Interview: A Flourishing Scourge

Interview: A Flourishing Scourge

Jul 05

A Flourishing Scourge live


An Interview with Kevin Carbrey of Seattle’s A Flourishing Scourge


For as healthy a year 2017 has been so far with quality metal releases, not many of the year-end worthy albums I can think of off the top of my head have been debuts. And while this isn’t a Seattle metal site, I do like to keep a strong local showing here simply for pride’s sake, and one of those few debuts that come to mind was the recent release of progressive black/death metal band A Flourishing Scourge‘s self-titled full-length. If you haven’t checked it out yet (you can hear a few tracks on episodes 53 and 54 of the site’s podcast) then definitely do so; it’s some pretty damn fine extreme metal.

In the meantime, here’s an interview with bassist Kevin Carbrey about the new album, recording it at Gojira‘s studio, and the local scene (or lack thereof).



What’s the history of the band?

The band was formed by lead vocalist and guitarist Tye Jones and the band’s original drummer, Josh Keifer, in 2013. After writing a few initial songs and defining their sound, I joined in 2014, with lead guitar player Andrew Dennis joining in early 2015. From there, it’s been non-stop. We began playing live almost immediately, and then took that first batch of songs written by Tye and Josh and put them on our demo EP, As Beauty Fades Away, which was released in September 2015. After that, we parted ways with Josh, and took the interim time to complete the songs for this album. We hit Gojira’s Silver Cord Studio in June of 2016 and have spent the last year mixing and mastering, as well as doing some regional touring. After using Samus Paulicelli of Decrepit Birth to cut the drums for the album, we hooked up with our newest member, Elijah Losch, to complete the current line-up.

How would you describe how the writing has developed between the EP and the debut full-length?

The process was more or less the same. Most of the songs for the full-length had already been written and arranged before we even recorded the EP. So Tye, with the help of Josh, had song structures and lyrical ideas for 2 or 3 tracks before Andrew and I joined, and then Tye put the finishing touches on the others afterward. Similar to the EP, Tye provided Andrew and I with multi-tracked versions of the songs with complete rhythm guitar parts and harmonies and the programmed drum ideas. From there, I’d write and add my bass parts, and Andrew would work up his leads. There was definitely a bit more collaboration on these as we worked out a lot of different sections collectively, but the arrangements themselves changed very little. The only exception to that is that Andrew brought in the concept for “Awakened” and “Vacant” with most of the arrangements and riffs in place, then Tye ‘Scourged’ it up a bit to maintain our signature sound. Josh contributed lyrics for one of the songs, and I also co-wrote lyrics for “Tidal Waves” and “Vacant” with Tye, which was a departure from the EP as well. All of that said, we’ve exhausted the backlog of song ideas, so our next effort will be truly collaborative and from scratch. We’ve already begun discussions on how we’re going to approach the writing process this time. It will definitely still yield AFS-sounding material, but I think the overall result will have a few more dimensions.

The music on the debut progresses between furious and vicious bouts of black/death metal and much more subtle and atmospheric elements; it that something the lyrical content follows? It seems as though there’s a ‘flower in a wasteland’ idea behind many of the song’s vibe.

Ah! You may be onto something there! In an effort to remain as pretentious as possible, I won’t tell you the whole story, preferring that you keep exploring the songs and themes on your own, but yes, there are direct links between the music, arrangement, lyrics and visual aspects of the album art. Taken separately, you really don’t get the full message of the album. All of the components provide different clues as to the meaning of the work in total. All of that said, the lyric content doesn’t necessarily mirror the music beneath it, but the concept of beauty and elegance surrounded by a world of fury and aggression is certainly topical.

You recorded the album in Gojira’s Silver Cord Studio in New York, why the continent-spanning trip from Seattle for that? Did the opportunity just present itself or were you trying for a sound similar to the other albums that have been recorded there?

The EP was recorded in our basement. We’ve got some decent gear and Tye has some pretty solid experience recording, engineering and editing. We were happy with the result, but wanted to try something a little different this time. First, while the gear and our studio were solid, they’re nothing compared to the quality and variety of a full-blown studio. Secondly, we really wanted a solid live room to record in, and the one Gojira has built is amazing, with custom baffling and a floating floor; really warm and rich sounding and that certainly was a factor in our decision. Additionally, I think we wanted to reward ourselves a bit, if that makes sense. We’d been grinding on those songs for two years straight, and felt it was time to take the music out-of-house to get a fresh perspective. Traveling to NYC was a great experience, we learned a ton, and just the whole living-the-studio-life, grinding out the tracks on a timeline and living in our Brooklyn Air BnB was great. Secretly though, I think Tye just wanted to focus solely on the recording of his parts, and not worry about having to engineer simultaneously.

Ironically, Gojira hadn’t even released Magma when we’d reached out to them. That was the first record that had been cut there and, besides a few other one-off sessions, I believe we’re the only indie band to come off the street and track there. We’d seen the story of the new studio on Gear Gods online, and it looked beautiful [check out the video here – ed.]. That episode happened to come out right at the time we were shopping for studios, and it seemed to be perfect. That said, we kind of had to take a leap of faith on the product. We had to put down the deposit for the studio time a few weeks before Magma was released, so we were kind of holding our collective breath waiting for that to come out so we could hear how the album actually sounded. Turns out the sound quality, engineering, and overall production for that album was so crisp and warm, it matched perfectly with our vision.

Along with that, the choice of Jens Bogren for mastering the album definitely stands out; the man certainly has his own brand of sound.

