Namtar is a death/black metal band out of Phila, PA and band member Namtar does most of the work in his band and he also runs a record label as well and you’ll read in the interview:
Where were you born and where did you grow up?
I go by my band name Namtar and I grew up in Philadelphia. PA.
What sort of kid were you growing up?
Always stuck to my ways, I was a true metal head at heart. Very rebellious and did pretty much whatever I wanted. I came from a big family I have 8 brothers between my mom and dad. So i fought a lot at home and on the streets. never followed anyone’s rules. Moved into my own house at 15 years old and Wound up being a father at 16 years old.
When did you start to get the idea to learn to play guitar? Was that your first choice of musical instrument?
On my 12th birthday I got a guitar and 6 months of guitar lessons payed for in advance. After 6 months of playing I passed my brothers guitar skills who was playing for 7 years before me and I continued taking lessons for almost 3 years. I learned musical theory and everything. I practiced 6 to 8 hours a day for years.
When did the metal bug hit you? What were some of the early bands that you liked? What was the first metal concert that you went too?
I started listening to metal at about 5 years old my older brothers were into all metal and old hardcore punk. First band were probably slayer, Metallica, Celtic frost, iron maiden, black Sabbath, Venom. I believe the first show I ever saw was Judas Priest, Megadeth and Testament. I didn’t really start going to shows until around 1989.
When the metal bug hit you, did you seek out more and more bands. Did you find out about tape trading, fanzines, etc to find out about new bands?
Yes, very much so, I started trying to find the most extreme metal I could picked up all kinds of magazines and when I got to high school I was in my glory because I went from having just a few friends into metal to hundreds. So I found death metal & black metal and started writing my own songs and playing with many different musicians. So I found a lot of new music through friends and started going to a lot of shows which I found a lot of great bands that way also.
What clubs were you going too? Did you get to go to G. Willikers, The Empire, Bonnie's, Cell Block, and even North Jersey and New York to The Ritz, or Lamour's?
I unfortunately was a little younger then, a lot of my friends I was born in 77, so I missed all the great early shows at the Cell Block and G Willikers, but I saw some really great shows at the Trocadero in Phila, PA and of course in my later years I went to Lamours, CBGB’S and all of Kyle Powell's great festivals in North Jersey which I played at frequently. But I would say I frequented the Trocadero the most in my early years.
With you going to shows now and you had a guitar and everything, when did you decide to want to form or join a band?
I played with a lot of musicians at an early age that never really went anywhere and in about 1994 I started the idea of Namtaru with original singer of Namtaru Tim"AZAEL" Day R.I.P. and everything happened very fast I wrote a bunch of songs which are all the songs on the plagues of Namtar release. I remember we went and picked up an issue of Pit Magazine and saw Mezzadurus from Goreaphobia and Bloodstorm with Absu. The very next day we went to a party in Phila, PA and all of the Bloodstorm guys were there. I talked to teloc coraxo and mezzadurus all night and teloc (frank gamble) agreed to do the drums for Namtaru. First practice Frank brings John Litchko (shaitan)and I brought my good friend and great bassist in Chuck Sherwood (BATRAAL) now with Incantation and that’s when it all fell into place we got a bunch of Namtaru songs down which originally were all my writings and we started doing Perverseraph also which originally were John's writings and shortly after I was playing in Bloodstorm also. I think I was about 17 or 18 years old when all of this took place. So I felt like it was destiny to be in all these great bands at such a young age.
What was your experience like in Bloodstorm? How long were you in the band? Did you play on any of their recordings or many live shows?
My days with Bloodstorm were awesome. I started out as a session member somewhere around 1996 or 1997. My first show with them was the Milwaukee Metalfest, which was huge for me at the time, it was right before the release of The Atlantean Wardragon album. I was only a session member for maybe less than a year and Chris asked me to become a permanent member. I played on the Pestilence from the Dragonstar album which was the first album with guitar solos and the Ancient Wraith Of Ku album, also did the tribute to Venom album where we did the song “Satanichist” and a few other and the tribute to us black metal bands CD I can’t recall the title at moment and did a split vinyl with a band called Moria. I played so many shows and did quite a few awesome tours I couldn’t count if I tried. I departed the band in either 2003 or 2004 it was right before the release of the “Sirian Storm” album.
How did the idea come about for Namtaru come about?
