Trenton, NJ’s Beyond Dishonor are a 5-piece playing some pretty brutal stuff, but they also seem to have quite a sense of humor about them. Their Facebook page looks like metalheads dream, with plenty of show announcements, links to some heavy jams, and all the while peppered with what looks to be some mighty fun gags.
Though currently unsigned, Beyond Dishonor recently won a B.O.T.B. competition, earning them a coveted slot on one of this year’s All Stars Tour dates, hosted by Sumerian Records. I caught up with drummer Mike Lock to get some info on where the band is from, what they do, and what we can expect from them in 2013.
G- Hi there and thank you very much for taking the time to speak with Live High Five today! You guys are from Trenton, so if you could, please introduce the members in the group… Who is everyone, what do they play, and where does everyone come from?
M- I guess I’ll start with myself. My name is mike and I am the drummer. I’m actually the one that is based in Trenton. We have a private studio up here, so we sort of call Trenton our home, but we’re spread out across the tri-state area.
Our bass player Nick is from South Jersey area, as is our guitar player Mark and our lyricist Reese. Our other guitar player, Wes, is based out of NYC, so we sort of meet in the middle, which happens to be Trenton, which is where we call our space.
G- Nice. It’s pretty cool how that works out. Being a drummer myself, we’re usually the ones that get screwed and have to load all the gear and transport, and your band comes to you. I don’t know how you worked that one out, but that’s awesome!
M- (laughing) We have 4 beers on tap in our studio, so that helps.
G- Well you know what, let’s just go ahead and run with that, because I had a question written up for later but you’ve already opened the door. I see you have a limited edition “Travesty” pint glass for sale at your Big Cartel, and you just said that you have 4 beers on tap at your practice space?
M- Yes we do.
G- Ok, you might as well go ahead and tell us what they are. I was gonna ask if you guys are a party band or generally pretty mellow, but with 4 beers at your practice space, it seems obvious. What kind of beers do you guys have in the space, and what beer or booze do you want people bringing up to you onstage?
M-(laughs) Well, I’ll address your comment first which was ‘Are we a party band or not.’ We get lumped into that category and have from a combination of, not so much our onstage persona, because we’re not a party band onstage, but we have fun. We do a lot of tongue-in-cheek stuff in our set, and because we’re sort of a comedy troop on Youtube, it has kinda perpetuated this myth that we are a complete party band in the strain of bands like Attila.
I would love to tell your membership there, your listeners or whatever, that we would not call ourselves a party band. We like to party, but we are not in the true sense a party band. That being said, we love beer.
(I’m cracking up right now)
Our poison of choice anywhere would be beer, craft beer. We’re not super picky. Everyone has there own beers they like, but you can also find us drinking pounders of PBR with absolutely not a shit given about it. So, we are currently… we replenish beers pretty much as we go through them, and we probably run about 30-40 kegs a year.
Right now, we have on tap an IPA from Double Simcoe, we have a beer from Alagash Brewery, which is a limited edition beer called Fluxus which is made from pink and green peppercorns and is an ale, we have a beer on tap from Southern Tier brewing called Mocha, which is a coffee stout, and imperial stout brewed with coffee, and we have one of the beer from one of our sponsors, which is now called Broken Goblet Brewing, it used to be called Brutal Beer, but they changed their name, but they’ve given us a pilsner made with Czechslovakian Hops with is a light beer we can drink called Crosscheck Pilsner. So, those are the four beers we’re currently sipping on.
G- Dude, we haven’t even talked about music yet and I’m coming over! I’m in Syracuse and I’ll be there in 5 hours, man! Get the glass ready!
M- (laughing) Nice!
G- Now, since you guys are kinda located tri-state area-ish, but you practice out of Trenton and you call Trenton home, obviously Jersey, you know, their well noted for their hardcore and metal and stuff… Tell me a bit about the scene down there and how are the responses at your shows? How’ve they been?
M- It’s, you know, it’s growing quite a bit, both in a maturity level and in the wealth of bands that are out there. We grew up with Jersey bands like God Forbid, sort of looking up to them, and they even got… Jersey seems to have a problem when it comes to pushing metal bands out into the world and having them be successful. They’ve been successful, but they probably should’ve been a lot bigger than they were.
M- And we’ve found that Jersey is a pretty divided state from what we like to listen to over the last 3-4 years. However, and I would say maybe in the last 18 months, and I’m not sure if it’s the youth that’s coming up, or maybe, in some small way, maybe we and some of the other bands than have been around for a long time have influenced it, but we’re finding that people are starting to cross genres. Hardcore kids are starting to come to our shows and, while metalcore might not be the biggest thing, they’re into us now and vice versa. So, we really feel like the scene is up and coming.
