After a slightly disappointing second album the Dååth guys found the right track again on their new self titled album. Sheer sonic ferocity goes hand in hand in with intelligent songwriting. I had the pleasure of doing an interview with guitarist Eyal Levi. He was more than happy to share his views on the new album, working with different producers and the current state of the music industry.
Congrats on releasing such a killer record as your new self titled album. I was really blown away by its sheer ferocity but also by the intricate guitar playing. How did the album land by the press and fans? What are your own thoughts about the end result?
It’s hard to really tell at this point because the album isn’t even out yet! So far the press has been rather incredible about the album and the few songs people have heard have generally been very well received. Someone even said it was our best record yet! We took a different direction on this one so of course there will be those who hate us for changing but, hey, what can you do? Life is not a static event. We’re writing music for ourselves first and foremost. If other people like it that’s an incredible bonus. Personally, I think the album came out great! I think its our finest work. We definitely made the statement we set out to make.
Is there a deeper meaning behind the title? Can you tell us some more about the lyrical topics and themes on the album?
It’s simple really. This is the first record where there was zero outside interference with our art. Zero line-up changes. Everything was purely how we wanted it. Mark Lewis was only there to help us achieve our vision and I believe he did that in a very non intrusive way. After all the bullshit we’ve been through, to finally be at a point where we could make all the calls unquestioned or uninterrupted, we felt it was only appropriate to self title. I can’t speak for Sean Z on his lyrics but I can quote him for you. In his words this album is: “A day in the life on this fucked up planet.”
What I especially like about Dååth is the right balance between aggression, intelligent song writing and great musicianship. Was this something you wanted to aim from the get go? What was the band’s mindset during the writing and recording sessions for the new album?
The main thing here was to let the songs do what they wanted to do. We went in with no rules, just standards. The standards were simple. Do we love this? Are we excited by this? Is this as badass as it can be? Is this honest? If all came up as “fuck yeahs” then we knew we were in business. Monotony was our enemy and anytime something felt like it was getting boring we made a point of changing it. We’re all people that are easily bored, hence all the changes that take place on the record. We also wanted this to sound organic and like we actually sound. We don’t like the modern metal production approach which basically homogenizes bands and makes them sound all the same. If we had allowed that production approach to have been taken, this album would have been ruined. One of the elements that really sets this record apart is in the dynamics and you can only achieve that through a more old school production/mixing approach.
Can you share some light on the writing and recording sessions? In what way did they differ from previous experiences for The Concealers and The Hinderers?
At the end of the day, the writing all comes down to someone, or some people sitting down and creating something out of nothing. Every album has a different feel to it because the individuals in the band were in completely different headspaces. This album was different because we set out from the start with no structural or musical rules. The only plan was to push our limits as far as we could and make a record that was completely honest.
Last time around the band worked with Jason Suecof. How do his methods differ from working with Mark Lewis, the current producer?
We actually did some work with Jason on this one as well. He helped with pre-production as well as actual vocal production on some of the songs. I think the main difference is that Jason becomes like another member of the band with a tremendous creative direction, while Mark’s style is more to work with what’s already there. They’re both great. Just different.
How does the creative process work within Dååth?
That’s a question that I’m not entirely sure how to answer because the creativity comes on so many levels. It all boils down to this: we work on the songs until the songs themselves convince us that they’re ready to go out into the world. The songs are generated from various places. It could be riffs Emil brings in. It could be Kevin and I jamming. There’s any number of ways that a song will start. Once we’ve begun, we start recording rough sketch versions. That’s when the process becomes brutal. We have no mercy when it comes to weaker sections in songs and will constantly rewrite and improve and reinvent until things just feel right. The great twentieth century artist Jackson Pollack put it best when asked how he knew that a painting was done. His answer was: “How do you know when you’re done making love?” You just do. And until that point anything goes.
During the release of The Hinderers, Dååth was associated with supposed religious mysticism and other things with deep symbolic meanings. Nowadays the band present themselves as down to earth guys playing a technical form of extreme metal. What caused this change?
Not sure what down to earth means, because I don’t think that we’re regular people by any means. We just happen to have zero religious affiliation. We had an ex-member who was very, very into the religious mysticism and once we split with him there was no reason to pursue that anymore. None of us are interested in it, believe in it, or even care. Our inspiration comes from real life, not esoteric fantasy.
Another thing that confuses me is that the band started out on Roadrunner Records, then shifted to Century Media in some weird construction still in conjunction with RR and now the new record is released on CM as well. What’s going on and what are your own views on the whole situation?
We are one hundred percent with Century Media worldwide. The “partnership” between Roadrunner and Century looked much better on paper than it did in reality. Either way, I think it all worked out for the best. We’re with a label that backs us and understands what it takes to build a band our size.
Earlier this yourself and other guitarist Emil Werstler released an instrumental album and drummer Kevin Talley is renowned for doing a lot of session work and touring with other bands, including Misery Index, Dying Fetus and Hate Eternal. How does it all work in the Dååth framework? What are your own thoughts about doing side projects in general?
Dååth is a band, not a marriage. Everybody is free to do whatever they want outside of the band and in fact, I think that all the side projects are part of what keeps Dååth fresh. Every time we get together to write, we have brand new things to bring to the table precisely because in the off time we’re all constantly working on music. I don’t think this band would survive if we were to keep putting out the same record over and over again. That would be dishonest and anti-evolutionary.
The musical landscape has changed dramatically thanks to the internet. Most major labels are gone or about to collapse. Internet and social media (Twitter, Facebook) give bands tools to promote themselves and sell their music directly to the fans. What are the major benefits to working with a label versus releasing your music independently? How does the current state of affairs influence or affect a band like Dååth?
Yes you can be totally indie nowadays without a label, but labels are in no way obsolete. Yet. Maybe in five years, maybe in ten years, but at this point, unless you’re the size of Nine Inch Nails or Radiohead, being with a label is certainly an advantage. You can’t rely on a label to do everything though. In this day and age you as the artist are more responsible for your own fate than ever. You have to approach your career as though you are an independent artist whether you are signed or not.
Time to wrap up the interview. What is the biggest Spinal Tap moment in your career with Dååth?
The whole fucking thing feels like it’s out of a movie.
If you’ve got any final thoughts or shout-outs please put them here.
Yeah! Thanks for the interview. It was my pleasure. Check out the new Dååth. If you dig what you hear please buy it so that our label keeps us making more records.
written by Raymond Westland