Californian death metal crew Skeletal Remains are out of lockdown and back on the road. Ahead of next month’s UK tour, Rich Holmes caught up with guitarist Mike De La O to take stock of the last two years… and find out where the band go next.

Rushonrock: Your last album, The Entombment of Chaos, was released during the pandemic. Looking back, what was the experience like for the band? Did you feel you’d lost momentum? And what did you learn from the experience?

Mike De La O: In a way it worked out in our favour. Both Chris (Monroy, guitar/vocals) and I had a lot going on in our lives, so being able to do a lot of it from home on our time was perfect.

Since then, we’ve just been waiting patiently for touring and all of that good stuff to return.

As for any loss of momentum? Quite the opposite! These are the most driven group of guys I’ve had the pleasure of working with and we’re all super stoked to get back on the road and to get back to working on new material.

This time off was definitely a learning experience. We’ve adapted and prevailed, stronger than ever and we are all very grateful for one another. 

Rushonrock: Many bands were deeply affected by the pandemic. How did you pull through? 

Mike De La O: A lot of family time! Rediscovering ourselves and our love for what we do as well.

Although a few of our guys live out of state we all stayed connected, checking in on each other from time to time and making sure that we were all keeping safe and staying healthy. 

Rushonrock: Drummer Pierce Williams joined Skeletal Remains in 2020 and Brian Rush came in on bass last year. What have they brought to the band?

Mike De La O: Pierce has definitely brought his energy and skill to the table in full force. A lot of the new material we are working on was written with his playing in mind, so when we shoot off our ideas his way he always makes it so much better.

Brian is super down to earth and amazing at what he does, so we’re really looking forward to completing the next record with him.

We’ve already completed a few shows and tours with them and it has been nothing short of perfection. This is honestly, in my opinion, the strongest line-up Skeletal has had. I’m forever grateful for these dudes!

Rushonrock: Skeletal Remains has spearheaded the new wave of American death metal over the last few years, along with the likes of Gatecreeper, Blood Incantation and Undeath. What is your take on the current scene – and where does it go from here?

Mike De La O: I feel the strength of the scene at this time is pretty much peak level insanity. You’ve got so many bands coming out and so many killer releases just about every week. Just about everybody is on top of their game and I couldn’t be happier. Just coming off a tour with some great bands with every single one of them bringing it every night was an example of the current status of the scene.

We could only dream of reaching certain heights at the moment… so we’ll see how far we can all get!

Rushonrock: Which emerging US death metal bands have caught your attention recently?

Mike De La O: Molder, Diabolic Oath, Laceration, Malignant Altar, Mortiferum, Teeth, Innoculation, Jesus Wept… to name a few! All great bands that are definitely on my radar!

Rushonrock: What can fans expect from your upcoming UK shows. Will there be any surprises lurking in the setlists?

Mike De La O: We’ve yet to tour any of our latest material out there so we’ll be playing a good handful of Entombment songs. We’re looking forward to jamming them for our friends across all of Europe!

If we had some more rehearsal time we’d love to throw in a new song, but unfortunately that isn’t the case!

Rushonrock: You’re playing some shows with Leeds’ Cryptic Shift, who have become a real success story in the UK – what do you think of the current UK death metal scene? Are there any bands you admire?

Mike De La O: Well Cryptic obviously! But Cruciamentum is another band I’ve always enjoyed. I’d love to see them release some new material. And there’s Celestial Sanctuary, Vacivus, Seven Doors and a few others!

The scene is thriving for sure with no signs of slowing down in sight. 

Rushonrock: You’re playing Incineration Festival in London on May 7. How does it feel to be playing such a prestigious festival and are there any bands you’re looking forward to seeing there?

Mike De La O: It’s pretty surreal to be honest – a real ‘dream come true’ moment. There are so many big bands who I worship personally.

I’m looking forward to Tsjuder, Unleashed, Emperor and fucking Bloodbath! It’ll be a first time for me seeing all the bands on the bill as well so I’m just looking forward to a great show. 

Rushonrock: What about the future of Skeletal Remains? What can you tell us about any new music that might be coming up?

Mike De La O: New music is definitely in the works! The overall sound is still very much Skeletal, though I would say it’s the next chapter to where we were headed with The Entombment record.

It’s got a little more intensity with some Hate Eternal and Deeds of Flesh inspiration here and there. We throw teasers on the band’s social media stories every now and then, so keep an eye out and you might just catch a clip of something new!

Skeletal Remains tour the UK next month. Catch them with Cryptic Shift at The Hairy Dog, Derby (May 3), Audio Glasgow (May 4), Anarchy Brewery, Newcastle (May 5) and Boom Leeds (May 6).

Skeletal Remains also play Incineration Festival (Underworld Stage) in London on May 7.