INTERVIEW: MALCOLM PUGH (INFERI, THE ARTISAN ERA, DEMON KING)

For the first time ever, we’re traveling way outside our comfort zone to bring our readers some words from our favorite established bands. Yes, within these pages, you’ll still see plenty of content from amazing Upstate New York metal talent, but we’ll also be incorporating the bigger bands from across the country, and across the world who are dear to us. From here on out, WRETCHED SOUND will be interviewing our modern favorites as well – the bands who stand out the most to us in all subgenres of metal. To kick us off, meet Malcolm Pugh, main composer, guitarist, and backup vocalist of INFERI from Nashville, Tennessee. INFERI are one of my all-time top melodic death metal bands, mostly for their unique sound combining blackened riffs and orchestral arrangements with MDM. Malcolm also heads THE ARTISAN ERA, a sick record label home to INFERI (obviously), ABIOTIC, ARKAIK, INANIMATE EXISTENCE, THE ODIOUS CONSTRUCT and more!!!

Inferi are:

Stevie Boiser – vocals

Malcolm Pugh – guitars

Mike Low – guitars

Andrew Kim – bass

Spencer Moore – drums

1. You once said that you used to work in a vinyl pressing factory. Did this inspire you to start The Artisan Era, or was the idea of forming a label floating around even earlier? What gave you the final nudge you needed to make The Artisan Era happen?

• Actually, TAE come long before when I released A Loathing Requiem’s first album in 2010. However, Mike and I made it an official thing once we dropped The Path of Apotheosis (INFERI) in 2014.

2. You’ve always said that artwork is one of your major focuses when marketing bands, including your own. Are you able to list off some of your favorites to work with who don’t work exclusively for TAE? Who are your go-tos for sick album covers and insane vinyl variants?

• Justin Abraham, Helge C. Balzer and Sam Nelson are awesome artists to work with, but there are so many out there. As far as vinyl variants go, that is a different process that just comes from my experience working at a pressing plant in the past. I put those together behind the scenes.

3. Looking at your band history as a guitarist, it seems as though your writing style has gotten consistently more melodic as time has gone on. Is this simply the result of the bands you’ve been involved with at a given time, or have you found yourself writing differently as you get older?

• I think as time goes on it is just the natural direction I’ve taken as a guitarist. I just follow my ears to what I think sounds good. Whatever ideas get me into a flow state when I write, I just go with it until I find something that I can’t stop working on.

4. What are some tips you’d be willing to give to musicians who are just now walking into juggling multiple creative outlets? One of my favorite things about you as a content creator is your ability to manage time. Between your past bands, running the label with Mike, and releasing so much music with Inferi in not that long a time, in a nutshell, HOW U DO DIS?

• My advice would be to go all-in and make the necessary sacrifices you need to give it your all. For example, back in 2012, I gave my little brother my X-BOX because Call of Duty was getting in the way of my ability to create. Nowadays, a musician has to learn how to use a DAW, Photoshop, video editing software, etc. There should be no such thing as being boredom when you have a goal. There is always something that can be done. As far as juggling goes, good luck with that (laughs).

5. What do you get the most satisfaction from?

a. completing a song in the rehearsal space or at home

b. completing a release in the studio

c. the rush of the live show/being on the road

• Completing a song is by far the most satisfying. It’s like a drug to me. I typically don’t write in the same room as other people. That is a distraction for me, so when the ideas flow and start coming together, that is the biggest rush of endorphins that my brain can get from being a musician.

6. On the new Inferi album Vile Genesis (releasing 9/10/21), is this a concept album, and if so, what would a quick synopsis of the story be? Is this a Stevie question?

Vile Genesis is a conceptional continuation of our 2014 album The Path of Apotheosis, which was about an ancient alien race called the Annunaki creating mankind as a slave race, going to war with each other and leaving the remaining humans on the planet to fend for themselves. Vile Genesis is about mankind creating AI that unlocks a gateway for our creators to return to us and that doesn’t end well! It’s kind of a full-circle thing.

7. Talk about a technique on guitar you struggled with for a long time that you are now proficient at.

• That is a really tough question because I’m not sure I fully remember the earlier struggles that much anymore. However, I do remember grinding sweeping picking a lot back in the day.

8. Tobi from Archspire has cited Diskreet as being “the perfect tech death band”. What are some of your favorite contributions to that band, whether it be a riff or a song?

• Either “Serpent’s Tongue” or “Spinal Cord Collection,” are some of my favorites. Those were actually songs that I was working on for A Loathing Requiem before joining the band.

9. What was it like working with First Fragment? What level of insanity is behind the creation of their music?

• I only did a guest solo on the track “Evhron”, so I’m too sure about their secrets (laughs).

10. What has morale been like in your band during the pandemic? I suppose I could ask the same for everyone involved with the label, since you and Mike run TAE. Have you taken to any hobbies outside of music since being off stage for so long, or do your bands and the label keep you “busy enough”?

• Morale has its moments as with anything else. We’ve done a pretty good job at staying focused for the most part I think. I personally always try to have something else outside of music to help not get burnt out by it. Whether it be learning how to film videos, or up my graphic design skills, or any other skill for that matter. Before we starting tour a lot, I used to be a snake breeder. I might have to get back into it in the future depending on how things go (laughs). But lately, I’ve been getting into Warhammer 40k miniature painting.

Visit www.inferi.bandcamp.com and pick up a copy of Inferi’s latest album, Vile Genesis along with some sweet merch!!

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