Hi Daryl, welcome. It’s a pleasure to finally have you here after some time thinking and working on this interview. How are you doing? What are you listening to while answering these questions by the way?
Hello. Thanks for having us in your webzine - listening to nothing during the whole interview. Only the deafening wail of total silence, a hissing radiator and and a computer fan.
Well, I don’t think it’s strictly necessary to speak about Disma’s biography, as there are already interviews here and there in different fanzines and webzines speaking about it, and it must be quite boring for you to repeat it once again, but I’d like to speak about the reasons that brought Disma to life, especially having in mind that you already have another band focused on old-schooled dark Death Metal, which is Funebrarum. Could you please introduce us into the process of creation and molding that lead to the band you are nowadays?
Here we go again... hehe Well in late 2007 after the recording of Funebrarum's second album "The Sleep of Morbid Dreams" the bands' activity came to grinding halt due to one of our members moving away. We could have pursued it harder but for reasons unknown we didn't. For a while it was like not being in a band at all which after 28 yrs of consistently being in bands or playing music with people it was nice break. Soon enough I began to feel the knawing hunger to play Death Metal again. My old pal Bill Venner was also interested in forming a project so we started jamming in my living room. He already had the name Disma and we knew it was going to be fucking sick whatever it was.
So the drinking and writing sessions began complete with garlic chicken wings, nachos, cigarettes and rivers of beer. We wrote with the two guitars five songs - three of which appeared on the Vault of Membros Demo. Once we had enough material to work with we started auditioning members including people from Deteriorot and Ceremonium but they did not fit our vision for the band entirely. Shawn Eldridge (Funebrarum) joined us on drums along with Randi Stokes on bass and finally Craig Pillard on vocals. Ironically through this process Funebrarum has been revived.
The first Disma release was the great “Vault Of Membros” demo tape, which has been praised by many people and will even have a 12”LP release soon by Detest Records. Why did you decide to release it on tape, was it a tribute to the old days of underground Death Metal, when bands which are cult nowadays were sending their demos all over the world, or maybe you like that presence and sound of that format, above all the implications mentioned above?
We thought it would be a fun and cool thing to do actually. A CDR or even a CD has lost something along the way. If we might have released our demo on CDR it would have easily drifted into obscurity. A demo on cassette with a cover has something personal put into it...the essence of underground communication and sharing of music that drove us to this point in the first place. It also seemed like the right thing to do for our analog recording.
“Vault Of Membros” represents a pure tribute to the old obscure sound Death Metal had in the old days, when Sweden, Finland and the USA were still spawning their very early creatures in that genre. Listening to it now, after the album, I find a little more brutality and oppression on that recording, and maybe a less personal sound too. Where you still trying to find your own sound? How do you see that demo now that some time passed?
The demo represents a great period of the band for me. We had a day to record it which left some rawness and filth intact. We just wrote what came natural to us without any external cues on sound or direction. We used some great vintage gear and equipment on that session. I enjoy the demo and look forward to it's release on vinyl format.
Between the demo and your first album you released a 7”EP and a split 7”EP. How did the cooperation with Winterwolf emerge? Did you know Antti Boman from the old days or did you contact him because of your love for Demilich?
I have known Antti for some years now. We invited Demilich to the Funebrarum house years ago and had some brutal parties with them, Mucupurulent and Pungent Stench. Of course we are old fans of Demilich and support Corpse and Antti's activity in Winterwolf. We are glad we were able to work together on this split. Eaters of the Cross!!
This year you have finally released your first album, “Towards The Megalith”, and it shows a big evolution in your sound, even if we’re still speaking about dark, gloomy and raw Death Metal. The doomy aspect if reinforced and maybe there’s a bigger focus on atmosphere in contraposition to the brutality of your previous releases. What do you think about this and how did you work on that evolution?
I think the atmosphere is also present on the demo but maybe it is not as visible or audible? Disma tries to utilizes both brutality and atmosphere when writing . Our new material has plenty of both. These elements are what we find most appealing about Death Metal. Brutality in modern DM terms can be hard to pinpoint but the key is always "less is more".
Even if I know you're european Death Metal fanatics and your hearts head for northern Europe when it comes to Disma, I still find some pretty obvious influences of old american bands like Autopsy, Incantation or first Immolation. Do you agree about this or you don't feel close to the feeling of those bands when writing new songs for Disma?
