Mike O’Hara – Interview

The world of heavy metal has begun to see a new generation of metalhead beginning to show their faces and talents.  I believe at the very center of this generation is Mike O’Hara.  People can find his work under many different monickers, but his most famous of which would have to be his one-man brutal death metal band, Splattered Entrails.  I could go on for another paragraph or two why I think he’s so important to do an interview with him, but I’ll let our conversation do it for me.

Metal Blast: Greetings, Mike.  Thank you very much for spending the time to speak to us at Metal Blast today.

Mike O’Hara: Thank you for the opportunity!

MB: While I certainly know who you are, could you give our readers some background information on yourself?

MO: I’m a 22 year old metalhead from NY, who has been recording under the moniker, “Splattered Entrails” since 2004. I also record in other projects, “Malodorous” which is with 4 other guys from different parts of the US. “Suntorn“, which has 5 other guys who all play live on the West Coast. “Cordectomy“, which is another solo project of mine that I actually play drums for as opposed to programming them. And some people might have remembered me from my first death metal band, “Expulsive Incision“, which was a local group that played out. I’ve also participated in various short-lived projects that have come and gone.

MB: Where would you say your original drive of wanting to play in the world of Heavy Metal originated?

MO: It originated with my father, who raised me on bands like Metallica, Slayer and Pantera. And since I was a child, I have always craved music that was even heavier than the last thing I was listening to. I was exposed to Iniquity, Fleshgrind & Dying Fetus at the age of 11.

MB: This past summer we saw you release your fifth full-length album under the Splattered Entrails banner called “Nauseate.”  How would you describe that album to somebody who has not yet heard it?

MO: I would say it’s relentless, devastating, filled with blastbeats, and at times, almost uplifting. As weird as that sounds, it is what I was going for at least.

MB: Looking back at your time in Splattered Entrails there has always been an obvious influence of Last Days Of Humanity-styled goregrind where you would effortlessly blend in thick groove and pitch-shifted vocals with the breakneck pace and structures of brutal death metal, but in “Nauseate” while you still retain that goregrind sound, it seems to be more in the background with the brutal death metal aspect being brought up front.  What was your reasoning for switching those two dynamic sounds?

MO: Well, my taste in music has changed quite a bit. I liked the sound of pitch-shifted vocals when I had recorded them on earlier releases, but now I really enjoy the sound of raw, but well-performed death metal vocals. But as my taste in metal changed, my writing naturally changed as well.

MB: While your previous albums were gore-laden and violence-driven, the theme of “Nauseate” struck me as more technologically themed and aimed to be set around the human species as a whole.  Were there any particular moments that inspired you to branch off into these areas lyrically?

MO: Lyrically, I think I’m talentless, Hahaha. I might not even print lyrics on future releases. But the main theme for “Nauseate” was set to be about an advanced human species dealing with the apocalypse, or an apocalyptic occurence that doesn’t necessarily wipe out all life. Kind of an abstract and some may say “over done”, but I just had music I wanted to record, regardless of the theme.

MB: Tracks like “Humans: Deprogrammed,” “Parasites,” “Dawn Of The Great Plague,” and “Reconstructing Nerve Fiber” are easily my favorite tracks off of “Nauseate“.  If you had to choose, what would you say your favorite tracks are?

MO: “Humans: Deprogrammed”, “Swarm of Virulence”, “Dawn of the Great Plague” and “Reconstructing Nerve Fiber”. Besides those I think coming out the best, they were the most fun to record.

MB: From what I’ve been told, you recorded an album titled “Peeling The Skin Off,” but you never released it.  Is there any reason why that is the case?

MO: During the recording of the music only, Splattered Entrails was a one-man project. I then had the vocalist from “Expulsive Incision” record vocals for it. However, we are no longer on speaking terms, and while I had a label lined up to release it and everything, it just didn’t happen.

MB: Will that album ever be released for public consumption?

