úterý 4. června 2024

Home » , , , , , , , » Interview - DEAD HEAD - Totally devastating thrash death metal that will grind you to dust! You'll be gnawed to the bone!

Interview - DEAD HEAD - Totally devastating thrash death metal that will grind you to dust! You'll be gnawed to the bone!

Interview with death thrash metal band from Netherlands - DEAD HEAD.

Interview with Robert Woning, guitar in Dead Head, thank you!

Recenze/review - DEAD HEAD - Shadow Soul (2024):
Ave DEAD HEAD! Greetings to Holland, hope you are doing well. I must admit that I was really looking forward to your new album "Shadow Soul". I met the band for the first time in Poland at a stock exchange, where we bought everything that had an interesting cover. And that's how I came across the album "The Feast Begins at Dawn". It was a pirated cassette recording, a couple of songs were missing, but you guys became my heart band anyway. Listening to the new record brought it all back to me. The sound and production is a bit more modern, but otherwise it's like the old days. Was that the point?

Thanks. I think ever since we started working with our current producer Erwin Hermsen, we got a more modern sound. That has a lot to do with some of his influences (from other producers). Just like musicians, sound engineers also have their examples, people they think create a great sound.

To me, having a more modern sound is not neccessarily a bad thing. Our music is still old style thrash, but in my opinion there is no need to bundle that with an 80ies underground production. I’m sure some diehards would love that, but there’s other bands already doing the nostalgic thing really well. I think it’s nice that people can actually hear what we play these days.

As for the pirated cassette version of our debut album… I know it exists, but I never knew that it was missing songs. It might be because it was taken from the LP-version. The LP had fewer songs than the CD.

I'll admit that when I first saw the cover of the new album, I was a bit shocked. A hooded figure with his hands and face covered in fire. I'm used to a lot of things, I listen to brutal death metal, but the motive has something. It makes me uneasy, I have to keep taking the CD in my hands and looking at it. The author is Vladimir Chebakov from Russia. How did you get together with him and how does the cover relate to the music?

Well, Vladimir is not yet our ‘Derek Riggs’, but we do think his eerie art fits our music really well. He makes great stuff. As for the process of chosing a cover… Unlike some other bands, we usually don’t have a huge concept in our heads for album covers. In our case we usually just check out finished designs by some artists and pick one that we think fits the music or album title. Shadow Soul is the second Chebakov-cover that we used. And if you ask me, it won’t be the last that he made for us.

I've always been fascinated by the sound of your old recordings. You were always cold, sharp, dark, you had the feeling of standing knee-deep in icy water and absolute darkness all around. But times have changed, technology has changed, we have the internet. How was the album "Shadow Soul" made, what studio did you record in? It's probably not true, but for me the recording has an analogue feel, it sounds really "old and fresh" at the same time.

Wow, quite a description you are giving there. I never thought about it like that. The freshness probably comes from recording the basics live and not retrying a song too many times. Shadow Soul was again recorded at Toneshed Studio in the south of Holland. Erwin Hermsen is the owner and he’s able to capture our wild music well. He also really understands band dynamics and is able to adapt to that very well.

Before that, we usually worked with Berthus Westerhuis. A well seasoned producer from The Netherlands who did many classic nineties death metal demo’s and album with bands from The Netherlands. Berthus was also a person that really insisted that we record things live. Our Kill Division album and also Swine Plague really have that live feel, just like our first studio demo that we also did in Berthus’ studio back in the nineties. Another factor is probably that we usually record our music just like we would perform it live. So... no keyboards, girlfriends on vocals or saxophone. Just guitars, bass, drums and raw vocals.

"Shadow Soul" is an album that captivated me mainly because of its atmosphere. I like when good old death metal is combined with thrash and darkness. A band has to have its own expression, a face if you will, and you have a really distinctive one. How does DEAD HEAD compose new material? I mean now the birth of the new material itself. The whole record is built on really great riffs.

Well thank you. Your analysis of our music contains some good points. Riffs have always been very important to us. Sometimes we concentrated on that so much, that we forgot that we also need a chorus or repeating theme to actually make it a song. The death metal influence can easily be explained by the fact that both guitar players in our band listen to death metal way more than thrash. And the atmosphere… well, I really think that we allowed ourselves a bit more freedom for this last release. We used some ideas that we didn’t dare to put on a full lenght album before. But since this would be somewhat of an ‘in between‘-release… we took on the attitude of ‘anything is allowed‘. So we have a lot of slower and more dark parts in the music this time.

About our writing mode: For the last few albums, it has mostly been one guitar player that wrote a song together with our drummer Hans Spijker. And after that, the singer usually rearranges some parts before he added vocals. For the next album, we really wanna start writing as a band again.

What did the return of Ralph de Boer behind the microphone mean for the band? You guys are a band that had multiple singers. I think you'll agree with me that the vocals are another instrument, and for everyone, including you, it's a prominent element in the music. Ralph has done a great job, I'll happily sign off on that (he's also great in my favorites BODYFARM). Still, I think he's the only member who hasn't been in the band since their early days. Why him and how did he fit into the band?

