Going Foul: An Exhaustive History of Khanate

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Courtesy of Stephen O'Malley

“We never had a big audience,” guitarist Stephen O’Malley admits while reflecting on his pioneering avant-garde doom band, Khanate. “There were a few shows towards the end where there was a good turnout in L.A. or something. But we weren’t in theaters. The theater was the performance. It was [vocalist, Alan] Dubin doing his thing. Or James [Plotkin, bassist] kicking over his cabinet, or his amp catching on fire. That was it. Anything could happen. People would get angry. There was a lot of tension, not just in the music, but in the way we were treating each other. It was really exhausting. But that’s what fueled the music.”

Based on my solitary experience of witnessing Khanate live in Atlanta back in 2005, I can attest to O’Malley’s assessment. There were maybe 20 people milling about the Drunken Unicorn, a crowd predominantly comprised of noise aficionados that had gathered to watch opening act Prurient or headliner Wolf Eyes. But Khanate stole the show. Dubin held contorted poses in the protracted gaps between his harrowing diatribes. Plotkin seemed locked in a perpetual scowl, punching dissonant low-end through two horizontally stacked 8x10s with malice that could have been directed at his bandmates, the audience, or perhaps just mankind in general. In the center was drummer Tim Wyskida, less a timekeeper than a conductor, anchoring their crawling tempos and sparse rhythms with violent punctuations. The payoffs were nonexistent. There were no grooves, no breakdowns, no moments of release. It was an exercise in malevolent tension. There was a climax of sorts — the volume built, the riffs became more tangible, the beats became steadier. But then it was over, with the band looking disgusted with each other and the crowd looking absolutely shell-shocked.

Khanate dissolved less than a year later. And like so many artists who push the boundaries of their respective realms, they left behind a small but fervent fanbase and a highly influential body of work. The band ended as O’Malley’s other project, SunnO))), ascended in popularity in the wake of their landmark Black One album. Consequently, Khanate imploded just as a whole new audience tapped into the notion that minimalism, improvisation and drone were valid conduits for heaviness. Their unorthodox approach has amassed a new following in the wake of their break-up, but the story of their origin and the methodology behind their work has been largely untold.

The band’s roots can be traced back to Plotkin and Dubin. “I was in high school when I met Dubin,” Plotkin recalls. “My sister hung out with these guys from another town. They drove up one day and I stuck my head in the car and heard Slayer blasting out of the stereo. It was the advance for Reign in Blood, and it hadn’t been released yet, so I was freaking out. I was 14 or 15, but this Dubin guy was in college. So, we’d trade tapes. The first time I hung out with him, I had a couple hits of mescaline, so I went up to this guy’s college and we did mesc. We wound up hurling cans of bean dip at people.”

Dubin remembers the introduction differently. “At the time, I was in a band called Vile Stench that went through a bunch of lineup changes, and I’m pretty sure I walked up to James on the street in Bergenfield, New Jersey, because he was wearing a Kreator shirt, to see if by chance he knew of a drummer. We liked a lot of the same music and we both had really vile, fucked up senses of humor, so we became friends right away.” Whatever the circumstances of that fateful encounter, the friendship culminated with the two young men forming the early Earache grindcore outfit OLD. Out in the Pacific Northwest, a teenage O’Malley would become a fan of their second album, Lo Flux Tube.

As OLD were wrapping up operations, O’Malley was initiating his seminal Seattle doom outfit, Burning Witch. By the end of the decade, Burning Witch had run its course and O’Malley relocated to NYC. As fate would have it, both Plotkin and O’Malley would wind up at an ISIS show at the East Village venue Brownies towards the end of 1999. “I don’t even know how it came up, but I saw Dave Witte [Municipal Waste, Discordance Axis, Human Remains] at this show, and we started talking,” Plotkin reflects. “He probably asked me what I was listening to at the moment, and I probably included Burning Witch in the list of bands, and he said, ‘Oh, Steve’s here tonight.’ So, he introduced me to Steve, we talked for five or 10 minutes. I asked if he was in a band at the moment and he said, ‘Not really.’ So, I said, ‘Well, I know this guy Alan and this guy Tim, and we’re all in a band now.’ I didn’t even ask him. I just told him. Steve was definitely taken aback, but to his credit, he went along with it until he realized that there was potential. Maybe a week or two later, we were writing songs for the first Khanate record.”

