Blood From The Soul, formed by Shane Embury of Napalm Death along with Sick of It All vocalist Lou Koller way back in the early ’90s, released its transformative industrial-metal album To Spite the Gland That Breeds in 1993. Now almost three decades later, Embury has rebooted the project and brought on a new line-up featuring Jacob Bannon of Converge, Dirk Verbeuren of Megadeth and bassist Jesper Liveröd of Nasum. With the changes in the lineup, Blood From The Soul has taken on a completely new modern sound that’s undoubtedly influenced by Bannon, who at this point is a legend in the extreme music world. mxdwn spoke with Bannon about the Embury’s revival of Blood From The Soul and what to expect from the upcoming sci-fi concept album DSM-5, which is out this Friday, November 13.
mxdwn: How did you come to join Blood From The Soul?
Jacob Bannon: I was a fan of the initial record that was released in the early ’90s that Shane put together and I stayed in touch with Shane here and there. Over the years through touring, Converge and Napalm Death have played together a number of times. Converge also toured with one of his other bands Lock Up in Japan quite a long time ago. We just stayed in touch and he reached out to see if I’d be interested in collaborating; he wanted to collaborate on this project. It just seemed like a really interesting fit and like a really interesting challenge to take on, so I went for it.
mxdwn: What’s it like joining a project that you were once a fan of?
JB: I’ve been in this position a number of times, I’m a fan of pretty much everyone I’m in bands with or formed a collective with. Whether they be peers that I’ve grown up with and sort of progressed to playing music with. I don’t see Shane as any different. I’m interested in all of them and all their talent and what they all bring to the table. So it’s definitely rewarding. It’s definitely fulfilling to just be able to create music with him and any of these people.
mxdwn: Blood From The Soul first released music 1993; in what ways has the extreme music scene changed since then and how is that reflected in the new album?
JB: There’s almost too many points to really cover there. It’s just a totally different playing field in terms of how people experience music, where technology has taken music, music creation, music consumption. Everything has just evolved to a different place. In terms of the reasoning and sort of inspiration to create music, it’s really no different. Shane creates music the same way, from the same place in his soul, as I do now, from when he was a kid. We wanted to create heavy music that was fulfilling to us and he is a very versatile musician that dabbles in a wide variety of projects. I like to think that I have a little bit of that as well. And we just want to make stuff. We just enjoy making things that are challenging and fulfilling and that core drive hasn’t changed since any of us were teenagers.
mxdwn: Why was now a good time for Blood From The Soul to come back? What inspired Shane to revamp it?
JB: We’ve been working on this for probably a year or two. It just took us a long time to get all the moving parts in place to be able to do it. A lot of music creation and releases aren’t really about finding a good time to release something. It’s just a matter of it being completed and ready to go. So sometimes it seems like there’s a bottleneck of material when it comes to creative people that are involved in a variety of projects or bands but they don’t really have that much control over it. There’s a lot of ‘what if’ and there’s a lot of things that can come up that delay this or postpone that. It just takes a while for example like Dirk, who plays drums for Blood From The Soul has at least three records coming out right now. The new Cadaver record and the Brave the Cold record as well. So he’s got three records that are coming out in the span of a month and he’s working on the Megadeath record so that’s a lot of stuff. We can do that for virtually every member of this project. We all have a variety of irons in the fire at any given time.
mxdwn: Dirk Verbeuren and Jesper Liveröd also joined the new lineup, what do they bring to the project that listeners should look forward to?
JB: Well Dirk was a fan, just like I was, of the initial record. When he started with Shane, they worked on the TRONOS record together and some other stuff together. He mentioned that he thought Shane should bring that project to life because it was really exciting. It was really interesting and Shane had already had that in mind. He was talking to a variety of people about working with it so he’s like “I want to do it with live drums so let’s try and put something together.” So they did. His motivation was born from being a creative entity as well as a fan of the original.
mxdwn: What was the writing and recording process like for DSM-5? Was it all done pre-pandemic or did you work on it during?
