Interview with Dave and Brett from Bostonian Thrash Metallers REVOCATION! @revocation @scionav @relapserecords
Formed in 2006, Boston, Massachusetts thrash/death metal band Revocation are continuing to whip up a storm of metallic intensity, much to the delight of tech-metal solo enthusiasts and fans of whirlwind tempos. I’m sold… Sign me up!
Currently touring in support of their 2011 release Chaos Of Forms, on Relapse Records, as well as Teratogenesis, presented by Scion AV, the now 4-piece group is just finished out The Deconsecrate The Nation Tour with The Haarp Machine and The Faceless, which made its way to Syracuse on a Wednesday night. How’s that for a little mid-week mayhem?!
I caught up with guitar/vocalist David Davidson and bassist Brett Bamberger to discuss the new album and EP, the addition of second guitarist Dan Gargiulo, life on the road, and what we’ll see from the band in 2013.
G- Hi there and thank you very much for taking the time to speak with Live High Five! This is going to be my first time seeing you guys and I just want to know for our readers if you could introduce everybody in the group… Tell us who is everyone, what they play, and everyone is from Boston, correct?
DD- Yep. So it’s myself, I’m Dave and I play guitar and do vocals. Then, Dan plays guitar and also does vocals, Phil (DuBois) drums, and then we have Brett back here.
BB- Hi I’m Brett. I play bass and do some backup vocals.
G- Excellent, and Revocation formed in 2006, correct?
D- Yea. I’d been playing in a band with Phil prior to that, and then we sort of changed the name, kind of revamped the material, and started fresh with Revocation in 2006.
G- And how did everybody in the current lineup meet, I know it went from a three piece to a four piece. When did everything first get started, when did you play your first show? When did you first hear everything start to click?
BB- I mean, right around 2006 we were already gigging out with Revocation. We had been in a band prior to that, so we hopped right into the show scene. So, we were already clicking pretty well because we had six years under our belts prior to that, all playing in bands together. But as far as the current incarnation, Dan joined the band about two years ago, right around when Existence is Futile came out. And then Brett is the most recent addition to the band, because our bass player recently left. So, we got Brett onboard and I think this is the strongest incarnation of revocation to date thus far.
G- Dig it. Now, being from Boston… Boston is a great city for music. There’s always a ton of stuff going on, and a lot of metal bands have come from Boston. You guys are currently doing that right now, so tell us a little bit about the scene in Boston, how the responses are at your shows, and is it cohesive like it’s always been, or is it a little bit more separated like all of the other music scenes?
BB- I think Boston has a great scene. We were lucky because we had a lot of friends in a lot of different scenes in Boston, so we played a lot of punk shows growing up, a lot of death metal shows. So we did everything from playing the bar/club scene to, like, random basement and warehouse shows and stuff like that.
So, we really got a feel for the DIY kinda vibe, playing with all the punk bands and getting that sort of aesthetic, that raw energy into our sound, as well as playing with a lot of killer bands that influenced us growing up that weren’t in the metal scene. Bands like Random Acts of Violence and stuff like, groups that when we were younger, we were really, really into and influenced us a lot. It’s a great scene, man! It’s a great scene still to this day. There’s awesome bands playing there…
The biggest thing is diversity. There’s black metal bands. There’s thrash metal bands. There’s grindcore. There’s so many different types of bands, and so many different types of bands that play together. It’s not just a segregated scene. You can have a show and there’ll be a grindcore band opening, a then thrash metal band, and a death metal band closing it out. So, it’s really a tight knit group of metal heads, and it’s really fun playing there.
G- Right on, man! How about you, Brett? What do you think?
BB- I think it’s great! I’m actually from New Jersey, so…
BB- Yea. It’s cool to jam out with the boys and head up there, soak in Boston in its fullest, in all my time up there. I agree with all the things that Dave said.
You know, my perspective growing up and playing out… I’ve been playing as long as the other guys have, just in a different market and, you know, we met years back and combined forces.
DD- (laughs) At Star Market.
G- Is that like a grocery or something? In the bulk food section or something?
G- (Laughing) Really?
DD- It used to be, anyway, in Boston. Do you not have Star Markets in Jersey?
BB- (to Dave) I don’t know what you’re talking about.
G- I have no idea what you’re talking about, either.
DD- (to Brett) I was trying to make fun of you, but it didn’t work out.
G- Whatchu know about Gristedes?
DD- I don’t know Gristedes.
BB- I don’t know shit about Gristedes.
G- Really? They don’t have those in Jersey?
DD- Can we all agree on Stop N Shop?
G- Alright, Stop N Shop is good.
DD- Ok good. That’s what Start Market was, like Stop N Shop.
