Denver doom metal quartet, Khemmis, have accomplished a great deal in their time together. They released their first album, Absolution, only three years ago, and its follow-up, 2016’s Hunted saw them skyrocket in the scene, landing at #11 on Rolling Stone’s 20 Best Metal Albums of 2016 and taking out the top spot in Decibel Magazine’s Top 40 Albums of 2016. Not a band content with sitting around, they’re back in full force with their third record, Desolation, and they’re showing no signs of slowing down. I spoke to bassist Daniel Beiers about the upcoming release and their new single, Isolation.

“We started about five or six years ago. The history is kinda like any other band: Just meet a couple of people who are into the same kind of music, and say ‘I play drums,’ ‘I play guitar,’ ‘does anyone know anyone who can sing?’ You get four guys in a room and just start feeding off each other, and see if it clicks,” Beiers stated when asked about how the band came to be, “With us, it was pretty easy. Ben (Hutcherson, guitar, vocals) and Phil (Penderghast, vocals, guitar) actually went to school together. Ben and I met and really hit it off. The place that we met turned out to be the brewery our drummer is the head brewer at (Trve Brewing Company), and mutual friends connected us. I think the key to our band is that we’re all really different. We’re doing this because we like making music, but we’re more doing this because we like making music with each other.”

Earlier this year, Khemmis took part in the Decibel Magazine Tour, alongside Myrkur, Wolves In The Throne Room, and almighty Norwegian overlords, Enslaved. “I think what stood out was just the tremendous musicians that were on that tour. I mean, Enslaved are legends for a reason. Although, I think the thing that stood out the most was how friendly and down to earth and accepting everybody was on that tour,” he recalled, “You think guys like Enslaved, who’ve been doing it for over twenty years, might not be so welcoming to the new kids on the block, so to speak, but they were like our best friends. We played Yahtzee, we had beers together. We saw them at Roadburn this year and we hung out and had drinks together. They became friends and it was amazing to become friends with your idols, but it never felt like that. It never felt like they were above any of us. They were just regular guys and it was great.”

Isolation, the first single from the forthcoming record was released in April and has been gaining traction from fans the world over. On the feedback the band has received, Beiers revealed, “Some people are really stoked on the song. A lot of people got to hear us do the song live on the Decibel tour. Some people don’t like it. It’s definitely a departure for us stylistically. It’s not a very long song. It kinda gallops through to the end. Some people didn’t care for it and that’s ok. I think we understood that when we released it. I would just say to those people that I hope they don’t write us off because it’s different to anything we’ve done in the past. It’s probably the outlier on the album as well. It’s very difficult to account for people’s opinions and their emotional reactions to songs. Not to sound like a jerk, but we don’t really care. We like it.”

When asked about whether the rest of the record would be more true to form in comparison to previous releases, he replied, “I wouldn’t say that either. I also thought that Hunted was a huge departure from Absolution and a lot of people don’t see that, so maybe I’m not the best judge, but we definitely travelled some different roads of influence and style on Desolation.”

The video for Isolation has amassed over 40,000 views on YouTube since its launch, and is steadily climbing in anticipation of the album’s release. Cutting between live performance footage and another story, I was keen to learn about the background behind it. “We filmed it in Denver in different spots around town; nothing particularly luxurious. The live scenes were filmed at a local club that we like to play and we’ve played all our album release shows at. It’s a small club, and we love the owners and the people who work there, and they’re a part of our local music community, so we were really happy that they allowed us to do it there when they weren’t open,” he beamed, “The rest of the stuff was shot around the director’s house. I wasn’t there for most of that, so he took care of it. I think the story is really the director’s interpretation of the lyrics. There’s some loss, some rekindling, some feelings of isolation, and some magic and some scary sh*t. It’s interesting, because when he first pitched his idea to us, it was a little extreme for us, and so he really adapted well. And we didn’t have a lot of time, so when he had something together that seemed vaguely cohesive, we said ‘do it’. It’s a fun thing to watch and you can kind of make up the story lines for yourself if you want, and maybe figure out how it fits the lyrics, or maybe it doesn’t. I don’t know, it’s up to the viewer.”

Khemmis

In mid-2017, Khemmis signed with famed label, Nuclear Blast Records, ahead of putting the final touches on Desolation. The album is out on June 29 via a shared deal between Nuclear Blast and 20 Buck Spin, the label responsible for their previous two releases. “I can say that it was probably our most challenging for sure. We were not afraid to incorporate influences that we hadn’t explored so thoroughly before. It’s kinda just a reflection of what we were listening to as individuals and as a band,” Beiers shared, “Lyrically, it’s probably the bleakest album that we’ve done. When you’re part of the creative process, you view it much differently to a listener, but I think it’s a pretty unique piece of work, from both Khemmis and the overall spanning metal genre. But maybe not. A lot of people are probably gonna say it’s super derivative, but I like it and I think it’s cool. It’s different enough that some people who didn’t dig us before might find something that they like, and I think it’s similar enough – it’s still us – that people who like us will enjoy it. It was definitely a challenge to make and I’m looking forward to playing it live.”

Speaking of live shows, the band has lined up a limited run of dates to play the album in its entirety. On the plan to tour more extensively, Beiers stated, “That’s number one on our list of things to do, especially getting even further than we’ve been, which is basically eastern Germany. We’d love to do that. It’s difficult with a band our size. We’re not big enough to demand huge audiences at this point, so it’s difficult for us to justify getting over there. The dollars and cents need to work out. We’re hoping people overseas will be interested in seeing us and we’ll be able to put some shows together and get all over the world, and rock out with Australians and New Zealanders.”

Being with a label now like Nuclear Blast, their roster of artists is so extensive that putting Khemmis on a tour as a support act is upwardly more viable, which will hopefully mean that their international dream will come to fruition before too long. “That is our hope as well, sir!”

As a last note to Australia, Beiers had this to say: “Tell your local promoters you’d like to see us and hopefully, we’ll get some phone calls and can make it out to Australia, because we’d like to meet you and play some rock ‘n’ roll together.”

PLAYING ‘DESOLATION’ IN FULL AT:
June 29 – Echoplex, Los Angeles CA
July 1 – Reggies, Chicago IL
July 7 – HiDive, Denver CO

PRE-ORDER ‘DESOLATION’ HERE

a3666534889_10