LD: Whose idea was it to shoot your video for “Diabolic Majesty” in the church with skateboarders in the background?
Dave: It was my idea.The record has a hellish theme so I wanted to perform in a creepy, abandoned church or something like that. It was becoming difficult to find a space. And then we were thinking, "Okay. Well, maybe we could film it in an actual church and just kind of light it weird, add some fog and maybe the juxtaposition of the nice church setting with this diabolical atmosphere would be a cool twist."
...as it turned out churches weren’t too keen on having a band playing death metal all day long in their sacred halls...
But as it turned out churches weren’t too keen on having a band playing death metal all day long in their sacred halls, so that was difficult. We were about to give up hope on that, but during our tour with Cannibal Corpse in March of 2022 the gods of heavy metal hooked us up. It was one of the first tours back from the pandemic. So everyone and their mother was coming out to these shows. I mean, we did 30 shows and almost all of them were sold out. It was a packed house every night. In St. Louis this dude comes up to the merch table and starts chatting with our bass player Brett about skateboarding since Brett grew up as a street skater and it's still a passion of his.
He was like, "Oh yeah, my friend actually bought this dilapidated church not too far from here and turned it into a crazy skate park." Brett was telling me about this, and alarms were going off in my head. I really want to talk to this guy more because this is exactly what we're looking for and we haven't been able to find anything like it.
So yeah, we started chatting. We were like, "Hey, would you let us film the video at your location?" And they were pretty much all about it. I mean, there was a bit of back and forth between ourselves and the church. And really the music video director handled most of the logistics and stuff like that. But when we got there, we knew we had hit an absolute gold mine.
First of all, it was huge. And second of all, there were multiple locations within this church that looked totally different. So we filmed the Diabolical Majesty video in the skate park area of the church where there were the half pipes - and a bunch of local people that skate there regularly came out and were throwing down some tricks in the background while we were playing. So that was cool.
It added a boisterous, punk rock element to this death metal track. And then we discovered the basement. It was super creepy and had these old pillars and all of this weird, dusty equipment and shit in the background. We were like, "Oh, we can film a video down here as well and have it look totally different." So we filmed the video for Nihilistic Violence in the basement of the church. The Diabolical Majesty music video was very bright and had a lot of natural light coming in through the stained glass.
The Nihilistic Violence video was the opposite. There's no natural light. We lit it red and hazed it out, so it looked like we were just... I basically told our music video director, I wanted it to look like when Freddy Krueger invades your dreams and you’re trapped in his nightmarish boiler room. Then there was a third part of the church that was totally dilapidated, but it didn't have... It was untouched by the renovations that they did.
So there was no graffiti, no skate ramps or anything like that. It just literally looked like a crumbling sanctuary. Very, very creepy. We actually filmed another video in that area of the church for the 3rd single, Godforsaken.
It was incredible to get 3 unique locations out of this one spot, because we all live in different parts of North America. Getting us together… we have to take off work and all that. So we knocked out three music videos in the course of only one and a half days…
LD: You might have set a record for number of videos shot in a day and a half in one location.
Dave: Yeah. It was great though. It was just cool to go to a spot that had so much potential.
I think whoever owned the church before was happy the skatepark took it off their hands cause’ it was... It was definitely in a state of disrepair, and now it’s being repurposed to help serve the community. We were stoked to be a part of the history of that place in our own way.
LD: I thought it was great … Halloween meets punk, with a twist of skateboard and death metal.
Dave: Thank you.
LD: Did you do all the recording for “Netherheaven” yourself?
We were coming out of the pandemic. I tried to stay as busy as possible just to maintain my sanity. So, I learned how to record. I had some recording chops before, but I really kind of dove into the process.
Dave: This was a pretty unique album for me and the band in general. We tracked the drums at the same studio as our previous record, with Shane Frisby at the Brick Hithouse. But everything else, I engineered myself. We were coming out of the pandemic. I tried to stay as busy as possible just to maintain my sanity. So, I learned how to record. I had some recording chops before, but I really kind of dove into the process. I learned a ton studying on my own and looking things up on YouTube. A lot of it was trial and error as well.
LD: I think we were all doing the same thing during COVID. I finished four new bass pickups designs and did a lot of product photos and … got a little better at Logic.
Dave: I got hired to do a few cover songs and studio projects during the pandemic, but obviously doing a one-off track or a guest solo is much different than recording a full record. So it was definitely a trial by fire. Made some mistakes along the way. There were some hiccups and headaches that I had to deal with. But yeah, I engineered all of my guitar parts, all of my vocal parts. I also engineered Brett's bass playing on the recording as well. So I was in charge of not only the writing, composing and execution of the material, but also the majority of the tracking. We also worked with a brand new person that mixed and mastered the record as well, Jens Bogren. He's got quite a list of recordings under his belt. He's worked with everyone from Opeth to Kreator and the list goes on and on for him.
