Ever shrouded in mystery, ThisIsNotAScene had a surprisingly civilised chat with an elusive member of Dragged into Sunlight before their set at Damnation Festival; chatting about the creation of the aurally destroying album, the reasons for the secrecy and upsetting old women in America’s bible belt.
Dragged into Sunlight have lurked on the underbelly of the metal scene for quite a while. Hatred for Mankind has caused quite a stir owing to its sheer aural brutality. What went into the creation of such a beast?
DIS: I’ve been in it for the last 3 years, and the band’s been going for about 4 years so I joined just as the guys got used to their sound. Then we invested in an awful lot of equipment which led to the creation of the beast, as you will. We got a lot of gear from matamp, which are the amps we use and spent a lot of time defining our sound and making it as physically disgusting as possible. It’s very heavy as you know, it’s partially through spending weeks on end together and developing a genuine hate for each other. It’s very legit, nothing on that record is fake. It was a dark time for the lot of us collectively, we were all going through some shit, and we all have a similar mindset, so it came out very true and honest, which is the impression a lot of people get, that we aren’t messing around.
With regards to the recording process it was all done very primitively, we didn’t use and click tracks or fancy pro tools, no “drag that bit here, colour that in there to sound a bit different”, we just it as organic as possible on a real tight budget- just did our best and gave it to Billy Anderson, over in America and he got the raw tracks and fucked it up a bit and now it sounds even more extreme. We’re happy with the results and a lot of people seem have taken to it well so its good!
The album reeks of raw rage and hostility – what is the driving force behind the music?
DIS: It’s the same with everyone in music, you’ve all got things that piss you off, everyone’s got rage to a certain degree. I think a lot of rage comes from our guitarist he’s had a bit of a dark existence but he’s doing well, and been a much happier (dare I say it) which might well be reflected in our new record.
We’re working on something at the moment and it sounds a bit different, but still has that raw nasty approach that we always try to achieve. Everyone’s got their down times, and collectively for us it was a bad place in all our lives, and we knew that was time to record – that if we were going to get something down, that was the time, we had the right people in the band and enough time and we had a few record labels snapping at us. We put out a little tape that people got and thought it was rather cool.
You mix black, death, doom and sludge and a huge range of vocal styles in one unholy cauldron. How did you invent your own evil brew of sound?
DIS: On the music side of things the writing was mainly done by two members, both myself and another guy write it and we both have very strong influential backgrounds in metal and definitive paths within it. I’m very into extreme metal, harsh abrasive stuff like Von, Blut Aus Nord. Mainly German, Finnish and Swedish metal. Just really harsh stuff that makes you zone out. The guitarist is into similar stuff but also more epic stuff such as classic death metal like Death, so our collective interests just gelled together into riffs that worked together and naturally there are lots . We liked it and thought fuck it! We didn’t want to do “that Death Metal tune” or “that Black Metal riff”. It’s quite sporadic and off the cuff, we didn’t think about it too much. It’s like a Marmite effect; a lot of people like it, and other don’t get it. A lot of people question our musical ability and why we’ve done things in a certain way but it’s just what sounds good to us.
Vocal samples feature on nearly all songs on Hatred for Mankind, how did you chose them and what was your reason for including them?
DIS: That was our singer’s idea. He’s quite into serial killers, murder and law and crime. He got hold of these samples of famous serial killers that had been interviewed, and we just tried dropping them into a couple of songs to see if they’d fit. It was another contribution to the sound, and I think it’s something we’ll continue to use. I wouldn’t say it’s a signature to our sound but something we’re never gonna drop, we like it at the moment. We’re not the first band to use samples in extreme metal, The Bezerker have done a good job of creating a really extreme atmosphere through it. It’s about finding the sample that fits perfectly with the music, that’s the creative side.
How do you intend to communicate the savage atmosphere during your live set?
DIS: We’ve got pretty good at that. It was a bit meek at first; we weren’t playing loudly enough or in big enough places to project our persona. We played a lot of good shows last year, off the back of us signing up to Prosthetic Records with some good bands and crowds. It gave us to expand our back line and let it breathe, and reverberate, where everything on stage is rattling. We’ve got the biggest backline ever today, Matamp have put up a massive one up for us.
Would you say that any other extreme metal bands have influenced you in any way?
DIS: There’s so many, it’s very hard to name just a few. We’re constantly changing our roster of what we listen to as a band so every one of us is always throwing a CD somebody else’s way. Recently, we listened to Incantation and Disma. I listen to a lot of Swedish Melodic death metal and a lot of my riffs have that sort of tonality. I can’t speak for the others guys though.
The band has quite a mysterious image; your faces are covered on all promo materials, and you never face the audience in live shows. Is that because you want the sole focus to be on the music or because you don’t want to be recognised?
DIS: It’s everything that people think it’s about. People take different things from it. It’s an antisocial decision, we don’t want people to know who we are, we don’t want people to associate us with something like this. On the same note we’re all very successful as individuals outside of the band, in the business world and we don’t want this to conflict with that. We don’t ever see the band being a full time arrangement. We work on it full time, but we don’t tour full time, usually we do about 30 shows a year. The label’s cool with that because they understand that’s what we’re about, and we’ll go on for as long as we go on, but no one will ever know who we are.
Many reviewers have commented on the extremity showcased in Hatred for Mankind. Was it the intention to leave listeners reeling, or have folk become soft in their old age?
DIS: That was the intention! To aurally destroy someone for 50 minutes then round it off with that noise track at the end. It ends on a high and fades out to let you contemplate your experience. It’s the not sort of album that you can start at track 4 and then skip back to track 1. We want people to decide to dedicate an hour of their lives to listen it through and see what it does. It’s one of those records that drags you in and makes you listen to it.
You have very striking album artwork and your merch has lots of occultic and symbols. Is this something you hold to, or is it more symbolic?
DIS: It’s the latter really. It’s not something that we voice individually. We don’t claim to be antichrists or anti anything, just null. I can only speak for myself – some of the other guys are more opinionated. It just goes part and parcel with the music. We have some interesting stories sent to us about how some old ladies in Alabama have asked guys wearing our shirts to take them off because they have inverted crucifixes on them, so people have started trouble with our merchandise! We have some good artists behind us who really understand the music. Justin Bartlett did our front cover, he’s a great guy and has done it a lot of justice.
What does the future hold for DIS?
DIS: We’ve got an awful lot. I’m really looking forward to getting Widowmaker out, it’s been 2 years in the making. It’s almost ready and should be out in early 2012. It’s going to be part one of a trilogy. It’s a totally different concept and element to the band. Also working on another concept which is adjacent to that called Terminal Aggressor, we’ve already released one of those on tape, it was the first thing we ever did, it was alright and interesting. We’re going to do two more of those.
We’ve also just finished a split with Gnaw Their Tongues, a one man project in Amsterdam. We don’t want this to be a mainstream release, if you thought Hatred for Mankind was extreme this is a total other level! Alongside all that we’re working on the album after Hatred for Mankind, our next LP. We’re going to tour a lot too; we’re going to America in May for a couple of weeks. It’s insane, I remember starting off playing in god awful venues to about five people and people throwing up everywhere and now we’re at this gravitas where we have someone to drive us and someone else to load our gear, it’s like “what the fuck?” It’s gone quite rockstar-ish yet but we’ve got a lot of people to help us put on a good show which is really helpful. It’s gonna be a busy year!