Metal Skull: Interview with Karl Simon of The Gates Of Slumber: The Doom Of Indianapolis

Did you go into working with Sanford Parker again saying, ‘This is how I want this to be,’ with set goals?

Actually, no. I completely turned the reins over to Sanford. I only brought minimal guitar equipment and the only input I had on any sort of tonality on the entire record was the solo in ‘Descent Into Madness,’ just because I really wanted to use my Sunn Beta lead with the reverb tank cranked all the way up, because it has a really nice, lush, full reverb and the solid state response really helps with that solo. He designed every other tone on that record. He wasn’t a dictator, it’s not like he’s like, ‘You’re going to use this now,’ but if he came in and was like, ‘Hey, what do you feel about using the Jimi Hendrix octave on this part?’ I said, yes, let’s do it. That was my answer. It was an exercise for me to just let go and allow someone else who knows what they’re doing to do the job of production, to make the sounds, to mix the record without me following behind like, ‘Why don’t you do this?’

He doesn’t mess around with the range too much. He did detail a couple of solo sections in favor of putting in the Moog keyboard, which I think it really lends a different atmosphere and brings out a slightly different aspect of our collective influences when he’s doing that. In ‘Beneath The Eye Of Mars,’ for example, it lends this almost Rainbow-esque feel to the track, which I was like, ‘Wow, that’s really awesome.’ I still wish the solo was there, because I play it live, but I think that’s just part of the fun, people hearing the difference between the recorded track and the live track.

Any element taken from Rainbow is not a bad thing.

I can’t really disagree with you on that one. It was not something that I had thought about, that riff having a feel that Rainbow would have used. Then he put the keyboard in, and it was like, ‘Wow, that’s really Rainbow-esque’ (laughs). That’s always kind of neat, when you can catch, ‘Oh wow, I did something really classy right there and I didn’t even mean to (laughs). I was just jerking off as usual.’ I think a lot of his ideas were just really super, super ideas.

I know it’s early, but do you think you’d go back to him again?

I would in a heartbeat. It really all depends on how long this record is viable. It’s our hope that we’re going to be working this one for at least the next year and a half. We would really love that, and we’re really in a position in our lives that we’re in this window now where if we’re going to get out on the road and pound it for a while, this is the time. The record, I feel, is strong enough that we could work it for a long time and hopefully that will be the case and we’ll be able to really get some serious road work done. We tour a bit, but more is always more. We’re kind of greedy in that respect, always going back for seconds and thirds.

What else do you have planned for the rest of the year?

There’s a couple of one-off CD release shows, then we’re going over to Europe for a bit. We’re going to be doing the Hammer of Doom Fest with Trouble, Count Raven, Spiritus Mortis. We’ll be touring with Lord Vicar, the ex-Saint Vitus, ex-Terra Firma, ex-Reverend Bizarre band. We’ll be doing some dates with them over there. We’re doing Damnation Fest. We’re actually opening Damnation Fest (laughs). Very first band, like at 10 in the morning. We have to headline London, get everything loaded out, get in the van at like seven in the morning the next morning after three hours sleep, drive to Leeds and walk right on stage and play. I don’t even know what to expect. It will probably be the most diverse bill we’ve ever played on. Akercocke, Destruction, My Bloody frickin’ Valentine is playing. I have no idea what to expect. We’re just going to walk out on stage and kick our 20-minute set and that’s it.

After that, November, Bob is going to be on the road with Nachtmystium. He does work with them and they’re going to be on tour with Marduk in November. Then December is the shutdown, but in January we’ve got some things lined up, possible things. Then February there’s things lined up as well there. Talk about maybe, maybe, maybe doing Saint Vitus in Europe. Roadburn. Hopefully it gets a lot more solid. If it doesn’t, that’s gonna be a depressing stroke, because we’re really eager. Jason’s got three children and his wife’s giving him this bit of leash, so we really want to take full advantage of it before early middle age starts to settle in and we’re like, ‘Oh, this is it.’ We’ve got to do some cool stuff. I can’t say that rock and roll hasn’t been awesome to me. I’ve been to Europe five times, toured the U.S. several times, that’s been very cool to me, but again, just a greedy bastard always wanting to go back for more and see what can happen. Hopefully that gets a lot more full. It’s pretty full as is, but hopefully it really starts to fill up.

Hymns Of Blood And Thunder is available now on Rise Above Records. For more info on The Gates Of Slumber, check out

JJ Koczan thinks it would be awesome to see The Gates Of Slumber open for Saint Vitus. Like watching proud parents headline over their children.