Small Town Inspired, Full of Hell Morph Into the Band They’ve Always Wanted To Be

Small Town Inspired, Full of Hell Morph Into the Band They’ve Always Wanted To Be

- By Creative Team

Full of Hell frontman Dylan Walker discusses how ‘Coagulated Bliss’ is the band at its most inspired, and why it was finally time to tackle the ‘American rural experience.’

Photo by Zachary Jones
Words by Jon Garcia

If you think you’ve wrapped your mind around the entity that is Full of Hell, think again.

Whether it's their innovative interpretation of extreme music that’s taken them from powerviolence to grindcore and beyond, to their ever-growing collection of collaborations with like minded boundary-pushing artists like Merzbow, The Body and Primitive Man, the band can be anything it wants to be at this point in time.

“I just want this band to have been my favorite band when I was a kid, you know what I mean?” vocalist Dylan Walker said.

It’s still the goal, and he, Spencer Hazard, Dave Bland and Sam DiGristine feel like they have more than achieved that on their latest album Coagulated Bliss. If it isn’t obvious from the colorful and trippy album art, Full of Hell injected a fresh set of influences into their repertoire without blunting the serrated blade with which they cut.

Walker said the band was very influenced by their 2023 collaboration with shoegaze band Nothing, When No Birds Sang. While they learned plenty about songwriting and playing with more traditional song structures, seeing the positive response to the record really solidified the path they wanted to take.

“I think the main thing that we got out of it –  especially Spencer – was probably just encouragement to pursue those kinds of sounds that he was into already,” Walker said. He found it funny that some people thought the collaboration was completely out of left field, given the kinds of music they’ve always loved.

“We're just really, really into noise rock,” he said. “The influences that we have honestly been talking about leaning into for many years now, Spencer was just in a moment [on Coagulated Bliss] where I feel like he was ready to tackle that.”

It’s not a full on change of direction, but Full of Hell has never sounded like this. They are both at their most accessible and their most unhinged. They play with the listener and never offer what’s expected, such as in lead single “Doors to Mental Agony” where the bass foreshadows a monster, two-step breakdown only to explode into nearly indecipherable chaotic blasting.



It comes at a time when Walker felt compelled to sit down and express what it was like growing up in rural America. Walker’s from central Pennsylvania, a place not so different from Ocean City, Maryland where the rest of the members grew up.

“There's a lot of parallels in the experiences,” Walker said. “I would go so far as to say that the Ocean City upbringing is hardly different from living in central Pennsylvania.”

Walker has met countless people that have grown up in rural areas across the country and beyond, and many of them have similar stories to share of their hometowns.

“I don't know how many American kids grow up in a small town and feel trapped by it. Or lose family members to drug addiction or violence or whatever. I think it's like that's the American rural experience in a way.”

Coagulated Bliss eats away at this experience while putting the band in a position of having limitless possibilities of where to go next. Walker said he and his band mates are over the moon about this album and how they are more energized and inspired than ever.

“I think maybe part of the positivity that I'm feeling is just because we're still enjoying it so much –  maybe even more than we ever have before,” he said. “I've always been afraid of feeling burned out or falling out of love with this kind of thing, because this is my favorite thing in the world.

“It's just kind of been relieving and nice to still feel really juiced up about it after all these years.”

Guesting for an in-depth conversation with frontman Dylan Walker, the conversation steers towards the band’s relentless appetite to break their own boundaries, leaning further into formative influences, and how collaborations have accidentally become not just a whole new part of the band, but inspire where they’re going.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.



Full of Hell were basically just kids when the band started. How did it morph into the entity we have today, and did you ever envision it to be this shape-shifting, collaborative thing?

DYLAN WALKER: I wanted to go on tour from the second I started playing shows when I was like 13 years old. It took me a long time to find a group of musicians that had the same goals in mind. Obviously, living in a small town, I also didn't really know anybody that I was into the kind of extreme music that I was into. There was nobody. So by the time I met Spencer [Hazard, guitarist], he'd started Full of Hell and I think our goal was just to tour as much as possible and make the band that we would have wanted to hear when we were kids. A combination of all of our influences.

