THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER’S TREVOR STRNAD: “I HATE THE GROWN-UP WORLD, AND I’M NOT F*CKING GOING THERE WITHOUT A FIGHT”
Between their music videos, goofy photo shoots, and Majesty DVD, one gets the impression that even if the members of The Black Dahlia Murder take their music seriously, they don’t take themselves too seriously. The portrait that’s been painted of this band over the years is not that of a brooding death metal band, but that of a group of dudes who want to have fun (remember fun?) while making the most brutal death metal possible.
So we weren’t surprised to find that vocalist Trevor Strnad is a pretty chill fella. Speaking to Axl and Vince backstage at the Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival, Strand was only too happy to openly and honestly discuss the band’s new album, Deflorate (out September 15 on Metal Blade), the differences between new guitarist Ryan Knight and old guitarist John Kempainen, the joys of big band music, and the worst puke he’s ever smelled. Check out our full conversation after the jump.
How’s the tour going, man?
Awesome. It’s just been insane for us, man, playing in front of crazy fucking crowds every day and playing in front of new people every day. It’s just the perfect opportunity for us, it’s exactly what we should have done. It’s going really good for us. I’m very excited to be here.
Are you guys feeling like you’re making new fans?
Oh yeah, man. It’s exactly what we should be doing. I think some people have just heard the name and people who haven’t heard the name end up seeing us. The way the fest is organized is well done. The lineup is diverse, but has a lot of heavy bands, too. Our particular stage has Whitechapel, Cannibal Corpse, Behemoth, and Job for a Cowboy, and it’s is pretty damn heavy. It’s really stacked in our favor with getting Killswitch fans or Slayer fans or even Manson fans. Who knows? Manson is a huge gateway band, just like Slayer, for people to get into heavy or weird music. It’s definitely cool to be here.
And of course you guys have a new album, Deflorate, coming out…
Definitely. September 15th it’s going to be out. We’re playing a new song from it.
Yeah, it’s called “Necropolis.” We also have a song that’s streaming on revolvermag.com right now, too, if anyone wants to check it out – “A Selection Unnatural.” So we’re just super eager to get the record out right now, and anticipating good things. It seems like this tour is the perfect segue into the new album cycle. It feels good right now, and we’re definitely pumped to get that thing out.
Without using the words “better” or “more brutal,” how would you describe the new record?
I think it’s just the most mature thing we’ve ever done. Every time we come back and do a record, we’re just smarter, better players…
You said “better!”
[laughs] No “er”s at all?
Okay… we’re “more accomplished” players and songwriters [laughs]. We’re just trying to stay within our sound, but always push it to the limits. I think we hit a good stride with Nocturnal, so we felt the pressure on this one to come back even stronger and really just step it up. We have [songwriting] contributions from our bass player for the first time. He co-wrote two songs. Our new lead guitarist [Ryan Knight] is an amazing player, better than our old guy [John Kempainen], and [Knight] also co-wrote two songs. We just have a really stacked album with a lot of awesome songs, and it’s more varied than anything we’ve ever done. It just sounds better than anything we’ve ever done. It’s a little bit more on the raw side than our last one. It’s more natural in the drum department. We’re just very pumped about all the new things we tried on it. I think our fans are going to be very happy.
So you’re obviously really happy with Ryan.
Oh, wow, yeah! It came together really fast. It was too easy. I think we kind of deserve it, because we had some member changes that were hard, and it can be hard sometimes. We knew that John was going to leave, so we started looking around. We didn’t want the public to know that we had lost a member and we were looking for somebody, because sometimes [the fans] get so butt hurt about [line-up changes] if you don’t present it in the right way. So you’ve got to really think about all this stuff, because there are so many tactical aspects in this whole facade that you see of the band. It’s kind of funny.
Anyway, where was I going with this? Oh yeah… Ryan’s been a natural. He came in with material. He wants to write. He’s always bringing stuff to the table. He does interviews. He’s a positive force that wants to further the band. John was kind of just there. We made too many excuses for him because he was our old friend, but now it’s like every person that’s in the band is doing the best they can and playing the best they can. They want to move forward, and he’s just been an awesome addition and exactly what we needed, and I think what this band has always deserved. He started working and has really tasty solos. It feels very good. It felt very good to do this record.
Switching gears: we watched your DVD, Majesty, and there’s a nice little section on you guys accidentally drinking your own urine on several occasions.
Have you managed to get through this tour without doing that?
Oh yeah, nothing like that. I have been peeing all over the place [laughs]. All our friends come up to us and go, “Oh, where do you go to the bathroom around here?” “When darkness falls, anywhere.” [laughs] Just pretend you’re in France, and piss all over the place. Luckily nobody has drank any pee.
Oh man, Paddy – the guy who falls down in the DVD and eats a bunch of sand – he’s out here with us doing guitar teching. He got so wasted yesterday. He threw up, and it was THE most horrible smelling puke I’ve ever smelt. It didn’t even smell like human food. I was like, “Whoa.” It was so bogus man. It was so bad that it scared me. We caught it in a box once full of Rockstar cans. We took all the cans out and shoved it underneath him. It was so bogus.
Now you got something to write about for the next record.
Yeah, Paddy’s fucking Euro Dinty Moore puke [laughs].
Speaking of getting drunk: we were talking with Matt from Trivium earlier, and he said that there’s been a bunch of disco and karaoke parties…
Oh yeah, different themed parties.
Are you guys getting down with that?
Oh yeah, we had our party. Ours was the karaoke party. I sang Harry Connick, Jr., and I fucking tore it up. It’s like this big band song, and I knew every fucking word because my dad shoved that shit up my ass for so long. At least it came back to work for me for once.
Nice. Is your dad happy that you’re successful and it’s cool because it’s not Harry Connick or is he still…
He’s pumped as fuck for us. My parents are both really supportive. I appreciate it. At first they were scared because I dropped school like a rabid squirrel, man. “Alright, we want you to sign to Metal Blade,” and it was like, “Bye school, peace!” even though I was about to graduate. I seriously had one semester left. I was like, “I hate the grown-up world, and I’m not fucking going there without a fight.” [laughs]
Well, it worked out for you guys.
Yeah, for now I get to be a big baby. I swear I’m losing everything I learned. I basically am going back an evolutionary step pretty soon and become like a fucking Cro-Magnon [laughs].
-AR & VN