Interview: The Black Dahlia Murder
The Black Dahlia Murder are starting to become one of the main faces of modern death metal. Their 2007 release Nocturnal was a huge success in the metal community and gained an even bigger fanbase for the band. I was recently able to get in contact with vocalist Trevor Strnad and talk about scene kids, Canada, Guitar Hero, and Nada Surf.
Who are you?
Trevor Scott Strnad. Vocalist for The Black Dahlia Murder.
You recently finished the Summer Slaughter tour, which is typically full of “scene” kids who are into the deathcore scene. What was the tour like for you? Did the scenesters dig you?
Some of them, yes. There is definitely a crossover in fanbase between death metal and deathcore. I’m not saying that every party involved was into every band, but I know we have fans from all different ends of the spectrum… that’s nothing new for us.
You are about to go on a tour with Children of Bodom and Between the Buried and Me, what have you been doing since Summer Slaughter finished?
Pretty much sitting on my ass at my mom’s house trading metal t shirts online. smoking too much weed, hanging out with my beautiful girlfriend Kelly and pretty much laying low. We’ve only had two practices so far and we’re about to leave… what slackers we have become. I think that we needed that time apart, gets everyone hyped on being in such close quarters for the Fall and Winter months. Brian has been busting his ass, Bart too, writing new material. What has come together so far has us all pumped for the fourth album.
Back to the Bodom/BTBAM tour…it’s quite the line up isn’t it? A strange collection of metal bands. It’ll be interesting to see how fans react to other bands. Your thoughts on the tour?
Not weird to me. Sound wise, I think all three of the bands have aspects in common. Between can get death metal as fuck, just as hard as us, and as for Bodom, I think the melodic euro sound is at the very core of both bands. From all the different tours we’ve done in the past, this is really not that out there. I think there is a really huge crossover of fan interest here. In some rights, and I don’t mean this negatively, the three bands are all entry level bands for the extreme genre… there have to be a ton of kids out there who are barely scratching the surface of this metal game who find out about it through these bands, and have yet to even delve too much beyond that in terms of what’s out there. The tour is going to be the biggest thing we have ever done, and I am very excited to be given the chance to play in front of new people.
Any tours planned after this upcoming one? Last tour question…I promise.
We have a canadian run formulating next, and a long European run in the works for January, during which we will hit the Eastern end for the first time… both should be awesome.
Before we get into any word about new material, it’s almost been a year since Nocturnal came out, and I think it’s safe to say that it was very well accepted, even by the death metal elitists who have shit talked you guys in the past. How does it feel to see these people change their opinion based on one record?
Thanks for the kind words. The death metal heads? Yeah, it’s nice to see that. I’ve always seen us as a death metal band… there really isn’t a hardcore influence in our band, musically speaking. That is more in the energy of the performance. These new converts could have probably liked us all along, as we really haven’t changed much in my eyes.
Those same people seem to say that you guys rip At the Gates off a lot. Personally, I don’t hear it, but you guys seemed to acknowledge it with that shirt you had a while back with your name in the Slaughter of the Soul layout. Are you guys down with the ATG comparisons?
We don’t mind them. That’s what the shirt is. It’s equally part admittance of ripping them off and acknowledgment of the oldest joke in the book. I think we sounded more like them in the early days, but even then we were always moving at a much faster pace. It’s not just them but a lot of Swedish bands that are at the very core of our sound Dark Tranquillity, In Flames and Darkane, just to name a few. People intend it as a dis on us, but after hearing it 1000 times a year it doesn’t really have the same sting. I think the immediate association can also come from a lack of much knowledge of the other bands of the melodic scene. I think bands like The Everdawn, Without Grief, Gardenian, In Thy Dreams, and Gates Of Ishtar all sound like At The Gates more so than we do… and that we have just as much in common with Dark Tranquillity and Darkane as we do At The Gates.
This isn’t as much a question as a statement, but damn Shannon Lucas is a beast. Some of the most impressive drumming on a death metal album I’ve heard in a while.
