Interview with Paul March of Zebadiah Crowe
By Sheri Bicheno
Hi guys! I return with another chat from a further killer artist. This time I present a great chat with the lovely Paul March of Zebadiah Crowe – a duo of chaotic Industrial Black Metal from Hertfordshire.
Having known Paul since he played at Mammothfest, some years back, in his Electronic Metal project, Shyly Virus, I’ve followed his work with Zebadiah Crowe closely. The band started in 2006 and went on to release 2008 demo “Lo’Grosh”, a 2009 Split with Orion and then in 2010 they released their first full-length album “Grawl! The Many Deaths of the Great Beast”. Second full-length album “Omak K’aah” was then released in 2013, followed by a long break until 2020, where Zebadiah Crowe returned with the beastly new album “Host Rider”.
Take a look below for my chat with Paul and some insight into the return of this monster!
Sheri: Now obviously, I know you best from your days in Shyly Virus – give our readers an insight to Zebadiah Crowe and where you started…I know you started around 2006?
Paul: Yeah, let’s not dwell on that hahaha. It makes me feel even older haha. But yes, we did! We started way, way back in 2006. I’d already been knocking around and seen a little bit before that with another band. I’m gonna be honest with you, it just started off as me and four other guitarists just jamming stuff out. And yeah, it just became ZEBADIAH CROWE. It went up on Myspace and people didn’t hate it hahaha. So…here we are! People didn’t hate it as much as the other stuff, so we just ran with it.
Sheri: Best way to start!
Paul: It didn’t completely suck haha.
Sheri: I know that you have quite extensive experience in other bands so are there other things that you were working on before?
Paul: We were originally a doom/sludge band and we got some Radio 1 air play out of that. The most bizarre thing you’ve ever heard in your entire life is that, you know, you hear yourself coming out of the radio especially with that sort of thing. And, as I say, we just started to wing it, but the weird thing is that Jim’s family know my family and two of our family members were working together – and I said that I was looking for a guitarist and this person said “Ah! My son is a guitarist!” and that’s how we kinda ended up working together. So, it was complete nepotism to be honest with you haha. And here we are almost 20 years later! It’s…you know, I would be out for good behaviour by now hahaha.
Sheri: Hahaha. I’m sure it feels like it sometimes.
Paul: Yeah, but I think I try his patience on an almost daily basis too so…hahaha!
Sheri: Yeah, but that’s what makes good partners! Haha.
Paul: Definitely. It wouldn’t be the same if he wasn’t throwing things at me all the time so…haha.
Sheri: Remember to duck! What I find interesting about Zebadiah Crowe is that you combine flavours of Black Metal and Industrial Grind. As you’ve got a wealth of experience in other bands…Phlefonyaar, Shyly Virus, Skrugg…How did you come to find that this was your preferred direction?
Paul: Well, there is so much interesting and fun good music out there. Let’s be fair, what would the world be without it? One of the joys in life for me has been trying to A) Find it and thinking what would happen if I put this together? And B) I’m a massive Pig Destroyer fan. So, I can remember sitting there and basically sort of thinking “What would a Black Metal version of Pig Destroyer sound like?” So, I went round the web and no one – well, it just wasn’t there! Especially not back in 2006. So, like a lot of people, I went “If no one else is going to do it, I’m gonna have to!” Then the telephone call was made, the rehearsal room was booked and here we are…and that’s just how it goes. Hahaha. It was done sheerly and purely because I wanted to hear that sort of stuff and I wanted to apply my meager talents to it…and, hopefully, I’ve done it justice. I’d also like to say that you know, some bands have now since materialised that are very much in that vein thank goodness…and they’re all really, really good! So, I think it’s fantastic that people are actually stepping outside the box to do things, especially as extreme music very much works on genres so it’s nice to see people just trying stuff.
Sheri: Yeah, outside the box and not conformity.
Paul: Yeah, people trying new things and not relying on in the in-built audiences you get with say, “I’m going to be in a doom band.” if you get my drift, obviously you get the Doom audience and the Doom audience like you and then Presto! Whereas you probably have to work a little bit harder on who you are if you’re trying something new. But I’m extremely glad that people are trying something new and are still doing it.
Sheri: Absolutely. I think it’s also about diversity as well. Because as you say, if people are into Doom then it also opens up other avenues on sub-genres you know. That’s what I find interesting about you guys. You’re not in a box so to speak.
