Scraps of information, unstable price of the only full-length album release (from 1 to 150 dollars per disk), strange music and the presence of Wayne Knupp in the band made Meatus a kind of cult, long abandoned and unnecessary. Little-known even in narrow circles the collective had no followers, remaining a unique phenomenon of the state scene. A small interview is a tribute to these enthusiasts who turned out to be great people sincerely and thanks us for the interest (even belatedly) to what they did. On communication was Burt Buchanan, guitarist Meatus.
It's hardly possible to find any info on your band over the internet. Please, tell us how it all began.
Meatus was formed in August 1995. I was in a death metal band with Wayne Knupp called Exhaulted Evil in 1994, and we played a few house parties. A mutual friend came to one of these parties and brought Sean and Erik with him. A few months later the band broke up, and Wayne started hanging out with Sean, Erik and Nelson who were trying to form a band. They were originally wanted to do more of an industrial metal project but that changed after I started jamming with them. Erik and I had more of a traditional metal background (Iron Maiden, Priest, Slayer, etc...) Whereas Sean and Nelson were much more into more experimental underground bands. Wayne was into everything but death metal was always number one. With such a wide variety of musical tastes it was the perfect match to create a very unique band.
There are two variants of the band's name: Meatus and Me at us. What's more correct, and what each of them reflects? One could also draw parallel between the band's and the album's title: "Inner Demons" can be viewed not just as a negative part of personality, but as a separate element, a person, self ("me") as a part of some unity ("us").
The name started out as a bad joke. The drummer, Erik, came up with it at work, and he drew this awful picture of a cowboy riding a big dick with the dickhole (which is what a Meatus is in medical terminology) smiling. All of us were like, "No fucking way we're naming our band after a sinkhole!" After practice one night, we all went to some restaurant and this guy asked if we were in a band and what was our name. Sean told him "Meatus" and the guy said, "wow like your inner demons consuming yourself, right?" We all just freaked out because that was the concept we were working on. So, we decided that was the perfect name. Other than the stranger who got it back in '95, you are the first person to ever draw the parallel to the band name and the album concept.
Despite great difference in music you are sometimes mentioned along with bands which were signed to Corpse Gristle and TXDM-Underground, and in Russia, for example, you were mainly known as "a band Wayne Knupp participated in" though he sang in one song only. Was there anything in common between you and those bands besides the geographic location? The logos of some of them (Devourment, Sintury, Prophecy, Viral Load) can be found in your full-length inlay. Hangout mates?
Wayne Knupp was one of the founders of Meatus. He was on our first demo "517" and he had a big part in the original idea of using two vocalist to achieve the dynamic of the concept. You listen to that first demo with Wayne and you can tell that we were much more death metal than what you hear on "Demons." That was cool, but we wanted to try different things and Wayne didn't so he left the band in '96. It was difficult for me especially because Wayne was one of my closest friends, but in the end it was the right move for everybody. After Clay came onboard is when everything started coming together. As far as the other bands we all rehearsed a the same place, so we all got to know each other very well and later we did many shows together. When Meatus moved in together, our house became the biggest metal party place in Dallas/Ft. Worth, and all the bands would hang out. We were all great friends with each other and still are.
As a rule it takes long for a band to release its debut album - demos, promos go first. However, you issued a full-length right away, and quite a long one. Why this decision was taken?
There are actually two 5 song demos (one with Wayne called "517" in '96) and one with Clay in '97 called "Dick Hanley." The titles of each demo were taken from our practice rooms. The first room was number 517, then we moved into an old police station and the name on our door was Dick Hanley. WE also released a promotional 20 minute video using the music from "Dick Hanley" and strange videos from our live shows mixed with porn and live footage. The 2 demos and video are pretty rare. I think I am the only one that still has copies of each. The full manifestation of the band concept took four years to complete and that end result is Inner Demons. All the songs were on the 2 demos with the exception of "Spoken" and "Enpowar" which were written a few months before we went in to the studio.
The album was released through a completely obscure Noise Opera Productions label. It was you who organized it?
