The Black Dahlia MurderThe Black Dahlia Murder
The colossal Masters Of Horror: Interview with Trevor Strnad.
You are now becoming one of the most influential death metal bands on the planet: your music is raw but technical, brutal, extreme and so ‘The Black Dahlia Murder’. How do you manage to keep it all together and what is the driving force behind?
I think it’s all about seeing as far as we can go now. I mean, my first dream was to make one album, one cd with our music on it; that’s all I wanted and it’s gone so much further than that! We have been touring so much around the world; I just want to keep it going. My goal now is that it does not have to get any bigger at all. I am happy if things stay the way they are. Look at Cannibal Corpse and Napalm Death, they have that kind of longevity I am aspiring to, these are bands that stay around forever but are still lots of fun. The challenge of wanting to write a new album and seeing it going as well as Ritual (The Black Dahlia Murder’s latest album, out now on Metal Blade Records) did is going is the best feeling. Ten years into the band and celebrating with the best album for us so far, sales-wise, makes us feel there are no signs of slowing down yet; it just keeps us going. The expectations that we have of ourselves and of each other are to do as much as we can. Playing live has been the best advertising for us and we have never wanted to stop. The energy of the band has just been non-stop.
Ritual sees The Black Dahlia Murder staying true to the band’s original sound and style while progressing in both writing and musicianship. Would you say Ritual is an important chapter in your history?
The way that it all came together was with all the different kinds of explorations that we did, like incorporating different samples and textures, acoustic guitars, new dynamics and more parts that add a creepier feel to them. It is definitely a more mature album; it’s a new chapter for us. We wanted to do things more tri-dimensional, with more to chew on and speed. The slow songs are made strong too, like On Stirring Seas of Salted Blood has that Domination era Morbid Angel slimy guitar parts. It’s definitely cool to do songs like that. We took some risks in wanting to do something more surprising than Deflorate (fourth album of the band, 2009) this time, but as always with The Black Dahlia Murder ideas are at heart. We also sound more educated on Ritual; the guys worked really hard, they sacrificed everything to play the best they could.
Would you say that with Ritual you are continuing with the “horror” themes such as sacrifices, witchcraft and cults you started with Unhallowed and Nocturnal?
We sat down and asked each other what people liked about the band. We thought that these two albums, with their deep macabre feeling, were the ones our fans liked the most; in a way, Ritual has been a return to the initial mindset we had when we where eighteen and wanted to do the most fucked up record ever, repulsive lyrically and scary. I love horror and the horror aspect of death metal: the old school themes like necrophilia and coming back to life. I always think about a new generation of kids hearing our band for the first time and I try to keep this in mind with a vision to communicate what I feel is death metal; however, the fact that we have not really been placed in a box (some people wonder where the long hair is!) gave us more fans, some of them would even question which planet we are from.
What was the first live show you have been to that made you want to do all this?
The first band that blew my hair back was definitely Megadeth, and I was like “there it I, the rest of my life has just been figured out, forget about everything else.” I was twelve or thirteen years old, my dad and my uncle took me; it was the Youthanesia tour. It was awesome. It was very intimidating for me playing at Sonisphere last year right after them! Then I saw Cannibal Corpse in 1996 in the broad daylight; I was just a little kid. How little I knew then that I would ended up talking to them, touring and even singing on stage with them; I still have that little kid inside me that just goes like that (Trevor makes a deeply startled face) when I am near bands like these and my love for metal has been increasing ever since. I still spend all my money on CDs, it’s beyond an obsession.
The cover of the album is one of my favorite around. How did you come up with such an original artwork?
The goal was to make something what would just separate us from what we have done in the past, but still macabre and evil and beautiful in a way. Valnoir Mortsonge (Watain/Morbid Angel) did the cover; he knew exactly what we were trying to go for, that made things very easy. The cover is supposed to represent the duality of a ritual: it was meant to kind of express the way our fans are about us to the point that some of them are maniacs; they even have tattoos of us! And our live performances are also some kind of ritual between us and the crowd; we become the senders and the receivers.
How is it going being on tour with Fleshgod Apocalypse and Skeletonwitch?
To have such bands in the line up is just a compliment for us, Fleshgod Apocalypse is an amazing new band and we have known Skeletonwitch for a long time, we are touring with them in the US soon, with Nile and Hour Of Penance, it would be their first time for this awesome Italian band in the States. We like the idea of bringing bands over to the US, we have done it a lot in the past, it always worked out great. We took Decrepit Birth over before they got signed to Nuclear Blast, it was huge man!
One last question: could you tell us about your tattoo on your right arm? (inspired by Carcass Tools Of The Trade 1992 EP cover).
(Laugh!!) I actually saw those guys the other day when I was in London; they were at the bar near the Underworld, The Black Heart (very cool place by the way.) Our manager took us there. I cannot be myself around those guys because I worship them, obviously. I have a tattoo from The Tools of the Trade; just talking about it makes me excited. We played with them a couple of times. I will always remember those shows. Playing with Carcass and Cannibal Corpse is beyond any gift or possession I could ever want or dream of; it’s a mindfuck, the coolest thing ever.
Sorry, one more Trevor: we hear some loud festival rumors about The Black Dahlia Murder….
Yeah, we are playing at Bloodstock this summer, we are all very, very excited, I still cannot believe it we are going to share the bill with Behemoth, Testament, Nile and Paradise Lost, just to mention few of the awesome bands of this great UK festival. Hope to see you all there!
(for tickets and traveling info check: www.bloodstock.uk.com).