MO: Actually, just recently someone had asked me about the album and if it’ll ever be released because people are curious to hear it. I have the original tracks, I just don’t have the masters. So the tracks feature me doing backing vocals and my ex-vocalist, but all the music was written and recorded by yours truly. So what I’m currently offering on getting the album is, if you order “Nauseate” from me, exclusively, I will personally throw in “Peeling the Skin Off” on a free CD-R.

MB: I saw that you are looking to get out there and play some live shows.  Can we expect to see a full ensemble of Splattered Entrails take the stage soon?

MO: I am definitely interested in playing live. I was thinking as a solo act, I would play festivals, like maybe Las Vegas Death Fest, or Hostile City Death Fest. I would much rather go on stage with a full-band. So far I haven’t had luck with finding a drummer who can pull off those parts. Same goes for guitarists.

MB: I know I’m not the only one wondering this, but things have been pretty mum with the happenings of Malodorous.  Are there any plans for any new material?

MO: Hahaha, I was laughing at people’s comments on our videos on YouTube, talking about how the release of “The Carrion Recoil” is a joke. It may seem like it, but things are in the FINAL stages of recording now. Mixing and mastering should be quick. It was the difficulty of conflicting schedules and recording issues that has caused such a huge delay. But my tracks are all recorded, the vocals should be done verrrry soon.

MB: If you don’t mind, I would like to talk about Cordectomy for a moment.  Even though it is in the realm of brutal death metal, it strikes me as being much different than your previous projects.  Even though it is different, it still has your trademark of insanely groovy riffs and long deep growls.  What made you want to veer off into this direction of mid-paced brutal death metal?

MO: My very first instrument I learned how to play was drums. My father has been drumming since he was about 16, so I was pretty much raised on a drumkit. But with Splattered Entrails, I program the drum parts, because it allows me to not be limited by my mere death metal drumming skills, which are pretty mediocre, Hahaha. But I’ve enjoyed playing death metal on drums when it’s not filled with blastbeats like I did in Expulsive Incision. Cordectomy, in a way, allows me to “jam” with myself. I sit in a room with mics set up and just play what comes to mind, just freelance playing the kit. Then I go and pick up the guitar and start playing whatever comes to mind on that. What you hear from Cordectomy, is a result of me just hitting the record button and playing something.

MB: Are there any plans to bring back Expulsive Incision anytime soon?

MO: I wouldn’t say so, Haha. I still speak to the two guitarists of the band pretty often. They’re not really playing music at all, but we remain close friends.

MB: There have been a few people I know that want to know what kind of equipment you use when recording.  Could you give us a breakdown of your overall set-up?

MO: I use Logic Pro 9 on a 2008 Intel Mac, 4gb of RAM. My drum vst plugin is Addictive Drums. I play a Schecter Damien 7 string guitar, on a Line 6 Spider IV 2×12″ combo amp with a Boss Compression Sustainer pedal. Direct out from the Line 6 to a Behringer Xenyx Mini-Mixer, to a T.C. Electronic FireWire Interface. I think that’s everything, Hahaha.

MB: It seems that one-man bands are becoming far more accessible and successful these days.  People (such as myself) are taking cues from guys like Shawn Whittaker (Insidious Decrepancy, Viral Load), Nik “Nikfuk” Blantan (Sikfuk), Shaun LaCanne (Putrid Pile), and yourself who showcase that not having a full-band should not discourage one from going out there and creating great music.  How do you think musicians such as yourself have helped out the world of death metal?

MO: I’ve noticed an uprising in bands with members all over the country that don’t play live and are just recording projects, and some of them sound great! But, if you have the ability to record as a musician, it’s not so ridiculous to play with a drum-machine as it once may have been. Especially with technology and VST Plugins, it’s possible to make a drum machine perform with a certain degree of human-error. Some people may think that it may be cheap and it’s not a “real band”, but personally, if I hear something I like, that’s all I care about. The plain and simple fact is that I like it, it could be any amount of people or any genre of music.

MB: Since the Internet is now so widely available we have seen the underground of death metal becoming much more accessible, with any band you can think of just waiting to be found through a few keystrokes.  How has the Internet played a part in helping you get your name and many bands out there to people?

