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Victor Griffin (IN GRAVED): the legend goes on

Victor Griffin (IN GRAVED): the legend goes on
BANDS : In Graved, Pentagram, Place of Skulls

When it comes to doom metal, Victor Griffin is undoubtedly one of the most influential guitarists out there. Former guitarist of the legendary American group Pentagram and currentlyu guitarist of Death Row, leader of Place of Skulls, the mastermind behind the name In Graved, Victor may be regarded as a true legend of the underground metal. Why? I prefer to say nothing more and I invite you instead to find out the answer in the lines below:

Metalfan: Hi Victor and welcome to! How are you today?
Victor Griffin: Hi Ovidiu... thank you. I’m ok. How about you?
Metalfan: I think that most of those who read this interview are familiar with your work. Could you tell us few words about Victor Griffin, the person?
Victor Griffin: The basics are I’ve been playing guitar for about 37 years. I like motorcycles and just about any kind of motor sports. Been with and married to my best friend Anne for the past 25 years.
Metalfan: After the departure from Pentagram you've started a new project Victor Griffin's In Graved. How did this project started? Are you satisfied with the result?
Victor Griffin: It started in a round about way. No real plan or anything. While I was back in Pentagram, I continued working on my own new material as well. And once it got fairly close to completion, I called up my drummer Pete Campbell and we finished working out the bugs and started laying down the basic tracks.
After that we just started inviting guest players to be a part of it. Namely bass players and keyboard players. We’re very satisfied with the results.
Metalfan: Why did you've leaved Pentagram? It is this just a temporary departure?
Victor Griffin: There were some circumstances where it felt like I was just beginning to lose my patience at times. It really kind of sucks since things were rolling pretty good. I don’t really know if I’ll ever return. When I left, we kind of all agreed that it was an open door. But who knows.
Metalfan: How did you got hooked up with Svart Records? Which is your favourite band and release from their catalogue?
Victor Griffin: Svart released the live Pentagram Live Rites album from the Helsinki show last year and that’s how we met. I guess I’d have to say the IN-GRAVED album is my favourite release from them. Since I honestly haven’t heard much of anything else on the label.
Metalfan: How did you convince the band members of In Graved to join you in this project? I have to say that there is a hell of a line-up!
Victor Griffin: It was simple really. I just sent out an e-mail or called them up…told them what was going on and they all agreed to contribute to the album. Everyone worked on their parts for the specific songs Pete and I sent them. Once the tracks started coming back in, Travis from Lakeside Studios here in Knoxville dropped them in the mix. Pretty amazing how all this works these days. Back in the days of two inch tape, it could have never been done.


Metalfan: Could you tell us few words about each song from the album In Graved? Let's say the story behind each song...
Victor Griffin: It starts out with Digital Critic which is about some of the quacks on social media and entertainment critics who spew their opinions out with useless and often, misinformation. This song features my wife Anne on bass and Jeff Oly Olson, ex-drummer from Trouble on keyboards.

What If… follows. That one addresses atheistic views and what it might be like to die without there actually being anything afterwards. Then the final verse presents the alternative of eternity to consider. Ron Holzner (Earthen Grave, ex-Trouble) played bass on this one and Mike Puleo (Oridruin) did the keys.

Late For An Early Grave is next with Marty Swaney (Death Row, Pentagram) playing bass on this one and Mike Puleo again on the keyboards. I actually wrote that one back in the late 80’s. It kind of covers the gamut of leaving home for the first time trying to find your place in the world, living a kind of wild life while looking for answers to the big questions. And hopefully not killing yourself before you come to the realization that there’s something bigger than ourselves.

Fading Flower is a very personal song about my upbringing and the dysfunction of my family. I dedicated this one to my mother and three sisters. It talks about how our father’s death played a significant role in bringing some of our early struggles to light. Ron Holzner also did the killer bass lines on this one with Mike Puleo once again contributing some great keyboards.

Thorn In The Flesh is about doing your best to follow God daily through anything that may try to hinder your progress. There are so many things that can come our way throughout the day to trip us up. But no matter what comes…we need to get back up, dust off, and keep going through every battle in life. Very proud of the keyboards Oly did on this one! Totally gave it a cool retro Steppenwolf vibe in the jammy middle section. And Guy Pinhas (The Obsessed, Acid King) laid down the awesome driving bass lines.

Teacher is of course a Jethro Tull cover we decided to do. It was Pete’s suggestion and once I got a feel for doing it our own way…was glad he suggested it. Oly once again on keys with Marty Swaney stepping up on the great bass track!

