The Black Dahlia Murder’s Trevor Strnad Discusses ‘Everblack,’ Band’s Evolution + More
The Black Dahlia Murder hit the road earlier this year as part of the Decibel Magazine tour with Carcass and Gorguts. The band has been busy touring in promotion of their latest disc, ‘Everblack,’ and during a stop in New York City we had the chance to chat with the group’s very engaging vocalist, Trevor Strnad. The frontman talked all about ‘Everblack’ and possible ideas for new material. He also chatted about early musical influences like Megadeth and Henry Rollins and much more. Check out our interview with Trevor Strnad of the Black Dahlia Murder below:
I’ve read that your love of metal came at a very young age. Did your fondness of metal come from your parents at all?
I think my dad accidentally led me towards metal with the stuff that he likes — it was really guitar driven stuff like Van Halen and Def Leppard. It’s really his fault I think, honestly just his love of guitar. Then hearing Megadeth, that was kind of the gateway to a whole world of metal and then shortly after that I started to delve into death metal and never came back. [Laughs]
Did you go to many shows as a kid?
Not really, I mean I saw Megadeth a couple of times, my dad and my uncle took me when I was like 12 or something and I had all my little friends and s— and we were freaking out. I saw Cannibal Corpse when I was 16 and that was my first death metal show but I think at large I definitely missed out then. I was kind of from nowhere Michigan and there wasn’t really like a local metal scene to speak of, especially death metal.
When we started coming up we were mostly playing hardcore shows because it was the most tangible and available scene. Being out here and playing different festivals and playing Europe and seeing a million death metal bands, ones you would never see over here – sh-t like that still gets me really excited at this point. As a metal fan, this has been the best vehicle to just totally submerging myself into a world of metal all the time, it’s definitely my comfort zone in a world of anxiety.
Was one of the shows you went to as a kid inspire you to want to front a metal band?
You know, I guess Megadeth was that band. I got a guitar because of them, I never really got any good at it but I was playing it and started practicing in bands with my friends, crappy, crappy bands. A lot of it was the idea of touring and the DIY aspect of it that kind of crept in through punk influences like Henry Rollins and his Black Flag stories. I don’t know how a story about being treated like sh-t and being burnt with cigarettes and being beat up – they had it way harder than us – [led me to say] “I got to do this!” [Laughs]
Our version is so weak compared to what they had to go through, they toured around when there really wasn’t an established circuit for those kinds of bands. They are part of what paved the way for what bands still do out there in their vans and the same route and everything. I keep that in mind when it seems hard out here, it’s been way f—in’ hard for other parties that blazed the trail for all of us.
Man, I bet Black Flag would have liked a GPS. Imagine every time you come to town you have to go to the pay phone and call the promoter and be like “Hey, we’re in town come get us.”
What about who you are as a person and musician at this time can we hear on ‘Everblack’?
It was a response to ‘Ritual’ which was a really big success for us and it was kind of intimidating at first to have all the eyes on us. I think we’ve learned a lot from making ‘Ritual’ and it was a different record for us with the inclusion of samples and including other kinds of instruments. That idea of having things more dynamic we learned from ‘Ritual’ and brought that to ‘Everblack’ in a major way.
From my standpoint, I want the band to be catchier as we get older but I don’t want to take any cheap avenues of doing that like singing — there’s so much of that and it’s not really my scene. I like plenty of stuff with clean singing and I like plenty of metal but only very rarely does it work together, in my experience anyway. We’ve just always had the statement of being an aggressive band we wanted to be a band that you could depend on where kids would know they could buy the record and it would just be something they would like and that we’re not going to go diet cola on them. [Laughs]
With that in mind, what I was getting at was that we still want to be better and catchier and write more hook-y music. With ‘Everblack’ I tried to slow down my delivery a little bit and not cram as many words in as I normally would do. This time I tried to be more conscious about getting the vocals across to someone who doesn’t have the lyric sheet in their hand. I also tried to be conscious of the notes that I’m putting out there more than I have in previous records so in a way it’s gotten a bit more melodic.
I can’t believe we’ve had six records, it’s been an amazing run. If you would have told me even when we made the first one that this band would’ve had this kind of run I would have never believed it.
It hasn’t even been a year since the album came out but are there gears turning toward new material for a possible seventh record?
Just a little, we usually wait a while to fill up our creative juices after we’ve worked so hard on a record. We also like to enjoy playing the new songs and get those going and live in that moment — especially with ‘Everblack’ people seemed to be pumped about it. We’ve been playing a lot of the songs live and it’s been going really well.
There are a few new riffs in the oven and a few new ideas. We’re always talking about how we’re going to take things to the next level and I think part of it is something conceptually like maybe an ongoing story or something — that would be the next huge, I don’t want to say risk but I guess it is. I really want to do that but it something that kind of intimidates me as well, just the whole lyrical standpoint and coming up with something that’s going to really blow people’s heads off as a whole album. It’s tough but I think it’s something that we’re inching towards with every record.
I would imagine it’s also really difficult to write on the road as well.
Yeah, I mean we’ve never done it honestly that’s kind of why we wait. We do a year and a half of touring and I think people have absorbed all different kinds of ideas and they put songs together here and there but usually we just go into the laboratory at a certain time and the guys will go into their isolation and sit in their underwear and write songs with Pro Tools. That was a big jump in quality for us between the second and third album that we started using Pro Tools and writing pretty much in solitude. Where we used to stand around with our guitars on and try to force it at every practice and we would make a crappy boombox recording and I would write lyrics to that. So starting with these completely developed demos that had high quality and every part represented clearly and starting with that as demos was a huge jump in quality. We’ve fully embraced the technological era, I guess you would say.
What does the rest of 2014 have in store for The Black Dahlia Murder?
Tons of touring, that’s it. We’ll be everywhere, anywhere and everywhere. The wheels are in motion and it’s time to play so the wheels aren’t slowing just yet.
With all of this touring, what one thing you must have on the road with you? It cannot be electronic.
Weed, man! It makes everything hilarious and better. There’s a lot of down time and the things you can do with your electronics seem to be enhanced by weed.