The Black Dahlia Murder have literally taken over the metal world. They've been all over the world, sold countless albums, and they show no signs of slowing down. I caught up the Trevor Strnad, Shannan Lucas, and Ryan Knight while the band was on tour with Cannabis Corpse, and it was a hell of a good time. Check it out below:
Tanner Fisher: It's the last day of the tour... how's it been?
TS: It's been really good, man. The tour's almost done, so we're a little on the tired side. I'd say the tour's been awesome, wouldn't you?
RK: Yeah, I'd say it's been a good time.
SL: Yeah, absolutely.
TF: Since it is the last stop, do you have any crazy stories from this tour?
SL: I think it's been a pretty normal tour. Although, I think normal for us isn't normal for other bands...we might just be used to crazy nights. It hasn't been too crazy though.
TS: Yeah, this tour has been pretty standard. It's been all of blur.
SL: There's been some shows, some rockin', some headbanging, some partying, some sleeping...some driving. Actually, a lot of driving.
TS: Oh wait, we ran out of gas! We were like two feet from the gas station,
SL: Okay, that one was awesome.
TS: Woody, our sound guy was driving, and he was coasting for about 20 miles or something like that.
SL: Yeah, the low gas sign went on about an hour before that.
TS: We were on a long drive in Texas where there just aren't any gas stations. You really have to watch your ass out there, man. Anyway, we ran out of gas in the turn lane to turn into the gas station, so Shannon and a couple of the other guys jump out and push it.
SL: We were pushing a van and an absolutely full trailer down the street to a gas station parking lot.
TS: It was pretty awesome. No one was pissed about it, and everyone was laughing. It was like "holy shit, we made it!"
SL: I mean we were literally in the street right in front of the gas station. When we were still coasting, we had to come to a complete stop because of the cars in the street, and we were all like "oh no, this is the end". Right at that moment, the van instantly died.
TF: As you know, it's Devil's Night ... do you guys have any crazy shenanigans planned for tonight?
TS: Well we don't have anything, but I bet the crowd is going to go wild in the holiday spirit, but at the same time, I don't think Devil's Night is what it once was in Michigan. In the 80s, it was like 'burn everything'. There would be like thirty fires in downtown Detroit. Tonight, hopefully people want to rock. I mean we haven't been in Lansing since the infancy of this band...about eight years or something. I'm excited to see what happens.
SL: We've already seen some costumes out there waiting to get in.
TS: Yeah there are some characters out there. I saw a chili-dog man, Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man...it should be fun.
SL: I don't think that Halloween in general is how it used to be. It just got to the point to where they were influencing kids to not stay out late, then they were trying to have them go out the night before. The people are like "oh, it gets too wild on Halloween, so let's have the kids go out the night before". Well why you just have Christmas the day before Christmas then. It's not what it used to be, but at least AMC plays horror movies the whole month.
TS: Actually the first song on the new record is in defense of Halloween. It's about being censored as time goes on, and the song is just fighting in defense of the holiday of evil.
TF: I didn't really know this until recently, but Devil's Night is primarily just in Michigan.
TS: Like I was saying before, I think it's because of the arson stuff back in the 80s...I mean there were a lot of fucking fires started during Devil's Night.
RK: The Crow, man. I didn't know anything about it until I watched that movie.
TS: "Fire it up!"
RK: "Fire it up! Which one of you Motor City, motherfuckers...?" [laughs]. I might think of another line as this goes on.
TS: I had class with a kid who was cousins with the dude who wrote The Crow. Anyway, we were watching "The Crow" when we were writing out second album, which was like the only time I've seen it since I was a kid, and goddamn does it suck! As a kid, I loved The Crow.
SL: I had a poster of The Crow.
TS: I had a fucking shirt... I was him for Halloween for Christ sakes!
RK: I was The Crow for four Halloweens, I think.
TS: See? There was one year where everyone was The Crow. If you went out for Halloween, it was you and another guy dressed up as The Crow.
TF: [to tour manager Michael McDonald] You were The Crow?
MM: For two years. [laughter all around]
TS: I never saw the sequel because I was like "the first one was so awesome that it would be blasphemy". I reality, the first one sucks so it doesn't really matter. What the fuck is wrong with me?
