Surprisingly, Pig Destroyer’s Phantom Limb ended up on quite a few non-metal ’07 lists (along the Dillinger Escape Plan, another metal crossover). I prefer the double-stuffed 2004 half grind/half doom record Terrifyer — and think it’s the best of the Virginia band’s output — but there’s no denying Phantom’s a taut, thrilling, technically sick collection. In fact Decibel called it the best metal album of the year. I was reading their year-end issue, actually, when I came across a line in the Pig Destroyer feature about the band’s day jobs. I was surprised. Not because I thought they made enough money off their music to live in castles, but because guitarist/producer Scott Hull has so many different projects (Agoraphobic Nosebleed, Japanese Torture Comedy Hour, production work at his Visceral Sound studio, etc.) as well as a wife and kid, I figured he of all members wouldn’t have the time.
Pig Destroyer have always seemed like interesting guys (catch them live if you haven’t, and check out the authors and artists they reference), so I decided to make contact and get more information about what they’re doing when not tearing into “Pretty In Casts.” After the discussion with Hull and newest member Blake Harrison take a listen to Phantom Limb “romantic” bruiser “Girl In The Slayer Jacket.” Fittingly, their responses are as taut and to the point as their music.
Blake Harrison, electronics, noise
STEREOGUM: I read that you do sound design for folks like the New York Yankees. Can you explain your job?
BLAKE HARRISON: The company I work for does high end Audio/Video systems for stadiums, halls, arenas, churches, etc. I’m essentially a designer/drafter/engineer. Essentially I lay out and design the system on paper, make sure it meets the specifications and that it all works so it can be fabricated and installed. Sometimes, I get to go and turn on and tweak the PA systems in the stadiums Cameron Indoor Stadium was my first.
STEREOGUM: How long have you been involved with this?
BLAKE HARRISON: I’ve been a designer for over eight years, and involved in the audio industry for five.
STEREOGUM: Does the audio work ever overlap with Pig Destroyer?
BLAKE HARRISON: Yes, I think it helps. It taught me a lot about the sound works.
STEREOGUM: Are you involved with Pig Destroyer’s studio set-up?
BLAKE HARRISON: No, that’s mostly handled by Scott. The things my company does is more professional, we rarely get work in studios.
STEREOGUM: What sort of design were you doing before the audio?
BLAKE HARRISON: I worked for a microwave communications company, where I would design variable capacitors. Pretty bland actually.
STEREOGUM: Nowadays, do you work in an office?
BLAKE HARRISON: Because of the design element of my job, I’m frequently in the office, I rarely go to site, but I did a couple of time last year.
STEREOGUM: Can you talk about some of your recent projects? What sort of things do you need to know to make sure a project’s going to work? Sound, but also structures … physics?
BLAKE HARRISON: We do have to consider the acoustic properties of any given room, size etc… so I guess there is some of that involved. Physics doesn’t play much into it, the physical properties of sound waves have been documented a long time ago
STEREOGUM: So, are you a microphone expert? Or is it more the amps and PA itself?
BLAKE HARRISON: More amps and the PA itself. What we do is a little more permanent install, and large scale A/V systems.
STEREOGUM: What’s your background in sound?
BLAKE HARRISON: None, I just had an interest in it, I was a geneticist in college.
STEREOGUM: Did you ever have any jobs involving your studies as a geneticist?
BLAKE HARRISON: Nope, no genetics jobs.
STEREOGUM: How did you learn how to do audio? What sort of studying/reading did it take? Or was it largely by practice?
BLAKE HARRISON: A lot of it is just common sense and learning your way around the different products. Mostly everything I’ve learned was taught to me, or I took the initiative and did it on my own.
Harrison also co-hosts Ultraviolence on XM Radio Friday nights with Misery Index’s Jason Netherton. If you want more info, head to MySpace.
Scott Hull, guitar
STEREOGUM: How long have you been a survey engineer?
SCOTT HULL: Actually I’m not a survey engineer. The author of the Decibel article got us confused and I didn’t catch that when I proofed the article. J.R. and Brian are in the surveying industry, working for different companies. I am in IT.
STEREOGUM: How’d you get involved with IT? It’s for the government, correct?
SCOTT HULL: I’m an Oracle DBA and a UNIX system administrator/engineer. And yeah, I happen to work for the government.
STEREOGUM: Do you work from home or out of an office?
SCOTT HULL: I have to go to an office environment. The classified nature of my work doesn’t allow me to work from home. Big bummer.
STEREOGUM: Does the job get in the way of touring?
SCOTT HULL: Yeah. I’m only able to tour during our limited vacation windows.
STEREOGUM: Phantom Limb’s had a bit of crossover success. Do you imagine you’ll ever quit your day jobs and work entirely on the band?
SCOTT HULL: No, I wouldn’t be able to support my family or a mortgage doing underground metal.
STEREOGUM: Do your co-workers know about Pig Destroyer or Agoraphobic Nosebleed,
SCOTT HULL: Sure, I’m the cool techie nerd that everyone thinks is some kinda wacky rock star.
STEREOGUM: When you were in Anal Cunt, did Seth have a day job?
SCOTT HULL: Many of them. Cabbie. Liquor store clerk. Forgot the rest.
Remember what we said about the Mountain Goats’ Marduk shirt? Kinda sorta the same thing, minus the suicide and subsequent attempt-to-sue-Slayer part. Also, here’s the David Brodsky-directed video for “Loathsome,” another Phantom Limb track.
If you want to check out the bloodier, maybe NSFW, and just-posted “director’s cut,” you can get it here. It’s by a different director than the first, though, so who knows.
[L to R: Brian Harvey, J.R. Hayes, and our interviewees Blake Harrison and Scott Hull]