Misery Index happens to be one of my favorite bands of the last decade. Their music is pummeling and brutal and I absolutely love it. I caught up with bassist/vocalist, Jason Netherton and asked him a few questions. Read on to learn about the origin of the band’s name, some younger bands that Jason enjoys and what the most influential shows have been to him.
The band shares its name with an album by legendary band Assuck. Was it this, or was the economic indicator, misery index, that serves as the basis of the band?
I knew of the Assuck album, and I was a fan of the band, and the name really stuck with me in the years after it came out. When it came time to come up with a name for the project, I knew I wanted it to be a more overtly politicized band lyrically than was Dying fetus, so I toss that name to Mike (my bandmate at the time who I formed the band with) and he liked it, so we went with it. The fact it has an additional meaning in economics is also a bonus, it grounds our lyrics and image more to reality in the punk tradition, so it was perfect.
How did the band come together?
I got together with my longtime friend Mike Harrison at the time, who had been in and out of various other Maryland death metal bands through the 90s and just wanted to have a musical outlet, a studio project of sorts while I was going to university after leaving Dying Fetus. I had a song ready (Manufacturing Greed, which was supposed to be a Dying Fetus song) and Mike had a couple, so we decided to hire Kevin Tally (also recently of Dying fetus) to do the drums for us. After that it was more or less just selling the first demo for a year or so and then we got some label interest and signed to Nuclear Blast shortly thereafter.
All of the bands LPs except for Retaliate have been released through Relapse Records. How do you feel about the label and your label mates?
Love em to death, we feel liked and supported with Relapse, and perhaps our close proximity is a factor with us being in Maryland and them in PA, but the relationship goes back to the nineties and beyond, and its cool to know we can always approach them directly if there are any problems.
The bands latest album, Heirs to Thievery, was released in May of 2010. Can you tell me a little about the album? The writing and recording processes, etc.
We wrote the album over 4 to 5 months in late 2009, and it was something we spent more time and energy on than any previous experience. We were writing and rewriting almost daily and we actually recorded the whole album at a friends home studio first to demo it and tweek it to our liking. Once it was ready, we had 10 songs by recording time but we got one more together right before the drums were done (Day of the Dead) so we decided to put that on there as well to give it another punkish track to balance out what is heavily death metal metal record. The recording process took place over 4 weeks at Wrightway Studio in Baltimore, Maryland, and it was a very fluid and unstressed process. We are very happy with the result and would only change 1% of it if we could.
You are currently working on a split album with Lock Up. How is that going and when can we expect it?
Well its a split 7″ , we are tracking 1 song for that this month at some point. I am not sure when it will be out or on what label, but I have been in contact with them and they already have their song ready, so once we get ours in the bag we will figure it out.
There were four cover songs on the compilation, Pulling Out The Nails. Which one was the best to work on?
They are all fun to work on, we even had another one (a cover of Brutal Truth’s Birth of Ignorance on the Retaliate album) but I would say the Terrorizer one came out the best. We are very happy to send a tribute to the bands we like, and we have not recording anything in a while, so perhaps it is time again.
Have you seen an evolution in the bands sound since its inception?
Certainly, I see two phases. The first was from 2001 to 2005 when we had the old lineup, and then from 2005 to today we sort of started over with Mark and Adam, now they are the primary driving force behind the band and although I still write lyrics and music, Mark has really stepped up and produced some great riffs in recent years. The evolution since they joined the band has been phenomenal and we have sort of arrived I would say with the last album, its a perfect summation of what we are aiming to do.
Tell me a little about Anarchos Records.
Its an imprint we use on the albums we press ourselves, its not a real label in any sense, just a name to give our releases an identity of sorts, so do not expect anything else soon!
The bands sound has been called “deathgrind” and “death metal with hardcore punk influences.” How would you, personally, describe the bands sound? Who or what are some of your personal influences?
I would say we are a death metal band more than anything else, with the obvious grindcore and hardcore punk influences taking a heavy slot. We like all forms of metal and even a lot of grind and crust, so we are very comfortable performing with all kinds of bands in the live setting, or drawing influence from other bands in the spectrum that are no where near what we sound like. In the end, I think we have arrived at our own sound, and as far as my own influences, they stem a lot from death metal (Morbid Angel, Carcass, Entombed, Bolt Thrower etc) to crust and grind (Tragedy, From Ashes Rise, Victims, Nasum).
What was the best or most influential festival or show you ever attended?
As far as influential it would have to be the good shows of yesteryear, that inspired me to do this shit 20 years on…I suppose the Sepultura/Obituary show in Washington DC in Dec of 1990 was an eye opener, as well as the Death / Carcass show in DC 4- 3 months earlier. After that, I guess it might be Dissection in 96, Dimmu Borgir in 97, and Tragedy in 2002.
Are there any newer bands whom you would like to take out on the road with you?
Sure, I am into the new stuff from this band Afgrund from Sweden/Finland, as well as Unkind from Finland, and then there is Murder Construct from the states, Drudgery from Canada, and Rottenness from Mexico. In Maryland we have a killer new band called Condemn the Infected, which are a very technical and highly talented band of young dudes.
What else is in store for Misery Index in 2011?
We are laying kind of low, with just some touring in other countries, like fly-in shows to Colombia and Indonesia, and European Festivals this summer. Either way its looking good and fun, but I do not think a new album will be out until late in 2012 if then.
Be sure to pick up Misery Index’s latest album, Heirs to Theivery out now on Relapse Records and keep a look out for the 7″ Split with Lock Up coming soon! (Click the album cover to enter Relapse Record’s Store!)