Just ask Godflesh singer/guitarist Justin Broadrick what he thinks about leaving his longtime home base, Earache Records, and signing with Music for Nations (licensed in North America through Koch Records) and he'll go on and on.
"A lot of the bands on that label felt like they were locked down and couldn't really do much, so they decided to leave", he starts. "It is a real joke amongst a bunch of the bands that left the label, that when they get off Earache they go onto bigger and better things. <laughs> I mean now with us going onto Koch we have better exposure and are just able to do things on Godflesh's terms. It took us a year or so to get off Earache."
What happened? Was it just the legalities?
"Yeah, it was just a bunch of heavy contract stuff. We basically found a clause in the contract that said that the label needed to approach us about doing another record and they never really did. We took the contract to a lawyer who put it into layman's terms. We had a few more albums with them, maybe two or three, but they never approached us within 90 days or whatever it is to see about a new album, so we were able to walk away from them. It is a bit more detailed than that, but that is basically what it comes down to. The label tried to fight it and say that we still had to record albums for them and what have you, but we managed to get out of working with Earache."
"I'm glad we left", Broadrick says pointing out that a lot of their bigger name bands like Napalm Death, Cathedral and Pitchshifter have left already. "It is a sinking ship, really. I don't know who is left or what they have to offer, really. I know Morbid Angel is still on the roster."
"I am just glad that we were able to sign with Music for Nations and express to them how important it was to be on a label that would help get our new album over to North America. They are hooked up with Koch over there and it seems to be working out real well for us and them. Everything seems to be going great and I'm very happy, the longest I have been in some time."
The new album _Hymns_, which also features the talents of longtime collaborator/bassist G.C. Green and now full-time drummer Ted Parsons, is a much more stripped down and abrasive Godflesh. Like each Godflesh album, the musical exploration of the music on _Hymns_ finds the band just taking charge of their ideas and not being afraid to expand and dissect sounds. The overall feel of the record is an abstract sound, with lots of things going on at once, but nothing ever really staying put for too long.
On the subject of the new record, Broadrick says: "This album feels like it is a new beginning for the band. We feel really excited about having Ted Parsons in the band and working in the studio with him. There are two noticeable differences with this record than any past albums we have done. Unlike past albums, Ted recorded with us live in the studio this time around and was also an important part of the writing process for _Hymns_. Also, this album was recorded in a professional studio (at Foel Studio in Wales, UK) rather than our own studio. This was a huge studio with lots of engineers and people helping us get the exact tones we wanted. This was quite an experience for us. This album represents exactly where we want to be with Godflesh right now."
"I have been hearing a lot of people, all across the board, saying that this is a diverse and strange record and not just a Godflesh record as they have come to know it. We never set out for this record to end up a certain way because we were on a new label or whatever the case may be. We made this record exactly how we made every other Godflesh record. When I write riffs, I just write them. Nothing influences me. I'm still as selfish as I have always been, really. I just write what I want to write."
The question is tossed out to Broadrick: what about those Godflesh fans that won't like what they hear with _Hymns_?
"You know what? I have learned so much from being in this business for so long and I know that you can't satisfy everyone. You just have to satisfy yourself. For a band like us, we appear to be very confrontational on every aspect and we just like to write music and take risks. We are not willing to make the same record each time out."
"I like to hear what people think about Godflesh's music. I find it interesting because I am so immersed in what I do that sometimes I can't even describe it", he states. The main thing for me when it comes to making music is that at the end of a song's creation if I can't put my finger on what is going on, then it is fine for me. I think I have always tried to maintain that with what we do. As long as I can't pick out what genre the music can fit into, then I am pleased."
"We want every album that we make to be a liberating experience", points out Broadrick. "We want to be focused on the task at hand so that we can shake off any pressures that may be coming with it. We need to feel something from the recording experience and know that we have put all we can into it."
He adds, "We always faced a lot of problems in the studio, whether it be looking for the perfect guitar tone or getting the drums to sound right. We constantly work at making everything sound how we want it to sound. We have to go through all of the long days with checking mics and fiddling with knobs to get the sound. I wanted a particular sound with my guitar for this album, but after five days of trying to find it in the studio, I settled with a sound that was 90% close to what I wanted. Studio work is a menace most of the time. There were times in the past when I was hitting my head against the wall trying to get things going for us and with this new studio and all the help, it seems to be less of a burden. You've got to work hard still, but at least there are others helping you find what you are looking for."
Has the band found success in what they do, other than being able to put out albums?
"I don't think we have ever hit the limelight with Godflesh, but then again we wonder if our music is even suitable for a mass market to digest. We are always looking for ways to get to more people and for them to hear what we are doing, and hopefully working with Music for Nations and Koch, they will be able to help us out a bit more. Nu-metal is the big thing right now, but it all seems to be really watered down right now. Sure rock is big right now, but it seems to be weak interpretations of what it should sound like. We are hoping with some exposure that kids will hear Godflesh and get something out of what we do that they aren't getting from all of those hard rock bands flooding the market right now. With Godflesh they will get something real, whereas with these poseurs they won't."
"We generally think we are needed, we think the world needs Godflesh. We don't mean that arrogantly, we just think the music world needs a viable alternative. I say to all of these music fans out there that music like this (that is flooding the market) will come and go but Godflesh will always be there. That is the way it has always been and will continue to be."
Looking at the evolution of the band and the music, the band's last album (1999's _Us and Them_) seems like it was as far as the band could take their sound and music, though _Hymns_ seems to have rejuvenated the Godflesh camp. Now after legal hassles and jumping to a new label, the band is ready to roll once again. About the makeup and recording of the new disc, Broadrick reveals: "This turned out to be a really long record for us. We put everything on this record that we had recorded. We just couldn't decide what to take off. We racked our brains on what should go and what needed to stay and it was just so hard to decide so we kept it all on. In this end, we said "fuck it!" We did eventually cut just one song, but that was more of an experimental song with beats that sounded like something from _Us and Them_. I didn't want anything like that on the record 'cause I absolutely fucking hated that album."
"Yeah. I wanted nothing to sound like _Us and Them_. What was going on at the time of my career with Godflesh was an identity crisis. I'd spent a lot of time making that album and it almost sounded like it was a remix of a remix album. There were so many changes going on and it was just a regurgitation of what I had done before. It was really fucking tiresome. I did a lot of that album by myself, in a very hermit-like state of mind. I was in a technologically obsessed state of mind and I lost sight of what Godflesh should be. The end result was something very eclectic and ambitious that didn't even sound like a Godflesh album. That album is the sound of an identity crisis and we did it in public. I am glad it wasn't promoted well."
Ooh, another jab at Earache?
"I guess you could say that they did a favour for us. <laughs> I'll be the first person to stand up and say that I don't like that album."
It's weird to hear a band say they don't like their recent records. Usually bands hate their older releases instead.
"Yeah, that is the way things go for us in Godflesh. We take risks and some people don't like everything we do, but that is the nature of Godflesh: to explore. We have grown up in public and people have seen us try a lot of different things. Some work, some don't, but at least we are proud enough to admit when we do something wrong."
Broadrick ends saying, "_Us and Them_ needed to happen for us to get where we are right now. I'm glad we got that shit out of Godflesh's system and we are moving onto bigger and better things. It gave birth to the new Godflesh, a full band and just having a positive outlook on what we want to achieve. We're ready for more."