Taking The Head Of Goliath is a Christian Brutal Death Metal band from the Twin Cities, Minnesota, USA. TTHOG incorporates grind, slam, tech, melodic and classic death metal into a ultra-heavy sound never lacking in brutality or originality. Vocal range hits on all points of the extreme metal spectrum, from blood curdling highs to the lowest of gurgling lows. The mission of this band is to spread a message of hope, redemption, strength, freedom, patriotism and ultimately salvation through Jesus Christ. Simply put, Taking The Head Of Goliath is death metal for life.
Recently they have released “Beyond Brutal Live” EP (Free download), currently the band is working on their debut album which will be released this year through Rottweiler Records. Check out the interview with TTHOG below:
TMR: Hello guys this is The Metal Resource from Holland, how are things going there in Minnesota ?
Luke: Things are going good. It’s starting to warm up, which I know everyone else likes, but I personally like the cold.
Rob: Things have been very busy and as crazy as a Minnesota winter.
TMR: Will you Introduce yourself and the band please ! [name and instrument]
Jake Martin, vocals for Taking The Head Of Goliath
Matt Vangsgard, Percussion
Nathan Sherman Guitars
Luke Renno: Bass/background vocals
TMR: How did you get into metal?
Jake: Since my earliest memories of music I’ve been pursuing the next heaviest thing. From AC/DC to Metallica to Pantera to Cannibal Corpse to the most obscure underground death metal on the planet with band names and themes I won’t even mention. Right when I thought there couldn’t be a more extreme niche genre, I was born again and discovered Christian death metal.
Matt: I got into metal at an early age through one of my friends. MTV and Headbangers Ball was an influence leading to heavier metal.
Nathan: I was already listening to hard rock at a young age when my uncle gave me a cassette of Kill em All by Metallica. Then I went out and Bought Megadeth’s Peace sells and from there it just evolved. Anthrax, Testament, Suicidal Tendencies to Obituary, Morbid Angel, Carcass and everything else.
Luke: When I was around nine years old, I liked Twisted Sister, but my Dad wouldn’t let me listen to them. When I was twelve, I was spending a week at my grandparent’s farm and my aunt had Stryper: to Hell with the Devil. I listened to it over and over all week. Then at church, I found some other kids who liked them and they introduced me to other bands like Barren Cross, Whitecross, Bride, Saint, Petra, Bloodgood, Leviticus, and so on. I heard The Lead:the past behind EP and it changed my musical direction to faster and heavier. Then bands like Vengeance, Believer, The Crucified, Deliverance, and so on came out and I just wanted faster and heavier.
Rob: I’d like to think from playing classical music at a young age (Violin/Piano). I picked up a cheap guitar somewhere in my teens and found a distortion pedal and wanted to play faster and faster. As you improve I think you challenge yourself and if blessed find yourself trying to play things that you once thought were impossible and fall in love with the effort/reward procedure.
TMR: What is your musical background ?
Jake: None. I don’t play instruments and I can’t sing or dance so death metal vocalist was a natural calling.
Matt: My musical background is very diverse. I’ve been drumming for twenty five years and have had former training in my earlier years.
Nathan: I started playing guitar around 13 or 14. I took lessons briefly but was mostly self-taught, learning songs and scales through Tab Books and magazines like Guitar for the Practicing Musician and Guitar Player. When I was 20 I moved to Minnesota and went to check out Music Tech ( now McNally Smith ) and after playing for the recruiter for about 15 minutes I was asked if I wanted to join the next class starting in a few days. I was really not planning on this and it was short notice but it was a great opportunity and something I really wanted to do. So I spent the next year studying music theory and Classical and Jazz technique. It was an awesome experience with tons of work and practice. Since then I have played in several bands in the local area in the genre of hard rock, thrash and death metal. I have also had the pleasure of playing classical guitar in both my sister and one of my closest friend’s wedding.
Luke: I started playing guitar and bass when I was fifteen and started singing in a thrashy power metal band with my friends. Then we all got into heavier music and there were some member changes and we started Crimson Thorn with me on vocals. When our bassist left, I started playing bass too. Other projects I’ve been in were Axehead, a thrashy power metal band. I played guitar. I also played and recorded two songs for the black metal band Altruist. I did the vocals, guitar, bass and drums. And now I will be recording bass for a black metal band called Sylvan Fortress.
Rob: I started playing classical violin in 5th grade and for my first concert I noticed I was the only one who didn’t need the sheet music in front of me. I was “forced” to take piano lessons as I got a little older from my grandmother who was a very accomplished teacher and pianist. I have fronted some bands as a vocalist as well as taking guitar and voice classes at a community college.
