Interview with Dragged Into Sunlight-Pre Dark Mofo/Australian Tour
I had the fantastic chance to chat to T, their vocalist and it was an incredible chat with an articulate individual and it is always heartwarmingly pleasing to chat to a band you really respect and their words match their deep passion for music.
DH-Hey how are things going with you.
T-Great, the band has been in the studios of nearly every day for about two to three months now. So I'm finishing at 2-3 am and getting back up 9-10 a.m. Same routine cycle over and over. So and then obviously that's all the way up to a two-hour flight. So busy, but amazingly productive.
DH-Wow that’s hectic. So I'm going to ask some other lead questions, but obviously, you are referring to a new release that’s going to be coming out.
T-So yes, we're working on a couple of new releases at the moment. I mean normally the way we'll do things is we will record a mass volume of recordings we will use and then we'll decide the order in which we should release it. And that's what we've been doing, it’s been three to four years now. So we have been putting together different concepts in different releases and that sort of last two to three month period has been about you know getting into the studio and putting them down.
DH-Fantastic. So can you say much about those releases in terms of is it a full album or another amazing collaboration like you have done previously?.
T-Yes, so there's a handful really. We do have a couple of full albums and we've got a couple of collaborations in there as well. I mean we've been pushing to get this stuff out since 2012-3. So since we didn't make it came out at that stage, we've been working on it and you know sort of kept on working nonstop and you know every week, there's been more going down and more ideas going back and forth. There's a huge amount in the works. You know there's a couple of full-length records in there. Whether they'll all see the light of day, I guess it depends on sort of how it sounds when we go into the studio and then these couple of collaborations.
DH-On that point what you were saying, I've read about Dragged Into Sunlight being a collective that where there is sizeable geographical distance between some of the crew. How hard or easy is that? I would imagine that it'd be a fantastic support structure in terms of creativity and in another way did have its own difficulties I would imagine.
T-Yeah I mean it's obvious that there's this sort of, I'd say two heads wisdom about and the fact there are up to 12 people involved, with nine individuals who you know use instruments and so there’s no absence of creativity. So there's always enough people. It's just a case of getting those people together. And when you look at the costs of running a band and whether it's financially feasible, it's on the borderline madness.
Yes, no-one would want to sign up to this unless they were truly committed to making the most extreme music possible and that is mainly because of the cost and so prohibitive to get members from London at the same time as Glasgow to come to a practice space. So you know you have your practice fees, plus the cost of instruments getting servicing and an amplifier service sitting in on top of that. You've got the transport or travel which you know; can add up as well. I mean it makes a single practice pretty expensive to make happen. So when we do get together we don't tend to get say you know six hours like perhaps some other bands, so you know we'll get together for 10 days at a time.
DH-Wow that makes complete sense. There's a few hardcore and metal bands in Australia that do that sometimes, because obviously even the distance to travel is pretty big in Australia. But sometimes, they'll do the same where members will fly in and get that done over days rather than three hours so that's what you have to do for shit to get completed.
T-Yeah it works a lot better for us. I mean especially because we have to. I mean we have a studio where we can go through the entire night. So you know some of our best material has been at half four in the morning and yet we're all too shit faced to remember it the following day. It's like we've written some great stuff just by spending the intense time together and I think when those people are in the same room and we work on music together, depending on which people are involved that's always going to sort of dictate the use of the feeling of the music. And there's sort of a few key individuals who bring sort of different sounds, that are attractive to some like us to the table.
DH-I was going to say on that point, everyone talks about your band being raw and abrasive and all those kind of things. Now we've spoken about there being quite a few people involved, so what's the main creative core that drives the band?. I mean obviously, a lot of bands talk topically about politics, the state of the world, personal interactions and items related to that. What are some of the main drivers for the band?.
