May 10, 2024

Two weeks ago, death metal veterans Deicide released their new album Banished By Sin, which happens to be one of the best in their career. That was a good opportunity to reach out to their legendary drummer and a founding member Steve Asheim, who told us how it all started nearly four decades ago and how you warm up to endure a 90-minutes set of extreme drumming.

Hello, Steve. You’ve been in Deicide and Amon before that, since the very beginning, 37 years ago. Tell us something about how it all started. What were the very early days of Amon like?

-Thanks for calling, buddy, I appreciate it! Like you say, 37 years is no small amount of time, haha. It’s really amazing that we’re still here doing that. So, in 1986-87 I was in a cover band, called Carnage, with the Hoffman brothers on guitars and two other guys called Rod and Andy. In the beginning of 87 we stopped rehearsing regularly, and we were not even doing gigs by then. I stuck around practicing with the Hoffman brothers, in one the bedrooms in their house and around that time we met Glen through an ad in the local music paper. Glen joined us just in time to work with us on our first three-song demo, which was Sacrificial Suicide, Oblivious To Evil and maybe one other song which we didn’t have a title for yet. So when Glen came over, we showed him these three songs, he liked them and we moved over to Glen’s place and started demoing immediately. He started working on the lyrics, the armor and the image and we were like “Wow! We just need a few more songs to do a show with”. So we had more songs by the start of 1988 and we started doing shows around that time and there’s clips on the internet of us playing Sacrificial Suicide just around that time.

Thanks for these great memories you shared, Steve. The new Deicide album comes after the longest pause in the band history of almost 6 years. How did the pandemic influence the creation process for Banished By Sin?

-Well, it was obviously a bummer. We had a bunch of tour dates lined up for that year which were all cancelled. We used that time off to sort out some line-up changes we had to do and then we were actually one of the first bands to start touring again. That was even before we started work on the new album. Then the promoters wanted us to do a Legion anniversary set, so we had to get the right line-up to be able to pull that off. You know, people with a good ear to do that and of course to play it. So we spent a good amount of time, almost a year of completing the line-up. We already had 4 years that had passed with the pandemic, the line-up stuff and for completing the Legion tour. I usually like to put out an album every two or maximum three years. That’s acceptable but that’s what we were doing when we were young guys in our twenties and thirties. Most artists reduce the amount of albums they put out as they get older. Anyway, now that we’ve sorted all of that I hope we can get back to the two-three-year schedule.

We hope so too. As you mentioned, you have a new guitarist in the band. How did Taylor Nordberg become a part of the band?

-Well, we’ve noticed him while touring with The Absence a few years back. So Taylor and their drummer and sound man Jeramie Kling, they both live right around the corner near Glen, so they were close to each other and knew each other well. Taylor played through his phone the lead for Homage For Satan for us and that was it – he passed the first round and we asked if he was available, even if Chris Cannella, who was our guitarist at the time, is a great guy too. I think that was the right choice for us, with the Legion tour and the new album coming up. Taylor also plays in Inhuman Condition and he played double duty for them and us when they opened on our tour. So yeah, he is a great player and we are lucky to have him.

Steve, I was very impressed with the press release saying that all four band members have contributed equally with music for the new album. Is that something new for Deicide? I remember you did the lion’s share of composing in the previous albums. How was it in the nineties, for example?

-The first records and Legion were collaborative efforts by everybody in the band and then everybody just dropped off composing. First were the Hoffman brothers and then Glen was concentrating more on the lyrics. So, somebody had to write music for that band so that it survives, you know? And that was gonna be me, haha. I like this job too much to just let it go because there are people who can’t or don’t want to write riffs anymore. So I wrote the riffs for some of the albums to keep the band alive and it turned out some of the riffs were very good, haha. I am not happy to write all of it – it is much better for me when all of us are contributing like in this new album. This a lot of work for one artist. If I had to write all the lyrics too, forget about it. So I am happy now, because it was the same collaborative effort back when we did Legion. Now everyone writes as well and that makes the album more diverse and everybody shares opinion on the others’ material and thus makes it better.

