Deicide | Mill City Nights | Thursday, October 16
"How do you hide an upside-down cross burned into your forehead?" No, the query is not the setup for a joke, it's an actual concern for singer Glen Benton when he attends his teenage son's school functions. Nonetheless, the (true) punchline is: "A large hat collection."
It's been 25 years since the Deicide frontman/bassist has had a day job (floor coverings, if you must know), so obfuscating his music stratagems, i.e., the aforementioned cross, or song titles like "Death to God," "Homage for Satan," and "Godkill" is not a big concern. (After all, the band name does mean "the killing (or the killer) of a god").
Plus, controversy -- health department inspectors at early Deicide gigs due to raw meat being thrown into the crowd, a more recent feud with Chicago band/tour mates Broken Hope -- can only help when you're a death metal band. Indeed, Deicide, along with Cannibal Corpse, are the genre's two biggest sellers.[jump]
Since the lineup's 1987 incarnation in Tampa, Florida, two original members remain -- Benton and drummer Steve Asheim -- rounded out by newish guitarists Jack Owen and Kevin Quirion. They replace the brothers Hoffman -- Eric and Brian, who left in 2004. The song "Misery of One" on Deicide's latest, 2013's In the Minds of Evil, explains Benton's feeling about the guitarists' departure.
"It's pretty blatant," laughs Benton, calling from his Sunshine State home. "It's about the Hoffmans. With them two, the one was the other's bitch."
The singer claims his band's secret to longevity is "getting out all the negative influences. Surrounding yourself with positive people. Since those other two morons are out of here, it's been a joy to do my job. I look forward to going on tour. I don't have to be a 47-year-old babysitter."
While the band's 11 albums since 1990 are as heavy lyrically as they are musically, many of Benton's remarks call for a rim shot. He's a funny guy who pulls no punches, and though he doesn't hesitate to voice strong opinions (about the label Metal Blade, ex-wives, the Hoffmans' mother(!)), he notes:
"You walk around with an upside-down cross burned into your forehead, it's kinda hard to criticize anybody. Not too many people take you seriously. I do stupid shit," Benton admits. "Do I regret any of it? No. It's all part of growing up."
Now, "approaching 50," and seemingly not quite grown, he nonetheless muses, "I look in the mirror and I've got that Lemmy look on my face, that post-traumatic stress disorder, thousand-yard stare. I think if you were to put him next to an Egyptian mummy there'd be a lot of similarities." One more rim shot.
Still, on stage and record, Benton brings it. The current gigs feature a more than 20-song set (at least five from the excellent In the Minds of Evil), a European tour in December, and new songs in the works. He notes that the music biz is more of a day-by-day prospect since Deicide's early days, but if the fans are there, so is Benton. He declines -- so far -- however, so share his life story in print.
"Books are such a fad, everybody telling their story. Some things are better left unsaid," says Benton. "I read menus. You go to my Facebook page, there's no friends, no picture of me. I don't care if your dog has hemorrhoids. I'm self-centered I guess. I just don't care about your band, or where you're going," he laughs. "I'm just anti-social."
Deicide. With Septicflesh, Inquisition, Abysmal Dawn, Carach Angren. 18+, $22/$25, 8 p.m., Thursday, October 16. Tickets.GIMME NOISE'S GREATEST HITS