Thursday, 29 March 2012


Death Metal vocals were invented way back in 1983 in a band called Mantas, by a young drummer/vocalist with the name of Kam Lee. He is now considered the 'godfather' of Death Metal and has done vocals for many different bands of the genre. I spoke to him about his career to date...

Hi Kam, you don't really need too much of an introduction, but for our younger readers and those newer to Death Metal can you give us a brief introduction to who you are and what you do?

I'm just an old guy that started Death Metal vocals (growling) when no one else did it. I was in one of the very first Death Metal bands ever in the U.S, that band being Mantas/Death in 1983 through 1985, was in the band Massacre in 1985 through 1993 then took a 7 year break from doing it. I came back in the 2000's with a bunch of different projects but got most recognition from the band Denial Fiend which was between 2004 through 2008. I reformed Massacre for a tour in 2007 and 2008, then left that band to form Bone Gnawer. Later in 2009, I formed another band The Grotesquery (which is more or less my main band at the moment) and have done some others such as Broken Gravestones, Cryptidz, Grave Wax and The Skeletal. 
I'm hated by most 'trendy metallers'... you know the type - the ones who follow instead of lead themselves... and I'm 100% UNDERGROUND. 
However,  I'm NOT an elitist and I don't follow cliques or inner circles - I don't follow the rules... I don't kiss ass... and thus I'm an outcast even in the scene. 
I'm proud, and I have my integrity... and that is more important to me then being a comodity sell out opportunist or a "rock star". I hate pretentious ego-manical narcissistic types and sell out opportunist... and I feel that 80% of the current scene is over run with thee types. 
I can be very cynical at times, and have been known to be a bit of misogonist, but rather think of myself as a hedionist. I'm an athiest and an anarchist. Although, I consider myself a pretty easy going and a down to earth guy that treats everyone equally... no matter who... fans and friends alike... until someone stabs me in the back... then I'm the worst enemy you could have, because I DO NOT forgive easy. I can be rather frank and upfront... but I DO NOT bullshit, and I won't pretend to like something or someone just to appease others. I'm a 100% horror-nerd, game-geek, old school Death Metal fan, and a comic book-worm. I smoke a lot of cigarettes (which I know is bad for me... but that it's the only vice I have) and I like to eat sushi and drink Becks beer. That about sums it up I think. 

Over the years you have been in many bands starting with Mantas right up to your most recent efforts with The Skeletal and The Grotesquery. What have been your favourite moments in your career so far and why? 

It's hard to pin point a favorite moment. But I still have found memories of back in 1983 and 1984 playing in Mantas and Death, before all the bullshit... when it was just us three guys making and creating a new metal genre called death metal.

In the early 90's Death Metal exploded as a genre, especially with the Tampa scene but it quickly became saturated with countless copycat bands and many thought that Death Metal would die out but it kept on going. Today the genre is more saturated than ever but what do you think it is that has kept it going since 1983?

Too many bands today run trends and are just some corperate created comodity and they do flood and overflow the scene today. But the ones that do it for the 'passion' and not the 'fashion'... I say it is because it is music that is rooted in pure agressive nature. It's an outlet and a means for people to express themselves in a way that is primal that no other music can. It's not about the rythum of the heart beat... like that of dance music... you know 120 b.p.r.s, but rather it's an augmented sense of an adrenaline rush - and an endorphine rush. Sure it also has it's droning deeper heavy moments... like in Doom Metal. But death metal has a way to express feelings of dread, as well as frustration... anger, rage, excitment and fear. Lyrically it's a freedom to explore the darker side of humanity... the horror - the forbidden and the unknown. It's rooted in the most primal of all creatures existence, and that is in death itself. Only death is real.

Your lyrics are very horror based, and I know you are a huge horror movie fan. How did you get into the genre of horror, and what was the first horror movie you watched?

I always consider myself a horror fan first... a Death Metal vocalist second. I could give up the death metal thing, but never give up the horror! My first, introduction into horror was at age 6 - when I watched the original Dracula with Bela Logosi. 
I've been into horror - as long as I can remember... Halloween is my all time favourite day of the year... and I love reading all the classic horror novels. Esp. Lovecraft and Poe.

This is probably an impossible question to answer, but which Death Metal album has the most longevity for you and do you never tire of hearing?

Hellhammer - 'Apocalyptic Raids' - and nope... never tire of hearing it.

You are not only the godfather of the Death Metal style vocal, but you are also a talented artist. How long have you been into creating your own art for now?

I've done art on and off for more years then I've done music. I just never took it too serious levels. As for one reason... when I was younger... I never liked to stay still for too long. I always was active, and never wanted to be couped up someplace for too long. Now as I'm older... I don't want to be out amoungst people... so I find myself able to stay put long enough to do art.

