EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Erik Rutan of Hate Eternal - Morbid Angel - Ripping Corpse

03:22 by Musicologo go go
Our collaborator and correspondent from the USA, Paola Simonetto, sent us this great interview with the legendary singer and guitarist Erik Rutan of Hate Eternal (Morbid Angel, Ripping Corpse) read below:

Hi Erik, thank you for accepting our interview request and giving your European and Italian fans the opportunity to get to know you better. 
We want to bring a deeper insight into what makes you such an amazing premier musician and lyrical firestorm.

Thank you for the interview!

· But first before we talk music I know you have toured Italy quite a few times, how would you describe your Italian fans and do you have favorite cities you like to perform in. Do you have any special memories you’d like to share?
I love Italy! The people, the food, the culture, the wine, the history. I could go on and on. Italian fans are so loyal and passionate about music and life in general from my experience. One of my favorite memories is playing the No Mercy Festival in 2000 in Italy, I want to say it was Milan. 
It was outdoors and there was probably 3000 people there and it was an amazing show. Have had some fantastic shows in Italy. Always loved playing Rome as well as seeing the sights and ruins. 
I have played many places in Italy over the years, sometimes smaller cities and towns and those were always great as well. So many great memories and shows!!!!

· Erik you have such an impressive path, you started your metal career with Ripping Corpse to later join Morbid Angel. In 1996 you decided to form your own band, Hate Eternal and released ‘Conquering the Throne’, your high-water mark album for extreme metal in 1999. You come from a rather conservative family with a classical music background. I am sure your life experiences have a lot to do with your musical path choice but how did it develop into this undeniable aggression of sheer extreme metal mastery.
I started playing music when I was just a small child. My Sister played classical piano, my Grandmother played piano, others played music in my family. I just grew up around music and started playing violin when I was very young. I started playing guitar when I was around 15, started my own band and then joined Ripping Corpse at 17, then started playing with Morbid Angel at 21. I started playing this kind of music for it gave me a release of so much boiling inside of me. 
Before playing guitar I had no way of expressing myself in any other way that was constructive and positive. For many years, these negative emotions got the best of me. They controlled my life in a very destructive way. I truly needed a way out from this path I was going down. 
Once I found guitar I was able to take that built up mass and put it all into my music, to give me an outlet. 
The minute I picked up guitar I knew this was what I was meant to do and I was going to do everything in my power to succeed at it. 
Failing was never even an option to me. I never looked back for the last 30 years of playing guitar and so glad I have continued on this journey.

Your lyrics and themes are definitely deep, dark and tumultuous.
I have always tried to keep my lyrics passionate and true to who I am as a person. Once again, an expression of what I have been through in my life and who I am as a person. My interests, my deepest and darkest thoughts and emotions. Lyrics are a way of expressing myself in a way that is just so pure and undilluted. I have been writing lyrics as long as I have been playing guitar. Since the beginning I always knew I would sing and play guitar in my own band. It was just meant to be.

· How did you develop your unique sound, who or what were your inspirations
Through my life I have always been inspired by so much different music and people. I grew up around classical music. As I mentioned before many people in my family played instruments. But also many people in my family listened to all kinds of music from an early age and it truly inspired me like Classical, Rock, Blues, Jazz, Motown, Metal, etc… I could go on and on. I am able to find good in all forms of music and enjoy listening to a lot of different stuff. Part of that just comes from being surrounded by so much diverse music as a child. For many years now I really enjoy listening to a variety of music, for instance like middle eastern music. It’s unique characteristics and favor has inspired me so much over the years and I think you can hear it in the music I create and the passages I write.

· Has it in some way been therapeutically for you? You’ve had harsh experiences as a child, young adult and even in recent years. You’ve suffered many personal losses. You have also described yourself as a juvenile delinquent in interviews… You seem to be happy now and at peace even though your music and lyrics would make one think otherwise.
Music changed my life and in so many ways and saved me from a dead end path that I was projected to go on. I struggled as a child in so many ways that was out of my control which led me to be out of control. I have depended on music in a way for my life in order to deal with so much that has happened in my life. Through personal struggles and tragedies, music has gotten me through some really tough times. Playing music gave me focus and purpose in life and has completely been therapeutic. Playing the form of music I have has allowed me a vessel to express all that negative emotion and channel it into something constructive and positive. Playing music for all these years has made me a much more healthier person and have no idea where I would be without it.

