World Eaters: An Interview

World Eaters is a band from Guelph, Ontario.

I'm always impressed by artists who work solo, so it was great to have a chat here to find out what makes World Eaters work and what it looks like to put together a song.

Weirding: Been listening to the split you did with Funeral Bell. I love how it moves from this straight ahead fury into the outro groove around the four minute mark. I'd love to hear about how you approach songwriting. Is everything planned out in advance?

David: Almost nothing is planned in advance with most World Eaters tunes. Since I have a DIY studio in my basement, I can write and record at the same time — meaning I never have to remember how a song goes from session to session. 

Weirding: So things develop over time.

David: The only thing I think about before I start writing something new is how I think it would fit in with the rest of my songs. For example, when writing ‘Orbital Bombardment’ (the song off the split with Funeral Bell), I thought back on my previous release. It was a split with the blackened thrash band Hellbreather. ‘The Commissar Shoots’ and ‘Death Korps’ were both pretty long mid tempo grinders. And while ‘Hand to Hand’ starts fast, the bulk of it is slow. So, I figured a fast and vicious tune would be a nice change of pace for the listeners. That’s it. Nothing more than thinking: “What would sound cool, and what would people like to hear?”

Weirding: Seems like a winning strategy.

David: From there I build up the songs front to back, one at a time. The skeleton of every single song released so far was written and recorded in one sit-down session — maybe three to five hours each. When I say skeleton I mean the structure is finished and the guitar and bass takes are the final ones that appear on the released recording. The drums will be edited after. Lyrics still need to be written and vocals recorded, but the instrumental of the song is effectively written.

I start by writing the intro, then think about what I’d like the verse riffs to be — then the pre-chorus, chorus, second verse, and so on until the outro is written and the core of the song is now done. I’m a big fan of pop and rock songwriting, so most of my songs have a verse-chorus-verse chorus-bridge-chorus structure — with maybe a couple twists here or there. I also try to write adjacent sections to be a little different from each other to keep up both my interest and — I hope — the listener’s interest.

I typically line up a drum loop with the feel I’d like for each section and record the riffs to it. In a single writing session I get the quad-tracked rhythm guitars, lead guitars, bass, and other instruments done. Then I go back and change up the drums. I keep the same feel that I wrote to. But I add fills, accents, ghost notes — little tweaks to make it feel more like a drummer than a drum machine.

Weirding: What about lyrics?

David: Lyrics have always been an afterthought for me. I’ve been more excited about riffs than lyrics my whole life, both as a listener and now as a writer. 

Weirding: Huh, so how does it come together?

David: When the instrumentals are made, I typically have a vibe or a visualization I can make from the song and then I’ll try and make the lyrics fit to that. In ‘Orbital Bombardment’ I knew that outro was big — something coming down and hitting hard. Since my lyrics typically focus on the universe of Warhammer 40,000, I thought to myself: “What comes down bigger and harder than an exterminatus?” For those of you not in the know, an exterminatus is when a planet is deemed lost beyond saving and a fleet of warships rain nuclear, chemical, and viral death upon it until it is no longer hospitable — or more often than not, no longer a planet.

The lyrics are written pretty quickly and loosely. Then once I have the lyrics down for all the songs I plan on releasing, I’ll go record them. Similar to the instrumental parts of the songs, I try to get each song done in one recording session. 

Weirding: I envy your work process. So streamlined.

David: I’ll tweak the lyrics as I go to get them to flow nicer with the tunes, but they don’t typically go through any major revisions.

Weirding: Honestly, it’s impressive.

David: So, once all that is done, I think about any collaborations that might be cool. I’ve made friends with many musicians local to me through my other band The Breaking English — and since gigs aren’t really a thing for any of us now, I reach out to them and see if they can add their skills to my songs. I try to get at least one collab on each release. And it just comes from me listening back to a song and thinking: “Oh man, wouldn’t it be sick if there was [thing] there?” And then I reach out to the musicians I think can do it best.

