Interview: Kings Destroy’s Carl Porcaro on new album, High on Fire’s Grammy win, Motley Crüe biopic

Posted by on March 21, 2019

Kings Destroy’s new album Fantasma Nera via Svart Records has finally arrived earlier this month as it brought a brand new direction for the band (order here). The Brooklyn doom metal outfit recruited producer David Bottrill (Tool, King Crimson) to produce their overall fourth full-length as they changed their entire recording process. We recently spoke to guitarist Carl Porcaro to discuss more on the album, High on Fire’s Grammy win, biopics, and more.

In the press release you had mentioned you took a different approach recording Fantasma Nera, Can you elaborate on the process?

We’ve very much come out of the tradition of playing a lot of live shows and being a live band. Before this album, we approached the songwriting from the standpoint of playing the songs live. We would work everything out in a practice studio and work on all the parts and we would be able to play the songs live at a show before we even went into the studio. Before our second album (2013’s A Time of Hunting), we went on a European tour with a band Rosetta, and we played probably every song from our second album before we even went into the studio and recorded it. But this time around, we decided to take a little bit of a different approach because we were working with a different producer, and we wanted to try things differently. Instead of making it about being able to go employ these songs and have them all done out of the bag, we simply worked on the songs individually and played the demos back and forth and we never actually played the songs as a unit until we went in the studio with our producer, David Bottrill (Tool, King Crimson, Stone Sour).

At that point we fine-tuned them, moved the arrangements around a little bit, tweaked them, and went into record. It was really a case of the songs driving the process rather than being able to play the songs as a live band. After we did the record, that’s when we went to the studio and figured out how to play the songs as a unit. It yielded a process that was much more song-driven. We didn’t have to think about anything except the songs. And, we’re really happy with how it came out.

And, musically, how would you compare it to your prior efforts?

As stoner bands go, we’ve always kind of been on the melodic side. We’ve always had clean vocals, but we took that to a whole nother level on this record. There’s a lot of melody, and there’s a lot of harmony vocals. That’s the biggest thing that I would say, is that there was a lot more attention paid to the melodies and to the harmonies and to the structures. I’d say, doing this with David Bottrill yielded a record that’s a lot smoother. All of the records, especially our last record, had a very raw aggressive sound.

It’s a smoother, more layered sounding type of record. We put it like, we recorded the guitars in a different way, it’s a little bit more metal with maybe a little bit less punk rock than we had in some of our other records.

What are some of the lyrical themes of the album?

A song like “Fantasma Nera” is an exploration of everybody’s darker side and coming to terms and coming to accept and embrace that part of all of you. The dark part that everybody has inside them. A song like “Seven Billion Drones,” is really a song about isolation and hatred in the age of connectivity and the age of social media and its affect the psyche of people.

The song “Barbarossa” is really just an existential tale told through the eyes of a soldier in the Barbarossa campaign in the second World War.

These are great themes to have especially with what’s happening today on social media as well as accepting one’s dark side.


We all have our demons.

And some people run from them, and that’s natural. But sometimes you just have to look in the mirror and accept those parts of you. And learn how to deal with them however the best way is for you.

Do you have any other touring plans set for later in the year that you can reveal to us?

We absolutely can. First of all we’re playing the Maryland Doom fest and the New England Doom fest. We’re going to tour again in April, this time it’s with a band called, I loved this band forever but I still don’t know how to actually pronounce their name. I would say Ufomammut, an Italian band and they’re celebrating its 20th year as a band.

And we’re doing that tour in April and I’m really excited about that cause I’ve been listening to them for a long time.

I find it funny when you can love a band for such a long and have no clue how to pronounce their name.

Well, they’re an Italian band too. And like I know a little bit of Italian but that’s not a typical Italian word.

In your opinion, how do you think doom metal has changed over the years?

Well, that’s a good question. I mean, I would say two things. One, I wouldn’t say it’s gotten a lot bigger, but it’s gotten to be more popular. You know, in the early days of the genre or whatever you want to consider that in the late 90’s, or whether you want to go back farther, yeah some people can argue about that. But, the shows were pretty sparsely attended.

There’s a lot more people coming out now. Some of the bigger bands on the scene like Sleep and Yob are now playing to a lot of people.

I would say one is that more people coming to see the bands and I would say to some degree the style of music, the definition has broadened somewhat. Nowadays, so many bands can fall under that umbrella of doom from bands that are more aggressive, and screaming, and kind of death metal or hardcore type vocals to more melodic bands. You know, bands that have just crushing riffs, bands that are more spacey or spiritual sounding. So what people are into it, and it’s really in the music and the definition has broadened somewhat.

Definitely, and you know it’s funny how you say that doom has become more popular because High on Fire just won best metal performance for the Grammys.

Kudos! I love that, I’m so happy about that.

Did you ever expect a doom metal band would win a Grammy?

Absolutely not. Honestly, I really don’t pay much attention to the Grammys but when I heard that High on Fire won, I paid a lot of attention to that. And yes, there’s no way I ever thought any kind of doom band would win a Grammy. As I said, I usually don’t pay attention to the Grammys that much, but I think typically they nominate some real metal bands and some softer poppier metal band wins. But in this case, it’s a good one.

Yeah, it was definitely a great surprise. For fun what are your thoughts on biopics such as the upcoming Motley Crüe biopic, The Dirt?

You know, it’s become a thing, it’s become a genre of video, TV and movie entertainment and I gotta say, I love it. I mean I much rather watch a rock doc than probably most other things if it’s not some kind of like serial killer doc, it’s a rock doc for me. I’m all about it. It’s a shame I guess in some respects what people in bands gotta dump on each other, but it’s compelling. It’s compelling TV. And I can watch rock docs about music groups I’m not even into and I still find it compelling, so. Yeah, I’m all about it. I will probably watch the Motley Crüe one. When they’re dramatized and they have people playing the musicians they can get pretty lame but, for the most part I’m all for it.

I’m looking forward to it too. And my last question for you, is there anything else you want to add or say about Fantasma Nera?

Well, I’d just like to say that I hope everyone checks it out. It’s available everywhere that streams. You can listen to it for free and I hope everyone takes the time to do so cause there’s some really good songs on there and it’s a real different kind of sound for us. I’d like everybody to hear it.

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