The problems that Jersey has is that there is a very paltry amount of venues anymore to play at. Starland being closed because of the flooding…
M- A bunch of other venues that have just straight up closed. We really are left with really 2-3 venues that really bring in big tour packages. I mean, we’re lucky because in Trenton, one of the smallest biggest venues is Championship Bar and Grill, and it gets these huge tour packages! It’s a little, tiny bar, but it’s our favorite place to play. And the girl that books there, Michelle, she ‘s been probably our biggest supporter for the last 6 years. She’s always done right by us. She’s a big reason why the scene is starting to grow. Not just her, because people are doing great things… The Atlantic City area is thriving now because of this guy named Paul Brown who is doing great things in the AC area. The South Jersey area is starting to blossom out with a guy named Rob Warden who is doing shows. He is bringing back the idea of shows are free, there’s no tickets, just come and drink beer, and he is packing bars!
M- So that’s pretty cool. And then there’s some guys up in central to northern Jersey area and they’re also doing great things, so it’s slowly coming together, and I think that Jersey, in the next 5 years, you’re going to start to see, and we hope we’re one of them, you’re going to start to see some bands that really fly out of NJ and into the spotlight.
G- Alright dude! I’m with it and that sounds good. You also kind of gave us a nice little research point for some of the other bands around who might be playing the same stuff and are looking to break into that area, so props for that.
Now, tell us about what you currently have on the calendar, man. What are you working on… Any releases, videos, studio time, anything on the road? What’s going on?
M- Yeah. So, we went into the studio towards the latter part of last year. We did our research and we had some friends in high places put in good words for us, so we were able to get connected with a guy named Andreas Magnussen…
G- Oh yeah.
M- …who records out of Virginia, and has done some huge releases, and is working on some even bigger releases. So, he took us on when he didn’t have to, so we’re forever indebted to him for that. We went in and recorded an EP with him, which we’re going to be releasing in the next several months. It’s called Generation, and we’ve heard the pre-mixes and we could release it right this second, and it would be better than 99.9% of unsigned bands, and would probably eclipse some of the signed bands. It sounds unearthly good! So, we can’t be more happy than that.
And so, we’re planning a cd release tour this summer, but before that we’re going to do a 2-week run in April that is going to start around the 13th. We’re finalizing all the dates, but we’re gonna be playing with… Instead of what some bands do, where they just go out with a bunch of locals and do what they can, we’re going out and leveraging out contacts that we’ve made over the years, and we’re going to be playing some pretty unbelievably shows on this tour. I mean, we’ve got shows booked with Miss May I, we’ve got dates booked with Texas in July, we’ve got dates booked with Abandon All Ships. We’re planning on going and providing direct support for nationals on a lot of these dates to put ourselves out in front of as many people as possible, and it’s going to culminate with us playing the Launch Music Festival, which is a big convention in Lancaster, Pa., sort of the heart of metalcore at this point, and we’re playing the main stage this year, and that’s going to be a blast!
So, those are the near-tour dates that we have booked, and there’re some interim dates between there, and we’ve played a number of shows since the beginning of the year.
G- Dude… you guys sound like you’re doing pretty damn well, man. Kudos!
M- We’re trying.
G- It’s always a hustle, and you sound like you’ve got t going 110%, so just keep going.
Now, you’re talking about Generations, the new EP, and you recorded with Andreas Magnussen down in Virginia, tell us a bit about what the writing process is like and who in the band typically comes up with the tunes… Do you have a primary songwriter, or do you write music more organically through jamming?
M- We are not a jamming band and never have been. We’ve been called the Tool of metalcore because we just take too long to write. But, you know, it’s true… We do take too long to write. But, what we like to do is we write the music and… by the time we record it, it’s already old, and then you have to go out and play and hustle to try and make you’re money back from the recording. And so, for us, it never seemed to pay to continuously churn out new music over and over again.
So what we did differently this time is that our primary songwriter, Mark our guitar player, sat down and did a ton of pre-prod work on his laptop, and then we circulated it through the band to add to each track. So, by the time we got to Andreas, and part of the reason he actually took us on, is because of the pre-prod stuff. And even though it sounds like dog shit, he liked the direction that it was going.
He’s kind of a quirky guy, so he’ll tell you ‘This sucks, and I don’t ever want you to play this song ever again.’ He was very honest with it and listened to the pre-production.
We also had a friend of ours from This Or The Apocalypse listen to some tracks and did a little pre-prod for us, as well. So, by the time we got down to the studio, everything was pretty much laid out how it needed to be. It just needed fine-tuning. So, our studio experience was quite simple, for lack of a better word. It was a real simple time, and we got done with it pretty fast, which isn’t how it is normally.