I started dabbling in the OCCULT as a young teen. Doing rituals, spells, and conjuring’s. Playing with things I didn't fully understand back then. Let’s just say I conjured an entity who gave me a name. I can't really say a lot more about it for my own reasons. But this is how I came up with the band’s name. I still dabble in the occult to this day.
How long was the band together before the 1997 EP release of "The Plagues of Namtar"? What was the line-up of the band and where did you record it at?
We were together for about 2 years before we did the EP. We recorded it at Vortex studios (i know you know that place well) (yup my brother’s studio-cf) in Lindenwold, NJ in 1996 actually with original singer AZAEL who has now passed away about 10 years ago. But AZAEL left the band so we went back to the studio before the release and rerecorded the vocal tracks and I took over on lead vocals and lead guitar, John Litchko (Shaitan) was backing vocals and lead guitar, Frank Gamble (Teloc Coraxo) on drums and Chuck Sherwood (Batraal) on bass guitar. We actually released this and Perverseraph- Savage Messiah in the same year 1997 with the same line-up and both releases were on Gothic Records. A few years later which was 1999, Gothic Records changed into WW3 records and asked if they could release both e.p.'s together as a split album so that's where the 1999 version came in. That was the Namtaru/ Perverseraph split album
How was it working with Gothic Records? Any idea on actual sales? Now Gothic Records is no more so is this release actually still for sale or has it been re-released?
Gothic Records was very good to us we didn't make a million-dollar deal or anything, but they kept their word on everything. They printed batches of 5,000 if I remember correctly and I believe it was more than once. And I did have the EP r-released in 2019 by my friend Dave from Anti/All/Forever Records and actually got in touch with the former owner of Gothic Records this month and he still had copies of our original Namtaru and Perverseraph EP's sitting around, which are now in my possession. So at this point you can buy it through anti/all/forever re-released or through my label Plague Demon Records which will be the 1997 original CD for a limited time anyway. And once they are gone I am thinking about re-releasing it through my label with both versions the one with me singing on it and the original with AZAEL singing on it with a intro that was cut out of the CD. And maybe some other old 4 track recordings that we did as a bonus. But you can obtain both the original and the rerelease through Plaguedemonrecords.bandcamp.com
How was the response to these releases on Gothic at the time since death metal was very popular at the time? Did you get to play many live shows or even do any sort of mini tours at the time?
The response was great we did sell a lot of CD’s at the time everyone I knew almost in the scene had a copy I believe they wound up printing 10 to 15 thousand in total. We did play a lot of shows as Namtaru and Perverseraph, but I was also doing Bloodstorm at the same time. So I would say I was doing more Bloodstorm shows then anything at the time. There were some really great Namtaru gigs though, and Perverseraph also. And being that we were all sharing the same members I think around 2003 or so we decided to just do everything under 1 name when it came to Namtaru and Perverseraph. So after discussing it I figured I would be the bigger person and put the Namtaru name on hold. So we began doing all writings as Perverseraph and playing all shows as Perverseraph even though we would play songs from both bands live. So where originally Namtaru was just my writings and Perverseraph were John’s. We started doing all writing under the name Perverseraph. Until I decided to bring Namtaru back in 2018.
Was there any one decision that led to you bringing the band back? Who did you decide was going to be in the band when you semi reformed it?
Well we kind of all parted ways around 2007- 2008. I was already out of Bloodstorm and Perverseraph was at its peak. But some really bad decisions and rough roads in life pulled us all in different directions. I kind of had a lot on my shoulders at the time and disappeared from the scene for a while. I moved away from Philadelphia for a few years I didn't want to really talk to anyone or see anyone I was tired of the egos and stupidity of others. So I went off the map for quite a few years. I never stopped writing music I continued the whole time I was just writing by myself. So I got the idea to go back to the beginning and at first it was me and our new drummer, but he was so swamped with work he had to pause for a while so I was originally going to do it by myself as a 1 man band. Then i got a message from Afterworld records asking if Namtaru would like to do a 7 inch which kind of gave me that push back into the scene that I needed. So before I went on by myself I decided to give John a call. I always played well with John so I was hoping he would say yes to doing the release, so I gave him a call and he was in. Next I tried to get in touch with Chuck and see if he would be interested in rejoining but I couldn't reach him so I decided to use my good friend Kali Ma on bass, he did a lot of artwork for us over the years such as Bloodstorm’s “Pestilence from the Dragonstar album cover, and Sirian Storm, Perverseraph t-shirt the crawling chaos that calls beyond the stars and now Namtaru “Ancient Serpent” 7 inch cover. He's a great musician he just never got the chance to record with anyone. And Teloc Coraxo was long out of the scene we actually would still jam together on occasion, but he refuses to play metal anymore. And unfortunately my new drummer was still not ready so me and John did the drums ourselves for that recording. But now i have a full time drummer and hopefully the line-up stays as is. I know John is very busy with work and Necrotion so we'll see if he returns for the next one which is being written now we're a little more then halfway done writing Namtaru's first full length.