Yes, it was our own "label" if you will. when people asked us what kind of music Meatus was, our answer wasl always "Noise Opera." The album was laid out like an opera and we sure as fuck made a lot of noise! Since we were unsigned, we figured it would look better if we had something that looked like a real label.
The complete album title, if composed of all the names known, reads as follows: Inner demons — A 3 act noise opera. Book one — "Confusion". Were you planning the conceptual continuation of your first work?
Yes, we were planning to continue the concept for at least one more album maybe two, but obviously that wasn't meant to be. After our drummer, Erik, left the band in 2000, things just went south pretty quickly. We did replace him with a kick ass drummer (Jason Hootan formerly of Dead Industry), but things just weren't the same. It took a devasting tol on the writing.
The "Inner Demons" conception is based on one's negative experiences and reflections which can lead to a suicide. Why did you choose this theme and who of you was the primal working force of this idea?
Our vocalist, Sean, was the driving force behind the concept. He wrote all the lyrics, and the story was more or less his autobiography. He always said that this was his therapy which is understandable. It is a great concept and he out did himself in my opinion. I was mostly involved in writing the music that complemented the story.
Perhaps you cannot be called a completely "metal" band: there are elements from different styles in your music. How would you describe the result? How difficult it was to tie everything together?
It took a lot of time to get it all to flow right. It's very challenging to make the arrangements work the ways they did. Nelson and myself wrote the music, but there's an interesting dynamic to how we worked. He wrote whole songs and I wrote whole songs. We never wrote a song together. You can tell the difference too. Nelson wrote all of the crazy, left field tracks, and I wrote all of the fast, thrashier stuff. All the songs with the solos are mine, and all the songs with odd meter shifts are Nelson's.
This material is even harder to apprehend live. What were your live performances like: it was similar to the album composition, or you just played separate songs? And how often you played live, actually?
HAHAHA!! Oh, yes, the live shows! We always considered ourselves a live band before a studio band. We were much more intense in a live setting and our shows were legendary events around the Dallas/Ft. Worth metal scene of the late '90s. Honestly, the best person to ask about what a Meatus live show was like would be Mike Majewski of Devourment. We use to put on stage shows with all kinds of crazy shit going on. We had TVs on stage playing weird videos Nelson would find. We once brought our couch, table, and chair from our band house and set up the stage like our living room. We did some shows with piñatas filled with meat and spaghetti sauce and we actually had a live piercing/suspension act during a show. We always felt that our fans should get more from a show then just guys standing there playing. It's entertainment and we sure as hell did that !! Another exciting thing about our live show was the switching me and Nelson are both guitarist and bassists, so on songs he wrote I played bass, and on my songs he played bass. We would switch back and forth throughout the set. We never played the album in its concept form live. I don't think it would've translated well. We played live pretty often. A least 2-3 times a month for three years.
How the album recordings proceeded? There was quite a number of guest musicians: was it planned beforehand and you rehearsed with the same people, or it was just offhand?
The recording was a long process. We did four, five hour sessions over four weeks. We recorded at a place called Pinapple studios in Arlington, Texas with a guy named Brian Szarek. The recording was very laid back and stress free. As far as the guest musicians, nothing was rehearsed. Everybody came in and heard the track once or twice then did their thing! The jam session track at the end of the disc was a straight one take off the cuff free form jam!! There was probably 10-15 guys in there with some sort of instrument. That was the one thing I'll never forget from those sessions.
In the artwork Adam Kobetich illustrations were used, they certainly added expression to the music. Did you use ready pictures or Adam made them specially for you?
Adam created each picture specifically for each song. Sean and Adam worked very closely on the artwork and I thing the end result is absolutely fantastic! The artwork perfectly fits the storyline. Adam also contributed the banjo work on the album. He's a great guy and was always a close friend of the band. If I'm not mistaken, I'm pretty sure Adam did that artwork for free.
As far as I know the cd was in a purple jewel case instead of a standard transparent one. Hidden symbolism?
