The debut album from new band Down Among The Dead Men was a real revelation when Ave Noctum got our hands on a review copy; a real gnarled piece of crusty punk/metal with real songs and a cracking atmosphere to it. With such an enjoyable album, we couldn’t resist tracking down vocalist David Ingram for a chat. Something that was well worth it, as you will see. We even got to ask: Who?
AN: Hi David. Thanks for agreeing to do this, I really appreciate the time at a busy season. Sorry, but I think the most obvious question to begin with is: How did this collaboration happen? It’s clearly a great match but why now? How did the conversation come about?
DI: It was Rogga that first got in touch with me. He wrote and asked if I would like to perform on a track for a personal album he’s writing. While I was working on the lyrics he sent I began thinking about making a full length album with an entirely new project, so I asked him if he’d be interested. After only a few days of emailing back and forth, Down Among The Dead Men was born. The name has it’s roots in archaeology, something I am interested in. It also has a tenuous connection to the television show Doctor Who, of which I am a HUGE fan. Anyone who knows me personally knows just how much I am in love with that show. DATDM is a real band, not just a project. We’re planning on more releases and live shows in the future. We’ve already written some new songs and I’m working on the lyrics now.
AN: Where did the band name come from? I do think it’s a particularly cool name, I should add.
DI: Thank you! It’s two-fold. The first part is my interest in archaeology, as I worked as an archaeological assistant in the late 1980’s helping to excavate Roman remains. I was really “down among the dead men” at the time. Then there’s also the fact that it’s the title of a fictitious book written by a fictional character, who also happens to be a Professor of Archaeology. Again, there is a connection to my love of all things Doctor Who. Fans of the franchise will know, if they’re as deeply into it as me.
AN: How premeditated was this crusty style? Did you all sit down and decide “Let’s add a good crust onto this death metal pie? ” or was it just how the riffs rolled out?
DI: I’d wanted to do a Metal/Punk crossover for a long time, so put the idea forward and gave Rogga and Dennis some tracks from other bands – Discharge, G.B.H. and Broken Bones – so they could hear what I was aiming for. In truth, how the album came out was exactly the same as the concept I had in my head. They both nailed it perfectly.
AN: 2013 Seems to have been a great year for guys known for other bands going round their mates and instead of churning out some calculated and bland super group stuff, going old school and actually having a ball (I’m thinking particularly yourselves, Uncoffined and, of course Twilight Of The Gods as fine examples). It’s almost like being allowed to listen in on a slightly drunk conversation between people enthusing about their musical loves. Do you think there’s been something in the water this year?
DI: I haven’t heard the Twilight Of The Gods release (yet!) but have heard some Uncoffined – which is fucking magnificent! Yes, there’s definitely something either in the water or airborne. It’s about time that the old school came around again to wipe the blandness away that seems to have plagued the scene for a while.
AN: How were the writing duties and recording shared and done and are you going to be able to get this out on the road?
DI. We all wrote songs for the album, mostly it was the other guys but I wrote three. Two of which were pieces of music I wrote in 1988, originally titled “Child Of Sin” and “Grind Bastard” which may be recognizable to some. I used the lyrics already – obviously – and kept the music locked in my head. Rogga gave them a bit of a tweak too, which made them even better. Both he and Dennis have a good writing style, easy to work with – and not too many solos! We recorded separately, me doing my vocals in Denmark at www.LibriumGuitars.dk (shameless advertising) and it meant there was no pressure whatsoever. Not that I ever feel pressured, mind you. Touring will come in the Spring when we may do a few Scandinavian shows close to home, plus possibly further afield if it’s worth it with expenses. One has to remember, we’re all getting older and have families now.
AN: It was nice when I got the PR sheet that particular note had been given to the song lyrics. Was this something you were keen to emphasize?
DI: Not a necessity, as I actually prefer people to use their own mind. It’s what I do when I read other people’s lyrics. The lyrics description was a request of the label, Cyclone Empire Records, and since they are such great guys to work for I didn’t have a problem with it.
AN: How much do Rogga and Dennis know about Doctor Who?
DI: I’m not sure about Dennis, but Rogga hasn’t seen a single episode! At some point I am going to go up to Sweden and I’ll take a few episodes with me for him to watch, though he says he’ll get round to it eventually.
AN: Speaking of the good Doctor, I got that the last song ‘Lament Of The Stones’ was about the weeping angels but not being a true Whovian how many other references did I miss?
DI: Actually, it’s “The Stones Lament” but no worries (Whoops! Sorry m AN). There’s actually references in all of the songs. Some are obvious, most are pretty tenuous. More an emotional response for me when I was writing the lyrics and what it makes me think of. I’ll say one name though: Professor Bernice Summerfield.
