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The Onion interviews Glen Benton of Decide

Decide's 1996 Once Upon The Cross

The A.V. Club, which started as a non-satirical pop culture supplement to The Onion, first went online in 1996. In honor of 1996 Week, we’re republishing vintage interviews from that year.

Deicide is one of the world’s better-known Satanic heavy metal bands, in part because of singer/bassist Glen Benton’s outspoken nature and deep, scary voice. The Onion recently spoke to Benton about his faith, and about his controversial album Once Upon The Cross.

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Onion: I thought we’d start out talking about the album and some of the controversy surrounding it, and to just kind of get your perspective on everything.

Glen Benton: Well, basically, man, we went back to the old albums’ style of writing, where simplicity, um, you know, we’re not trying to outdo ourselves as far as being fast and brutal, you know, we’re just looking for solid, strong riffs, you know, gives me more to write to. I can write a lot more convincing music to it. So we basically just went back to the beginning as far as recording it. We recorded it like a live record. We recorded the demo and just basically kept everything clean. The writing approach was simplicity with the speed in it—a mixture of both, but putting the heavy parts before the speed parts, putting the speed in the middle of the songs instead of the beginning of the songs. Artistically wise, I wanted everybody to see what I thought of Christ. My conception of what I think Christ is, which is human like you and me.

O: So what’s with the cover art? It’s Christ on an autopsy table; is it being banned?

GB: I don’t know as much as it being banned. I haven’t heard too much about that shit. I’ve heard there’ve been stinks here and there. In Amsterdam the mayor canceled our show because the album came out the weekend we were playing there, which was Easter weekend. And they didn’t want us to play there, so they canceled the show on us.

O: Has that happened at other places?

GB: Rarely. Every once in a while, man, you run into some fuckin’ idiot that wants to throw something in the path of people’s enjoyment.

O: I’m going to sort of plead ignorance here. What’s so bad about God?

GB: What’s so bad about God.

O: Yeah.

GB: [Pauses.] Well, let me ask you: What’s so good about God?

O: Well, I just got got married a year or so ago and got baptized for that. Um, and I’ve just sort of been—

GB: So what religion are you?

O: Lutheran.

GB: Lutheran. [Pauses.] So what’s so bad about God?

O: Yeah.

GB: Well, in my life, I’ve grown up watching the hypocrisies of God, and I take things a little bit more seriously than the average fuckin’ person. And I’ve watched nothing but fuckin’ religion be used as a fuckin’ scapegoat for people’s actions. And I’ve never had a part to do with it.

O: So what does the devil have to offer?

GB: Well, he’s offered me and given me quite a bit. I’ve gotten more out of Satanism than I’ve gotten out of anything my whole life. By acknowledging the fact that every dollar that I make is Satan’s blood money [pause], I have no problem with it.

O: Okay. Well, I guess it’s all sort of intangible, but—

GB: I hate Christians, and I’ll put it to you this way: If you fuckin’ step on my toes, I’ll smash you in the face. That’s the way I look at it. I’m just like anybody else. If you step on my toes, you’ll get fucked up. That’s just the way I look at it. I’m not into lovin’ my neighbor, and I’m not into followin’ some idiot’s fuckin’ philosophy. I don’t follow any person’s philosophy but my own. I’m my own person, and as far as my belief system, yes, I believe in Satan, I partake in fuckin’ what I would fuckin’ consider fuckin’ ceremonies, I don’t fuckin’—I’m completely against God. I think that what Christians do is, by going to a church and getting married—you got married in a church, I got married by a fuckin’ counter person at McDonald’s where I walked in, they said some words and I walked out. All right, it had nothin’ to do with God or anything. It’s like a legal document. You go and get a marriage license, and that’s it. A marriage license has nothing to do with God. So to do that in a church… I just… No way, man. No. No thank you.

O: It’s weird. I’m sort of hearing a response to Christians, and Christians’ hypocrisy, but is it against Christians or is it against God?

GB: It’s against God—well, when we say God, let’s bring everything in that falls into the fuckin’ text of God, okay? ‘Cause then you’ll understand. To me, God means not only that fuckin’ Jehovah sitting up in the clouds somewhere, in the fuckin’ lunar fuckin’ another dimension, or whatever. Okay? It’s not only that: It’s church, it’s fuckin’ people peddling their fuckin’ bullshit, it’s people fuckin’ becoming billionaires off of people’s fuckin’ sorrows and their lack of faith in their selves. All right? It’s everything. Okay? It’s like, when my kid goes to school, I don’t want my kid getting up and singing fuckin’ something that has to do with God. If the Pledge of Allegiance and all them stupid songs, man, they were written by fuckin’ ignorants, and I’m not gonna have my kid be ignorant to that. So my kid’s gonna be one of the kids that leave the room when that shit’s being said. If we have to bring him home to teach him we’ll do that.

O: Is that upside-down cross really burned in your forehead?

GB: Mm-hmm.

O: How’d you do that?

GB: I got a chapel cross, a silver chapel cross, I fastened it to a branding iron, and I heated it up with a propane torch and stuck it into my forehead.

O: [Laughs.] That’s got to hurt like Hell!

GB: Well, the first time did. It swelled up like an egg on my forehead, but now it’s all scar tissue so I just heat it up a little bit and it takes the top layer of skin right off.

O: Wow. God. [Pauses.] Somebody told me it was fake, and I’m thinking, no. If anybody can do it it’s this guy.

GB: No. A long time ago, maybe. But I used to fuckin’—when I used to think about it, I used to fuckin’ etch things into my forehead with special effects things that would make the cross appear, but that was just like a tease, man. I had to go all the way because I can’t fuckin’—I had to secure myself in my faith, so that’s what I did. So I’m secure in my faith and I don’t give a fuck what anybody says. I know where I’m goin’. I’m goin’ to Hell. And I have no problem with that.

O: What do you anticipate Hell being like?

GB: To me, this world we’re living in right now is Hell. Because there’s no way to explain it, man, this place we’re living in right now. There’s a lot of pain and sorrow and agony and I think that beyond this it’s gonna be better.

O: It’s gonna be hotter.

GB: Ah, that’s because some fuckin’ crazy person wrote a book and fuckin’ imagined what Hell would be like.

O: So you don’t think it’s going to be hotter?

GB: No. You’re not gonna have any body or anything to experience heat, man. It’s gonna be nothing but consciousness.

O: Okay. So you’re married and you’ve got one kid?

GB: Yep.

O: How’s that going? How’s family life?

GB: Oh… Don’t ask.

O: Well, I just got married a while back, and anybody who can give me pointers on how to get through it—I always appreciate it.

GB: I’ll save you a lot of fuckin’ heartache. You made a mistake.

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