T-Well I think when we read through newspapers and magazines nowadays and you can clearly see the stuff you're talking about and it’s a topic for people to focus on. Some bands have some sort of political messages or their songs that have some sort of certain theme going on or something like that. There's many bands, that focus on this. Dragged Into Sunlight is not about that. Some bands you really know if it's going to have some sort of political agenda or message and with us, you know that there is none.
But you know even if that were the case, I would never say well you know let's put that into music because it seems like you're short-changing people you know if people want to have a political debate you know it's in an academic forum and it shouldn't be via a three minute to 10-minute piece of music, where they've you know condensed their message it's 20 lines or something like that. So we don't have any political message. We started with an aim to make the harshest and most extreme music possible, being experimental and pushing the boundaries and yielding a good result ultimately so that's that. And when we listen back to it, you know it's about making the most diverse music that we're capable of making.
DH-So that's clearly the aim of your band to be extreme and push those boundaries, and it obviously is something you've definitely focus on, but what about the kind of cathartic nature that exists in extreme music because I get the sense of that and when you're talking about certain bands like Converge and Amenra and a few other bands like that, it's really that deeply emotive stuff, it's really you know the hard grinding, tortuous and cathartic stuff that comes through from a live performance and probably producing these types of songs as well.
T-Yes, there's definitely a lot of that. And it’s a big driver. And often it’s just surviving the chaos. Anyone who has been on tour with us or spent some days with us realizes this. You know it's there's a lot of madness in there from all the various members, and some very strong personalities and you know a lot of chaos. You know three days in Australia will no doubt feel like three months. You know I almost feel sorry for our driver, but who can tell what happens on these drives/gigs. You create intense music and the personalities involved also create extreme feelings. Ultimately that's what drives the music.
DH-Yes, I've not obviously I haven't seen you live, but I can see that there is a lot of that dark and punishing energy in your live performances on Youtube. Now your music, it's quite a different mix of quite a few genres. You know there's obviously there's doom and sludge and black metal, but I also pick up a lot of crust and hardcore influence in there as well. How did the sound develop as a band, because I really strongly believe that one of the strengths of your band is it's not pigeonholed at all. Like I think it's really strong in its intent, but it's not pigeonholed by one genre.
T-I guess it was a very deliberate move was to make sure that no one could ever point out just one sound or genre. I mean I say deliberate, but it's actually very natural. You know no one involved would want anyone to point a path to the part of a song and say oh that sounds like that you know. I mean there are various moments you can point out that you know certain moments in a record and say oh you know that reminds me of something like Autopsy or Obituary or Incantation, or that it reminds me of a great scene or something like that. But you know generally you can't sort of pigeonhole, you can't you can't put it in a box. And I guess you know that's something which is quite special, because there aren't a lot of bands around nowadays that have some sort of natural, yet aggressive diversity. And you know it comes from almost a chemical reaction from the people involved or coming from different backgrounds. You're right when you say this influences the sound and certainly a lot of us you know grew up listening to hardcore. But equally as much hardcore as death metal. Yes as much hardcore and death metal as when the two blended together you know sort of around, I guess in the late 90s you had very strong sort of early renditions of sort of the metal bands that were in the hardcore scene bands like Earth Mover for example and Adamantium in addition to that you've got obviously your traditional death metal bands the likes of Autopsy and Obituary you know and then you've got sort of when it starts going a bit more technical and the likes of Aeon came out and you know it expands the sound generally and you know it spans 30 years of music, that's sort of been you know what’s been on our C.D. players for 25 to 30 years. Yes, it's got to come through, doesn't it? Eventually it goes somewhere and all those influences from those different backgrounds and you know it’s not just a here and now thing.
DH-Yes absolutely. I mean you can hear that's super crystal clear from the kind of deep releases that you have put out. Personally, how did you first get into music?.
Like I said there's a definite antisocial and fuck the mainstream vibe from the hardcore/punk or the metal underground which I hold pretty strong myself. So how did you first kind of get into music?.
