Fistula: Band Of The Day

By on 2 October 2014


Seething with the kind of undiluted hatred and pure, unabashed negativity that would likely destroy most other bands, Fistula are undoubtedly one of the finest sludge bands to walk the planet – and if that sounds like hyperbole, you evidently haven’t been paying enough attention over the past fifteen plus years. Whilst they may not exactly be a household name, mention them to any serious sludge fan and watch as their eyes roll back into their skull and globules of drool begin to drip from the sides of their mouth as they extend a claw to the sky and proclaim “dude, that band is fuckin’ heavy!” Ever since dropping their crushing debut ‘Hymns Of Slumber’ back in 2001, Fistula have carved out their own uniquely nasty place in the world of sludge over the course of five bowel shaking albums, numerous EPs and splits with the likes of Sloth, Coffinworm, Monkeypriest and dot(.), to name but a few.

Following the release of the bile soaked ‘Northern Aggression’ EP in 2012, Fistula have finally put the finishing touches to their long awaited sixth full-length ‘Vermin Prolificus’, and rest assured, it’s an absolute blinder. We figured it was about time we gave the band their dues, and caught up with vocalist Dan Harrington and sole remaining founding member Corey Bing to find out more about the band’s history…

WHERE ARE THEY FROM: Cleveland, Ohio
FOR FANS OF: Eyehategod, Grief, Noothgrush
LATEST RELEASE: ‘Vermin Prolificus’ (To Live A Lie Records, 2014)
WEBSITE: Facebook

Could you tell us briefly how Fistula formed?
Corey (Bing, guitar/vocals): “Fistula formed in 1998, at that time I played drums. This dude Ryan played bass and Bahb played guitar. We tried to get Steve Barcus to be the original vocalist but the timing wasn’t right I guess.”

Did you have a specific sound in mind when you formed the band, or did that grow and evolve as you played together?
Corey: “We wanted to make slow heavy shit and noisy fast shit… It was a good way to blow off steam and hang with friends, but that’s about as far as we thought about it.”

Your riffing style has often reminded me of early Melvins (even more so than a lot of other sludge bands), but taken to an even filthier and nastier extreme. Who would you cite as influences on your playing style?
Corey: “As far as influences go, the thing that influences us as a band are the things in life that inspire us to create. That could be many different branches of just that subject alone. But as far as riffing, I never tried to sound like any one guitar player and that’s probably why nobody sounds like we do. I’m pretty basic in riffs… and in musical taste. I would rather let someone guess what influences us by listening instead of giving it away, so to speak.”

How does your writing process normally work out? Will you meet up with song ideas pretty much fully formed beforehand, or do you tend to jam stuff out a bit more?
Corey: “Sometimes riffs and songs will develop just with the chemistry of the people involved at the moment of jamming, but a lot of times I have riffs on tape that I work on and save. I never used to do that, but it helps move things along. Sometimes others involved will have ideas and I’m not some music Nazi dickhead controller, I let my dudes roll with their input. And I’m lucky, I have been happy with how it works.”

What can you tell us about your new album, ‘Vermin Prolificus’?
Corey: “‘Vermin Prolificus’ was Fistula in the midst of a transformation. The songs were done in a certain fashion because of the players invloved and the current state of all our lives, and we write what we know about. It sounds shitty cuz our lives are shitty at times.”

Dan (Harrington, vocals): “Old school Fistula fans may notice that three songs from earlier EPs were rehashed for this record. The original album we recorded had two longer songs that were out of place… they didn’t resemble the ferocity of the live material we were touring with. We rerecorded ‘’Harmful Situation’, ‘Sobriety Is Overrated’ and ‘Upside Down’, they helped round out the record giving it more bite. Like Corey already mentioned, we were all dealing with a lot of negativity in our personal lives… When I wrote the lyrics for ‘Smoke Cat Hair, Pig Funeral and Goat Brothel’ I dealt with some of these monsters by pissing all over them with dark sarcastic humor that seems to be hitting close to home for a lot of our fans.”

