Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Dark Design Interview
1. Can you tell us a little bit about the band for those that have never heard of you before?
Ray Lewis: The band started forming in 2008; me, Robbie and Mike got together with a bass player named Anthony Taylor and started writing songs. Anthony left and was replaced by Mark Whichard from a band called Jonin. After several months Mark left and was replaced by Robbie's brother Matt on bass. Matt was supposed to be temporary, but he stayed. Finally Andy walked into the practice place and assumed the vocal reigns. Then we were off and running.
The idea was simple, we wanted to play metal and the kind we enjoyed, pulling from all of our collective influences of course, though we shared a lot of common ground.
2. How would you describe your musical sound?
Andy Bertrand: Imagine the technical thrash movement of the late 80s, congealed with mid 90s death metal and got sexed up by the new millennium progressive power metal scene.
R. Lewis: Our sound is like Prego spaghetti sauce it's in there. We've been described as Toxic , Death , Mercyful Fate , and Fates Warning. However we've been described as Iron Maiden meets Iced Earth also.
3. What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the band explores with the music?
R. Lewis: Andy writes all our lyrics so it's up to him. Some of our songs are based on sci-fi novels such as ‘Dragonmount’ based on the novel “The Wheel Of Time" by James Oliver Rigney Jr., and "Spice World" is about the Middle East situation; the title is an allusion to Frank Herbert’s "Dune" and the “spice” is oil, well if you have read the book you will get the correlations. But all in all it just depends on Andy.
A. Bertrand: Distrust of authority/power, depression, escapism, war. A few of the songs are based on books. I'll listen to the band play a new song and try to feel some vocal melodies or cadences for words. Only our titular song & ‘No Death’ had concepts going into them. The others just kind of occur to me at some point and I go from there. Most of my lyrics are written in “fortuitive” bursts on a Sunday morning before practice. ‘No Death’ is the only one that went through major changes, losing a verse, changing whole sections of words-hell. It was originally performed under the title ‘Trouble Man’. I like using alliteration, wordplay, turning turns-of-phrase on their heads. There are nods to other bands' songs & album titles. I'll make so many references; Family Guy's people will call me for material. At some point I'd like to have a site online where we can put the lyrics and have hyperlinks to explanations of the various lines.
4. What is the meaning and inspiration behind the band’s name?
A. Bertrand: There seems to be a dark design at work in things, mobilis in mobili, a pervasive sense of being socially engineered. The dark designs of the rich & powerful, the intelligence community, down to the dark designs of a man in his mind, the lone wolf, the radical.
R. Lewis: The band name comes from the premise that what we see in Washington and in the media is not exactly what is real. Like the lyrics in "Dark Design" says "Conductor of this dark symphony, never at the podium, always in the wings". There is a Dark Design behind what we see , there is a puppet master pulling the strings behind the curtain.
5. What are some of the best shows that the band has played so far and how would you describe your stage performance?
A. Bertrand: Opening for Queensryche earlier this year was a career highlight for all of us. The Warriors of Metal Festival in Ohio summer of '12 was our first real road trip as a band. It was filled with unforgettable hijinks & a lot of calls to the hotel's maintenance man every time the toilet/shower. were used. We met a lot of cool cats, JP from Borrowed Time & his crew was the first friends I made there with their TV/VCR & their Rocktober Blood. Keith & Pickill from Mystic Force were staying at the same hotel & became good buds. James Rivera from Helstar was there too for a late night rock n' roll hotel drink'n sing-a-long. We did a benefit show opening for one of my favorite bands, While Heaven Wept, along with Twisted Tower Dire, Widow and Hellrazor.
Our live show is pretty straight forward. The instrumental aspect of the performance requires the other guys to focus while I do the opposite and just do whatever I feel in the moment. I'll throw out copies of the books we've written songs about, snacks, merch. We have a few songs we favor opening and closing with, a cover or two. We usually play ‘Dust in the Wind’ as part of our set but we've been known to encore with ‘The Trooper’ from time to time. I'll get down in the crowd & share the mic for that one since everyone knows the words & I'm usually hoarse by then.
6. Do you have any touring or show plans for the future?
R. Lewis: Nothing major at this time. First thing first, the album needs to drop in September. There are some things in the works currently and hopefully they will be announced soon.
7. On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your music by fans of power and thrash metal?
R. Lewis: Worldwide we are just starting to break, but fortunately what feedback we have gotten is positive. The debut has not officially dropped yet so it has not gotten around on a mass scale yet. I do understand that a label in German has shown interest in possibly putting ‘Prey for the Future’ out on vinyl, now that would be pretty cool.
8. Are there any other musical projects going on these days?
A. Bertrand: Robbie plays in a hard rock band called Devyce that plays throughout central & eastern NC. I'm currently playing drums for a crossover/punk thing called Vacant Planet & am in two bands with Alan Rueda of Hellrazor. The first is a heavy take on Nirvana, the other features Charley from Hellrazor/Daylight Dies on guitar & Jerry from my old band BlackWatch on bass playing Fastway's Trick or Treat soundtrack. Jerry & I are working with Mark on giving the BlackWatch album we did in 2007 a proper release. We only made 100 copies & barely finished it before people moved away. The three of us recorded some folkier stuff over the intervening years that will make up some of the bonus material.
9. What direction do you see your music heading into on future releases?
R. Lewis: Our musical direction depends on what we come up with at practice.We have various influences so there is no telling.LOL
10. What are some bands or musical styles that have influenced your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
R. Lewis: Metallica, Death , Slayer , Iron Maiden , Iced Earth , Atheist , Cynic are our influences to name a few.
Right now Robbie is listening to Between The Buried And Me , I'm listening to Redemption and Into Eternity , and Andy is listening to everything
A. Bertrand: Dark Design's music, to me, seems influenced by Confessor, Watchtower, Atheist, early Fates Warning, King Diamond, Iron Maiden. Vocally, I'm channeling Messiah Marcolin, Rob Lowe, Blaze Bayley, Danzig, Dio, Matt Barlow, King Fowley. I don't feel I sound like any one of them but I'll borrow the bits that seem to work.
Lately I've been listening to a lot of Carnivore/Type O Negative, the last two Trouble releases with Eric, Satan's newest album ‘Life Sentence’ kicks my ass pretty hard.
11. Outside of music what are some of your interests?
A. Bertrand: I play disc golf whenever free with a group that includes Jerry, Alan & Charley from the Fastway tribute, Drew from BlackWatch & Jim from ShadowRealm. I read in my few spare minutes but have been cracking out on all the Star Trek & Doctor Who I've missed in life.
R. Lewis: Beer, women , movies , you name it.
12. Any final words or thoughts before we wrap up this interview?
R. Lewis: Our debut album, ‘Prey for the Future’ has been a long time in the making and we hope that people enjoy it. John E Wooten of the band Widow recorded us and Jamie King who has worked with many great bands mastered the album and it sounds pretty damn good. Heaven and Hell Records are pushing it and hopefully the metal fans will like it.
Please go and check us out on Facebook or over at the Heaven and Hell Records various media outlets….See you in the Future. Pre-order the album here: http://heavenandhellrecords.bandcamp.com/album/prey-for-the-future-pre-order