T-Exactly what you have suggested there. And I talking about myself personally. It was going to do hardcore shows in very small venues you know talking hundred to eighty to two hundred people sized venues in the northwest of England watching bands like Archangel, Reprisal etc. Yes, I guess there was a lot of great European hardcore around that time, but it was around that time that hardcore metal was really merging and you had the likes of Archangel coming out. So you know that's the sort of scene that sort of took me in at the time. And it grew over the years. You know it and you grew into it. Yes, I guess that's just the journey I followed in music, now I can't say it's the same for others in the band. They have their own journey they started in the underground death metal scene or the underground black metal scene. Yes, some of them you know sort of I guess initially got into more technical music, like more technical death metal and then decided actually no they almost reversed and they were exploring a sort of a simpler more primitive side of death metal. So you know it's a variety of backgrounds. I can also talk for myself personally, because when you say so yeah fuck the system you know that's ingrained because every person involved we all started at a grassroots level like absolute grassroots level, where you were playing in venues of you know 80 to 200 people, it was very small scenes. Everyone knows everyone. And you know it's just mirrored throughout the music.
DH-Indeed and that comes across really strongly. I've had reading some of your interviews and that I think the concept of not knowing the band or collectives personal identities is an excellent ideal because it should be about the music I think. It’s not a sideshow like a Slipknot or something similar. The main attraction should be the body of work produced.
T-Yes, it's exclusively about the music. And that’s how it should be. You know it's about I guess presenting the listener with a blank canvas, allowing the mind to wonder what I was saying about those early bands you know early hardcore bands. You know that old scene did that mixing, sort of with metal and so on, where bands would play some exceptional death metal riffs in parts but they looked like hardcore kids and they were sitting between hardcore and metal scenes, but completely independent. Dragged Into Sunlight doesn't want to be labeled and that's because you know there's no sort of preconception. This allows each listener to form their own vision in their own head. I think it allows them to create their own, to almost paint their own picture.
DH-Yes I think that's perfect for what the aims of your band are with your releases.
And I think all the releases are really exceptional. I think they're definitely sensational in that there are links between them, but you know there's no specific genre or restrictive style. Is there any one release that you hold you know with a bit more pride or hold in a higher place?.
T-I mean obviously, there's been developed over time which you've been talking.
I mean in the albums, you have Hatred for Mankind, Widowmaker and N.V. , as well as the demo Terminal Aggressor. Those first four records, they're all strong in their own right. I love them each as much as the other. And the reason is that they all have the same sort of time put in. They've all had the same approach and we would never release something unless you know we felt it was perfect. You know here's no forced reason for us to release anything. As you know we don't work to label deadlines. I mean they(record labels) tried to set them and I think our last one was got two years ago or something and we just missed it, because there is no one pulling the strings. There's no one going to retire off doing this type of music and no one has that ambition. So we do what we want, there is collective ownership of each release. And that's why it's safe to say that every release now sits on par with the others. I can't speak for other members, but I'm fairly sure that'll be the common theme you know and we don't tend to look back on a release too much once it's been done. Well besides listening to it you know we really enjoy listening to it. And if there is something out of place chances are we've listened to it six million times before you know before it reaches that stage of mixing and mastering. You know we're all exceptionally comfortable with what we're doing, and by the time that we're mixing something and mastering it and it's well ready for release. I think even if there was something out of place on the artwork, we wouldn't release something yet. So we all sit on the same artistic plateau as a band.
DH-And I think that's that gets to my next point, I think you know in this age of social media and all that, there is often a lack of honesty or genuine effort in a lot of music genres or individual bands these days. So I think that's really pretty refreshing that you know there's not a wasted note or piece of artwork, none of it is a throwaway. And I think that's damn amazing.
T-Yes, I mean the artwork as an example, the more current piece of art in the last two years or so, it's over a hundred fifty hours now that's gone into it and it's like you stated; there shouldn't be a wasted note, there should be no filler- you know no one's getting paid properly no one is getting any benefit from doing this other than for example: making you know each cymbal sound like a smashing a window into hell, you know it's got to be the most extreme thing. That's what that's our mission statement. So if we're not fulfilling it and it's just you know sort of filler riffs or filler part after filler part with the occasional strong part, there'd be no point in doing it.
