Erik Lindmark is the remaining founding member of the brutal death metal band Deeds of Flesh, and is a co-founder of Unique Leader Records, both based out of Los Osos, CA. I spoke with Erik to discuss both the record label and Deeds of Flesh’s upcoming eighth full-length, Portals to Canaan.
WOBC: Hey Erik. Can you give us a little background about Unique Leader?
Erik Lindmark: Yeah, it started back in ’99, with Jacoby [Kingston, former Deeds of Flesh bassist and vocalist] and myself. We used to work for a CD manufacturing plant and there were some investors that wanted to start a label. They knew that we had a name that could start the label, so they gave us an offer and a hefty advance to run the label and to release… at the time it was “Path of The Weakening” – and they wanted us to bring in other bands and basically work the label, which we did. And it kind of all fell apart, where Jacoby and I ended up buying them out. From then, we built the roster that we have now. And a few years ago, I actually ended up buying out Jacoby. He just ended up doing something different with his life; we’re still friends and everything but it was his time to part ways with the whole music scene. So yeah – we specialized in technical, brutal, extreme death metal, and we’ve stuck with that niche ever since the beginning. We’re here today and we have about 90 releases and thing are going good!
WOBC: You guys have a new album coming out this June. It’s been 5 years since Of What’s To Come – what’s changed for you guys since then?
EL: Yeah, it’s been about four and a half years or so. I wouldn’t say much has changed since that album. I would say our change came with Of What’s To Come, where we really took a different approach in working with the concept and concentrating a bit more on the second guitar. Every album before Of What’s To Come, we wrote with the mindset that we were a three-piece, because in the past, we have been a three-piece. We’ve had lots of live guitarists, but we usually tour as a three-piece, and we never wanted to do anything on our albums that we couldn’t recreate live. It just sounds hollow to me when you have lead work going on with the bass backing it up; it just doesn’t fly for us. So what we decided to do [on Of What’s To Come] was take the approach that we would always be a four-piece from now on, and worked a bit more on adding that second guitar and really bringing it to the forefront of our writing.
The vocals were a bit different too; since Of What’s To Come, we’ve approached them where it’s a bit more in-your-face. When we wrote the vocals before, we’d kind of play the riff and just kind of see how the vocals would fit while playing guitar at the same time, whereas recently we made up patterns and made them flow better rather than just changing as the guitar changes. There are a lot more syllables, and counts, and measures. I’d say those are the biggest changes from our previous albums until Of What’s To Come and this album. This one definitely takes off where Of What’s To Come left off. And of course, we have a couple new members – Craig Peters and Ivan Mungula from Arkaik. There were no hard feelings with the old guys – it was just their time to move on from music, which is fine. With Erlend [Caspersen, bassist of Spawn of Possession], it was a little different. We kind of wanted to be closer together if we needed to practice, or if we wanted to get together for band shots, or do one-off shows or whatever. But with Erlend being in Scandinavia, and us being here in the United States, it was kind of difficult to do. Now we’re all in California and it’s a bit easier, so that was the reason for that decision. Craig and Ivan are good guys and hard workers, and they shred.
WOBC: You had tendonitis last year – did that affect your writing process at all?
EL: Yeah, unfortunately I’m still battling that, which is why we haven’t done any shows. We’re still deciding what to do. I was trying to just let it heal, and now that the album is done, I’ve just been staying away from playing guitar and using my arm in any strenuous way. That’s the reason for the live hiatus. But as far as writing and recording went, it didn’t affect me because I was still able to play. I just couldn’t play for an extended amount of time. At about a minute and a half to two minutes in, if I’m playing a song straight through, it just starts to burn and burn to the point where I can’t get any pressure on the frets, and it just gives out. But when you’re recording, you record in sections, so if I’m doing 30-second sections or whatever, I’m able to do that.
Playing live, and playing songs all the way through, is unfortunately impossible right now. If the arm heals, we’ll probably go back to using another frontman vocalist like we were going to do originally. It was going to be Corey from Flesh Consumed, who was a huge help in the concept and the writing of the album. At the time, I didn’t have the problem, so he was going to take Jacoby’s spot as the vocalist and I’d be able to focus more on guitar and maybe background vocals. If the arm doesn’t heal, I’ll probably do vocals, and we’ll get a second guitar player. It’s still up in the air, but that’s why we haven’t been going out on the road or playing any shows. At least right now, we can still put out albums and write.
WOBC: Can you go over some of the gear you use?
EL: Over the years, it’s varied. I’ve used rack gear – Mesa, ENGL – as far as cabs I just use Marshalls. There’s some direct stuff I use. For the last album we ended up using a mix of the Dual Rectifier and the ENGL Special Edition, and it worked really well. It was an idea that Zach [Ohren] of Castle Ultimate Studios had. I’d say my favorite head that I’ve used is probably the ENGL Special Edition, just because of how cutting and razor-sharp the notes are rather than being a more open woofy sound like a Rectifier has. We blended the two – best of both worlds.
WOBC: Any favorite guitars?
EL: Well, I’m endorsed by Jackson. I like the Soloist, and I like the R1T. Another thing I forgot to mention that we did on this album that we haven’t done before was the incorporation of seven-strings. We have that low end going on, which we haven’t used before.
WOBC: Anything else you’d like to add?
EL: I hope people like the new album; we put a lot of effort into it. Stay patient with us as far as getting out on the road. That’s the biggest thing we really want to do again. Thanks for the support.
Portals to Canaan comes out June 25 on Unique Leader. Preorder packages are available here. The 9th annual Bloodletting North America tour, featuring Unique Leader artists Gorod, Inanimate Existence, and Kamikabe, will be stopping in Lakewood on May 13. Full dates available here.