In the December issue of the magazine, yours truly wrote a preview feature for this year’s Metal and Beer Fest: Denver, to be held at the Summit on December 1 and 2. Because of the limitations inherent to print, not all parts of all interviews were able to be used in the piece, but considering Mother of Graves‘ guitarist Chris Morrison, Phobocosm guitarist Samuel Dufour, Krypts’ bassist/vocalist Antti Kotiranta, Astral Tomb guitarist/vocalist Michael Schrock and The Munsens’ bassist/vocalist Mike Goodwin all took the time and effort to respond to my email inquiries, we’ve decided to run their responses here as a supplemental feature to the upcoming gathering of suds and slamming. Take it away, folks (please note that since these interviews, the status of band/brew collaborations may have changed):
What was your reaction upon being asked to play this year’s M&BF Denver? Is there a particular story behind your coming to be a part of this year’s lineup? Did the invitation from Albert come out of the blue or did it follow heavy bouts of petitioning and lobbying on your part?
Chris Morrison: Man, the invite was totally out of the blue! When I saw the email from Albert asking us if we’d consider playing, we were all absolutely shocked because playing one of these has been a dream of ours for a while. We’d actually talked about it a few times, thinking that maybe if our next album did OK we could try to weasel our way onto one of them. None of us thought we’d be in consideration for a long time, though, if ever. We don’t play out much. We only have the one full-length out. But yeah, we are stoked as hell and I would’ve been pestering Albert if I knew there was even a chance! Just being asked means a lot because the Decibel festivals and tours have always had some of the most amazing lineups ever, so it is a damn honor to be a part of this lineup. It is going to be an amazing time. I’m bringing my wife and kids out with me to make it a small family get away. My son turns nine on the first day of the fest, so while he can’t have any of the beer, maybe we can snag him some sick birthday merch.
Samuel Dufour: That’s actually a pretty funny story. Three-fourths of the band attended this year’s Decibel Metal & Beer Festival in Philly [in 2023] because we really wanted to see Gorguts, Incantation, Suicidal Tendencies, Mizmor and a few others. So, we drove the 10-plus hours from Montreal to be at the fest. When the show started on Friday, we just kept saying how awesome it would be to be on the bill of a future edition of M&BF. We had been talking about this constantly since the first day of the fest. On Saturday, we were still pretty hungover from the first night and as soon as we entered the venue, we started talking about that again. I remember that the doors opened at 4:30 and by 5:15, our label head Matt from Dark Descent Records sent me a text message asking me if we’d be interested in playing at the Denver edition in December. Needless to say, we immediately said yes without even thinking about the logistics and the costs involved and we just couldn’t stop smiling and hi-fiving for the rest of the day. So yeah, no ass-kissing was involved, Albert simply asked Matt, which makes it even cooler.
Antti Kotiranta: Matt from our label, Dark Descent Records hinted that Albert would be interested in booking us at the fest. We just let Matt know that we are in and not soon after received the invitation from Albert. Our last time in the States was five years ago, so it’s great to return and to a different fest than the usual.
Michael Schrock: When we found out, we were super stoked. Not only will it be our biggest show by far, but to play with huge names like Khemmis and Agalloch is very exciting. We contacted Decibel to place an ad for our newest release, Total Spiritual Death and to release the single from that album, “Coward” and we suppose Albert liked it so much he asked us to play M&BF.
Mike Goodwin: We were fucking psyched! Shaun and I own a hot sauce company called Sauce Leopard, which supported the Decibel Ttour earlier this year. So, we’d been talking with Decibel and threw our hat in the ring for Metal & Beer Fest consideration. Not sure if we were on Albert’s radar already from past Psycho Las Vegas coverage, or if this was his first listen, but we are honored to be a part of the event.
What are your thoughts on the relationship between beer and metal? How would you characterize your particular relationship with beer?
Morrison: Metal and beer go hand in hand for a lot of people. It has been that way forever. I have a beer/metal memory that has always stuck with me. I remember being a teenager seeing Pantera for the first time and they brought these big trays out on stage full of Coors Light or whatever in plastic cups. Dime just started whipping them dozens of rows back into the crowd with everyone trying to catch them. I had snuck up into the pavilion from the lawn area and was just getting splashed with beer as they fell around me. But yeah, there’s nothing like attending a killer metal show with friends and like-minded fans. Standing around, having fun, living in the moment with a cold beer in hand, hoping that you don’t accidentally get bumped by an unexpected enthusiastic mosher and spill it all over. We have some beer fans in the band, for sure. We often like to have a few when we get together for practice, work in the studio or just hang out. Sometimes the practice room beer is bottom shelf piss beer and sometimes it’ll be a well done imperial IPA. Sometimes both. I gotta remind Ben to not bring anymore Natty Daddy, though… Oof. We actually all got together at a local brewery here (Mashcraft – check them out!) to sign a recording contract as a band some time ago. Beer often goes hand in hand with bonding with friends like that.