I think that just kind of naturally led us to being prolific, because Spencer's always writing. All of our favorite bands ever are super prolific. Man is the Bastard/Bastard Noise, that's like a decades old project and he's constantly recording still. I think those kinds of people were just good people to look up to musically and kind of just shifted our brains into this mode.

The collaboration thing was just fate. We didn't know how to even approach something like that. We were just thrown into the deep end. Now at this point, I feel like it’s kind of inseparable from who we are as people. Each collaboration is a huge jump forward in our brains musically, because you get put into a room with people and they approach music differently. It challenges you.

So now it's essential, but no, it was never in the plan to do the collaborations.

When did the band realize it needed to always be pushing the bounds of music that you’re creating?

DW: To give credit again to Spencer, I've been kind of just following his roadmap since I met him. I don't think that he thinks complacency is a very valuable trait in a band. We really admire bands that have a very concrete thing and they bore into that as hard as they can and they perfect it to the greatest of their ability.

Also, Full of Hell has been a band since we were kids. So when we started the band, on paper we wanted to do X or Y but we couldn't necessarily do that. Our playing chops weren’t where they would have been today, nor were we able to write a record like we would want to write it today.

These things just come with experience. I think it's exciting and fulfilling to push yourself and to try other stuff out.



The Full of Hell lineup has been remarkably consistent for almost its entire life. What do you think that has contributed to the path you’ve been on, since you all know each other so well?

DW: We just got really lucky, you know? Like, we work really hard, but we also got really lucky. That's a huge thing with bands too. It's all circumstance and probability. We were lucky to do this at the time in our lives when we did it. So when we were living in our van for four years it wasn't the worst, you know what I mean?

You don't really notice time passing by and then you blink and you're into your 30s and you've been doing it for a decade – which is straight up insane still. Watching these guys grow together and as musicians is such a pleasure for me, to share that space with them.

As they get older and they play together that much, there's just like this awesome synergy they have. Especially Spencer and Dave [Bland, drums], they're like the core there. I think we'd be pretty screwed without Dave, you know? I just don't even know who would play drums, we'd probably break up.

And Sam fits like a glove. He’s been with us for like, nine years of something like that. So it feels good to have something consistent like that.

There's a good dynamic. The band comes first. Full of Hell is the priority. We take care of each other, but the band is the cause. That's why we're here so there's no bullshit. We're fucking here to play and write records. That's literally all we're here for.

So it's really valuable to me that I've been in the band with those guys for that long. I just wouldn't want to start over. It's very special and I think it's rare.

Would you agree that Coagulated Bliss is Full of Hell’s most “accessible” album?

DW: I definitely would agree, and it wasn't like we need to make an accessible album. We're just really, really into noise rock. The influences that we have honestly been talking about leaning into for many years now, Spencer was just in a moment where I feel like he was ready to tackle that.

I think him trying to channel almost a Sub Pop vibe into this album just happens to translate into there being slightly more traditional song structuring. Some mid tempo riffs are easier to sink your teeth into than a song that's blasting the entire time, but there are also elements of the record on my side that are less accessible because of the time signatures.

It still feels like Full of Hell to me. Not even in a nuanced way. I feel like it's very obviously Full of Hell. I just think over the years, being put into rooms with other kinds of musicians has also helped us break out of that shell.

Speaking of being in rooms with other musicians, how did the collaboration with Nothing influence the band to start thinking about writing the way that it did to make Coagulated Bliss?

DW: [When No Birds Sang] was written with Nicky [Palermo] and Doyle [Martin] from Nothing, and both those guys are geniuses. They're just riff factories, and we have a similar ethos for how important music is and how to approach making it.

Getting into the room with those guys, they have big voices and we really had to compromise and work together to make the songs. It was a cool group approach and it was like a lesson in how to serve the song.

Working with different recording engineers and different people just opens your mind, and you need to have that humility because your egos gonna get dented every now and then; especially if you get put into a room with new people. There's a lot of talented people out there and they don't all approach it like you're going to do it. So it's good for you, it's healthy.



