Prior to the release of ALL HAIL THE YETI‘s new album, Screams from a Black Wilderness, vocalist Connor Garritty discusses what went into this new album alongside his tattooing career. This is the bands second release following the same metal tones with a hint of nursery rhymes as before. This album also brings the four members together as their project, confirming the line up and allowing their style to develop.
What inspired the new album?
Connor: It’d been four years between the first record and this record so we had a lot of time to think of subject matter and what we wanted to write about and stuff over the years. There wasn’t one specific thing that inspired it, just as artists and songwriters we just kinda take everything that happens in a certain period of time and use that to create a piece of work, so I think it had a lot of contributions to why we did it.
What was your aim for this album?
Connor: We wanted to do something a little bit different from our first record. We didn’t want to stray too far from the path with it being our second album, but we didn’t want to scare off our original fans but we also didn’t want to do the same thing over again. With the second record, they call it the sophomore blues or whatever, and we just wanted to make sure we pleased everybody but also a bigger audience as well.
Did anything not happen that you wanted to?
Connor: There was a few things, we wanted to use some samples and stuff like that from movies and audio clips but the label and our producer were like, unless we get proper clearance it’s not a good idea because these guys can turn around and sue you, and because we want the record reaching more people than our first one we had to go with them. To get clearance on a lot of that stuff it’s thousands and thousands of dollars so we’re just gonna use them in the live show instead and hope for the best!
That makes sense but you still have a reference to The Wizard Of Oz in Witch Is Dead.
Connor: Absolutely! We’ve always tried to use that kinda nursery rhyme, campfire story kind of a thing. It’s just something that’s always attracted me to music. I spent a lot of time as a kid around the campfire, singing songs and stuff like that so it’s stuff that’s very easy to remember and very catchy. It brought a lot of happiness or it could scare you singing the different songs. So with the first record, with Fe Fi Fo Fum and Suicide Woods that went over really well with our fans and one day I was just sitting around and thinking about a new song and, I don’t know where it came from, but it just came to me and I think it seemed perfect, so we went with it and it worked out really great.
Do you think the band changed significantly as a result of this album?
Connor: Yes, it has. The first record was the first ten of fifteen songs we had ever written and it was written with a bunch of different people over the course of about five or six years. There’s a lot of line up changes and different writers on different songs, not that they sounded different from one another, they just weren’t complied by the four of us as we are now. This record was written by Alan and I and when we started writing it we knew kinda what we wanted to do. We wanted a few more hooks and sing-along choruses and stuff, but still keep the heaviness. It just happened the way it did and we thought this time around it’s a lot more personal to us and we’re very attached to it because it was just the four of us who wrote it. I think that’s the biggest difference between this and the last record.
In comparison, how long did this record take from start to finish?
Connor: We started writing, like sitting down and writing, when we got back from the Europe and UK tour with 36 CRAZYFISTS last year which would have been 2015 about March. So we wrote pretty extensively from March ‘til about August, and then at the end of August we started recording with Matt Hyde so quite a bit quicker than the first one. I mean the first one, like I said, we had songs written from when I started the band in 2006 all the way until we tracked it in 2012.
Who is the little girl who speaks in Before The Flames?
Connor: I don’t know if I should give that one away. Should I keep it a mystery or should I tell you?
Definitely tell me.
Connor: That was actually my girlfriend. We had a little girl who was doing it originally, and that was the goal to find a little girl to do it, but she’s not an actor so it was hard to direct her to how I wanted it to sound like. So after she did it we were excited about it, just the creepiness of the fact it was this little girl singing this stuff was just really crazy and uncomfortable, but the producer at the end of the day was there like the performance just wasn’t there. He just didn’t feel comfortable with using it. I was pretty bummed because it was my friend’s daughter who was doing it and she was really excited but in the end my girlfriend, who is an actor out here in California, she nailed it, and did exactly what we needed and we just went with that.
Outside of the band you’re a tattoo artist, how does that fit around the band?
Connor: I’ve always been a tattoo artist for as long as I’ve been playing music and they kinda go hand in hand. They work out really well together. Since I’ve lived in Los Angeles it’s always been really easy to work the two into my schedule and now that I have my own tattoo studio I’m able to leave for months at a time and the shop kinda runs itself. I have people I trust that work for me and it works out really well and I think it balances really nicely. In the heavy metal world everybody likes tattoos and everybody, well not everybody, but it’s part of the culture. For me, when I was a little kid, it was always like MÖTLEY CRÜE who all had tattoos and I was fascinated by the fact these guys were just so cool and I wanted to be like that. Then I became a tattoo artist and it’s always just been my life so I don’t see it any different.
Are there any similarities between tattooing and the band?
Connor: I think, honestly, writing music is a little more personal because music you write it by yourself, you’re alone and thinking in your thoughts, whereas tattooing is very hand in hand with another person, so you spend a lot of time with people for hours at a time for long periods of time. You connect with people in a different way but you’re still connecting with people so I think that’s the similarities. People love the art, just like they love music and if you connect with fans through your album or through your life then I think it’s really cool to be able to have that connection for sure.
I guess if you’re writing music, you’re expressing yourself, whereas if you’re tattooing, you’re expressing somebody else.
Connor: Yeah, unless they’re just like ‘do whatever you want on me, tattoo whatever you want to tattoo’ then it’s an expression of my art but most of the times people are very particular about what they want tattooed on them and sometimes they’ll let you add your creativity to it but they’re definitely a little bit different.
How often are you asked to just do what you want?
Connor: I’ve been tattooing for a long time now so people know my work and what I excel at so it happens quite a bit, they’ll give me an idea ‘so this is what I want and just draw it’. It’s pretty common for me in this point in my career.
Do you find yourself inspired or getting ideas from one for the other?
Connor: You know, I don’t really at all. You would think you would but I like the fact they’re so closely related but they’re so different. I can work for a long time and just be like ‘I’m out, I’m going on tour’ and completely decompress from tattooing, and then when I get done with tour I’m excited to get back to tattooing. It’s almost like I’ve recharged the batteries. And vice versa, when I get home from tour I’m excited to get back to the tattoo shop, do some work, be around my co-workers and be around the artist side of it. So they go hand in hand, they really balance each other out. I know that people like to take breaks from work and stuff like that but I don’t consider either of the two work. They’re definitely difficult and take a lot of time and energy, blood sweat and tears, whatever you wanna say but I think if you love what you do then it’s more just loving it than being at work. For me, when I leave for tour for a while and come back I’m excited about tattooing again and excited to work and do some new, cool pieces. And when I’ve been at home for a long time tattooing, it becomes a little bit monotonous, I’m tired of the same old stuff I wanna go out and travel and see the world and do that stuff so you get a break from that and get into the tour thing, like ‘God I miss being on stage and connecting with fans’ so yeah I think they work great together, for me anyway.
Thank you for your time!
Connor: Thank you.
Screams From A Black Wilderness is out now via MinusHEAD Records.
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