TF: So did you choose to play in Michigan for Devil's Night? Was this on purpose?
TS: No, it just happened this way. We ended to end in Michigan, and it just got synched up. Hopefully kids go wild tonight.
TF: Are you guys dressing up, rocking Scooby-Doo outfits?
TS: No, not tonight. We're just going to be our ugly ol' selfs.
SL: If it was Halloween, then we would. We missed it by one day.
TS: You can barely get Ryan [Bart] Williams to dress up without getting a shotgun pointed at his head. It's a hard battle for him.
TF: I know you just talked about The Crow, but in the spirit of Halloween, I was curious to see what your favorite horror films are.
RK: Halloween for me, hands down.
TS: Oh yeah man, that's creepy. It's kind of voyeuristic; he's creeping around.
SL: You'll just see like half of his mask lit up in a room. It's definitely creepy. We were also talking about how new scary movies only rely on startling you. That's it. They're not genuinely scaring you. You're not frightened, you're startled, then it goes away.
TS: All of the re-does are all whack. You have the rocker kid with the KISS shirt on. I mean, come on.
SL: The original Halloween didn't just startle you, it was genuinely creepy.
TS: I loved Friday the 13th. I loved all of that shit. I loved all of the slasher films with all of the blood and guts...all of that lead to metal for me. Anyway, I loved those films, but Halloween was it. He was controlled by Satan or something...
SL: You can't explain it. He wasn't a monster.
TS: They did it in a good way. The old man is what made Michael Myers scary. He was like "Goddamnit man!"
RK: "I tried to send him to Hell, but I knew Hell would not have him!"
TS: He's been shot, stabbed, burned...shot. Shot again. Obviously number 3 was wack, but besides that one, 1-4 were good. 5 was legit too.
SL: Yeah, that's the one with the cult underground thing going. For me though, I'd have to pick Friday the 13th, even though it isn't super scary, it's still a classic. It was the first horror movies I was exposed to, and I loved them. I have them all...our tour manager is actually just as obsessed with those movies as I am.
TS: When I was a kid, my friend and I would dig graves in his yard and stuff. He had this addition on his house that was never finished, so we had unlimited resources to tool and wood, so we were like "yeah, let's make some armor today. Let's make a casket and jump out of it". Anyway this friend had the first Nightmare on Elm Street, the first Halloween, The Night of the Living Dead, the first Friday the 13th, and we would watch them all of the time, over-and-over. It was our life, man.
SL: I think I was Jason Voorhees at least twice for Halloween.
TS: I was Jason for sure man.
SL: I took the plastic mask and I cut a slit in it, and I bought one of those big plastic axes, and I cut that, and I glued it into the slit in the mask. I had fake blood coming down my face, and I thought it was awesome. I was just walking around with a fake axe sticking out of my head.
TF: Besides Summer Slaughter, you guys seem to be on smaller tours, going to smaller venues... is that what you prefer?
TS: Yeah, I think that's where we thrive, where people can stage-dive and sing in to the mic with me. It's way more fun when you can interact with the crowd, where security doesn't get in the way. I don't feel like kids need that, you know what I mean? Nobody's here to kill anybody. Shit does happen sometimes, but for the most part, kids can handle themselves. They know what to do.
SL: You've got to do it all. You've got to hit the big cities, and if you're in a bigger market like L.A., of course you're going to have to play the bigger venues, because more kids are going to come out.
TS: This is a smaller city, so it's like going to Pittsburgh instead of Philadelphia. The venues are size appropriate to where you are.
TF: Trevor, last time I talked to you was right before you went into the studio to record Ritual, which I think is your finest record to date. What did you do differently on this record to make it that much better?
TS: I think there was a new level of seriousness going into it, I guess. There was more conversation about what we wanted to do, and just think of it on a new level. You know like "let's put some acoustics in right here, what about piano here" and things like that. It took more thought to make it conceptually tight.
SL: I also think that by trial and error, we were able to make a better record. Not every record is going to be your best record, but you can go back look at the songs that the fans like the most and figure out why they like them the most. "What is it about these songs that they like more?"