Well… let me first say that I would have prefered to always play with the same singer. That would have been a bit more consistent than changing them around every few years. But our old singer left the band several times, and more than one time this happened during the making of an album, which -of course- is not the best timing for a band. So when this happened during the writing and recording of Slave Driver, we were once again in that situation. And because we had made one album before with Ralph and were really happy with his performance on Depression Tank, there was really only one guy that we considered.

But there was one problem this time: Ralph was also in Bodyfarm, a really cool and promising death metal band from NL. Still, Ralph really liked the idea of joining us again. And to my great relief, the other guys in Bodyfarm gave it their thumbs up. Because they wanted Dead Head to continu and hear a few more albums from us. And am still very thankful to them for that.

Please tell us what the lyrics on "Shadow Soul" are about and where you get your inspiration for them. Who is the author? Do you stick to tried and tested themes, like criticism of blind faith, destruction of the human mind? What is the main purpose, direction and lyrical content of the album?

Dead Head lyrics often start with the idea for a song title/theme or sometimes a play of words. Psychology, religion and world downfall seem to be recurring themes in our lyrics. On the new EP, for instance, the song Caverns Of Fate is about that we all have a primitive and uncivilized side of our nature in ourselves. This is a part of us that we would like to hide, because we are not aware of it.

Traditionally our lyrics were written by our other guitar player Ronnie van der Wey. But since his return, Ralph has also greatly contributed to the lyrics. Him and Ronnie really have a good working situation, arranging the lyrics together and inspiring eachother.

I usually don’t write lyrics. But on Shadow Soul, I did a few lines for a song called The Run. And I did come up with the title of the first single The Age Of Hype, which is about how the world changed during the pandemic and how every body seems to need to chose sides and be part of the latest hype.

I'm an old metal dog and most of my dreams came true a long time ago, but DEAD HEAD is one of the bands I haven't seen live yet. I didn't make it in the 90s and now I have a lot of other obligations. Can we look forward to some of your touring in support of the new album? How are DEAD HEAD doing with touring at the moment?

We played countless single shows in our 35 year existence, but we only did some real touring in the first half of the nineties. These days, we all have other obligations that kind of prevent us from really going out on the road for weeks. Aside from our jobs, Ralph also plays and tours a lot with Bodyfarm. And our drummer is also playing in a band that does many weekend shows.

However… We do have some cool shows coming up. Like opening for Kerry King in June in the Netherlands. We’re also playing a big festival in Belgium in November with Vltimas, Dark Tranquillity, Primordial, Sodom and Triptykon. Plus we’re doing the warm up show for the Eindhoven Metal Meeting this year.

From Holland I like ASPHYX, SINISTER, THANATOS, SOULBURN of course, but they are all old bands. How does the scene work in your country nowadays? Do you go to clubs, festivals? And can you recommend some of your bands?

The Dutch bands that everybody remembers from the 90ies were really just the tip of the iceberg from a very creative and flourishing scene. Our friend Steven Willems from Belgium actually dedicated a book to it that is an interesting read.

For me… Brain Implosion was one of the best bands ever to come from Holland. I also loved Sempiternal Deathreign, Obtruncation and a ton others that you might have never heard of. Severe Torture should have become world famous. They were so damn talented from the start on. Entrapment was another great death metal band from NL. Unfortunately the founder broke up that band, because he thought they were becoming too populair. Then he started a new OSDM band called Savage, that again kicks ass.

These days there are many talented bands as well. Deadspeak is a great younger band that I would like to mention. Very talented and sympathetic guys.

I don't want to flatter you, but from the promo photos you look like a nice bunch of guys. Your music gives off an air of detachment, a mutual chemistry between the musicians. Is it really like that in real life? Do you sometimes go out for a beer, party together, meet families, etc.?

The chemistry is definately there and helps creating this music. We’re really feeding off eachother. But funny enough we don’t really hang out together too much privately anymore. We are friends but we usually only meet for musical reasons. Outside the band everybody just has too many other things going on. So the other contact between us is usually through whatsapp, mail and phone. :-)

We're coming to the end and I'm wondering what DEAD HEAD are up to in the next few months? I've already asked about tours and gigs, but what about new music? Are you composing, do you have any ideas yet?

We have 5 songs ready for the next album, and we have an archive with 30+ years worth of unfinished songs. So I’m pretty sure we will be putting together some more albums in the near future.

Thank you so much for the interview, I really appreciate it. I'm actually fulfilling my dreams from my youth. I wish you a lot of inspiration and all the best in your personal life as well. Thank you for many great moments with your music! DEAD HEAD FOREVER!

Well, thanks for so many kind words. I feel honored and humbled. We will do our best to make some more raging and furious music.

Recenze/review - DEAD HEAD - Shadow Soul (2024):

Recenze/review - DEAD HEAD - Slave Driver (2022):

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