DH-Yes, absolutely and now let’s chat about life experience in music how important or relevant is that to you?. Myself why I work as a nurse and for me that's a really good mirror into the wider world and maybe the darkness of the world and provides a lot of fuel and inspiration, how does it have context for yourself, like personally, how does that come into it. I know it's as we said before it's not about any political or personal statements but how do you see that?.
T-Well I guess you know when we first started Dragged Into Sunlight, it was with a group of professionals and that's why we kept our identities hidden really, because of the crossover between work and the band, we really wanted to be able to do whatever we wanted to do without the two separate lives being linked really. So you know, many of those involved in the band do come from quite a serious work background and some of the original members comprised of finance directors, psychologists, actually leading psychologists- you know people who've sort of won awards in regard to depression; so some renowned individuals in the UK as well as a couple of lawyers you know who were internationally recognized as well. So that's why we kept the identities hidden and you know at the outset that was the original reason to go that way.
Now we just want to be able to do what we want to do without consequence. I think if I was to say you know what comes from that professional background and what influence does that have on the music; well I think from the sort of the legal side reach and so from that level of qualification, but also in that industry itself, you know corporate law is very ruthless. It's about brutal as it gets. So I think you know there's a lot of harsh reality there and you know we've seen a lot of misery and seen a lot of people lose. And I guess you know they deal with things very firmly and very strongly with very significant intent. And then when it comes to the likes of a psychologist for example you know, like I said understanding that misery, understanding depression and irregular state of mind. And that was something which came from that background. You know it was just I guess when we talked about the concept of the band obviously all that knowledge and life experience feeds into this concept that would become Dragged Into Sunlight.
DH-Excellent, so you're arriving pretty soon in Australia and the festival you are coming to I have to say it's probably our(Australia’s)best arts and music festival.
It's pretty darkly curated, but not in a wanky way in a really good way. I think it's an outstanding fit for your band. I went last year it's both incredible and intense. Have you heard much about the festival?
T-You know we haven't we done much of a dig in or research and the reason we don't look at that is because Dragged Into Sunlight is just about making the most extreme music we can make. So you know we don't get a lot out of it so far as you know financials or anything like that. But one of the biggest benefits is being able to go somewhere like Australia which is you know for us the other side of the world legitimately the opposite side of the world. So yeah it's good to go there and experience it first hand, but not have any preconceptions. And like I said you know when people go to our show, they don't have those preconceptions so it's a new experience for both of us.
DH-Absolutely and it'll be an exceptional fit because Dark Mofo is really quite dedicated to it. The artist and their form and their creations. They're not afraid of the darkness and grimness like there's a lot of thought-provoking shows and art, there are so many different things there. It's not going to be a boring or pigeonholed event, that's really what I'm trying to say.
T- We've heard that much about its aims. That's the most exciting part when I hear you talk about it or anyone else that we spoke about when they're talking about it(Dark Mofo). That's an extremely exciting part for us, because individuals may ask what is Dragged Into Sunlight about, or people saying oh you know I wonder what they sound like or what is the live show is all about?. Well you know for us going to Australia, you know it's a different scene and to see it first hand that's an incredible experience in itself. You know that's what attracted us, so the premise was fantastic.
DH-Exactly, that's really true. I'm really looking forward to catching you at Dark Mofo, I rate your works very highly and I am sure it will be mind-blowing.
I'm sure you will love the tour and I hope you enjoy Australia and also thanks very much for the opportunity to talk to you because I'm a long term fan, so it's been really fantastic to chat to you.
T-Thanks Mark, and we'll see you really soon and thanks again. Hope to catch you over there. Take care. Cheers.
and catch them live this week, particularly at the insanely evil Dark Mofo.