JB: I was working on three records right before the pandemic and I tracked the vocals for this record between December and February. So December of last year going into February, so the initial plan was to try to release this record by the summer of 2020 and that just wasn’t possible due to the pandemic. And also the Umbra Vitae record as well that I tracked a few weeks before and after the Blood From The Soul record. And that record ended up coming out earlier this year. So it was just a matter of just getting all the moving parts together for each of those releases in terms of Shane sending me song ideas musically to get inspiration to write lyrics and kind of steer the creative character of what this is. He started doing that a year or two ago in demo form. I started chopping at it slowly and once inspiration hit when I had the overall direction I wanted to create and what I wanted to contribute worked out in my head it all happened pretty quickly.
mxdwn: What creative decisions did you have to make when you all first got together? Did Shane have an idea for an album beforehand?
JB: We’re all fans of each other and what we can bring to the table. We all had an understanding of what the previous record was so we knew where we wanted to take this new album. And so we trusted each other. Once I had some basic direction and had a sort of outline of how I wanted to approach the visual and lyrical content, I said ‘Hey guys this is what I want to do. What do you think?’ And they said, ‘This is great.’ I gave them all the song titles and said, ‘Okay, here we go, start working on that.’ And that was pretty much it, we all trust each other’s ability to deliver.
mxdwn: DSM-5 has been referred to as a sci-fi concept album. Were there any science fiction works that inspire it?
JB: Not specifically, just in a very general way. The character of the man was already sort of developed by this being an industrial metal project initially. So that was where I took inspiration from and I thought that it would be interesting to create a thematic record based upon this sort of dystopian future. So I wrote it, you know, it’s pretty much that simple. It didn’t really take much in terms of inspiration, once you started getting going and you have ideas of your own you just kind of run.
mxdwn: And then as a visual artist too, because you worked on that cover art, what inspired the album’s artwork?
JB: I just want to capture the character of the record visually. I want the record to look how it sounds. That’s ultimately my goal with any release I work on, this one wasn’t any different.
mxdwn: In addition to your artwork and Converge and Blood From The Soul, you are a part of multiple other projects and also own a record label, how do these projects offer different creative outlets for you?
JB: I mean to me it’s all the same. I’m just a person that happens to work in a creative environment. Whatever one I’m focusing on at any given time, that’s just what gets the focus. I’m not really that introspective in terms of how it feels or where or even how or why I do it. I just do it. So every day I wake up and I go to work. And so that’s kind of the way I look at it and there’s never really a day that doesn’t have some sort of inspiration to be creative in some capacity. So I just use the tools I have and go for it.
mxdwn: It’s been a few years since Converge released The Dusk in Us and the Beautiful Rain EP, do you have any new music with them on the horizon?
JB: We have a lot of things going on with all the bands right now. There are a variety of projects with various forms of, I won’t call it completion, but I’ll say there’s a variety of things being worked on at the moment. The pandemic slowed things down in terms of touring and in terms of us being able to be in the studio together. So it created a variety of logistical challenges which has not necessarily postponed anything; it just made things take a little bit longer in terms of getting to the end result for all the bands. But yeah there is stuff happening for everybody right now.
mxdwn: Touring and live performances have been on pause for now but do you have any future live or virtual events planned for Blood From The Soul?
JB: We can’t really have any plans right because we can’t really travel. We’re just sort of in a holding pattern just like every other band that can’t play live. So we’ll see what the future holds with all that stuff for all bands but right now it’s tough. I see a lot of bands right now announcing things for next year and middle-to-late next year – the fact of the matter is we don’t know. A lot of what you’re seeing out there is bands and promoters having to move forward and announce a rescheduling of something only to reschedule it again and again and again because they don’t know. But they just have to go through those steps in order to hold a place in line with venues and with bands and whatnot. But right now we just know that we can’t so we’re concentrating our efforts on other aspects of being creative at this point.
mxdwn: Recently because of the pandemic many people have had to work from home and tackle multiple projects at once, do you have any advice on how to keep a healthy balance with work?
JB: I mean I don’t really know any different in the sense that basically since I’ve gotten out of college, this is quite a long time ago, I’ve worked for myself. You’re always working if you work for yourself and you have that entrepreneurial spirit and drive. I would just encourage people to just do it. Do what you love and figure out ways to stay creative and productive. And these limitations that we have, I just see it as another challenge, that’s all. I don’t see it as a roadblock. I just go, ‘Okay I have to figure out a way to work within this environment.’ It is what it is, and I can’t control it. So instead of complaining about it or putting things totally on pause, it isn’t an option for me in life. If I wasn’t making creative things, if I wasn’t making music and art I would just be figuring out another way to keep a roof over everybody’s head and that’s just the way I am as a person.