Woe | Interview with Chris Grigg


When I wrote the review of Woe’s second full-length “Quietly, Undramatically” and submitted it to the band and their record label Candlelight, I’ve never thought I’d get more than the typical response expressing their gratitude for the feedback. So imagine my surprise when Woe’s guitarist, vocalist and mastermind Chris Grigg wrote me back to clarify a few things I misinterpreted, namely the linear notes in the album that state Woe stand for satanic black-metal. Yet Grigg rectified that it’s more to do with rebellion and life-affirmation/will to power philosophies than the standard concepts affiliated with black-metal, right?

“Well, it wasn't so much that misinterpreted, it was more that you seemed to find the statement of the album as "Satanic black metal" a little confusing since there's no overt references to Satanism. Satanism is at the core of my philosophy, but my focus is on the practical aspects of it, the real-world application: self-reliance, self-discovery, and the investigation (and hopefully annihilation) of those pieces of our Self that hold us back as individuals. A lot of people seem to think that Satanism means you talk about hating God and Christianity and being "blasphemous" and all that shit. I don't have a problem with any of that but it doesn't fit with what Woe is all about because it just doesn't go anywhere. By taking control of your world, acknowledging that nothing has meaning and you are the only authority, you are well on your way to being a Satanist. I like the idea that someone will listen to Woe, appreciate the lyrics and the message, but never realize that it is the practical application of Satanism until after the "damage" is done.

I think that raising the flag of Satanism is also important given the current American political climate. Christian Extremism is a very real threat. The inverted cross has a lot of meanings but among them is extreme opposite of the ideology driving the Christian Conservative movement. I see it as a flag of sorts, a statement of alignment.”

“Quietly, Undramatically” seems to display a strong philosophy based around the concept of a man accepting his own weakness and mortality, care to develop this idea and your general philosophical outlook on life?

“I guess I kind of went into this with the last answer (I should have read the questions first!) but I can give it more detail. The lyrics deal a lot with my own quest to accept my reality. Severe depression is a part of my personality and I despise it; I have tried everything to escape it but it just keeps coming back. I am forced to take pills every day or I am unable to function and I hate it... but it is a part of me and I need to accept it. The first track on the album personifies that spectre as an old friend, thought dead, but returning. When you suffer from depression, you go through these periods where you feel awesome and think you're past that phase in your life; you can't remember how you felt and you think that you were just being dramatic. Then it comes back and you realize... Shit, it was there the whole time. But that's just my story and I tried to write the lyrics in such a way that it was less a diary, more analysis and reaction to the situation, expressed in such a way that the individual can apply it to their life and those pieces of them that they just can't seem to escape.

My general philosophical outlook on life? There is no meaning or purpose to anything so one must find their own purpose or disappear. Most people are stupid consumers who need to be controlled, the superior individual finds their own path and lives the life that makes sense to them. I stand against broad generalizations (all of this is that) and any form of politics that limit the potential and ability for expression of individuals when they are not infringing upon the potential and ability of expression of others.”

Tell me a bit about Woe’s history. It’s well documented that you started off as a one-man-project, and have gradually morphed into a full band, comprised of members of several other known acts.

“I started the band in 2007 as a solo project. A demo and a 7" were recorded, followed by a full-length in 2008. Full band at the end of that year, some shows, and we signed with Candlelight Records in the summer of 2009 though it wasn't announced until 2010. Album written through 2009 and the beginning of 2010, recorded spring of 2010, released October. That brings us to about now.”

What changed in the song-writing department when Woe progressed from a solo effort to a collaborative work? Did you wrote most of “Quietly, Undramatically” yourself or the other members had something to say in the writing of the album?

“Nothing. I wrote every song, every lyric, engineered the recording, and acted as producer. Shane, our old bassist, wrote some bass lines together with me. Matt Moore, a long time live guitarist and contributor, came in and added some extra guitars. He composed a few of his parts ahead of time, I had some ideas, and we put our heads together.”

In musical terms, Woe have taken the raw, cold and chaotic atmosphere of black-metal and injected it with a healthy dose of punk-hardcore fury, how close have you come to creating the music you’ve always heard inside of your head when you started approaching the writing of this new album?

“Very close. My stated goal was more dynamic, less Norway, more feeling. I would have liked it to be a bit heavier, a bit darker, but I'm satisfied with the compositions overall.”

I’ve read in Woe’s blog that both Evan and Shane Madden left the band last year due to undisclosed reasons, yet you haven’t cancelled any of your live commitments. Does that mean that you’ve already found some replacements? Who’s in the new line-up?

“Woe's lineup has changed regularly since we started playing. I don't talk about it much cause it was basically the beta test version of Woe but before the 7" with Infernal Stronghold, we played a live show at a pool hall -- this was summer or fall of 2007. I played bass, my friend Steve played guitar, and Grzesiek played drums. The post-"A Spell for the Death of Man" line-up was me, Evan, Shane, and Matt Moore on guitar but because of Matt's schedule, Grzesiek jumped in on that position. Shawn Riley played guitar for a show, he learned our set in a single week. So when Shane and Evan left, the logical thing to do was to draw from within the family rather than introduce new blood. Shawn to bass, Grzesiek to drums, with our friend Ben on guitar since the start of 2011. These guys are all family, all Woe alumni.”

You’re playing drums in Krieg and involved with several other acts. Where does Woe fit in among all your other projects, I take it’s your main priority?

“It's the main priority right now but it goes through periods of activity and inactivity, during which something else might take precedence. Things are extremely busy right now but in a few months, who knows? My grindcore band Unrest is finishing a full-length. Krieg will hopefully start writing again soon. I don't really like being in full-time bands, I really prefer writing and recording projects that work in cycles. Too much routine makes me a little crazy, so I'm most comfortable jumping from project to project as time allows.”

David Alexandre