I think the main thing that we got out of it –  especially Spencer – was probably just encouragement to pursue those kinds of sounds that he was into already. It was so out of the box for us to certain parts of the outside world, that seeing it come out and people like it was also probably really encouraging; to show him that he can do whatever the fuck he wants. I read things where people are just really thrown out of left field that we’re playing a certain style, but we've so obviously loved those kinds of styles for so long.

I don't even think that Nothing and Full of Hell are that different. Like, the surface level sounds are different, but those guys are really into the wall-of-sound kind of thing, the My Bloody Valentine thing. Those approaches are not that different to the kinds of things that we were already doing. 

I think a lot of the surprise of collaborating with Nothing is that the previous collaborations have been very dense and extreme, so it felt like a bit of a turn. If the Nothing collaboration hadn’t come right after the one with Primitive Man, it may not have felt as weird, you know? Now it’s like, who’s gonna be next?

DW: It's exciting for us! We got really lucky that the Primitive Man record and the Nothing record came out the same year because I felt like they contrasted each other very well.

Honestly, us and Primitive Man are so close in sound. When I look back at that record, I can't even tell where my vocal tracks and Ethan [Lee McCarthy’s] begin because even the way we sing is similar. We just bounced off each other. It took like an hour to write all the lyrics for the record because he and I are literally on the same page with how we write. It was just so easy.

So that record is very bleak and very miserable the entire time, then the Nothing record has these glimmers of light, it's really dynamic. We got lucky with that one.

It is exciting though. I like contrast, especially the sweet and sweet and sour variety. It's the best!



How long after the collaboration with Nothing did you go into the studio to record Coagulated Bliss, and was the process any similar or different than it’s been in the past?

DW: [Spencer and Dave] kind of live in like a fourth dimensional rift, so they were definitely writing Coagulated Bliss, for an unclear amount of time. There was definitely some stuff written before we even went to record the Nothing collab.

Such different experiences. We wrote the Nothing songs in the garage together years ago, then played a primitive version of them at Roadburn Festival 2022 soon after, and then didn't touch it again until studio time. So they gestated and were forgotten in our brains and had to be relearned. But a lot of that work is just done in the studio with each other on the spot. So I don't think it's tapping anybody's tanks as hard, creatively speaking, as it would if it was a solo record.

Spencer’s pretty much always writing. I mean, we have songs written for the next record. So there's no linear timelines with that stuff, and because the collabs are so different, you can be working on those at the same time, you know what I mean?

They're just different lanes to us. There's like a map for Full of Hell and a map for whatever collab is happening. There's a collab record right now that's 99% finished as well. All these things are just at different stages.

I like that nonlinear kind of influence, where everything is just coming from a creative thought.

DW: I love that too. I feel like it's so cool when the listener gets to go on a journey with the band.

Lyrically, one of my favorite things to do is put little easter eggs in my lyrics. If the listeners are reading the liner notes and the lyrics, maybe they find these little things, these little ideas that tie back to old records.

There's a song on Coagulated Bliss that’s essentially a sequel to a song we wrote 12 or 13 years ago that we've played like a million times live. It's about this friend that I lost to an overdose when I was 18 or 19, and it was really traumatic at the time. I approached it again, 14 years later or whatever, and my perspective on it is just, you know, revisiting that old grief and those old ideas. It felt like a good time to do it. I just think that stuff's interesting.

That goes back to what I was saying earlier: I just want this band to have been my favorite band when I was a kid, you know what I mean? So that's kind of still my goal.

You’ve said on previous albums that they were the best representation of where Full of Hell was at that point in time. Do you feel like that with Coagulated Bliss?

DW: Oh, definitely. Actually more so.

I think maybe part of the positivity that I'm feeling is just because we're still enjoying it so much –  maybe even more than we ever have before. So it's just a nice feeling to know that it feels this fresh. I've always been afraid of feeling burned out or falling out of love with this kind of thing. Because this is my favorite thing in the world. It's just kind of been relieving, and nice to still feel really juiced up about it after all these years.



You mentioned the album art is a dead giveaway that there is something different about this album. For starters, there’s color! Can you tell me about what went into this cover and why you wanted to represent the record this way?

