Interview conducted by Carcassbomb
- Abu Ghraib
- Melbourne, Australia
- Formed: 2017
- Previous Release: The Torture Demos (2018)
- Current Release: Enhanced Torture Techniques (2019)
I encountered Abu Ghraib on the Metal Archives while first scouting for this project and their band photo was so funny and endearing I ended up saving it “for later” which I guess is now because they’ve recently released a massive grind album that surpasses even their sublime memery in ability and entertainment value. There was no sign of this beast earlier in the year with just a demo to their name and hardly an online presence but now I’m convinced they are going to be huge, well, as huge as grindcore can get in this country.
Abu Ghraib carry a complicated kind of dual meaning that Australia is very much known for, where the humor can be menacing and horrible things can be considered humor. We especially used humor in political debate and to defend shitty behaviours, or even call them out – something they’ve captured on the album cover using the traditional Australian newspaper cartoon style, used for venomous parody. There isn’t always a balance as lighter moments are spliced with harrowing and sober reality, there was never a promise of harmony or coherence, this is grindcore.
Carcassbomb: Abu Ghraib is a very distinct name for a grindcore band, how did you come to this name? – (Someone recently told me they thought it was trying to be “A boob grab” lol)
Dave: Hahahahaha! Nah it’s not a boob grab, but that’s pretty good.
It’s become a bit of a game to see who can come up with the most ridiculous parody! If you’re wondering, Abu is pronounced as it’s spelled, (like the monkey in Aladdin) and Ghraib is like Grave but with a B instead of a V.
For us, Abu Ghraib is more than just the name of a prison where horrific war crimes and torture took place, it is a metaphor for humanity and existence. We are in no way trying to trying to say we think it’s cool or funny, quite the opposite in fact! We are trying to show the disgusting way people treat each other, the violence that they inflict on each other, the way that humans have subtly been conditioned to disconnect themselves from each other, viewing and treating others as inferiors or superiors as the case dictates. Abu Ghraib represents unflinching brutality, misanthropic ideologies and unquestionably vile behaviour encouraged and inflicted by man on his fellow man. Oh yeah, and fast as fuck grind!
Melbourne is often regarded as Australia’s metal hub, how was your experience forming the band there?
Starting a band in general is tough, I wouldn’t recommend it unless you enjoy spending a shit load of cash, sacrificing relationships and basing pretty much your entire social life on which shows you want to go to! Melbourne definitely has a lot more like-minded musicians who go out to shows and support live music, and at the end of the day, everyone looks out for each other. Forming Abu Ghraib was pure luck, I (Dave) had moved to Melbourne looking to start a grind band and Josh was the first serious drummer that I jammed with. From there, Josh called his long time mate Phil to scream and the band was born. We all just clicked instantly and the songs started to virtually write themselves!
We’ve made some great friendships through the shows we’ve played and the shows we’ve gone to check out, you guys and gals are fuckin’ legends! Cheers cunts!
Abu Ghraib just released a new EP on the 16th September titled, Enhanced Torture Techniques. Despite the laid back and often hilarious social media presence about the band, this album feels serious in its subject matter. What are the major themes and motivations for the album?
Yes! It’s out now and available from our Bandcamp page. We’ve finally got CD’s available which are 90% handmade by the band. What other band gives you that personal touch these days?! We’ve also numbered them 1-50 to mark the first physical release of the band. We don’t ship ‘em sequentially, and we also take requests. I just did #69 of 50 for a mate, that’s going to be more valuable than #1 some day!
Despite our intense music and brutal subject matter, we’re pretty laid back in real life, our sense of humour and wit are equally sharp and it’s virtually impossible for us to take anything too seriously. Music is meant to be fun and enjoyable, that’s the only reason we do it. I mean Phil is a next level lyricist and vocalist, it’s almost a shame they are deliberately delivered enigmatically. I don’t even know what Phil’s saying most of the time and I’m in the band! Go and get the EP, we’ve included the lyrics for your intellectual satiation, they’re also up online.
The album art for it is fantastic, a very Australian style of newspaper parody cartoon that ties in well to the concepts of the album. Who did this cover and what was the art process like for the band?
Our favourite artist Karl Dahmer did the art for both our Torture Demos release and our newest Enhanced Torture Techniques. Pretty straightforward process, we explained the concept of what we wanted, supplied a single reference picture and then gave the man carte blanche to do his worst so to speak. This is his talent, you don’t get in the way of that, you just stand back and enjoy the results!
From what I’ve seen on Facebook, you guys play some entertaining live shows. Got any interesting or crazy stories?
Nothing I can or should divulge in a public forum, but if you come to a show and grab a beer with us and prove you’re not a Narc, you might hear some things that you wish you could unhear!
Seriously though, all our shows are crazy man, it’s crazy that we get to play this extreme shit and people are into it. It’s crazy that we wrote these stupidly fast songs, I mean what were we thinking? There’s a joke within the band that the worst thing about being in Abu Ghraib is playing Abu Ghraib songs, except it’s not really a joke!
Have there been/are there any major barriers AbuGhraib has been faced with as a metal band in Australia?
Nothing insurmountable so far! We’ve never been short of a riff or struggled to write songs, so probably the hardest thing (for any band) is getting a first gig.
We started in obscurity like every other band, and it’s only through sheer hard work and dedication we have achieved the things we have.
In the early days, we literally didn’t know anyone on the scene, but we’d go out to gigs and see who was doing what, just showing our faces! Everyone on the Melbourne scene is very approachable and are only too happy to have a chat and a drink! Now, not even 2 years later, I could go to just about any gig and guarantee I’ll know someone there.
What are some of the biggest musical influences for the band?
Josh – SLAYER LOMBARDO
Phil – SLAYER ARAYA
Dave – SLAYER HANNEMAN
I know the EP only just dropped, but any plans for future releases or shows? Let me know if you come to Brisbane.
Yeah the EP’s just been released and it’s getting some pretty damn good responses, we’ve had some awesome reviews from a bunch of sick dudes. We’re pretty booked up for the rest of the year and have some fucken huge things coming up next year which will either make or break us! Time will tell.
As for Brisbane, we’d love to do some shows up there, nothing’s booked at the moment though, but if you like what you hear then hit us up.