MO: It’s definitely helped any music project I’m involved in greatly. Considering I haven’t played a live show since 2006 or 2007, the internet has mostly been the only way for people to listen to any material I’ve worked on. I utilize it to the fullest, pretty much basing my success as a songwriter on feedback I get through it. But I would assume most musicians do that nowadays.

MB: I am fully aware this question is cliche, but I am very curious.  What are your feelings on digital piracy?

MO: I honestly love mailordering CDs and merchandise. Physically having copies of an album, with a booklet to look through, is such an essential part of an album and it could really set the tone. It could change the way you listen to the music in my opinion. I’m guilty of pirating here and there, but now that I have so many copies of “Nauseate” and still have plenty copies of Malodorous‘ “Amaranthine Redolence“, I’ve been trading with various distros, so that’s usually how I get my CDs.

MB: What would you say would be one of your favorite moments when it comes to playing music?

MO: When I’m writing for Splattered Entrails, I program the drums based on a riff I play, then the next riff, I usually write on guitar and then program on drums based on the guitar part, and I continue alternating. But, there are some riffs in some tracks that really come together nicely and are usually real heavy, they make me stand up just to record that riff, Hahaha.

MB: How about worst moment?

MO: Popping a guitar string. Hands-down, the worst thing. I fuckin’ hate it.

MB: There has to be more to Mike O’Hara than just tons of memorable riffs and brutal death metal.  What else do you like to do in your spare time when you aren’t tearing the strings off your guitars or shredding your vocal chords to bits?

MO: Well, I have a full-time job as a Manager at a local CVS/Pharmacy believe it or not, Hahahaha. But besides work and recording, I chill with a few close friends usually, I smoke herb, I play a lot of video games, I dabble a lot in various computer-type activities, whether it’s PC building or modding, photo-editing, html-editing, website creation, etc. I also have a random infatuation with Astronomy and Astro-Physics, maybe I should go to school for it, Hahaha. I’m also happily engaged and looking for a new home with my fiancee so, Splattered Entrails won’t be a NY-based band much longer!

MB: We’ve seen 2011 go by with a flash and, in my opinion, there was a massive influx of fantastic albums put out.  What would you say are some of your favorite releases of 2011 were?

MO: Ulcerate‘s “Destroyers of All“, Decapitated‘s “Carnival is Forever“, Origin‘s “Entity“, Hate Eternal‘s “Phoenix Amongst the Ashes“.

MB: How about disappointing albums of 2011?

MO: Morbid Angel‘s “Illud Divinum InANUS“. Extremely disappointed.

MB: What are your plans for 2012?

MO: More Splattered Entrails, actually since I finished recording Nauseate, I’ve recorded about 37-38 more tracks I’d be comfortable releasing. More Cordectomy, more Suntorn, and more Malodorous!!

MB: Seeing how you’re in control of your own musical destiny, do you have any advice for people out there who want to try their hand at creating music on their own?

MO: I would usually smoke some herb, program a drum track from off the top of my head, and just start playing guitar. If I like the riff, I record it, then add three more tracks. Just keep doing it, even if you think it’s not the greatest of your ability, keep it, get the idea out. You could also potentially change it later on, enhance it. It might seem like a chore, but once you get into it, it’s hard to stop.

MB: How may people contact you about anything related to your musical endeavors, such as live shows, interviews, and maybe musical position inquiries?

MO: Please, reach me by e-mail, [email protected]. I’m looking for all of the above!

MB: Mike, I really appreciate you taking the time to speak with us and giving our readers something to enjoy.

MO: Thank you!! I appreciate the opportunity, I’d like to thank all my fans for checking this out and expect big things in 2012!!

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Even since this interview was conducted, Mike has been hard at work as has put out a brand new 7-track EP for Splattered Entrails,  so go there and buy it for only $5.  That means you’re only paying 71 cents for each song, and it’s well worth it since the music is really, really good.  Not only that, but Mike has also released a brand new teaser trailer for 2012, so go check it out.  I am definitely looking forward to what else Mike O’Hara has in store for us in this new year.

We here at Metal Blast would really like to thank Mike O’Hara again for taking the time to speak with us.