Death, perception, dreams and ambition. A conversation with BEDSORE (2020)INTERVIEW

Restless in limbo between waking hours and sleep, and often with multiple senses alight, the madness of insomnia is only enhanced by all manner of hallucinatory events be they visions of melting light, noxious reek, or ominous sirens in the distance. Hypnagogic hallucinations may be symptomatic of all manner of tireless mind but in the hands of Roman atmospheric and (classic yet) uniquely progressive death metal quartet BEDSORE they are inspiration to explore and better understand the power of the unknown. I’ve reached out to the band for an interview to signal boost and better appreciate the minds responsible for the sheer ecstasy of their cinematic treatment of heady ‘old school’ death metal ideas. ‘Hypnagogic Hallucinations’ is not only impressive for a debut but exemplar for a new generation of young folks exploring death metal with ravenous enthusiasm, keeping their vitreous humours affixed upon both old and new ideals in the process. I’ve certainly made my opinion clear on their debut album with a 10/10 review back in mid-July but the hope is that this will give deeper context to those in the know and indoctrinate the unknowing unto the graces of Bedsore‘s thrilling first ride. — I’d like to thank the band for putting up with the interview process and giving thoughtful consideration of each question, it means a lot when an artist matches the word count and in turn provides compelling, valuable insight.

Φ Was there a specific point of origin, a goal or vision that served as inspiration when first forming Bedsore? Seeing you go from demo to an album on 20 Buck Spin in the space of a few years has been inspiring, as so many struggle with a project for years to get to that point. Has it been a matter of staying focused, or simply adapting to things as they come, that has helped reach this new high for the band?

Of course we did not expect these results at the beginning, but we gradually have become more and more conscious that we could get to a point with our music and then we matured a new approach. So, we think it has been a matter of both elements together. Adaptation has been fundamental, of course, but also having a clear idea of which buttons to push has helped us a lot. No goals or expectations were involved during the composition process of our music, but this doesn’t mean – after all – we didn’t have them in general. Definitely we feel that we have some sort of responsibilities now, but this can only encourage us to do our best.

Φ I get the sense that trusting in intuition has yielded the best results so far. Or, that your sensibilities are naturally guided by choices made with strong intuition? Not to imply that Bedsore’s work isn’t cerebral but that ‘feeling’ and atmosphere is of great importance.

Artistically and managerially speaking, any decisions is well-considered but of course – it’s not a secret – there’s a core made of both genuine instinct and observation skills about how things go, that is the real engine of the decision process. That said, feelings and hunches are basic for us, as well as for our music and choices. Rationality can only help to adjust your aims.

Φ Bedsores are the sort of medical gore that sounds innocuous but actually have potential to be completely horrendous. I feel like the band name might have an interesting story behind it?

Yes, you’re right. Indeed, the band’s name has a double meaning. First, we wanted it to be related to those bands belonging to the OSDM wave that referred their names to a medical imagery (such as Carcass, Cadaver, Autopsy) but, at the same time, we were looking for a more veiled and horrific meaning. Bedsore taken to mean “sore – or suffering – of the bed” represents the unknown oneiric realm – halfway between dream and nightmare – dominated by the most unconscious manifestations of the psyche, where the human being can lose the senses facing its deeper fears, which are generated by its own subconscious. The crib is the vessel that bring the individual in that undefined universe where dream-like visions are combined with grotesque apparitions, into an eroding vortex of mental pain.

Φ Do you have any particular death metal albums that feel like your own personal archetype? The ‘perfect’ or nearby old school death metal record? What makes death metal worthy of stylistic focus in your mind? Is it an old nostalgic love or, a palette that has yet to see its full potential?

It’s always hard to make a choice between the masterpieces of the genre, also because each one of us has a different reading key that mostly depends on personal experiences. We can synthesize our ideal formula of death metal, so to speak, in three records: ‘Symbolic‘ by Death (1995), for its deep and intimate illness mixed with the warping progressive element, that literally melt your brains; ‘Necroticism: Descanting The Insalubrious‘ by Carcass (1991), probably the most massive and devastating album of that era, in terms of sounds and imagery; ‘Purgatory Afterglow‘ by Edge of Sanity (1994), for being one of those game-changer albums that opened the doors of death metal to outer influences, like dungeon synths and ambient-like atmospheres. So, death metal is not only about riffs and moshpits, or technicality: we definitely prefer a visionary kind of death metal, looking for the communication of something concrete – an atmosphere, a texture, a pain – and not only merely technical.