DW: We were talking about moving into more psychedelic-leaning, colorful art for a long time because the guys really love color. We were just in this thing with artist Mark McCoy where it felt so good and so right at the time. Even with Garden of Burning Apparitions, the last solo LP we released, we originally discussed wanting an oil painting with a lot of color. Just through happenstance it ended up feeling right to just have Mark do it again to complete this unintentional trilogy. Then after that record it was very obviously time to move forward from the monochrome stuff.

I've been friends with this dude, Brian Montuori for probably about 10 years. I met him when our bands played together. He's always been a painter, he's done a lot for all different kinds of bands over the years and we always discussed doing artwork. It just came time and we needed something, and it felt like Brian was the perfect fit for the job.

He actually inspired the themes of the album as well. When we got him signed on to do the art he was asking me what the record was going to be about. I was telling him I wasn't really sure, I hadn't really written many lyrics yet. He told me: it was time at my age that we came home and wrote about where we came from, what we knew best.

There were so many stories to tell in Ocean City and in rural Pennsylvania where I live, and it just clicked instantly in my brain. I felt like the answer was right in front of my face for a long time. There are definitely songs in the discography where I am talking about personal experience obviously, but not theming an entire record about growing up around here.

So once again, just like Mark McCoy, he was very inspiring. He ended up drawing off the lyrics and I ended up drawing off of his themes and suggestions. The imagery is pretty intense. There are a lot of references to where we live and it's a weird take on a crime scene basically. That head is exploding so fast that reality can't even render it.

What do you hope people take away from listening to Coagulated Bliss?

DW: Obviously, I hope that people enjoy it and take time to read into the lyrics and look at the imagery and stuff. Maybe people will be able to relate to these experiences themselves.

I don't know how many American kids grow up in a small town and, and feel trapped by it, or lose family members to drug addiction or violence or whatever. I think it's like that's the American rural experience in a way. So I hope it gels with people in that way, because this is the most grounded in reality.

I'll say overall, this record was so enjoyable for me to make. It's the first time I can remember where I feel pretty confidently happy with it because we're happy with it. So it matters even less to me how it's received. Obviously I hope people like it, but I like it. I'm excited to play the songs live and to write more, so I pretty much have already gotten what I wanted out of it.

Coagulated Bliss is now available via Closed Casket Activities. Order the album - HERE

Full of Hell are currently on tour with Dying Fetus along with special guests 200 Stab Wounds and Kruelty. Check the list of dates and cities below which include the band's international dates with Thou. 


May 1  Montreal, QC @ Beanfield Theatre ^
May 2  Ottawa, ON @ The Brass Monkey ^
May 3  London, ON @ London Music Hall ^
May 4  Toronto, ON @ Phoenix Concert Theatre ^
May 5  Buffalo, NY @ Electric City ^
May 7  Pontiac, MI @ The Crofoot Ballroom ^
May 8  Columbus, OH @ The King of Clubs ^
May 9  Joliet, IL @ The Forge ^
May 10  Milwaukee, WI @ The Rave ^
May 12  Winnipeg, MB @ Park Theatre ^
May 13  Saskatoon, SK @ Louis ^
May 14  Edmonton, AB @ The Starlite Room ^
May 15  Calgary, AB @ The Palace Theatre ^
May 17  Vancouver, BC @ Rickshaw Theatre ^
May 18  Seattle, WA @ El Corazon ^
May 19  Portland, OR @ Roseland Theater ^

July 13 + 14  Los Angeles, CA @ Exposition Park (Sound & Fury)

August 14  Brisbane @ The Zoo %
August 15  Sydney @ Mary's Underground %
August 16  Canberra @ The Baso %
August 17  Melbourne @ Stay Gold %
August 18  Adelaide @ Crown & Anchor %
August 20  Melbourne @ Make It Up Club
August 23  Christchurch @ Rolling Stone %
August 24  Wellington @ Meow %
August 25  Auckland @ Galatos %

August 27  Seoul, KR @ Club Victims
August 29  Manila, PH @ Paper Lantern QC
August 30  Singapore @ Phil Studio
August 31  Ho Chi Minh, VN @ TBA
September 1  Bangkok, TH @ Mr. Fox Live House

^ w/ Dying Fetus
% w/ Thou

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