I need to go on record here. When writing in Disma, Incantation or the band's music does not enter our consciousness whatsoever. The only commonality between them and us would be Craig's vocals and we knew that from the start. Our destinies are inextricably intertwined. No disrespect to those guys as we share members in Funebrarum but we get asked about Incan in every damn interview and frankly we are sick of it haha.. We feel that Disma has enough of it's own identity to stand without any comparisons at this point.
Having Craig Pillard in your ranks gives you the possibility to compete with all those monstrous growlers that emerged from the old Swedish and (especially) Finnish scenes, rarely matched nowadays. Was he the perfect singer a band like Disma needed to follow that path and sickening atmospheres? In case you could choose the singer of some old Death Metal band for Disma, which one would it be?
The band is a sum of it's parts. Without one we would be not be Disma. Like Sabbath without Ozzy or Celtic Frost without Tom G. I've always liked the vocals of Jonas Larsson and Jarkko Rantanen but they would not fit in Disma. We have a back up whistler who does a good enough job when Craig is sleeping or taking a later flight.
“Towards The Megalith” catches the attention of every underground freak since the first time because of that awesome cover, which I'm sure that will be even better to look at when the LP version finally comes out. Introduce us a bit into this colossal work and its meaning or description. Did you give exact orders to the artists or did he work according to your lyrics or the images your music created in his mind?
We hope people also like the music as well haha. Before recording one note we had a clear idea of what the album should sound and look like. We presented these concepts and sketches to our friend Ola who vomited forth an ungodly nightmare of a cover. It was a collaborative effort but all the praise should go to him for his great artwork. He is currently in the process of reworking our demo cover art for the LP version of "The Vault of Membros" - coming soon on Detest Records.
This drives us to the lyrical contents of your album, which I imagine will be deeply in touch with what dark Death Metal should speak about. But, there doesn't seem to be plain gore, satanist or any other kind of usual abused subjects. Death and gloomy landscapes are there though, and a feeling of decrepitude. Anyways, guide us through your own words on those fields please.
Regarding our lyrics - is up to the listener and reader to conjure whatever lurks in their own imaginations.
I must admit I was quite skeptical when it comes to this revival of old-schooled Death Metal we're living nowadays, but in the end I've succumbed to the obvious quality some of the new bands have with their releases. From Miasmal, Tribulation and Invidious to Bombs Of Hades and Bastard Priest, Father Befouled to Sonne Adam, Undergang, Acephalix/Vastum or Stench Of Decay, Krypts, Swallowed, Ascended and Lantern from Finland, lots of bands that are maybe not as original and fresh as were their fathers, but still bringing a lot of dark atmosphere and drowning feeling. Are you into any of them? Do you think they bring anything interesting or you prefer to keep on listening to the old ones?
We are definitely friends with some of these bands and feel a comraderie with all of them but in regards to "Old School Death Metal" becoming a genre, movement or entity - it just seems a bit cartoonish and trendy but everyone has something to contribute right? I would feel more comfortable with a simpler version like "Death Metal". Some of these bands have members that been around since the beginning and they are still kicking ass. We respect the international community of underground Metal and do what we do because we also still love it. Support the Underground!!
Maybe, coming back to the lyrics subject, what I like the less from those bands is that most of them have chosen the simple death/gore/zombies subject to their music (not all of them fortunately). Isn't Death Metal capable of speaking about anything else? Are you closeminded when it comes to what Death Metal should speak about or bands speaking about any subject are always welcome.
Daryl : I don't see a huge amount of flexibility within the hidebound realm of death, gore and zombies but the same could be said about the horror genre. There are many ways to show and describe the dark recesses of the individual human psyche. There should be no limits at all - maybe no clowns, trucks or pencils - these things are off limits and are completely not brutal enough for death metal lyrics. Support the war against non brutal lyrics.
From what I've heard from people like Götz of Deathevokation, USA is not the best place for old-school Death Metal bands when it comes to audience and places to play live, or at least that's what he told me some years ago in Germany. Has this changed a bit with this apparent new interest for this branch of Death Metal in opposition to brutal and highly technical stuff?
Daryl: Where we live in New Jersey / New York - the Metal scene is growing again which is always a good thing. We are seeing younger crowds nowadays opposed to the same old friends and faces. We are receiving a good amount of support in the USA from younger and older fans.
Where's the middle term when it comes to playing something which respects Death Metal's history, ideals, creators … and not repeating over and over the same ideas? Do you mind at all about this or every Entombed, Dismember and Autopsy clone is ok for you?