In the case of ‘Orbital Bombardment’, I actually thought an outro choir would be great as I was writing the outro riffs. So I wrote the choir parts in MIDI first, then recorded them on a keyboard. After I had a workable choir sound, I asked my good friends and bandmates Matt and Tasha as well as my fiancée Katie to sing the individual lines. And voilà! A World Eaters song is done. 

I’ll then mix and master — and then remix and remaster and then re-remix and re-remaster and so on. And finally the songs are complete.

Weirding: You've got a lot on your plate in a solo project. Tell me a bit about how you started playing music. Which instrument came first and what do you find most difficult?

David: I started playing guitar about fifteen years ago, give or take. My mom has been playing classical guitar for decades and decades; but despite it always being around, I only started gaining interest in guitar because I loved Guitar Hero 3 when it came out. Eventually, my parents bought me a Squier starter kit. And then I was off making awful noise — and haven’t stopped since.

Weirding: When you started out… tell me what that was like.

David: I started with wanting to learn songs from bands I liked: Rush, Metallica, Black Sabbath… the usual suspects. I played covers both by myself and jamming with friends for years and years. Eventually, I started performing covers live with friends here and there. 

It wasn’t until The Breaking English started in 2017 that I really started being involved in writing original music.

Weirding: And what’s your role in The Breaking English?

David: In The Breaking English I’m the bassist, and my love of playing bass came a few years before we founded that band. It was nothing more than the textbook case of being the less-good-guitar-player in a band with another guitar player. I had a bass and amp kicking around, so I covered the low end while the other guy shredded over top. Honestly, that was one of the best things to happen to me musically. I learned a lot about the role of bass in pop and rock music, got to grow and flex my bass chops, and tried my hand at writing parts in line with that established role as well as parts that deliberately went against it.

I’ve dabbled in other instruments here and there throughout the years: mandolin, banjo, piano, drums. But none of them really stuck. I wouldn’t call myself competent at any of them.

One of the most difficult things with writing World Eaters songs is that my technical skill on guitar is pretty limited and going nowhere fast. Since I played bass almost exclusively for four or five years before I started World Eaters, my finesse on guitar had eroded. And nowadays I don’t really have the time to hone my sweep picking or string-skipping skills like I could when I was sixteen years old and practicing eight hours a day. 

Luckily, World Eaters music isn’t too technical. But the fast parts and leads usually require way more takes than I care to admit. If this ever becomes a live act I'll definitely need to get good. Or maybe I should just get a lead guitar player.

Another unexpected difficulty is that I have complete creative control, for better or worse. Is the choir at the end of ‘Orbital Bombardment’ good? Cheesy? Out of place? Should I have repeated and slowed down the outro of ‘The Warp’ for a minute long, adding layer on top of layer until I was octo-tracking guitars and quint-tracking bass? Is that something people even want to listen to? 

I have no clue.

I thought it was sick at the time. And even if it doesn’t age well or get great reception, I just need to live with my creative choices and move on with my life.

Weirding: I'm really interested in your goal of making the music as accessible as possible. Explain how you came to make this a goal and tell me more about the community collaborations your releases all feature.

David: The accessibility comes in two ways: I try to make my music accessible in the sense that it is easy to listen to (well, as easy as death metal is anyways) and that it is available and affordable to anyone who wants to listen. 

I sometimes throw around the phrase 'Death Metal for the People'. And I want to try and exemplify that. 

I’m not some wizard in a tower concocting esoteric aural rituals. I’m just a dude in Canada who likes drinking beer and listening to loud death metal. I’m a fan first and a musician second.

Weirding: So elaborate on the ‘easy to listen to’ bit.

David: I like technical, flashy, and experimental music — don’t get me wrong. But catchiness reigns supreme for me. Bolt Thrower is one of my favorite bands ever, and you know what? Those Once Loyal fucks so hard because while it’s unabashedly death metal, it uses the hallmarks of pop music everywhere. You can yell out the choruses in sync with Karl, hum along to all the riffs, and air drum to Kiddie’s beats. The leads are all earworms. I like Deeds of Flesh as much as the next person, but come on, there’s no contest. I’d bet money you’ve sung along to ‘At First Light’ more times than ‘Carnivorous Ways’.

