North Carolina’s technical, thrashy, death metal quintet Wretched has slowly been pushing their way up through the underground scene since 2005. Known for tight riffs, methodical solos and instrumental tracks weaved into each album, Wretched’s latest release Cannibal via Victory Records provides all the above and more in a solid, “cut the fat” heavy record. The album was released on June 10th, appropriately released in time to provide ammo for the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival. While Wretched travels with the metal circus this summer for their second major festival tour, they’ll perform on their label’s stage. On the first day of Mayhem in San Bernardino, Calif., Wretched guitarist and co-founder Steve Funderburk talked with Metal Insider about their origins, Cannibal and their infamously gory song/video “A Preservation of Immortality.”
Welcome to Mayhem Festival! As one of the founders of the band, would you tell me a brief summary of the history of Wretched?
I met Marshall (Wieczorek), our drummer, when I was 15 through a friend at Guitar Center. We both grew up listening to Slayer, Megadeth and Metallica and really wanted to do that too. We started a band when we were 16 in 2005 while we were in high school. We started writing our own music and touring. Victory Records then picked us up in 2008. We’ve been with them for six years and have released four albums. Now we’re here on Mayhem. We have done one festival tour before. It was the Metal Alliance Tour in 2012 and was a lot of fun. We were originally called And Since Forgotten and didn’t change our name until 2008. Our guitarist, Joel (Moore), had the idea for the “Wretched” band name and had wanted to use it for a couple of years. I think there are a pop-punk band and a doom metal band both called “Wretched” which I didn’t know about until after we changed it.
As one of the guitarists, what concepts did you have in mind while writing Cannibal? What kinds of concepts were in mind when writing the lyrical content?
We really wanted to write a simple, aggressive, heavy, metal record, I guess. We wanted something that you could really get into and relate to. We tried to cut any fat and keep things to the point. The less is more approach. Adam (Cody), our vocalist, is the main lyricist. The majority of topics he wrote about were real-life situations. Things such as the technology burst; everywhere you turn people are fixated on their phone, girlfriends, working a job that you hate from nine to five.
How has the sound of Wretched progressed from Son of Perdition to Cannibal?
We didn’t sound like we do today when we first started. I’d say we sounded similar to Killswitch Engage and it took awhile to really find our sound. I think we finally did and are slowly getting deeper into our niche. It’s taken awhile for us to catch on with fans and seems like we’ve been fighting our way through. I think this tour will help us catch on to a larger scale of the metal crowd. We’ll get a lot of exposure.
I noticed you have two instrumental tracks on Cannibal like previous albums. Is that something you’ll continue to do with future albums?
Definitely. We added those instrumental tracks on the first track and everyone loved it. We love doing instrumental tracks because they are our outlets to do whatever we want to musically. We have the ability to create music that isn’t necessarily metal. In our next album, we want to add some sort of Western theme into our instrumental tracks. We might even produce an instrumental EP. We try and put out an album every two years, and then tour for a year and a half in promotion of it. We’ve had to write our albums pretty fast; with Cannibal, we were able to take our time.
Wretched really brought out the gore and brutality in the video “A Preservation of Immortality.” A lot of bands put those kind of gruesome scenes on album art, but not always in video form. Even though it was a few years ago, what sort of feedback did you get from that video?
It’s the bloodiest music video ever! It was a good reaction overall. The song in general is a crowd favorite and is the song we closed with during our set. They aired the video on Headbanger’s Ball when it was still a show.
On that note, whether it was a club show or outdoors – do you recall a certain pit that was particularly vicious that occurred at one of your shows.
During a show in St. Petersburg, Fla. on the Metal Alliance tour, the entire floor was swallowed into a giant pit. That doesn’t happen that often so when it does it really sticks out. Fortunately, nobody has thrown anything at us. We’ve had a few fans leave with broken noses, but that can happen in any rowdy pit.
Any specific plans you can tell me about after Mayhem?
We’re going to take a short break, and then do either a run in the States and Canada, or a run in Europe. I think a top priority is to tour Europe and find the right package.