Φ From the first spin of your demo tape back in 2018, I felt Bedsore had realized the sensation of death within a dream. Have you ever died in your dreams? Is this sensation of passage imagined on my part, or intentional in construction of ‘Hypnagogic Hallucinations’?

Some of us have faced similar experiences, like dying in dreams, or dreaming to be dead, sinking in a more profound dream hard to wake up from. As well as we experienced hypnagogic hallucinations firsthand, too. So, we know what we’re talking about. We think that realms of death and dreams are communicants in a sort of way – like two communicating rooms – between which is possible to have an exchange. And this is repulsively affascinating. We thought it was the most proper theme our music was able to explain.

Φ So there is some horror in this implication that isn’t so much a ‘cosmic’ event but rather a sensorial world within yourself that is both fascinating and frightening, a door we know but cannot control? This definitely recalls a lot of research done upon the activity of compounds in ‘dream herbs’ where certain chemicals induce lucid or intensify dreaming. Have you tried or studied those sorts of substances (Calea zacatechichi, Datura stramonium, Salvia divinorum)? Either to enhance your own experiences or influence musical vision?

Yes, that’s exactly what we mean. It’s not totally possible to control the doors of perceptions, trying to do that could even be dangerous, still it is the reason why it’s so appealing. We’re really fascinated by dream-like visions that dream herbs could induce – like Ayahuasca, Belladonna and many others – and we dug a long time looking for their uses in different cultures and native communities, in order to explore their visionary and divinatory effects. Anyway, despite the curiosity, we don’t make use of them. After all, that’s one of the vessel to inspiration but not the only existing.

Φ Though much of ‘Hypnagogic Hallucinations’ as death metal music is dream-like, celestial to say the least, the lyrics are actually quite brutal in their imagery with references to everything from H.P. Lovecraft to cancer. Depictions of rot, traumatic grief, and mystic gateways all seem to point towards these a hallucinations as a side-effect of dealing with trauma or difficult existential ideas. Are the lyrics themed in continuity (a concept album), or aiming to convey personal experiences?

Hypnagogic Hallucinations embraces twin concepts, but it’s not a concept album proper. There’s not a narrative thread from start to end,  but at the same time everything is part of the same dream. Just like when you fall asleep, you‘re whisked in a mystic dimension where it’s possible to explore diverse critical objects,  that are all equally part of the whole. Hypnagogic Hallucinations is close to a journey, a description of what our minds can create but cannot totally control.

Φ Rather than this ‘dreaming dead’ business, you’ve often labeled Bedsore as “kaleidoscopic death music”, is there a conscious genre intent inherent to ‘Hypnagogic Hallucinations’? This has always implied (to me) that the band is meant to be colored by many perspectives and sounds beyond death metal. Was death metal a requirement looking back or, will it continue to be when looking forward?

Death metal is a fundamental element of the formula we have shaped of course, and we cannot rescind from it at this stage of our music, but it just can’t embrace the whole spectrum of multiples tones, sounds and atmospheres we want to represent. Then, our intent is to conceive a kaleidoscopic music that moves its borders constantly, coherently with the oneiric experience of dream and death, and that is able to lose the listener in its own mind. 

Φ I figure most folks will hear some Morbus Chron influence in Bedsore’s style to start but I hear shades of early 60’s Pink Floyd, 70’s sci-fi soundtracks, progressive rock, and even some post-rock. Does this sort of theatrical rock music influence the atmosphere of Bedsore? I figure you are all death metal fans but certainly not limited to metalhead status?

You totally get the point. We often listen to death metal and related, but definitely not only. We’re fan of bands like – among the many – Morbus Chron, Dead Congregation, Sweven, Necros Christos, Obliteration, Venenum, Reveal!, Tribulation, Maggot Heart, Gosta Berlings Saga, although it’s just a part. Indeed 70’s decade – especially along with progressive rock culture – has been a gushing fountain of inspiration for us, not only for the music itself, but even for the way we perceive the essence of it, in general. Thanks to the influence of those bands such as – just to name a few – Genesis, EL&P, Area, Goblin, we definitely have come to conceive music as a continuous interconnection between various and motley elements, genres and shades of sounds.