The latest release, how has the response to it been overall? Have you, as a band played any live shows with any type of line-up? If not do you plan on it?
The new release the Ancient Serpent 7 inch has been doing great. I sold about 200 or more copies so far and you can also hear it on bandcamp, spotify, you tube, I tunes and all that good stuff. We have not played out yet but we plan on it. We have a show lined up in October (Vengeance Fest 5 and we're actually doing a Namtaru and Perverseraph set for that one and we're doing it under the name Ancient Messiah, Ancient coming from Namtaru's Ancient Serpent and Messiah coming from Perverseraph's Savage Messiah. We may switch up some band members throughout the set and after that we plan on doing many shows, for now I’m just working on the new album and the record label. And originally the 7 inch was released on Afterworld Records, but being that they are done, it is now a Plague Demon Records release.
Speaking of record labels, tell me a bit about this record label you are doing at the moment. How did you get the idea to start this up? How has it been doing for you so far?
Well I was planning it for quite some time, maybe a year before it actually took off. But I was setting up bands for release for about a year and I was waiting to kick it off because I had the 7 inch coming out on Afterworld, so to make a long story short I waited an entire year for the 7 inch to come out and I didn’t want the label to think I was stepping on their toes or anything like that by starting a label while they were doing our release so I held off on putting anything out until after my 7 inch came. So on December 13th it finally comes out and a week after release Afterworld goes down by his own doing. I would rather not get into what happened but I don't stand behind what he did in any way. But he literally buried himself in 1 night and I waited a year to do my own thing for that to happen. So in January I started the label Plague Demon Records. In the first 2 months of being a label I released ALVAREZ-HADAD from Austria, BLASPHERION- PATH OF FIRE from Chattanooga ,TN , DECEIVERION- The Separation from Philadelphia, PA, CROOKED HORNS- The Metamorphosis from Sweden, Ritual Possession- Solitude also from Chattanooga TN and of course I have NAMTARU on the label now also as we own all the 7 inches that were made by Afterworld. He did send them over to me as an apology for embarrassing us. And I am currently distributing The Primitive and now the original 1997 CDs for NAMTARU and PERVERSERAPH. I have a long list of releases coming up and I’m only doing true old-school black and death metal bands. We have promotion all over the world and I’m just building the label up more and more every day. We have done some merch, we got Namtaru, PLAGUE DEMON RECORDS and crooked horns t-shirts. PDR stickers. Getting as much done for my bands as I possibly can also we made a whole black and white series of merchandise for each band. I have another at least 5 releases coming in the next month or so and I would say were doing pretty damn good for a label that’s only 3 months old. I ain't going to stop I’m just going to keep getting more and more of the best black and death metal bands that I can find. But we do have a Facebook page and Instagram for PLAGUE DEMON RECORDS and you can purchase our merch at Plaguedemonrecords.bandcamp.com and we are also currently working with THE METAL LAB from the UK doing things on the USA side for them.
You can buy the black and white series of our merch here https://teespring.com/stores/plague-demon-records
Now to get off the band for a second, with the label, how did you come up with the name?
Namtar is the demon/entity of plague and death. So plague demon just came right to me. It was fitting
When you are thinking of signing a band and what not, what do you listen for in a band's music?
Originality, but also with that old school black/ death sound (sick and raw). If I wouldn't buy your album then I won’t take you. But I have been finding a lot of very talented bands. I also have a great group of guys working on the label with me so if they like something and I don’t and they want to release it I will also allow that but we all usually see eye to eye. I have Kali ma and Ben Fahy (namtaru's bassist and drummer) working with me, also my phenomenal graphic artist who does my adds and most of our album covers Keith Simpson from the UK and Peter Bohm from ALVAREZ also working on the European and promotion side of things over in Europe and will be opening the P.D.R. Europe office very soon. But as for what I’m looking for, the sickest shit I can find not overproduced I hate that everyone thinks because you can produce the hell out of recordings that you must, some of my favorite albums have shit production hahaha but that’s what made it great, and I don’t mean shit as to where you can't hear what’s going on I mean just that raw dirty metal sound.
