July 17, 2023

By David E. Gehlke

Jeremy Spencer's first post-FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH foray, PSYCHOSEXUAL, admittedly went over everyone's heads. The band's softcore porn and goth rock stylings were a hard sell for the FFDP crowd accustomed to more streamlined and digestible music. A torrent of online criticism ensued, leading the drummer-turned-vocalist Spencer to delete PSYCHOSEXUAL's music from streaming platforms. He renamed the band PSYCHO SYNNER in 2021, but the damage was already done and the project is now considered dormant.

Spencer now focuses on SEMI-ROTTED, his new death metal-inspired outfit, which released the "Deader Than Dead" EP in 2022. The EP included a guest spot from LORNA SHORE's Will Ramos, and more recently, the band issued the "Blood Bath" single, including an appearance from CANNIBAL CORPSE's George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher. Spencer and SEMI-ROTTED also secured the services of renowned extreme metal drummer Tim Yeung (I AM MORBID, ex-DIVINE HERESY and MORBID ANGEL) and subsequently laid down two studio albums. With the band's first live date on the horizon and the label search about to commence, BLABBERMOUTH.NET caught up with Spencer over Zoom.

Blabbermouth: You have Tim Yeung in the band now. How did that come about?

Jeremy: "I've known Tim since about 2007 when he was in DIVINE HERESY and DEATH PUNCH was starting out. We'd see him at local shows. That's how I met him. I'd see him on and off at NAMM over the years, and I always thought he was a really nice guy. More importantly, his playing is incredible. I always told him, 'You'll replace me in DEATH PUNCH one day.' I'd always kid him about that. That never happened, thankfully. [Laughs] When it was time to look for the 'guy', he was the guy I wanted. He was my only choice. I would think of other people, but I was like, 'I want Tim. He's fucking amazing and a great guy. I'm just going to reach out and take a stab at it. He's probably busy. He was in MORBID ANGEL and may tell me to get fucked.' [Laughs] He said, 'Dude. I dig the songs.' That struck me first, 'Cool! You dig it.' He said, 'Not only will I record the records, but I will join the band.' I was pretty stoked about that."

Blabbermouth: What do you have in mind for Tim? Are you going to put him to the test?

Jeremy: "It's pretty intense stuff, but nothing he can't handle. The dude rips. He came in and recorded two albums worth of material in about three days. He was on it. He did great."

Blabbermouth: FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH had a lot of success. You are now starting from scratch with SEMI-ROTTED. What's the experience been like building the band from the ground up?

Jeremy: "Even before SEMI-ROTTED, I did PSYCHOSEXUAL, which changed to PSYCHO SYNNER. It was quite an experience. I wanted to do something really different from DEATH PUNCH. I wanted to do something visually stimulating and fun. It was supposed to be lighthearted and fun, but before we figured out our core sound, we released some cheesy and boneheaded songs early. I don't think we recovered. People said, 'This sucks.' I said, 'Hold on! It's going to be different.' We went on to release 11 albums and nine in one day. We worked our asses off. People fucking hated it. I was an easy target."

Blabbermouth: At least you tried it, right? That's all you can do.

Jeremy: "I got to experience a lot of different styles of music. I did a song with Dave Wyndorf from MONSTER MAGNET. To me, that was awesome. And we had seven number-one songs on the secondary radio market at rock radio. It was a band that did some cool things on the radio but could never break through into the public. They didn't care. Now, SEMI-ROTTED is the only thing I'm focusing on."

Blabbermouth: What are you getting out of doing a band like SEMI-ROTTED?

Jeremy: "It's so natural and fun. The lyrics are death metal-style. They're fun. It's the most grotesque shit you can think of, then write it. It's fun. Who doesn't like doing that? [Laughs] I'm having a blast. We're playing our first show on September 14 here in Vegas. We're finally starting to get the live machine going, which will be fun."

Blabbermouth: How do you think you'll take to being a frontman?

Jeremy: "For starters, the response to the band has been positive. That makes me more excited to do it. Rather than, 'Everyone hates it. Am I going to take it on tour?' The feedback has been great. We did a song with Corpsegrinder. He did an amazing job. He really dug the song, too. That came together really cool. We also got to work with Will Ramos from LORNA SHORE. The other people believe in it, which is nice. You make the music you want to make. That's what artists do and you hope somebody likes it, but you can't control it."

Blabbermouth: You are wearing a DEATH"Leprosy" shirt. Have you always been into death metal?

