I first encountered the mysterious figure known as The Love Doctor when I downloaded the album Satanic Abortion, by a “band” known as Clogged Orifice. I grabbed it from a blog based solely on the band name, the album title, and the cover art, which was a horrifying Edward Gorey-meets-Wes Benscoter drawing of a demon extracting a fetus from a presumably dead or dying woman. I admit it; the sheer fuck-you-ness of the whole thing made me laugh before I’d even heard a note.
Once I did, though, I was even more impressed. Not by the talent on display so much as by the monomania and internal cohesion of it. The music was an ultra-harsh cross between death metal and noise-rock, with a loose, improvised feel. The drumming was wild and barely in control, all slashing cymbals and off-time thumping, like whoever was playing had either totally abandoned traditional concepts of aggro-rock rhythm…or had just sat behind the kit for the first time that week. The guitar was a practice-amp buzzsaw sound, grinding away at caveman-like riffs and occasional gnarled, post-Greg Ginn “solos,” all hurled at the listener with the persistence of an enraged autistic. But the vocals were the weirdest, most unique thing of all. Anyone who’s listened to more than one ultra-underground metal album is aware that the human voice is frequently distorted nearly beyond recognition, whether it’s reduced to porcine squeals or a grunt so low it could be mistaken for distortion. The vocals on Satanic Abortion, though, were modified through the use of some sort of filter that made them sound like an insectile alien from a mid ’70s episode of Doctor Who. Not only were the “words” totally unintelligible, all human qualities had been subtracted away, leaving behind only this rippling buzz. It was one of the most disturbing sounds I’d ever encountered. This was music operating on a genuinely rare level of anti-human hostility.
Included in the metadata for the MP3s was a simple instruction: “Visit http://thelovedoctor.bandcamp.com.” So I did. And what I discovered was a vast, and constantly metastasizing, catalog of recordings, all free, and issued under a bewildering array of band names, most in the post-Carcass “medical textbook/thesaurus abuse” subcategory. Names like Harmonious Tones of Shattered Bones, Acute Necrotizing Hepatic Tumours of the Paralyzed Liver, and Carcinomatous Hepatocancrogastrojejunostomy Following Ureterarterialnecroticfaciotomy and Urethropancrejejuniumuterostomy, The one that leapt out at me, though (other than Clogged Orifice, with whose work I was already familiar), was Reglan Induced Drug Intoxication. That didn’t strike me as a “metal” or “goregrind”-oriented name; it felt more likely to be a noise or power electronics project. I was even more convinced of this when I noticed that the RIDI “albums” were almost all part of a series named in tribute to Magnum condoms, and that the majority consisted of single tracks, a half hour or more in length. I immediately downloaded them all, since they were free.
I was wrong. They weren’t power electronics, or noise of any kind—they were extended, mostly instrumental death metal jams that sounded like half-improvised crosses between Orthrelm and the most ragged Neil Young and Crazy Horse jams. Again, the instrumentation was limited to guitar and drums, and there seemed to be a disconnect between the two—I was starting to wonder if the players were even listening to each other. It sped up, it slowed down…it was truly wild, uncontrolled music, following the compositional “logic” of a small child singing a constantly mutating song to itself, without concern that anyone might be listening.
Not all the pieces were marathons. The earliest RIDI releases were EPs with titles like The Insane Asylum, A Short Death, Another Short Death, Regland, and Anatomy of Pharmaceutical Deterioration, and these contained tracks that could run less than a minute, or as long as 14 minutes. Some were performed on keyboards, and had a horror-soundtrack feel.
The more I listened, the more convinced I became that I was on the trail of a Jandek-level genius, a secret (unwitting?) avant-gardist who just happened to work within the realm of goregrind and extreme metal. I needed an interview, so I sent an email to the address connected with the Bandcamp page. It took about 10 days for a reply to arrive—”Hey man, I’m sorry to get back to you so late but I’ve been busy and haven’t been checking my emails so often I only glanced at this before. I would be interested in doing an email interview.” Two weeks later, I sent my questions, and on July 22, I got my answers, prefaced with “First off, sorry for the delay in response as I have said before, I can be very busy and I end up forgetting to reply to something like this.”
The very first reply, to a question I’d inserted more as a conversation-starter than anything else, blew me straight back in my chair.
How old are you?
I am 14 years old.
I couldn’t believe it. I was dealing with a teenager. Barely a teenager. And the music he was making, entirely on his own, and releasing through Bandcamp was superior, in many ways, to the work of adults with record deals.
Where are you from/where are you based? What do you do for a living outside of music [obviously, this part of the question was no longer operative]?
I currently live in Harleysville, Pennsylvania. Pretty much the only thing I do outside of music is school of course.
What’s your musical background? Did you play in more traditional punk/metal bands before this?
My musical background was more traditional metal and progressive rock. I used to do a sort of industrial, all-computer instrumental style of music before getting into the grindcore/goregrind scene.
How did you arrive at death-grind as the style you wanted to work in, and how long have you been exploring this particular body of work?
