I’m not actually sure how Dead Soul Communion first found its way to the SonicAbuse review desk, but I’m really glad that it did because ‘MMXVII’, the band’s self-released debut, is an absolute belter of an album. Featuring members of Steve Harris’ British Lion, as well as former members of Devilment, fifth season and Immortal Empire, the album has a rich pedigree and the eleven tracks more than live up to expectation. Freed from the corporate shackles that bind so many bands, Dead Soul Communion are diverse, powerful and focused and ‘MMXVII’ is an album metal fans will want to check out. Read on and meet the band…
First up, a little bit of history, how did the band first form?
Danny: DSC came together right after I left Devilment in 2014. Both Simon (Drummer) and Kev (Bass) were in Devilment, in the early days of what I consider to be the best line up. I wanted to work with both of them again. I called my friend Paul who had been writing music on and off with me for about twenty years. He’s kind of like my producer in a way, he helps me put all this craziness into some kind of form, you know. I wanted to take what I had done with Devilment, but take it to another level musically. I had the team on board and it was time to start writing and do something new, but on my terms, and the terms on the band.
To what extent did the band’s collective experience feed into getting to the point of releasing an album quite quickly from the point when you formed (which was, I believe, in Jan 2015)?
Danny: Yeah, you are correct; Jan 2015. I think at first it was all about writing some good songs. “My Beautiful Mistake” was the first thing that happened, and we had done a three-track demo by the end of 2015. But then I took some time away to do The Bloodshake Chorus and also record the Devil’s Music Record. At the end of 2016 I decided it was time to return to DSC and finish the album. We had an album written, but I wanted to see if we could write some more songs and improve on what we had, and we did. It seemed only right that we should do an album. And in invest what little money we had between us to do it.
The album itself sounds huge – firstly, how did you deal with tracking each part for the album? Did you go to a studio at all, or did you keep it all in house?
Danny: Myself and Paul pretty much produced and mixed the entire album. Drums were recorded at Simon’s house and Vocals were done at Scorpio Studios, which is Jordan from Scream Serenity’s place. Everything else was done at my home studio. We kind of turned into a production line, as soon as drums were done on one songs I was off recording my guitars, it worked well for us and the process took about 4 months. We gave ourselves time, so we could listen over and over to stuff. Changing parts or re-arranging songs to make them the best they could be. We originally recorded 13 songs, but it became a very long album. We dropped two songs from the album as they just didn’t fit the feel and vibe.
What was your primary method of recording? Was it computer based? What equipment did you use and how long did it take to track the record?
Danny: I recorded using Logic and using Toontrack software. Drums were done on a Roland midi kit trigging samples in Ezy Drummer. It’s such a cool and easy way to record. Believe me if we had budget we would have gone to a studio and done the album old school. But the way we record is so good for us, and I like the fact I can sit re-doing stuff or recording in my own home.
Given that DSC is quite a large band with keyboard and twin guitars to weave into the fabric of the record, was the final mix a challenge? Were there any particular elements that you had to focus on to get right?
Danny: Yeah mixing was a nightmare at first, but we wanted the album to sound consistent. We spent a few days changing guitar tones and drums sounds etc…, till we found the right collection. Once we were happy we built a template of sounds and imported that into the rest of the songs. Once that was done it was pretty easy to mix the album. But everyone’s ears are different and we all worked together finding the right balance for the mix. It was a great learning experience, and now we have a template, sound-wise, that we can start from for album two.
Something that is less talked about, but which is particularly crucial to a band’s sound is the mastering – what process did you go through to get the album finished a way with which you were happy? Was there any outside involvement?
Danny: The Mastering wasn’t great, we had gone back and forth on it. The problem we had was I had put so much low end, that it was fucking with everything. We had done a couple of masters with someone else, and they just distorted in places. So, we worked with Jordan and Scorpio and we got a good mix between us. I think are album is a little quieter than it should be, but it sounds great now.
The album is very varied and dynamic – was it a challenge to sequence the record so that there was an ebb and flow from start to finish? Did you end up losing any material along the way and, if so, are there any plans to release that separately?
Danny: Yeah as I said before we dropped two songs, just because they didn’t fit with the album. I think they might see the light of day at some point; we’re planning some one-off singles, so they might end up being b sides. I don’t want to be one of those bands that just has one or two styles. We all listen to different stuff and I want it to be a reflection of those influences. Plus, it keeps us all interested, and I like the fact it’s so open for us as writers. We can do pretty much anything from now on. I hate limitations in what I do. We have a really good working relationship with no ego or bullshit, no managers or labels sticking their nose in telling us what to do. With putting the tracks in order, we already knew certain songs and where they were going to be on the album. It took us like 20 minutes to agree on the running order, and it was pretty painless.
