Skeletonwitch’s Scott Hedrick Talks New Album + Vinyl’s Place in Metal [Vinyl Creep]
There are a few reasons we know the guys in Skeletonwitch are vinyl fanatics. Simply looking at their latest release, ‘Serpents Unleashed,’ the metal band created several different experiences for fans to enjoy, and each one was pure and genuine. Skeletonwitch aren’t pressing vinyl because they’re trying to capitalize on a trend; they’re pressing vinyl because it actually means something to them.
“The first and most important reason we do this is because we love vinyl,” guitarist Scott Hedrick tells Noisecreep in an exclusive interview. “I still work at a record store when I’m not touring. I put in hours there when I’m home because I love music and I love vinyl.” That record store that Hedrick still works at is Haffa’s Records in Athens, Ohio, a shop that first opened its doors over three decades ago.
“At the same time, from the business perspective, the label is happy to do all the crazy things we want to do and make really nice packaging because there still is a scene for it,” Hedrick explains. “It’s fun, it’s still relevant and fortunately it makes enough sense for the label to support it financially.”
Those “crazy things” with ‘Serpents Unleashed’ range from different colored vinyl — including a very limited run of a transparent red pressing — to a bootleg release of the album that hit independent record stores before the album actually dropped. Skeletonwitch even offered a limited box set of ‘Serpents Unleashed’ that includes all of the tracks pressed on six individual 7-inch records. On side 12, there is an exclusive live version of the tune, ‘Burned From Bone.’ It didn’t take long for that box set to sell out as it was limited to 300 copies. The lucky fans who picked it up also received a 45 rpm adapter customized by the band.
Taking a step further into nostalgia, Skeletonwitch even released a red cassette version of ‘Serpents Unleashed.’ “That idea came directly from Prosthetic Records, our label,” Hedrick says. “We were all for it. I’m an old-school guy, so I love everything like this. I think that was the fastest selling item we did with ‘Serpents.’”
With all of the cool limited runs and different versions of ‘Serpents Unleashed,’ one thing remains true: the album has one of the greatest pieces of cover art released in 2013. Designed by John Baizley, Baroness‘ frontman, the artwork is beautifully terrifying and impossible to take your eyes off of. “John’s a good friend of ours and his artwork is amazing,” says Hedrick. “We have a tendency to avoid complacency. We’ve recorded with a different producer every time we entered the studio, and we already worked with John on an EP and an album cover. But, everything was coming together so well, we just had to get John back involved.”
The guitarist goes on, “There are certain artists that if you tell them to draw a lizard wearing a bullet-belt and smoking a cigar and holding a machine gun, they’ll do exactly that and think it’s sweet and ask for their money. John would be like, ‘Go to hell. I’m not doing something that stupid.’ He has a lot of input in the process. He takes our input and starts sketching, but there’s a lot that goes on with him. He wants all of the lyrics ahead of time, he wants all of the music. Even if we’re not done recording, he wants all the demos we have. He wants to know what it’s about, if there’s a concept behind the album or individual tracks. He gets in there deep and makes everything make sense aesthetically. Everything is one experience, you know? I think he knocked it out of the park.”
Hedrick is confident vinyl is still a part of the music world because of the fans. “Metal fans are the best in the world,” he proudly says. “They’re really loyal fans and they’re heavy collectors. It’s great, too, because all of these limited runs we do gets people to actually go inside their local record stores.”
From the artwork to the different versions available to the actual music — the album rocks, by the way – Skeletonwitch’s ‘Serpents Unleashed’ is a phenomenal piece of metal that fans shouldn’t hesitate to get their hands on. “There’s a certain tradition that goes along with [vinyl] and the history of metal,” Hedrick says emphatically. “From buying early bootleg Van Halen records to stuff like our music today, I’m just glad it’s still out. It makes me happy. I mean, sure, we’d survive without vinyl, but I’m really glad it’s still here.”
Scott Hedrick’s Vinyl Breakdown
Current Favorite Vinyl: Anything by Thee Michelle Gun Elephant
All-Time Favorite Vinyl: Iron Maiden, ’Live After Death’
Skeletonwitch’s ‘Serpents Unleashed’