The Famine’s Nick Nowell: The Gun Shy Interview

The Famine

I think — by now — we can all agree that 2010 was a complete and utter dick of a year. I can’t think of a single one of my friends who had a good 2010, and the year wasn’t much better for Texan death metal outfit The Famine, who last February had their whole world go up in flames. Quite literally.

A month after singer Kris McCaddon bounced, leaving the band with no singer, then-bassist Nick Nowell tells Gun Shy Assassin he got a call from drummer Mark Garza, a noted prankster. “He told me the recording space burned down, and I was at work, and when he told me he needed me to drive down, I realized he wasn’t joking, and that’s terrifying because not only did we have all of our musical equipment but all of our recording equipment there…easily $100,000 worth of equipment.”

Nowell – who is now the band’s frontman, too — drove 45 minutes to the space, to find the remnants of the space, which had been gutted by a five-alarm fire. “They didn’t know that it was a recording studio so they busted in, hoses blazing, and what wasn’t burnt to a crisp was covered in melted napalm, because as soon as that sound-proofing and insulation catches flame, it just turns into molten goo that covers everything. What wasn’t covered in napalm was completely soaked. We lost a lot that day, including everything we had recorded and all of the recording equipment…everything that was in the control room.”

It was all gone. They salvaged some of the drums, but otherwise, it was gone. “You think, that will never happen to me, but it did happen to us,” Nowell explains to Gun Shy. “In a weird way, I feel like it made us stronger as a band, going through that. I’d much rather it be that than a van accident where someone is hurt or killed or something like that. It was just things.”

Things and work in the form of the band’s forthcoming album, which should have dropped last summer. But, the fire gutted the studio, and the recordings they had done were lost…hence the delay of The Architects of Guilt. The band — who had no insurance — managed to network a new recording space in time, and were forced to work overtime to re-record the new album. “I feel like we got a meaner, angrier record as a result of it,” Nick says with a laugh.

Indeed, they have; this new stuff sounds much different than their first album. I have heard The Famine’s new one, which drops February 15, and it is a hellion, rife with insane, sometimes Pantera-like guitars and devastating drum work. Pissed off, punishing, and vicious as all get out, The Architects of Guilt’s an early frontrunner for possible 2011 best-of contenders. But such talk is wildly premature. After many delays, the band started re-recording the disc in August, when they were supposed to be touring in support of the record — which was masterfully mixed by Jason Suecof.

“Cannibal Corpse didn’t put anything out, Morbid Angel didn’t put anything out, Deicide didn’t put anything out…it was not a great year,” says Nick, who just found out he’s distantly-related to the John Hancock. “I wanted to get in touch with my roots, so I called up some of the old fogies in my family, and yeah, I’m related to John Hancock on my mom’s side. It must explain why I’m such a patriot. I’m going to see if I can figure out a way to get free drinks out of it. Or some Taco Bell.”

Speaking of booze, it turns out Nick is a big bourbon and scotch fan. “That was my Christmas list this year…15-year single malt.. Man, with a little water? None of us are alcoholics, but being able to sit back and responsibly enjoy a glass of bourbon on the rocks…God, there’s nothing that puts a man more at peace in this world, as far as I’m concerned. And by the way, don’t be ashamed to drink Jim Beam. Jim Beam is delicious, and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.”

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