Courtesy of Stephen O'Malley

Wyskida was also a newcomer to the city. “After graduating high school, I knew the best chance of finding musicians working on anything compelling would be to escape the relatively small town I lived in, in upstate NY, and head to New York City," he says. "I didn't have the money to do that right away, so I joined — and usually quickly left — a number of groups. By the mid-'90s, I lost hope for finding anyone who really wanted to attempt something different, and decided to learn new instruments and record music on my own.”

Some of those recordings would wind up in the hands of one of Plotkin’s friends, who would go on to introduce the two. “I would have ideas and we would work on them together,” Plotkin says of the early years of their friendship. “It was stuff that would never get released, but it was just to keep myself busy, especially with recording. But if a project ever came up that I needed a drummer for, Tim was the guy.”

The band began meeting in Wyskida's Jersey City rehearsal space. At Plotkin’s suggestion, they immediately began recording their practices. “There was a digital 8-track that was credited as nekro-drone8negatives,” O’Malley recalls. “We were using anything that was in the room as far as microphones and recording into this 8-track, whether it was riffs or improvising. Jim was into Cubase, so he’d take these recordings and he’d edit them together.”

Plotkin also took on the role of bassist “because it was the only role that wasn’t filled at that point.” But his primary contribution to the band was creating the arrangements. “We recorded everything and I would go back and listen to them. The wheels would start turning in my head. As a musician, you’re writing music in your head all the time. That’s how I do it. I don’t write anything down. I don’t flesh things out with other people. I hear something, then I figure out how it should be fully imagined. So, Steve would come in with riffs and play them until the whole thing started clicking in my head, and it would all start from there … They basically let me do my thing when it came to arrangements and mixing. I was always giving people discs of structures, sequences and mixes, so everyone was encouraged to make requests. That process was the least of the struggle. There’s only so much you can do with a finite amount of parts.”

The early years of any band are often a honeymoon period. And this was also true of Khanate. “We were all super enthusiastic,” O’Malley says of that era. “I had a job in Midtown at an advertising agency at the time, and I remember listening to these mixes from Jim as I was walking to work, listening to the atmosphere of these songs and everything coagulating together. It was punishing stuff, and it came at a time where I was learning how to deal with the stress and energy of the city.” Early songs like “Skin Coat” and “Under Rotting Sky” were fairly well-fleshed-out by the time the band recorded them, but the bulk of their debut album was created by Plotkin editing together arrangements from fragments and improvisations recorded in the practice space.

“It was basically a demo because we didn’t have a label,” Plotkin says of the first album. “The hard drive kept stopping during tracking because of the volume and the bass. So, we got a couple of layers of foam and an empty speaker cabinet. To get the thing to actually record, we had to encase it in foam and tape it up inside this cabinet in the middle of the room.” There were other obstacles as well. In particular, the incredibly slow and deconstructed nature of the Khanate’s music presented challenges for a drummer that was trained in jazz from the age of 12.

“In the early stages of the band, I found myself too quickly moving to the next strike from habits formed by years of playing more densely and more up-tempo,” Wyskida admits. “Most of the challenges were technical, but there was some friction from each player having a different idea of how strikes should flow. When you're not playing to set BPMs, or in strict time at all, a lot of subjectivity enters the picture. It was challenging to agree upon and execute a flow since our approach didn't involve some of the concrete factors you find in more traditional forms of music.”

The entire band agrees that recreating the recorded material live was yet another hurdle. “Jim spent all this time being an arranger, which was invaluable to the band,” O’Malley says, “and we would have these songs in a form that would become an album, and then we would go back and learn the songs, and then they would mutate. We’d have to figure out how to play the stuff that was pure improvisation on the record. Some of the songs became so much more interesting live. There was a basic architecture, and then there was space within that structure to explore. When Tim really got locked in, he became the center of it.”