One track that stands out particularly is the epic ‘ghosts’ – was that a song where the final version was pretty much as written or was that a piece that became extended as the band worked upon it in the studio?
Danny: it kind of wrote itself, I never set out or intended it to be a long song. When I wrote it and took it to the band, they didn’t get it. I remember saying “just go with it, trust me.” I could hear it in my head, and I’m happy to say I was right ha ha!
I love that track, I lose myself in it. It’s such an emotional song, and they lyrics are about a night when I used to drink. I was back visiting family and I was going through a divorce. I went out with some friends and got drunk. I was in a pretty emotional way that night and I walked around to the places that I remember being with my ex-wife. The place we worked, places we had dates etc… Like the line “This is where I had a home, this is where I first met you” etc… That night kind of put everything in to perspective for me. It was also the time I was thinking about leaving Devilment. It’s all about memories and how people and places becoming ghosts.
Another stand out track is ‘suicide lullaby’ which is very unexpected and has what I would call an almost gypsy folk influence – how did that song come about?
Danny: Just fucking around at home, playing around with samples and loops etc… I had the main riff for a long time, but couldn’t get anything else to fit and work with it. I do that a lot, I come up with these great sections that are so powerful, but just can’t find anything to fit with them or finish them. It took a while to finish that song, and Edwin did a great job with vocal placements etc… It worked really well. We did a lot of work on the vocals on that song.
In general, the album is coherent, but it has a variety that sets it apart from its peers – was it important to you as a band to avoid boundaries? Were there any ideas that you shelved for being too ‘out there’?
Danny: I never shelve anything for being two out there. Yes, songs got shelved because they didn’t fit or there was something not finished about them, but I don’t see anything as not being DSC. We don’t have boundaries or limitations on what we can do. And I don’t see that changing going onto the next album. But with taking so many styles, you have to make it work as an album. Instead of having song A that sounds like Band A and just has one influence or style, we bring in several styles and ideas into one song, and that’s why the album works. But nothing was thought about or intentional, I’m just not that clever, ha ha!
What would you say are your key lyrical influences?
Danny: For this album, it’s about emotions and I guess about the last three or four years of my life. Love, Death, Lose, Divorce, Suicide, Drink and Drug abuse. It’s good to kind of sum up that period of my life. But I have no idea what the lyrics on the next album are going to be about. My life is pretty good right now, ha ha!
With the album self-released, what’s next for the band? Are you actively seeking a label deal, or are you planning to continue to do everything yourselves?
Danny: I never want a record deal again, I hate the industry and I hate record labels. I could go into a really rant here about it, but I won’t, ha ha! It’s better for us that we remain independent. We spoke to a few labels a while back, but they just didn’t know what to do with us. We don’t fit into a nice little box which is what they want. Also, I kind of wonder what a label could do for us and I and the band still want to do things on our terms. Plus, it is a lot of work doing this way, but rewarding when we get a review or you get some radio play etc… because you know you did it yourselves, and that’s the important thing. We could sell a lot more on a label and get the music to a lot more people. But it wouldn’t be us, it wouldn’t sound like us. It would be a product, and fake. And we’re not that.
Perhaps one of the biggest issues in the modern music industry is actually getting people to give albums the time and attention that they need – how have you reached out to fans to get them to engage with this album?
Danny: By spamming the shit out of it ha ha! We have just been using social media and sending emails, and messages. Just trying to spread the word and get people to check out a song. Its frustrating knowing that you have a good album and that anyone who’s listened to it, likes it and is surprised by it.
The challenge is getting people to check it out, and risk their money on buying a copy. But we’re getting there slowly and we’re building as a band. We’re not doing shows and we know we’re losing an amount of sales and promotion by not doing that. We’re relying on social media and videos on youtube to get the name around. Getting the album reviewed has also been a really big task for us, but we’re working on hard on that right now. I’d like to think and hope in the future that we can get some kind of following, at the point where people will buy something new from us knowing they will be getting a good album. I think in time that will come and I’m confident we have the songs, and we have the albums in us. We certainly don’t think were gods, and we’re pretty humble as it stands. I’m very thankful for the career and people I work with. I enjoy those challenges as frustrating as it can be sometimes.
What’s next for DSC?
Danny: We’re having the summer off just doing promotion etc, then in September we aim to start writing album two, which I want to get out around April /May 2018. We’re hopefully going to be doing some shows over the summer of 2018. Then, in late 2018 we start on album three. We’re planning on doing an album a year.
Any final words for your fans?
Danny: Do we have fans? I just want to thank everybody for their support and giving us a listen. It means so much to us that people are liking our album.