G- Ok right on. So, in addition to your EP, Teratogenesis, you are also touring in support of your current full length, Chaos Of Forms. I want to know if you’d talk about the records a little bit… Who was behind the boards and where did you record each release, and how would you say the music and intensity of the recording sections and recordings themselves differs and/or stays the same with each release?
DD- Well, it definitely differed a lot. I mean, cause we used different producers. So, with Chaos of Forms, we went with Pete Rutcho. He did the previous two records, and that was a really great experience. We always love working with Pete. He’s a super fun dude to work with, and he gets killer recordings.
On the newest one, Teratogenesis, we got Zeus.
DD- So working with him for the first time was really fun. He’s been in the game for a long time, and he’s recorded bands like Hatebreed and stuff like that. So, he brought some awesome expertise to the table, so we really had a blast working with him. And yea, we really try to strive for, like, natural drum sound, and with Teratogenesis, the only thing that’s triggered is the kick drum. We tried to use as much real drums as we could to get that sort of live feel…
DD- We didn’t want to go too overly processed with it. We wanted real amps, real drums. It definitely sounds clear and crisp, but it’s aggressive at the same time. That’s what we go for with our general aesthetic. We’re technical, but we want that raw energy.
G- Yea the stuff sounds really good. I was listening to Teratogenesis, and I want to know… How did the Scion AV thing come up, because they came out of nowhere. I thought they were just cars, and now they’re doing all these badass free metal shows all over the country…
BB- They’re great, man!
G- Like, free Scion AV shows with you guys, and everybody else… It’s like… How did that come about?
DD- The first time we worked with Scion was right after Existence Is Futile came out. We got a random email from our record label saying ‘Do you want to do 2 shows with Black Dahlia Murder, one in Atlanta and one in L.A.?’ and the first thing I’m thinking is ‘Fuck yeah we want to do ‘em, but Jesus Christ those are long drives!” They were like ‘No no, they’ll fly you out,’ all this shit. So, we were totally not used to any of that shit at all. We live in a van for nine months out of the year.
So, having that experience was super positive. The shows were awesome, and they hooked us up. All expenses paid, trips and hotels and stuff, so we had a really positive first experience working with Scion.
Then, from there, we did a Relapse Records showcase which was in L.A., and then did another Scion Rock Fest, which was a bigger thing in Tampa, so we have done three festie-type shows with them at this point. We have a very good rapport with them, and when they said ‘Do you want to do an EP, and we’ll pay for the pressing of it and pay to record, and do a video for you guys…’
DD-… And all you have to do is give it out to your fans for free, we were like ‘Fuck Yeah!’ Win/win… Our fans get our music, and we get to record and put out new music. It was a great time working with them.
G- Dude… Props to those guys!
G- They’ve been doing a lot of really good work!
DD- It’s really cool! Someone in their marketing department apparently just fucking loves metal!
G- Loves some fucking metal!
BB- We’re grateful for that.
G- Hell yea.
DD- And it’s nit like they’re doing mainstream stuff, you know? They’re doing underground bands. They’ve done us, they’ve done Immolation, they’ve done Magrudergrind. I think they just put out an Arsis cd… They’re really putting out some killer metal and grind.
G- It’s good stuff, dude. I dig it! So, Where do you find the inspiration to write new material, and are there any particular topics or areas of discussion you try to bring out with your music and lyrics?
Also, tell us a bit about what the writing process like… Is there a primary songwriter, or do you guys kind of jam it out in the studio during rehearsals?
DD- So, the first part of the question, influences, I think we all have a really, really wide, diverse range of influences, but the stuff that influenced me growing up was Pantera, Black Sabbath, and stuff like that. Dime and Marty Friedman are two of my biggest inspirations in terms of lead playing.
And then, from there, you start finding other underground bands, more underground stuff. Like I’ve said before, I’m a big fan of a band called Martyr, from Canada. They’re a technical death metal band. Their guitar player, Dan, I think is one of the most genius guitarist in death metal right now.
But going outside the genre, I’m also influenced by jazz guitarists, fusion guitarists, Pat Martino and Scott Henderson and stuff like that for the more fusion-y aspects. So we really try and get a wide range of influences, because the more music you listen to, the more diverse it makes your playing, and the better musician it makes you.
BB- You hit it right on the head. I was about to say, the only thing I haven’t heard in the van is, like, mainstream country music. But besides that, I think we cover all the bases of listening, and all our influences come out daily just in a five-hour drive.
DD- Any bass players you particularly dig?
BB- You know, man, I never geeked out to hard on bass players. I more liked bands like the dude in Isis… That dude always had cool melodies. It was simple stuff, but great, man! I always caught bands particular sounds than players. Right up front.
