POINT OF ORIGIN
Interview with ORIGIN
By: Dr. Abner Mality
At the tail end of the 90’s something unexpected and ominous rose from the plains of Kansas. One would not have expected such a placid environment to produce one of the fiercest and most extreme sounds in all of metal, but so it was. ORIGIN exploded into existence and has continued to rain radioactive hellfire upon the metallic public ever since.
But ORIGIN had a lengthier incubation period than its cataclysmic arrival would seem to suggest. The beginnings of the band had been percolating and bubbling in the Kansas plains from a much earlier period. Now, after decades, the hidden origins of ORIGIN are laid bare in a new release from Agonia Records entitled Abiogenesis – A Coming Into Existence. It contains the earliest sounds of the band and even the very rare Coming Into Existence EP that has not been widely available until now.
The mad genius behind ORIGIN has always been Paul Ryan. Here we take a trip through the hyper-tachyonic pulse tunnel into the past to discuss ORIGIN’s origin…
Rebel Extravaganza: Greetings! The release of Abiogenesis has got to be a trip down memory lane, but I’d like to go even further back in time. What was it that got you into the most extreme metal? What triggered the interest?
Paul Ryan: Well, I mean if we are going way back, I would say I was into KISS when I was super young. I was even Gene Simmons for Halloween, followed by Darth Vader the next year. I guess you could say I was always on the dark path, but when I heard bands like CELTIC FROST, KREATOR, SLAYER, VOI VOD, CRYPTIC SLAUGHTER and POSSESSED, I was hooked.
RX: You mention some of the great bands of the Kansas and Midwest scene of the early ‘90s such as PSYCHOSIS, EXCESSIVE STRAIN and others. Tell us a little more about these bands and their impact on you.
PR: PSYCHOSIS was the local band that played somewhere every weekend, whether it was a house party or in a field. EXCESSIVE STRAIN (George Fluke of ORIGIN 1997-98 played drums in this band) was the band that changed how I thought of music entirely. NASFERATU (Nick Miller, the drummer, played in KATAKLYSM and ANAL BLAST) and PUBLIC ASSASSIN (Richard Christy of DEATH was on drums) were some others that influenced me with their unique take on death metal at the time.as well.
RX: How tragic is it that the location of these bands kept them from greater recognition? Honestly, the only Kansas bands I can really name are ORIGIN and MANILLA ROAD. Could these other bands have created a scene to rival New York or Florida if they had proper exposure?
PR: Well, to me, I couldn’t understand it as they were great bands, but I wasn’t in those other areas so I could never compare those scenes against it. The national acts all came through and said our scene was good so that’s all I can really say.
RX: Was it difficult finding talented musicians into extreme metal to play with in those days?
PR: In the early ‘90s, it was easier but as death metal lost its popularity, finding the right musicians became more difficult.
RX: ORIGIN has always been known for delving into scientific and cosmic subjects. When did the interest in these subjects begin for you?
PR: Unfortunately I had some friends go down the dark path and wind up killing people, so that’s when I decided to go with a more sci-fi thriller or cosmic theme. I knew that I myself had serious anger issues but didn’t want to go to prison because of my actions. Death metal was an escape from all the things that had built up. Playing music was an escape for me as you will hear in the Abiogenesis era where the songs are more personal. Whereas Coming Into Existence was just the beginning of dealing with broader sci-fi concepts. If I was to credit any one band for this direction it would be VOI VOD.
RX: Were there any books or movies that greatly influenced the lyrical direction of ORIGIN?
PR: I’ve always enjoyed the sci-fi stuff but I think most of it comes from drawing a fictional question from a non-fictional reality. Origin Of The Species, Cosmos, The Demon-Haunted World and A Brief History Of Time are books that opened up new things for me writing-wise.
RX: Abiogenesis is like a linear chat showing the development of ORIGIN from rather typical death metal of the early ‘90s to the unique and super extreme style you were later known for. At what point did things “click” and you realize you had created your own sound?