Plotkin reiterates both the opportunities and the challenges that tied into Khanate’s live performances. “Learning the parts for the live show was fairly easy. It was a lot of visual cues, unless the part had an actual tempo. We just had to stay in a configuration where we could all see each other. The hardest part of learning the songs was making sure you weren’t so wasted that you lost count or forgot how many repetitions had happened. It was easy to lose track. One of the interesting things about Stephen’s riffs on those records is there will be a part, and within the repetitions there will be various permutations of the original riff, and whether it’s the order that shifts slightly or the duration that we’d hang on certain notes, it keeps it from becoming the critique of, ‘Oh, it’s just the same three chords over and over, but really slow.’ It’s not. If you can actually pay attention to detail, the riff itself is two minutes long. It might sound like eight repetitions to you because you’re not paying attention to what’s going on. That’s what I really liked about that band: the attention to details that other people might miss. It keeps you on your toes. There were so many shows where Tim and Steve would be playing a completely different part of the track than me and Dubin, or Steve would get so drunk before a show that he’d completely forget where he was in the song and would just stop playing. It was pretty easy to get tripped up, in everyone’s defense.”

While Khanate’s protracted riffs and sparse drum patterns certainly pushed doom metal to new extremes, Dubin’s unorthodox vocals played a crucial role in helping set the band apart from their contemporaries. While many metal bands’ bloodcurdling screams descend into an inarticulate squall, Dubin’s shrieks retained an articulation that made his misanthropic vignettes all the more unsettling. Even beyond that clarity, his dissection of urban life carried all the animosity expected in an extreme metal band, but it avoided the clichés and tropes that often render heavy bands more campy than intimidating. “I always had a vivid imagination and often thought about what it would be like if daily life or society had no laws, no morality and no clear reasoning,” Dubin says. “With Khanate, I found it possible to tell stories or attempt to invoke listeners to create their own stories … I wanted the listener to feel like they were in the song, in the horror, in the story.”

Dubin’s contributions came after Plotkin had edited together the song structures. O’Malley describes the scene: “It was just Alan and Jim in a Jersey apartment. He put Dubin in this closet and had him do vocals in there. It was very situational, very brilliant. You have these aggressive lyrics, so we’re going to put you in a closet, and you’re gonna stay in there for a long time, high out of your mind. Apparently, he passed out at some moment,” O’Malley says with a cackle. “The lyrics were all Dubin’s doing — just that whole notion of repulsion towards overcrowding and overpopulation. It’s something you felt anywhere in New York that wasn’t super rich. The city has amazing energy and it can be really intoxicating. But you have to keep up with that pace, and you lose some of your identity and humanity in the process.”

Dubin’s contributions provided another asset. Plotkin insists that the music was more sophisticated than it was often given credit for, but the band’s sprawling nature and improvisational flourishes also had a tendency to obscure any given song’s patterns. Dubin’s recurring lyrical phrases served as a Rosetta Stone, helping highlight the repetitious nature of the music. “Creating more of a semblance of structure — and I’m saying ‘more of’ because I found structure in the songs, personally — was definitely a goal I tried to achieve, whether through repetition of certain phrases to drive a point or paint a picture, or the way certain words were emoted,” Dubin says of his strategy, adding that Plotkin’s cut-and-paste expertise again played a key role in helping define Khanate’s sound. “James did some interesting processing of key sections of vocals, which lent prominence to certain phrases as well, helping to create the ‘illusion’ of chorus, verse, chorus … well, sometimes anyway.”

The strategies and techniques on Khanate would carry over into the band’s sophomore effort, Things Viral. While the band’s debut was basically just a rehearsal room recording, their label, Southern Lord, didn’t see much of a need to step up the quality for Khanate’s follow-up. “The first album didn’t have a budget,” Plotkin grumbles. “For the second album, as some sort of stupid joke [Southern Lord owner], Greg Anderson gave us $666. So, we bought a few mics, and that was our budget. We bought one mic for Steve’s cab, one mic for my cab and a couple of overheads. We already had a couple of crappy other mics. So, whatever we had, it was all just thrown together. We had to make that recording happen. There was very little preparation. I’m not even sure if we had any music written.”

Aside from the microphones, there were a few other new variables that shaped Khanate’s second album. For one thing, the band upgraded from the nekro-drone8negatives 8-track to a Roland 16-track borrowed from Aaron Turner of Hydra Head Records / ISIS. New instruments also came into play. “When we started, I was playing a Les Paul custom,” O’Malley says of his guitar choices. “At some point in that first year of the band, I managed to find a Travis Bean through one of the Godspeed You! Black Emperor guys. We played in Chicago at the Empty Bottle and he brought it to the show. Once that guitar came into the picture, for me, as a musician, the whole band changed. All the feedback became super interesting. And then we started Things Viral. As a guitar player, in general, my sensitivity to the possibilities of music changed, just because it was such a better tool.”

