Congratulations on your new album. I think it’s just awesome!
What do you think sets Deathless apart from your earlier albums?
I think the newest record is the most diverse in terms of my vocal performances. It also feels like more of a death metal record rather than a thrash metal record, although there are still ripping thrash tunes on the album.
Do you remember what you were listening to when you were writing the record?
I don't remember exactly since I listen to a wide range of stuff. I would say you can hear influences ranging from Capharnaum to Voivod on the album. There's also some jazz and straight up rock influence in some of the leads, it really depends on the song I think.
Out of all the lyrics you’ve done during the years, which are the best lyrics you have done in your opinion? And your favorite lyric from the new album
Collectively, the lyrics on the newest record are my best to date. I think I've gotten better as a lyricist on every record because I'm more comfortable expressing myself in that way. Lyrics are very tough because you're really exposing yourself depending on what they are about so I try to really take my time with them and scrutinize every line. My favorite lyric on "Deathless" is in the bridge section of the title track, "It was never a choice, no glory for madmen. The blood of the insane boils in our veins. Through all the trials and tribulations, still we remain"
Are there certain songwriters that you’d like to emulate? Just in the way they write their lyrics, you know?
I like lyricists that speak to me in a personal way or are really great at creating imagery with their words. Growing up, I would listen to a lot of Alice In Chains, Pantera, and Exhorder, their lyrics really affected me because it felt like they were coming from a real place. Ultimately, I try not to really emulate anyone else because I want to express myself in my own way.
You guys were clearly influenced by Death with your playing. If you could cover another song from them, which one would it be and why?
We used to cover "Symbolic" live so it would be cool to actually have a studio recording of that song since it was part of out set for a long time.
What do you do to prepare for a show? Any flexing, exercises, ect …
I try to stretch my whole body out before I go on stage, that way I can avoid getting a mean bangover the next day. I also do vocal warm and spend 5 or 10 minutes warming up on guitar to make sure I'm nimble for the set.
Do you find it hard to enjoy yourself at someone else's show? Without analyzing it all in your head?
I usually have a lot of fun at shows, I try not to over analyze the music and just have a good time. Plus if I'm home and it's a metal show a bunch of my friends will most likely be there so it's a good opportunity for me to also kick it with some buddies.
Let's talk about your music scene growing up; what was it like? Did you ever get see your influences?
The metal scene in Boston was great when I was growing up. There were always a ton of shows going on at clubs and bars as well as DIY shows happening at basements and warehouses. It was fairly easy for us to break into the scene because there were a bunch of bands to play with so we didn't have to much trouble booking gigs when we started out. There was a local Boston band called Random Acts of Violence that were a big influence on us. We played with them many times and eventually Phil even joined the band on drums, watching them definitely inspired me as both a player and a performer.
Massachusetts is such a fertile musical ground. From your perspective, as a native, what's going on in that scene right now?
I'm not as tapped into the local scene as I once was since I'm on tour so much and a lot of the bands I grew up with either broke up or relocated. I know that cops started cracking down on DIY venues more over the last couple of years so a bunch of places that did shows stopped but It's hard to kill the DIY scene, it's like a hydra, you cut off one head and two more will pop up in its place.
When you started out doing vocals, did you take lessons or were you a self-taught?
I was in chorus in high school and took some choral education classes in college so I've had some vocal training. The biggest thing I took away from the classes was how to breathe and project well.
Have you ever screamed yourself hoarse doing vocals in a studio/at a concert?
Yeah it's happened before in the early days before I really knew what I was doing. Now it only happens once in awhile and it's a result of getting sick and coughing a bunch on the road rather than the singing itself. I've definitely learned it's important to take care of your voice on the road and to try to stay healthy.
You've toured overseas numerous times; have you found a favorite food/drink/etc there that you can't get back home?
Any sour beer at Mikkeller bar in Copenhagen, that place is one of my favorite bars in the entire world.
What is your favorite album or songs to play on the long travel days?
"California" by Mr. Bungle is one of my favs.
You stay out till bus call or usually leave before?
It depends on the night, sometimes I'm down to rage and other times I just want to pass out and get some rest.
Is it hard to wind down and sleep after playing a show?
Usually the adrenaline has worn off by then, I find it harder to sleep when I'm flying and have to deal with jet lag.
Any plans after this tour with Crowbar and the Europe tour with Cannibal Corpse? Winter headliner perhaps..
We're not sure how our winter is going to shape up but sure we'll be on tour again before too long, we definitely want to hit the road hard to support our new record. Thanks for the interview! - Dave