Interview with: Intronaut's guitarist/vocalist Leon del Muerte

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Intronaut is a name you've either heard too many times or have never heard of, all depends on who you've been smoking with… and on a more serious note, they're an American post-hardcore (some would arguably say post-metal) whose gained much acclaim through just one EP, "Null", and one album, "Void" released so far. I've caught up with band guitarist/vocalist Leon del Muerte fresh after a tour in the southern states of the US for a few questions.

Hi Leon, how are you doing? How's the rest of the Intronaut gang?
Cheers, Ofer! I'm okay, glad to be home from tour. Writing some new music as we speak. Sacha's probably at home doing the same, while Joe is off with Mouth of the Architect and Danny is filling in with Jesu.
Even when we're not busy we're pretty busy!

You've just finished touring, right? Tell us a bit about the tour, where was it? How long was it?
Yeah, it was great! The first 3 shows were Intronaut/Oxbow/Isis and the rest were Intronaut/Torche/Isis. It was amazing! Everyone in all the bands was super cool and we got to play some of the biggest crowds that Intronaut has yet played to.
In fact, Danny's still on the tour with Jesu. Ted Parsons couldn't make it over to the US, so the guys from HydraHead Records hooked Danny up with Justin Broadrick. It's like a dream come true for Danny!

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Was there a show you can mark as "the best show in the tour"?
Almost all the shows were pretty amazing. There wasn't a bad show in the whole bunch. It's really hard to say exactly which one stands out as the best, but I can say that the Tempe, AZ show was one of the biggest and definitely the single best night we've ever done in merchandise.
I generally tend to like the smaller places where people are pressed directly up against the stage only inches away from us, and in that regard there was a few, like Baton Rouge, LA, Athens, GA and Austin, TX. That Austin show was off the hook!

Did you play materials only from your debut EP "Null, and full-length "Void" or were there any new materials put in too?
Yeah, we changed the set halfway through the tour. The original set was all stuff from "Void"; "A Monolithic Vulgarity," "Gleamer," "Fault Lines," "Teledildonics" and "Rise to the Midden." Halfway through the tour, though, we switched out "Fault Lines" for "Fragments of Character" from the Null EP.
We mostly are on tour in support of "Void", but we wanted to bust an old track for some of the shows. We also ran out of Void CDs, so we thought playing something from "Null" might be a bit more appropriate!

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Which bands/artists did you tour with?
So far we have toured with Century, Mouth of the Architect, Black Cobra, Burn In Silence, Misery Index, Kayo Dot, Torche, Isis, Oxbow, Yakuza, Fuck the Facts, etc. I know I'm forgetting some bands, but those were the major ones.

Are there any band/artists you stumbled upon on while touring you'd like to recommend?
Hmm, I can only remember a few of the bands we played with that were not on the tour like Battlefields and Exhausted Prayer. Both of those bands are great!

Each of you guys comes from a slightly different musical background, how do you manage in the tour bus when it comes to choosing something to listen to along the highway?
Haha, this band is still a long way off from being in a tour bus, but we all listen to a lot of the same stuff, and/or at least appreciate the other stuff that one another plays. We listen to a lot of comedy stuff (mostly Dave Chappelle), outsider art like Wesley Willis and then random smatterings of other ethnic stuff, jazz, grindcore and old death metal, 70's prog, the other bands we're touring with, etc., etc. It's a pretty big mix of shit. Everything from Björk to Rotten Sound to Yes to Art Blakey.

Now that you're done with this tour, are you planning to get some rest or get right into writing new songs?
Well, like I said, Joe and Danny are still out on their respective assignments. Me and Sacha are each writing new things, but haven't really gotten together to work any of it out yet. I have the outline of a whole new song, and plenty of riffs. Sacha's got some new stuff, too, that's pretty out there.
I think sometime this year we may just record another EP. I'd really like to get back to writing some new music.

What's the writing process in the band like?
Usually Sacha will come up with whole songs by himself and bring them to rehearsal. We might make some minor tweaks to it, but usually it's just as it was written.
I usually come in with big parts of songs and we put them together at practice with other things.
Sacha and I are the primary songwriters, but Joe wrote most of one song on Void and Danny is totally instrumental in making our songs cohesive, so it is a process that involves the entire band at all times.

Do you aim at a specific genre while writing music in the band or write in a more improvisation-to-song manner?
It's hard to say. We definitely don't attempt to write anything to fit into any pigeonholes. We try to get as much stuff as we like to make a song feel complete. If that means it goes through a super metal part, then a jazzy part, and then a spaghetti western sounding part, we'll do it. It's not necessarily improvisation, although we have come up with some of the songs and riffs by just having everyone play against each other at practice until we get something we like the sound of.