So, I was a big fan of his mixes and it was a little nerve-wracking because you want to make sure that the tracks that you're recording, when you give them to the other person to mix, have what they need and they're not going to look at your files and be like, "Oh, what the fuck is this mess?" So I really wanted to make sure we were giving him very usable stuff.
We were very careful recording it in the early stages, making sure all the levels were right, nothing got tweaked halfway through or something like that. We wanted to make sure to give him exactly what he needed. When we sent him the tracks, he was like, "Everything looks good.” No news was good news sort of a thing on that end. I think he delivered just an incredibly powerful mix. It's got that modern edge, but it's also very organic sounding. We couldn't be happier across the board with how hard the mix hits for the new record.
LD: How were you recording the guitar parts?
Dave: When I was tracking, it was just literally DI into the computer. I was using Neural DSP plugin tones. I wanted to keep it literally as simple as possible and do everything in the box to get my tone for tracking purposes. And then we sent Jen’s all the DI's just clean. I think I sent him the plugin tone as well for a few of the songs just as a reference. And he did his magic from there and re-amped it. I don't even know what the amp choices were on the record. I didn’t even want to know 'cause I didn't want to bias myself, know what I mean?
LD: Yeah, I do. Sometimes it’s fun to just see what happens.
Dave: I just wanted to listen to it and only base my opinion off of the tone and not fall into the mindset of "Oh, I have to choose this amp because it's the cool boutique one or whatever. Or “I shouldn't use this amp because it gets a bad rep etc"
LD: When you say, use this amp, was he re-amping the computer track and playing it back with plug-ins or playing back through a real amp?
Dave: We used a re-amp box. I've done it before myself. Just basically plug it in, you hit play on the track and it sends the signal back out. I'm sure he probably had a few different cabinet options mic’d up, who knows, maybe some different pedals in some of them. And he basically just said, "Okay, here's guitar tone A, B, and C.” I think we ended up using a blend. He sent it over and I was like, “Okay, this one needs a little bit more punch” or "Okay, this one sounds maybe a little too fuzzy. Can we try something else?"
So yeah, he gave it a few different attempts and then we ended up settling on two different guitar tones. One for guitar left, one for guitar right, and just went with that. It's cool to use the same amp on a recording, but sometimes it's cooler to mix up the amps because you might hear something in one guitar tone that’s sonically lacking ever so slightly, but it's made up for in a different way. And then that other guitar tone comes in and fills out that part of the harmonic spectrum that maybe the other guitar tone might be missing a little bit, and it actually makes it sound even fuller when you mix and match. That part is fun for me. That’s when you get to really tweak some knobs and have a good time checking out different sounds.
LD: I love what you can do with a lapbook, the only limitation is your creativity.
During COVID I got hooked watching YouTube interviews with heavy weight recording people. Finneas (Billie Eilish) and Stuart White (Beyonce) being stand outs for me. Their processes got me thinking very differently about postproduction.
Dave: Oh, yeah. I gained a lot of recording chops, but I have zero mixing and mastering chops when it comes to that kind of stuff. And even if I did have them, I think I wouldn't want to do it just because I'd probably be too close to it at that point. So it's nice having a fresh set of ears on something and you can pass it off to someone and say, "All right, we've done all the tracking, you take it from here.”
LD: I think you did a great job with the playing and composing for Netherheaven. I like getting another set of ears on a mix. Collaboration can make it more fun and you can get out of your own head space.
Dave: For sure, a hundred percent.
LD: I know you just finished your new guitar with Jackson. What changes did you make from the previous one?
Dave: This one was quite different I would say overall. I mean, it's still the warrior shape. That's been the shape that I've been using for a long time now, pretty much since the inception of Revocation. There’s just something about that extreme shape that I've always dug. But as far as everything else is concerned, it's really undergone quite a transformation. The previous signature models were a 25 and a half inch scale, and on the new models we went with a 26 and a half inch scale.
With a longer scale length, I think the tuning stability is improved. We also went with a five piece neck this time around. I think it looks cool, but also further helps with the stability and adds another layer of craftsmanship to the instrument. And then, as far as the look goes, totally different.
We did a killer Ferrari red finish on one of the Warriors, and I was also able to twist Jackson's arm a little bit to do a second signature model this time around so there's a really stunning Lamborghini yellow option as well.
