An interview with Dwid Hellion of Integrity, by Antony Roberts.
Last year when Integrity toured the UK I got to sit down with band mastermind, founder, and vocalist Dwid Hellion before they played the Camden Underworld date in London. To cut a long story short the dictaphone mysteriously vanished at home and I was gutted. Many months later during a move it was found slipped down behind the back of some drawers and so here it is…
We started off discussing the band Integrity themselves and his other projects (of which there are many!). Most underground fans should know Integrity but I ask him to sum up the band for those that aren’t familiar with them, “Woah”, he laughs “Trouble I suppose, trouble makers. For the record, myself and Robert Orr, he makes all the music and drums and stuff and I do the yelling, sometimes he does the mixing, sometimes I do. And then live (it’s) us again, plus John Gates and Ransom on bass, and Alex on drums”.
Integrity is just one of many bands Dwid is a part of. He still does the industrial Psywarfare (“sort of!”), and the raw black metal/punk Vermapyre with Robert Orr. On top of this he had an ambient project Irons which is now done with, sludgey hardcore punk band Irons which is also now done, neo-folk in the form of Roses Never Fade (“maybe one day it’ll happen again, but probably not”), as well as being busy doing guest contributions for many bands including vocals on the Sutekh Hexen album ‘Larvae’.
I mention the Integrity link with Ancient VVisdom as vocalist Nathan Oppostion used to play drums in Integrity and Mike Joccombe played guitars, “I like those guys, they’re good friends”, but what about the double VV’s I enquire? Integrity have used them many times throughout the years as do Ancient VVisdom now. “Oh that’s German, Germans can’t say W, we go right to the root of the English language”, there’s laughter from around the room, but Dwid seems serious, I couldn’t tell if he was or not. “I helped arrange the split with them and Charles Manson”. This bought me on to a topic I was very curious about and wondered his reasoning for promoting a man who effectively voyeured race war with his term of helter skelter. “Well no, no, now you’re quoting a man who was the prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi, who was paid by a book publishing company to tell you that, in writing a book to make a movie, that’s a different thing to reality. So someone who is a public appointed official decides that he’s going to betray his position for monetary compensation from a book publishing company who says we can probably get a movie deal out of it if you get a conviction”, Dwid makes a mock wink wink at me. He continues to expand “Thats where the Helter Skelter angle comes from and to make sure let’s not even let him talk in front of a jury of his peers at the end of his trial because he might *whispers* hynotise them with magiiiic!!. That’s American fucking judicial law right there, hypnosis with some magic thrown in and oh let’s not let this man give his own testimony, and that’s where it comes from. The problem is that the public have all read that fucking book, and why, because of that whole point. They wanted to make a fuck load of money and so they ‘Helter Skelter’, to make money to spread their own opinion about everything else and make it over the top, and they were successful and they made a fuck load of money, especially Bugliosi”.
“He (Manson) was not convicted (of serial killing), again it was hypnosis in the form of a magician, which is a pretty strange thing, and hasn’t happened in America since the Salem witch trials. But you know we got to give Vincent Bugliosi his Beverly Hills poolside fucking mansion, so that’s how it goes. It’s like the 3 guys in Memphis, it’s always about someone making money, and that was fucking bullshit again, they just do that shit, you got a scapegoat, you make some money, but it’s all good, you know”
The Integrity album ‘Seasons In The Size of Days’ finished with actual recordings of the Jim Jones speech and people dying in the Guyana massacre. In a previous interview Dwid mentioned that it was put on there to shock people in hardcore that are following people and to show the effects of weak willed people. “It was in reference to the sheep mentality for sure but mainly at all the krishna hippy shit that was going on at the time, it was mostly against that, that was the idea, and also at the time Christianity was real strong in the hardcore scene, they tried to bring in this kind of christian hardcore, er, thing going on there, in the 90’s and that time.
