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All Hail The Yeti's Connor Garritty Talks New Album, 'Screams from a Black Wilderness' - Guitar World

All Hail The Yeti's Connor Garritty Talks New Album, 'Screams from a Black Wilderness'

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Thundering onto the scene 10 years ago, All Hail The Yeti initially grabbed people’s attention with their inventive blend of Southern metal and metalcore that added elements of grunge, doom metal and beyond.

The band—which has a new lineup—is set to release a new album, Screams from a Black Wilderness, next month. It's an album that was four years in the making.

Screams, which embraces more of a stoner/doom direction, was produced by Matt Hyde, who is known for his work with Deftones, Slayer and Soulfly.

Today we present the exclusive premiere of a track from the album, "Mr. Murder," which features guest vocals by Brock Lindow of 36 Crazyfists. You can check it out below. 

The album is available for pre-order via Bandcamp, Amazon and iTunes and comes with an instant-grat track, “Before the Flames” (hear it below). The band will host an album-release show April 7 at the Whiskey a Go Go in Hollywood.

Below, check out our recent conversation with All Hail The Yeti vocalist Connor Garritty about Screams from a Black Wilderness, lineup changes and exactly what’s in store for the band.

Before we talk about the new album, I wanted to ask about your self-titled album from 2012. How was it received?

When we initially released the self-titled, we were very excited as it was our first signing and the first step into being a national act. The original label really didn't give the album the attention it deserved and I believe that made it fall short. The responses we were getting on tour didn't fit the numbers. So when Minus Head Records suggested we re-release the album, we were more than happy. I feel the first record is ahead of its time. We wanted very much to stand out and do something different than everything else that was out there, while still keeping to most of the metal roots.

The music on the new album is a huge step up in terms of musicianship and production. What were some of the most notable differences when it came to recording Screams as compared to the self-titled album?

When we recorded the first album, we had no budget. We financed pretty much everything ourselves, so that played huge factor in what we were able to do. Luckily our good friends were a part of the team and worked for next to nothing. As a band, we were ready to make the record whether we had a label or not, and that’s what we did. As far as production, we had a lot less to work with the first time around. It was a smaller studio and less outboard gear to work with.

When it came time to do Screams, we had already signed with Minus Head Records so we knew what we had to work with. It was far more than what we had with the first album, so right off the bat we were in great shape. We did all the drums and initial guitar and bass tracks at NRG Studios in North Hollywood. If you’ve ever been there, you know what an amazing place it is.

We had a crew of people helping us. With Matt Hyde at the helm and Josh Newell running the board, we knew we were going to end up with something special! As far as musicianship, our first record was written over the course of like six years before it came out, so naturally this time around we all had more experience. These songs were written by just the four of us with Matt putting his input when needed. The first record had numerous writers on the 10 songs so I think that played a part to the difference in sound from Screams.

How quickly did you guys start writing once Alan joined the band? Were any of the songs or ideas created before-hand, or was his entrance more of a fresh start for the band?

When Alan first came down from Vancouver to "try out", we wanted to write with him first to see if we could work with him artistically. Any seasoned guitar player can play songs handed to them. It takes a special talent to be able to write songs for a band that has a specific style. We had a few songs that we had already written before Alan joined but we knew we wanted to rework them to fit his style and the direction we were leaning toward. When he showed up to the first practice he said, “I have a song that I think you guys will like.” That song became “Let the Night Roar.” My chin hit the floor when I heard the verse riff. It was so heavy and dirty, I instantly loved it! He and I got into the home studio and began to work on the vocals almost immediately. Then right away we wrote “Daughter of the Morning Star” and we knew we found the right guy. It felt very fresh and new for us, we couldn't be happier!

With so many of the older bands that play your style of metal are leaving the scene, whether by their own accord or not, do you feel like 2016 is a better opportunity to break through? What bands do you guys take as inspiration?