· In 2002, you released what many describe as your breakthrough album, "King Of All Kings". It launched Hate Eternal to new heights of popularity. The bands first-ever video, "Powers That Be", aired on MTV2's Headbanger's Ball and Fuse's Uranium? Breaking through, as a band is the ultimate goal for all bands as are rave reviews and sold out venues. But album releases or performances also come with negative criticism at times or just plain unjust personal opinions. How do you deal with the good and the bad of this facet of the industry?
King Of All Kings was such a monumental album for Hate Eternal and for myself. Very proud of that album and hard to believe we released that 15 years ago. It has a special spot for me in my heart for it was the last album that my former bassist Jared Anderson who has since passed away played on. We worked very hard together on that album and wrote some great songs together as well. It was a great moment and time in my career. That album definitely put us onto a new map per say.

When it comes to negative opinions and whatnot, critique and criticism comes with the territory. You have to learn to have a tough skin in order to survive through all of noise as I call it. It is much more prominent now with the ability to express yourself online in so many ways. I learned to listen to the constructive criticism and ignore the noise as to keep my sanity. Everyone is entitled to their opinion but keeping true to yourself and believing in what you do is the key to success and self preservation.

· The new album ‘Infernus’ is fantastic, it’s really heavy and everything a death metal album should be.

It’s been four years since Hate Eternal released ‘Phoenix Amongst the Ashes.’ What were the reasons behind this gap and how long ago did the writing process start for Infernus ?

Thank you very much! We worked really hard to capture something special and magical that encapsulates all of who we are as musicians, people and who Hate Eternal is as an entity who it has become. I feel like “Infernus” is one of our crown achievements from the songwriting to the performances to the production. Super proud of our effort and the dynamics and diversity we showcased in the songwriting and paying within the context of a death metal album. Usually it takes us 3 years inbetween albums for I am always producing a lot of records inbetween those album cycles. Album production takes up so much of my time and energy. When I am producing an album my whole life is focused on that album at that moment in time. It absorbs all of me. Also between touring a bunch for each album and me being very picky with the songwriting and whatnot it just takes time. This one just took a bit longer then our usual 3 years for many reasons, mostly due to all of my other commitments. To me, I would rather everything be done right rather then rush it. Albums are forever, that is something I tell myself regularly. They are so important to me. I think for “Infernus” we had started like 16 or so songs but only went forward with the best 10. We really scrutinized everything to get the best of everything and it is one of my proudest achievements in my career I feel for so many reasons.

· Far from a solo project, Hate Eternal is a band whose three members are each crucial and indispensible. Would you like to tell us a little about the band dynamics?

To me, being a 3 piece is something very special. Everyone has to be the best at what they do, especially in a live format. It gives everyone their own creative space and uniqueness. It is so important that every individual creates something special so that the collective is a powerhouse. Being on stage as a 3 piece is amazing. Everyone has a lot of responsibility as well as a certain freedom as well. It is very special and powerful.

· What do you look for in band members, obviously talent, but what other qualities?
Just as important as talent and musicality is the vibe and character of the person. Work ethic, dedication, loyalty and above all really is the chemistry. So much of a band is the chemistry amongst it’s members. 
I like the band to be a tight knit group of people with similar goals and all being on the same page. 
Different personalities and creativity is fantastic though in a band and collaboration I believe is what makes some of the best music. 
Each individual’s uniqueness and creativity brings something to the table all to form a team of individuals with a collective goal and approach.

· I’ve not often seen questions about all your album’s artwork. It’s definitely symbolic. The recurring themes, colors, darkness. Tell us a little about their creation and creator?
We have had multiple artists over the years craft our album covers. Working with Paul Romano for 3 albums and now Eliran Kantor for “Infernus” were some of my favorite experiences. Working with both artists was quite different but both had a similar intense approach even though stylistically very different and unique to their own methods. 
I always share with the artist the theme and concepts behind the lyrics and the album title. Then I send them pre production of the songs for them to listen to and the lyrics if they choose to help with the creativity and vibe. 
I tend to share with them personal influences behind the album and what helped manifest our works for the album. 
I also like to let the artist have his own space to create their own masterpiece per say that works with the album’s concept. We have always strived to have a uniqueness to the artwork to match the originality of the music. I love all of our album covers for that very reason. 
Keeping them different and original. I have been so fortunate to work with such amazing artists who share my vision and interpretation of the band and the music and lyrics. Paul is an incredible artist and was so great to work together. Eliran, who just did “Infernus” put in so much attention to detail and it was an absolute pleasure to work with him also. 
I look forward to working on the next album together. They are both artists in the true sense of the word and I love being able to work with artists who give their all to match the blood, sweat and tears put into the music. To have the visual pair up with the aural landscape.

