Often overlooked and sometimes underrated is NYC death metal unit Internal Bleeding. This early '90s death metal band's contribution to the scene is creating the subgenre known as slam death metal, a style still brutal but not as focused on speed and virtuosity. In 1992, Internal Bleeding coined the term "Total Fucking Slam," creating a sound that persists to this day and has influenced bands all across the metal spectrum, from Slipknot to Dying Fetus. Known for intensity both on record and at live shows, Internal Bleeding is made of original guitarist Chris Pervelis. with additional guitarist Chris McCarthy, bassist Shaun Kennedy, and vocalist Joe Machese. The band made the headlines recently but for a tragedy, when original drummer, Bill Tolley (pictured far right), who was also a NYC Firefighter was killed during a rescue operation in April, leaving behind a wife and children, along with his death metal brothers. Yet, Internal Bleeding fights on, on behalf of the fallen headbanger and bandmate, as the band brings its undisputed brand of slam death metal to fans across North America for a tour with Vader, along with Sacrificial Slaughter and Voices of Ruin.
Pervalis took the time to speak with the Weekly from the road before the tour hits Malones in Santa Ana Monday night. He spoke about his favorite memories of Tolley, the current Internal Bleeding tour with Vader, what types of music gets his creative extreme metal juices flowing and his adoration of Black Sabbath.
OC Weekly(Alex Distefano): Who were the bands who influenced the music you create with Internal Bleeding?
Internal Bleeding(Chris Pervelis): For me, as a guitar player Black Sabbath was the band that got me started playing guitar and into metal in the first place. I just loved the groove that they had, the classic Sabbath line-up. A lot of the riffs and music I write is heavily influenced by Black Sabbath. And from a drumming point of view, it was bands like Biohazard, Agnostic Front, and early '90s, late '80s hardcore bands. Plus coming up we all were heavily into the first era of death metal bands like Suffocation, Morbid Angel and bands like that. Then when Internal Bleeding started, of course, we were heavy, we were brutal, yeah, but on top of that, we just really exploited that heavy groove aspect and we ran the other way, then everyone else. Our music had fewer blast beats, less of an emphasis on speed and technicality but more groove and heavy chunky parts. It was more riff-driven than it is technically driven.
After all these years on the underground death metal scene, do you hear the influence of Internal Bleeding's sound in younger bands?
God yes, tons of bands, and we talk about it all the time, but not in a bad way. So many other those newer bands, like Slipknot for instance, and just tons of others. And over the years, we have met and talked to a lot of these bands and we have toured and played shows here and there, all over. There are tons of metal bands thrash bands death metal bands, many of the younger generation; and they have told us all, "You guys really gave a groove to death metal," and stuff like that it inspired them and it’s an honor for us we really dig it and appreciate all the fans we have worldwide.
Tell us about the current tour with Vader. How are fans responding to the shows so far?
The shows have all been amazing and each one has been constantly better than the last. Each show is more intense, more fan participation, and bigger crowds. The fans are into all the bands, which is good too, it’s not all the same type of death metal, so it’s a great tour package. We are grateful that people seem to love it so far, the shows have been crazy fun, really good times and they have exceeded our expectations.
As emotional as it is for you, can you share some of your best memories with the late drummer Bill Tolley?
Oh God, there were too many to pinpoint. But, when we played Indonesia a few years back that was amazing; it was a country we had never been to it was exciting for us all, but especially Bill, we saw the smile on his face, it's one you will never forget. Plus, we will always remember our first track to Europe with Internal Bleeding, that was a huge accomplishment for the band, good memories all throughout that tour and over the years. There can’t be just one specific memory of Bill that was great, they were all great. I can’t explain the bond he and I had and I felt it and still feel it even though he’s gone physically it’s spiritual, we shared everything with him family, music, we were family. We got along so well. In all those years, I think we only had a harsh argument/fight once. He was just such a good guy. He was in the NYC Fire Department for 14 years but was a volunteer before that. He also still did volunteer work, and being a firefighter was something he wanted to do since he was a little kid.
Did you ever make any income with Internal Bleeding?
Well some but still, yeah we all had to have day jobs, I own my own business. It allows me to tour. We all either have our own businesses or work with companies that allow time for touring. We have all arranged our lives accordingly with work, and family so we can tour and we are grateful for that, and being able to play metal music to fans all over.
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What gives you the inspiration to write death metal music?
I have never taken a lot of musical inspiration to write death metal music from other death metal if that makes any sense? As I said Black Sabbath were a huge influence on me, but also as a musician and guitar player, a lot of Delta Blues and music from the 1930s and 1940s inspires me to write this type of music. The riffs I write are all based on Blues, Sabbath and old school metal classic rock bands, I just twist and contort it into death metal because I like to play it. It is the genre that I love the most. But sometimes you have to step out of death metal to write death metal, I know it sounds weird. I want Internal Bleeding’s music to be something that just hits you and hooks you, grabs you by the throat and get you paying attention, and that's where that groove comes in.
OC Weekly. Any future plans for Internal Bleeding after the tour with Vader?
Pervalis: We are going to finish out this tour and might have one festival appearance in Germany in October, and fans can check out or Facebook and Website for more information. But after this tour, we are going home to regroup, get the drum situation squared away then record our next album which is going to be called Corrupting Influence. We can't wait to release that and play some more shows.