AN: For me, Doctor Who is a weird mixture of childhood nostalgia, classic cliffhanger TV and occasional moments where it jolts you out of its comforting innocence and into some actual moments of human darkness (I’m thinking in recent times of the moment Christopher Eccleston let the mask slip and ranted at a lone crippled Dalek, or the Tennant episode set in a public school on eve of World War one and the realization that most of those children would die in trenches). Why does it enthral you so much? What makes it suitable for a punk/metal song? And how pleased were you to find Daleks in your loft (explanation may be needed!)
DI: I’ve been a fan of the show through thick and thin, since the day I was born. Seriously and truthfully. I was born at home, 3.00pm January 25th 1969. After the birth my Mom was nursing me and she got the family to carry the TV upstairs so she could watch episode one of “The Seeds of Death” that aired at 5.15pm that day. So my first ever TV was Doctor Who. Of course, I don’t remember it. But the show has been a part of my life every single day. I know it may sound weird to some, but it’s true. I’ve used it to judge situations, make decisions, take opportunities and face their consequences. I always have and always will.
AN: You also host a couple of internet radio shows. I always thought the lack of immediate or (often) tangible feedback from things like that must often leave you feeling like you’re talking to yourself, or into a huge black void. What do you get from it? What’s the ethos behind them (apart from moments like getting Rock Goddess stuck in the head of a friend of mine, for which I heartily commend you!)
DI: I began a Metal show, along with my best friend Donovan Spenceley, for internet radio called METAL BREAKFAST RADIO in 2008. We started out as a simple podcast with an audience of none and we’ve built it up to being syndicated by 5 different internet radio stations (that we know of) and downloads of between 2500 to 3000 each week. It’s not your average Metal show as myself and Donovan give a running commentary over new music that bands submit to the show. We rate them and if we don’t like what we hear, we Exterminate them. We’re pretty brutal about it, but it really is all just in good fun. We have several beers while we record, so it can sometimes get a bit “moist” if you know what I mean? We’ve been doing that show every week for the last 5 and a half years, and I don’t think we’ll stop. I’ll give some links at the end to find us online.
I am also making another online radio show called LAMBERT’S BASEMENT, though this one is dedicated to one of my other musical loves: Big Band Jazz. This show features a lot of wonderful music from a bygone age, and it has me along with my co-host Igor, a zombie goldfish.
Oh, and Rock Goddess kick serious ass. Just ask Sam.
AN: Does any of this, bands or shows, pay the bills? Or any of the bills? Is that important in the scheme of things?
DI: No, at least not yet. The radio shows are other people’s music so we won’t make money from that. If anyone should then it should be the bands themselves. We rely on donations to pay for the yearly costs of maintaining our site and show archive (it isn’t much) and we’re more than ready to just have fun with it. If DATDM makes money then that will be a bonus. We have the experience and the know-how to do so, which will help finance future releases for us.
AN: What’s the ambition for Down Among The Dead Men? Is this now a main focus or an occasional sideline with Rogga’s seemingly packed musical diary?
DI: Currently he’s got several projects on the go to release, but DATDM will become more of a force to be reckoned with as we’ll be getting out there touring. We hope for some festival slots next year – so far the album seems to be well received, which is great news – so we may well add a lot more to our touring itinerary. We’re planning some 7″ releases through the next 8 months, and a new album for roughly the same time next year.
AN: And finally: What do you want Doctor Who to bring you for Yule?
DI: Well he’s going to be bringing a new Doctor in the shape of Peter Capaldi, which is rather exciting! Not that I’m tired of Matt Smith, far from it as he has been wonderful. I always look forward to a new actor in the role – and there’s also a great deal of sadness at the one departing. Regeneration is emotion.
AN: Thanks again David, I hope the album does as well as it deserves to do and sells by the cartload. Have a great Yuletide and I hope your 2014 is all it can be for you and yours. Interview by Gizmo
DI. My thanks to you, Gizmo! Here’s a few links of possible interest to folk, and a list of my current favourite eargasms.
Links of interest:
DOWNLORD back-catalogue, free download: http://www.metalbreakfastradio.com/Downlord.zip
Current 5 favourite albums:
Bolt Thrower – Those Once Loyal
Paganizer – On A Gurney To Hell
Bonesaw – The Illicit Revue
Dehydrated Goat – Perversion of Stablings
Queens of the Stone Age – Era Vulgaris
Our thanks again to David for his time. There is nothing quite as good as people who are willing and able to share their enthusiasm and love of music and other passions like stories in whatever form. Check out Down Among The Dead Men: One of 2013’s best ways of taking an old school beating with a smile.
Interview by Gizmo