TS: Or what bands kids like, and what elements they like. I guess just by research we were able to make these songs. With these violent, horror-veined themes, I think that we are able to resonate most with the fans, so we returned to that full-on.
SL: I mean, having lyrics that they can understand is important too. If you have lyrics that are too deep, then you can't connect with it as much.
TS: Every track on this album was a clear short story. Everything is more concise. Another thing we were conscious about is how the music will sound when it's played live. I think we're just smarter and more mature as we grow older, and this dude [pointing at Ryan] is so talented, and he is so conscious of how we can expand and grow. This record is more real, more mature, and more professional. I still look at the band as ever-changing, constantly getting better and expanding our horizons. We're always wanting more. There are no signs of slowing, especially no seeing how this record has turned out. This record is my proudest moment of being in this band. Responding to this record is going to be hard, but it's necessary. I look forward to it and I fear it.
TF: Everyone loved Majesty, so I'm curious if there's a new DVD in the works.
TS: Nothing has been shot yet, but we know we have to do it. We would be fools not to do it, because it was massive, and it is still a part of the band's popularity. It is still bringing people into the band, and that is more than we could ever have asked for. Also, Majesty was really rushed with the editing and things like that, so we'd like to do something more on our terms. I think we could come up with something even funnier and more entertaining. So yeah, we do realize that we need to do it. I still love the DVD and I love everything that it's done for us
SL: We need to give the things new things to quote. One say something one time, and they'll repeat it eighty-million times.
TS: But that's cool, man. I remember watching Pantera and CKY DVDs because they were funny. I can relate on that level.
SL: Pantera's 3 [Vulgar Videos from Hell] was the ultimate band DVD...well it wasn't even a DVD when I had it. It was a VHS. It was so sick, because you wanted to know what they were like; you want to know what's it's like on tour, especially for those people who never will get the chance to go on tour. Maybe you're sick of you're 9-to-5 job. You can escape a little bit, and vicariously live through them.
TS: That was kind of the goal with Majesty. There is different because they were always in their bus, which makes them look massively huge, and we show you both sides of the coin. Showing us on the bus, then back to the van, humping some shit. It also dispels some of the fantasies have about touring a little bit. You know, peeing in bottles and shit like that.
SL: Which can be fun, but it is also a constant discomfort.
TF: So what's next after this tour?
TS: Chilling for a second at home, then South America with Cannibal Corpse and Suicide Silence. There should be a lot of fuckers at those shows. On this tour, we'll be on support, which is what we want to do all around the world. If we can play with a band bigger than us and get new fans, that's the goal. We headline all the time over here and everywhere else, so it's going to be a good opportunity to tag along.
TF: Do you guys have any final comments?
RK: I peed a lot of this tour.
TS: I think he broke the record.
RK: I'm like an 80-year old man when I get into the van. The van shakes the piss out of me.
TS: Every time I turn around, he's standing up back there. I go for the laying down method. I feel like when I'm laying on my side, it's like going at the urinal.
SL: This tour to me, it felt like I was almost on autopilot. We've been doing this for so long, at this point, you just know the routine. We set up and tear down like it's nothing. Every day has been like "cool. Done it", you know?
TS: We are so fucking good at tearing down. We're like legends at it.
SL: Fuck the music, just check that out. But seriously, this tour has been on autopilot. I've been really stoked having Cannabis Corpse on this tour. They rip so hard, and it's just been awesome to have them come along.
TS: Yeah man, eat more pizza. Happy Halloween. I hope you get the big candy bars, and not any raisins or pennies or the peanut butter things with the black or orange wrappers. Those are the ones I'm worried about having razors in them, or that it has a chemical that burns your face off...you know where your mom is like "make sure there aren't any razorblades in your candy". How many times has that actually happened, like once?
SL: Like only one person was successful in putting a razor blade in an apple. How do you even do that?
TS: You grow it that way.
SL: How do you not see the slit in there?
TS: You people are sick! You people are sick!
TF: I'm not sure if this is an interview anymore, so on that note, I think we'll end here. Thanks, and I hope to catch you guys again soon.