Monday, November 6, 2023

Interview with Decomposed Dave of Pale Fallen Dead by Dave Wolff

Interview with Decomposed Dave of Pale Fallen Dead by Dave Wolff

Prior to your current doom/sludge metal project Pale Fallen Dead, you were involved in a doom/sludge metal project called Life Has Soured. Explain how you become so involved with doom and sludge? Apart from Pale Fallen Dead, do you participate in any full bands?
I first found Grief’s “Come to Grief” in 1995 in a pawn shop and fell in love with it, and I've listened to sludge and doom since. My band is heavily influenced by Khanate and Grief. Life Has Soured and Pale Fallen Dead are just me. I have another band I share with my good friend Eric Crowe called Miserably Ever After which is heavily sludge, and Kaltsorg which is blackened sludge. I've had a few other doom bands over the years, and I've composed dark ambient horror scores for independent horror films since 2005.

What is the level of cooperation between you and Eric Crowe in Miserably Ever After? With the material you’ve released over the years, have you grown as a band?
Eric and I go back quite a long time. We had a project years ago that didn't really pan out but he and I wanted to work together pretty badly, so that door was never closed. Moving forward, I came up with another idea for a band. Basically it's just Grief worship; hell, the band is named after a Grief album. But everything's really seamless with Eric. Basically I write all the lyrics and program the drums, and I write all of the backing tracks. Eric comes in afterwards and he does his thing, then I do all of our production work. So no money goes out. We just get to make music we enjoy doing and that's it. We're not a touring band; we’re studio only so it makes it that much easier...

What is Eric's thing in Miserably Ever After? After you complete the songs, how do you proceed with producing? Is all MEA's work (and your solo work) being released independently?
Eric has free reign really. I write the lyrics but he changes and arranges them as needed. I don't do vocals in MEA other than backing. I throw down the drums and then create all rhythms with my bass then send it off to Eric. He adds his guitar and vocals, then I finish it up with the backing vocals. I produce everything, and all our music is released through Doomsayer Records which Eric owns. We also have material going out through Rotting Sun Records and Bastard Premonition, and both my solo projects are through those three labels.

Is Eric involved in any other projects besides those that you and he are involved in? Is it possible to locate them online?
Eric owns the record label all of my projects fall under, Doomsayer Records. I'm also associated with Rotting Sun Records and Bastard Premonition. Eric and I share MEA but that's it.

What was the reason behind your decision not to play live with Miserably Ever After? Does this provide you and Eric with more privacy and solitude when you compose and record?
I've just never had any interest in playing live. No other reason really, it just doesn't appeal to me.

Even though you don’t perform live with MEA, do you perform with your other bands? Do clubs where you do perform have sound systems allowing you to capture the sound of your recordings?
Eric and I have to date only worked on this album together. He lives in a different state than I so everything is done through file share. We are currently working on a six track album.

Is there anything you can reveal about the next recording you and Eric are working on? In what ways will recording with six tracks make it different from your previous recordings?
It's an EP and the songs are much shorter than either my solo projects. We are doing a cover of the chant from “The Burbs” on this EP, which I think is a nice step away from our usually negative lyrics. The chant is “I want to kill everyone, Satan is good, Satan is our pal”, haha.

Before discovering sludge and dark ambience, what were the first bands you listened to, and how did they motivate you to express yourself musically?
I was raised on the holy Trinity: Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath and Frank Zappa, but in 1990 I heard “Master of Puppets” for the first time then my whole world changed. In 1993 I found Morbid Angel with the “Covenant” album and Cannibal Corpse with the “Eaten Back to Life” album. I got really heavy into Norwegian black metal in 1995 when I first heard the split between Emperor and Enslaved titled “Hordanes Land”, and was also heavily into industrial. I got into bands like Coil, Skinny Puppy, Skrew, Malformed Earthborn, Thrill Kill Kult, Godflesh, Ministry, in 1994, and I first found sludge in 1995, Grief's “Come to Grief” album, I found it on cassette in a pawn shop along with Down “NOLA” and Crowbar’s “Broken Glass” album, Buzzoven and a few other sludge bands. As for dark ambience I fell in love with it being a lifelong horror fan at a very early age. My three favorite bands of all time, Neurosis, Type O Negative and Grief, two of those bands use quite a lot of dark ambience in their music which also was a huge influence on me finding the genre, and ultimately what led me to learning to compose my own years later...

In general, do you prefer to work as a solo musician or with other musicians with similar musical interests? Your compositions for Pale Fallen Dead are extremely long, like most doom, sludge, and stoner metal. Are you able to express your imagination more freely when working alone?
I love the freedom of solo, but I also love the bands I’m in that I work with. Kaltsorg is with my friend Raymond; it is blackened sludge with a very heavy Type O Negative vibe to it. It’s very synth heavy and has an early 90's Norwegian BM vibe to it as well. Within Death's Kingdom is with another Eric and my buddy John, WDK is what we call Grave Moss Doom. I love working with those two guys, and MEA. It’s always a blast working with Eric Crowe, but I love being able to program my drum track and sit in my room, smoke a fat bowl, plug my bass ov doom in and release some of the noise in my head, I write most of the music and all of the lyrics for every band I’m in, but with my solo projects I have complete control so it ends up being a more clear vision of my inner turmoil. I love dark ambience, so in my solo projects I have more freedom to turn the whole track into a horror movie type atmosphere...

