“Life of Scars When The Devil Walks In”
Life of Scars is a heavy metal band from the Dallas Fort Worth region of Texas. The band was formed by singer/bassist Wayne Abney (former Hammer Witch singer), drummer Anthony Walker and guitarist Michael Huebner. We discussed how the band formed and their style of songwriting. We went over the songs Give Me a Reason, and When the Devil Walks In. They rerecorded two Hammer Witch songs to be included on this album and discussed the differences. They have one album out right now called When the Devil Walks In. I spoke with Wayne as well as Anthony for this interview.
BM: How did you come together to form Life of Scars?
Wayne: We got a call from Bruce (Corbitt) to see if it was possible if we could do a Hammer Witch reunion for the Mike Scaccia memorial show. I contacted the guitar player, (Darrin Kobetich) that played on the Legacy of Pain album. Darrin was all over it. He was like “Let’s do it man.” We started looking on FaceBook and stuff for a drummer. I’ve seen Anthony play a million times at clubs and stuff. Anthony said,” I’ll do it.” I contacted him and I am thinking where are we going to jam.” Anthony said, “If you ‘all are going to do this, you are going to come to me. I have a rehearsal space.”
We went and did the memorial gig for Mike Scaccia. It worked out so well that we were talking about writing new songs and doing more gigs. Darrin had too many things going on like solo and acoustic projects, it just didn’t work out. Anthony and I stuck together. He writes songs on the guitar. I’ve always wrote words and played bass. We put a few ideas together. We realized it’s not going to be Hammer Witch, so we came up with Life of Scars. It was supposed to be some words for a song, and Anthony was like, “That would be a cool band name.” Once we had a few ideas together we made a demo by the house with pieces of songs. Then we started looking for guitar players who were into this type of music. I ran into Michael (Huebner, guitars), over at the Rail Club (Fort Worth, TX) one night and I heard he had just left Hell Goat. I have known Michael over 30 years. So I go over and it’s like, “Hey Michael, what are you doing? You want to come jam with me and Anthony? We have some ideas I’d like you to hear.” He replies back, “Yeah I will come jam with you ‘all.” We went and listened to the couple of ideas that Anthony and I put together. Soon after Michael then put his guitar expertise to enhance the riffs we already had. Now that we had a bad ass guitar player and a full band we finished writing the rest of the songs for the CD.
BM: How far back did you start writing the music on When the Devil Walks In?
Anthony: It was a few months after we realized Darrin wasn’t into keeping Hammer Witch going. We were paying rent on our jam room so we might as well jam. We also went over to Wayne’s house and wrote riffs, recorded some ideas and put them together in his studio on pro tools.
Wayne: We didn’t have the entire idea like what the name of the album is going to be or the path were going to take. We just knew we were putting a band together and needed some songs. We needed a guitar player and a whole unit. This album has been in the making for a few years.
BM: Can you tell me about the people involved to make the record?
Wayne: I will tell you what’s important and a lot of people don’t want to admit is you have to know what you don’t know. We want something that sounds top production, top quality, then even though Anthony and myself have our own studios. Maybe we should bring in an outside engineer. Anthony was really pushing that hard. We did some research and came across a guy by the name of Russell Hollar. We looked into some of the miking techniques he was doing on the drums. A lot of the techniques he was doing were on the same line as what we were looking for. We picked him to be the main engineer and co-produce with us.
Anthony: George Geurin mastered it on tape which was a huge help too.
Wayne: Anthony knew this guy George, from one of his previous bands who was a mastering engineer in Dallas. Finally, we had a master that we sent around the band and I remember calling Anthony and saying,” What do you think of this? Are you going to sign off on this?” He goes, “Yeah I will sign off on it.” Michael goes, “Yeah I will sign off on that.” I waited a couple of days and said let’s get this thing pressed.
BM: What was your favorite song to record?
Wayne: There is Give Me a Reason. That song is just steadily pounding. Anybody that likes to mosh you need to listen to this song. I do what is called stream of conscious writing. If something comes into my mind, I will pull over and start jotting it down. My process of writing words for the song is I listen to the rhythm, and I make sure I get a really great recording of it. It’s just the rhythm, drums and bass, it doesn’t have to be the whole song. I set a mic up in front of me and put some headphones on, and some words will just come to me and then I start recording some of it. The song Give Me Reason in particular, I remember the chorus, I came out of the studio and said, I know this is going to be a catchy song. I will never forget that one moment in that song.
BM: Just Because I Can is another killer track, what was going on when you got inspired to write that tune?
Anthony: I wrote that one song probably in 2014.
Wayne:Anthony drove up to my house and left it here for god knows how long. Anthony started this. Let’s go back to when it was just me and Anthony. I didn’t know this at the time but Anthony told me that when he gets bored, he writes guitar riffs. We both play a little guitar on the side. One day Anthony came over and left a CD at my house. I thought he wanted me to jam on it or something. We were in between bands and still had the same jam room. I was not pulling out just because Darrin left. This was before the idea for the band Life of Scars even came together. We were thinking maybe Darrin will come back and do Hammer Witch. One night I was sitting down watching TV and remembered Anthony had brought the CD over so I figured that I will just write some words to that. I put the music into ProTools, put my headphones on set up a mic and just went with it. A few hours later that’s what I had. It’s changed a bit since I started and told Anthony to listen to it. I wrote the song “Just because I can.” We didn’t have a band at the time but still loved to write.
BM: I notice you got “Let There be Darkness” and “Legacy of Pain” from Hammer Witch on When the Devil Walks In, how much did you change these songs up?
Wayne: *Laughs* Listen to the sound quality! We tried to keep it pretty much to the original sound but enhance the production quality. I always wanted to go back, You gotta remember when we recorded that Hammer Witch stuff, the budget was really low. I didn’t have my own studio. We didn’t have unlimited time and after recording all the instruments you realize, you got 2 hours to do the vocals which is crazy. But you did them, since that is your budget. From then, I always wanted to redo the vocals. Plus with the new digital recording, we can get the production so much better. Remember this band got started with the Hammer Witch reunion. If you compare the two. Each has their own thing in their own way.
BM: Anthony how did you originally hear about Hammer Witch and what was it like joining the band?
Anthony: When I first heard of them, that was probably in the late 90s. They were always named around as a legendary thrash band. I heard the Legacy of Pain album around that time. Learning those Hammer Witch songs was awesome. We played the songs at the Scaccia memorial show and we worked really hard to get those songs down and tight. It was really fun to play those classic songs live.
BM: How long have you been an audio engineer for?
Anthony: Not that long. I’ve always tinkered around with it. But I didn’t have my own studio equipment until about 2004 or 2005.
BM: What would you say are some of your favorite albums that you worked on?
Anthony: Both recent Interment albums, I did both of their albums. “Still Dead” and “The Suspense Is Killing Me” EP.
BM: Anthony, what’s your philosophy when you are recording albums?
Anthony: Yeah, you want everything to sound as good as possible. But I am a drummer so I think the drums are probably most important for production. With thrash and extreme metal, if the drums don’t sound powerful and tight, the whole thing just falls apart. You need to place everything around the drums. You do need a great guitar tone too, but don’t forget about that bass sound!
BM: Final Words?
Wayne: I want everyone to check out the new album. I need everybody to check out this new album from Life of Scars When The Devil Walks In. It’s different. It’s powerful and it says everything you might want to say, but don’t. I know we went back into the past with this interview, but I just want to push this new album Life of Scars, and live the life here.
Interview By Nick Perkel
Pictures 1 and 3 by Stuart Taylor