Absolutely. We’re all fans of the Gothenburg Sound he’s famous for, and had wanted to work with him for years. The music business is a shit show these days but, an unexpected silver lining, is that studios and musicians are trying so hard to stay afloat that they’re branching out into different revenue streams to remain financially viable. We saved our pennies, and that allowed us to really choose whomever we wanted to work with, so someone like Jens, who would typically be out of reach for most bands without label support, have suddenly become more accessible. We wanted the clarity and depth of the Magma album, while still maintaining a sort of European sensibility, so the ability to track with the Gojira guys and then have Jens sprinkle his Swedish fairy dust on the finished product was really cool.

Speaking of flourishing things, the Seattle scene for progressive extreme metal is quite impressive lately with bands like A Sense of Gravity and Isenordal. What kind of positive impact comes from developing in a healthy scene like that?

That’s actually an interesting perspective to hear. I, personally, don’t think there’s much of a scene here at all. In fact, I’d say that most of our Seattle based peers would say the same. It’s actually almost a disadvantage to be from Seattle, compared to, say, the East Coast, parts of California, and even Portland. So, yes, there’s a million bands out here. We’ve played probably 30 local shows in the last two years, and I can say, in all sincerity, that of all the bands we’ve played with that would be qualified as “extreme” have been exceptional. Disclaimer: By extreme I mean traditional black and death metal etc. Not anything “core”. So, you definitely have a nice talent pool and some great bands but, just like the music business at large, it’s really hard to separate yourself from the herd. But having a large collection of bands definitely does not create a scene. There is no real metal scene here at all. No collaboration between bands. It’s very difficult to get folks out to shows, and it’s a lot more cutthroat than you might imagine. I certainly miss the days when I was growing up, where you had huge groups of friends that all played in bands, and you jammed together, played shows together, worked on collaborations and always supported each other at shows or in general. Here, it seems that everyone is kinda out for themselves. In Seattle, most times you are lucky if the opening bands stay and watch the full show. Pretty sad. But…It’s not all bad. We’ve made some great friends in other bands and have toured with other local outfits. Those smaller 1:1 relationships still yield a kind of stone-sharpening-stone dynamic, so that’s always welcome. There’s so many great bands here and so many resources, it kinda sucks that no one has been able to figure out how to make the scene more cohesive.

Just as an example of how over-saturated and herd-like the scene is, even though I’ve played in or supported this band and this scene 24 hours a day for the last 3 years, I’ve never heard of Sense of Gravity, and Isenordal has only come onto my radar in the last month. Again, sad times.

Do you feel there’s a good local support base from the fans at least?

See above? It really depends, I suppose. I think that if a solid bill has been put together and it’s supported and promoted by everyone involved including the venue, you can get a good cross-section of people at your shows. However, those things don’t typically happen. There are so many bands playing so many shows, that you really have to put something special together to create a decent draw. With so many options, people are choosing to be very selective about the shows they attend, and metal just isn’t the flavor in Seattle. When we first started out, we were playing 3-4 shows a month. That was simply too much. We now have realized that if we are very selective with our shows, and only play a city quarterly at most, the draws for those shows are significantly bigger and you’re not burning everyone out. It was fine to play out all the time when we were starting out and trying to build a fan base, but I think we’re now content to play a one off show locally every few months, then tour out of town the rest of the time in between album cycles.

You’ve released the record on your own label, how have you handled the learning curve for that? Most independent bands don’t bother learning the business and PR ropes, but you seem to have managed a pretty decent release with exposure from name sites like Invisible Oranges and Metal Underground.

This is another function of the state of the music business. Back in the day, you made all your money through album sales. Since the advent of digital platforms, that’s right out the window because people don’t buy albums anymore. Why would they when they’re readily available on streaming services, YouTube etc? So, we’re not really sure what a record label even does anymore. It’s cheap and relatively easy to distribute your albums digitally. Management is mostly just planning, financial management, and social media management, which most people can do on their iPhone, and the other aspects like the studio and PR etc., are all contracted separately anyway, so why not just skip the middle man and book that stuff directly yourselves? In reality, all a record company does these days is front you the money to make your album. Then, you have to pay back that amount with the first sales of the album anyway, so essentially you just took out a loan. We were able to skip all that, pay for the album ourselves, then contract directly with a PR firm for the promotional cycle. I think the real gem in this business these days is finding a solid booking agent who can get you on bigger bills or tours. With them, they’re leveraging their reputation and connections to make that happen, and finding a good booking agent is often more difficult than finding label support. But, there again, we have the power to contract that without the middleman, which keeps any of the (very meager) profits with us. So, as it stands, we’ve been able to meet our goals managing the ship ourselves. That said, we’re really trying to figure out a new model that can be successful in today’s climate. To that end, we’ve reached out to labels, managers, and agents to see if we can figure out a hybrid system that pulls together the strengths of all involved, but we’d definitely never relinquish the vision or creative control we’re enjoying now, so who knows…?

What’s the immediate future for the band now that the album is out? Any regional touring plans?

Currently, we are taking a very well-deserved break this summer. We, quite literally, worked 3 years non-stop to get the band up and running, and to get out the EP and the full-length. Needless to say we’re exhausted. We’re going to enjoy some time with our friends and family and do some traveling this summer before reconvening in late August to begin ramping up for a fall tour that kicks off in November. I’m sure we’ll play locally in September or October to get our stage legs back, then head south for a short tour that will take us into Oregon and just about every major city in California. That’s as far as we’ve gotten. Lots of great plans for the distant future, but we’ll deal with that AFTER the break.


You can find A Flourishing Scourge on: their website, Facebook, Bandcamp, Instagram, and Twitter.