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Long-standing Maryland veterans Internal Void called it quits a while back, then reformed briefly to play live in 2016. Comrade Aleks spoke to Kelly Carmichael, hoping that might be a permanent reunion...

Interview with Internal Void.
"Heard about Maryland doom, but haven't heard any of it yet? Well, Internal Void is one of its most significant representatives, and has been in business since 1987. The band was formed by guitarist Kelly Carmichael, vocalist J.D. Williams, bass player Adam S. Heinzmann and drummer Eric Little. The band left only three full-length records as a legacy, and the last one - 'Matricide' - was released in 2004, but Kelly and Adam have since managed to take part in recording Pentagram's 'Show 'Em How', while J.D. spent a lot of time with the band War Injun. Internal Void reformed in 2015 in order to play at the Maryland Doom Fest 2016… So, is the band alive? Kelly Carmichael knows."


Internal Void, 2012: Adam S. Heinzmann (bass), J.D. Williams (vocals), Brian Michael Gould (drums) and Kelly Carmichael (guitar).


Hail, Kelly! First of all, thanks for your time, and secondly – what's the current status of Internal Void? Are you working on new songs or did you reunite only to play a few gigs last year?

My pleasure and thanks for reaching out! Yes, we reunited strictly for the Maryland Doom Fest. We didn't play anything new, but we did resurrect the song "Internal Void". It hadn't been played for like 25 years, kind of strange why it hibernated for so long. Currently, nothing happening in the I.V. camp.

How did Internal Void get on the Maryland Doom Festival in May 2016? Was it your initiative? Or did the organizers find you? What's the chance of seeing the band live in 2017?

JB Matson is a longtime friend of ours, and in the early to mid '90's we played at his yearly parties, they were great times! Yes, he invited us to play the MDF and it was truly an amazing evening, so glad we were able to do it! JB and the MDF staff really know how to put a stellar festival together. I'm not seeing anything happening for IV in 2017.


Internal Void, live at MDF 2016.


How did you feel after that gig? The participant in such a big festival showed that the band is still in demand today. Isn't that a good motivation to keep on rocking?

It was such a great night, we played right before the Obsessed and it was really packed, and lot of our old school fans made it out that night. We had our original drummer Eric Little (Earthride) grace the stage for a couple of songs which was a surreal moment. It was awesome, I'm looking forward to going again this year!

Yes, it is a motivation to keep rocking, and finally this style of music has really taken off and I'm happy to see bands like The Obsessed and Pentagram that have been around for so long finally getting the commercial recognition they deserve. For I.V., logistically it just hasn't been let's say, convenient for us all to move forward in a professional sense to take Internal Void to the next level. Others in the band have families and jobs so there are those obstacles and my hurdle is chronic pain, it's really kept me from performing consistently for the past 5 years, but I'm working through it with a naturopathic approach.

What are reasons of Internal Void low activity? Do you consider it rather as a project today?

Well as of now we're retired, so it's not really a project either, other than still re-releasing earlier stuff on vinyl. Once Ronnie Kalimon left I.V. in 2002, Adam and I did the stint in Pentagram with Mike Smail (Penance/Pentagram) who joined I.V. afterwards, but by then, around 2006, we all became busy in our own lives. Personally I became more involved in my solo blues, and doing some touring, and a lot of regional dates, so my head was more and more in a totally different genre. Sometimes it's hard to balance the two. For the next six years I.V. would only play every 2-3 years. By then Brian Goad rejoined I.V. who had played with us back in '94.

After playing Roadburn in 2012, we entertained the idea to do a new I.V. album and began working on a few new songs. I was also writing music for a heavy solo album, and it was about this time when I began to really deal with chronic pain, so it was just too physically taxing for me to continue playing I.V., so I decided that it would be best for myself to step down from IV and focus solely on finishing my new record, and we did a farewell show in May of 2013. Now finally, my upcoming "Ultra-Hard Rock" album is in the home stretch, and just about ready to mix. I'll be making an announcement later in May/June.

Internal Void - 'Standing On The Sun':


The band was formed in 1987, when such iconic bands as Pentagram, Saint Vitus and Trouble had already started to explore Doom metal territories. How do you remember the first days of Internal Void? What drove you to choose this direction?

Well, we were all huge Sabbath heads for sure, Eric Little and I were in some previous bands together around '85-'86 playing a mixed bag of punk and metal covers, but it was in '85 when we caught the very last show of The Obsessed (self-titled line up) that was a defining moment. Then we then saw Pentagram in '86, and we had already been listening to both bands for a sometime, and of course we were into early St. Vitus, Trouble and so on…. I think these were turning points for us all genre wise. In '86 Eric and I along with Dave Sherman (Earthride) formed a band doing Sabbath and Vitus covers and we began writing too, which eventually became the first couple I.V. songs. One night in '87 on the way home from a Vitus show, Adam, Eric and I decided to form Internal Void and to keep it slow and heavy. We had five or so songs written pretty quickly, so we brought in our good friend JD Williams on the vocals and then played our first show in early-mid 1988.

I would say that the band turned out to be harder and cruder with each album. So if "Standing On The Sun" was a more doom rock album, "Unearthed" and then "Matricide" turned out to be angrier, heavier records. How do you see these changes in the band's sound from your position?