Jeremy: "I love all kinds of metal, but death metal, extreme metal, I'm a big fan. I saw OBITUARY when I was 17. It had a big impact on me. I was like, 'Fuck. Those guys are cool.' I hadn't heard anyone do that vocally. It was really great."

Blabbermouth: Have you always wanted to do a band like SEMI-ROTTED?

Jeremy: "I want to do whatever kind of music I want at the given time. After the PSYCHO SYNNER thing, I was craving heavy music again. I started buying death metal vinyl and my wife and I would sit around and listen to it while drinking coffee. I said, 'I want to make music like this. I don't know what the fuck it will sound like or how we're going to do it, but I want to do it.' I got Shawn McGhee, our guitar player. We wrote the thing and did it pretty fast. Then we started putting the guys together after that."

Blabbermouth: You've been a drummer most of your career. How did you develop your death metal vocals?

Jeremy: "I didn't know what it would sound like when I started putting the vocals to the music. I said, 'How do I want this voice to sound?' What came out came out. Then I thought, 'Shit. I have to learn how to sing.' I started taking lessons from [extreme metal vocal coach] Melissa Cross; she's the best. I practiced in a little closet with a computer setup and in-ear monitors. I'm in there fucking practicing all the time. I've developed it that way."

Blabbermouth: Have you ever been a singer in any previous bands?

Jeremy: "Just PSYCHO. We did two shows and those weren't even shows. One was a party and the other was a live-streaming event because Covid was happening. We didn't do any shows or tours. But SEMI-ROTTED, we will try to tour. It's up to the people if they want it or not. So far, the response has been so positive that we can get out there in some capacity."

Blabbermouth: You're in an interesting spot since you may inherit some FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH fans, yet you have the death metal crowd to win over.

Jeremy: "I'm not sure. Some of the death metal guys may automatically not dig it going into it because I was in FIVE FINGER. I think some of the DEATH PUNCH fans are coming on board. They give me a lot of positive feedback and are spreading the word. I don't know if everyone's coming on board, but so far so good. We do have a decent amount. We have six million views on Facebook. It's starting to go. I thought I would give it my all. Fortunately, I did well enough in FIVE FINGER to help fund some of these experiments and projects. That helps. It's nice to be able to afford to try some experiments."

Blabbermouth: What's the label situation? Will you stay independent, or will you shop the band?

Jeremy: "We're looking for a home. I did the independent route. It's hard to wear all the hats. I know what it's like to have a good label. I know what it's like to have labels that don't do the things you wish they would. I've experienced both sides. I think it will be the smartest, strongest foot forward if we find the right home for this project. We're just finishing mixing the two albums, so that will be the time to start shopping. I didn't want to do it prematurely. I want to be, 'Here's all of it. Bam!'"

Blabbermouth: Direction-wise, then, what can people expect from these albums?

Jeremy: "If you like 'Shotgun Symphony' from the EP, it's in that ballpark. It's the same with 'Blood Bath' with Corpsegrinder; blast beats are all over it. It's brutal. It's all fun, death metal lyrics. The worse thing you can think about, we sing about it. It's fun. [Laughs]"

Blabbermouth: How is your back these days?

Jeremy: "It's completely healed."

Blabbermouth: Was it the result of wear-and-tear or posture?

Jeremy: "Yeah. Sitting back and slouching and compressing on the discs. I started adjusting my cymbals during touring because it was wearing down my shoulders. I started adjusting the height and getting them closer so I didn't have to reach so far."

Blabbermouth: You've been out of the band for nearly five years, but do you miss FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH?

Jeremy: "Sometimes I think I do. I think, 'Man, they're out there doing big festivals again.' I haven't done them since 2018. I do miss it. I don't miss going through the big machine again. I did it once and it was amazing, but I wouldn't want to go back to it again. It's got to be something else."

Blabbermouth: Were too many people involved with the band? Is that what you're saying?

Jeremy: "It was such a runaway freight train of a business. So many people relied on us. We had 30 crew guys. It's a big business. It's a lot of pressure; you got to keep going. Everyone is like, 'When's the next record?' I'm like, 'Fuck you. You write a record.' It's not easy."

Blabbermouth: The band released an album every other year and toured for 18 months in between. That probably did it.

Jeremy: "I told them, 'If we can't take a break at the end of this year, I'm going to step off the train.' They didn't want to stop, so I let myself off."

Photo courtesy of SEMI-ROTTED

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