The new album from The Grotesquery 'The Facts And Terrifying Testament Of Mason Hamilton; Tsathiggua Tales' is soon to be unleashed, what can we expect from you this time round? 


When you first started singing, there was no other vocalist in Metal that was doing anything on the same level as you, and many people consider you to be the true inventor of the Death Metal growl. How did you come to start doing your vocals in that signature style?

I just felt that what guys like Tom G. Warrior, Cronos, and even Quorthon where doing at the time... could be done even more extreme... more deeper... more primal. Like an animal growl - more or less. Back then... it was more common for 'screamers, and screetchy high pitch type vocals... the way Chuck and even Jeff Becara and Killjoy were doing. I wanted to be different then that. So I went deeper and more growling. 
I know today there are guys much deeper and much more gutteral then me... but back then... NO ONE was doing it. I was made fun of - laughed at... for doing it... even by fellow band members at the time... who would insist I not be so deep. 
But look at it now... it's "the norm" in Death Metal style vocals. So I think I knew what I was doing, and that it was the right way to go. 
But also now a days... it's common to be deep growling and incoherent. 
As you know... with me - I try to stay coherent... I enunciate. I think that is what makes me differ from most of the rest. 
I mean... I see no reason to 'show off' - but a lot of these vocalist do just that. They just try and be as deep and brutal as they can - for the sake of being 'gutteral'. And what is truelly sad... is they try and 'out do' one another... it's become a fucking pissing contest with their vocals... it's just competative jock mentality bullshit! 
Alot of them do it too with no sense of dimension to their voice... it's like one long elephant fart thru out the song... with no dynamics. And the pig squelling thing... fucking rubbish!

You have a radio show called 'From The Crypt' on Brutal Existence Radio every Saturday, can you tell us a bit about it and how it came about?

Fowler at B.E.R. had contacted me before about doing something. I've always been interested in doing some sort of radio show... you know for support of new demo bands, and just for fun in general. It took about a year to finally get organized, but once I started... I really enjoyed it. And still do.

I know you're a fan of Bolt Thrower, but what other UK bands are you into?

Carcass & Gorerotted are still two of my all time favs... but others like Benediction, early Napalm Death, early Cathedral, Anathema, My Dying Bride, and early Paradise Lost are some of my old school favorites as well.

I know this may be a touchy subject but what are your thoughts on Massacre reforming? I know you have had disagreements with certain members but I wondered how you feel about the band,their recent gigs and rumors of a new album? 

Let me sum it up in one word... BOLLOCKS!

In the photos of you in the 'From Beyond' Inlay (above), you are wearing a crucifix and in the credits you thank Jesus Christ. Were you once a Christian?

Actually it was NOT a crucifix... it was a celtic cross. Sorry, but no little Jesus was hanging from my neck. It was a celtic knotted cross... with a rose in the center... given to by me fiancee at the time. No it's Billy and Rick who are the big Christian believing - bible thumping - Jesus freaks. Even to this day I wager. Hell... Billy so much so that he thinks the world is coming to a Jesus rapture end and moved to Japan - and I guess he follows one of those idiot T.V. evangelist assholes or something. Rick is seventh day advetist... he's so proud of licking the sweat off of Jesus' balls he even posts it on his FB page... but a fucking hypocrite Christain at that he is... like all of them. Just a bunch of two-faced bastards that fuck over anyone... and everyone, but think because they bend their knee and pray to an invisible man in the sky - they got a place in heaven. FUCK THAT! If heaven does exist, and it has ass wipes like him in it... count me out!
Me... I don't believe in any god. Simple thing - I'm athiest now... BUT during that time in Massacre, I was more or less agnostic. One just doesn't become athiest over night... unless you're brought up that way. 
During the recording of 'From Beyond' I was engaged to marry but my fiancee at the time insisted that I convert to her belief system as she was Catholic. And well, if you know those damn Catholics, they get pretty insistent on the whole 'belief' thing, haha! 
Well I never did get married, and I NEVER did become a Christian.
As a matter of fact, that was a turning point in my own system of beliefs, as I began to do my own research into many different aspects of religion and theology.
I understand the reasons behind religion, why it was formed, its principle philosphy and its roots in basic morality. I most likely understand this aspect behind its creation more so then most believers do, but I don't follow any sort of belief system. 
My faith is in science, my philosphy is in proper ethics, and my belief in the simple fact that life is a complex combination of cells, and there is nothing after death.

You have worked with a lot of respected musicians over the years. The most recent as far as I know would be Rogga Johansson who you have worked with on Bone Gnawer and The Grotesquery. What has it been like working with him?

THE BEST! Honestly - Rogga has been the best musician I've had the pleasure of working with in years. I can not even recall the last time I was as excited to work with an individual on music. Although, working with Mark Riddick in Grave Wax is just as exciting. But truelly... Rogga is one of the best, and just a pure great death metal musician. We share alot of the same interest... within music as well as outside of music, and that helps a lot with understanding and respecting one another. Something I never got in Massacre.