Love Song For The Dying introduces my good friend Dan Lively (Sweet Cicada, The Weight) on bass. Can’t say enough about the talent this guy has. And Oly completely outdid himself on the keyboards on this one too! It’s a pretty deep song about the struggles of a young girl trying to find her way in life but continually making the same mistakes. She’s looked for all the answers and comes to the conclusion that she needs God. But as she walks the streets alone, she enters a church to find many of the people there have only judgemental stares to offer her. It’s a sad situation for her as she decides she would rather go it alone on the streets than deal with the tapestry of organized religion. I’d only preface this with saying that everybody in churches aren’t like that. It’s typically the people who think they don’t need any help that can be the most judgemental. Other people there know they’re in need and embrace others who are looking for the same.

Never Surrender is another older song I wrote around the same time as Early Grave. It’s sort of a self-explanatory, never give up, type of hard rock song…and probably the most upbeat song I’ve ever written. On this one, my nephew Greg Turley (Pentagram) stepped in on the bass and Oly again on the keys.

Metalfan: How it is different In Graved from Death Row, Place of Skulls or Pentagram for example?
Victor Griffin: I wouldn’t say its world’s away from any of those. It’s just my natural progression as a songwriter and player that makes the difference. I think the same progress overall can be heard in any of my former bands. But the keyboards definitely make a difference on this one.
Metalfan: Speaking about Death Row and Place of Skulls, which is the status for this two bands? Do you plan any new releases in the near future? Which are your favourite works from this two bands?
Victor Griffin: Death Row at this point is probably on permanent hiatus. Place of Skulls not so much. We’re doing a Place of Skulls live set coming up in a few weeks at a bike rally in Maryville, TN called Bannerfest with Pete Campbell on drums and Dan Lively playing bass. But there are no new releases planned for the near future. Although I just regained the rights to the first two Place of Skulls albums…Nailed (2002) and With Vision (2003). So there’s a possibility of reissues for one or both of those. Perhaps on vinyl also. My favourite Death Row album is the one everyone knows as the first Pentagram album. But in reality…it was the first demos we recorded as Death Row. That’s a whole other story. My favorite Place of Skulls album is As A Dog Returns (2010). For me…it’s the purest music I think I’ve ever written and recorded.

Metalfan: Which are your main influences as a guitar player? Which are the main five albums that have defined you as a guitar hero?
Victor Griffin: Tony Iommi, Brian May, Warren Haynes.

Metalfan: Could you tell us few words about Pentagram (Relentless) (1985), Day of Reckoning (1987), Be Forewarned (1994) and Last Rites (2011)? Which is the album from this four that you are the most proud of? Why?
Victor Griffin: Like I said…the first Pentagram album was actually 1981-82 demos by Death Row. But by the time we got it released in ‘85, we’d decided to change the name to Pentagram and used those demos. Apparently it still gets hailed as probably the best Pentagram album overall, and as an influential album in the doom metal scene. Day of Reckoning came out in ’87 and was for a long time my favourite. But then we kind of butchered up the production when we decided to go in and re-record Stuart Rose’s original drums with Joe Hasselvander’s drums. Obviously not that Joe did a bad job but trying to lay down drum tracks with no click track under already recorded guitars is next to impossible. When we regrouped and did Be Forewarned…I think we got a little too ambitious with the production. But other than that, I think our musicianship as a band had really stepped up over the years. I think Last Rites has a good balance of rawness and quality production. Not over-produced like Be Forewarned but a modern mix that manages to capture the live feel and sound of the band.

Metalfan: In this days a lot of stoner/traditional doom bands seem to appear almost from nowhere. Do you think that it is easier now that it was in the '80s to make it as a band? Why or why not?
Victor Griffin: I think it must be harder with the number of bands that are around these days. But at the same time, it’s easier to get your music out there and get it heard with the development of the internet. Back in our day, it was simply tape trading and word of mouth that that got your music spread around. And now there’s such an over-saturation of everything in the entertainment world…I’m personally overwhelmed at the amount of music that’s available.

Metalfan: Is there any chance to play in Romania with In Graved in the near future? Have you ever been here?
Victor Griffin: I’ve never been to Romania but would love to come and play there. Let me know some of your promoters and we’ll see what we can do!

Metalfan: Thank you for your time and answers, Victor! In the end would you like to add something or to send few words to our readers?
Victor Griffin: It seems always to sound the same…but simply thank you for the opportunity and the honour of being allowed into your ears with the bands and music I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of.

Autor: H.
   July 29, 2013  | 0 Comments  | 7284 Views « BACK

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