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Avant Garde


When it comes down to my favourite current Black Metal bands, there’s one that’s definitely on my list: WOE from Philadelphia, USA. Unlike many of their allies, WOE rather concentrate on the pure and brutal emotions of their music, instead of fancy theatrics and excessive corpse paint. I got the chance to interview Chris Grigg, the singer, guitarist and songwriter (and in the early days everything else) of WOE, who turned out to be a very pleasant and extremely interesting interviewee. Since the interview turned out quite long, I decided to split it into three parts, read the first one after the jump!


As far as I can tell from videos I’ve seen, WOE performs in a very direct, pure manner: no fancy lightshow, no corpse paint, no leather, no pyro effects, no shaved and crucified goats – is there a concept behind this “non-concept”?

I’m kind of just doing what I know. I grew up very involved with my local DIY scene – there was no dedicated metal scene to speak of – so I have what I think of as Punk Rock values about the presentation of Rock bands. Theatrics never did it for me so to this day, I equate big productions and big budgets with corporate rock, which equals a certain degree of insincerity. I’ve come to really enjoy Metal’s theatrics, I think they’re an important part of its heritage and make sense for some bands, but for me to feel comfortable and genuine with material that is personal, it needs to be stripped down, raw.

“I equate big productions and big budgets with corporate rock, which equals a certain degree of insincerity.” Could you explain your thoughts about this a little further?

My statement might be a bit exaggerated. I just find it suspect when someone’s “thing” is to make a spectacle but then they also want to be taken seriously. How do you differentiate between the act and the truth? I don’t see how one can have it both ways. It’s not for me to decide and I’m not about to tell any band how to present themselves, I just don’t associate serious, personal expression with flashy theatrics.

Do you think that some Black Metal bands focus too much on creating a certain image and pretending to be evil instead of focusing on the music?

I certainly do. There’s a song about that on the newest WOE album called Hatred is Our Heart. Black Metal, like everything else, has been turned into a commodity which means that there are those who think they can make a buck or get famous by imitating what they see “bigger” bands doing. It’s absurd and almost insulting. On the other hand, I have to admit that I might have spent a bit too much time caring about what other people are doing to sully the name of Black Metal, too little time focusing on my music and my band and what I want to do.

When you started the band, did you think WOE would ever become the band it is today?

No way. The thought never crossed my mind.

Since WOE is kind of “your” band, do negative reactions affect you more as if you would be just a session musician? Do you even care about what others think about WOE?

I go back and forth. When the newest album came out, I was an anxious mess (“anxious mess” is sort of a theme of my life, by the way…). I took attacks personally, I was checking out every mention of the album I could find. It gets a lot easier with time, though, and while I’m still reading every review of the band I can find, I have a lot more fun messing with our detractors online than anything else.

Is Satanism an influence for WOE?

Yes. The intense individualism, the disregard for authority outside of yourself, the redefining of moral values to fit the life you want to live – all part of Satanism, all part of WOE. But that doesn’t mean it needs to be presented clearly and at the forefront; I prefer to have it subtle, worked into the lyrics and themes in such a way that someone might not realize what it is until they’re already on board, already sold on the idea.

WOE live

Was the environment you grew up strongly coined by Christianity?

I grew up in an atheistic/agnostic household. My mother is Jewish so for purposes of tradition they had me go through that stuff as a kid but I’m not wired for religion and neither of my parents are believers. My sense of distrust for religious authority started with from my father, who told me stories of growing up in Canadian towns that were controlled by the Anglican Church and the repression that went along with that. I am built for logic and autonomy. I struggle with a constant sense of alienation.

Watch out for part two (out of three) of our interview with WOE, when Chris Grigg is talking about his most important records and his influences.

Header image by Samantha Marble.



  1. Zach Huneycutt

    May 31, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    Can’t wait to check this out this seems like a very worthwhile band.

  2. youngblood

    May 30, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    I’ve been a huge fan of these guys since the beginning. I’m so stoked to see them getting more coverage.

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