Interview: Sal Abruscato and Matt Brown of A Pale Horse Named Death
Let's get into some of the inspiration behind the individual songs. Was this all from experience, some philosophizing ... ?
SAL: Really a bit of both. The song "As Black As My Heart" is a vague depiction of when I was going through a divorce during the album process. I wrote the song literally days after the so-called-person left me.
And then there's a little bit of fantasy, where "To Die In Your Arms" is about someone who just wants to commit suicide and die in their girlfriend's arms.
What's the song "Heroin Train" about? I know you've had more than your fair share of experience with friends succumbing to addiction.
SAL: "Heroin Train" was about my experiences having a few friends pass away from overdoses, having friends that have family that are on heroin and then what I saw visually coming into the Lower East Side of New York, hanging out in the city and just seeing young people -- addicts -- living homeless in the park, prostituting themselves -- whatever it took to get a fix. Those visions, for some reason, stayed with me for 20 years.
How about "Devil In The Closet"?
SAL: "Devil In The Closet" relates to the feeling everyone has as a kid when your mom makes you sleep in your room alone at night and you have all these crazy fears 'cause your imagination is just running wild and you've got this closet and it's dark. If that closet's left open, you start seeing stuff because it's dark and you're a scared child with a vivid imagination. You just terrorize yourself, basically.
I know I was terrified of that closet as a kid. I used to always say, like, "Mom, make sure the closet's closed." I would freak out; I thought there was somebody in there.
What's the next tune? "Cracks In The Walls" came from me sitting in my house alone for three days not eating, not talking to anyone and barely sleeping -- just sitting in my living room with the lights off just staring at the wall because I was dealing with this whole big, giant change in life where it was just crazy shit going on. And I was just staring at the wall, and my eyes started to pick up a crack here and there, and it just started coming together in my head as a song about someone who goes insane from seeing stuff -- but it's all their head.
Let's do one more, what's the song "Bath In My Blood" about?
SAL: It's about, you know, the multi-personalities that live inside me; I have about three in me. That's why one day I'm this way the next day I'm that way.
MATT: I can attest to that.
SAL: I've got like three bitches inside me, and they drive me crazy 'cause we actually argue with each other. So that's what the song "Bath In My Blood" is about.
The album art really sets the tone for the record. Talk a bit about the artwork, because so far this has to be one of the best album covers of the year.
SAL: Sam Shearon from London. He's wanted to do something with me for probably four years; we sort of befriended each other. When this came up, I hit him up, told him I had this project going on and it was really dark. And while the artwork was going on, I was sending him lyrics so he could actually understand everything, do each song's piece of artwork -- and we went back and forth a little bit. But I would say out of the gate he pretty much hit it 90 percent on the head.
What was the inspiration for all of the apocalyptic imagery?
SAL: What was the inspiration? It's just some dark-ass music [laughs]. For the cover, A Pale Horse Named Death is original yet very familiar, as in Revelations, death rode a pale horse and hell followed him. And because there's that biblical connotation in there, I think that's why people gravitate toward the name; it sounds like something they already know, but it's a little bit different.
MATT: It's really great when you work with people who get it on every level -- on the imagery, the music -- it just works so much easier. There's no bickering, there's just creativity.
Speaking of the apocalypse, I'm guessing you guys are glad the world didn't end this past weekend.
SAL: Ah, it's just a bunch of baloney. I didn't believe one word of it. This whole 2012 thing ... it won't be the end of the world. If anything, the human race might go extinct, but the planet will continue to exist long after us, rebuild itself -- probably become a better place -- and our infrastructure, which only has about a 50-year lifespan, will crumble and disintegrate. In a matter of a couple hundred years, it'll all be overgrown.
So the planet will just wash itself of all the parasites and bloodsucking ticks that we call human beings. The dinosaurs had a longer reign on the planet than we did; we're just a microfiber in the geological time frame. We're a sliver, a blink of light.
There's something egotistical about people's fascination with the apocalypse, almost as if to say, "If I die, then it has to be the end of everyone and everything else in existence."
SAL: We're so egotistical, we think that if we go then the whole planet goes and every species will go with it. That's why people feel compelled to save the planet. You know, we're contributing to stuff going wrong on the planet, but the planet is a bigger force than us and it will manage to find a flaw in our evolution and we'll just weed ourselves out.
A Pale Horse Named Death will release their debut album, And Hell Will Follow Me on June 14. Keep an eye out for a special "Introducing" on A Pale Horse Named Death in the August issue of Guitar World. magazine.