Enlarge And on the band's new album: "We have really pushed our boundaries."

Rivers of Nihil Vocalist Discusses Hearing Disability, Says New Album “Really Pushed Our Boundaries”


Rivers of Nihil vocalist Jake Dieffenbach joined a recent episode of The MetalSucks Podcast to discuss the band’s new album, The Work (order here), following up their highly successful 2018 release, Where Owls Know My Name, and a host of other topics.

Dieffenbach was born with a hearing disability and has been hard of hearing in both ears for his entire life, a topic he has felt increasingly more comfortable addressing publicly of late. When asked about the 2020 film Sound of Metal, which features Riz Ahmed as a hard of hearing metal drummer, Dieffenbach likened it to his own experiences as a performer, explaining:

“I got to watch [‘Sound of Metal’] though the pandemic and I thought the movie was pretty good. It was an accurate depiction of what it’s like living in that world. The drummer, I forget his name in the film, he’s playing and all of a sudden the sound starts dropping out of his ears, he can’t hear everything correctly. I remember when I saw that, I was like ‘This is *exactly* what it’s like at times when you’re playing a live show.’

“For me, when I was younger I accepted the disability of not being able to hear correctly but it never stopped me from pursuing the things I wanted to participate in, that I wanted to be a part of. Especially when it came to music. For a very long period of time when I was younger, it didn’t really stand in the way. When I was jamming out with my friends or trying to build a music project, as the years went on and I got older, music got louder. It definitely got to the point where it became a lot harder to do. It got to the point where I had to find this balance of being able to hear the music and being able to do what I love and am passionate about.

“There’s definitely been a few periods in my life questioning [whether] I still want to continue playing music because I could lose my hearing [entirely]. I could completely lose it and what am I going to do then? Or I could continue this route and protect my hearing and believe in what I’m doing. and that’s kind of where I stand. Is it the smartest decision? I don’t know.

“I kind of live life in the fast lane and do what I love and do what I’m passionate about. And I think a part of that is what crafted the mentality for me, knowing the difficulties that sometimes I have to face performing. Not always being able to hear the mix or being able to hear everything the way everyone else hears it and hope for the best, that I can perform the way everyone else is performing without any exceptions or failures along the way.

“It’s an interesting, funny, and intimate story and journey. It can be distorting, but heartwarming at the same time. Blissfully silent.” 

Jake also spoke on the writing process for The Work and the pressure of following up Owls, saying:

“It was definitely a process of creating a certain amount of content and then taking a couple steps back, letting it settle in and just kind of seeing if anything needed to be filled in.

“I think each time we go through this process of writing a record, we stand back and look at things and account for what had been done before and what direction we’re moving in. This record, I guess for the guys and myself, we have really pushed our boundaries.”

You can listen to our full chat with Jake below or right here.

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