I write World Eaters material to be catchy and fun. It helps that my technical skill on my instruments is limited enough that I kind of need to rely on catchiness, since flashiness isn’t really an option for me. The aforementioned pop song structures come into play here, too. As Adam Neely says: repetition legitimizes. If I write a part I think will be a fun chorus or a sick mosh riff, I’ll usually end up repeating it two or three times in a song to help hammer it home for the listener. Hopefully after a listen or two through one of my songs they’ll be able to sing along — or at the very least mouth along to the rhythm.

Weirding: And you sort of extend that idea to the way you get music out there into the world as well, right?

David: Accessibility in terms of music affordability and availability was born out of my feelings as a music fan and as someone who loves buying albums and merch from bands. I really started digging into the metal underground a couple years ago, and with the huge surge in popularity of a few labels and individual bands I noticed some things I didn’t really like as a consumer — things I wish more sellers did so I make a point to do them with World Eaters.

First thing’s first: unlimited free streaming of my music, forever. All of my music is on all major streaming platforms and listed as Name-Your-Price on Bandcamp. I think that any bonus track covers I do in the future will not be streamable, but you can pay zero dollars to get it from Bandcamp. I’ll have to iron that one out. Additionally, I made a point to increase the number of free streams on Bandcamp to the maximum allowable. If you don’t want to commit by entering a number with a dollar sign in front of it, that’s cool. Just keep hitting play and jamming out.

I don’t want anyone to feel like they need to pay me for the music. I’m just a guy with some instruments, microphones, and an internet connection. If you like it enough to throw a couple bucks my way, I sincerely appreciate it. If cash is tight, don't worry — just nab it for free and enjoy. I’m lucky enough to be in a position where I don’t need my income from music to get by, so why would I force people to pay me? The money’s just going to go towards beer and Bolt Thrower shirts anyways. Actually, I’ve recently been making a point to use the money generated by World Eaters to buy music and merch from other independent bands on Bandcamp Fridays — trying to pay it forward.

Weirding: What about the collaborations?

David: I try to keep it local, since I love the music scene that I’m involved in here in Guelph. Obviously with the pandemic going on gigs aren’t feasible, so I started reaching out to the musicians I’ve met and made friends with to do collaborations. Just to try and keep stuff happening in my scene, keep in touch, and let the people around me be creative with their features or collabs.

I wasn’t sure how I really wanted to approach doing collaborations when I started, so if you take a look at my first release, Demo MK-1, you’ll notice everybody featured is on the final track. I was trying to learn what’s reasonable to ask and how to include features in my songwriting, so the climax of the song is just all five of the collaborators screaming their guts out at the same time. Obviously, it’s not the best use of five of the most talented vocalists I know — but hey, it still sounds sick to me. Live and learn.

Following Demo MK-1, I had a similar experiment in the split with Hellbreather — getting seven people to jump on to the outro of ‘Death Korps’. This time I was more confident in giving some direction. I had lyrics for them. Well, two words. But, since I wanted big gang vocals, I asked everyone to send me tracks of them delivering the vocals however they’d want: singing, screaming, yelling, howling. The choice was theirs. Since it was gang vocals, I reached out to a mix of metal and non-metal musicians. I like the idea of collaborating across genres — or bending people out of genres they typically live in to try something new.

Weirding: And you are working on a new thing, right? I’m imagining more collaborations there?

David: The collaborations on my upcoming EP — all the features are local to me, but there are three of them and each collaborator will appear on their own track. No gang vocals, no choirs, no super screams. For the first time I will be collaborating with an instrumentalist to provide a solo for one of the songs — as well as a spoken word feature. And, none of them are metalheads.

When it all comes down to it, I just want to make music with my friends. I know so many talented people and I love working with them on a project and being able to look back on it and think: “Hell yeah, we made something sick.”


About

David Gupta is the driving force behind World Eaters. Check out the music on Bandcamp and follow David on Twitter.

https://worldeaters.bandcamp.com/

Twitter: @worldeaters666


Comments

Must Read

From the Archives