Sunday, July 05, 2015

Dead Existence Interview

Given how powerful the fierce sludge of Dead Existence's new album Endless Misery was to hear (and if you haven't had a chance to let it stomp you yet, you can hear it here and see our review here), we were quite happy here at RWTD with the chance to ask a few questions of the long-running UK band, with answers provided by guitarist Fred Rojas; special thanks to Black Bow Records for facilitating the interview.

Ride With The Devil: Hi, thanks for giving us some of your time.  Since we usually start with a run-down of the band's members, could you go ahead and outline who all's in the band and how they contributed to Endless Misery?

Fred:  Hi Gabriel, the line up of the band is:
Fred – Guitar
Chris – Guitar
Matt- Bass
Max – Drums
Jake – Vocals

The band is very much a collaboration and material on the records was put together jamming in the studio, with a couple of exceptions.  I could easily pick apart the songs and say who wrote what and who put this idea forward, but it always goes through the band as a whole.  Someone could write couple riffs with an idea but then the drums change the feel and then someone else comes up with a better arrangement.

RWTD: One of the aspects of Dead Existence that was highlighted when we received your album was your high number of live performances, along with your position in the UK sludge environment.  Could you give us your thoughts on how your sort of music is received by audiences in the UK these days compared to when you started the band?

Fred: There’s definitely an abundance of sludge/doom/stoner bands in the UK today which has slowly been growing over the years.  It’s simpler to find a crowd that specifically appreciate this kind of music as there are so many more gigs in this style now.  However in the early days we played everything from squat punk gigs to opening for Brutal Truth and we never felt shunned or out of place.  I think this band has always had a metallic edge to the sound and a strong crust/punk vibe so it was easy for us to play a range of different heavy shows.

RWTD: Does it seem like live venues are more willing to take a chance on doom and sludge these days, are there still some big stumbling blocks with getting them arranged, or have the difficulties shifted to something else entirely?

Fred: With us, it probably has more to do with have more experience and being more organised at getting gigs.  There were always venues and promoters willing to take a chance on you as long as you could draw a crowd, and there’s always been enough bands and promoters around with similar ideas.  That said, with festivals like Desert Fest and a number of promoters and bands setting up gigs in this style it’s probably a lot easier trying to start out.

RWTD: Aside from your previous album and EP, you also did a split with Dopefight back in 2009.  How did your approach to putting together a split differ from the way you did material for a solo release, if there was any notable difference you remember?

Fred: At the time we had a few songs that we wanted to get out but not enough for an album so the split was a good option.  We collaborated with the artwork, Dopefight did the front and back and we did the inlay and CD art.  Music-wise it was business as usual.

RWTD: Do you have any other bands in mind, whether you've already shared a stage with them or not, with whom you'd be interested in doing a split?

Fred: We’ve got a split lined up with our mates Ghold which came out great that should be out soon.  We’ve got material for another potential split but there’s nothing concrete yet.

RWTD: One of the things that stood out to me when listening to Endless Misery was the way you managed to keep these songs of nine or more minutes revving along without losing too much energy to the bass weight or riff grinding.  How did you approach making these tracks?  Did you start with the intent of making Endless Misery a dominantly 'big song' album, or did it just grow that way?

Fred: The last EP’s songs were both 12-15 minutes each, so for us it’s actually gotten a lot more streamlined!  I don’t think we’ve ever set out to specifically make long songs but we seem to be almost incapable of writing short songs, despite trying very hard on a couple of occasions.  I remember we were really happy when we managed to get songs back down to the 9 minute mark as most of our live shows ended up having only 2-3 songs.
In terms of keeping the energy, we generally tend to write in a straight beginning-to-end fashion with total disregards to repeats, choruses, and song structure.  We might repeat a riff twice in the first two minutes but then we’re done with it and then won’t repeat anything for the rest of the song.  The aim has always been agonising slow miserable music, but it’s never good to beat the riff to death.  We want to keep it barely alive to keep suffering on-going.

RWTD: How did the songs change in the move from rehearsal to recording?  Were there any that ended up with major alterations, or were cut out completely?

Fred: The songs were completely formed by the time we got to the studio.  Time can be short when recording so we want to spend that time getting good sounds and solid takes instead of umming and ahhing about whether that part is too long or too short.  We spent a lot of time rehearsing in the months leading up to it tightening the songs so we didn’t need to edit in the studio.  Nothing was cut out in terms of structure, but we do have two extra songs which are coming out on other releases.

RWTD: Any significant troubles in making the album that stand out in memory?  Are you decently satisfied with the final result?

Fred: Some of the songs got a bit more technical which meant more time rehearsing to get the songs solid but I wouldn’t say there was any significant problems that stood out.  After the song-writing, jamming, recording, artwork, mixing, mastering, and all the other things that go into making a record it all blurs into one big cesspit of problems that you just can’t avoid.  That said I’m pretty fucking happy with the way the album came out and I think we’re all really proud of this one.

RWTD: How has the new material been received at your live shows?

Fred: So far new material has been sounding awesome live.  It’s always fun to get new songs played live and I think the crowd can feel when the band is getting into it.

RWTD: What are Dead Existence's plans for the near future?

Fred: We’re just about to do a tour through Europe with The Moth from Germany and we’ve a few more shows around the UK in July.  After this we’re taking a hiatus from playing live as I’m moving to Gothenburg, Sweden.  Once I’m there we’ll figure out what’s happening and if we can work out a way to do shows.  I think for the moment we’ve all got numerous other projects that we’re gonna focus on.

RWTD: Anything else you'd like to put out there for our readers?

Fred: Cheers to anyone who checked us out, came to a show, bought a shirt or helped us along the way.  Stay miserable.

RWTD: Thanks again for your time, and for the excellent music.
~ Gabriel

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