DD- And as far as the song writing goes, what’ll usually happen is I’ll write the riffs and sort of have an outline; This is riff A is going to be the intro, this is riff B is going ot be the verse, I’ll sort of lay it all out in my head. And then we’ll get into the practice space and jam it out. It’ll be me and Phil working at the parts. The other guys live in other states, you know, so once we all come together, we really make it a full song.
We’ve been fortunate enough on this tour to be able to start demoing stuff into Pro-Tools because Brett’s got a computer now. So, I’ve come to the table with a bunch of riffs and songs, and am kind of laying them out. You know, so everyone can hear the ideas from start to finish, and it’s been cool, too, because Dan has been writing more on the Teratogenesis EP. That was the first EP to feature a song totally written by Dan for the first time, so that was really cool. Anytime you bring new members in, they contribute and it’s cool because they write in the style, but at the same time it has his own personality and own personal flair and stamp on it. So, I really like that, incorporating more new music. It just makes it fresh and interesting.
BB- The way the demos are going now, everybody is in the room. It’s kind of a lax environment when we’re tracking, but you know a lot of people give feedback on alterations and making more of a collaborative approach to Dan’s main structure and Dave’s main structure of the songs that they’re recording.
G- Nice. What I’d like to talk about now, because it’s been in the news with Randy Blythe and this whole fucking nonsense that is going on in the Czech Republic, you guy play heavy music. Metal fans can go nuts, do go nuts, I’m sure the floors go pretty wild for you guys, has Revocation had to deal with any altercations with fans/venues/security, and what do you guys do when there is an issue with the crowd or somebody onstage?
BB- As long as the crowd stays in the crowd, I don’t care what they do. But when the crowd is in our personal space on the stage, in our backstage by our gear, then you’ve gotta be careful. You never want to hurt anybody, you just want to protect yourself and protect your assets, and protect that person as well. Because there could be another band that might not take it as kindly as we have.
G- Right on. Have their been any particular instances like that on the road where you’ve had… I mean, you can’t check out any website anymore without somebody getting robbed, or altercations and stuff like that. Have you guys, hopefully not, but have you guys ever had to deal with any of that?
DD- We’ve never had to deal with anything too serious. I mean, it’s more just sometimes there’ll be a fan who will be way too hammered that’s just like kinda sloppy, and you want to make sure they don’t bump into anything, because we have all our guitars set up right by the side of the stage. So we want to make sure that our stuff and our personal well being is protected. But we’ve never had, like, fights with fans or anything like that.
BB- We’re not a fighting crowd.
BB- Our fans are bloodline.
DD- Right! We generally get along amazingly with our fans. There’s only been a couple of instances I can think of where people have gone too crazy. But in that sense, security has done their job and said ‘Alright buddy, you’ve had a little too much to drink.’ (laughs)
But 99% of the time, we have an incredibly positive reaction from the fans.
DD- So, we’re really fortunate in that regard.
BB- We wouldn’t be here without them.
DD- Exactly. Our fans are our friends.
G- And I dig what you (Brett) said about fans being part of the bloodline. As bands like Lamb Of God get bigger, there’s this kind of mish-mosh of people who may not really get it, and at this level, you guys are still on the upswing, but if you have that enthusiastic fan who wants to go off… I mean, you really have to kinda listen to your band, as well… There’s so much shit going on you could move around to it, or you could stay completely still and just sort of watch the fingers and the drums and stuff, so…
DD- Right. Right.
G- It’s pretty rad! Now, as band that has toured internationally… You guys have been to Europe…
G- Japan. And have you been to Australia?
DD- Never been to Australia. Plane tickets are insanely expensive to get out there.
DD- But, hopefully one day.
G- Dig it, but with those experiences that you’ve had internationally, how would you say your reception is in the states, and how does it compare with your performances abroad, both in terms of the hospitality to the bands, how you play and the audience reaction?
BB- It depends on the package mostly, you know what I mean?
G- Um hmm.
BB- But for the most part, Europe is very nice to you. They give you a lot of food, drinks, showers, water and things like that. In the US, you can get that but you have to be on a huge package.
BB- And with some of the smaller packages, it depends on what the headliner has on their rider, in terms of accommodations. But, the level of comfort over in Europe is much more abundant at a lower level than it would be here in the states.
G- Would you agree?
DD- Yea yea. Totally. I mean the only thing I would add to that, Japan… That was a trip, man! Like, that was crazy! Going over there… Fan interactions here are awesome, fan interactions in Europe are awesome, but in Japan, it felt like we were rock stars. It was crazy!
