A Conversation With: Mike Paparo of Inter Arma & Bastard Sapling

One of heavy metal’s most interesting and innovative bands comes in the form of Richmond, Virginia’s Inter Arma. The band has vaulted into a metallic spotlight over the last handful of years with brilliant albums in Sky Burial and The Cavern. The band is looking to follow up these successes with their newest full-length album, Paradise Gallows, on July 8th through Relapse Records. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to see the band perform live recently and meet with vocalist, Mike Paparo, in between sets. He was kind enough to agree to this interview as we discuss a little bit about the new album as well as life on the road and his impeccable taste in Black Metal.

CFD: Paradise Gallows is your third release through Relapse Records and from the press releases and articles I have read it is shaping up to be quite a monster of an album. Would you care to share any of your initial thoughts on Paradise Gallows or how it compares to former releases?

MP: What are my initial thoughts on Paradise Gallows? Hmmm, if you are expecting The Cavern pt. II, you are probably going to be disappointed. I don’t really know what to say other than if you go into the new one with an open mind, you might not be totally let down? This is a terrible answer isn’t it? Fuck.

CFD: Who handled the production on the new record?

MP: The sonic alchemist Mikey Allred was once again in the captain’s chair for the journey. He’s basically our sixth man at this point. We trust him and he knows what we want. He’s also really easy on the eyes.

CFD: My guess is the recording process for Paradise Gallows was a little easier than trying to record The Cavern. Are there any tips or tricks you picked up for this new recording cycle from experiences during prior sessions?

MP: Yeah, I learned not to fuck up as much. Just kidding, I fuck up constantly during recording. The rest of the band keeps me around only because I’m a killer merch dude. In all honesty, I wasn’t around a whole lot during the actual recording. I was holed up in an Air BNB writing and rewriting all of my lyrics because I’m a fucking lunatic. I wish I could give you more of an insight, but I got nothin’. 

Mike Paparo

CFD: “Transfiguration” was the first song shared from the new album. The band has been playing it live for a little while now as well. What kind of thoughts goes into determining which song will be released from the album or used as a single?

MP: We really wanted the first track released to be a banger, and “Transfiguration” wound up being the one we picked. As for the rest of the songs that are going to be released prior to the album’s street date they will all be pretty different but still, for better or worse, unmistakably Inter Arma. 


CFD: The cover art for Paradise Gallows is amazing. I’m fairly certain this will be one the best album covers this year. Who created the artwork for the album? Or are you also a master artist in addition to being a metal vocalist?

MP: Orion Landau, who also created the artwork for Sky Burial and The Cavern painted the cover. He really, really knocked it out of the proverbial park. We were (and still are) blown away by the finished product.

Inter Arma - Paradise Gallows

CFD: Inter Arma siphons inspiration from a number of genres to create music. Looking at your music holistically, there are a lot of elements from Post-Metal as well as Death, Black and a touch of Funeral Doom Metal among others. I think as bands continue to tinker and experiment with bending genres there is this necessity felt by the masses to formulate new names for subgenres. I tend to differ from this notion, I find myself ditching a lot of tags instead of picking something with a dozen syllables. For bands like Inter Arma who take in so much to their music, to pigeonhole it into a subgenre seems like a disservice. Do you share a similar sentiment or is there a genre you’d like Inter Arma to be associated with?

MP: I do share a similar sentiment. To ourselves, we are just a heavy metal band. No one puts silly micro-tags on bands like Led Zeppelin or The Beatles, right? They are both simply considered rock ‘n’ roll bands even though a lot of their songs sound and are stylistically different, correct? I’m in absolutely no way comparing our awful racket to either of those bands nor am I implying we are in any way kindred spirits…I just personally feel like there isn’t a need to put anything other than a simple tag on our music. I’m sure there is some message board warlord out there who wholeheartedly disagrees and that is fine. If you feel the need to string together a bunch of goofy terms to describe our music, so be it.

Inter Arma 2

CFD: On top of being in Inter Arma, you’re also in Bastard Sapling, a Black Metal band that features some of your fellow Inter Arma members. I’ve also read in prior interviews you’re a big Black Metal fan, what are some albums that you find yourself listening to on a regular basis? I keep going to Vattnet Viskar’s new one, Settler, as well as a lot of Panopticon and Krallice lately.

MP: I’ve been listening to black metal for a long time now. Some records that I never abandon are Emperor’s In the Nightside Eclipse and Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk, Ulver’s Bergtatt and Nattens Madrigal, Mayhem’s De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, Samael’s Ceremony of Opposites, Bethlehem’s Dictius Te Necare, Abigail’s Intercourse & Lust, Craft’s Fuck the Universe and Dawn’s Slaughtersun among a plethora of others. As for newer bands I’ve been enthralled with the works of Oranssi Pazuzu, Mgla, Cultes des Ghoules, Thantifaxath, Negative Plane, Ominous Resurrection, Funereal Presence, Wormlust, etc. I’m a fucking nerd. I could go on and on but I’ll stop myself there before I start embarrassing myself.

CFD: Are there any metal contemporaries that you would like to tour with in the future? Any band out there you have wanted to hit the road with or do a show?

MP: YES. We’d love to tour with YOB, Neurosis, Gorguts, Enslaved, Godflesh, Melvins, Oranssi Pazuzu, etc. The list can literally go on forever. Maybe someday we’ll get the chance to harsh one of those band’s tours!

Inter Arma

CFD: Do you guys have any go-to places that you all stop at on tours? Any restaurants or cool places in different cities you like to keep returning to?

MP: I’m pretty sure we have eaten at over half of the Taco Bells in the continental United States. We aren’t proud of this fact, but we are poor and Taco Bell is cheap. 

CFD: Best of luck on the rest of the tour, man. It was great meeting you and seeing you guys perform. I’m going to try and swing out to Asheville for the final show on the tour as well. Asheville’s probably the coolest place in North Carolina. Thanks a bunch for agreeing to do this as well, I’m sure you guys are staying busy. Stay safe and rested on the road!

MP: Thanks for the interview and it was great meeting you as well. Come on out to that last show! It’ll be a spectacle, I’m sure of it. Stay out of trouble man!


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