TMR: Tell us the brief history of TTHOG ?
Jake: Matt and I were in band together years back when I joined after their vocalist left. Later, Matt and Nate were in a different band together with that same vocalist. This is a completely different project than the aforementioned, but coincidentally I end up fronting bands after our friend Brad leaves them. Rob joined on second guitar after some time of just writing as a three piece. We began scouring the Twin Cities scene for a skilled player who is also an honorable man and Rob was a perfect fit. Then one day we got a random message that read, “Hi, my name is Luke Renno from Crimson Thorn, are you guys looking for a bassist?” And the rest is history…
TMR: Why the name TTHOG ? Is there a story behind it ?
Jake: This name first started out as a concept for a song but quickly grew on me for a band name. It’s biblical and brutal all at once. The Goliath story is often told in our culture as someone in the underdog role standing victorious against a proverbial giant because he believed in himself and had the courage to try. This narrative makes me cringe and is NOT why we chose the name. This name, Taking The Head Of Goliath, represents relentless faith in the power of God alone, fearless obedience to our calling and absolute trust in Him for victory. Like all Old Testament narratives, it is prophetic and points directly to Christ.
TMR: Who writes the music/lyrics in TTHOG ? … how do you get in the mood for writing music? And which bands/situations have influences you for writing music and lyrics ?
Jake: This upcoming E.P. was written as a three piece with Matt and Nate writing all the music and I then writing the lyrics. Clearly with Rob and Luke now in the fold the formula will change riff wise but the band will write the music and I will hold fast with the lyrical contribution. I am always in the mood to write. I prayerfully ask God to help me write my experiences and observations concerning the ways I see Him at work in the world and within my own life.
TMR: What are some key principles or phylosophies that you hold onto as foundational stones as who you are as a person?
Jake: First off, I am nothing without Jesus. I do all things for His glory and thank Him for every blessing He bestows. My identity as a man is as a disciple of Christ, a devoted husband, a loving father, a hard worker and a determined frontman. In that order. This is my foundation and Christ is the cornerstone.
Matt: Follower of Christ.
Nathan: Do Unto Others!!! I always strive to treat others with respect and see things from their point of view and not judge them. I do not believe it is my place to tell anyone how to live their lives. But I am always here to share my experiences and give advice if asked for.
Luke: I’m a Husband, father, son, brother, and a musician. Those things are great resources for joy in my life, but the source is my relationship with Jesus Christ. God is the center. I would be lost without Him and his love, grace, and forgiveness. I’m very flawed and I need Him.
Rob: I believe everyone deserves respect and honor is earned. If you work hard with a strong heart and mind to guide you there is nothing but success on the horizon. I pride myself with my compassion and good spirit.
Jake: Having the one and only Luke Renno contact us unsolicited and offer to join the band. It still seems surreal. Definitely the easiest decision the band will ever have to make. A legend in the game fell right into our lap. He’s an answer to prayer, a great musician and has since become an even better friend.
Matt: Our first show playing on the For Today Farewell Tour.
Nathan: Our first show opening for For Todays farewell tour. Packed place and after months of practice with the new members we absolutely killed it.
Luke: I think none of us will forget our first show opening up for For Today, Norma Jean, and a few others to a sold out crowd.
Rob: I will always remember how giving and forgiving everyone is even when someone has had a bad day or makes a mistake and the group generally as a whole thrives on looking out for one another. The lead up and execution of the first show has been a high point as we all played very well and the level of comradery was at a high
TMR: And the worst thing were ? (if there is one)
Jake: The worse thing so far ended up being averted but was extremely stressful for a moment. We were having technical difficulties with drum triggers during sound check for our first show. It was all happening in front of a sold out crowd and on top of that we had paid to have the show recorded and the clock was ticking fast. A drummer friend in attendance made a last second save and all was well. Our videos which you can find on YouTube and the songs featured on our free digital E.P., “Beyond Brutal LIVE” were recorded at this, our debut show. We were seconds away from the kicks sounding much different, that is, if any of it would even have been released at all.
Matt: There is no worse thing with this band. We are like family. It’s been a great journey so far with plenty more to come.
Nathan: This band has a lot of different personalities and backgrounds in it. As in any band there are disagreements, but we all respect each other and honestly care about each other so I don’t really feel anything has gotten too out of hand that we haven’t been able to get past.
Luke: Picking up Matt’s drum carpet when packing up to go to the For Today show only to see on the bottom side that Jake’s cat had been peeing on it.
Rob: To me the only real down side is that there is not enough time or energy in the day to play and get together more than we do.
TMR: What is your favorite drink and food ?