So, what we’re going to do now and in the future, is we’re already writing again now., so that we can get rid of the Tool of metalcore comment, and just every year put something new out. But we’re putting out this album really, really hard because it’s the best we’ve ever done, lyrically and conceptually, and we think that it’s going to resonate with people that listen to it.
G- Alright! Right on, dude! I like your… You’re amped and I dig it! Now, going through your Facebook page, I can see that you’ve already supported a shit-ton of acts already, but are there any bands or artists that you hope to share a bill with in the future? If you could pick out 3-bands, to make up your own personal dream bill, who would you select?
M- Oh god! Oh man… It’s so hard, because we’re such a business at this point, which you sort of have to be, that when I’m thinking of my dream tour, I’m thinking of how we’re going to sell the most merch, how many people are going to be there, and I unfortunately have lost that gleam in my eye. So, unfortunately, I am the wrong person to ask that question. If you ask Reese, our singer, or ask the guitar player, thir answers would be way different than me.
I think we would all agree that we’d love to share the stage with Killswitch Engage. Some people say they’re getting old, and some people seem to think that they’re past their time, but they still sell out arenas…
G- Yeah dude.
M- We would love to get onstage with them. I would really, personally love to play a show with Meshuggah. We were literally to days away from signing to play with them in Philadelphia, but it fell through.
M- Yeah we were upset. The third band… Man, we have played with so many bands! You know what band we haven’t played with yet that we all are fond of is Veil of Maya. They’re not the biggest or the best compared to other people, but we like their writing style a lot. We like the musical structure and how they are on stage. I certainly would say that’d be a dream tour, but it’d be a weird tour, but those are 3 bands that we’d definitely like to play with.
But, you know, most of the bands we would have said have been a dream come true to support. All Shall Perish, Unearth, Born of Osiris, and August Burns Red, all these bands that we still listen to when you’re writing, and then the next thing you know you’re hanging out with them backstage and they’re listening to you play and giving you props. It’s kind of a really cool thing.
G- Dig that, man. If that show happens, I’ll be there!
The last question I have for you today, and I’m already looking forward to speaking again in the future, is as a band that is currently on the build, you’re working really hard to make this happen for yourselves and it seems that things are going in your direction, so first of all… Keep going the way you’re going! But what advice can you give some of the young, up and coming bands that look up to beyond Dishonor who want to do the exact same thing you’re doing, who want to make it in music, be a touring band, and be a professional musician?
M- Well, it’s a great question. I’ll give you the same answer that was given a lot in the past, just so it’s consistent. Times are going to change in music, whether you’re local or huge. It is driven by money right now, and people will say ‘I thought you loved what you did and do it for the music?’ Our answer is we DO love the music, we just have ot have money to go forth and play it.
So, you can love it all you want, but if you love it so much that you’re just willing to sit in your basement and am for the rest of your life, that’s awesome and you should just do it. But if you have aspiration to do it for a living and in a more public area, then you need to have money to pay for it. So, the thing that I would say to up and coming musicians would be that you need to have a business plans when you go into your band. That should be the first thing you guys do… Probably the first thing you should do before you even pick a name for you band. If you’ve already got a band, and a name, and you’re out there working hard, I’m sure you’re doing the right things, but you need to have a business plan in place. You need to know how to get merchandise, you need to figure out how you can leverage to get shows and make a little bit of money, and put it into an account so that when you get that rare opportunity like we did to buy on to some big package, you are able to do it without suffering terribly. Because that big package could be the thing that shoots you from complete obscurity to ‘Who the hell is this band? I want to know more about them.’
So, we feel real strongly that you do need to love what you do, but you really need to have a business plan in place so you can make the money, go out there and tour, and not come back poor, dirty, broke, and hating each other. You can come back poor and dirty, but with enough money to have paid for the trip and the experience and exposure you got, not to mention the fact that every label you may be looking to get on is looking for you to do this. That is what you need that cash for. So, that is our recommendation to people.
And I guess the final part of it is you’ve got to have fun and you have to be respectful of everyone else. You can say you don’t like thrash or hardcore or metal, but as we’ve learned in Jersey, you get a lot more done when everyone gets together than you do if you separate and say this is my line, this is my genre, and I shall not cross it.
G- Right on. Good interview! This was a lot of fun and I think I learned a lot, and I’m really excited for you guys and want to check this out!
M- Thank you.
G- Hopefully we can get you up this way and again, thanks for taking the time to speak with us today and let’s keep in touch in the future… I like the cut of your jib, if you will.
M- (laughing) Thank you. We like the cut of your jib, too.
G- Right on. Well, I’m going to be in Trenton at some point, and I’m going to raid the beer in that practice room, so be ready!
M- Feel free! I’ll save a glass for you.
G- Right on! Have a great day, dude.
M- Alright thank you very much!
G- Anytime, man. Later!