Interview – Selim Lemouchi of The Devil’s Blood

I’ve always been fascinated with musical projects that act as a soundtrack to a way of life. Crass was an anarchist collective that recorded records as one means to spread its message. Each one of their albums read as a news-of-the day for Britain’s ultra-left. There was The Genitorturers with its sadomasochistic stage show that shocked and awed audiences. The lifestyle was so captivating that it made former Morbid Angel frontman David Vincent leave what was probably the most successful death metal band at the time and reach for the nearest latex.

Dutch band The Devil’s Blood acts as a vehicle for the Satanic beliefs of founders (and brother and sister) Selim and Farida Lemouchi. The band fuses 60s psychedelic rock with 70s metal with haunting female vocals. The band’s music answers the question, what if the generation of bands influenced by Black Sabbath and Led Zepplin continued with the spiritual endeavors and haunting imagery of bands like Black Widow and Lucifer’s Friend, instead of veering into NWOBHM territory? The style contrasts heavily with other bands on the Metal Blade label. Tomorrow, January 17th Devil’s Blood releases its first album for the label, The Thousandfold Epicentre. I interviewed guitarist/vocalist/songwriter/founder Selim, an extremely engaging and articulate artist with a clear vision for his music and the spiritual messages it carries.

Do you feel that the band’s Satanic image made it difficult to get signed?

Well, we started in 2007 and we were signed at the end of 2011. I know this might sound naïve, but when we started, we pressed 900 copies of our single and it sold out in weeks. We then put out a couple EPs that sold out in months. We didn’t anticipate a lot of commercial success as a band, but we were selling and this was just in Europe. I’m not expecting to make a lot of money on this, but it would be nice to pay the rent. Getting signed was good because we needed a partner to push out our music and give us feedback.

Would you say that your music or your spirituality is the focus of the project?

The creative center of the band is my sister and me. We have an understanding – we both have our own ways of looking at things, and our own ways of looking at Satanism. I do not command any kind of orthodoxy. The rest of the bands hold their own ideas, but if someone is completely against our message, they wouldn’t be playing in our band. We look for people who are open minded and I would not force my beliefs on anyone else. Things [my sister and I] have learned no one taught us – we remain independent thinkers.

Were you raised in any kind of religious tradition?

No, I would say we were raised borderline atheistically. This took a lot of undoing. There were things inside of me that needed to be explained, it took a lot for me to surrender to these things. I did a lot of reading. I read a lot of Alistair Crowley.

There are only a few bands that influenced me spiritually. There was the Swedish
band Dissection. Later, the black metal scene influenced me greatly. I never really expected much real spirituality in music. Most bands are gimmick-users. There is nothing beyond a dark façade and nothing intrinsically real is being conjured up in any way.

I remember reading interviews with Anton LaVey in the 80s and 90s saying pretty much the same thing.

Although I have very little respect for Anton LaVey, he made a good point about this – in the 1980s [Satanic imagery in music] was a very hot thing to do. In ways, that was a good thing. When Tipper Gore and her PMRC attacked it, it was great for society. It promoted these ideas, which promoted chaos. It was a middle finger to the middle class that was trying to destroy it.

Have you experienced any kind of religious backlash in The Netherlands?

When Deicide played my hometown, the Pentecostal Church came out in droves to protest it. I had the feeling that this must be the pinnacle of success for an artist. If you can incite so much outrage that people will buy your record just to burn it. This would be great for sales. When we tour America in April, I encourage Americans to burn our records!

What can we expect to see at a The Devil’s Blood show?

You’ll see a band working tremendously hard to get across our musical points and spiritual points. You’ll see people channeling ideas through both music and words. We aren’t a band that does fireworks or extreme light shows.

Are there bands that you would like to tour with?

I would love to tour with the Swedish black metal band Watain. That would be a blasphemous package! I also would like to tour with In Solitude.

The Devil’s Blood is planning on kicking off an American tour in April and are scheduled to play Maryland Death Fest.

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