You started a project called My Black Omen, and did a cover of 'Dawn Of Eternity' . Is the band now put to rest or will it continue in the future? 

Not sure what is happening with My Black Omen... That was something that guitarist Rossferatu organised. It's been through delays and changes but I'm still up for doing it - if it ever comes together.

What was the first Metal album you heard, and can you remember how old you were at the time? 

Haha! This is a funny one... because I HATED Metal at first, I was NOT into it at all until Rick started getting me to listen to it. I was a Punk... a skater... and my favorite bands were The Misfits, Samhain, The Plasmatics, and 45 Grave.
The first Metal I heard was Judas Priest and Ozzy... and I thought it was pure shit! I'm still NOT at all a fan of their stuff... I can respect it, but I don't like it. I do like older Iron Maiden, even older Black Sabbath and some Motorhead, but most older Metal didn't do it for me. Not until the early Death-Thrash bands out of Germany... like when Destruction, Sodom and Kreator came about... but it was really Hellhammer and Venom that changed all that. That was when I was more open to like Metal.

Are you pleased with the reception that the debut Grotesquery LP got, and what made you decide on the concept for that album?

Yes... the reviews for the most part were really great. Even better than that of Bone Gnawer. I think with Bone Gnawer most people didn't get the 'camp humor' behind the band, as well as the simplicity of the song writting. It was meant to be catchy and repeatative on purpose. It's the punker coming out of me I guess... but The Grotesquery seemed to be more on a serious level. Although it's all based on fiction and my love of Lovecraft and Poe... it seemed to get more a positive response because of the material. The music was written with a more serious and darker tone - and the lyrics just formed around the concept and storyline. 
The concept was based on a story I had been working on for a few years... but I decided it would work best for the band... to be able to build an entire album around a concept. For the album to be more then just music, I wanted to tell a horror story, and make it feel like a book or horror film.

Merchandise such as t shirts for most of your bands seems to be fairly few and far between. Is this a specific choice of yours or are there other reasons?

Mainly finacial reasons, that and when we did do shirts no one bought them  (such as Bone Gnawer)  and many were given away or traded instead of purchased. I lost money and went into the hole. 
Shirts are good for a band that tours because honestly, merchandise on the road is a bands 'bread and butter' on the road,  but for recording projects such as I've been doing these past few years it's really not something economical smart to invest into. You end up sitting on more shirts then you actually sell  as most places ask you to order large sums of them. Otherwise it costs more to do a low run. It's just not cost efficient these days to do merch.

You recently appeared in a horror movie called 'Deep Seeded'. Can you tell us how this happened, and what the film is about?

Ok - it's a horror film, but more like a torture porn flick... basically I play a serial killer who takes revenge on some girls whose mothers sliced the face of my character when he was a teenager. I follow them around, capture them, and torture them. Pretty basic plot... nothing mind blowing... it's just a basic 'grindhouse' type 1970's style sleaze fest, nothing more. 
I got the role... when I auditioned for the part really. The fx people that did the gore effects... I knew, and they set me up with the director. the director had seen my Horror Punk band Cryptidz play a few times... so he knew me from there, but didn't know if I could act. I did the audition and got the part. 

What can we expect from you musically over the next couple of years?

I want to finish up The Grotesquery with maybe two more full albums, to finish up the concept story line pretty much. I have the band Grave Wax which I'm currently working on a new full length album now. I would like to do another Bone Gnawer - to do it for fun. Broken Gravestones would be great to do a full length, but who knows if it'll happen... that up to Noel really. 
The Skeletal is done. Nothing more with that band, and to tell you the honest truth that was the entire line up for The Grotesquery that did that album so in a sense you could call that an album of The Grotesquery by a differnt name. My Black Omen... who knows? I'm really not behind it enough to push forward with it,  if it happens it happens. If not,'s cool. 
I did want to start my own Funeral Doom band Akatharta, but I'm going to wait until the rest of this stuff comes to completion. Who knows, maybe I'll do Akatharta when I'm 50 - to finally close the book. Once I'm five ohh I plan to retire from this Death Metal thing anyways. 

Any last words?

Thanks for the support!

Kam thanks for the nice long, detailed interview. Make sure you check out all of Kam Lee's current projects and show him some well-deserved support; The Grotesquery, Bone Gnawer, The Skeletal, My Black Omen,  Cryptidz, and Grave Wax

1 comment:

  1. Kam Lee is such a cool dude, I love early Massacre recordings, I still remember that From Beyond was one of the most important tapes me and my friends have been listening to when we were in school around 1993-93. Good times. Nowadays I can say I also love The Grotesquery, which is King Diamond of death metal to me, great story and concept and killer music - great vinyl!!! Bone Gnawer is also a crusher.