Jake: Drinkwise. I’m a milk guy and easily put down a gallon a day. Steak and shrimp on the grill with asparagus and fried potatoes is my favorite meal.
Matt: Pizza and Cheeseburgers are always nice. Energy drinks too.
Nathan: I love a lot of different types of food but if I had a last meal it would be a Porterhouse steak with onions, mushrooms and a loaded baked potato. With a chocolate shake.
Luke: Diet Mt Dew with a large amount of lemon juice in it and meat.
Rob: I love my Rock Star punched energy drinks of course water and as does Forrest Gump some of that always delicious Dr. Pepper. As far as food goes of course quality pizza, almost any Mexican, Thai, Chinese, Italian and of course a good burger.
TMR: So what makes you laugh?
Jake: My wife Anna and I love to goof off with each other. We have a lot of inside jokes that we get a kick out of. My two daughters are hilarious as well so my family makes me laugh more than anything.
Matt: My silly guitar players.
Nathan: Everything, Cheesy movies, standup comedy. I like to joke around quite a bit with people. I enjoy quick witted back and forth banter and almost always have some kind of remark ready. But you have to be mindful sometimes. Not every situation needs a smart ass remark. lol
Luke: Making the other guys laugh.
Rob: I think I make myself laugh, I like a witty humor, and not going to lie, a bit of crude humor can always get a smile. Goofy antics are always welcomed to me.
TMR: What is your biggest fear ?
Jake: No toilet paper in the biffy at work.
Matt: Falling or drowning.
Nathan: Disappointing my friends and family.
Luke: Being dropped into a pit filled with millions and millions of centipedes.
Rob: I’m very safety conscious so I’d say seeing worst case hazards occur and anything happening to my family.
TMR: What is your favorite album top 5 of all time?
Jake: A top 5 is just to much to commit to!!! I will say my favorite album for some time has been, Hope For The Dying: Dissimulation. It’s so good on so many levels. I hold it in such high regard because it’s an album to be enjoyed in its entirety. It draws me in and demands be listened to from beginning to end. An absolute masterpiece.
Matt: That is too difficult to decide for me.
Nathan: I would have a hard time listing a top five for each genre let alone all around. I really enjoy old school thrash and death metal like the bands listed above. I also am a huge fan of Vaden Todd Lewis’s bands ( Toadies, Burden Brothers ). I love Frank Zappa, Jack White’s solo albums, and independent hip hop artists like Del, Hieroglyphics and MF Doom. I also listen to a lot of instrumental music like Vai, Satriani and the Guitar Trio. As for as the most influential newer heavy bands I would go with Gojira and Daath, I know there not really “new” but they have definitely influenced my playing.
Luke: That’s a hard question. There are too many to name. I’ll list ones that were very influential in my musical development. Stryper: To Hell with the Devil. The Lead: the Past Behind. Vengeance: Human Sacrifice. Yngwie Malmsteen: Rising Force. Napalm Death: Harmony Corruption.
Rob: I have been staring at this question for a long time and can’t seem to make a list. I love so many albums across so many genre’s.
TMR: What are some of the things you like to do away from the band?
Jake: I love to spend my free time with my wife and it doesn’t matter what we’re doing as long as we’re together. Some of our favorite pastimes though are going out to shoot our guns, enjoying a good meal and chilling at the beach with the kids. We are also big UFC fans and rarely miss an event. I’m a family man and a Dad to two young daughters so I do a lot of girly stuff too and love every moment of it.
Matt: Outdoors, bowhunting, weight training, football, cooking and eating.
Nathan: Hang out with friends and grill, throw the football around. Play video games when I get the chance. I watch a lot of NFL games and enjoy movies and TV shows. .
Luke: I’m a Sci-Fi/Fantasy nut. I lift weights. Wrestle with my daughter.
Rob: Home improvement, video games, disc golf, fish, go out and see or do things that I don’t usually get a chance to do.
TMR: How do you promote your band (and shows) ?
Rob: Heavily through social media and word of mouth.
TMR: Tell us about the hardrock/metal scene in your area please?
Rob: We have a very large and diverse “Scene” in the Twin Cities. I try to check out as much as I can and meet all the great bands and people albeit there are so many.
TMR: How do you prepare for a show?
Jake: I just try and embrace every moment. It all happens so fast on the day of a show, I just like to be in prayer, thanking God for the opportunity to do something I loves d do it for His glory.
Matt: Prayer and lots of practice.
Nathan: I always get really anxious before shows. I feel both nervous about my performance and excited to get up there and perform. I usually just warm up with guitar exercises and try to center myself.