Instrument changes may have been crucial to O’Malley’s developing sound, but the environment arguably had the bigger impact on the band’s trajectory. “We moved from New Jersey to a spot on 8th Avenue, and then we had to move to a space in Sunset Park, way the fuck out on the N line. The band changed at that point,” O’Malley states emphatically. “It was Andy Hawkins’ [Blind Idiot God] loft, above a tire shop. It was huge and perfect for playing music. But it was way out of the way. That’s where we made Things Viral, and it was written in the same way, where we’d improvise or someone would have a riff and we’d go over it a few times and record it.”

The new environment would foster the creation of every Khanate member's favorite album, Things Viral, but it would also create the initial fractures within the band’s ranks.

“I don’t give a fuck about democracy in a band,” Plotkin says when asked about band dynamics. “If someone is writing a shitty part, throw it out. It’s about the music. Once the individual ego comes into it, then everything is compromised. You either want to make the best possible record you can completely aside from your individual ego or, I don’t know, join a fuckin’ collective.”

Anyone that has spent a considerable amount of time playing in bands knows the truth in Plotkin’s statement. There is always a tumultuous tightrope act for rock musicians with asserting ideas and prostrating yourself for the group’s greater good. With Khanate’s initial strategy of recording fragments and improvisations, and allowing Plotkin to create arrangements in post-production, there was a temporary harmonious balance in the group dynamic that yielded Things Viral. It’s an album that takes the dissonance, tension, dragged tempos, space and sonic dimension of their debut to even further extremes. Dubin became a more prominent component of the band’s sound, with the album's large swaths of negative space providing more room for his nightmarish tirades. “I think Things Viral was my favorite because it was so different,” Dubin says. “It was as dark as our debut, but the timing was drawn out and odd in a way that allowed for an extremely visceral vocal delivery.”

It was an unorthodox metal record in that it employed metal’s tools of the trade and timbres, but utterly denounced any of its “rock” components. “Other than drunken rambling at bars and apartments about what we were doing musically, I don't remember there being any sort of super set approach,” Wyskida says. “The music just kept getting pushed further every time we gathered — slower, harder, louder, lesser — to the point that some of us would be laughing at how far things had come while rehearsing the music.”

But rather than alienating audiences, this deliberate musical deterioration attracted a whole new crowd of minimalism enthusiasts and experimental music fans. “I think Things Viral is the point where we were more than just an extreme doom band,” Plotkin says. “The crowds on the Things Viral tour were so inspiring, especially in Europe. A lot of different people showing up for the gigs. A lot of clean people, a lot of really dirty people at the same show watching the same band, but getting something completely different out of it.”

Khanate’s cut-and-paste compositional approach, penchant for improvisation and general musical fluidity meant that their material mutated over the course of a tour. As the band became more seasoned, certain members began wondering if there was another way of approaching the songwriting process. “When we made the first record, we weren’t even a real band yet,” O’Malley reflects. “We barely knew each other and we’d barely played together. That was a great way to grab the first instinctual dissonance of that group of people while it was still fresh. And Jim always wanted it to sound fresh. And with rehearsing, it’s hard to keep something sounding or feeling fresh when you’re going over it again and again. But as we became a real band and toured, we realized that there was something more to the group; there was room to develop the songs.”

Wyskida was on the same page as O’Malley. “Stephen and I in particular thought that arranging the music in the room together would be more interesting, and perhaps superior to leaving it until later. In addition to other benefits, we thought more organic transitions could be created this way. James sort of took a step back during the initial phases, with Stephen and I primarily composing the music, working on cleaning up the riffs and arranging. James was involved, but less so than the first two albums.”

The more conventional approach to songwriting might have had another rationale behind it. “There was always a problem with rehearsing with that band where someone wouldn’t want to come to practice,” O’Malley says frankly. “Tim and I were more into getting together and playing music as a release from our jobs and all the New York shit. And we loved playing on our equipment. But looking back now, James was way more conceptual about the whole thing. He’s a great musician, obviously, but his vision of the band was more of a concept that had to be reached, and to do that it required a belief that people would understand it was complex and intelligent music. Out at Sunset Park, it was often just Tim and I. We’d arrive for practice and no one else would be there. So, we’d play. So, we wrote Capture & Release in a normal band way, piecing songs together, trying out structures. And eventually, we decided to go into a proper studio and record on tape this time.”

