After a well-distinguished career that started back in 2006, Whitechapel have continued their legacy with the release of their seventh album ‘The Valley’ on March 29th. This was Whitechapel’s first album since the departure of three-album veteran Ben Harclerode back in 2017, yet the band has showed no sign of slowing down!
Getting to speak with long-time third guitarist Zach Householder about the recent release, the first topic of conversation was about the excitement within the band surrounding March 29th and Householder quickly pointed out, “I think we were all more stoked for this album than any album previously! That’s not because we weren’t supportive of our other albums, but we all believe we really accomplished something with this album. We were really anxious to share it, so excited is a little bit of an understatement! Mind you it was also nerve-wracking, as you never know how people will take it… people are fickle, especially Metal fans.”
The three year span between ‘The Valley’ and ‘Mark of the Blade’ was the longest fans have ever waited for an album; Householder quipped how, “If outside sources had their way, I don’t think it would have happened the way it did,” before elaborating further:
“We pretty much said this time, ‘We know you want a schedule, but we’re not going to do that; we’re going to do it on our own time, as we’re tired of being rushed between albums.’ ‘Mark of the Blade’ was a good example of that, as whilst there is good material on there it is most definitely way too rushed! There were also a lot of factors on that record we weren’t too happy with, which is why we put our foot down and said, ‘Suck it up; you’ll get your product or you won’t.’ It most definitely paid off this time though! I mean, it isn’t like we were sitting around on our butts doing nothing… we were working as fast as we can. You can’t rush this stuff, especially at this point in our career, otherwise you just become quantity over quality and no one wants that.”
Touching further on how Whitechapel came to select the March 29th release date, Householder explained, “As far as when it actually came out, was just a ballpark figure; a good estimate is that we will be done at this point and then you have to be finished a good number of months before all the physical stuff gets taken care of. Once we started figuring it out, March 29th was a good finishing point for us as we knew we had a lot of time to make it work. Plus we already had a specific date in mind about part way through recording, so it was a good stepping stone to have in place and have a goal to be done by.”
With the previously mentioned departure of Harclerode back in 2017, rumours were circulating that Navene Koperweis was the man who sat behind the skins for ‘The Valley.’ When asked if these rumours were true Householder was quick to quip, “It isn’t a rumour and I don’t know why everyone thinks it is! We haven’t had a permanent drummer for almost two years now, since Ben Harclerode quit a while back, so yes Navene did drum for us. We had toured with his band Entheos a while back, plus we were always a big fan of his drumming and we all knew who he was. We just asked if he would be down to do it and he responded with, ‘Sure.’ The dude is a great guy and probably the best drummer I’ve ever worked with in the studio! He knows what he can do and what he is capable of, plus I honestly think he knew in his head that he would slay the stuff we do… and he did just that.”
As the topic of conversation moved towards the creation process of ‘The Valley’ and whether there were any hiccups, Householder stated how, “I wouldn’t say there were any hiccups, but we were having a few scheduling issues and getting those to work. I mean, it took us two and a half weeks to pick guitar tones! That wasn’t really a hiccup but it just took time. The worst part though was in the middle of recording during the summertime, as we had to do the first leg of the anniversary of ‘This is Exile’ tour; we had to put down what we were learning at the time, to re-learn the majority of that album that’d we rarely played live before! What can I say apart from it was a busy few months.”
Taking time to speak to Householder on a more personal level, the conversation moved onto his favourite track from ‘The Valley.’ Householder was quick to inform us, “It’s probably Doom Woods. I can’t really explain it, but it’s just a really eerie and emotional closer for the record. Plus I just really enjoyed creating that one! Occasionally you need to stop and think about a song, before forcing yourself to write it. This one just kinda fell out; it kept flowing, all the parts just came out and it was surprisingly easy to write! I didn’t have to stop and think about anything, as I just felt it on a different level.”
Drawing the interview to a close, the final topic was about a long overdue return to Australia, considering Whitechapel didn’t get to visit for ‘Mark of the Blade;’ Householder was quick to let me know, “The plan is to hopefully come back down this year during our upcoming winter, which is summer for you guys; the hardest thing about touring to Australia is the logistical aspect, as it’s quite expensive to just make the trip over! Plus the booking agent we used over there got caught up in the whole Soundwave ordeal, so whilst we have had to wait a little bit, we’ve got a good head on our shoulders logistically now and we’re definitely planning to come back for ‘The Valley!’”
IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY PURCHASED YOUR COPY OF ‘THE VALLEY’, YOU CAN DO SO HERE!