Editor’s Note: It was so good to have a serious yet fun-loving conversation with The Agony Scene vocalist Mike Williams on religion, music, the writing process, and so much more! We were at the Skyway Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota for Summer Slaughter and The Agony Scene have gained some momentum for their release “Tormentor” and are set to provide support for Unearth and Fit For An Autopsy on a November tour. Fans can find The Agony Scene at the following locations:
Madness To Creation: We were just talking about haunted houses based on how spooky this venue is, do you believe in haunted houses or have you been to one?
Mike: I’m not sure. We played at a place called Slosh Furnace a million years ago, it was called Furnace Fest back in 2002 or 2003, and I guess there was a large industrial exit, and backstage you could walk around the work area and we may have felt a presence, but we also thought it was all in our heads because we were younger kids and we wanted to be scared of something, I’ve never seen any definitive proof of that, but I’m always open to the idea of something that makes life more interesting.
Madness To Creation: I once communicated with someone from Nigeria using an Ouija Board, have you ever messed around with that?
Mike: Probably, but not the way other people have, I’ve never had a profound experience with an Ouija Board, but I’m sure some of my dumb high school friends were getting in trouble, and that probably factored in at some point, along with listening to music we weren’t really supposed to be listening to and smoking cigarettes behind somebody’s house, so I’m sure it happened.
Madness To Creation: Was there certain music that you weren’t allowed to listen to growing up?
Mike: All of it! I was raised in a strict Christian household, and we weren’t allowed to have what people would call secular music, which I’m sure anybody who grew up in that background would understand that term, so I had to listen to the Christian version of punk rock or metal when I was a kid, and all of the other stuff felt more dangerous and more appealing that way because it was evil and we weren’t allowed to have it, it probably had an adverse affect on parents because it drew me more towards the darker “bad” quote en quote stuff.
Madness To Creation: Are you drawn more towards secular music?
Mike: For sure, I don’t listen to too much Christian music.
Madness To Creation: I have a play-on question that involves your band name, describe a peaceful scene but there’s lots of agony involved.
Mike: Waiting patiently in line for DMV related or having to renew a license, trying to be a human being and trying to uphold the social code of not freaking out because it sucks so much, but at the same time internally, I want to leave cause it’s taking four hours sort of thing. Traffic is a good one, I guess you can freak out in your car. It seems peaceful from the outside perspective.
Madness To Creation: I hear you man, I had someone about sideswipe me on my way up here. You brought up some internal stuff, is that what you would say you write your music about?
Mike: Some of it! Every record has been different, this new one has been sort of about religious fanaticism mixed with psychosis, kind of those extremes that people can do, every song is different though. It’s more of like the double-edged sword kind of like the faith healing which has done good things to some people but also having bad situations that is mixed with mental instability and cruelty and misusing it for your own purposes for nefarious reasons. That’s kind of the true line of the record, the older stuff is a lot more internal. The first record is almost entirely about a girl, that was when I was 18 and I was sad. *laughs*
Madness To Creation: Raging hormones I suppose!
Mike: Of course! Stupid unrequited love, not a beautiful thing to go through with your kids.
Madness To Creation: Do you think religious fanaticism draws people away from the Christian faith or religion in general?
Mike: I think there’s a fanatical side to any movement or idea where it’s taken to an extreme that quote en quote “regular” people or where most of society, it has a polarizing effect on people where people don’t want to be involved in the extreme end of whatever it is, whether it’s faith or being a conservative or being a Republican, or a liberal or whatever it is, all of the extremes have this sort of push back effect on people, so I think that in any capacity is a turnoff to most average people.
Madness To Creation: Take us into “Tormentor” and what got The Agony Scene to thinking, “we have to do this again”?
