by R.S. Frost
Louis Rando is one of Australia’s premier extreme metal drummers. Claiming the throne in 1995, Louis has played in a staggering number of bands over the past two decades and, if his current project involvement is anything to go by, shows no signs of slowing down for the foreseeable future.
Most notably, Louis is the drummer, vocalist, guitarist and bassist for Australian black/death metal band THE FUROR, handling both drumming and vocal duties in the live setting. Louis has also been the drummer for Singapore’s IMPIETY since 2011. More recently, Louis has shifted his efforts towards brutal death metal with Australia’s DEPRAVITY.
In order to gain insight into such a formidable resume, I began our conversation with Louis’ formative years and how he came to be the skilled drummer and extreme metal luminary that he is today.
- I was born here in Perth, Western Australia, in 1979. I really don't think that geography has shaped my music tastes, but it does play a part in the logistics of touring/reaching like-minded people etc. We're very isolated here in Perth so it costs much more to travel, that fact alone does fill me with some frustration. There isn't a preferred style of metal being played here in Perth, I don't think WA is known for a particular sound, so there's no influence to be taken from there. We just enjoy extreme music from all over the world, and do our best to keep the standard of our own output as high as possible.
I would watch music shows like Rage and Video Hits constantly, that's how I discovered all the bands of the time. MOTLEY CRÜE, BON JOVI, PEARL JAM, POISON, AEROSMITH, METALLICA, MENTAL AS ANYTHING, DIESEL, Jimmy Barnes, CROWDED HOUSE, RED HOT CHILLI PEPPERS, NIRVANA… whatever TV fed me. Then when I was in year eight, a friend gave me a tape of MORBID ANGEL's ‘Blessed are the Sick’ and SLAYER's ‘Seasons in the Abyss’. I LOVED it. It blew me away.
Around that time I started listening to Perth's late-night metal show 'Behind the Mirror' and that was my full education of extreme black/death/avant-garde metal. Pete Dunstan (RIP) would play the BEST extreme/black metal of the time (1994) and I would record it all to tape and listen constantly. That was the explosion of the Scandinavian black metal scene, DISSECTION, BATHORY, DARKTHRONE, IMMORTAL, MAYHEM, VED BUENS ENDE, AURA NOIR, EMPEROR, ZYKLON B, BURZUM, THORNS, GORGOROTH and SATYRICON were all on high rotation, as well as heaps of other crazy stuff from around the world. The depth and quality of that radio show were immense. Pete played the most violent and eccentric music, and it seems fitting to pay my respects to him for being the wildest and tastiest DJ of that time, in my opinion.
I then joined my first band, DYBBUK, in 1995. We played a mix of black/death/thrash and we got thoroughly addicted to performing, writing and recording. Then I started doing shows with PAGAN locally in 1997, and I've been going as hard as I can ever since.
The term “going hard” is an adequate, if not understated, representation of your musical endeavours since the mid-90s. I must have seen you play around 20 times in at least five bands over the past decade, and that’s just in Australia. Can you take us through your project involvement so far?
- Many different bands over the years. Dybbuk, Pagan, LET'S KILL UNCLE, MILITANT MASS,
PSYCHONAUT, PATHOGEN, CHOKE, The Furor, NERVECELL (Dubai), Impiety (Singapore), MALIGNANT MONSTER, MHORGL, EARTH ROT, BLOODLUST, FRAGARAK (India), DEMONSTEALER (India), CAMBION (USA) and Depravity.
Now I'm trying to keep it simple and focus on two bands at a time. I'm doing less session recording too. I'd like to focus on fewer projects in the coming years as I was spreading myself a bit thin there for a while.
Sometime in the mid-late 2000s, I remember seeing The Furor for the first time as the opener for an international headliner, whom I cannot recall at this point. My attention was immediately drawn to, not only, the drummer/singer combo, but also how insanely fast and unrelenting the drums were throughout the entire set. My mind was boggled at how a person could perform at this level of consistent intensity, whilst simultaneously holding down vocal duties.
How did The Furor begin, and how did you come to take on multiple performance duties within the band, both in the studio and live settings?
- The Furor began in 2002 after the split of my previous band PAGAN. That band ended sooner than I wanted so I put the word out to start something equally (or more) ferocious. Soon after, Nick (ex SAMAIN) and Jon (ex HATED BY HUMANITY) responded and we went from there. I had previously been doing drums and vocals for Pagan so I continued to do so for The Furor. I really enjoy doing vocals and writing lyrics so there was no thought of ever getting a conventional frontman for the band.