That’s a hard question to answer. We always felt like we play our style. Obviously we have our influences, but i think we've done a good job at not being lumped in with the rest of these newer metal bands. That to me opens better opportunities. To stand out in a sea of cookie-cutter monotony is a really difficult thing to do. It’s very hard to not do something because it’s popular and has worked for another successful band first. You see the success and it’s natural to want that as well. That’s the problem with trends, that’s all they are and it happens in every genre of metal I believe. I think of us as grownups in a young band. We all have been doing this most of our lives, have paid our dues and learned so many things along the way. We take inspiration from bands that have done the same! Worked hard, broken barriers and created something their own. That list is far too long to write here. Respect is earned and it’s hard to respect anything that didn't come with hard work and determination.

What was it like working with Matt Hyde? How has his style of producing benefited the band and what sort of ideas and techniques did you learn recording with him? His work alone on Slayer’s God Hates Us All and Hatebreed’s Perseverance are reasons enough to push the band to new territory.

Matt was really one of the best things that happened to AHTY. When we got the news that he was on board it changed everything for us. It really felt like we were finally going to be taken seriously as a heavy contender in the metal community. Matt takes a completely different approach to making a record than we were previously used to. It didn't feel uncomfortable or stressful at all. He became an integral part of the process right off the bat. Vocally, he pushed me very hard but in a respectful way. There were times when I just couldn't wrap my head around something and he would just say, "Connor, stop for a second and think about it." Matt brought an outside element that made this record what it is.

I’ve noticed the new album is more bass driven than the self-titled album, while also infusing more melodic elements more commonly seen in bands like Caliban. What brought about this big change in the song writing for the band?

I’m not really sure if that was really thought out beforehand or if that’s just the way it happened. Matt was behind the helm of the tones for the most part. He knew that the bass tone was such an important thing for this band. I don't think there was ever a worry that it wasn't going to be thundering! As far as the melody, we knew we wanted to make Screams a bit different. When we were in the initial songwriting phase this is just what came out. 

What is the idea behind the lyrics for the album? What sort of personal experiences led to them and is there an overall concept?

The lyrics have always been a very important thing for this band. For me they have to draw the listener in, whether they like it or not. Some of the stories are very personal, some just completely made up. For this album I wanted the lyrics to be something that each person would use to make up their own version of the story. It's important that our fans understand that as much as these songs are for us, they are for them as well.

The lyrics are always so different for each song. “Mr. Murder” is about the loss of my best friend last year. “Let the Night Roar” is based on the day that Jim Jones convinced his 976 followers to drink a flavor-aid mixed with cyanide and strychnine.

One song that really stood out is “Witch Is Dead,” that track is a straight fucking banger. What is the song about personally? What was the writing like creating the hooks for this one?

“Witch is Dead” is a spin-off of the original song from The Wizard of Oz. This song is about realizing the person you are with isn't who you think they are. They have pretended to be what you want. After a while the time comes when you wish you could just rid them from your life. This is of course suggested and not literal. I always loved the original song from the movie and when I told Alan about my idea he immediately went to work.

What gear did you guys use for the new album? When writing, was there any sort of techniques you had to learn to play on drums or guitar, or was recording more straight forward?

We use Schecter guitars, Yamaha drums, Mesa Engineering, Orange Amps and Line 6 exclusively. During the recording process we used many different combinations throughout. Matt Hyde pushed us very hard to step outside the box and challenge ourselves to try new things. I think it made for an amazing record. 

Do you have any touring plans for 2016? What bands would you want to see the band tour with in the future? Will your live rig differ from what was used in the studio?

Yes, we hope to be touring throughout the next year in support of Screams from a Black Wilderness. I would love to tour with bands like Mastodon, Down, Lamb of God, Clutch and Eyehategod, to name a few. Live, Alan uses a Mesa dual and single rectifier and two Mesa 4x12 cabs. The heads run in stereo. On the single he uses the vintage tone to give warmth and dirtiness. He’s Mesa all the way! 

Screams from a Black Wilderness will be available April 8 via Minus Head Records. Visit minushead.com for more information.