Luke: I practice a lot leading up to it. The day of the show I pray, and I usually feel excited and I don’t feel nervous, but in the last hour before the show I feel like I have to pee, even if I just went.
Rob: Practice and intensity. Having a band that supports one another helps.
TMR: What is your favorite concert that you saw and what made it so good?
Jake: For Today’s final performance in Minneapolis was just incredible. More so that we were blessed to open the show. Just an amazing evening all around and it will be a hard one to rival.
Matt: Pantera/White Zombie Tour at the Target Center in Minneapolis.|
Nathan: I’ve seen so many shows in the past it is hard to say but if I had to pick a few they would be Megadeth, Pantera and White Zombie in the early 90’s. The Toadies 20th anniversary show of the Rubberneck album at First Ave. All 3 times I was able to see Dweezil Zappa and his Zappa plays Zappa bands.
Luke: Wow. Whitecross was my first. I’ll never forget that. Vengeance and Believer were so good because they each played two nights in a row, so I could spend one night moshing and headbanging the whole time and the other night just watching them.
Rob: Prince stands out to me due to his sheer talent and showmanship with a very warm message of solidarity and following your heart.
TMR: What is the most embarrassing music on your phone or in your collection and how do you justify it to others?
Jake: I’ve been been know to get down to some Tom Jones and I’m not ashamed one bit.
Matt: I have nothing to hide.
Nathan: I listen to pretty much every type of music at times except top 40 pop and I own it, I really do not concern myself what other people think of my music choices. Although I do get a few questions and weird looks when one of the gospel songs from the O Brother Where Art Though soundtrack comes on.
Luke: Tiny Tim: Living in the Sunlight Loving in the moonlight. It’s such a happy song and it makes me feel happy when I hear it. So I listen a couple times a week if I’m feeling down.
Rob: I have too much to name just one. I honestly don’t care what people think about my tastes which are fairly diverse but I do find that I also sometimes play the “I have kids” or “my wife’s” music just to exit the jabbing.
TMR: If you could pick a band to tour with, who would it be? And where would the tour go?
Jake: Full blow world tour with Impending Doom, Broken Flesh, and our friends Bleeding Existence from Shillong, India, as opening support.
Luke: I think Broken Flesh, Antestor, Crimson Moonlight, and Taking the Head of Goliath should tour Brazil and then go to Finland for sure along with others.
Rob: I guess: Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Machine Head, Henry Rollins, there are literally about a hundred more but I’ll refrain. I would love to see the world and experience the vast culture that I only see in movies or on the television.
TMR: What is the dumbest question you have ever been asked?
Jake: I always shake my head when a non metalhead asks, “So you’re in a death metal band? Like, (Disturbed, Slupknot, Five Finger Death Punch, etc)?” Bless their hearts…they’re trying…
Matt: Do you even lift?
Nathan: Any time I tell someone that I play in a very heavy death metal band and they say “ Like Metallica?” LOL No.
Luke: People come up to me like they’re about to say the funniest thing in the world and ask “What would you do if I walked up with a scissors and cut your beard off?” I’ve been asked that a million times. Or my hair. I don’t know what they want my reaction to be. I’m just like “I don’t know, be really bummed that I now have to spend the time to grow it back?”
Rob: Have you seen my phone? (as the person frantically searches with it in their hand the whole time.).
TMR: What are the biggest obstacles for bands/musicians ?
Rob: I feel keeping the team mentality and carrying the passion through even the most trivial hiccups.
TMR: As a band today, what do you think is the biggest challenge you face?
Rob: being heard amongst the sea of bands good and not so good.
TMR: Any plans for the near future ?
Jake: We just signed with Rottweiler Records and will be going into the studio in May to begin recording our debut album. We will also be playing the Sanctuary International stage at Audiofeed Music Festival this summer so we are very excited for that.
Rob: We do have big plans but I’ll keep that close to the vest for the time being. Keep checking in.
TMR: Guys thanks for your time and the interview. We wish all the best … Is there anything you wanna say at last ? [any final statement ?]
Jake: Thank you, The Metal Resource. I’m sure we all learned some new things about our brothers in the band as well as letting you guys get to know us too. This is just the beginning and we look forward to what the future holds…
Nathan: Thank you everyone for the support !
Rob: I wish to thank everyone for listening, purchasing, sharing, promoting, technically assisting, and having any lifting involvement with TTHOG. It really means a lot and it fuels our passion and desire to keep up the intensity.
You can download Taking The Head Of Goliath’s brand new E.P. “Beyond Brutal Live” for FREE at Noisetrade.
Video below: ‘The Expulsion Of Putrid Illusion’
Video below: ‘Oblivious Into Oblivion’