I then ask him about the things like the church and religion and comparisons to straightedge that are putting very strong ideas into (often) young male minds. Often it’s when they are in their teens and perhaps still looking to fit in, and find something to belong to. “Our merch guy, he doesn’t want to eat nothing, or drink nothing, but you know we love that guy, and it’s not like i’m against him, and I don’t think he’s a pre-pubescent teen who’s just following because he’s not. But what I think is bullshit nowadays is it becomes the norm that everybody is expected to be khrisnas or vegans and all that stuff and so you come to the catering and it’s all kinds of fucking khrisna food, and I mean fuck that, i’m not into that, don’t push that shit on me. It’s bullshit, I think if you come around full circle, well that’s oppression, well for me it is. But you know original hardcore came from metal and punk, but you know that’s what fucking hardcore is, they don’t understand (nowadays) that you’re not supposed to follow everybody, but they all follow everrrrybody. They’re all just fucking following everybody and copying each other and that’s what they all do and you’ve got to do your own thing and fucking stand up for yourself, that’s where I came from as a kid in the early 80’s. But all these other guys, they see you cashing in so they market that shit out here and they’ve been making money off it for a long time, and they’ve commercialised it, and make it into some kind of fashion line”.
As he brought up his younger years I ask him about his school years which he had previously mentioned was split into many cliques, and wondered if the fights and alienation was the start of his misanthropy. “Oh yeah, well, I hated humans before all that, when I was little I hated them. But I guess that the fact that they were against me for just wearing a punk shirt or a certain type of clothing I feel that problem helped the feelings and me get strong, you just go to school just wearing a shirt of a band you like and you get beat up for it, or you beat them up cause they hit you first y’know. Not everybody is a victim in this, a lot of people try to play it like that, but sometimes we beat them up to”.
With the fact they were always lumped early on in the hardcore scene but had a lot of crossover into metal influences I wondered which scene he felt more aligned with. “I like metal and I like punk but I don’t like hardcore cause hardcore is just rap, every hardcore band is a rap band nowadays and I don’t like rap. I”m not into rap, I got no gold chains on, I don’t give a fuck about that shit. That shit don’t have no relevance to my life”. We then touch on unity within the hardcore scene and if he feels like that now whether he ever felt a part of it “It’s all children attitudes. Anybody that’s going to say stuff (about unity) that much, you know there’s something wrong. They’re showing their true self by overly saying it. ‘Oh Let’s all get together, let’s all be friends’, y’know, ‘let’s not steal, or do bad stuff to other people’. They’re always going to be the first ones. Anybody that talks about that stuff that much, it’s like a tell. ‘Don’t stab me in the back’…well you better watch out cause they’ll be the first ones to get you”.
When I try to push him further questioning about hardcore, money and him referencing rap I ask he’s talking about the more commercial hardcore bands on larger labels, “Don’t be naïve, you know it’s all like that, all this hip hop hardcore shit”. I query if he means what he was talking about earlier with Hardcore and about the fashion and going for the money. “No (hardcore) it’s just rap music now, i’m not a hardcore fan, i’m a metal punk I guess, i’m definitely not into hardcore or rap and definitely not into the dancing. I like heavy metal and some black metal stuff and a lot of punk stuff, even southern rock as well, but I certainly don’t like rap which is what it is now. People from the scene get angry about that, they want you to like that stuff but I don’t. I also don’t like Polka music y’know but I don’t get too many people coming up saying they’re angry that I don’t like polka. We’re crusty-ish but we also don’t want political correctness. We want everyone to die and the crusty guys have their own agendas. Some are right and some are wrong but we just want everyone to die, including ourselves! So in some ways we’re really politically correct cause we want everyone to die, so that’s equal rights. We’d like for the whole world to fucking end but some people don’t see it that way and that’s ok. I think in this flesh we are trapped. It’s a prison these small cells that we live in, a flesh prison, and so if we all die then it’s all going to end. But if some of us die and a few come back it perpetuates, so if you kill it all, you kill that fucking disease and it’s all done. I just don’t like humans”.
With his love of old films and the amount of corruption there is in the world today I ask if he thinks he was born in the wrong time? “I don’t know, I use a lot of modern technology to make things, but I like Fritz Lang, and older films a lot more than modern stuff and er I like to see the world through a dilapitated telescreen.”
I mention something that David from the British band Bong once said to me, “Commerce has to be the least important element of music” and mention they seem to see this same idea with Holy Terror giving all the releases away for free. “I try to give them all away for free but sometimes I don’t have the time to put it up on the internet, and it takes quite a lot to time to put in all the tags, and stuff. The means to put up the songs for free is often actually harder to do than you would expect. It’s easier to put them up to make money than for free, you have to fight against the sources that allow it. We use bandcamp and you can make it pay what you want but fans can only download so many then they kick in charges so you have to keep an eye on it, or put it for say 50c an album and then pop it back down to nothing, it’s kind of a lot of work just to give stuff away for free. It’s not like we’re trying to give stuff away to be hippies, it’s just we don’t give a fuck and we want to tell everyone in the industry to fuck off. We’ll give it away for free you assholes”.
