Broken Hope: Death Metal Is Love

Formed 27 years ago in Chicago, Illinois, Broken Hope may not have the status of peers like Cannibal Corpse or Obituary, but their impact on death metal’s evolution has been massive and enduring. Purveyors of a uniquely aggressive and groove-driven strain of extremity that has undoubtedly been integral to the emergence of the so-called “slam” scene, not to mention the entire deathcore movement, these brutal diehards are rightly revered as underground legends. This week, they perform in the UK for the first time in their history: a massive result for fans of guttural savagery and a career milestone for the band themselves. We spoke with founder member and guitarist Jeremy Wagner about Broken Hope’s life, times and unerringly terrifying sonic assault.

Hey Jeremy! How does it feel to finally be playing to the UK?

“It’s an incredible feeling! We’ve released six albums over the years, all of which have been released in the UK via Music For Nations, Metal Blade, and Century Media. All our albums have garnered Broken Hope lots of exposure in the UK via numerous metal and rock media entities, and even the old MTV Europe version of Headbanger’s Ball gave our music videos lots of rotation back in the day. The UK press has always smiled on us since our demo days and through our entire recording career – with mostly favourable reviews and features, and Metal Hammer has always being a great champion to Broken Hope.

“Most importantly, we’ve earned love and loyalty from many UK fans who’ve never stopped writing to us and sending us fan photos and whatnot. To that point, our UK fans have literally been begging us to tour the UK for over 20 years… and we’ve been dying to tour here more than you can imagine!”

So what took you so long?

“It really comes down to a couple things… First, there always seemed to be some type of bad timing for Broken Hope making it to the UK in the ‘90s. Like, we had tentative tour itineraries in the past that included UK dates, but then, those tours ended up falling through. We’ve had various booking agents bringing us to Europe for decades – and never made the UK part of any tour – it’s been fucking ridiculous. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve _begged _agents to get us into the UK. I’ve pleaded and pointed out how important it is to our UK fans and to Broken Hope. My requests have always been denied with excuses like: ‘Next time’ or ‘The UK market is all scene bands and don’t care about death metal,’ and shite like that. We’ve managed to tour and perform worldwide except for the UK – until now! I give credit to our agents at Flaming Arts for getting us these UK dates. They were the first agency to grant our wishes and book Broken Hope in the UK, and for that, I’m thankful.”

What can people expect from your live show?

“Attendees can expect an extremely intense, slamming live concert from Broken Hope that will include choice picks from all of our albums spanning 20+ years. Moreover, our production elements and brand of ‘Chicago death metal’ will leave fans very happen and talking about our show for a while. Bottom line for us: always give the people their money’s worth.

“We give away free shit at our shows after we play… so watch for us at the merch booth to do meet-and-greets with everyone.”

How do you feel about the state of death metal in 2015?

“I feel that death metal is probably stronger than ever. Lots of death metal bands – and the music in general – are receiving huge recognition. In the last year we’ve seen Kirk Hammett adding bands like Carcass to his Fear Festival and Dying Fetus play Download. That’s pretty awesome exposure for any death metal band.

“All that said, one thing I feel about the current death metal climate is that there’s no more ‘shock, fear, or evil’ in this genre anymore. The days of Deicide’s evil imagery intimidating people, or Cannibal Corpse’s shocking song titles are over. And that’s not because these legendary bands (or new death metal bands of the same nature) aren’t putting out sick and amazing albums – because they are still killing better than ever – it’s just that the world has become desensitised in the last 25 years. Kids and adults in this 2015 climate of terrorism and violence in all levels entertainment are harder to freak out and repulse. That isn’t a bad thing though, because imagery and shock should always take a back seat to the music – as that’s the most important thing. And I’m happy to say that I see death metal music is better, sicker, and more lethal than it’s ever been!”

What have been the most important lessons you’ve learned over the last two decade?

“Some of the most important lessons I’ve learned, include:

  1. Always be good to others because those people you were cool to decades ago might end up in a big band or big label – and they’ll remember how nice you were to them and maybe help you. 2. Always stay grounded, humble, and never forget where you came from. 3. Always ignore the naysayers and negative people who want to see you fail. I’ve always stayed my course to the vision and goals I wanted – despite being surrounded and attacked by miserable people who didn’t want me to succeed. No matter what your art is or what your dreams are, stay focused, dream big, and don’t let anyone get in your way. Your ambition and drive will take you places… anything is possible in life. 4. Always tell your bandmates, friends, or anyone close to you that you love them. Love isn’t always considered a real ‘metal’ thing – especially in this genre – but it doesn’t hurt to tell anyone you care about that you love them. Love is in short supply nowadays, so the more you say it the better you feel. Look, I’ve lost two original Broken Hope band members who died much too young, and I’m so glad I told them that I loved them while they were alive, so I will never have any regrets. I keep Joe and Ryan in my heart and in my thoughts every time I perform on stage and when I write riffs. Death metal love – spread it!”

What are your hopes and plans for the future?

“My personal plans include releasing the first-ever Broken Hope live DVD and live album from Brutal Assault package this year via Century Media. Write and record another full-length album, play more festivals and tour in countries we haven’t been to before. Get the two new novels I have already written finally published with a new publisher. And last, my ‘dreams’ include playing Bloodstock Open Air, Download, Wacken – all sometime before I’m 50!”

Check out Broken Hope at one of the dates below:

21st April: Nambucca, London 22nd April: Audio, Glasgow 23rd April: The Hub, Plymouth

Dom Lawson has been writing for Metal Hammer and Prog for over 14 years and is extremely fond of heavy metal, progressive rock, coffee and snooker. He also contributes to The Guardian, Classic Rock, Bravewords and Blabbermouth and has previously written for Kerrang! magazine in the mid-2000s.