The new music sounds very inspired and I think these are your best songs since The Stench Of Redemption. Did you have a different mindset this time? Did touring with the entire Legion setlist light a fire?

-This was a very challenging setlist to do and we learned the songs very well. So it surely inspired us in a way. Everyone just brought their best songs and then we crafted them together, we gave each other opinions on the songs until everyone felt comfortable with the final song. And even though there are four guys bringing in music, once the drums go on top, then in gets the Deicide sound. And especially when Glen’s vocals go on top, then it’s Deicide no matter who wrote it. So, as I said, these guys are great writers and on the album it really shows.

Your style of playing is very demanding and inimitable. How do you prepare before a live show?

-I warm up to a various degree, sometimes not too much. Twenty years ago I had an electronic kit which I set up everywhere and carried with me. Being in a pretty good shape I don’t need too much warm up right now. Nowadays I do 10-munutes of warm-up with my sticks, but I do a lot more stretching of my back and my hips, so I need a little more stretching time. And also, being a little older now, I have to make sure my heart rate is raised a bit before a show so it doesn’t get too fast from zero to sixty, so to say. I loosen my limbs a little bit to get the blood flowing through them, so it would not be a great shock to my body when I get up there. As far as playing, I never really had any problems like arm cramps or whatever. I just make sure my heart is ready to pump all of this blood everywhere through the show.

Thanks for sharing. I think this would be really interesting for your fellow drummers to read. What are the drummers that you admire most, not only in metal and why?

-Oh, early on I was a big fan of Buddy Rich, the jazz guy, who had a great technique and his stamina was incredible. Getting on into rock, I got into Queen and Kiss, so Roger Taylor and Peter Criss, I loved Clive Burr in Maiden. Priest were great early on. Their drummer Dave Holland was very good and heavy even if he wasn’t spectacular. He was very good and solid and played appropriately for the music and was a great inspiration…

…Sorry for interrupting you, but it is very interesting that you mention Dave Holland as an inspiration because there’s a great number of Priest fans who think Les Binks was much better.

-You know, the era when I discovered Priest was when they released British Steel and that album was huge in America. Then Screaming For Vengeance and Defenders Of The Faith came out and I was like “Wow, these are massively epic albums!”. They had a huge drum sound, just epic, nothing too flashy, but solid. This is probably due to the fact that these are the bands that I personally discovered the band with. The same goes for Maiden with Clive Burr. I love Nicko, he is a great drummer, but he has a different style. Clive’s style was a little more aggressive. Then of course there’s Metallica and Slayer. I love Lars and Dave Lombardo and I also love Gene Hoglan from Dark Angel. I also like Tommy Aldridge, Vinnie Appice – these are all super heavy drummers.

Fifteen years ago you and Kevin released two albums with Order Of Ennead. Do you plan to make another album with that band?

-Thanks for bringing that up. That was a fun time. Kevin is very creative and he has more material, I think five or six songs ready, but after the deal with Earache was over, nothing happened. We were going to do a 4 or 5 five song EP but it fell apart. So if there is an interest or an offer, we would certainly do something with these songs we already have, sure.

Do you follow the scene? Is there a new young band or a new album that has impressed you recently and you can recommend?

 -I follow it as far as the band we tour with. Like I mentioned earlier, Inhuman Condition are a great new band, with an old school death metal feel. They have Terry Butler in the band so you can’t get much more old school than that.

Thank you so much for answering our questions. Finally, Steve, what do you think are the three most important and influential albums in death metal?

-Wow! Obituary’s first record and our first record, as well. Altars Of Madness was a great record and I gotta put Scream Bloody Gore up there as well. Thank you very much. I appreciate your questions and what you said about the record in your review: 9,5 – that’s not bad, haha!

Banished By Sin by Deicide is out now via Reigning Phoenix Music and can be ordered form HERE