With Ronnie Kalimon the music had more energy, and a lot of 70's influences were coming to the surface as well. Lyrically, it became a bit more angry I guess, and J.D.'s vocal approach became more intense than it was on Standing, so it just evolved.


Internal Void, 1993.


What are your overall memories of being in a Doom band in the '90s? How do you remember the wave of grunge and alternative metal which some people say "stole" fans of more traditional metal genres?

Those were really the best of times, playing many wild parties and shows with Asylum/Unorthodox, Revelation, Spirit Caravan, Iron Man and Wretched… Early 90's we toured with St. Vitus, awesome time! The whole Maryland Doom scene was like a big family, and still is! Good peoples here. We were all on Hellhound Records together it was an exciting time for sure. I was never into the grunge thing much, I dug Soundgarden and all, but Nirvana didn't impress me at all until years later, but I was also beginning to venture into stuff like Robert Johnson and Mississippi John Hurt, learning ragtime and country blues.

The band recorded debut 'Standing on the Sun' in 1993, and the sophomore 'Unearthed' didn't see the light of day until 7 years later. How did you spend that period?

We were always active writing and performing in the years '94-'99. We had a couple different line ups prior to Ronnie Kalimon joining. Each time we were ready to record a record we would lose our drummer, we were like Spinal Tap minus the fatalities. We recorded a demo in '95, and one with Ronnie as well during this period. We then wrote Unearthed and soon signed to Southern Lord. We are planning to release some of our demo recordings soon, hoping later this year we can pull it all together.


Internal Void, 2002.


Internal Void released the debut 'Standing on the Sun' through Hellhound Records, then 'Unearthed' was on another influential label - Southern Lord - but I see 'Matricide' was published by your own label. Was it more difficult to find a proper label during that period? How did you usually collaborate with record companies?

Well the plan was to release Matricide on Southern Lord, but they passed on it, I believe it was more "rock" than "doom" for them to put out, so when Ronnie decided to leave we booked the studio and recorded it, since we were already rehearsed up to do so. A couple years later we returned to it and finished it up. I had set up Dogstreet Records solely for my solo blues, but I offered to release it.

Internal Void - 'With Apache Blood':


You have your blues-based solo project; do you have plans concerning it for 2017?

Yes! I have a couple records of material ready to record. The first release will be more amped up guitar of all original music, and the other is revisiting the 20' and 30's covers, however I may mix them up a bit, since I'll be recording them simultaneously, so we'll see…

There was the song 'With Apache Blood' on Internal Void's album 'Unearthed', and then War Injun have with some Indian songs too. Is that all from Mister J.D. Williams? Who's responsible for the lyrical content in the bands?

With War Injun, that was the late Kenny Staubs (founder/guitarist) who influenced the Native American theme as he himself was Cherokee, we all miss him a great deal. I do remember J.D. writing Apache Blood and describing the lyrics to me, it's one of my favorites. J.D. is truly one of the best lyricists.

By the way, modern Doom bands tend towards "evil" imagery and lyrics, while original Doom metal was usually about man's hard times, inner struggles or something like that. What do you think about these modern tendencies?

I don't really. Whatever floats their boat, as long as it's good, heavy and people dig it, then that's cool. Most doom bands already have some what of a dark feel and imagery anyway. However I find more "tangible" things like you mentioned, hard times and inner struggles to be far more "heavy" subjects to write about.

Pentagram - 'Show 'Em How':


Kelly, you took part in Pentagram's recording sessions for the album 'Show 'Em How'? How did you take the decision to join a band with such unstable status?

I've been trying to answer that question for years. haha, no… I went in purely for making the record. We really weren't foreseeing that lineup of Pentagram performing due to Bobby's condition, we just didn't think it was possible, and in the end we were right. When I was approached about it, I had learned that it would be three new songs and seventy percent of the 70's era, so I was very interested. I wouldn't have done it otherwise. Adam and I are both HUGE fans of the 70's era Pentagram, so with that in mind we both said yes, as well as to be a part of a band that had influenced us both so very much, and at the same time it was also a no brainer. After the Black Cat show though, with him overdosing in the dressing room, and paramedics having to revive him just minutes prior to us taking the stage, that was a bit much for us, haha… We had a couple dates booked in Germany, a few weeks away, and we fully realized Bobby was in no shape to do that, and he blew our pre-tour show. He would have certainly needed a handler, we just weren't set up to do so at the time. I'm glad we recorded "Show 'em How" but towards the end it became wasted time and energy.


Pentagram, 2004.


How did that recording session go? Did you have freedom to add your own ideas in the songs?

It went really well. Yes I was certainly able to add some ideas. That was a fun experience for sure. I remember on "Wheel of Fortune", I needed a tremolo bar, so I used Chris Kozlowski's vintage left handed SG, I just held it like a righty and I was able to play it strung upside down!

Aleks, thanks so much for the interview, holler back anytime!!


Click HERE to discuss this interview on the doom-metal forum.


Visit the Internal Void bandpage.

Interviewed on 2017-05-28 by Comrade Aleks Evdokimov.
Thermal Mass
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