Ringworm’s Human Furnace Discusses New Album ‘Hammer of the Witch’ and Musical Influences
With countless years of music, Ringworm have been pummeling ears for decades. Frontman Human Furnace and his crew are gearing up for the release of their brand new record, ‘Hammer of the Witch.’ They are also hitting the road in the spring in promotion of the new album.
We recently got the chance to pick the brain of Human Furnace, who talked all about the new disc as well as his evolution as a musician on the record. The vocalist also talks about the meaning behind his unique stage name as well as live acts that truly inspire him. Check out our full interview with Human Furnace of Ringworm below!
‘Hammer of the Witch’ — what does this title mean to you, personally?
Well, the title of the album was influenced by the cover art. The cover of the album is entitled, “The White Witch.” It’s a piece that I did for a gallery show I curated in Cleveland called “Life and Death in Black and White.” It hosted many of today’s finest black and white illustrators from around the globe. Around the time I was finishing the piece, we had begun throwing ideas around for the new record. I felt the piece was very strong and bold, so I knew I wanted to use it in some way for the new record. Turns out we ended up using it for the cover. The piece makes a strong statement, so the title of the album and transversally the title track was inspired by it.
How was the overall recording and creative process of this new disc?
This record actually came together quite quickly. Matt [Sorg, guitar] and John [Comprix, guitar] were able to put together the songs over a few months. Creatively, we pretty much just pass the material off to one another so each one of us can do “our thing.” Recording-wise, we are pretty simplistic and bare bones in the studio, and this time we really had no set backs and pretty much just went in and banged the record out.
With so many years of music under your belt, what can we hear about who you are as a person and vocalist today, on ‘Hammer of the Witch’?
Hmmm, that’s a pretty good question. On a personal level, hopefully, those who’ve known me for a long time will tell you I’m the same person I’ve always been, whatever that is. I approach every record in the same way, meaning I always sing about personal experiences and how the world effects me. “Professionally,” I think I’ve learned to understand how my voice works and what I can do with it. So these days, I can use it more effectively.
This is your first album on Relapse. How was the whole experience of choosing a new label for you?
We didn’t want to rush into another recording contract when we fullfilled our contract with Victory. We didn’t have the new record written so we felt no pressure to find one right away. When we learned that Relapse was interested, it really got us excited because we appreciate the attention they give to their acts and always we were excited to work with a label that was more metal-oriented and especially one that shows a lot of respect for the product. The experience was smooth and painless. They have been really square with us and they are real nice guys to work with.
I’m sure you’re asked all the time where the name Human Furnace comes from. I’ve read that you’ve described it as a pen name and a way to separate split personalities. What split personalities are you referring to and how do these personalities affect/influence you while creating new music?
I never really tell anyone why or when the name was conceived, but it definitely has an origin. But what I will say, is that on a personal level, I’d like to think that I’m not as dark, angry and morose as our lyrics would depict, but they do all come from a personal place and are not “made up” or “fake.” So, there is a part of me that is dark, angry and morose. I started using the moniker back in high school. Partially because of my love of performers like Alice Cooper, King Diamond, Venom and artists like Pushead.
I loved the idea of the theatrics and the fact that you can separate yourself into two — a “normal” side and “a dark, vicious side.” It’s not so much of an “alter-ego” because everything I sing about, I agree with, but I’ve found over the years that perhaps, in doing the band and being able to vent my frustrations and negative emotions, it’s actually been therapeutic in many ways and has helped me stay more “normal” in everyday life. So, in a way, early on, I felt that “that part” of me demanded it’s own identity. Sometimes people like to make a big deal out of it, but for me, it’s just a way to perhaps distance myself from things. I’ve been in Ringworm for more than half my life, so It’s really just another part of what I am.
Did you go to shows growing up? Was there a show in particular that inspired you to want to front a band? If so, how old were you and what band was it?
Hmmm, another good question. There’s quite a few memories of how music effected me early on. The first, really, would have to be KISS. I have great memories of doing full “air band” concerts to ‘Alive!’ in the garage of my cousin’s. I was really young, 9-10, so I never had the choice of which member I could be, so I’d always have to be Peter Criss. Not that that’s a bad thing. It actually kinda taught me how to play drums a little and gain a sense of timing. But KISS really captured the excitement of music for me. I would raid and study my parents and my older siblings’ record collections, so at a young age I had a well rounded taste in music.
A show that I really remember is when I was about 12-13 or so. My sister, who was supposed to be babysitting me, took me to see Deep Purple. This was really my first exposure to “live” music. I was totally blown away by everything. The loudness, the crowd, EVERYTHING. That left a mark.
But, I think one of the biggest things was when I was about 15 or so, I saw my cousin’s metal band perform at his high school. I remember after the show, I saw two girls get in a fist fight over him. I thought that was totally awesome. Yeah, bands are cool, and they did a KISS song. [Laughs] From there it was a constant barrage of punk bands, metal bands and eventually hardcore bands. I started actually knowing people who sang in bands. I never really could play an instrument well, so if I wanted to be in a band, that’s what I would have to do. And of course, finally, my best friend Frank Novinec asked me if I would sing for the band he had started. I said, “F— yeah,” and I’ve never stopped.
You have some touring coming up. For you, what are still the most enjoyable parts and most challenging parts about hitting the road?
I still really enjoy seeing different parts of the world and different cultures etc. Being in a band has really allowed me to see the world and meet people from everywhere and develop lasting friendships, and for that, I will be forever grateful to music and the music scene in general, so that is still very enjoyable. But I also still love to perform. It gets a lot off my chest. The parts I never really look forward to are the long drives and the “being broke” when I get home, but it always seems worth it.
Is there currently a band out there that you would love to tour with that you haven’t been out on the road with yet? Who is it and why?
With all of this forthcoming touring, what is one thing you must have on tour with you? No electronics.
Wristbands: I can’t play without them and sunglasses.
Another passion of yours is tattooing, what does this allow you to feel and express that music cannot?
Tattooing is pretty much my bread and butter. Apart from the band, tattooing and other art, is really just as big, if not a bigger part of my life. Inevitably, it will be the thing that I will be doing the rest of my life, so it’s a very important part.
What does 2014 have in store for you personally and Ringworm as a whole?
This year has really been a firestorm of opportunities and new projects for me. With new records from Ringworm, new records from both of my side bands (Gluttons, Holyghost), album covers, gallery shows, touring, writing, and everything else that comes my way, 2014 looks to be quite the whirlwind. I never sleep.