-- Growing Horns gets shredded! --

Stijn Daneels
Interview conducted and written by Stijn "Metal Shredder" Daneels.

In late 2017 I attended the inaugural Doomsday event (organized by my friends of Loose License) and the opening band that night was Growing Horns, whose groovy sludge and doom metal mix left a solid first impression on me. Since then, I’ve seen the band perform several times and I was becoming more and more impatient to get some recorded Growing Horns material in my hands, which eventually happened with their “Nobility of Pain” EP (our review: https://www.belgianmetalshredder.be/reviews/186).

And of course, getting Growing Horns shredded also had to be done! So during their EP release party at the Elpee Music Bar in Deinze (Saturday December 21, 2019) I got together with vocalist Dafus and bassist Wim to discuss the band’s origins, the making of their “Nobility of Pain” EP, their spot on the Alcatraz 2020 lineup and we talk about 1984 (the novel).

BMS: Hello guys! First off, I’m very happy to be here at your release party for your “The Nobility of Pain” EP! I’ve been following your band for a few years now and it has always been a blast to see you on stage! So tell me, how did Growing Horns come to be?
Dafus: Great to meet you again! Wim and I have been longtime friends and we always wanted to form a band by ourselves with a sound inspired by the American sludge metal band Crowbar. Eventually we got into contact through Didier via Facebook and he was interested in joining us. Didier also knew a guitarist and drummer to play along with us and so Growing Horns was formed around 2015! It was a pretty smooth formation, overall, especially since we all shared a huge mutual love for the sludge subgenre and especially for Crowbar.
BMS: Now let’s talk about the production of the “Nobility of Pain” EP.
Wim: Sure thing! The songs on the “Nobility of Pain” EP function as a best-of from all the songs we had written during Growing Horns’ first years. We specifically selected those five tracks because they complemented each other very well and provide an accurate representation of our sound and the atmosphere we want to evoke.

Dafus: The lyrics on the “Nobility of Pain” are inspired by the books I’ve read throughout the years and I’m also a very socially conscious person who strongly dislikes the worldwide rise of extremism and intolerance that’s becoming more and more common nowadays.

Wim: The making of the “Nobility of Pain” was a very natural process. We didn’t give ourselves a deadline to produce the EP and we took our time to work out the songs to their full potential before venturing into the studio to record.

Dafus: We had originally planned to record the EP in September 2018 and release it that same year. However, in July 2018 Nick, our drummer at the time, told us he couldn’t dedicate his time to Growing Horns anymore. We all respected his decision and so we went out to find a suitable replacement for him and thankfully Simon joined us and we had an instant musical and personal click with him. And then we finally entered the studio, produced the EP and the rest is history.
BMS: And overall I’ve had a lot of fun shredding through your EP. I’ve particularly enjoyed the heavy bass throughout the songs (which gives everything a very crunchy sound) and how Dafus hisses in the background. I’ve also noticed that while your songs have clear doom metal influences, you do keep your songs shorter and tighter compared to the usual doom metal stuff.
Dafus: Thanks for those kind, honest words! You know, I’m not a big fan of bands that put the vocals center-stage and just rely on some catchy lyrics. For me, a great band is a band that puts an equal emphasis on all parts of the sound. No matter if it’s the drums, bass, guitars or vocals. For me, the vocals are just an instrument like everything else within the band, nothing more and certainly nothing less.

BMS: I agree. And that’s what I’ve also noticed with Growing Horns. Your sound is very balanced.
Dafus: And that’s exactly what we’re aiming for! You know I believe that without that additional bass power Growing Horns would lose much of its unique feel and identity.
BMS: My personal stand-out track is the song “2084.” I love how the song starts off so dreary but eventually gets more intense and upbeat and how it finally cools off with that gentle piano tune. And I’m well aware that the song is inspired by George Orwell’s iconic novel “1984.” Isn’t it, Dafus?
Dafus: Your literary mind serves you well, my friend! I consider George Orwell to be one of the greatest writers of the past 200 years simply because how he used his books to warn society of the dystopian future it was heading towards. A dystopia where violence, hatred and false statements reign supreme and where normal citizens fight and hate each other while the rich and powerful remain in power. And that specific Orwellian theme is very prominent in the material we write but, like you said earlier, we not only want to make people aware of this dystopian danger but we also want to give hope that this dystopia can be destroyed if we work and respect each other.

Wim: Yeah! We consider ourselves a thinking man’s metal band. You can listen to our tunes and bang your head to it but you can also sit down and think about the messages we bring via the music we play.
BMS: Very inspiring! So, what are the future plans for Growing Horns?
Wim: While our EP has been well-received we’re already working hard on a successor, another EP which will continue the musical, thematic and artistic flow of the “Nobility of Pain.” A bit like the last two EPs from American metal super group Down (appropriately named Down IV – Part I and Down IV – Part II).
BMS: And now let’s talk about your inclusion on the Alcatraz 2020 lineup! Congratulations!
Dafus: Thank you! It’s a huge honor for us to play on the Morgue stage of Alcatraz. We’re huge fans of this initiative because it gives the more abstract metal bands a chance to shine on a major festival like Alcatraz. Some of the bands who had played on the Morgue stage last year recommended us to the Alcatraz personnel and we’re beyond grateful for their help!
BMS: Yeah! I admire such camaraderie!
Dafus: So do we! In fact, we’ve noticed that there’s a lot of collaboration within the Belgian metal scene and we’re more than willing to return any favors that we get.
BMS: What other activities do you guys do aside from Growing Horns?
Wim: I’m a full-time husband and father of two baby kids who fully support my musical endeavors.

Dafus: I’ve also got a lovely wife and four children. I’m also a huge music and literature lover (particularly books and novels which convey a message) and if I’m not standing on stage with Growing Horns I’m attending several gigs myself.
BMS: All right! I’m almost done with my shred here! Is there anything else you wish to add before I let you prepare for your show tonight?
Dafus: I’m beyond grateful for the large attendance that have showed up to enjoy our release party with us. From day one we’ve had a lot of fun with our Growing Horns project, but it’s even more fun when people enjoy your work just as much as you enjoy working on it.

Wim: It was great getting shredded by you, Stijn! Hope to see you and your fellow shredders on Alcatraz as well.