Where do you get your inspiration from? Are there any mind-expanding substances involved in the band's creative process?
I wouldn't say it's necessary for any of us to be in an altered state to write music, but it certainly doesn't hurt. Sacha used to smoke a lot of pot, but now I don't think he does that so much. Joe still does, however. I'm not really a big fan of drugs, but I definitely drink more than my fair share. Danny just goes for a little bit of everything.

Which artists influenced you as a musician the most?
That's hard to say for me. Personally I take in a lot of influences from all kinds of shit like everything from old Swedish death metal to video game music. I can't speak for the other guys on this, but I think that pretty much everyone in the band takes in a lot of influences from many sources that sorta shape their songwriting.

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Where did the name Intronaut come from? How did you pick it and what does it mean to you?
I came up with it, actually. It's two Latin word roots, Intro- (or Intra- as it initially was) meaning "inner" and -naut meaning "traveler." It doesn't have a really deep meaning behind it. It was just one of the few names we all agreed on.
It had a little to do with our original batch of songs, and the type of music we were doing, but at this point there's not a whole lot to tie the band name in with the music.

Which moods, states of mind or situations is Intronaut's music suitable to in your opinion?
I think for Joe and Sacha it is/was "high as fuck," but maybe not so much now. I write best when I am pissed off or depressed or just kinda spaced out. Again, it's hard for me to say for the other guys, but definitely for me it's when I'm not totally comfortable.

Are you currently working on any other projects besides Intronaut?
Danny and I also play in Phobia. It's mostly just for fun, because we can't give up our grindcore roots. Joe plays in a funk/jazz band called The Pulsations with our friend Dave, too.

What can you tell us about Murder Construct?
It's a project that me and Danny work on now and again when we have some spare time. It started out just being traditional grind, but it has kinda morphed into something weirder. We'll see what happens with it, if we ever get it off the ground.

Your history also includes some, more extreme, acts such as Phobia, Impaled, Exhumed, Black Ops, and Artificium Sanguis – are you still in contact with the men behind these acts?
Yeah, for sure. Like I said, we still play with Phobia. We're going to be doing a short tour with Extreme Noise Terror in a few months.
I'm still in contact with all the guys from all those bands. We talk online and in person when we see each other, which is probably not as often as I'd like.
Later this year there's been some discussion of re-recording some old Impaled stuff, and they offered to let me do vocals on that stuff. That will be awesome if it happens!

What do you think about what the active bands (out of the above list) do today?
Exhumed has been on indefinite hiatus since December 2005, Black Ops was just a one-off thing and Artificium Sanguis carried on without me for a while until they couldn't find another drummer.
Impaled's new stuff is great! I dig the direction they are going in and I think they are honing their art to razor-perfection. It'll be interesting to see how their new album sounds.
Phobia will probably do a new album before the end of the year or early next year, and I can guarantee it's going to be the most pissed-off sounding thing they've ever done.

Which of the none-active bands would you revive if given the chance?
I would honestly really, really love to do Artificium Sanguis again. That was the most fun band I've ever been in. I'm not a very good drummer, but we had a single-mindedness about the entire band, we could write songs in as long as it would take to play them and they'd be awesome. We all thought the same and we practiced 4 times a week and always got completely fucking wasted at practice, haha. It was really fun times with some of my oldest friends.

As someone with such a vast experience in extreme music – do you think grind is proper music for the intimate times?
Haha, maybe if you're trying to go for a quicky. I'd rather listen to something a little more sexy when getting busy, personally.

In case of a sudden fire, which 3 albums/records would you save out of the flames?
Fuck!! That's really tough.
1. Dismember "Like an Everflowing Stream."
2. Björk "Homogenic"
3. Secret Chiefs 3 "Book M"

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What is your favorite type of booze?(by each member)
Let me think about this one...Joe likes whiskey. Danny likes Red Bull and Vodka. Sacha likes...shit. I don't know what Sacha likes. I like tequila. I think we all have a never-ending appreciation for beer, though. Can't really go wrong with a good ol' beer.

Do you have any words of wisdom you'd like to share?
Those who write on shithouse walls
Roll their shit into little balls
Those who read these words of wit
Eat those little balls of shit...

Thanks again, Ofer!
Thanks a lot for doing this interview on such a short notice, hope to see you play live someday. Bottoms Up!

Ofer Vayner
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