How Conan O’Brien Inspired Khemmis’ Ben Hutcherson to Treat His Suicidal Depression

To listen to Khemmis’ music, one might assume that the band members walk through life with head and sword held triumphantly high. But even the creators of uplifting art are at times burdened by their emotions, and Khemmis guitarist Ben Hutcherson is no different. 

In his recent interview with The Pit, Ben revealed he’d been overcoming suicidal depression during the creation of the band’s latest album, Deceiver. He also found that unlike the romantic perception of suffering breeding great art, he was creatively stymied by his mental illness, feeling unable to truly write his best work during his darker moments. Oddly enough, it was an interview with someone outside of the metal world that inspired him — not to mention someone who one might not normally associate with clinical depression.

“There was an interview with Conan O’Brien on The Howard Stern Show of all places, where he talks about depression and anxiety,” says Ben, “and he was so afraid to get help for so long that he was like, What if I’m not funny anymore? And he got to the point where he was like, It doesn’t matter if I’m funny or not — I can ‘t FEEL anything. I need to feel alive, I need to be a husband and a father. And if I’m never funny again, at least I’ll be healthy, and there for my loved ones. 

“And of course it turns out, he goes to therapy, he gets on some medication — and he’s never felt more creatively charged,” continues the guitarist. “He’s like, I am in love with creating things now, and I don’t have to be miserable to do it. That really resonated with me. Because I knew that if I was sad or angry, I couldn’t create in the same way I wanted to, but I was able to understand that relationship in a good way. Like, this is literally getting between me and what I’m trying to do. So I need to address it. And it’s when I’m…not  necessarily happiest, but most stable, that I can create music that speaks to these experiences in an authentic way. But when I’m in the middle of it? I can’t see the shape of it. I can’t see how it’s consuming my life.

“Being able to reflect on it, and understand how these things have come to pass in my life, and how I have or have not processed these things, I can put that into guitar lines so much better when I’m focused on it and not thinking, ‘Boy, I sure don’t want to be alive today!’ Because that can be a distracting thought.”

Khemmis’ Deceiver comes out November 19th on Nuclear Blast Records, and is available for preorder.

Check out the full tracklisting and cover art below:

  1. Avernal Gate
  2. House Of Cadmus
  3. Living Pyre
  4. Shroud Of Lethe
  5. Obsidian Crown
  6. The Astral Road

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Words by Chris Krovatin