The band booked four days for tracking with Martin Bisi at Seizures Palace in Brooklyn. The studio had churned out records by bands like Swans and Sonic Youth, so it seemed like an appropriate location to track the follow-up to Things Viral. Aside from the compositional benefits of the new writing approach, the act of recording on tape promised to have its own sonic advantages. “It’s not that Things Viral doesn’t sound good,” O’Malley admits, “but there’s limitations with the color that are a product of recording on a hard drive at a certain bit rate and then processing on a computer. I’m not biased against doing music that way, but with this band I wanted to do the whole creative process up to where the songs were ready to be played live, and then record them instead of improvising and piecing together the arrangement as a record, and then relearning the music. We toured a lot on Things Viral, which meant learning Jim’s arrangements, and then we’d develop the songs further as we played them more. They’d develop in really interesting ways. The vision I had for Capture & Release was to go through all of the steps we did before, including the arranging, recording demos, and relearning the music, but develop the songs much further live, and then record them for the album. But now that’s the record that the guys all hate.”

And indeed, Capture & Release is a polarizing record. While it still sounds very much like Khanate, it is a much denser album. One of the signature characteristics of Things Viral is the amount of quiet on the album. There are stretches where nothing happens. You hear an amp buzz. Or a solitary drum hit. Or a buried vocal track. These bouts of near emptiness were undoubtedly due to Plotkin’s edits. How do you rehearse silence? How do you tell your bandmates not to play anything for minutes at a time? Given the writing approach, it’s not surprising that the album is more heavily saturated with sound. “You can see the difference in the way Things Viral is all about space and decay and atmosphere while Capture & Release is about density,” Plotkin says of the contrast between the two albums.

It’s also not surprising that the album doesn’t sit well with the person who, up until that point, had been the primary arranger of Khanate’s music. “If I can’t be involved in writing one of my own band’s records, what’s the point?" Plotkin asks. "The democracy that was demanded by other members turned into a thing where it was like everyone could have their say, unless it interfered with a particular person’s vision. It was four totally different attitudes in one band. Everyone was a total dick in their own individual way.”

Courtesy of Stephen O'Malley

Aside from the issues of balancing creative input, there were challenges that Plotkin encountered that stemmed from the busier arrangements. “Mixing Capture & Release was hilarious because I like to mix all the drums and then put varying degrees of compression on it to tie it all together, and I couldn’t do it with that record because the kick drum was going so steadily that it sounded like a 10-minute blast beat. I knew what they were going for, but it meant I had to come up with a different way of mixing drums on that record so it didn’t sound like a grindcore record. That’s where I started losing interest in the band. I think I wrote one part on that album, and it’s a dynamic part where it goes from quiet to loud. It’s a perfect example of how everyone having equal opinions leads to a shitty record, in my opinion.”

O’Malley views the album and its origins differently: “It’s not like we spent years writing Capture & Release. It was an effort based on who was willing to work by actually playing together and taking it into the studio … And I’ll go on record saying that Capture & Release is a good album. I believe that I’m the only guy in the band that thinks it’s a good record.”

Khanate went on tour for the album in the fall of 2005. O’Malley’s other project, SunnO))), released their Black One album to critical acclaim that October. Consequently, O’Malley found himself with a full plate. “I went on tour with SunnO))) a lot in 2006. At the beginning of the year, I was on tour for six weeks. When I came back from that tour in the spring, my personal life uncoiled into a total mess. Khanate was rehearsing, and there was all this tension. We played some shows. But by the summer, I told the guys I needed a break. I had so much stress in my personal life; I was losing it."

Courtesy of Stephen O'Malley

Every member of Khanate had obligations outside of the band, and O’Malley’s tours with SunnO))) weren’t initially a concern until he requested time off to sort out his personal affairs. The straw that broke the camel’s back was when the other members of Khanate discovered that SunnO))) had been offered — and accepted — a tour opening for Celtic Frost shortly after O’Malley requested the hiatus. Plotkin was suspicious of the timing between the request for the time off and SunnO)))’s support opportunity. For Plotkin, it wasn’t so much O’Malley’s decision to accept the tour that was the problem as much as it was the supposed secrecy regarding his bandmates' priorities. “No one ever said you couldn’t do other bands,” Plotkin rationalizes. “Tim had been in Blind Idiot God for years. Dubin was the only guy not in another band, but the majority of the tours we couldn’t do were because he had high-paying video editing jobs. No one was ever restrictive, so why was it an issue?”