In a previous interview he says “My music is more extreme and aggressive than that of my past records, and hopefully less accessible to the mainstream public who have polluted and contaminated our audience”. I asked him about this previous statement “I just feel some of the older records were a little too accessible and so a lot of people could understand them, but I’m personally moving away from that, let’s just say the newer material will not be a pretty picture. My Dad he liked The Beach Boys and I like Manson, and they worked together y’know but I was on the bad side of that coin, and I like to make music that’s just screaming into the abyss. You just don’t know where that’s gonna go, it might be a bad scene, but that’s how I am. It’s not normal that I am like this, but I guess since I was a kid I never gave a fuck what people thought and I just make the music that I like, and that I want to hear. It ain’t about making music that everybody likes, it’s about doing what you want to do. The best example I can give is with you and your pictures, you like taking pictures and if people don’t like your pictures, you’d be well ‘fuck you, I like them, and it’s what I want to do’, it’s like that but with music instead of pictures. The best thing to do is make what you like, fuck everyone, and that is punk rock, and that’s what hardcore was like, and still should be like, but it’s been commercialised”.
He continues on about the places they’ve played “Sometimes we play a show like say Hellfest and they’ll be thousands of people there, and then a few days later we can play a show and they’ll be 10 people there. We still play the same show, and we still play to the same strength. We’ve had guys at these little shows come up and go wow I thought you guys were gonna play 2 songs and leave, and I’d ask them why? We like our music, we’ll play for ourselves, if there’s 10 or a thousand people, if you’re there and you’re along for the ride then that’s great, we’ll ride together”.
Nearing the end of the interview I ask him to choose any 3 people to spend dinner with, from anytime, any place. Dwid laughs, and opens a beer whilst contemplating. “Can I have David Lee Roth?”, there’s laughter around the room from the rest of the band. “Hmmm, any 3 people, from anytime or place? OK well I’d have Arthur Rimbaud, David Lee Roth and Francis Bacon. What I like about Rimbaud the best, bearing in mind I can’t read French right, the books I read are the English translations from the French. He has this explosive kind of version of poetry, where it didn’t rhyme so when it’s translated it’s really lost, and that’s what I like about it, it’s really broken and wrong. I could also go with Tristan Zara, or Andre Baton, their writing style is wild and cut up. I liked him (Rimbaud) before all the going to Africa and losing his leg stuff, I liked him more when he was young and on the Absinthe. Absinthe did a lot for artists it seems, never really helped me out in my life, but I liked acid and mushrooms when I was a kid, not so much nowadays, maybe the mushrooms” he finishes whilst a grin comes across his face.
Lastly we move on to the subject of music, and with the amount of stuff he has released on Holy Terror, as I assume he must be quite the vinyl fan. “I collect vinyl, but my collection is pretty modest compared to some people, I’m selective with my tastes, quite a lot of stuff I give away as I don’t want it in my house. I don’t like a lot of music, so I don’t make too much of a point of just collecting stuff for the sake of it cause I might or could like it. Some people get a lot of records and maybe they have a whole spectrum of music, but I only like a small range of stuff, old blues, weird French black metal from the early 90’s, Portuguese Black Metal like Mons Veneris and Black Cilice, Japanese punk metal stuff, and a couple of other pieces that fit in there, but not too much. There’s too much music out there now, way more bands than there should be, there should be a music holocaust” laughter. “I don’t like tapes, i’ll record them straight through onto my computer into mp3 so I don’t have to use them, and I haven’t bought a CD in a couple of years”.
Integrity play the following UK dates starting this Sunday:
28th July 2013 – Le Pub, Newport – with Outrage CC
29th July 2013 – Wharf Chambers, Leeds – with Rot In Hell and Seagraves
30th July 2013 – Fibber Magees, Dublin – with Crows, 20 Bulls Each and Pulled Apart
31st July 2013 – Trillians Rockbar, Newcastle – with Grace
1st August 2013 – Underworld, London – with Oblivionized, Black Veins and DTHSKRS
Suicide Black Snake is out now on A389 Recordings.
You can find Integrity on facebook here.