I recall it was early 2011 when I first heard and started listening to grindcore/goregrind. I started recording in mid-2011 under the name Intestinal Disgorgement of Suppuration and Acidic Fluid with that being my only project at the time.
Your track titles, and many of the band names, are based on medical procedures and technology. Do you have a medical background [again, based on the presumption that The Love Doctor was an adult]?
I don’t have much of a medical background except having aspirations of being a forensic pathologist in the future.
You record under multiple names—I’m most familiar with Clogged Orifice and Reglan Induced Drug Intoxication. RIDI seems very different from the others, but how do you differentiate them, or choose which band name a given piece or set of pieces will appear under?
Usually when recording I decide on which project I choose to use before I actually record it. Mainly, I differentiate the multiple projects of mine based on style, guitar tone, and vocals.
The early RIDI releases—the EPs and Magnum 1-3—are different, featuring shorter pieces. It’s not until Magnum 4 that you start doing single half-hour tracks. What inspired the change, and what makes you want to work at such length now?
Actually, Magnum I & Magnum II are supposed to be one continuous track but due to limitations with Bandcamp they had to be put in separate tracks. The albums that are one full 30-minute-long or so pieces are in multiple parts or suites, like in a symphony.
How are the long Magnum tracks recorded—in a single take, or piece by piece and assembled?
The long Magnum tracks are usually recorded in separate parts except for Magnum VII for which all parts were recorded at once.
Is it you on all instruments, or do you have partners?
I have a few Internet collab projects. They are: Liquefied Cerebrum Severity (with Bryan Kern), Mutated Torso Corrosion (with Bryan Kern), Endocrine Surgery for Prolapsed Uterus (with Isaac Lupien), and Surgical Suppression of the Extremities by Abnormalities on the Basic Mechanisms of Sanguine Coagulation (with Bobby Maggard). Everything else that I have done are all solo projects of mine.
Are the long pieces composed or improvised, or some combination of both?
The long pieces are typically a combination of both. The guitars are composed and the drums and vocals are improvised.
Where do you record—at home, or in a studio? Do you do your own engineering, mixing, etc.? Do you have any formal training in audio engineering, ProTools, etc.? Give me a full rundown of your gear, if possible.
I do all of my recording at home. I am self-taught with ProTools and Cubase. I use Amplitube 3 for my guitar and pitch-shifter, a Ludwig Epic 6-piece kit for my acoustic drums, and RhythmRascal, Beatcraft, and Superior Drummer 2.0 for my programming.
Do you perform live? If not, do you have plans to do so in the future?
I have performed live once for my school. I do plan to play more live shows in the future.
Do you do the visuals yourself as well?
I do all the logos and visuals for my albums on my record label.
You release everything digitally via Bandcamp, but in the corner of the page it says physical copies are available—do you burn CD-Rs when people order them, or have you actually gotten copies of some of your CDs pressed up professionally?
I only do physical copies if somebody requests copies and they pay for them in advance. I make any copies that are requested unless the release requested is not on my record label.
Your releases are mostly pay-what-you-want—how does that work out for you? Do most people pay a decent amount?
It works fine with me, I only need money if someone wants the physical CD of the release. I have gotten a few payments on my Bandcamp which were very kind donations, more or less.
Is there a scene you see yourself as part of, whether geographically or spread across the Internet? Is your work getting out to people the way you’d like it to be? How do you promote your releases, and what’s your goal, in terms of reaching an audience?
I see myself as part of the goregrind/noise scene which is what I intend to do. I promote my releases through my YouTube page and my Facebook page as well.
Looking around on the aforementioned YouTube page not only reveals The Love Doctor‘s real name, but his face as well. There are about 200 videos there(!) that feature finished recordings and their associated cover art, but there are also several that document recording sessions in his basement. Here’s him recording guitar and vocals as Autopsy Festival:
And here’s one of him tracking the drums for Clogged Orifice‘s Satanic Abortion:
OK, now here’s the part that’s a bummer. Toward the end of August, The Love Doctor took down his Bandcamp page. None of these albums are available anymore, at least not for the moment. On August 21, he posted on Facebook that “I have decided to disable the ability to download full albums on my Bandcamp page. Why? It’s in preparation for me to eventually terminate my Bandcamp page so I can make it a physical release-only label.” So I sent him a follow-up email, asking what the story was and posing two final questions. In response to my “What’s the deal with your Bandcamp page?” question, he replied, “Well, I decided to close my Bandcamp page because I am tired of doing things digitally. I plan to start working on the weekends at my local fast food place.”
Here’s our final exchange:
You’re really 14, you’re not bullshitting me?
Yes, I am not bullshitting you I really am 14. I have been playing music since I was a little kid. I got my current guitar on the Christmas week of 2011.
What do your parents think of your music? Do they know at all?
Well, my parents have different opinions on it. My dad likes my more musical death/grind projects and my mom hates my vocals. hahahahahaha
So for the moment, the awesomeness that is the Clogged Orifice “discography” and the Reglan Induced Drug Intoxication Magnum series are unavailable to the public. But perhaps they’ll reappear sometime in the future. We can only hope, ’cause this kid’s some kind of maniacal genius.