Let’s talk a bit about your previous releases…Your last release before “Host Rider” was in 2013 with “Omak K’aah” which was just pure face melting evil – Take our readers through some of the dynamics of that album?
Paul: The idea was to make the most heinously evil music I could possibly think of. That was the top of the list on the drawing board. Then it was taking apart what other people consider to be heinously evil music and think “Can I do better than this? Is it possible? Can I at least approach it?” So, the first thing that became apparent to me is that we needed an atmosphere. And that’s where I think the industrial side comes in. So, there’s me at the side of the road with my tape deck recording ambient sounds and all that sort of stuff. So that came into it. And then I had to flex my drum programming skill…if you can call it that. It’s like killing an ant with a hammer haha. So, I had programmed drums before, but I think that’s the first album where I actually sat down and really got into it. It’s probably quite primitive by other people’s standards now. It was getting it to also sound real and not too much like a drum machine, so to a certain extent, you had to build in errors. Which I know sounds completely ridiculous, but it’s actually true haha.
And lastly, I had the guitarist I needed in ‘Forrrr’. I had my tape recorder full of riffs, I played them to him and he recorded them and he just crammed it all together in one big heap and what you hear is what we had at the end of it. I’m actually still quite proud of that, a lot of blood, sweat and tears went into that album. I think it still stands, even though it’s a hard listen, I like to think it’s still a good listen. I know lots of people may find elements that they don’t like, you can’t please everyone. For me, I still go “yeah, that’s one of my better pieces of work, I’m very pleased with it.”
Sheri: Amazing. It’s interesting to see how you evolve as a musician, from your early releases and finding a piece that you’re proud of.
Paul: You’ve got to try and see the best in things, I think. I chalked that one up as a success.
Sheri: I think it is, because when people talk about Zebadiah Crowe, that is one of the pieces that crops up most. For me as well… a few friends or acquaintances, particularly another Ever Metal reviewer Rick Eaglestone, who also is with Moshville Times! When I said I’m gonna be doing this interview, he highly recommended I check the album out LOUD… and I did! Hahaha.
Paul: They said some really nice things about us, we are very thankful to them. They are really good people, big thank you to them!
Sheri: You released “Host Rider” in June 2020 – after a long break of seven years. What do you think has developed in “Host Rider” and the band during that break?
Paul: The band members are probably in a better place, I would say. Towards the end of that particular period of Zebadiah Crowe, I was living in my car. I’m conducting this interview from my car – it’s a different car. Hahaha. But yeah, it got to the point where we just couldn’t function as people, so we had to take some time off from doing Zeb. So off we went…and I think that in the in-between years, we’ve learnt a lot of things, we’ve done other bands with and without each other. The upshot has been that when we came to release “Host Rider”, we were a lot more focused. We knew what we were doing and an awful lot more, I think. There was an end game to it. Again, if you have the big list next to it, it had bullet points on it rather than just written at the top in biro. “This, this and this needs to happen.” This is the end game here and this has to happen. Circle at the bottom, this. So, I think this is probably the difference that you’re seeing.
Sheri: I do see the changes; I can see that there’s a bit more of an industrial vibe.
Paul: Yeah, it’s funny that you say that. We speak to people and what we get back was that the split album we did, our 3 tracks on that, were probably the most industrial tracks we’ve done. We don’t want to go too industrial though. There’s that whole thing about industrial that I’m not going to go into right now haha but yes, I think that’s well observed, there is more industrial on it. I don’t call it “Industrial” myself, I call it “atmosphere”.
Sheri: Ambience haha!
Paul: Yes, to get our message across, that’s probably the icing on the cake.
Sheri: I do detect some tones that actually reminds me a little bit of Ministry. I’m not sure if you have any influences in your music but that’s what I connect it to.
Paul: Oh yes, I am a massive Ministry fan. In my top three bands, they’re probably one of those three. I absolutely love Ministry, I always have. I know that they died off a bit, but “Psalm 69” was a turning point for me when that came out. I’d never heard anything like that before. I think that it’s been a benchmark to a certain extent. In our own way, we’ve tried to recreate some of that and hopefully we have done!
Sheri: I think it shines through definitely. Your vocals are a bit rawer and sharper in this album, straight from the get-go. ‘Knucklebones’ is a really fun track to me, It’s just pure energy and fight through the whole thing. Just dirty haha! It touches on a lot of destructive and primitive scenes – creatures rising from depths to massacre – Give our readers an insight into the theme going on “Host Rider”, from your perspective.
