Metal Skull: Pig Destroyer In The Black – Interview With JR Hayes

A cross-generational assemblage of grindcore luminaries, the Blackened Music Series’ gathering of legends Repulsion, Brutal Truth and Pig Destroyer is the kind of show you see at 17 and still talk about at 35. It’s a one-off for everyone involved—no major touring going on—they’re just coming together for this one night (this Friday, July 31) and then they go their separate ways. For grindheads, it has all the trappings of a legendary show, and not just because it’s Repulsion’s first time in New York in their 24 years as a band.

Brutal Truth released Evolution Through Revolution, their first album in 12 years, through Relapse Records this April. Repulsion haven’t had a full-length in 20 years since the release of grindcore landmark, Horrified. Pig Destroyer, who’ve been around since 1997 and are the youngest band on the bill by seven years, are between records after the phenomenal success of 2007’s Phantom Limb, but the violent Richmond, VA, grinders find themselves fast becoming the vanguard of their generation. If nothing else, the appropriateness of their position in this line-up directly to that. What other band would fill that slot and stand up to the legacies of Brutal Truth and Repulsion?

Well, it’s pretty much got to be Pig Destroyer.

And so it is. A scant two weeks before the show, vocalist J.R. Hayes was kind enough to take some time out and discuss what it meant to him to be playing with these bands.

Can you give me some background on how this show came about?

We did some shows the last few months for the Scion Rock Fest in Atlanta and we did a show in L.A. at the Knitting Factory and the guy that set them up, he asked if we wanted to do a New York show with Brutal Truth. He was trying to do it at the Masonic Temple. I don’t know what it’s like, it could just be a classroom, but it sounds like it might be a pretty cool place.

It’s actually a pretty big hall.

Is there any atmosphere to it?

Yeah, I saw Neurosis there a while back. Cool sound, a lot more space than you’d think.

Cool. That’ll be different because the last few times we played Brooklyn, we’ve played smaller, little rooms. We’ve played a bunch of different places in New York. It’s a little different every time I guess.

The last time I saw you guys in Brooklyn was at Europa.

That was the Polish dance club?

Yeah, it was Polish Beach Party Night.

That was an interesting night. You get all those metalheads and all these hot Polish women coming in to dance and stuff and it’s oil and water. We had a similar experience to that when we played Downtime [now Rebel]—it’s downtown near Madison Square Garden in Manhattan. It might be a different name, but we played there a few times for CMJ and we played there once where as soon as our show was over, it was either the club next door or the same club turned into a gay leather club. You had two or three hundred metalheads coming out and a couple hundred gay dudes going in, and it’s always interesting when you get those crowd mixes.

What is your personal experience playing with Brutal Truth and Repulsion? Are you a fan? Can you not be?

Oh yeah. Well, I mean, I guess it’s possible to not be. I’ve had conversations with people, and if you like grindcore and you don’t like Napalm Death, that just seems a little weird to me. But then I’ve met people who are really into metal and they don’t like Slayer. If you don’t like Slayer, I don’t know what to say to you. I just can’t really relate to anybody on that level. But Brutal Truth, I remember the first time I saw them was back in the mid-‘90s with Cannibal Corpse and that was before they broke up, obviously. Then when they decided to come back, they actually asked us to do some of their first shows back, which was a great honor. They’re lots of fun, really chill guys. Of course they’ve been around the world 10,000 times, so nothing really surprises them. They’re just chill and fun to hang out with.

The Repulsion guys are the same way, actually. We’ve become friends with those guys over the last couple years, too, just because we seem to end up playing a lot of the same festivals and things and in the same backstage areas drinking beer, so you get to bro down a little bit.