Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Posted by \m/ The Power of the Riff \m/ | File under :

 TPOTR - The band released one of the highlights of the metal year back in 2011
with "Desensitized" further cementing the bands rapid growing fanbase.
How is the follow up coming along and do you feel any pressure to
live up to or even surpass such a monumental album that "Desensitized" was?

VO: We do now! haha, I don't think we thought about it in terms of living up to Desensitized? That's awesome if it's got that sort of reputation! The new album is coming along great, it's essentially done from our end, we're waiting to hear back the final masters, but the mix sounds fantastic, to me it definitely surpasses what we've done in the past. It was a fairly long recording process, we actually wrote some stuff in the studio this time, which was different for us.

TPOTR - What can we expect from the new album, have you maintained your signature

VO: I feel it's the best representation of what Darker Half is as a band that has existed. There's a lot that I like about both the previous albums, but we were also so new to recording with Duality that there's lots of things we would have done differently if we had the chance. Then, with the line-up changing so significantly before Desensitized, it was the first time we recorded with this line-up and also the first time we tried to produce ourselves, so both albums were massive learning curves for us.
This time round, we handled some of the production but had Dave Hammer at Defwolf Studios (where we did Desensitized) co-produce and mix it. When you're so close to something and around it constantly, it can be hard to be objective, so we felt having outside ears come in was the best option (not to mention he's much better at it than us haha). Production wise, this one is gonna sound more modern and bigger than Desensitized, but still has a traditional feel in a lot of ways. We really wanted to get a raw traditional sound on Desensitized after having a real digital sound on Duality and I think we're falling somewhere in between the two approaches this time. In terms of writing we're getting to know ourselves better and what everyone can bring to the table, pulling together all the different ideas into something that resembles what Darker Half is and should be (we don't always know haha).We're also more experienced as players which saves a lot of time in the studio. But yea, it's got killer riffs, massive vocal arrangements and the overall sound I reckon is great!

TPOTR - Back to the beginnings of the band. You really went down the traditional route of working hard building up a solid fan base. You formed back in 2003 and unleashed your first demo ''RUSH" the same year followed by the E.P. "Enough is Enough" in 2006 and of course the debut album"Duality" came in 2009 and was self-released by the band to almost widespread critical acclaim and of course your last album "Desensitized" which dropped in 2011. Do you think this DIY all for one attitude has made the band stronger and more appreciative of your achievements?

VO: Yea, we were really young haha. I was 15 when we did 'Rush' (I can't believe you even know about that! some band members have never heard it haha) It's pretty much the first time I'd ever sung. The DIY thing is pretty much essential in Australia, metal is really not on the mainstream radar (it's getting better, but definitely in 2003) so you DIY until you've got people coming to you. It makes me glad we started so young that we've got the amount of experience under our belts that we do at this stage.

I haven't really thought of it in terms of being proud of being DIY? it's just a necessity of existence at this stage. If Nuclear Blast was knocking on our door, we wouldn't be saying no, we want to take this as far as it can go, it's just those sort of guys aren't gonna 'discover' you at a pub in Australia? So you gotta make enough noise on your own that people take notice. I hope we're doing that, but it's so hard to tell how many people outside Australia actually know you. We've been really surprised just how well both albums have been received, there's no way to know what people are gonna think. In the end, the art itself is something that is gonna get done one way or another.

I'm really proud of how loyal the fans we have are, it gives me a shock a lot of the time that we're mentioned in the same sentence with bands I would've considered totally out of our league. Also, getting the chance to play with so many of my favourite bands/musicians is something I feel really privileged to do, there's a few still on the list, but we will get you haha.

TPOTR - It seems that the scene in Australia is more isolated from the rest of the metal world making it harder for bands to break through on an international level and those that do have to work twice as hard to succeed. How true is this?

VO: Well, look at an atlas? Yea, if you added up the kms we've done touring Australia, we would've covered Europe 10+ times if we were German (and probably be doing better haha). For us to break even doing a European tour, we'd need a months worth of shows (4/5 nights per week) with reasonable guarantees to make it work (just putting it out there), the travel is just too much to come for a couple of shows here and there (unless it was Wacken or something similar), but it's difficult to get on tours like that without distro/label (trust me, we were damn close on Desensitized!), which is hard to get if you're not touring? you see where I'm going with this? it can be a real catch 22. It's not impossible by any means, other bands have done it, but think about a European band of our level doing an Australian tour? I think it is harder for Australian bands, but there's other places that would be even harder than Australia. Going back the previous question, this is where DIY can hurt, just not having the knowledge of how everything works in other countries to be able hook up the things we need. We're trying to find some management/bookers in Europe/US now to help us with the next album release.

TPOTR - So what is the scene in Australia like. How big is the metal underground.
Will we see an explosion of Australian metal anytime soon?

VO: The scene itself is great but small. There's a huge amount of awesome bands going around, it's a little split along sub-genres sometimes, but you can't please everyone, there's just a lot more different metal than there used to be. Not everyone is gonna like everything from Cannibal Corpse to Hammerfall not to mention -core.