Even though you’ve been putting out a steady stream of EPs, splits, compilations etc since 2008’s ‘Burdened By Your Existence’, this is the first full-length album you’ve released since then. Was it a conscious decision to wait this long to release another full-length, or did it just kind of happen?
Corey: “It just kind of worked out that way. Not planned, just couldn’t find the right people.”

Fistula has gone through a number of lineup changes over the years, and although there are obviously differences between the sound of each ear of the band, there’s definitely a very distinctive “Fistula sound“ that’s present across all your records. Did you make a conscious effort to do this, or is this just a product of your writing style?
Corey: “My writing style definitely makes it that way… and yes, it was a conscious effort. If I let someone else write the riffs it wouldn’t sound like Fistula…”

How are things going with the current Fistula lineup?
Corey: “The current lineup is awesome, good bunch of friends, no fucking attitude drama bullshit like the past few years. We have that simple thick feel back to the band. Personality wise, it’s great – our drummer Jeff Sullivan is a homie from way back, and Buddy Peel on bass is a OG homie too. And Harrington is still on board! I think this is the best lineup yet, the drums.bass. guitar and vocals are all the best they have ever sounded.”

You’ve managed to keep the band going through thick and thin since 2001, but have there ever been any points where you’ve thought “OK, enough is enough!” and been tempted to quit? If so, what’s kept you going through those times?
Corey: “Fuck yeah, I’ve thought about it a few times… but then I remember I do this for fun and not to let some asshole destroy something that others work so hard at and share responsibility for.”

The punk influence is very strong in Fistula too, something that a lot of modern sludge bands seemed to have missed. How important would you say the punk influence is on your sound?
Corey: “The punk influence and hardcore influence is very important to our influence and inspiration and our sound.”

Dan: “Absolutely, while we rehearsed/recorded this record in Massachusetts, Corey crashed at my apartment/PATAC Records HQ. When we weren’t smoking weed by the quarter pound, we listened to a TON of records. While we listened to some sludge and doom (mainly Coffinworm, Grief, Eyehategod, Blood Farmers, etc.) the majority of our musical diet was classic fucking hardcore: Cro-Mags, Siege, Negative Approach, OFF!, Misfits/Samhain, Mentors, Slapshot… The shit we grew up loving, the music that inspired us to play. During the ‘Vermin…’ sessions we even recorded/played covers by GG Allin, Fang, Overkill LA and Circle Jerks.”

It seemed like sludge bands didn’t get any attention from the press for many years, and then suddenly the genre has become much more popular, with hundreds of new sludge bands cropping up in recent years. What’s your opinion on this current trend, and, as a band who’ve been in the game much longer than most, has the current surge in the genre’s popularity had any impact on the way you operate?
Corey: “I don’t know much about trendy shit… sorry.”

Dan: “What Corey said, haha… There’s too many bands out there to hear them all. If anything, a lot of these bands with their vintage clothes and all their Orange and Sunn O)) gear serve as a reminder that if we’re trying to emulate a specific sound or image that it would be time to ‘hang up our boots.’ We get to tour and release the records that WE want to play and listen to, it’s the best fucking high… I would never want that to change.”

What’s been your best moment as a band? And on the flipside, what’s been the worst thing to happen to you since forming?
Corey: “Best moments as a band… shit, just the other day at practice, we were working on a track ‘Evil Jesus’ and we listened back to the recording and were blown away. We can’t wait to send it to Dan – that’s one of the great things right there. One of the worst was dealing with a dickhead drummer we had on last tour, but that’s about it. Pretty exciting huh? Or maybe it was the time I got lucky enough to smoke a joint with Wino after we played Emissions one year, or meeting Sickie from the Mentors… I can’t recall, there is too much shit that has happened to narrow that one down.”

What does the future have in store for Fistula?
Corey: “We are currently working on a new EP and have splits coming out with Ratstab and Nightstick, and we will tour Europe this Spring, Wombat Booking is finalizing dates including an appearance at Burning Light Fest in Portugal. Then more shows in the US and writing more new shit.

Dan: “We are also working with The Omega Order out of Brooklyn, NY to release ‘Vermin Prolificus’ on cassette format with seven bonus cuts, 3 originals and 4 covers that were recently remastered by Scott Hull.”


About Kez Whelan

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