Checking in on the human condition isn’t exactly a chipper task these days. Granted, things haven’t been going smoothly in the world for quite some time, but lately it feels like everything has been kicked into overdrive and the fire is getting out of control. We could dive into examples galore but that’s a little heavy for a Tuesday afternoon, and I’m sure you don’t need a list of life’s myriad horrors when they’re all around you. That being said, it can be nice to commiserate with others who also have the same fears and concerns about society and its tenuous future.
Since forming in 2017, Portland’s Tithe has been shining a light on the stark realism behind life in a world ravaged by greed and the suffering that it brings. The band’s sound takes influence from all over the metal spectrum while the lyrics lay bare the problems inherent with living with the human race. Earlier this year, the group released its sophomore album, Inverse Rapture, which is another ferocious blast of extremity that is not for the faint of heart. I recently caught up with guitarist/vocalist Matt Eiseman to talk about Inverse Rapture and what the future holds for Tithe.
First off, how did Tithe get started? What made you guys want to start this kind of band together?
Matt: I started Tithe when I moved back to Oregon from Oakland, CA. Kevin [Swartz, drums] and I had been doing a grind band in Oakland called Infinite Waste. I wanted to start a band that was less spazzy and where every riff was a hook. Kevin relocated to the Northwest around the same time that I did and we formed Tithe.
What got you into extreme metal in the first place and who are some of the bigger influences for this particular band?
Matt: I have always been into extreme forms of music since I first heard it as a kid. I’m 48 years old now so there have been lots of different influences over the years. I listen to all styles of music and am continually seeking and listening to new bands. The list of influences would be too long but here are a few: Insect Warfare, Terrorizer, Disrupt, Nomeansno, Minor Threat, Gorgasm, Inquisition, Deathspell Omega, Pyaemia, Verberis, Craft, Slayer, Immolation, Deeds Of Flesh, The Ruins Of Beverast, Blut Aus Nord, Inveracity, Black Sabbath, Captain Beyond, E-40, Griselda.
What makes you guys all work so well together as a band and how do you keep a healthy band dynamic?
Matt: I’ve been playing with Kevin for many years and have done a few bands with him. We are able to write stuff with unspoken communication. Alex [Huddleston] is a great bassist and approaches his parts like a true bassist. Everyone in the band is responsible, has jobs, and treats each other with mutual respect. All of the above are hard to come by when seeking musicians to play with. I couldn’t ask for better bandmates.
What’s your process like for writing the music side of things? Has that changed at all over the years?
Matt: I find a riff that I feel is worthy of building a song around and then fixate on it like a madman for days or weeks until the song is completed. I usually write the lyrics once the song is structured to our liking. I dropped acid the other day and came up with the latest song we are working on. Once we have some riffs to work with we get together and see what works and what doesn’t. The most important part of song writing is to be able to throw stuff away that you have been working on if it isn’t good enough to make the cut. We throw away as many songs as we write sometimes.
How do you write the lyrics for the band? What do you turn to for inspiration for the songs?
Matt: I write about my life experiences or my thoughts and observations about what is happening around me. My inspiration is a general disgust and disappointment in the human race. Although on an individual level there are many amazing and wonderful people as a whole, people are terrible, selfish, petty, parasitic, cannibals that can’t rise above their animalistic nature. The macro and microcosm of greed will be our undoing.
The debut, Penance, is a killer first record! How did getting to record that one come about and what did you learn from the process that you used on future recordings?
Matt: Every song I write is a cathartic release. The songs on Penance were reflections of stuff I was going through at the time as well as stories from my past. “Lullaby,” for instance, was about me being institutionalized when I was a kid and having nightmares every night to this day. We really like the way Penance came out but we wanted to make some changes for our next album that became Inverse Rapture. We decided not to add any samples to Inverse Rapture. I also wanted to have less of a punk influence and write more blackened death riffs. I also changed the tuning, guitars, and amps.
The follow-up, Inverse Rapture, is a really solid follow-up that builds nicely off that debut. What was the recording/writing process like for this one? Was it an easier record than the debut? How happy were you guys with the final product?
Matt: We practice everyday for a couple of weeks before recording. By the time we enter the studio we are a well oiled machine. We were able to bang out the album in three days. Same for Penance. We are happy with how it came out.
I wanted to ask about a few songs on that album to get the musical/lyrical origin of them. What’s the story behind “Anthropogenic Annihilation?”
Matt: We will be the cause of our own extinction due to our inherent nature.
How about the origin of the “Demon?”
Matt: Loosely based on Richard Ramirez.
What about the story behind “Parasite?”
Matt: Human Nature. Satan is man. Man is Satan.
How about the story behind “Luciferian Pathways of the Forked Tongue?” I love that title too!
Matt: Religious leaders grifting the masses for profit while dividing and conquering their conscience.
What’s your local scene like up there in Portland? Is there a pretty active scene and do you feel it has had an effect on the band in any way?
Matt: The music scene in Portland is great! There are so many awesome bands here. We are lucky to live in a place with such a vibrant scene.
Lastly, what’s next for Tithe? What are your goals for the future of the band?
Matt: We have an east coast tour in the fall and will be playing a fest in Mexico later this year. We are looking toward a EU tour in the spring of 2024. We have a handful of shows booked on the west coast as well. Other than that we are going to finish writing our next album and will record that by the end of the year. Our goals for the band are to keep moving forward, write better songs than our last ones, and to play bigger and better shows!
Photo at top: Inverse Rapture album cover.