Playing drums and vocals simultaneously does prove to be a challenge, but it's a challenge that I'm happy to accept. It's a great feeling and comes quite naturally. After many lineup hardships, I was left on my own, yet still had the urge to continue the band – after all, I did write much of the music (guitars etc.) for the past albums.
I enjoy playing guitar and found myself playing more and more and I improved to the point where I could really express what I wanted with the songs, and I really enjoy the freedom of being able to have full control over the writing aspect. For that reason, I was able to rapidly release the last three offerings, ‘Sermon of Slaughter’, ‘Impending Revelation' and 'Cavalries of the Occult'. I reformed with a live lineup four years ago for some shows, but it proved difficult as the other members all had other bands, which were their main priorities. Fair enough.
In 2011 Louis joined the black/death war machine Impiety, with 2012’s ‘Ravage & Conquer’ as his recording debut. I’m curious as to how you came to join Impiety and whether you experienced any trepidation regarding the album, being the “new guy” in a band that had been reasonably popular and active for some time by this point?
- I joined Impiety in July 2011 after messaging Shyaithan on Facebook. I had been a huge fan for about ten years and noticed he was seemingly having trouble finding a steady lineup. I had just finished with Nervecell and was very eager to get on board with an established touring band playing that reckless black/death style as Impiety does. That style is exactly what I've been striving for my whole career. I sent Shyaithan a message expressing my interest, I also sent some videos of me playing Impiety songs on drums and he was impressed enough to have me join (as he didn't have a drummer at that point). I was in the right place at the right time I guess.
The first thing I did with the band was a hectic nine-show tour of South Asia and shortly after that I recorded the album ‘Ravage and Conquer’. I didn't have any input into the writing of that album, as Shyaithan always does the writing on his own. He wrote that whole album in three weeks actually, crazy.
I went to Singapore for seven days to learn and record the drum parts, which was a real rush actually, so I didn't have much time to refine and get creative with the drum parts, although I think I played what was necessary and slotted in with the band quite well. I was just happy to stand back and watch Shyaithan do his thing. He's very focused and sure of himself when writing/recording, which is a great relief actually because I'm usually the one doing much of the work within bands. I was allowed to just be a drummer. We think very much the same regarding music so there's no “clashing” or arguing of any kind. It's obvious to me what needs to be done and we just work it hard. I knew I had to perform very well as Impiety has a history of great drummers, so it was a great platform to push my skills to the utter limit, and a pleasure to put my drumming into a band I've been a fan of for so long. It was a great challenge that I had been lusting for.
How do you find touring with Impiety and spending a lot of time in Southeast Asia? I can imagine that, being from Australia, your experience would differ greatly than the rest of the band.
- I thoroughly enjoy it. I was used to touring with Nervecell; we played in Europe, India, Sri Lanka and Asia before, so it was more of the same, but with different personalities. Shyaithan is super organised with touring and has every aspect mapped out very well in advance. He's older than me, and a few steps ahead in this game so it's great to learn from him. He's like an older brother. Touring in Asia can be very tiring actually because you need to fly everywhere. I think we took 13 flights in 15 days on one tour, so it's not as easy as having a bus with a driver. The airport transits really weigh on you after a while.
On the bright side, I really enjoy the culture shock. I love the variety that Asia offers and always learn a lot about myself and the world when I go there. Asia is such a busy place compared to Australia, so that really stimulates me to be productive and persevere when I return home.
I'm often the odd one out when in Asia, being the only Australian, but everyone treats me with respect and most are genuinely curious about me and how I came to be there with the Singaporeans. I'm very proud to have been to these countries and seen them in a way that very few get to witness. It ain't like being a normal tourist that's for sure. I think it's far more exciting and I'm glad I get to contribute and be productive when I'm there. What could be more interesting than witnessing underground subcultures of a foreign country, as an entertainer? It's a great angle to have.
I’m curious if you have noticed any major differences in the attitudes of audiences you perform for, given you have toured some places with significantly different cultural norms to Australia and the western world in general.
- The perspectives do alter on a surface level, but generally people all over the world are more alike than anything. There's definitely different gig etiquette. For instance, Germans see a lot of bands so can be reserved or picky, but when they go hard, they go REALLY HARD. Europeans, in general, are very organised and knowledgeable in terms of bands and current goings-on.
