Ryan Clark of Demon Hunter Talks ‘True Defiance,’ Tattoos + More
Seattle metal band Demon Hunter are celebrating their 10 year anniversary in the best way possible -- by releasing a new disc. ‘True Defiance,’ due out on April 10, is being coined as their most aggressive album to date, fueled by both their core principles in addition to their thoughts on the lackluster state of metal over the last few years.
Frontman Ryan Clark, both articulate and passionate about his art, has never been one to sit on the fence when it comes to his beliefs; it’s this same drive that powers the songs on ‘True Defiance.’ Whether it’s writing about how music changed his life in ‘My Destiny,’ or being the object of someone’s animosity for simply standing up for what he believes in; ‘Someone to Hate,' the songs blend all of the elements that Demon Hunter have perfected over the years – brutal aggressive metal embellished by melodic sparks.
Loudwire recently caught up with Clark to talk about ‘True Defiance,’ going against the grain and tattoos!
Your latest release ‘True Defiance’ is due out on April 10, talk about some of the major themes of the disc?
There's an unapologetic tone throughout the record. I would say that's the underlying theme. The album title says it all - in an age and society growing further away from what I believe, I find a sense of comfort going against the grain. I have a lot of beliefs that would be considered unpopular or politically incorrect, but I see myself clinging tighter to my worldview the older I get.
What does the title of this new album ‘True Defiance’ mean to you personally?
If heavy metal were to have an official "stance," in regard to its themes and ideals, we would be the antithesis of that. We carry the same relentless aggression that metal bands do, but the views we express in our lyrics are at odds with that of most metal. If it's decidedly "metal" to denounce God and worship self, then we're the ones being truly defiant within the scene.
Can you describe the new single ‘My Destiny,’ both lyrically and musically?
‘My Destiny’ is about the moment I realized that I wanted nothing more than to be a musician. It's about growing up without a care and finding music that changed my life; gave me a purpose. The lyrics, "But the fear, the blood, the sweat and sound, they brought me here to wait for the will to appear" talk about the first few shows that I went to... how the energy and honesty drew me in. Musically, the song is a little faster and more technical than our previous material, but it still has a classic Demon Hunter structure to it. The song is aggressive, but explores a lot of melodic territory as well, in both the vocals and guitars.
What was the experience of filming the video for the first single ‘My Destiny’ like, where did the concept of the video come from?
I came up with a basic concept/treatment and director, Robby Starbuck, injected some of his own creativity into it. I essentially wanted to show the early days of our musical upbringing. The teenage kids are loosely based on the five of us. We didn't grow up together, but many of us grew up the same way - into skateboarding, punk and heavy metal.
The performance footage shows us playing in a typical rehearsal space with dingy walls, bad fluorescent lighting, band posters, etc. It's meant to be a return to our roots.
You also released the song 'Someone to Hate.' Can you tell us about that tune, as well?
‘Someone To Hate’ is not entirely unlike ‘My Destiny’ in that it shares the scream/sing format that we're known for, but I'd say it's much more aggressive in terms of its message. Whereas ‘My Destiny’ is almost an emotional nostalgic piece, ‘Someone To Hate’ is an in-your-face barrage of unrelenting aggression. Because of that fact, I think the overall vibe of the song is darker.
The concept behind the song is that I will gladly be someone to hate, if it's for reasons pertaining to my beliefs. I'm comfortable being a target under those circumstances. I don't like to sit on the fence, so the song is about standing my ground and taking whatever heat comes from that.
Can you talk about the ‘Someone to Hate’ remix contest? Where did this idea come from and what has the response been like from fans so far?
The remix contest was an idea concocted by myself and the label's marketing department. We wanted to explore ideas that would get the fans involved and invested in the new material, so this seemed like a perfect opportunity. I really dig electronic music, so hearing our song with an electronic facelift is cool. It's been awesome to hear the submissions thus far. It's going to be tough to judge.
What are some of your other favorite tracks on the record?
I would say my favorite three songs are ‘God Forsaken,’ ‘My Destiny’ and ‘Dead Flowers’... but my favorites are constantly changing. I've also really been loving ‘This I Know’ and ‘We Don't Care’ lately.
Many fans sport Demon Hunter Tattoos, how does this feel for you as an artist to have your band’s logo or lyrics on so many bodies?
I'm honored that so many people have Demon Hunter tattoos, although I know the meaning behind a lot of them goes a lot deeper than the band. I think for many people, the DH logo has become a symbol of perseverance, determination, faith... many things.
Do you have any tattoos that represent your favorite bands?
I have three tattoos that are directly related to some of my favorite bands. Two of them have to do with Metallica and one for Pantera. I have ‘To Live Is To Die,’ (my favorite song on ...’And Justice For All’) tattooed on my ribs. I also have "Hope" and "Fear" on my lower knuckles, which come from two different shirts that Pushead illustrated for Metallica. Those have double meaning, because Pushead is one of my favorite artists as well. Lastly, I have ‘I'm Broken’ written across my chest, which is one of my favorite Pantera songs.
What are the touring plans for Demon Hunter for 2012?
At the end of April we're playing one local show, and then heading to Europe for a week, so we're looking forward to that. We're finalizing summer tour plans as we speak, so keep an eye out for those soon.
Watch Demon Hunters New Video For 'My Destiny'