I guess some people can feel comfortable completely copying another band but that is something I could never be satisfied with. You might as well be a cover band.
As usually happens in my interviews, I’d like to propose you a choosing game, which in this case focuses on Disma’s influences (in their first recordings, obviously). Please let me know the reason of each election:
- Entombed or Grave: Grave - a hammer of a band that let you know you were being buried.
- Carcass or Bolt Thrower: Bolt Thrower - an unstoppable machine clearly influenced by Sacrilege who also rule.
- Demigod or Abhorrence: Fuck that is tough one - I would have to go with Abhorrence (as much as I love Demigod) Abhorrence had much more of a sinister ghostly feeling to the riffs. Simple in it's perfection and speaks the language of the old underground clearly.
- God Macabre or Eternal Darkness: I would have to go with Eternal Darkness. They built anthems out of dirges - mountains out of burials mounds.
- Autopsy or Incantation: Autopsy - demos / several survival. Just great relentless terror!
- Asphyx or Necro-Schizma: Asphyx - sick riffs, cool vocals
- Convulse or Demilich: Demilich - for originality and their first demo.
- Interment or Crypt Of Kerberos: Crypt of Kerberos - Visions Beyond Darkness
- Paradise Lost or Winter: Paradise Lost -Lost Paradise / Frozen Illusion demo
- Funebre or Rippikoulu: Funebre - Demo 2
Heading for the final part of the interview, I must leave Disma aside for a moment and ask you about one of your other projects, Citizens Arrest, which seems to be active again and that I like a lot. What news can you give us about them? I thought it was only for some concerts but I've seen you released a digital EP entitled “Soaked In Others Blood” on a label runned by people from Unsane. What can you tell us about this? Are you following on the same musical terms where you left?
Daryl. Citizens Arrest has recorded a new ep which will be released on vinyl soon by the label Painkiller Records from Boston USA. This will be a co-release with Co-Extinction. Yes by a strange turn of events we found ourselves playing together again even better and like we never stopped. These are guys I met when I was 17 and am very glad to be working with them again at this stage of our lives. We are on the same musical terms but stronger and more dynamic. The band has a few big shows in New York coming up and hopefully a new record on the horizon.
Hardcore scene has changed a lot since your dissolved, just like Metal one, and nowadays there's a wide range of different styles and people under that banner. Where do you see Citizen's Arrest among all these genres and mentalities? Do you think you still have a place?
Daryl: If people like the band they will support us regardless of what other bands are doing or what is happening in the current scene. I would hope a band like CXA could be relevant in today's HC world but we never concerned ourselves with such things. We will be playing the last Hardcore show ever at the original Abc No Rio, a venue in New York City we played at many times in the early 1990's.
A subject I often ask bands which are a bot in the middle of both worlds (Hardcore/Punk and Metal) is about the separation there seems to be in most places between both scenes. How does that work in the USA and how well are you accepted in one and another? Where do you feel more comfortable when it comes to how people act and think?
Daryl: I grew up in the 70's / 80's ruining my eardrums to both punk and metal so the two have been part of my life for as long as I can remember. I haven't followed the hardcore punk scene in 20 yrs but I can say that I feel more at home around Metal people than HC people. HC people tend to talk shit behind your back and smile to your face when Metal people have no problem saying fuck you to your face. Metal is much more honest in my experience. Both contributed equally to completely fucking up my life and I am thankful for that.
Ok, now, before definitely closing this interview, could you let us know the latest news around Disma? Are you planning some tour to conquer Europe with your Death Metal darkness? Maybe some other short recording or split on the way?
Funebrarum is coming to tour Europe with our friends Undergang from Denmark in February (Dead of Winter European Tour 2012). Disma will follow with a European tour in June / July 2012. Disma will also be recording two new songs in the near future. Both bands will be appearing at this years Rites of Darkness Festival III in San Antonio, Texas with Demigod, Evoken, Interment and many other great bands. www.ritesofdarknessfest.com
Thanks a lot for your time Daryl and please keep doing such a good work creating underground music. I hope to see you on stage sometime over european ground. Add anything else you'd like to say to our readers, cheers.
Thank you for the cool interview and support!! Also thanks to the die-hard maniacs in your land and the readers! See you on Tour!
Gia Thanatos is a webzine dedicated to music for the apocalyptic times. No matter the scene or genre it comes from, and mainly chosen according to its author's taste.