Yeah Shannon has been a real blessing for this band. He keeps getting more and more brutal the more we play. I am super happy that things have worked out the way they have as far as line up goes. He and Bart are incredible musicians and kick ass friends to boot. I love them like my fucking brothers.
We’ve gone over how Nocturnal came out a year ago…so that begs the question – is there any new material in the works? And if so, what direction is it taking?
As I’ve mentioned above, we have begun the new album. There are three songs now, two of them have finished music, minus the solos. I am working with the lyrics now, but I’m finding it hard to commit to a theme lyrically. Setting the tone with the first set of lyrics is such a big decision for me. The songs themselves are great. I couldn’t be more excited to present them to the world. I would say that they are further in the direction of Nocturnal… same BDM, but trying to expand our sound to make a more varied album. For example we’ve been working with different time signatures to keep things fresh. We aren’t slowing down and we aren’t pussying out, that’s for sure.
I’ve been contemplating buying a Black Dahlia tshirt for a while, but can’t decide which one mainly due to all the designs being awesome. Who designs them, and which one do you think I should buy?
Thanks. I think the designs have come along way. Its so hard these days to find a disntinct look amongst all the different extreme metal merch out there. This was something we majorly struggled with in the early days. Dan Mumford did a lot of the recent designs… Mark Riddick did a lot of our most famous designs. We’re always looking for new ideas and new people to go to. I think Mumford’s “Mummy” design is fucking titties.
I think one thing fans are attracted to about you guys is that you aren’t all long-haired, trying-too-hard-to-be-metal dudes. Actually it’s quite the opposite, you all rock fairly short hair and you even wear glasses. I wear glasses as well, so I know that they’re awesome, but what is it like to say “fuck you” to the metalhead stereotypes?
I think if you actually look at the whole of people who like metal, there are just as many people who look like me and you not only in the crowd but in the bands as well. Metal is a music for nerds. It was my salvation from the rejection I felt in my young life for being nerd. I’m happy that we get to be ourselves and not have to pretend to be hard asses all the time. That wouldn’t work for me. The look has worked for and against us. As you mentioned earlier, a lot of true metalheads have mixed up notions about the band.
Alright one more tour question…your manager calls you up and says you can take any 3 bands on tour with you. Who do you choose?
Megadeth, Rollins Band, and Public Enemy. Now that’s a tour. We’ll gladly open that.
So, let’s talk about how awesome Canada is. How awesome is it?
It’s pretty awesome. I have enjoyed my time there. Good weed there and lots of metal love. Lots of incredible technical bands from there too.
When are you guys going to have a song on Guitar Hero or Rock Band? I know a lot of people hate it, but I think it’s fun. Obviously it doesn’t replace actually playing the songs, but rocking pretty much anything from you guys would be awesome. Make it happen!
I would love for this to happen. Believe it or not, a great deal of exposure comes from those games. I don’t personally play Guitar Hero… it makes my fingers ache almost instantly. I do love video games. I have a wii, but mostly stick to the old NES.
Who is your favourite non-metal band (of all time, and currently)?
Weezer, although I don’t care for their newer shit. As far as more current times, Nada Surf has been my favorite non metal band. I saw them once and it was fucking outstanding. I worship their last 4 albums. Not a bad song on the bunch, with the exception of “Mother’s Day”, which I’ll even tolerate.
What records have you been rocking lately (of any year, and of 2008)?
Defeated Sanity – Psalms Of The Moribund
Napalm Death – Harmony Corruption
Torchure – The Essence
Monstrosity – Spiritual Apocalypse
Nada Surf – Lucky
The Damned – Machine Gun Ettiquette
7 Seconds – The Crew
Lifetime – Lifetime
The Swellers – My Everest
Necros Christos – Trivne Impurity Rites
Putridity – Mental Prolapse Induced Necrophilism
Vampire Weekend – s/t
Panda Bear – Person Pitch
Gridlink – Amber Gray
Iniquity – Serenadium
Nerlich – Defrabricated Process
Thank you for your time.