Unlike many bands who experiment with other genres, Pale Fallen Dead appears to be heading in the other direction, digging deeper into melancholy and despair in search of a greater meaning. Do you think listeners would be able to relate to that? Did Life Has Soured follow a similar path?
Life Has Soured was born of pain. My wife died 12/20/21, and less than a year later my brother committed suicide 12/5/22, so LHS was how I dealt with those two losses. But what I didn’t intend on was LHS having such dark lyrical content. My lyrics and writing style are very heavily inspired by and influenced by Dax from Acid Bath, so they have always been naturally dark. But LHS took on a whole new level, even more far out than MEA's lyrics which at the time were the darkest I had ever written. LHS was touching on murder, suicide, mass shootings, necrophilia, cannibalism, and an absolute hatred of mankind and wishing death on everyone. I know that sounds dramatic but after losing my wife my brain changed. It also began to heal and I started feeling less and less of a need for LHS, but I love the idea of a bass only sludge band. Audie from Acid Bath (R.I.P) is a huge influence on my own playing and I was very heavily inspired by his side band Shrum; it was a bass only sludge band as well. I thought about it, and I decided that changing the lyric content after releasing so much material already made about as much sense as Cannibal Corpse changing their lyric content. So I decided to end that project and reimagine it. That’s where PFD comes in. The lyrics deal in death, mental illness and our world dying, so they are still dark but they are not vulgar like LHS. PFD deals a lot with the death of my wife and brother, and I make heavy use of my eighteen-plus years doing horror scores, so PFD all in all ended up being the collective of everything I’ve learned since 2005. It was all leading to this band...

PFD’s full length “Why Do I Feel Dead Inside?” is an extremely loud wall of sound, with harsh vocals and a dirty bass. Did you feel this formula would be more effective in conveying your thoughts than a cleaner sound?
I feel, at least with LHS, the darker and more misanthropic, the more nihilistic, the better. Not so much with PFD. I took the lyrics in a different direction, focusing mainly on the death process, but it's still very dark in nature, it just fits my personality. I hate most people, and I honestly am waiting on World War 3. Mankind needs to be eradicated; mankind is a cancer burning and devouring our world, worthless and completely unnecessary, the human race.

Would you say you’re opening new doors for doom and sludge metal, or would you think your work is too intense for most doom and sludge fans, at least for the time being?
Opening new doors? Nah, but with LHS and PFD I am taking a very limited genre and just adding to that. Bass sludge isn't very common with Shrum being the most well-known band, so I'm proud to be a small part of a small subgenre of sludge. As for my lyrics and the subject matter, it depends on the band. PFD's lyrics deal with death, suicide and the end of the world, so it doesn't get too far out. LHS's lyrics are quite vulgar at times, subjects dealing in necrophilia, cannibalism, murder, mass shootings, cults, serial killers, etc. MEA's lyrics are pretty much the same as LHS, so I don't think it's too intense, but it’s also not for everyone.

Since you began your solo work, have you received many zine and webzine reviews? In that case, how deeply have reviewers responded to the extreme nature of your writing?
I've just now really got into the whole realm of reviews and such with you. I never really thought about it much until another bandmate suggested trying to promote my material instead of just silently releasing everything and then forgetting about it which I tend to do...

What is your background in composing scores for indie horror films and how did you get started? Is there any film featuring your work you’d like to mention?
My background in dark ambience and horror is a lifelong thing. I’m a lifer in the horror scene, and I was born in 1980, so I grew up during the best era of horror in my opinion. What got me into composing dark ambience was purely anxiety. I found out I had anxiety and panic disorder in 2003, so I began looking for ways to deal with that, on top of the lifelong depression and OCD that I have, and the bane of my existence ADHD. Around 2005 I came across a program called Reason; a good buddy of mine had been using it for a few years to compose music and he suggested it to me. He gave me a six month crash course in composing and writing music, some basic music theory. He taught me how to arrange and build something from nothing and then taught me the basics of audio production using Adobe Audition. So other than those two crash courses I am completely self-taught. Same with my bass playing. I had a drone band from 2007 to 2011 but I wasn’t really playing my bass in that. I was just droning and trying to emulate Sunn O))). I picked the bass back up in 2016 and it hasn’t left my hands since. But to answer your question I did a lot of little pieces for random Youtube channels, Beta video games and a few websites but I never really got too serious about it. I did all of those pieces for free because I just wanted to be a part of something. Over the years my dark ambience got better and better until people started taking notice. In 2016 I got offered the score for a movie called “Son of the Saw”. It was a fan film loosely based on TCSM, and that ended up being my first credited piece. In 2019 I was offered the score for a TV series that’s in the works, I cannot say much about that publicly at this time but I am being paid for it and it will be the footstep in the door I’ve tried to get since 2005...