PR: I think once we started to get label interest during the early stages of ORIGIN and people started creating subgenres for it. To me, it was just death metal, but others would start calling it death grind or technical death metal or brutal metal. I knew something was happening because people were writing letters to us and trying to come up with terms to describe it and more people were coming to shows to see it live as well.
RX: How did live crowds react to you in the mid-‘90s? There was very little like ORIGIN out there then.
PR: Well, we just played in garages and basements back then so there weren’t shows per se, but people were always like ‘WOW! That’s the next level!’ The Coming Into Existence lineup played only 4 shows, but we were all known individually as people who could create some pretty serious music. The shows were great, but it wasn’t until the Origin lineup that we started hitting the road and traveling out of state.
RX: The final part of Abiogenesis is the Coming Into Existence EP that was never widely released before. What is the story of this EP and why did it never get a proper release?
PR: After years of attempts at trying to get my music recorded, I kinda put my foot down and was like, this is what I want to do and I’ve been doing it for years with nothing to show for it. I had to right the wrongs of the past and put together a band with a lineup that I felt I could get something recorded with.
RX: This is also where you guys pioneered the “gravity blast” style of drumming. Tell us about how this came into being.
PR: I want to say that was in 1993. George Fluke left a message on my answering machine saying he had a surprise for me the next time we got together for a band practice. I was immediately intrigued and got over to practice as soon as I could. He said he went to a Dennis Chambers seminar and out of nowhere, DC pulled out this technique on a tom fill. George raised his hand immediately and asked him to do it again. George showed me the beat and the first riff I ever wrote to the gravity blast was the opening riff on ‘Lethal Manipulation’ on Coming Into Existence 5 years later.
RX: In re-recording the old material for Abiogenesis, how much care did you have to take so that the songs were “updated” but didn’t lose their original feel? If that makes sense?
PR: Well, the songs are formatted exactly the same as far as guitars, bass, vocals and song structure go but the drums are more of a blend of the 3 drummers I worked with together as one. I would say the fills are mostly like Drew Bray (NECROTOMY) , the intensity is mostly like Jaime Serrano (THEE ABOMINATION), and the gravity blasts and some of the kick patterns are influenced by George Fluke’s playing (ORIGIN 1997-98). I feel it’s pretty accurate, and I hope I didn’t disappoint any of them and what they brought to the music.
RX: Are your motivations for creating pretty much the same now as they were back in those early days or have they changed significantly?
PR: I used to play guitar all the time, but now I do it mostly for fun. It’s not as easy for me to go back and be the person that I was 20 years ago, because I’m not really the same person.
RX: What’s one thing you miss the most from the early days of ORIGIN?
PR: Back then it was fun just to make music. Now there’s labels and booking tours and interviews and buying flights and merchandise and paying for crew and tour vehicles. It’s a business and it’s work, but that’s what I wanted.
RX: What’s one thing that you’re happy to get rid of from those days?
PR: Party practices! I like making music and I like to have fun but getting wasted all the time while practicing, I don’t miss.
RX: Is it a relief to give this older material the proper release it deserved back in the day?
PR: It’s the opening chapter that only a select few even heard. I’m grateful that enough people care about what I do to have a label stand behind it. I feel it adds more depth to the ORIGIN discography, and in 20 years if somebody stumbles across the ORIGIN digital musical footprint and likes what they hear, it will just give them more options to choose from.
RX: What does the future hold for ORIGIN? Will new releases be on Agonia?
PR: Well, in May to June 2019 we are going on tour opening for DEICIDE, so that’s an honor for me, as they were always a huge influence on my sound. The current lineup of the band will hopefully have something out on Agonia in a year or so, but I have so far to go on writing. Agonia has been legit good to ORIGIN so I don’t see why not.
RX: Any final words?
PR: Thanks to all the ORIGIN fans for all the years of support. I know there is division in just about every band’s fanbase between old and new material, so I hope Abiogensis gives a little more insight into the origins of ORIGIN!