Paul: Well, let’s take the title to start with. I’ve always been a comic book fan; I was always into Ghost Rider. I thought well, you know, it’s like this stuff rides us through life so that’s where the title came from. I’m very lyrically influenced by Poe, Lovecraft, I like to paint pictures with it. I want to give people the image. I’m very glad that you said that you could see things as you heard it because that says a lot to me. That’s what I’m after haha. And to bring this stuff to people, hopefully in a way they enjoy rather than a terrifying way that they won’t enjoy. One of the things that we learnt from the older albums is that people don’t like to be scared. Hahaha. That’s not what people want in an evening hahaha. So, we had to dial it back a little bit because for some people it was like “I can’t listen to this, this is terrifying.” Hahaha.
Sheri: I think it depends on people’s perception and what they’re looking for. That’s the beauty of music. Scary can be good.
Paul: Well, that’s brilliant, I suppose it’s kinda like a horror film. People do like to be scared every now and then but, then again, you don’t want to scare people to the point where they lose control of their faculties. Hahaha. We don’t blame people though haha.
Sheri: I think you’ve got a good grasp on what you’re doing and putting out there. There’s more ambience on “Host Rider”.
Paul: It’s a lot more punk to me, than the last album. Certainly, more than The Split. I think that comes from the writing process a little bit. Me and Jim (Forrrr) listen to a lot of punk music, his favourite band is Black Flag, for example. There’s a touch of when writing the riffs, what would Forrrr like to hear? I try to push those towards him and get him to put his spin on it and rock it back and forth until we get what we’re after.
Sheri: One of our readers has described “Host Rider” as a theme in Mortal Combat, they’re fighting in Hell. There’s background music and they’ve said “Host Rider” is like the Hell Scene fight haha.
Paul: I will take that, I love Mortal Kombat. So, thank you. That’s going on the résumé haha.
Sheri: What pushes you to bring these to the surface? Do you draw inspiration from a source?
Paul: Well, if I was in a Hardcore band, I would probably write about living on the streets, if you get my drift. If I were to put that in Zeb, it wouldn’t work and it would probably sound a little bit fake. There’s a certain authenticity that you need to have with this stuff in order to commit to it. If there’s no authenticity, then you can’t commit to it. So, we all have our problems in life, we all struggle with certain things. Sometimes the monsters you’re hearing about are real monsters that I have given a name to and put down and given them their own tory and let them out into the world. Whether that’s a good thing or not, I don’t know but it certainly makes for good listening.
Sheri: My favourite tracks from “Host Rider” are ‘The Neon Goat of Crimson Grief’, ‘Godblind And Destitute’…and ‘A Horror To The Eyes Of Saintly Men’ – the riffs and frenzied drums combined with some pretty atmospheric effects is right up my street. When you come to creating your tracks, what is the best method for you both?
Paul: I would say it’s 99% me, I don’t think he would be upset with me saying that. I just bully him hahaha.
Sheri: Someone has to be the boss hahaha.
Paul: He basically comes in and I have these ideas and he goes “no that can’t be done.” And my response is usually “Well, that’s unfortunate because we’re doing them.” Hahaha.
I’ve got all of these noises and I’ve done this; I want the beats per minute to be this, I’ve got these basic drum tracks worked out and the bass line…so yeah, it’s basically probably 99% me standing there going “now do this, now do this.” Hahaha. And he sits there with a long suffering look on his face going “Yeah, I can’t do that.” Hahaha. “That’s not humanely possible.” haha. And then unfortunately I make a complete noose for my own neck because then I have to play Bass under everything I’ve got him to do and then that’s when I discover that actually no it’s not possible haha.
Sheri: Do you have anyone in the band for live purposes at all?
Paul: Actually, yeah, we do! We have a couple of people – we got one guy who does drums for us, he’s stateside – a guy called Marshall. We were hoping to get out on the road to go places but obviously things have had a stopper put on that. We should have been on tour now, to be honest with you. It’s a bit of a shame. We do have another guy on drums for touring Europe and the UK. We’ve done a few shows with the drum machine and there’s something about the simplicity about just plugging it in and playing along. It never stopped Godflesh, it will never stop us. I think it’s good to have variation in things. It makes you a better musician, I think. It means you’ve got to play catch up to yourself. It keeps you on your feet and on your toes. It makes you better…and with the way things are going, there’s a chance we are gonna have to think fast and think on our feet. So, more options are better. It’s much easier to get a drum machine through customs than a drummer hahaha. One fits in the box…so does the other, but one is bigger hahaha.
