Featured Guest is where I interview many cool people from artists to musicians, actors and more. Doom metal giants guitarist and singer Karl Simon and drummer Chris Gordon sat down with us today to share some thoughts on music and catch up on their new band Wretch. Wretch was born from the foundation and history of the mighty Gates Of Slumber and features Karl, Chris and bassist Bryce. Look out for more news on Wretch's music in the near future and dig this interview with Karl and Chris. - G
Karl, how are you man and thank you for making time for the interview. What have you been up to lately and how have you been?
KARL: Mostly I've been working and surviving.  That's about all I can ask for these days. 
I know you guys recorded a demo for the Wretch material and have been gearing up for your new full length soon. What’s the news on the new Wretch album coming down the line and any news you’d like to share?
KARL: Well, at long last and after a lot of birthing pains we are about to go into the studio to make this record.  That's about it, news "down the line" has a way of changing... so I won't go into specifics at present. 
In your youth to current days what have been some of the long running influences in your life that are
non musical?
KARL: The writings of Nietzsche.  Robert E. Howard.  'Caddyshack', the 'Vacation' movies.  'The Cannonball Run'.  
What music shaped and changed your life and brought you to start your own band?
KARL: I always wanted to make music, this was never encouraged when I was younger, and never really encouraged when I was older.  Many people along the way have told me to quit and that I'll never do it.  So, in some ways I guess my music has always been at once an homage to Black Sabbath, my favorite band of all time; and a middle finger to everyone who ever doubted or tried to sabotage me. 
Karl I know you are a big fan of classic art and books from fantasy, history, etc. like Robert E. Howard’s ‘Conan’ books, the ‘Elric’ series, etc. I grew up seeing Elric and Conan books and it always amazed me when I ran into people who knew them as well which was very rare until they made their way to metal fans through artwork. I always loved the classic cover art which was so engaging. What are some of your favorites?
KARL: Man I dunno I have a bunch of stuff that I've read and re read until I'm bored of it, to be honest.  The world of fantasy literature is dead these days, at least to me.  The world is too PC for an author like RE Howard now.  I will never ever discount those stories, in fact I won't ever discount the work of DeCamp, Lin Carter, and Robert Jordan's Conan stories, because I read them all growing up.  Lots of REAL DIEHARD FANS only have negative shit to say... I don't give a fuck...  I'd love to have the free time to sit and read anything anymore.
What has inspired your songwriting these days and the new songs for the upcoming full length?
KARL: Life.  The life I've lived and the lives I've seen and been fortunate enough to be a part of, even if the stories ended badly. 
Chris, when you were starting out who inspired you the most to get into music and play drums?
CHRIS: I was definitely inspired by Black Sabbath more than any other band. Hearing the first Down album made me decide to play drums for real and start a band. Favorite shows that stand out on my mind would be Motorhead in 1988, Trouble in 1987 on the 'Run To The Light' tour, Saint Vitus in 2003, The Obsessed in 1994, and Ozzy in 1988 with Geezer on bass. There are a ton more (laughs).
Chris, what is your favorite aspect of the music that you enjoy jamming in Wretch?
CHRIS: I dig playing in Wretch because I can just lock into Karl's riff and find that groove. And Bryce really has a lot to do with our sound as well. He's a killer bassist, and I react to what he plays too. It's really heavy yet soulful. More hard/heavy rock and less bonehead metal.
Karl what have been some of your biggest victories and challenges along the way in
Your music’s history thus far?
KARL: Simply making The Awakening was probably the biggest victory I've ever had.  It took 6 years and more prospective members and know-it-alls than I can recall...  I did it, we did it: Me, Chuck, and Jason we made a record and toured Europe behind it with nothing but our determination.  There have always been people telling me that I was doing it wrong, some of them did things on a bigger scale.  Most did very little. Every day is a challenge.  I've worked 60 hour/7 day weeks and slept on concrete for my music... .  Nothing was ever handed to me. 
What advice would you give a younger musician just getting started in bands?
KARL: Keep a level head.  Don't start getting starry eyed and think you're gonna "be somebody"... after headlining our stage at Roadburn, 2 weeks later I was cleaning vomit off piss drenched toilets without batting an eye.  It served to pay me enough to survive and to keep me from thinking I was something I wasn't. People think TGoS was "big"... hell. 
CHRIS: I'd tell young musicians to find like-minded friends to play with and write their own songs. Rehearse the shit out of 'em. Have some goals for the band. If all they wanna do is play in their hometown that's fine, but everyone should be on the same page.
How do you feel about the doom metal scene looking back from the early days to current times?  
KARL: I don't know man.  My thoughts aren't really relevant are they?  10 years ago I wanted to be a part of something like a scene... now I just try to be nice to everyone and I try to keep a level head, you know?  I couldn't name you three current band's best songs.... you have to understand I've become a hermit.  I really liked Premonition 13 a lot and Saint Vitus's last record too... along with The Skull's new one and Headless Eyes and Blackfinger too... but all those are older groups. 
CHRIS: I was into "Doom Metal" when you could count the number of doom bands on one hand, and there wasn't a name for it. It was just bands that had a Sabbath sort of vibe. There are a lot of doom metal bands these days, huh? (laughs). I still dig it.
Chris what inspires you most to jam today after all your years in bands?
CHRIS: Playing drums is my only real creative outlet, so it's important to me. And there aren't really that many people for me to play with. I don't practice at home by myself (it shows!) because it bores me. I learned how to play by jamming with some friends playing songs from bands we liked. So hearing killer new bands or artists that I dig or know personally release a kickass new album or when I see a good show inspires me, as does hearing Karl play a new riff. He's writing some really good stuff.
Karl, any books or films you would like to talk about that influenced your life?
KARL: I used to be inspired by things man.  Now not so much.  Books are other people trying to tell you about life, their life.  Most of it has nothing to do with me.  Movies haven't been worth much in a long time.  I loved 'The Wrestler'... that and 'Such a Beautiful Day'... .  Influence is a strong word. 
Any final words for your fans and news you’d like to share?
KARL: I love you, thank you for giving a shit about my music!  Take care of yourselves, in the end, sadly you are all you have.
Right on thanks to you guys for the interview. Very cool.  Look forward to the new music, G