Dear JR Hayes,
Hey man, we don’t really know each other, which I suppose makes it weird that I’m even writing an open letter to you in the first place. However, I am a huge fan and I have a platform in which I am fortunate enough to gain some attention, so I figured, “why not, right?”
I’ve been a fan of your band Pig Destroyer ever since I heard 2007’s Phantom Limb. As such, I can’t really claim to be a long-time die hard fan, though I suppose a late convert is almost as good. What helped draw me to Pig Destroyer as the first ever grindcore band I considered myself a fan of was not only the visceral and haunting groove your band captures, but also the poetic lyrics that you pen. I’m sure you hear it a lot, as both critics applaud your work and Relapse Records are using words like “poet” and “laureate” to describe you, and rightfully so. You are no disposable frontman; you’re an artist, and I’m not just saying that to kiss ass, either. The lyrics to tracks like ‘Jupiter’s Eye‘ and ‘Sourheart’ in particular come to mind as being prime examples that the lyrical content in extreme metal can serve a legitimate literary purpose, and not just an exercise in gore porn as so many have attempted to claim the genre as being.
On that note, Relapse and Freeman Promotions are spoiling us a little with the press copies of the new Pig Destroyer record Book Burner. Typically, we aren’t given lyrics or anything of that sort along with the record. Book Burner, however, not only came with the full lyric book, but your short story The Atheist. I was already a fan of your words and poetic imagery before, but your narrative storytelling blew me away.
Without giving too much away to anyone reading this, The Atheist takes the first-person perspective of a former biology professor living in the hills of Virginia in a dystopian United States where Christianity is the official religion and dissenters are subject to torture and death. The longer form of your writing is quite interesting, and I found myself fascinated with this story and was on edge to find out what happened next as I read. This isn’t to say that your lyrical work that followed for the actual record isn’t cutting it — because it’s as great as it ever was — but I would like to make the humble request that you continue your work as an author outside of the context of your role as Pig Destroyer frontman.
I don’t know if you’ve been writing stories like this your whole life and only now getting the opportunity to put one out in publication or if this is your first forray into non-lyrical storytelling, but this is an engaging story here on The Atheist. In fact, I’d love to see this world expanded and elaborated upon in the form of a novel. Of course, a short story is supposed to be short, so if it ended at the time and place you had intended it to end, then that’s great. Though, your way of writing just begs for more stories such as this, and I’m certain I’m not the only one who feels the same way. I urge you, in case you were in some way or another trying to gauge public interest in your writing, to release a novel or a collection of short stories like The Atheist in the future. It’s been years since I’ve cared enough to have my nose in a book, and I’m in need a new obsession.
Pig Destroyer’s Book Burner is out October 22nd on Relapse Records. The Atheist is only available in limited and deluxe editions of the record’s CD and LP pressing, which are available for pre-order at this location.