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Abigail Williams Interview

A Conversation with Thomas G. Plaguehammer and Ken Sorceron


Abigail Williams

Abigail Williams

Candlelight Records
Updated November 19, 2008
It’s been an eventful few years for Abigail Williams. After their debut EP received a lot of critical praise, the band disbanded. They regrouped with several new members, and went into the studio under the watchful eye of producer James Murphy (Death/Testament). The result is In The Shadow Of A Thousand Suns, which finds the band’s sound evolving away from any ‘core influences and into straight ahead black metal. Samus is now the band’s permanent drummer, but Trym (Emperor/Enslaved) played on several tracks on the album. Bassist Thomas G. Plaguehammer and vocalist/guitarist Ken Sorceron give us the scoop on the split and reunion, the origin of the name Abigail Williams, some of their favorite bands and many other topics.

The band broke up for a while after your EP was released. What led to the split, the reunion, and the current lineup?
Thomas G. Plaguehammer: After the Dark Funeral/Enslaved tour in early '07 is when the band officially went into hiatus. There were a bit of personal issues going on that led to the split. Sorceron continued to work on music with Mike (lead guitar), who had just joined the band on that tour, and Mike got in touch with me looking for a drummer. I auditioned via video a few days later and got the gig. The band then relocated to Cleveland, Ohio where we continued to rehearse and work on music for a few months. Due to an injury and other unforeseen circumstances, I moved to bass, and Zach Gibson and Bjorn Dannov were asked to rejoin the fold last minute. That’s also when Kristen Randall (Winds of Plague) came into the picture. That lineup went on tour last November/December with Vader, Malevolent Creation, and Cattle Decapitation. After that, it was obvious some things were just not working, so once again we were keyboard and drummer-less. We got back in touch with Ashley (Ellyllon, keyboards), and found Samus through Roadrunner A&R rep Mike Gitter. That’s where we stand now.

You’ve been living all over the place. What’s the band’s current home base?
Plaguehammer: Well, Ken is the only one that’s been switching location every few months. This "reformation" of Abigail started in Cleveland, then Ken moved in with James Murphy outside of Tampa for pre-production for a few months, then moved to New York where we finished up the record, and now he resides just outside L.A. County. Bjorn and Ashley had relocated to NYC temporarily, but remained in Phoenix mostly. Samus resides in New Jersey, and Mike and I reside in Cleveland still. So, we are all over the place - which I think is healthy for all of us to have that space from each other between touring. It's not that we don't get along, but to be stuck with each other for months touring, then to see each other all the time after tour would be a bit too much.

What was it about Abigail Williams and the Salem Witch era that inspired you to name your band after her?
Plaguehammer: True black metal bands, especially the elite, all have strong iconic identities. Some of them have to do with fiction, religion, and others are based in cultural histories or national folklore. When deciding on the name of this band, we looked to our history – we didn’t look to Scandinavia for the answer, nor did we want to resort to some mystical, fictional, or typical metal name. We wanted it to be truly American, and truly sinister. The Crucible, a story by Arthur Miller that most of us had to read in school growing up, brought us to Abigail Williams.

Abigail Williams was a young girl in New England who accused many people of witchcraft, and due to her false testimonies, sent most of the accused to their deaths. This story, although liberal in its exaggerations, really affected us. The accuser is always relevant in society. In America there were the witch trials, the Red Scare, and now terrorism. Everyone is always quick to point a finger; we do it out of fear, prejudice, and because of things we don’t understand. So, the accuser will always be present in society. Abigail Williams really stuck out to us, not only due to the above mentioned, but also because it possessed that iconic quality, while still sounding very American. We want people to know where we are from, and that even though it may not be cool/trendy, we are proud of our American culture.

How did you come to Candlelight’s attention?
Ken Sorceron: Lee Barrett contacted us on the internet with interest in signing us to Candlelight. This was just due to exposure on MySpace. After some lineup changes and some new demos we signed the deal.

How has the band’s sound progressed from your EP to In The Shadow Of A Thousand Suns?
Plaguehammer: I think it was pretty naturally really. I mean, you had almost a completely different cast of people in those early days. I think the addition of Mike, Samus, and myself helped influence the music to take an even darker/heavier turn. But, I also think this change was already happening, because even when listening to the EP, the further you listen, the less Gothenburg sounding it becomes, and by the last song, it's straight ahead black metal.

Did you make a conscious effort to back off from metalcore/deathcore, or is that just how the songs naturally turned out?
Plaguehammer: I think I just kind of answered that one. And actually, most of us are pretty old school, with the exception of our drummer, we are older than people think. We grew up with Bay Area thrash, Floridan/Swedish Death Metal of the early ‘90s and early black metal. That’s still what we listen to 90% of the time. We like some newer bands, but mostly we keep it old school. We never saw ourselves as a metalcore of deathcore band.

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