I recently talked to Whitechapel drummer Ben Harclerode on the band’s headlining tour, the Recorruptour, with support from Miss May I, After The Burial, The Plot In You, and Structures. We talked about his journey to becoming a member in Whitechapel and the band’s upcoming record, his first since joining the band.
So I hear you guys just finished recording a new album. How did that go?
BH: It was good. I mean, it was a pretty fast process; it kind of all took place in the course of about a month at our guitar player’s house. I flew down to Florida to do drums in Jason Suecof’s studio with Mark Lewis. And Mark drove up to Tennessee and did the rest of the guitars and vocals and everything else at Alex’s house. Everything came together pretty quickly. I mean, for me, I was kind of still making sense of all the songs and digesting them all as I was putting them all down. I’m pretty excited about it. For everybody else in the band, I think it’s some of the best stuff that they’ve written. That’s encouraging, at least for me. I can’t compare this record to This Is Exile or A New Era of Corruption as those guys can, because I didn’t help them write those records. Again, what they’ve said there is they’re all really stoked about what they’ve written. It’s encouraging to know that they’re also excited about everything even more than I am.
Can you give us a little bit of insight about what we should expect?
Yeah I mean there’s definitely some stuff that’s a lot slower, like almost sounds like it could be The Acacia Strain. Just something really chunky and groove-based, like a much less complex version of Meshuggah or something. But there’s also some stuff on it that’s crazy fast on the bass; blast beats and the whole thing – so the whole brutal side is definitely still there. It’s just like any other band – they’re never going to put out what they put out their first record. As bad as everybody wants it to happen, it’s never going to happen. For the most part, bands just don’t do that, they just grow and evolve and evolve. I guess, just like I said, expect a further progressed version of what was put out last record – some stuff that’s a little bit faster and some stuff that’s a little bit slower, so I guess both of those extremes.
How did you get into the band?
I just kind of heard by word of mouth that they were looking for a new drummer. I had never met any of the guys before, I just heard they were looking for somebody, and I just wasn’t going to pass the chance up. I played all of that stuff already, so why would I not try? So I just sent out a couple of videos, and the second they ended up really, for one reason or another, liking it. And they decided to fly me out to Tennessee where they’re all from, and I’m from Arizona. So for me, I was playing in a smaller band called Knights of the Abyss, and it was kind of a big deal for me when Whitechapel was like “Yeah, we want to fly you out to the other side of the country to see if we like you or not.” They gave me about like 16 songs or something to learn, maybe 14 songs. I learned them all front-to-back, went out there and played them all, and they were like “Alright, we’re going on tour in February. See you in a couple months.” And so I’ve been with them ever since. I guess now I’m technically a “member” of the band, but the last year since I joined them, which was last December/January, was more of like a trial thing I guess.
How was the overall experience different than your experience in Knights of the Abyss?
I don’t even know where to begin, man. When I joined Knights, they had already pretty much killed their career by dropping a record that sounded absolutely nothing like the first record they put out. I mean, it was basically Job For A Cowboy Doom to Black Dahlia Murder Nocturnal – literally like night and day. A lot of people lost interest and then they lost like four or five of their original members, and then I joined after that. Basically I was riding out a sinking ship and I rode it out until the very end. So I mean in that sense it was basically survival for us. We had literally no money, and we were like “Okay, how do we get to the next show? We’re in the middle of the damn country.” For me, by the time I quit that band, for the time that I was in the band I would like to think that I definitely put a lot of my heart and soul or whatever you want to call it, I put a lot of energy and time and money into this band. Basically by the end of it I was $10,000 in debt and had no drums to play on, and then basically just went and tried out for Whitechapel a couple of months later, and now I have here; I have drumsticks, I have drums.
It’s just totally the opposite side of the spectrum. Like the way that we looked at Whitechapel as being a similar genre I guess would just be like they’re the hugest thing in the world. Like for me, when it all happened, it was a pretty big deal. With all that taken into consideration, it was like “Wow, that’s like the biggest thing in the world.” Now, not to say that I’m unhappy with anything that I have – my life is awesome. I mean with every step of the way, like from a local band to Knights of the Abyss to Whitechapel – a band that’s doing alright – each step of the way I’m gaining a new perspective of things. Being where I am, we’re doing alright, but I mean, looking at other bands that sell like 50-60,000 records in the first week and making huge numbers and going on gigantic tours, Whitechapel isn’t the biggest thing in the world. So, like I said, you just kind of gain a new perspective every step of the way. For me, I mean again, it’s just night and day, from beyond the barrel to somewhere around the upper ranges of the barrel of the whole death metal/deathcore thing, just heavy music – heavy music that you don’t want to show your mom – it’s a very enlightening experience.
Whitechapel says they are influenced by a ton of metal acts such as Metallica and Nile. What kind of stuff were you influenced by?
Well, I’ve listened to all sorts of stuff over the days, but I really got into playing faster music by listening to punk rock and stuff like that back in the day. As far as metal goes, I’ve always been into the more melodic, European, At The Gates, old In Flames, Dark Tranquility-era stuff. Within the last three or four years or whatever, I’ve kind of gotten more influenced by the straight heavy-heavy, but I feel like my preference in heavy music is always going to be the more European-influenced/more melodic stuff.
What do you hope the remainder of the year holds for Whitechapel, with a new album looming and everything?
I just hope that it does well. I hope that people take well to it and like the stuff we put out. I know for me I’m new to the band when it comes to anything I’ve written or recorded or anything like that. So this new stuff sounds kind of different than old Whitechapel. But I mean, again, it’s just part of a band growing and progressing or whatever. Like I said, I hope it does well and I hope people like the direction we’re going in. I mean, the rest of the year as far as I know is pretty well stacked up for us with touring. We’re shooting for a pre-Mayhem release on our new CD, so once that comes out we’ll just be pushing that the rest of the year. We’re going on Mayhem Tour, so in my opinion, at least this year, we probably can’t do a whole lot better than that as far as it goes being on a big metal tour this summer. So we’re all really excited about it. The rest of the year is nothing but good things for us as far as I know. The only thing that would make it bad things is if, like I said, that record totally bombs. I don’t necessarily see that happening. We’re pretty pleased with everything we’ve written. It’s a good sound and a good direction, not that it’s like it’s any crazy, new direction. It still sounds like Whitechapel. No record that is done sounds exactly like the last one.
Awesome, thank you very much.