I was using wood finishes with stains, roasted ash, things like that, giving it a natural finish, really letting that grain come through. Now, we're using really loud colors, hearkening back to some of those old glory days of heavy metal and those guitar virtuosos. They just had such a stark look to them. I think for me, whether it's as an artist or now as a product developer, when people think I'm going to zig, I want to zag. I want to try to always keep people on their toes. My favorite artists have always been the ones that have evolved over time and changed up their aesthetics. So this for me was changing it up. We did a killer Ferrari red finish on one of the Warriors, and I was also able to twist Jackson's arm a little bit to do a second signature model this time around so there's a really stunning Lamborghini yellow option as well. And there's even differences between those two guitars.
The Ferrari red warrior has an ebony fingerboard, I don't know, just something about a black and red combo that just looks so appealing to me. And then the Lamborghini yellow guitar, that's got a reverse headstock, so already out the gate more of a bold move and it's got a beautiful maple fret board. So the look of that loud yellow color with that white maple fret board really makes it pop. We went with black inlays on there to add a little bit of contrast.
LD: I think the new inlays look great and they’re not distracting from the maple and yellow color combination.
Dave: Thanks! I think the new look has really paid off. Seems like people are just dying to get their hands on them. I know they did a custom shop run that sold out rather quickly. Not sure what the future holds as far as supply chain and all that, but there is a pro series in the works. The timeline on that I don't have at the moment, but it's definitely something that I’m actively discussing with Jackson.
LD: Once the cosmetic and scale changes were finished, we started fine tuning the new electronics?
Dave: As I mentioned, it's got the longer scale length. My previous set of signature DiMarzio Pickups, the Imperium’s, I had dialed those in for the 25 and a half inch scale guitar. I mean, I still use those pickups. I think they sound great. But this was sort of an opportunity to go back to the drawing board and say, "All right. I'm changing the scale length here, and the scale length does affect the guitar tone certainly."
So I figured, "Hey, we're revamping the look. We're revamping the overall vibe of these guitars. Let's try to revamp the pickups as well.” That’s how the Occult Classics came to be, they’re dialed in for this scale length. So yeah, I just went down the line swapping pickups in and out, tweaking certain things along the way.
I worked very closely, obviously with you, Larry, and with Eric at DiMarzio who's so great to work with. It was pretty much constant contact for a few weeks as we were going back and forth, changing up little things in the tonal spectrum, and I couldn't be happier with the result. I think they sound fucking awesome.
They're punchy, they’re aggressive, but they still have clarity. I've mentioned in previous interviews, but I'll say it again, I really want a pickup to be able to take that distortion and not smear the notes together. I want a guitar tone, even with a distortion, to have a piano-like separation of the notes because I'm not just playing low chunky chords. Certainly there's a time and a place for that, but I'm also playing more complex jazz inspired voicings while still using a high gain amp.
I wanted to make sure that the pickups really let those notes breathe and have that full harmonic spectrum coming through.
LD: That's one of the advantages of passive pickups, you’re going to get a much more natural, uncompressed sound no matter what you plug into. I'm always listening for evenness from the full chord and the individual voices of each string.
LD: What you do is really interesting to me because you’re also the singer and you get the guitar to fit with your voice.
Dave: Yeah. I mean, I'm such a stickler for the riffs that I write and the overall flow of the compositions. I feel really fortunate to be able to work with DiMarzio. I get the same kind of attention to detail that I put into my music with my guitar tone. For some artists out there, I think whether you're a singer or you're a guitar player, certainly, it's the notes you play, but some players are defined just as much by the tone of their instrument. I mean, think of certain singers, you could hear one second of Freddie Mercury's voice and know that it's him. Not because of the notes that he's singing. You could strip away the lyrics of a song and just have him sing one note... Just belt out an “Aah!,” and you would say that's Freddie Mercury.
So tone is an incredibly important thing, and I just feel fortunate that I can further define my sound by working with a company like Dimarzio.
LD: I love multilayered experiences, starting with getting the guitar tone right. When I was growing up, I wanted to sound like Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck and of course Jimmy Hendrix, all at once. Those were the guitar sounds that drove me to inventing replacement guitar pickups. Your taking it to the recording, the mix, the video, and really its developing. Each of your projects gets better each time.
Dave: I'll take it a step further there. I contact all of the artists that make individual T-shirts for us. Every step of the way. And part of it is a byproduct of, I guess... What is it? Necessity as a mother of invention kind of thing. There aren't the same budgets for death metal artists as there are for pop stars obviously. So I have to wear a lot of different hats when it comes to getting my music out there.