But my whole goal in all of this is to make metal mighty again, bring back the old days when metal was ferocious and all this sissy bullshit where you have to watch what you say and how you say it or you'll have your shows closed down or pussies like Antifa at your shows trying to sabotage your bands. I say bring it, because we are. We're coming at you fast and with all the might of true metal tyranny!!!!
Do you hope to release some full length's' in the future with some of these bands your signing or have they already or will you be shortly?
I have done all full length releases so far the only one that’s not an actual album is the Blaspherion- Path of Fire. That’s many demos spanning from 2001 to 2019. But 12 tracks all with very different sounds and mixes the rest are all full length albums and there’s many more coming. I have a lot sitting here right now, at first I was doing a release every week or 2 but I slowed it down a little for the time being. But yeah I have about 5 or 6 sitting in my computer at home right now that will all be coming very soon and also I’m doing Namtaru's first full length album. It’s about halfway written and should be done and recorded in the next few months. But I’m bringing a lot of great bands from all over the world to you over the next few months and I plan on keeping them coming. I listen to every band that sends me requests or messages. If you send it, I will listen and if I like it I'll get ahold of you quickly.
Well I look forward to you sending me your stuff to review and now back to the band. How do you currently come up with a song idea? Is it mostly you doing all the work or do the other members chip in too? Where is the craziest place you had a song idea for? On average how long does it take for a song to come together?
Everything will be on its way to you tomorrow and Well for Namtaru I do all the writing. Most of my lyrics come from occult teachings and reading. I’m very into H.P. Lovecraft so some of my lyrics come from his writings, also ancient sumerian and Mesopotamian texts, the ancient alien theories, and the downfall of all religions. And lately I have just been bringing all new material to the table even though there’s probably 50 songs I could go back to and release I am on an incredible writing streak. I write the riffs and then I bring them to my drummer tell him what I hear in my head and let him do his thing from there, then I teach everyone else the songs once me and the drummer get it down and truthfully I guess the craziest place I've had a song idea for is probably the bathroom. I constantly have music running through my head and I’m always arranging and rearranging songs and riffs in my head. Lyrics are pretty easy for me also as I have a book of writings that goes all the way back to 1995. Same book as always full of lyrics that probably has about 200 songs worth of lyrics in it. On average it takes about 2 practices with the drummer to get the main structure down, then I show the other guys. I expect to be recording this full length in the next month or so.
And if someone throws out a riff or idea i am always open for changes or riffs that fit a song or even changing some lyrics if they find something better or more fitting. But they usually leave everything as is.
For someone who has not heard the band, what would you tell them?
We are old-school black/death metal born of the ancient ones. With a lot of great history and a fuckload of great songs coming your way. We're here to dominate, destroy, kill, crush, annihilate, bring vengeance, bring death and declare war on all that is false and weak. If you don’t like us we don't care go fuck yourself and if you support us HAIL to all you mighty metal tyrants out there. We are coming with fury and wrath. We are the true plague demons. We are NAMTARU!!!!!
When can we expect new material to be released?
I would say around June or July for the full length and you will be hearing a few other songs on a split album that I have coming up also on PLAGUE DEMON RECORDS. So expect quite a bit from us this year.
Does the band wear corpse paint? If so why?
These days we shall see when we start playing out again in October, but yes we always wore corpse paint and it’s like taking on another form, becoming your other self and for me personally it was a transformation into the plague demon. Will we wear it when we start playing out again come and see for yourselves when the shows come your way.
Please plug any websites or social media you have.
Horns up for the interview. Any last words to wrap this up?
Thank you Chris for the interview and a huge thanks to all the metal motherfuckers who have supported us in all of our bands over the years, and all who have supported us on our label. We're going to keep bringing you the most crushing releases we can get our hands on. Also thank you to all my brothers in Namtaru my awesome wife Josephine, and all my bands on the label. Hail to all of you!!!!
Interview by Chris Forbes