Dufour: We all love beer (maybe a little too much) and since half of the band goes to shows regularly, sometimes even 2-3 times a week depending on the week, we often end up drinking quite a few cold ones. There’s nothing like watching a good metal band playing live while drinking beers with your buddies. There are sooooo many shows coming up in Montreal in the fall, which means that we’ll be damaging our livers even more while watching great bands in the coming weeks.
Kotiranta: We like metal and beer.
Schrock: As a band where none of the members drink, that’s kind of a tough question for us. As such, our music pretty much has no relationship with beer.
Goodwin: There’s a whole hell of a lot of time between load in and show time and beer makes for an ideal time-killer. Mellow enough so you can keep it together, enough of a kick to make it interesting. (Half) jokes aside, I’d say our relationship with beer is fairly standard; we’re not obsessive craft beer heads or anything, but hell, we’re down for some beer.
Every city and town everywhere seems to have a craft beer scene brewing under the mainstream behemoth’s surface. What is the beer scene like in your hometown and how does it compare to 5, 10 or 15 years ago?
Morrison: The greater Indianapolis area was kind of blowing up with good to great breweries 5 to 10 years ago (and some bad ones), but as of late we’ve seen a number of them closing up shop, it seems. However, there is still a strong craft beer scene around here with a ton of breweries worth checking out. I gotta mention Black Circle in Indy, which is our main metal venue, but they are also a brewing company with some really good beers. Any metal fan needs to grab a beer and check out a show there if you’re ever in the area. We also have Sun King which is the consistently good “big” craft beer staple in the area. Guggman Haus Brewing Co. is a great spot to check out as well: terrific beers and German beer hall vibes. Mashcraft Brewing is one of my favorite local spots. We take our family there most weekends to have a couple pints, a big pretzel and play games. There are really a ton of options for good-to-great craft beer in the central Indiana area.
Dufour: In Montreal, it’s just crazy right now. It looks like a new microbrewery opens every week, some really good ones and some not-so-good ones too. The best ones usually survive, but there’s so much enthusiasm for beer nowadays that even most of the average ones survive. There are so many of them, it’s just impossible to try all of them. Some of our favorites are Mutoide and Fermentor, they’re owned by metalheads and they both have some really good beers.
Kotiranta: Like you stated in the question, the craft beer scene has also exploded in Finland. 15-20 years ago everyone was drinking bulk lagers as it was the only beer you’d get from the normal markets. It took the IPA boom to kickstart the craft beer scene here and now there’s hundreds of small breweries in and outside Helsinki. Five years ago we visited the Trve Brewing taproom in Denver and remember trying sour beer for the first time — and wondering what the fuck it is! It took at least three years before I started to see those here. The trends seem to come here later.
Schrock: We really appreciate Denver for having a plethora of microbreweries. We’re all for small business, so to live somewhere where there is real competition for “mainstream behemoth” breweries is very inspiring. Honestly, in the past 5 years, we haven’t noticed too much change, with breweries like Comrade, Station 26, and Blackstar having a strong presence already, but in the past 15 years it’s been crazy to see the scene explode out of places like RiNo.
Goodwin: I’m not sure I have the expertise to speak accurately about the evolution of the Denver scene, but it seems like the craft brewing scene really proliferated here over the past decade or two, as it has in many other cities. Denver has more than its fair share of great craft breweries, including a number that support and promote heavy music, which is so cool. Not to pick favorites, but we’ve always been super down with Trve and all they’re about.
What are your thoughts on this year’s lineup for the Denver fest? Any bands you’re particularly excited to see or reconnect with? Who are you looking most forward to clinking bottles and necking cold ones with?
Morrison: The lineup is so sick! When Albert emailed us he hinted that this lineup was going to be pretty special, and holy shit! We get to play the same day as Agalloch?! Never thought I’d get the chance to see them live. As far as who I am excited about seeing, I’d have to say I’m excited to see every band on the lineup if I get the chance, but Agalloch of course. We played with Khemmis in Chicago fairly recently, but I had to miss a chunk of their set so I am psyched to see them. I really want to see Cephalic Carnage as their first few albums were influential to me and Ben’s old death metal band back in the late ‘90s early ’00s. And Krypts is another I’m really looking forward to seeing! I hope to get the chance to cheers some beers with a bunch of new friends.
Dufour: I have to admit that there are a lot of bands I’ve yet to hear. I intend to do my homework and fix that very soon, but I’m so busy right now that I just haven’t been able to find the time to do so. The bands that we’re the most excited to see are our labelmates Krypts, one of the best death-doom bands on the planet, Primitive Man, the heaviest band known to mankind, as well as Cephalic Carnage, who’ve always been insanely good live. I’m also really curious to see KEN mode. I don’t know them that well, but I heard some material from their new album and it was totally crazy, especially the song “Unresponsive,” which sounds a lot like it could have been on what is to me the most brutal live album ever, Public Castration is a Good Idea by Swans.
