Being the drummer responsible for some of the major doom releases of the mid-’90′s (Type O Negative’s Bloody Kisses, Life Of Agony’s River Runs Red), Sal Abruscato knows a thing or two about what makes those kind of albums work. That said, it’s no surprise that he’s stepped out from behind the kit to spearhead A Pale Horse Named Death whose sophomore album Lay My Soul To Waste was just released through SPV/Steamhammer. Abruscato recently spoke with Popblerd via phone about the recording of their new record, working with a fellow TON drummer, and what’s down the line for APHND:
What would you say is the biggest difference between And Hell Will Follow Me and Lay My Soul To Waste?
The mastering process and the harmonies and overall production of the album take it to the next level and show progression that still stays in the same vein as the first album, just bigger and better. Also, I think the difference is we went even further darker subject-wise and sound-wise and then we made it a little more prevalent with some other instruments like piano and stuff like that in some of the songs.
APHND records are generally pretty dark, what drives the sound of the band?
Just the horrible side of humanity and just how hard life can be. I seem to pick out all the negatives all the time with dark thoughts and subject matter hence the tracks going in that direction. Pretty much that’s our thing: Be dark and depressing!
Do you have a favorite song on LMSTW?
They’re all like my children but I am especially proud of a song like “Day Of The Storm”. But I do love them all! I can’t say there’s a song I don’t like…the ones that I didn’t think were up to standards didn’t make it on the record.
What compelled you to come out from behind the kit and front your own band?
It was something I always wanted to do but I was extremely shy about it. I was kind of in the closet about wanting to sing publicly but it was just a matter of time before I would jump and try this.
The writing was kind of on the wall. Iin 2008 going into 2009 it was clearly obvious that Life Of Agony’s lifespan was running out and that we were never gonna make a new record let alone continue that much longer doing any kind of touring so I felt that was kind of the right time to get into a new concept and mindspace. I had been playing drums for other bands for a very long time [and] I always played guitar at home. Always wrote songs. Always had this vision. It seemed like the timing was right to begin this process of writing and I kept writing and writing and writing and I played Matt Brown (guitar) the demos and he thought it was great and was like: “We gotta do this, we gotta rerecord everything and make it even better!”
Having been fronting APHND for some time now, do you prefer being in the front of the band or being behind the kit?
There’s two different kind of challenges. Being a drummer is very physically demanding and a very important job that’s underrated at times. I love playing guitar. I like expressing myself to people. I like speaking my mind. I like presenting my music the way I see things and how I see my style and just present it to people that are interested in seeing it and hearing it, y’know? I’m enjoying that part. It’s very stressful and it makes me nervous always to go in front of people but over the last couple of years with playing live shows and doing a couple tours you build confidence and you learn from your mistakes and you just get better and better.
You are a band that consists of 2 former Type O Negative drummers now. Why was Johnny the right choice?
You know, I see Johnny all the time…we knew each other before either one of us was in Type O Negative. When I had finished the first record, before it was signed or anything, he invited me to a barbeque or something like that and I brought the record with me and I played it for him at his house and he thought it was really, really good. We started joking around saying “Hey wouldn’t it be funny if the two drummers from Type O Negative were in the same band together?” and I guess that sort of stuck with both of us and then he said later on to me “If you really need somebody…I’ll do it!” So when it came time for me and Matt to put a band together we said “You know what? It’s pretty obvious it would be a pretty cool thing …” He likes playing this type of stuff also and we went for it and it’s been great ever since.
What are the touring plans following LMSTW?
We’re looking at September/October starting the first stint in Europe. The plan is that everything should be starting in the fall.
What do you hope fans take away from a Pale Horse Named Death show or album?
A total sonic euphoric experience. I want them to take home the songs in their minds. Word of mouth is really the best way to gain new fans so I want them to walk away raving about the band and saying good things to other people and getting other people interested in the band.
Seeing that your sound is this amalgamation of Alice In Chains and Type O Negative at times, have you ever considered putting a TON song in your set (especially with Johnny in the band)?
No. It would not be appropriate. I don’t think it would be fair to Type O Negative or Peter Steele or APHND. A Pale Horse Named Death is A Pale Horse Named Death. Yes, there’s the lineage but I don’t think it’d be right to do that. I don’t think it’d be right for anybody to do Peter’s songs except for Peter. Who knows, in the future there could be a cool jam where maybe Kenny (Hickey, TON guitarist) would come on stage but I highly doubt it and I don’t know if it’s appropriate. I wouldn’t feel right about it. Maybe five years from now it’d be a little bit okay but at the moment I wouldn’t be interested in that.
What is your proudest moment since forming A Pale Horse Named Death?
At the end of 2011, Revolver magazine gave us #6 in their “Best Albums of the Year” issue with all these other huge bands. That was a proud moment! Pretty much anytime I read a good review or something positive in the press about the band it makes me feel really good. It makes me feel like all the hard work I’m doing is not in vain. When we were done mastering this record at Sterling Sound it was just a great feeling of accomplishment also.
Lay My Soul To Waste is out now through SPV/Steamhammer. Find out more about the band and where you can pick up both of their albums here.