DEICIDE's STEVE ASHEIM On 'Banished By Sin' A.I. Artwork Controversy: 'Everyone's All Up In Arms About The Whole Thing'

May 20, 2024

In a new interview with the Heavy Demons radio show, DEICIDE drummer Steve Asheim addressed the controversy surrounding the cover artwork for the band's latest album, "Banished By Sin". Released on April 26 via Reigning Phoenix Music, the LP features art that some people believe was generated by artificial intelligence (A.I.). When the cover artwork was first unveiled in February, speculation over how it was created led to backlash from fans on social media, as well as memes mocking it and DEICIDE.

Asheim said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Well, from what I understand, the label said, 'Hey, we want to get a cover that is reminiscent of the first record,' some kind of medallion or something like that. So, working with… Glen [Benton, DEICIDE bassist/vocalist] has a guy in — I think he's from Sweden, and he is a jewelry designer, and he's an artist, because, obviously, he has to craft the jewelry, he has to design the artwork for whatever. Anyway, so he asked this guy, 'Hey, create a medallion for the artwork for the record. And then we can tie it in with jewelry that we're gonna sell also.' And so that was this guy. So when people get all bent out of shape about how it's A.I. generated, I mean, we had a human artist design this thing. An artist, they use computer software to design it, and whether or not he ran it through some program to clean it up, I don't know. I mean, some people who know more about art than I do seem to have a real problem with it."

Steve continued: "Everyone's all up in arms about the whole thing. And I don't really understand why. I mean, I guess I see that point about, 'Hey, an artist who paints could have gotten paid.' Well, you know what? An artist did get paid for this artwork. Our fucking guy. I mean, it's not like he's not an artist. So, I don't know what everyone's all up in arms about. I think people just like to have something to bitch about. That's cool. I get it. I like to bitch, too.

"But anyway, that's my take on it," Asheim added. "And I think that's pretty cool. I've heard plenty of people bitch about it. I've heard plenty of people say, 'I don't see what the fucking problem is.'

"Anyway, we made super-huge banners of the artwork for live. So everyone who hates it is really gonna love that."

Benton discussed the "Banished By Sin" artwork last month in an interview with The Brutally Delicious Podcast. At the time, he said: "Well, people don't understand that the album cover that we did, it was done with Photoshop and with some A.I., but it's a more modern version. It's like 'Legion' [DEICIDE's second album, released in 1992] — when I did the 'Legion' album cover, computers were still fucking new. Nobody knew anything about three-dimensional artwork or any shit like that. And I was the first person to even fucking fuck with that when I designed the 'Legion' album cover. Now I've been in the computers and all that shit since they all came about. So I may be ahead of a lot of people when it comes to computers. I have two iMacs and MacBook Pro and iPad Pro. So I'm a little versed with the whole computer age and in Photoshop and all that stuff and that.

"I like to do something different and provocative," Glen explained. "And I know the whole A.I. thing, everybody's [up in arms about it]… But it was meant to stir. People don't understand. It's a modernization of… It's a sign of the time that we're in. People just can't — their first [reaction] is, like, 'Oh, he's trying to put all of us artists out of work. And I'll be stuck drawing penises in men's bathrooms for the rest of my life.' So everybody's up in arms and thinking that this is the end of the fucking world. And it's really ridiculous, man. It's just a form of art and expression. So I think people should just really stop being ridiculous and accept it for what it is, man. It's a sign of the times.

"I don't do the same album artwork over and over and over again, and I don't use these scribble artists to create these logos that you cannot read or make out," Benton added. "I'm just not into that shit. All these wannabe Rembrandts and shit, man. You know what? I design artwork around the whole thing, man. And I don't take other people's feelings or their ideas or I don't sit here and think, 'Well, what's this blue-haired kid in Nebraska gonna think about the album cover?' I do what I do because I like it, and I don't give a shit what anybody else thinks. So if it pisses people off… And it's really more like these bandwagon little shitheads; they all wanna jump on the bandwagon, 'Boohoohoo.' But here's the thing, how hypocritical it is, because my art was being stolen [through illegal downloading] and stepped all over in the '90s. METALLICA had seen it come and they tried to stop it. But all these wannabe mercenaries for artists and all these idiots out there, they were the same people right there stealing my art back then. So where were all you guys at to defend my art being stolen and taken advantage of? So, all I did was just did an album cover, really, that just focused on the whole modernization of the modern time and, really, it's just a reflection of the age that we're in right now. I can't spend my days trying to explain this. I have a saying: I don't try to convince stupid is dumb and I don't try to convince dumb is stupid. So I just let it do its thing and piss people off. I have a great time with it. It's hilarious. Yeah, it is what it is, man. It's meant to stir the shit paddle, and that's what I do."

This past February, DEICIDE released the second single from "Banished By Sin", a song called "Sever The Tongue". The track was recorded at Smoke & Mirrors with engineer Jeramie Kling, while the mixing and mastering was handed by Josh Wilbur.

DEICIDE collaborated with David Brodsky from My Good Eye: Music Visuals for a visually arresting video for "Sever The Tongue" that complements the track's blasphemous undertones.

To close out 2023, DEICIDE celebrated Christmas with another blasphemous song called "Bury The Cross...With Your Christ".

In August 2022, Benton told "The Garza Podcast" that DEICIDE's new music "is really anthem-style stuff. It's really good, man. There's a lot of prog stuff in there, mixed in there. Steve's [Asheim, drums] our prog guy, man; he's the progressive rock guy. He likes to write those really black metal riffs and the progressive stuff. He's an amazing talent, man. He plays piano. He can play sweeps on guitar. He's a drummer. Yeah, he can do it all."

Benton went on to say that the next DEICIDE album was written in 2021 before he and his bandmates agreed to embark on a tour celebrating the 30th anniversary of DEICIDE's sophomore album, "Legion".

DEICIDE played its first show with new guitarist Taylor Nordberg (THE ABSENCE, INHUMAN CONDITION) on May 21, 2022 at the Rickshaw Theatre in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Two years ago, Nordberg spoke about how he landed the DEICIDE gig in an interview with "The Zach Moonshine Show". He said: "In 2019, my band THE ABSENCE toured with DEICIDE in the U.S. And we got to know the guys and got along really well. And I actually found out that Glen lives, like, two streets over from Jeramie [Kling, THE ABSENCE drummer] and I, where we live. So Jeramie and Glen became good buddies and they ride bikes all the times. It's a funny little thing, thinking about that. But long story short, [previous DEICIDE guitarist] Chris [Cannella], I believe he's the head of A&R at Dean Guitars so he's focusing on that for right now. I heard that they needed a guitar player, so I learned a couple of songs, made a couple of videos, and Glen saw 'em and liked what he saw. So we had a couple of practices, and bing bang boom, here we are."

Cannella amicably left DEICIDE in January 2022 after a three-year run.

Chris joined DEICIDE in 2019 following the departure of guitarist Mark English.

English became a member of DEICIDE in 2016 after the exit of longtime guitarist Jack Owen.

Photo credit: Gene Smirnov

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