Indonesians are death metal maniacs and go absolute wild most of the time. They're no strangers to it. The scene in India is somewhat newer so they seem a bit more reserved in their behaviour, yet fully hospitable. The crowds in Thailand are very enthusiastic and savage; they love their extreme black/thrash metal.
Americans I found very respectable and friendly. Always keen for a chat. Bare in mind these are just generalisations as much of the crowds’ response depends on how long metal has been a fixture in their country, and how the behavioural expectations of their culture shape the people. The East can be more reserved, the West can be louder, but most metalheads are wild and don't give a fuck about norms and that’s what makes them so relatable to me.
What factors, if any in your view, have enabled or encouraged you to persevere with your creative activities for all of these years?
- Definitely having a supportive family and rehearsal space when growing up allowed me to increase my desire and skills. Surrounding myself with positive and productive musicians has made life easy and way more fun. Having a work situation that has allowed me to take time off to tour as well – that is a major hurdle many musicians struggle with. Being involved in a healthy local scene and having the opportunity to perform and socialise with likeminded people has always propelled me forward too. We always had somewhere to play, and that is super important for me because I'm an old school/hands-on type of person. Navigating the online world is not my strongest point.
Given your level of enthusiasm regarding the World Wide Web, I wonder how you see its impact and effect on your music and the music industry in general?
- The internet became commonplace seven years after we began, and that resulted in an explosion of bands worldwide with more connectivity and more opportunity for all. Metal surely lives online now whereas before it only lived in your personal collection. I'm glad we were introduced to music pre-internet. I didn't take it so much for granted, and we were more patient. Pre-internet people are somehow a different breed.
What else… this recent movement of censorship and antifa is ridiculous. Silly loudmouths, who have no interest in the genre, making shitty decisions for all involved. Metal is surely less underground than it was when we discovered it also. Black metal and extreme metal has made its way into pop-culture in various ways, and most people have a basic idea of what it's about now. That certainly wasn't the case in 1994. All genres are evolving too. Any bizarre niche you can think of has been mastered and taken to its limits.
Last year Louis appeared on the first full-length release from Perth’s brutal death metal band Depravity, titled ‘Evil Upheaval’. This band features a smorgasbord of Western Australia’s extreme metal luminaries and has been delivering punishing live shows across the country since the release.
How did Depravity come together and how do you find playing in a straight death metal band after years spent in the black and thrash styles?
- I have known all the members of Depravity ever since I started playing shows and Jarrod and Lynton were involved in the previous band Malignant Monster. I have known Ainsley since the late ‘90s and I also played with him in SCOURGE, and Jamie has been a long-time friend also.
After Malignant Monster came to an end, myself and the guitarists were still eager to continue so we called upon our long-time friends to complete the lineup. Not only our long-time friends but also very solid and dedicated musos who stood the test of time within the Perth metal scene. Creating Depravity's music is no problem, as I'd previously been performing and writing with Jarrod and Lynton in Malignant Monster for about four years in a similar style, and I grew up on death metal so it's really no problem to play that instead of black/thrash metal. In my mind, extreme drumming is extreme drumming, and all the basic queues are the same. I just listen to what they're playing and try to play something suitable and tasty that “locks in”.
This article is an excerpt of the full interview conducted, which further explores Louis’ formative years and the impact music had at a young age, the art of extreme touring, and the musical and personal motivating factors that keep one going along the way.
The full interview is available in the print edition of Inner Missive #3, alongside discussions with ASCENSION FESTIVAL, SLIDHR, VOID REVELATIONS, DAWN OF AZAZEL, PERDITION TEMPLE, WINTERFYLLETH, TEMPLE KOLUDRA, CULT NEVER DIES, TODD HANSEN, BY NORSE MUSIC, MUNT, DEVOURING STAR, ZAZEN SOUNDS, THE SENSELESS, FUCK I’M DEAD, SUFFERING HOUR, DISENTOMB, DEHN SORA, A MILLION DEAD BIRDS LAUGHING, KARMAZID, ENTHRONED, KRIEG, WEREWOLVES, GRAVEIR, SUNS OF SORATH, KAFIRUN, UMBRA CONSCIENTIA, EARLY PSYCROPTIC, MEPHISTOPHELES, MALAKHIM, BLAZE OF PERDITION, CHALICE OF BLOOD, MANNVEIRA, HAXANDRAOK and ZHRINE.