For O’Malley, the Celtic Frost tour was an opportunity that couldn’t be refused. But for Plotkin, it was a deal-breaker. Wyskida paints a more diplomatic picture of the scenario: “There's some truth to the rumor that Stephen's prioritization of SunnO))) led to Khanate breaking up. There was also some tension from having to turn down a tour or two because Alan was unable to commit, because of how committed he was to his day job. Aside from that, although everyone in the band got along very well for the most part when we were all together, there always seemed to be a lot of tension around the creative process and money issues. I never asked Stephen if that tension played a part in his priorities, but it's entirely possible.”

Plotkin announced his departure from the band, citing a “lack of commitment” from his bandmates as his rationale. O’Malley and Wyskida considered continuing on without Plotkin, but O’Malley’s hectic schedule and increasing amount of time spent in Europe eventually erased any chance of a reconfigured Khanate. Plotkin and Wyskida would continue to work together in the caustic drone-and-improv group Khlyst, and in the reverb-drenched ambient metal outfit Jodis. Dubin would form the grim noise band Gnaw. O’Malley would continue to work with SunnO))) and a variety of other projects after moving to Paris.

The story of Khanate would end there if not for a remnant from the Capture & Release session. They had booked four days at Seizures Palace, but were done tracking the album by the end of day three. Unable to get a refund on the unneeded extra time, they used the last of their tape to track a few improvisational pieces. The reels would be largely forgotten in the wake of the band’s dissolution, but several years after everyone cooled off, Plotkin dug them back up. “James listened to the recordings and thought they sounded great, and let us know a full album could be assembled,” Wyskida says of the tracks that would become the band’s posthumous album Clean Hands Go Foul. “If I remember right, there was little or no editing of the music. Each improvisation flowed nicely from one part to the next. Alan listened, added vocals; James mixed; done.”

“It went down bad,” Dubin shrieks at the beginning of the album. There couldn’t possibly be a better opening proclamation for a post-break-up Khanate album. Considering the bitterness among the Khanate ranks surrounding Capture & Release, it’s a little surprising that all parties involved hold Clean Hands Go Foul in high regard. It’s certainly less dense than Capture & Release, and even less structured than Things Viral. O’Malley goes as far to describe the album as “jubilant,” though Wyskida’s assessment seems to best exemplify the whole group’s opinion: “If I had to choose one album which best represents the band's essence while active, Things Viral would be it. As far as where we could have gone had we kept it together, Clean Hands Go Foul set a new direction which could have been further explored.”

It’s been over 10 years since Khanate folded, and the dust seems to have settled. Corralling and coercing the four musicians into discussing the band was no small feat, but every member reflects on Khanate’s output with an overall sense of pride and accomplishment. With potentially lucrative offers coming in from various festivals, talks of a reunion have made the rounds, though the logistics and the unglamorous reality of a 2 PM timeslot on an open-air stage at a big metal festival has kept the band from seriously entertaining any proposals. “It’s unlikely we'll ever play again, but if and when everyone in the band is ready, I'm sure we could give the music community a much-needed kick in the pants,” Wyskida says. “It's pretty fucking boring out there.”

O’Malley isn’t even entirely sure he could be effectively creative in a reformed Khanate: “I’ve had a really hard time writing songs since that band. I don’t know if it destroyed my capability of sitting down, writing riffs and putting a song together. I can improvise and come up with structural compositions, but writing songs and riffs is very difficult. And I wonder if that band caused some damage in the riff section of my brain,” he says with a laugh.

Like Wyskida, O’Malley thinks Khanate left something of a void in the world of heavy music. “At the time there was a scene for post-Slap-A-Ham, post-Grief, Hydra Head style of heavier bands that doesn’t really exist anymore," he notes. "It turned more metal or more ‘stoner.’ It got more genre-fied. There were a lot of bands that were influenced by Khanate that I just don’t find to be interesting. There isn’t tension there. It isn’t real. There were fights all the time in Khanate, but we also got along really well at other times. We didn’t hate each other; there was just a lot of tension and a lot of egos clashing together. And that came through in the music. It was all a part of the path.”

But it’s Dubin that describes that void best: “I love the uniqueness we created with Khanate and am proud of most of it. There are so many bands attempting the style of the early stuff, but I don’t hear the magic. I eat those people with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.”

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