DD- Like, it was our first time there. I had no idea what to expect, and like, people had posters of us, and all this shit, and we had to have, like Michael Jackson security saying ‘No More Autographs!’ (laughs) It was crazy… They go fuckin’ apeshit over there, and that was one of the cooler experiences I’ve had as a touring musician… Going over there.
G- Right on! So, Are there any particular bands you would like to see Revocation perform/tour with in the future? More specifically, if you could pick out a feasible 3-band bill dream lineup, what would it be?
BB- That’s tough.
DD- I gotta say Metallica headlining, because what band wouldn’t want to play in front of thousands of people everyday. And they’re legendary.
G- And they’re indie now!
BB- Good for them, man. Those guys are cool.
G- Mighty back catalogue.
DD- Them headlining, and I don’t know. It’d be a really weird package I’d put together, but it’d be really cool to tour together with a band like Gorguts. I’m a huge fan of them, and they’ve got another record coming out soon. And then…
DD- Yea Dysrhythmia would be cool as shit. It’d be weird, but…
G- I’d go to that show. That’d be a fun show.
DD- It’d be an interesting one, that’s for sure.
G- (laughing) Nice! And you’ve been playing all over the place, you’ve been doing this for quite a while… Are there any particularly craziest or memorable or just favorite shows that Revocation has played to date? Where was it and what was it like?
DD- Umm, recent memory, we played Edmonton, Canada which is kinda up there, not as well known as a Toronto or Montreal, and people went apeshit up there when we played, so that was a really good show.
What about on this tour, Brett?
BB- On this tour, as a whole, every show has been so awesome for us, and the response has been great, such high energy and people have been taking care of us…
DD- Just last night, we played London and it was circle pits, kids were stage diving, just just off… it was a really, really good time. I think the more and more you tour, the level of intensity of shows just keeps getting better and better. We’ve don eyears of touring where its been, like, playing in front of 30 people who are half interested, for the longest time. So, now that we’ve been playing now and the word is getting out more and people are coming to the shows already sort of knowing the parts and knowing the music, every show has been pretty bitching so far on this tour, I would say.
G- Dig it.
BB- Yea. At the end of this tour, it’ll have been three months touring straight without any time off, so we’re in Go mode right now… We just want to play and, you know, get the night rolling the way we’re accustomed to.
G- That’s awesome, and I’m kinda jealous. I know it’s tough and everything, but it beats going to work and I gotta get up at 7am. But boohoo to me.
DD- We have to wake up at 7am, too. We have to drive to Springfield tomorrow.
G- Ok, so you feel my pain. Just hit DD’s and get a coffee.
BB- We’ll probably be considerably more hung over than you are tomorrow.
G- I don’t know, that’s debatable. I’m gonna go have another drink right after this!
BB- Alright my type of guy!
DD- Should we go to Paradise Found (strip club) or not?
G- Ahh, if you wanna get drunk, that’s fine. If you wanna catch something, that’s something else. Just be careful and wrap it up.
Anyways, as a band that’s on the rise, you guys are playing a ton of shows and garnering lots of attention, and you’re doing well for yourselves. The music dream never dies, and there’s a lot of kids out there that want to play music and get on the road and go have fun. From your experience, what advice can you give some of the young, up and coming bands everywhere who want to make it in music, on the road, and as a professional musician?
DD- I would say try and make music for yourself and for the love of music, and not write music to be a part of the scene or because it’s cool or something like that. Getting out there and really honing your craft, I think, in the long run, will pay off more than just writing stuff that, you know, safe or this or that.
I would also say to try and book your own tours as much as possible. If a label is going to sign you, they want to see that you’re going to put the effort in first before the give you the record deal and the contract and the booking agent. We started off just booking tours on Myspace when people still cared about that website. But now, go on Facebook and hit up bands, hit up promoters, and try to book your own tours and get out there.
And third, get a quality demo that you can be proud of, and have it at your merch table when you’re going out and playing music in front of new people. I fyou don’t have a good quality recording, you can write the best stuff ever, and if it sound slike shit, people are going to write it off and say ‘This band sucks!’ even though the music might be great. But if the music doesn’t have a good sound to it, people might not give it the time of day, unfortunately.
BB- You have to take yourself very seriously. Really believe in yourself and use the internet for what it’s worth, because that’s a new tool that… It was new when I first started playing, and nobody knew what was going to happen with it.
And as Dave said, get out as much as you can afford to, and make good relationships with people, and keep them. That’s the best way to advance.
G- Right on. Well, I just want to say again thank you guys very much for taking the time to speak with Live High Five. You’re going on in a little while… Stay away form over there, come over here and have a drink first…
And travel safe, play well, and we look forward to more in the future!
BB- Thank you for your time!
DD- Anytime. Thanks a lot, brother!
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