2012’s Feeding Hell’s Furnace I noticed there were a lot of influences being borrowed from Immolation, Incantation, Dead Congregation, Infester and even Angelcorpse to a extent. Whom would you say has been your biggest motivation in being a guitarist and what were your first introduction getting into heavier music at a young age?
KSK: Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath is my main influence, as well as Jimi Hendrix. Certainly I’ve been influenced by INCANTATION, IMMOLATION, MORBID ANGEL and ANGELCORPSE. As an aspiring musician I was a fan of Randy Rhoads, Michael Schenker, Tony MacAlpine, Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani and Richie Blackmore.
MPM: Krucyator Productions handled the release for Congregation Pestilence. How did they communicate with Drawn And Quartered and how’s the chemistry been since the release of the album?
KSK: I’ve been working with KRUCYATOR for a few years now and we’ve released a lot of DRAWN AND QUARTERED records on various formats. We’ve done 2 studio records and have our next one in the worked to be released by KRUCYATOR next year most likely. Loic and KRUCYATOR is a big part of our sound and making the last 2 records together. We originally started corresponding after I bought a tape from the m about 5 years ago.
MPM: What tracks off on Congregation Pestilence are you most proud of from a heaviness standpoint of view and do you feel lyrics in music is important based on the theme of the record?
KSK: I’m having a great time playing ‘Carnage Atrocity and the title track right now. ‘Congregation Pestilence’ is our first real, total doom song. That’s a lot of fun to play and relevant to recent world events.
MPM: The Pacific Northwest music world has grown significantly in recent memory with many finding their way and footing to make a name for themselves. With many bands such as Bell Witch, UADA, Bewitcher, Wolves In The Throne Room, Ritual Necromancy, Black Breath, Enterprise Earth, Ascended Dead and others, do you feel the scene is healthier than it ever sounded before?
KSK: Yeah it’s pretty amazing and fun to get to play with some of these bands also; OXYGEN DESTROYER, KOMMAND, PETRIFICATION, CEREBRAL ROT, MORTIFERUM, AENIGMATUM, TORTURE RACK, EFFLUVIA, TRUCULENCE, PESTE UMBRUAM, FOUL, NOROTH, WEREGOAT, many more. There is an amazing amount of music being mad in this region.
MPM: Since live shows are making a comeback in certain regions of the world, who you like to bring on tour for future Drawn And Quartered concerts?
KSK: I have some tours I’d like to do with DEAD CONGREGATION, PURGATORY, DIABOLIZER, RIPPED TO SHREDS.
MPM: When recording the album for Congregation Pestilence, was it a difficult challenge and time mixing and writing the record due to the global pandemic or was this a motivation to possibly make more music in the future?
KSK: We started tracking the drums about a week before any major COVID lockdowns. I engineered the rest of the record myself, so no disruptions due to COVID. Having less to do in general, and not going anywhere it was a fine time to get stuck in a record.
MPM: If you had to choose between performing live music front of hundreds and thousands of people across the world or recording music at a studio, what would you choose and why?
KSK: I’ve done plenty of recording, and I love it. I’d much rather play in front of lot’s of people, for sure.
MPM: In your humblest opinion, do you favor streaming music digitally or prefer buying physical copies of cd’s, tapes and vinyls?
KSK: I buy physical copies, mostly at shows, but I order some things and listen to digital streams when it’s convenient.
MPM: What are your favorite activities you enjoy on your spare time when you aren’t on tour that fans don’t know about you?
KSK: I haven’t toured much lately, and I work a job, most musicians do. I have a more than full time job as a chef in a small restaurant near my house. I also play in DRAGHKAR and SERPENT RIDER as well as DRAWN AND QUARTERED and PLAGUE BEARER. I have a family and a house to maintain. When I find the time I am an enthusiast and collector of table top miniature games.
MPM: Before we wrap up this interview, I like to thank you once again for your time into doing this and I hope more music from Drawn And Quartered will be on the horizon for years to come. Are there any last words you like to discuss for future tours, promotion or anything in that regard?
KSK: DRAWN AND QUARTERD is looking forward to performing some shows in 2022 for the first time since 2019. We are excited to start tracking our next record sometime this summer. We have a very cool split record, that should be coming out this year I will share more about in the coming months. Thanks and HAIL INFERNAL DARKNESS!!!
Interview by Jake Butler