Necropanther: An Interview

Necropanther are a band of musicians from Denver, CO. 

You might not expect stories of 19th century whaling vessels and drunken ship mutinies to be the subject of new metal songs drifting over Colorado, and yet here we are. Necropanther has released a wicked new EP and we had a chance to chat about making music during and after COVID. 

Weirding: Your most recent EP was recorded asynchronously due to COVID. How did the recording arrangement differ — if at all — the way you all approached composing the songs?

Marcus Corich: The decision to proceed with and complete this project remotely was partially necessitated by the pandemic but also partially by our own desire to refine our capacity to function atypically.

Paul Anop: I think the biggest difference in the recording process was that we were not all able to be in the same room at the same time. This was a bit difficult for re-amping guitars because it was difficult to communicate exactly what I wanted without being there to turn knobs and move mics around. Luckily, Joe knows me well enough that he was pretty much able to nail what I wanted without too much trouble. 

MC: We pride ourselves on our operational abilities and workflow, and I think that we rose to the external challenge of creating music during extreme circumstances — and also got to exercise our internal organizational muscles.

Weirding: And in addition to the organizational muscles and the new recording process, the songwriting process changed up as well?

PA: For the EPs we have decided that each member would compose the entire project. I composed In Depths We Sleep. Haakon, Joe, and Marcus all wrote their own parts which really makes it special for me. I wrote and recorded a bunch of instrumental songs while I was living in the Caribbean around 2008. Three of the tunes off the EP are updated versions of the songs I wrote at that time. 'Benthic Storms' was written in the beginning of the pandemic. 

Weirding: The musicianship across your output is highly accomplished. I especially like the variety of harmony-laced guitars throughout your songs. Can you talk a bit about your backgrounds as musicians? Did you have conservatory training? Or did you pick up your chops mostly from woodshedding on metal?

Joe Johnson: Thank you very much. I don’t have conservatory training, but I had formal musical education through several years of guitar lessons from different instructors and a few music theory courses. I was in jazz and pep bands in high school, in addition to my own bands. 

Those experiences aren’t enough to prepare you to do a project like this, but they provide a lot of tools that make everything else easier. Some of it is musical — like how to part-write diatonic thirds or get to the right tempo. It’s surprising how much of it is logistical. Playing in school bands, you practice gigging — learning how to bring the right things, set up and tear down quickly, entertain people, and take it all home. It’s incredibly valuable to learn from those mistakes with a school band instead of your own.

On top of that, yes, there’s a lot of woodshedding — but not all of it came from metal. Starting from scratch, no one else is going to force you to do what it takes to have chops — certainly not for metal lead guitar. Depending on how far you go, formal education is both fundamental and rudimentary. An original band is all about having your own sound, to make and do things in a way that’s unique. You have to find those pieces alone, away from school, and in a practice space with your buddies.

I’m lucky enough to have played with some people who went to conservatory, and I’ve tried to pick up what I could from them. Play with the best musicians you can, and you will learn. The price is that they will push you out of your comfort zone, and you won’t always be the best musician in the room. Those are the people who will eventually provide external motivation to build your chops. 

That’s a big part of what this band is about.  

MC: Music was always one of those things that fascinated me. I started in an elementary school concert band which taught me a lot of basics. I ultimately joined a metal band in high school — which was my main goal — but I wanted to keep learning. I joined some community bands, jazz bands throughout my school tenure, wedding bands — almost anything to keep playing.

We have a lot of fun creating and everyone in the band is an adept songwriter. I think that we have a unique group in that we push each other, usually unintentionally, as musicians. Everyone brings a different ear and different style to the table. When we combine all our voices we try ideas outside of our respective wheelhouses. We expand our technical abilities as well as our stylistic scope and we get rad music out of it.

And my bandmates motivate me artistically and personally. 

PA: I have no real training at all. I took guitar lessons for a few years when I was around 12 years old. I started bringing in thrash metal to learn — and the instructor couldn't play the rhythms. So, I quit and started playing on my own. I played with a few people in high school but I wasn't in my first band until I was in college. We played a lot in town and toured the midwest a bit. I learned a lot by making mistakes and just playing tons of live shows.

Weirding: Now that we've all been locked down for a year, describe for me what you'd love your first live concert back on stage to be like.

JJ: The first show is almost certainly going to be at one of the clubs we play in Denver — probably the Hi-Dive. You know, we’re a good live band. We miss it. We’ve been saving it up. And we’re ready to rock.

The pandemic has shown how fragile and important those good times are. Coming up in that Denver scene in the mid-2010’s was unbelievable. There were great shows every night, and we enjoyed it and talked about it. We knew it was special and that it couldn’t last forever, but we never thought it would end the way that it did.

Weirding: I've been wondering the ways that this shared experience of living through 2020 will affect our music communities going forward. I'm thinking especially of young bands who've missed crucial opportunities to work together and in front of audiences to develop their craft.

JJ: It’s terrible that we’ve all lost this time for live shows, but it’s possible to work on music at home, and with your band over the internet. The kids who are going to contribute something of value have been making demos and woodshedding all this time. The good bands are going to hold together and build each other up. Those are the real challenges about making music, and I don’t think they’re fundamentally altered by the pandemic — as big of a hindrance as it is.

All I can say is that we’re going to come out guns blazing and entertain people when we can. I’ve been doing this for a long time. It takes a lot longer than a year to develop your skills and build a good band. 

You have to sacrifice a lot, even without a pandemic. 

MC: Man, I can’t wait. We have the luxury of playing in Denver, I’m salivating to get back out and hit up our hometown venues.

PA: I agree with Marcus. I can’t wait to scream at people for a half hour!  

Weirding: So the new EP seems to have this pretty complex story underlying it. Talk to me more about this. I've noticed that Denver is sort of landlocked... so where did the idea about an itinerant whaler come from?

PA: I have always been fascinated by the sea. Even from a very young age I loved Jacques Cousteau and wanted to explore the oceans like he did. I started scuba diving when I was 12. Mostly on spring break. 

When I was in college I had no idea what I was going to do with my life. I was in a band that was going nowhere and I was slowly becoming disinterested in school. So I decided to move to the Caribbean and do my dive instructor training. I made some friends during my internship and when I was certified I got a job working as a boat captain and dive instructor. 

While I was there I started writing some solo instrumental music on my off time. The songs were influenced by being underwater everyday. 

After a few years I really wanted to play music again so I moved back to the States and eventually made my way to Denver to start a metal band. A couple of years ago I decided I wanted to try to re-imagine some of the tunes I had written years earlier.



IG: @necropanther 

Twitter: @Necropanther_




In Depths We Sleep (March 12, 2021) 

The Doomed City (November 2019) 

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