Mike: 2014, we played a reunion show, me Chris, and Brian had a couple conversations where we were like, “wouldn’t it be fun to play a show”, and that sort of turned into playing a show at home, it was almost a sort of like a high school reunion with everybody from the scene back in the day(our music scene rather), it sort of sparked the interest of saying that we should write music again and that turned into making an EP, and that turned into making a full-length, and over the course of the next four years we sort of decided to make an album, and had some interest from a label that we had a relationship with in the past along with others, and recorded it last year in Nashville with Mark Lewis, then waited a year, and then sat on it, then we were sitting, planning, and scheming, and planning on how to do this correctly in this phase of our lives, with the sort of new landscape that music is now.
Madness To Creation: What caused the year wait?
Mike: We wanted to be completely confident in what we were putting out, there were probably 25 songs and we narrowed it down to nine, we had a lot of material that we sort of went through and weeded out stuff that we didn’t think was as good, and tried to put the best of other stuff that we had going forward. We weren’t in any rush, there was no deadline for us to make an album, we wanted to make sure that we had all the ducks in a row in order to do something that we were proud of.
Madness To Creation: The Agony Scene released a music video called “Ascent And Decline”, in which the song title sounds like Bo Jackson’s career, take us into that song.
Mike: *laughs* Have you seen Bo Jackson jump out of a river? It was like two feet above the water, the man is freakishly strong!
Madness To Creation: Bo Jackson was a freak of nature. Take us into the song, and what advice would you give to a band using the song title.
Mike: The video to “Ascent And Decline” is essentially a performance piece where we ran a larger treatment for it and it just wasn’t going to come out the way we wanted it to, so it became essentially a performance piece. It was a live setting that we filmed at home, nothing too crazy. The best advice I could give is just don’t break up and don’t stop until it’s obvious that you have to stop, that’s really the only advice that makes sense, we did for ten years, and I don’t know where we would be if we didn’t. A lot of people keep going and that’s how you get longevity. Keep trying! If you want to do it, you have to keep doing it.
Madness To Creation: To me, it sounds like it would be better to not do it than do it halfway, just go all the way with it.
Mike: Everything worth doing is.
Madness To Creation: Serpents use their tongue to navigate. Do you like or hate snakes?
Mike: I am indifferent. I don’t like to see them when I don’t expect to see them but otherwise I don’t have a problem with them. I ride a bicycle a lot and we have river trails at home and sometimes snakes just appear out of nowhere and I don’t like that, but if I know one is around, I don’t have a problem with it.
Madness To Creation: Anything else you would like to add?
Mike: No! *laughs* Our new record is called “Tormentor” follow us on our socials cause we post all kinds of fun shit.
And there you have it! Thank you to Mike Williams of The Agony Scene for this fun conversation. As I mentioned earlier, The Agony Scene and Traitors will be providing direct support for Unearth and Fit For An Autopsy in November. Check out the tour dates below.
Fri. 11/2- Saint Vitus in Brooklyn, New York
Sat. 11/3- Sonia Live Music Venue in Cambridge, Massachusetts
Sun. 11/4- Fish Head Cantina in Halethorpe, Maryland
Mon. 11/5- Voltage Lounge in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Tue. 11/6- The Drunk Horse Pub in Fayetteville, North Carolina
Wed. 11/7- Alchemy Ballroom in Ocala, Florida
Thu. 11/8- O’Malley’s Sports Bar in Pompano Beach, Florida
Fri. 11/9- Haven Lounge in Winter Park, Florida
Sat. 11/10- The Orpheum in Tampa, Florida
Mon. 11/12- Scout Bar in Houston, Texas
Tue. 11/13- Alamo City Music Hall in San Antonio, Texas
Wed. 11/14- Gas Monkey Bar ‘N’ Grill in Dallas, Texas
Thu. 11/15- Diamond Ballroom in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Fri. 11/16- Firebird in St. Louis, Missouri
Sat. 11/17- The Forge in Joliet, Illinois
Sun. 11/18- Magic Stick in Detroit, Michigan
For tickets and further information on any of the shows listed above, click here!