We wanted something different. It was a last minute thing really Sean and I were at the printing place that was doing the pressing and they said, "we can put this in a purple jewel case, if you want? " So, we said, "Fuck Yes!" WE didn't tell Nelson, Erik, or Clay. It was a total surprise to them and I think it looks awesome!
Continuing with symbols, I'd like to ask of using some strange pentagrams and a photo of a house 610. Does it have a special meaning?
The house on the back is our band house. The Meatus house where we all lived and the party never ended. We used to say that the house had a bigger reputation than the band! Whenever big death metal bands came to town they would usually crash at our place. Dying Fetus, Internal Bleeding, Skinless, all kinds of people... That's why we put it on the disc because it was a huge part of the band's image. The pentagram was a lighthearted joke. We were a very serous band when it came to our music, but we like to joke around and have fun. I told Mike Majewski to draw a Baphomet with a cross- eyed goathead with buckteeth and socks on his horns. He drew that in like 15 minutes and named it "Beelzububba!" Our friends in Torment Defined who are a Black Metal band in Dallas love that thing. They think it's the funniest shit they've ever seen.
As an epilogue for the album, you used a line from Deng Ming-Dao. Was it just a suitable abstract, or his philosophy influenced you in a way (not only in your music works, but maybe in a worldview aspect as well)?
This is a question for Nelson. He and Sean were the resident Taoists in the band.
In the booklet "Financing" is mentioned, which looks strange, as in such music one usually takes all the expenses. How it happened?
Most of the people listed as "financers" in the disc are parents or close friends. They basically loaned us the money to make the album. I think the total cost of the whole thing was about $4000 which included pressing and 1000 CDs.
Promotion isn't your strong point for sure. Why there was no advertising for "Inner Demons"?
This is a funny question because prior to releasing Inner Demons, we were a promotion machine! Our flyers for shows were amazing, our shirts were amazing, too! We always put a lot into promotion. When we got the disc, we built promo packs and sent them to big labels hoping to get signed one major label in particular said they loved our layout, but the music was too heavy. About four months later, a band (who shall remain nameless) on their label released an album with almost an identical layout as ours. It's even a concept album. this really put a damper on our party. I think Meatus would have gone a lot further if we had proper management. We never had a manager and that was our biggest mistake.
Were you satisfied with your work then, almost 14 years ago, and how do you feel about it now?
Honestly, I wasn’t very happy with Inner Demons as a recording when it came out. I thought the production was off the mark. The true intensity of the band was missing. It has grown on me over the years and I am very proud of it. It took me a long time to hear it for what it was instead of hearing all the mistakes. It's a great album, great concept, great layout. I still have about 50 sealed copies and whenever I give one to a new friend they are always very impressed. I always felt that Meatus was ahead of its time. I'm happy that people are finally taking notice of what we were doing.
Unfortunately there is no information on the band after the album release. What happened then? Why you split up? Please tell us about the band members as they are after the split-up?
Inner Demons was released Halloween 1999. About a year later, founding drummer, Erik, left the band and even though we found a replacement drummer things were never the same. We actually did another four song demo in 2000, but the finished product was a disaster. I think Sean wanted to head in a more commercial direction and things just went south. Our drummer, Jason, left in September 2001, and I decided to leave as well. I actually joined Prophecy as their bassist two weeks after leaving Meatus and played with hem for a year and recorded their second album "Our Domain." Clay joined a hardcore band called Broken Cell and played with them for about two years before retiring from music. Nelson pretty much retired after Meatus as did Sean.
Currently, Sean lives in Amarillo, Texas and writes poetry and has some book projects in the works.
Unfortunately, Erik was convicted of manslaughter in 2006. He is serving a 26 year sentence in an Oklahoma prison.
Clay lives in Dallas with his wife Angela and their 6 year old son, Jaiden.
I am the only member of the band that is still involved in music. I moved to San Antonio, Texas in 2004 and joined a local band called Beyond Black. I am currently writing material for a new project, but most of my time is spent with my wife, Melissa and our beautiful 4 month old daughter, Antonia.
Thank you for the interest in Meatus. It's great to see that all of our hard work so many years ago is finally getting some recognition!