His career spanning 20 years plus, front man William ‘Kyzer’ Cooper of Deist Requiem stands atop the short list of musicians who have defined industrial music in Virginia. I recently sat down with him and asked him about the upswing in noise Deist has been making as of late.
Interview & photography of William ‘Kyzer’ Cooper by Joshua Fitzwater www.facebook.com/fitzwaterphotography
With Deist Requiem playing out live more locally, in Richmond, and in North Carolina late last year and early this year, is it safe to say that the passion for getting on stage still burns in you some 23 years since the inception of the band?
Kyzer: Yes, live shows have always been a very important part of what we do. I don’t see us playing 150 shows a year like we used to in the late 90’s but it is definitely important to put on a show for the people who dig us. And as we work out newer material, it definitely rekindles the passion to play out live.
What brought on the uptick in live activity recently?
Kyzer: To tell you the truth just emails I’ve been getting. People who have followed the band for years knew that there was an unreleased album recorded in 2002 and as I work on finishing that and also new music, it is only natural to want to go out and play again. Plus we never really stopped. Line-up changes or not, we just take really long breaks.
How (assuming it is) is your approach to taking the stage different now than in the past?
Kyzer: I think there is less pressure these days with experience and the fact that we work entirely for ourselves, and of course, I have to stretch a little bit more.
In February on social media you announced that, “ 2014 = Lots of NEW DEIST tunes. Get Ready.” And that you were, “Getting Closer to finishing the CD that’s already recorded.” Is this post referring to the Deist Album that was recorded at Gwar’s Slave Pit in the early 2000’s but never saw release?
Kyzer: Yes, that’s what I’ve been working on. The only thing that needed to be done was my vocals, and like I said with so many people knowing that album was out there, I needed to finish it. It had literally been sitting in my vault for 10 years. But once I pulled it out and listened to it, I felt it needed to be finished and I know that the band members that were on that record feel the same. And actually I believe the record will benefit from working the songs for so long and also bringing in fresh ears to work on the record. H3 from Heretics in the Lab is doing the final production on the record and everything is coming together beyond my expectations.
What should the listener expect sonically from this album? …And lyrically from the album?
Kyzer: Sonically, it will be pretty intense. H3 is doing an amazing job with the final production. Of course we tracked it at the Slave Pit with Jeremy Smith who did great work getting the initial tracks on tape. So I expect the final product will be extremely hard hitting. Lyrically, I would have to say it really reflects where I was in 2002 of course. I’ve changed a few lyrics here and there but mainly the song themes have stayed the same. But I’ve tried to stay true to the era. Anything new I want to say lyrically will be expressed on the next Deist Requiem record.
Is there a tentative release date?
Kyzer: Not really. After all this time, I don’t see the point of rushing it and releasing it half assed. We were looking at dates when we started but as we are working and changing things… the most important thing seems to be making it right. I don’t want people to be disappointed with an album they waited on for 12 years like on [Guns ‘n’ Roses] Chinese Democracy. But that being said it will be out this year.
Speaking of Gwar, I must ask you, having known Dave Brockie personally as you did, would you care to weigh in on what his passing meant to you and to metal and rock music?
Kyzer: Well, I could probably write a book to answer that question but let me try to put it as simply as possible- There will never be anyone ever again in metal like Dave Brockie. He was truly unique. More so as an all around artist than just a singer of a band. And like I said before, aside from knowing Dave, the one thing that always stood out to me is how he would go out of his way to help other artists if he could. It is a rare thing in this business that anyone will help you out much less go out of their way to do it. And I’ll always be grateful to him for that. And I will always cherish not only hanging out around here but times on the road because that’s when you really got to know Dave. But it’s still an extremely sad time for everyone who knew him and he is extremely missed.
With Deists’ home base being in Hampton Roads since you moved here from Tennessee in the late 90’s do you think your influence, the dues you paid, and the president you set, has been felt by other industrial rock bands in and around the area such as Heretics in the Lab, Little Black Rain Clouds, [OPT-OUT], Low on Sanity?
Kyzer: I don’t know. I guess you would have to ask them. Of course Low On Sanity covered the song ‘Prozac’ on their last CD so it’s safe to say they at the very least like that song. But I think everyone influences everyone to some existent. I’m influenced by everything I hear, that’s why I never wanted Deist to be pigeon-holed into one genre. The earlier stuff was definitely more industrial, then it evolved into a heavier project as I found myself enjoying playing with other people. That’s how I see it and if it influences someone, that’s awesome. Chances are they influenced me also.
Vocally and lyrically who has influenced you over the years?
Kyzer: Trent Reznor, Uncle Al, … but lyrically just whatever is pissing me off at the moment. Usually religion and politics, and how they are used to manipulate us. But I think if I sit here and listed vocally and lyrically every artist who has influenced me, we’d be here all day.
Are you listening to anything currently that influences you?
Kyzer: Always. I’ve been listening to a lot of Foxy Shazam, and lyrically I don’t think anyone out there right now is better than Ryan Bingham. I’m really digging Saul Williams and it might seem like a shameless plug but all the new music that Heretics in the Lab is putting out.
Originally formed in 1997 by yourself, your label, Sacrifice Records has seen some interesting growth in the recent times with the signing of The Pestilence Choir in 2012 and most recently with the signing of Heretics in the Lab in 2013. What is your vision for Sacrifice?
Kyzer: To keep moving forward and to be a family like home for the artists we work with. As obsolete as record companies may seem these days, it is always good to have a home. That’s why my partner in the label, Rich Burke, and I kinda want to keep it family and grounded. The music industry has changed quite a bit so we have to be realistic about what can be accomplished when everyone has the means to put out their music in some form or another. You see bands like Foxy Shazam who just released their new album for free which is an interesting way to go about it. Just assuming that everyone is going to steal it anyhow. Just give it to them for free and go play shows. It will be interesting to see how that turns out. But aside from that, there are a lot of things in development for the next year to two years but nothing I can talk about in detail right now. So stay tuned and see what happens, we just might surprise everyone.
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