Moreover, the imagery behind our music is constantly inspired by horror and supernatural cinema and literature too. Randomly we could mention directors like: Dario Argento, Luci Fulci, Luca Guadagnino, Paul Thomas Anderson, Lars Von Trier, Yorgos Lanthimos; soundtrack composers like: Claudio Simonetti, John Carpenter, Ennio Morricone, Thom Yorke, Jhonny Greenwood, Angelo Badalamenti; writers and mangaka like: H.P. Lovecraft, E.A. Poe, P. K. Dick, Edogawa Ranpo, Junji Ito. These artists helped us to find a way to comprehend our inner emotions, interpreting and shaping them.

Φ Speaking to interpretation, I’d found it somewhat entertaining to find Metal-Archives had denied initial submissions of Bedsore’s demo, not finding it to be “metal” despite the clear death metal lineage of its style. This seems to come from the non-traditional structure, perhaps the 70’s prog rock and cinematic elements being quite prominent and alien outside of very small (and recent) death metal niches. Is this use of vignette and the ever-shifting sands of soundtrack-esque music a result of many influences coming out at once? Or, does it make sense that those first two pieces could be completely baffling to “metal only” listeners?

The Metal-Archives issue has been quite strange. The reasons behind the initial blacklisting was that – according to the moderators – the band sounded anything but death metal. On second thought, half of the demo running time consists in atmospheric parts and obscure acoustic digressions, so their reading could be justified.  Some users tried then to add again our demo, but we got definitely blacklisted, except when we have been finally added with the release of our debut album.  The lack of a defined structures, the strong influence of the soundtrack and cinematic music, the 70’s prog rock attitude were all part of our music since the beginning. The only change we made was that we constantly have taken more consciousness of those influences during these past few years and we shaped them better and better.

Φ These last couple of years members of Bedsore have been involved in records by Svnth, Thecodontion, Night Gaunt, and it looks like Atlantic Ridge in the near future. I get the sense that collaboration and exploration have been important in realizing these releases but, is Bedsore a collaboration or is there a clear leader when it comes to compositions and general artistic decisions?

The main reason we like to join different projects and bands is because this way we have the possibility to direct every single influence to the right place. Moreover, this is also a great pleasure, thanks to great people who join these bands together with us. Even if J. and  S. tend to propose general decisions to the other members, the working environment in Bedsore is totally based on collaboration and satisfaction of the whole team. So, that said, there’s not a clear leader in Bedsore, but rather a distribution of roles. General composition is managed by J. and S. that define arrangements and structures. Then, G. and D. draft bass and drums lines, including re-arranging and re-writing, if necessary.

Bedsore ca. 2020 — Photo by Void Revelations

Φ Since you are all located in Italy, a place hit by quite brutally by the COVID-19 outbreak a few weeks before it’d hit my own community here in the Pacific northwest United States, has this inspired more art during isolation? Tighter-knit community or friendships? Or has this largely been a limitation? since I feel like you would have been on tour for Bedsore and Svnth all summer otherwise.

Of course we had to postpone all tours and events for Bedsore and SVNTH, and it was quite upsetting especially for a band like ours, that is growing up just in these months and should have rode the wave of the debut album. But we also know that this is surely nothing compared to the disaster that people affected by the epidemic first hand have suffered. We should consider ourselves fortunate, so to speak. As single musicians and artists we continued to produce new art during quarantine days, even appearing in compilations or streaming live sets, but the limitations were many and we have been happy to return to a condition of pseudo-normal life, with less restrictions.

Φ Of course even though the album [‘Hypnagogic Hallucinations‘] has just arrived at my doorstep (at the time of writing this) I have to ask: What is next for Bedsore? Do you have a sense of the pace going forward? Will the lack of a tour schedule push towards writing sooner than planned? Or, will you all take a breath to focus on Svnth here for a bit?

We will definitely try to support our album,  doing our best in this strange times. In the meantime we’re working on new material and we hope to share it very soon. About SVNTH, we will release the new album at the end of August and we surely put some efforts to promote it.

[SVNTHSpring in Blue‘ Releases August 28th, 2020 on Transcending Records]

Φ What is the best way for fans to support Bedsore?

Of course the best way to support a band is to be present as much as possible, by spreading its music, going to concerts, buying merchandise etc, and we aren’t an exception. We’re really grateful to all of our fans that supported us during these years.

[Follow BEDSORE on Facebook | Instagram]

[Buy BEDSORE’s ‘Hypnagogic Hallucinations’ + merch over on 20 Buck Spin’s website.]

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