Michigan natives, The Black Dahlia Murder are known for their uncompromising take on metal as well as their life-of-the-party attitudes. I was privileged enough to sit down with vocalist Trevor Strnad, while his band was on tour with Goatwhore and Arkaik, and he had a lot to say. Check it out...
Tanner Fisher: This is the 2nd to last stop on the tour. How’s it been so far?
TS: It’s been cool man. We know Goatwhore really well. We’re label mates, but we knew them before they were on Metal Blade [Records] too. Some of our early tours were with them…we must’ve had about five tours with them now. We also chose to take Arkaik out with us, who are new band on Unique Leader Records, from California. They’re really awesome; they’re just some Cali-style tech-death, you know like Decrepit Birth, Odious Mortem, bands like are their influences. They’re just really tight, sick musicians, they’re really young, and they’ve been having fun. This tour has been shorter, you know. Three weeks is on the short end for us, so in that aspect it’s been cool.
TF: I know you guys like to have fun… do you have any crazy stories from this tour?
TS: I mean, there’s just been a lot of drinking, like usual. On this tour, there’s been a lot of smaller shows, so it’s been cool. There’s been lot of crowd surfing, stage diving and stuff. The shows have been a lot more personal. [Pause] We’ve had a lot of automobile trouble. There’s been a lot of tire changing. I had a tire blow out two days ago, and the same one blew out yesterday. I came out during sound check, and the dudes from Goatwhore were under the van, taking off the tire with a jack. That’s when you know you’re tight bros with a band, man. While you’re inside soundchecking, they’re outside fixing your vehicle up.
TF: Lately at least, you guys have been going on the road with lesser-known bands. Do you feel you’re at the level where you can basically take whoever you want?
TS: Yeah, I mean it would be easier for us, and lucrative for us to bring out the most obvious bands from like Sumerian Records or some band that everyone’s crazy about right now, but we would rather do something that’s true to our roots, you know band’s that we like to listen to, that might not be on the radar yet. We’re just trying to help any way we can, and it’s really cool to be able to do that. We definitely made a lot of compromises, and played with bands of all different genres. It’s really cool, and they’re all really appreciative about bringing them out with us. We like to bring out bands that are sick at their instruments, and expose the kids to some good shit.
TF: You guys have toured all over the world. Where is your absolute favorite place to play and why?
TS: Man, I think I’m just partial to here, in the U.S. I think things are the farthest along for us here, you know, we’ve just done the most touring here. On the other hand, Europe has been really good for us too. We go over there twice a year for a long time. Things have been going really well everywhere, so it’s really cool. We’re very lucky. A lot of it’s just been making the right decisions, and there are a ton of metal bands, especially extreme metal that deserve to be in our place, but it’s all chance, I guess.
TF: Now that the Deflorate cycle is winding down, how would you say that the general response has been to the record?
TS: I don’t know, I think it was cool. I think people liked it. At the same time, I think they were expecting a little more of a departure from the Nocturnal sound I guess. I think that’s because on every album we had a different drummer, so there was a vast difference in playing style. I think that once we got to the Nocturnal stage, we reached adulthood, as a band, so in a way Deflorate is an expansion of Nocturnal. Our last record went really well with the fans, and the press loved it, and it was definitely a cool time for us. We had to respond appropriately with a record that was better, that had a lot more intense parts, and better solos. Now we have Ryan [Knight, guitar] on board, and we finally have the soloist that the band has deserved. He’s already involved; we’re working on new stuff now. His involvement on Deflorate was big, but he came in after a lot of it was already created. He did write two songs on it, but on this album, he’ll be there from the ground up. I can already tell he’s had quite a hand in the songwriting process.
TF: Right after this tour you’re going to finish up writing the new record, right?
TS: Yeah, we’re pretty much going into hiding, going into secret mode, and falling off the map for a while. But yea, this is our last tour off of Deflorate. Everything’s getting pretty exciting…I can’t really reveal anything about it, but yeah.
TF: Can you at least tell me what direction the sound’s going in?
TS: I mean, we’re always expanding as a band. It’s going to sound like Black Dahlia, but we’re always trying to take it to the next level. People are going to be pleasantly surprised with it.
TF: Are you guys ever planning on doing a follow-up to your DVD, Majesty?
TS: Yeah, but we haven’t really taken the steps to do anything. I guess we just need the right tours in a row, and have Robbie [Tassaro] come out and film it, because it wouldn’t be the same if he didn’t do it. His involvement in the project was huge. His sense of humor, and knowing our sense of humor was huge, so we definitely need to get him back. In the meantime, I have been making these little videos on this Flip camera, and I have a bunch of shit I’m going to be putting online to kind of keep kids interested in the band, thinking about the band while we’re away, working on the album. But yeah, eventually, we’re going to do it. The success of it has been great. It has brought a lot people in to the band. It’s made a lot people hardcore fans of the band, just by showing what touring is like for us.
TF: Do you have any explanation why people gravitated toward the DVD like they did?
TS: I think that they see that we’re just like them. You know, we make it look like anyone can do it. We’ve always been saying that, through this whole ride. It’s like “look at us, we’re a bunch of schmucks, a bunch of nerds, and we’re out here touring and playing all over the place.” We did it all by ourselves, and there’s no reason why you can’t do it to. It doesn’t matter what you look like, obviously. [Laughs] I mean I don’t really fit in to an image.
TF: I noticed Karim isn’t with you guys on this tour. What happened with him?
TS: It’s true. He isn’t with us anymore. I mean, he’s still tied to the band, but he just wanted to settle down. He got a good job offer back home in Florida, he’s getting married. She’s from Michigan, actually, but he still is tied in with the band. He still helps us with merch, he helps get the designers for the shirts…he’s staying on top of the visual arts part of BDM, which I appreciate. You know, he still loves the band, and he’s always giving us advice, and stuff, so he’s definitely here in spirit. But the future and appearances of the ape suit are up in the air at this point, because that was his job, his passion. It was just seem criminal to have someone else in it. Plus, we honestly just can’t have any more people with us on tour. I mean, we have seven guys, and of course we would love to take drum and guitar techs, but we don’t have room for that. They would take priority over a guy in a monkey suit anyway.
TF: My personal favorite tattoo that you have is the one on your wrist with all the tools on it. Could you talk about the meaning behind it?
TS: Oh, Tools of the Trade. Yeah, this was actually my first tattoo…Carcass was one of the first extreme bands that I got in to, the first one I heard with dual vocals, which obviously influenced me. When I started screaming, I wanted to do two different, distinct voices. The low one is Bill Steer, and the high one is Jeff Walker. So the connotation of the tools, within their music is that they’re more maiming the humans. You know, humans are meat, etc. It kind of gives these tools a scary context, and so when normal folks look at my tattoo, they go “why does he have a bunch of old surgical tools on his arm?”, but they’re more like torture devices when you talk about Carcass.
TF: For you guys is it special playing shows in Michigan, or are they just regular tour stops for you?
TS: No, it’s cool. I always like it. Especially last time we played in Detroit, it was just ridiculous. It was almost too insane. It was at the point where it was hard, you know, hard to stay on stage, hard to keep the monitors in check, because everything was going so crazy. It’s crazy, because I can remember years ago where we would play shows in the area, and we couldn’t get ten kids to come, so it’s huge to have shows like that now.
TF: That’s all I have. Good luck tonight, and good luck on the new record.