I mean, we have a band manager, but in a way I'm also co-managing the band along with my bassist. I'm very, very hands on. I think it makes for a better product overall.
LD: The more you learn the more potential you have for success’ … Or … “I'm never doing that again.” That can be lost on a lot of people. It also makes it more authentic, whether it's the album art or whether it's the T-shirt design. Sometimes you just need to take that leap.
I was shooting Guitar World’s Buyers Guide back in 2007 and my photo assistant, Thomas Mishima, wanted me to try digital. So on a break he handed me his Hassalblad with a Phase One digital back and I never shot film again, - it was wonderful.
Dave: Of course.
LD: I see that with your band and with your work, and for me it's a pleasure and an honor to work with you and to try and develop what we can do on the pickup side to help you realize your vision.
Dave: Well, thank you. The pleasure's all mine, Larry.
LD: Yeah. And you're coming to Montana soon.
Dave: Got that right.
LD: So you and I can actually sit down and enjoy an in-person conversation and a glass of wine.
LD: Tell me about the Eidolon pedal.
Dave: I use EVH amps and I'm a very proud endorser of those amps. I think they sound great. But as you get older and start playing with different toys and further defining your sound, obviously pedals can play a big role in that. I'm not a guy that has a million pedals on his pedal board. I like my pedals to sound great, but also to be functional, enter the Eidolon. I was finding that to get my lead sound, I had to daisy chain a bunch of different pedals together in order to find the tone that I was looking for. I think most guitarists, if they're soloing, they're probably going to want a boost. and probably some type of delay to add a little bit of atmosphere to their solo, and then probably a reverb as well to further add some wetness to their sound.
So I was having to string together a few different pedals, and it was funny, the idea for this pedal was actually born from me trying to buy it, because I thought certainly someone else had run into the same issue that I had. So I was looking up a boost/reverb/delay all in one pedal and I just couldn't find it anywhere. It was kind of annoying because I'm like, "I'm sure this exists," and it just didn't exist anywhere. So I came up with an idea.
LD: So we should really define the pedal as a reverb and boost pedal.
Dave: But it also has delay.
LD: Even better.
Dave: Yeah. So for me, it really is the trifecta of what I want in a lead sound. The first iteration of the pedal started off with my good buddy, Sacha Dunable from Dunable Guitars. He was making pedals for a while although I believe he has since discontinued the pedal part of his business and is just solely focusing on building guitars now. So the Eidolon was under the Dunable product umbrella for a few years, and I think this was, again, born from COVID. People had to change their business models and certainly sourcing different parts for guitars and pedals is a lot of work.
So we had discussed taking this idea to a company that just focused on pedals. Sacha was great to work with. I think he did an amazing first rendition of the pedal, but I'm happy to say the Eidolon has found a new home. You heard it here first, Larry. Can’t go into all the details yet but I’ve already received some new prototypes, looking forward to the full reveal soon.
LD: It makes a lot of sense to play with all of that. When you don't want it in the way, it's just click, that's out of the circuit.
LD: It's just more colors in your paint box.
Dave: Yep. That's totally how I look at it.
LD: Yeah. So now tell me about Gargoyl your solo project.
Dave: Sure thing. We put out our self titled record during the pandemic on Season Of Mist. Definitely a departure from Revocation, but it still has progressive elements. It allows me to scratch my “rock and roll” itch. Being in Revocation, obviously, we have a very defined sound at this point, and it's very much in the extreme metal genre.
So I wanted to have something that that could showcase a different part of my playing style. We’re currently working on new material for our 2nd album. I'm not exactly sure when we're going to be recording and releasing it, but we're writing the material now. I'm very excited to dive into this project further. The demos that I've received from Luke so far have really blown me away.
LD: What's the singing style going to be like?
Dave: Luke is one of those guys that has his own voice. It’s haunting and melodic, but it's also powerful. I would say the new record has even more rock and roll swagger to it as far as the vocal delivery goes based on the demos I’ve heard so far. With Gargoyl, kind of similar to Revocation…I feel like we're a bit hard to define. I mean, you can listen to Revocation and say, "Okay, this is death metal," but there's other influences there. I think it's the same way with Gargoyl. People dubbed it progressive grunge, which is kind of an oxymoron haha. So that hopefully will give you a taste of-
LD: To me that makes perfect sense though, things are always morphing.
Dave: Yeah. It's unique and I feel like because we only have one record under our belts the playing field is wide open for us and we can really take it into any direction that we want.
LD: Thanks for taking the time and I’m looking forward to hanging out with you in Montana.