Kotiranta: Most of the line-up is actually new for us, but looking forward to seeing Phobocosm and Primitive Man at least, and hanging out with all the local maniacs.
Schrock: There’s a great lineup this year and we’re especially thrilled to be playing with Primitive Man, Cephalic Carnage and Khemmis. We haven’t met anybody on this billing, so we’re excited to talk with pretty much everyone. [Guitarist/vocalist] Ethan [McCarthy] from Primitive Man is kind of a local legend, though.
Goodwin: Stacked lineup! Well done! Of course, we are always hyped to see the local homies. Hard to single out one band we are most excited for, but I’d say we are all thrilled to see The Red Chord.
Similarly, are there any beers you’re looking forward to sampling or getting shit hammered on?
Morrison: So, we definitely want to try to save getting shit hammered until after we play, but are super-excited to try out so many different beers, especially the ones that don’t make their way to Indiana. I have heard such great things about Wake Brewing and Trve Brewing. I have never had a chance to try either of their beers, so that is definitely happening. I am also super-excited to see what Brimming Horn brings out with them. We had the pleasure of playing a festival at their spot this year and had an absolute blast. They are the coolest people and make some of the best mead I’ve ever had.
Dufour: I think that the beers that will be available at the fest haven’t been revealed yet, but as I mentioned earlier, if there are red or Belgian-type beers, it will make me very, very happy. The other guys really like IPAs and imperial stouts, so they’ll probably be luckier than me since IPAs are everywhere these days. I really liked the Gorguts beer at the Philly edition of the fest, so hopefully there will be great beers like this one in Denver.
Kotiranta: Besides Trve, all the breweries are unknown to us, so we’re just gonna dive into the menus. All the imperial stouts and barley wines can be given to us.
Schrock: No, we still don’t drink.
Goodwin: Planning on running the gamut and seeing where that takes us.
Do you have anything special planned for your appearance at this year’s fest?
Morrison: Well, we are currently in pre-production, and about to start tracking, for our next album slated to come out in 2024. While I am sure our set will be heavily focused on material from Where the Shadows Adorn, we are kind of itching to throw in one of these new songs. Other than that, we are just going to bring the gloom and doom of a cold midwestern December to the mile high city and try to make people put a tear in their beer.
Dufour: Since we’ve never played in Denver, we’ll probably do songs from all of our releases, but we will concentrate a little more on the material from our upcoming album, which will be out by the time we play at the fest. If possible, we’ll have our live visuals running while we’re playing. We rarely have the chance to use them, but when we do, I feel like it brings a little something more to our chaotic show. As usual, not a single word will be uttered during our set because we feel like it breaks the mood of what we’re trying to accomplish. If people want to hear us talk, all they have to do is to come and see us at the merch table and we’ll be more than willing to have a little chat.
Kotiranta: This year marks the 10th anniversary of our debut album Unending Degradation and we will build the set around that album.
Schrock: We’ll be debuting some new material. And we may have some other surprises for you as well.
Goodwin: We’ve been working away on a new album and our set will consist mostly of this new material. We are pretty damn excited to play it for this crowd. It’s been a minute since we released anything, so we are looking forward to showcasing what we’ve been up to.
All tickets for Decibel Magazine Metal & Beer Fest: Denver are on sale now. Daily lineups and ticket links and info are below.
Purchase Decibel Magazine Metal & Beer Fest: Denver Two-Day tickets
Purchase Decibel Magazine Metal & Beer Fest: Denver December 1 tickets
Purchase Decibel Magazine Metal & Beer Fest: Denver December 2 tickets
DECEMBER 1, 2023
The Red Chord
DECEMBER 2, 2023
Mother of Graves
“Just Metal” Ticket (21+)
Admittance to the day’s event, but as the name suggests, you just get to see the show—no beer samples (You can still buy select beers a la carte if you’re 21+).
“Metal & Beer” Ticket (21+)
Admittance to the day’s event plus unlimited* sampling from our diverse lineup of national breweries presented by TRVE Brewing. Decibel Magazine Metal & Beer Fest: Denver 2023 sampling cups provided. Limited tickets available per day.
*Please note: In extremely extreme cases, certain high-ABV pours will be ticketed, with attendees receiving a limited number of tickets available to redeem for each offering.
If that weren’t enough, be sure to join us at the Marquis—just a few blocks away from the main event—as we kick off the festivities early with the official Metal & Beer Pre-Fest! On Thursday, November 30, death-crushing supergroup Umbra Vitae—featuring members of Converge and the Red Chord—will make an extremely rare headline appearance with support coming from Indianapolis black/thrash attack Graveripper and old-school thrash legends Psychosomatic get an early start to the weekend’s beerthrist.
Pre-fest tickets are just $20 in advance and are on sale now. Be there for the ultimate Metal & Beer pre-game!
NOTE: Pre-Fest tickets are NOT included with the purchase of Decibel Magazine Metal & Beer Fest: Denver tickets.