Integrity is one of the few bands that never fail to fascinate me. The dark aesthetics, the cryptic lyrics and their absolutely individual approach of metallic punk music; all that made Cleveland’s most notorious and myth-enshrouded band my alltime favorite. I had the chance and honor to do an interview with their charismatic vocalist Dwid Hellion, discussing the current state of Integrity, their deal with Relapse Records and the band’s plans for 2017.
Hello Dwid! Thanks for investing your time to do this interview. How are you doing?
I am doing well, thank you.
2016 had some good news for Integrity and Integrity fans all over the world. You recently joined the roster of Relapse Records. How did you get in touch with one of America’s most popular and productive extreme Metal labels?
Relapse contacted me and asked if we would be interested in recording our new album with them. It’s a great label.
When Relapse Records announced that Integrity joined the roster, they also announced a new upcoming Integrity record which put a smile on my face. Is there already a rough plan when it will be released?
I believe the album should be available before summer 2017.
What can fans expect from the new record? Will it follow a similar concept like its predecessor “Suicide Black Snake” or do you feel there is something really different about what is going to come?
Every Integrity album sounds different from the discography. For this album, we have been working on a more dynamic production.
Who are the other musicians participating in the band and your upcoming record right now? Any known faces?
Domenic Romeo wrote the music for this album. Dom had a band years ago by the name of Pulling Teeth. He is a phenomenal and creative guitar player.
Integrity has always been a band that differed from other Punk, Metal and Hardcore bands. Your music always had a very dark, negative vibe and seemed to have much more of a certain depth to it that most other bands from these genres are lacking. What inspires you to write music and lyrics like that?
I write about subject matter that interests me and/or relates to my world. I believe that having a depth to it allows oneself to submerge into the album and experience it more vividly. Or at least that is the intention.
Besides Integrity you have always been active in several other artistic projects like your one-man Noise-Project Psywarfare. Are you currently doing anything creative other than Integrity?
I have a horror soundtrack themed project titled Vermapyre. I build my own electric guitars and other instruments for Vermapyre. It sounds dramatically different than Integrity.
Looking at your artworks and your videos one can see clear references to early horror movies and comics. What is it that fascinates you that much about this kind of aesthetics?
I have always been consumed by this type of visual. Since I was a small child, I have been attracted to this style of imagery. I enjoy the symbolism of horror, the mood that it sets, the allure of its shadows. German expressionist films really influenced me greatly.
If you would have to name one of these movies that influenced you the most, which one would it be?
It would be difficult to name only one. Nosferatu (1922) was important for me. Bride of Frankenstein (1935) has a fantastic mixture of humor, horror and cinematic artistry. Fritz Langs ‘Mabuse’ films have an interesting take where the villain is the main focus, I really love that. I also appreciate the decay and weathering that the old films have. I prefer the decay to restored versions of the films.
Although this question is not really directly referring to your music, I find it quite interesting because I feel that the atmosphere in your artworks somehow supports the artistic concept behind Integrity and your other projects.
Let’s get back to music. Are there bands that you would consider a relevant influence on the musical development of your own bands?
Samhain, GISM, 80s heavy metal (mainly for the genres guitar solo work), Black Sabbath, Alan Lomax field recordings, delta blues, Howlin‘ Wolf, gospel music, Danzig, Throbbing Gristle, too many influences to mention them all.
Are there any current bands or records that really managed to fascinate you?
A few. I like the band, Cape Of Bats and some other horror themed projects that my friends make. I mainly listen to the same music that I listened to as a child. I create my own music to entertain myself, so therefore I am not often searching new music.
Not long ago you released a single which contained a cover of Randy Uchida Group’s “Deathly Fighter”. The song’s lyrics are in Japanese and on the cover it sounds like you sticked to the Japanese lyrics. How did you manage to do so? Did you in fact learn the language for this cover or did you just learn the lyrics by ear?
Yes, I learned how to sing the song in Japanese. I thought it would be more fitting for me to record the vocals in Japanese. My friend, Kemmy (from Tokyo) helped me with the lyrics. It was quite challenging to be able to accomplish that.
Talking about Japanese music, I think it’s also worth mentioning that you shared the stage with the Japanese Metal-Punk legends G.I.S.M. at this years edition of the Roadburn Fest where you played with your project Vermapyre. You often mentioned G.I.S.M. as one of your favorite bands and a relevant influence on Integrity. How was it to share the stage with one of your favorite bands? Did you meet them in person?
GISM has been a huge influence on me since I first listened to them in 1984. Finally seeing Sakevi perform 30 years later was a dream come true. Yes, I was lucky to be able to spend some time hanging out with Sakevi and Souchi at Roadburn. Integrity will be performing at Roadburn 2017.
Back to Integrity. It’s been hard to catch Integrity playing a show over the last few years but among the few shows that you played was the This Is Hardcore Fest 2016. How was it? Did you enjoy it? How did the audience respond to your set?
We only perform live occasionally. TIHC was a great experience. Joe is the consummate professional. Judging from the photographs of our set, it appears that everyone enjoyed the performance.
What can we expect from Integrity in the near future? Any upcoming tours, shows, records or other things we might love to hear?
The new album on Relapse. We are also playing Roadburn, Hellfest and a few other dates in 2017.
Thank you for the interview Dwid! I will leave the last words to you!