How have mainstream and independent horror films made an impression on you, and what appealed to you? Which soundtracks and/or composers do you most frequently listen to?
I'm a lifer in the metal scene and the horror scene, so from an early age both have been a part of my entire existence. I have the “Evil Dead 2” skull inked on my right forearm. I've done many dark ambient pieces based on horror movies; it has shaped who I am as a person. Danny Elfman is a hero of mine, all of his score work is top notch.

How would you rate Danny Elfman's extensive list of soundtracks? Which one stood out to you the most?
My favorite of his will always be anything he did with Tim Burton or Clive Barker. I'm a die-hard fan of both. My favorite score of his would be either “Batman” or “Batman Returns”. “Big Fish”, “Alice in Wonderland”, “Hellraiser”, “Nightbreed”, “Beetlejuice”, “Scrooged” and “The Frighteners” are amazing...

Do you know how the people involved with “Son of the Saw” and this TV series you mentioned heard about your work on the internet?
One of the directors for SOTS is a good friend of mine. He liked my dark ambience a lot, so he invited me to score the movie. It kind of happened the same way with Arcadia (the series) Victoria, the writer and director came across my ambient pieces and liked them a lot so she offered me the spot.

When you composed the soundtrack for "Son of the Saw", did you write the pieces so that they would fit specific features of the film?
The pieces for SOTS I made without seeing the movie. Once I had the test footage I shaped the tracks to fit the scenes. BPT and RSR have been within the last year, Doomsayer for a lot of years but I forget just how many, I'm not part of their labels as say personally, just my bands so I'm not sure on their signing procedures, I know RSR is mostly black metal and BPT is mostly doom and sludge, Doomsayer is a mix of a lot of different genres.

Have you viewed the final version of SOTS since it was released? Do you generally feel satisfied with the addition of your soundtrack music? Would you be interested in composing for more independent films if you were offered the opportunity?
I have a copy of it and yeah I love how everything turned out, it was a cool project to be tied to, and yes, it's a dream of mine to work in the horror business.

Where do you think the horror industry is going in the mainstream and the underground? What movies have you watched lately that spoke to you in the same way as classic horror movies?
Sadly the horror industry has sucked for the last thirty years, though there have been good movies the only good part of horror in my opinion, at least for the last ten to fifteen years, is independent horror. A few I've seen in the last ten years that I was impressed with were "Mercy", "Devil", "Pulse" 1-3 and "Leatherface" (2017).

Can you tell the readers about the Cliff Burton tribute you recently completed? What inspired you to write it and how much work went into the recording?
I’ve made that a few times since 2016. It started out as a couple of different solos I stitched together with samples of Cliff in interviews. Then I began on another version and it took a couple of years to get where I wanted it. It was pieced together with some drone pieces I did and some of my dark ambient. And then this recent one I did was a revision. I completely rewrote, restructured and reworked it and I’m much happier with this version. This one wasn’t pieced together like the other two were. It was a one take deal I wrapped up in dark ambience and added some cool Cliff samples. It’s a tribute to a hero of mine, the reason I decided to pick up a bass, Cliff Burton...

What inspired you to cover Type O Negative’s “Christian Woman”? How does the original speak to you and what aspects of it, if any, do you hope to recapture or expand upon?
That song is the second song I learned when I began playing bass, “Black No. 1” being the first. Regardless, there are certain parts of the song I think would sound better with a little more distortion, and letting notes drone out in places. Plus I’ll be playing it at 35bpm so it will be a lot slower. The original is 90bpm, and I’ll be using my vocal style instead of Pete's. TON is my favorite band of all time; in order my top three are TON, Neurosis and Grief.

Getting back to promoting, how do you intend to go about letting more people know about your work? Do you have any ideas in mind for future recordings?
I'm lazy when it comes to promotion. I mostly let the labels I'm associated with do that. I post about my music a few times a week but that's about as far as self-promotion goes. RSR and BPT are phenomenal promotional machines. They both promote my music constantly so I am lucky there...

With everything said, what sort of an impact do you want to have on underground metal as a whole? What kind of an impact would you want to have on listeners of doom and sludge metal?
My brother committed suicide on 12/5/22, and a lot of my lyrical content focuses on suicide and its impact on those left behind. 988; I promote the suicide prevention number a lot in my album art and in my music itself. My lyrics also focus heavily on mental illness since I suffer from it quite a lot. I guess my hope is that anyone hears my music and gets anything positive out of it despite how on the surface it is pretty negative music. If you pay attention to the lyrics and dig a little you'll see where it's not as negative as one may think.
Also, as a bass player my goal with LHS and PFD. since they both are bass driven bands with no guitar player, is that you don't have to have a band to be heavy as fuck. I do everything in both of those bands, not because I don't enjoy working with other people. I do, but having total control of the music gives a completely different dynamic, anyone can do what I do. I am self-taught on bass, writing lyrics, vocals, programming drums, dark ambient and all of my production work...

-Dave Wolff

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