· You are definitely an accomplished artist and a veteran! Not only are you a reference in your genre of music but also you are a renowned producer. You opened up your own recording studios Mana Studios, in Florida, recording greats such as, Nile, old band mates Morbid Angel, Vital Remains, Cannibal Corpse and so many more but also showing incredible versatility by recording genres that are completely different, ‘GoatWhore’ for example. What drove you to become a record producer and start your own business? How do you balance both your artistic career and the more technical business side of the business?
Really tough to balance both careers and owning a business but when you have such passion for it all which I do I just look forward to accomplishing great things and staying true to what I do. 
Most of my life has been surrounded by and submerged in music. I just love music and am always aware of how special it is for me to be able to do what I do. I remember my first time in a studio when I was like 16 or 17 years old, playing guitar, I just thought it was amazing! I knew from a young age I wanted to have my own studio someday to record my own music as well as my friend’s bands and whatnot. 
It certainly progressed much further then that over all these years and have been able to do so many great things in music. Actually, recording the Ripping Corpse album when I was 19 at an amazing studio called Quantum Sound made me realize I wanted to do this and have two careers in music. I wanted to be a producer who understood heavier music, someone that musicians could depend on and trust to understand the kind of music I play and listen to. 
Back then in 1991, there were not a lot of engineers/producers who fully grasped or understood how to record death metal and more extreme stuff. There are a ton of amazing engineers and producers out there for sure, but there were not a lot of engineers who specialized in this form of music. Of course, I wanted to be a great engineer of vast diversity so I could record other forms of music as well but knew my niche would be heavier music. 
I went to Institute of Audio Research in NYC in 1992 and learned so much. Then worked at a studio briefly before I started playing with Morbid Angel in 1993. Then I was touring so much I was not able to work at a studio and moved to Florida from New Jersey but always kept my eye on the goal and dream of owning my own studio. 
In 1999, that is when it all came to fruition and I opened Mana Recording. In 2003, I decided to leave Morbid Angel and really focus on Mana Recording, my producing and Hate Eternal and the rest is history. 
I am so fortunate and grateful to been able to work with so many amazing bands in the studio. Such rewarding and hard work. 
Albums are forever and that will be a huge part of my legacy when I am gone. Honored to have been a part of Ripping Corpse, Morbid Angel, Hate Eternal and Alas musically and all the great bands in the studio that I have worked with too numerous to mention like Cannibal Corpse, Goatwhore, Morbid Angel, Agnostic Front, Madball, Tombs, Soilent Green, The Mountain Goats,etc..….I could go on and on, so grateful!

· They have just announced you will be playing Hellfest for the first time with Hate Eternal in 2017! Are you still as excited about touring and doing big festivals as you were, say, 20 years ago?
To be able to play Hellfest is huge!! Going to be fantastic! Being on stage and performing is such a big part of my life, has been for so many years and my passion for being on stage is always alive and strong. I never take anything for granted in life. That I have learned through trials and tribulations in my life. Been so fortunate to have had such an amazing career as a musician for 25 years plus!

· Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I see myself continuing what I started so many years ago but expanding upon everything I do. I would love to write more music and do different projects, also continue to produce and work with all kinds of music as well as continue on the path I have been on for so long. I love metal so much, have since I was 10 years old and I know I will always continue to write, work and produce in this music for a long time. 
It is my life’s blood! I also see myself maybe someday doing some educational stuff, also maybe helping out troubled kids through music and my life experiences. The future is bright and I look forward to facing new challenges and trying new things in my life and career.

Rapid-fire questions:

· Who’s your all time favorite guitarist?

So tough to choose one but Eddie Van Halen might have to be at the top of the list.

· Do you have a hero and if yes who is it?
My Mother.

· Who in your life inspires you the most
My Wife.

· Who motivates and encourages you the most
My Mother and my Wife.

· What was the first album you bought?
Iron Maiden “Iron Maiden”

· Your favorite band ever?
So hard to say……..If I had to pick one…Iron Maiden, just because of the impact it had on me.

· Pizza or pasta? 

· Fast food or fancy dinner?
Fancy dinner for sure.

· Trains, planes or automobiles?

**Thanks to Paola Simonetto, images courtesy by Erik Rutan, Alex Morgan Imaging e Edward Linsmier.

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