I think the fact that we only get to see the established US and European acts here means the bar is set really high for Australian bands to compete, so most Aussie bands who have a decent following are pretty good at what they do, even if I'm not necessarily into their particular genre. I could give examples, but there's too many bands to list and whoever I don't mention will get the shits haha, so lets just say there's a ton of ridiculously good bands here! I also think Australian metal is starting to get it's own sound to an extent, due to the mix of Euro/US influence without either being 'ours' so to speak. Which I think is great, Australians are different to Europeans or Americans, we shouldn't sound the same. We (Australia) had a unique pub rock sound in the 70's/80's but in the late 90's/early 00s it really aped the UK/US and I feel like a bit more of an identity is coming through Australian music as a whole at the moment. In case you didn't know, 'Solid Rock' off Desensitized is a cover of an 80s Australian pub rock band called 'Goanna'. The original is quite different, it's a famous song here, but it's all about Australia so don't know if it's known  in your country. We chose it because lyrically it's reminiscent of an Australian 'Run to the Hills' dealing with White colonisation of Australia.

TPOTR - How has the touring been going in support of "Desensitized"?

VO: It's been really good, we were going pretty much from July 2011 till June 2012, going around Australia a bunch of times. It was a mix of material from both albums, leaning towards Desensitized obviously, with a couple of Maiden/Metallica/Priest covers thrown in depending on the audience. We really like doing a cover or two, it's music we love to listen to, so we want to play it ourselves too. Reviews were all really positive and the reaction was sometimes pretty overwhelming at times. On one show in a really small town, too many people showed up and were going pretty crazy, security asked us what to do because they'd never seen anything like it before (stage diving, crowd surfing etc).
Dom (our drummer) and I were booked to play in Ripper Owens's solo band for his Aus/NZ tour in June, and we started recording again right after that (literally 4 days after we got back haha), so that was the end of the tour itself, but we still did another run at the end of last year and are working up the new material live now for the next release. So it's all been pretty hectic, I'm just itching to get the new album out and be playing the new songs live.

 TPOTR - Will you tour over here in Europe in support of your next album, it would be great to
get a chance to see the bands music in a live setting?

VO: Ideally yes. It would be great to play for you in a live setting! Like I said in the earlier question, the travel is really expensive, being Aussie, we're $10-20k down before we start, and have only the roughest idea if anyone knows us, social media is great, but it isn't the be all end all. We wouldn't want to come all that way to give you a sub par performance by half assing the organisation/promotion, our whole thing is about the live show, so it's gotta be done properly, but we're aching to do it! We've had a couple of really close calls where the financing fell through at the last minute which is a shame. Just to be clear, I'm not even talking about making money here, just not losing more than we can afford. But if all goes to plan then yes, we'll be coming to Europe with this release. 

TPOTR - How does the bands studio output compare to experiencing the band live?

VO: That's a tough question, I've never seen Darker Half live haha. I'd say the live show is the definitive version though. The sort of energy you get in the room is something pretty hard to match on a record, and there's no substitute for the sort of crazy stuff that can happen when you put a few hundred metal heads in a room together. Obviously there's a few differences sound-wise, we don't use any overdubs or anything live, what you see is what you get, so there's little things missing, but those things are only really there on records to try to match the intensity of the live show right? There's so many bands whose albums I didn't really get into until i saw the band live (even a DVD sometimes), then I finally 'got them' so I'd like to think if you like our albums (and maybe even if you didn't), the live show would blow you away.

TPOTR - Do you feel any affinity to the wave of bands at the moment who fall under the NWOTHM tag?

VO: Yes and no? I'm not 100% comfortable with the tag to be honest. I feel it kinda paints it as nostalgia based music, I'm heavily influenced by a lot of 80's bands, but when I heard them for the first time, it didn't sound old to me, it sounded fresh as I'd never heard anything like that before, as far as I knew at that time (2000-03?), metal was Slipknot, Limp Bizkit etc. (I wasn't a metal fan haha) But I also love a lot of newer stuff too, and I wanted to make music that was heavy but had big choruses and melodies/solos. I know we kinda fall under the NWOTHM umbrella, but I think that by calling it 'Traditional Metal' it limits it to a certain range of stuff and I can't guarantee we'll stay in that box forever you know?
Genre's are important, people want to have an idea of what they're gonna get, but it can be restrictive too. We've been called Heavy, Power, Thrash, Prog, Hard Rock, Melodic, Traditional, Classic, Speed, Punk and Shred - metal. And we've only done 2 albums, that's almost a genre every two songs! so who knows. I didn't even know you could be prog and punk haha? I just call it metal.

I do like a lot of the NWOTHM bands though, Striker and Enforcer are both great. Also dig some power metal like Nocturnal Rites and Edguy. Not sure if they sit in NWOTHM, but playing with Warbringer was great, they're the only overseas band around our age we've played with, which was a different vibe to guys who've been doing it 20+ years, maybe it's just a generational thing. They had an awesome live show by the way.

 TPOTR - Back to the forthcoming album. When can we expect to see a release date?

VO: I can't give you an exact date yet unfortunately, at this point we're aiming for August/September, It's in the final stages of mastering at the moment at Fascination St Studios in Sweden, we have the title and most of the artwork sorted (we'll be sharing this fairly soon I think) and are trying to nail down the release details at the moment. We want to make sure everything's in place to give it the push it deserves, we've had issues with both previous releases due to rushing (our own fault, to be fair) so we really want to take the time to do it right on this one.

Thanks a lot for the interview! Hope I didn't rant too long. They were some good questions. We love what we do and are stoked so many people are enjoying it with us! Stay metal \m/
Vo Simpson


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