Sheri: Hahaha. Your vocals are STURDY as f**k! How do you settle on your vocal range for Zebadiah Crowe?
Paul: Normally, in other bands I’ve been in, my vocals aren’t quite that scathing, they’re normally a bit deeper, so I have to go up the range ever so slightly when I’m doing the main vocals. It’s more of a shriek, so you have to warm up before you do those, I reckon hahaha. So, there’s usually 10 minutes before going on stage where I’m out behind the venue in an alleyway screaming my head off, trying to warm my vocals up and you know, people look at me like I’m insane. Hahaha. It happens you know! There’s nothing you can do about it. People come down and are like “are you alright?” and I’m like “Yeah, I’m fine, honestly, I’m not hurt, I promise!” And you have to loosen your vocal chords off and obviously we do a lot of twin – which is really big screams that are done low and high. I’m quite lucky that I can split my voice off so I can do both at the same time. I don’t know how or why I can do it; I just seem to be able to – but not all the time, not gonna lie. On that front, we’re quite lucky and there’s a way of doing them. It’s almost like shrinking and it’s almost like barking if that makes sense. It’s very much doing vocals to the melody of the drums instead of the guitar. So, I will go with the drum patterns on the vocals normally. The incredibly talented Florian from Dark Fortress also taught me some good tricks. He’s a talented man so when he tells you something, you should listen haha. I like to push myself; it’s been an adventure with the vocals.
Sheri: For people like yourself, who can do Black Metal, or most Metal vocals, and have different techniques, it’s a good insight to see where yours come from. What advice can you give other Black Metal artists?
Paul: Only what I do. For the love of God, warm up. You might be alright for a little while, but you will blow your voice and it’s not fun. A lot of vocalists might disagree with me there and don’t need to warm up, but I know some vocalists that like to drink milk and some like to drink wine before they play. I personally avoid spicy food when I warm up. Other than that, try not to hurt yourself haha. Gaahl from Gorgoroth would have wine before he went on, but it would have to be room temperature. There are all sorts of different techniques really. Protect your instrument though, would be my suggestion.
Sheri: What is happening next for you?
Paul: Well, it’s kind of with image and computer games… Our EP “Lychmilk” was released in early February with three tracks…I’m not gonna ruin anything but we’ve been very very VERY kindly allowed to use footage from a computer game that you can get on the PlayStation 4. So, that’s pretty cool. It’s in the Pipeline, I really hope you like the video because it is absolutely fantastic and it took a great deal of self-control to not put it out straight away, not gonna lie haha. Scott form Dark North Media, he’s a lovely man. He puts up with…me! Hahaha. He’s helped tremendously with it and applied his prestigious talents to it, so I am very excited for that. There’s that then will be the next full-length album in the Spring. Which is KINDA done…but I’m dragging my heels on it because I wanna get it right haha.
Sheri: I’m looking forward to getting my teeth into that!
Paul: I really hope we can tour it as soon as possible, really hoping we can all get back out there. I haven’t managed to do festivals and see what we can put on the bucket list haha.
Sheri: Finally, let us know how others can support you!
Paul: Don’t just support us, Support anyone who’s trying to do something. Providing they like it obviously, but go to BandCamp pages, go to the websites, watch the videos, tell people about us and other bands like us. Make sure that these people get heard and are not left out in the cold because people need more support. With Spotify and everything, you don’t get much from what you put out. Even if you share our video, bang, thank you, it means the world to us. Plus, when you’re standing in a builder’s yard with bags of concrete, and you go to your phone and see it, it helps, it’s really great and really pushes you forward, it’s great.
Sheri: We will look out for your new release! Thank you so much for your time, mate. Really appreciated.
Paul: Me and Forrrr really appreciate it, you guys are pretty much the life blood of what we do cuz you help us reach people. Thank you!
‘Wormhavens Dance’ (Official Video)
Zebadiah Crow are:
Paul March (The Horrid) – Vocals, Bass, Drum Programming
Jim Males (Forrrrthen) – Guitars
Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Sheri Bicheno and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this interview, unless you have the strict permission of said party. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.