Interview: Allen West

Allen West was one of the most important people in the early Death Metal scene. As a founding member of Massacre, Obituary, and Six Feet Under, West cemented his place in the history of Death Metal.

In the past couple of years West seemingly dropped out of the public eye when he was imprisoned for 18 months, but he has gotten his life back on track and is back with his new band SouthWicked.

Make the jump to read my interview with Allen West, where we talked about the imprisonment, his departures from Obituary and Six Feet Under, and more.

Allen West (second from the left side) with his former bandmates of Six Feet Under.

Dose of Metal: Hi Allen, thank you for agreeing to do this interview. How are you doing?

Allen West: Hey Guido, I’m doing well.

Allen West live with Obituary in 2006 (Dying)

DoM: After you’ve left Obituary in 2006, you’ve kind of dropped out of the public eye. For 18 months you’ve been in jail for DUI. Could you go a bit into details about how your time in jail was? How it changed you, if at all, and how your friends and family reacted to your imprisonment?

AW: My time in jail was a learning experience. I was in Gainesville, Florida in a program for drugs and alcohol. It was hard on my family of course, I learned a lot about things and people there.

DoM: As I’ve noted above, you’ve left Obituary in 2006 after releasing the reunion album, Frozen In Time, a year before. Why did you leave the band after this album and do you think you’ll ever work with the guys in Obituary again?

AW: Obituary told me that when I get out of jail, I would be back in the band. Then when I got out, they didn’t want me anymore.

DoM: What do you think of the Obituary albums that were recorded without you?

AW: I haven’t listened to any of them.

DoM: In addition to being a forming member of Obituary, you’ve also been an original member of Six Feet Under and Massacre. When you look back at the times with all these classic Death Metal bands, which bands did you have the best time with and which one featured your favorite work?

AW: I think Six Feet Under was my favorite.

DoM: You’ve left Six Feet Under in 1998. Some sources say that you’ve left SFU to go back to Obituary, some say you’ve been kicked out of SFU. Why exactly did you leave Six Feet Under?

AW: Me and Chris started the band together, he kind of took over like he was the boss. I didn’t want to write any more songs under those strange circumstances.

Allen West live with Six Feet Under in 1997 (Lycanthropy)

DoM: After you’ve left Six Feet Under, the band changed their sound and never released an album as critically successful as Haunted. What do you think of their work after your departure?

AW: I haven’t heard any of the new stuff. I’m sure it is different.

DoM: You’ve recently started a new band, called SouthWicked. What can people expect from this band in the future?

AW: My new band is struggling for recognition. I like the music and I will be patient until more people hear it. We signed a deal with Abyss Records, maybe that will help a lot.

DoM: You’re considered to have been one of the first people to play a certain style in the 1980’s that was later called Death Metal. Do you think of yourself as pioneer within this genre? How do you view the further development the genre has gone through over the years?

AW: Yes, I think of myself as a pioneer. I guess the scene is still good. A lot of new bands sure showed up.

DoM: Do you currently have any favorite new Death Metal bands?

AW: No.

DoM: I’m gonna list a couple of musicians you’ve worked with or who replaced you in your former bands. Feel free to share your opinion on them:

– Chris Barnes

AW: Chris is cool. Maybe the coolest person I’ve worked with. He has returned to his old self and I partied with him in Antwerp.

– John Tardy

AW: John Tardy is misunderstood. I’m not going to say anything bad about him.

Allen West with SouthWicked in 2011 (Killing Spree)

– Terry Butler

AW: Damn, he has been in every band. He is a solid bass player and over the years he has mellowed out and every now and then has some fun.

– Ralph Santolla

AW: Oh boy, old crazy ass Ralph… He is the coolest one in the band. I was in Berlin with my new band the night Obituary played and me and Ralph got along great.

– Steve Swanson

AW: He has always been nice to me, I don’t know him that well.

DoM: Is there anything else you want to tell your readers at doseofmetal.com?

AW: I just want the fans to give SouthWicked a chance. We have some live stuff on YouTube and our CD will be in stores soon, I hope. Also online as well… and to the fans: keep supporting Death Metal! I hope to see everyone soon… Al.

DoM: Thank you for your time!

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