Monday, February 26, 2024

Interview with The D.O.O.D. by Dave Wolff

Interview with Brian (Monkeyboy) of The Distinguished Order of Disobedience (The D.O.O.D.) by Dave Wolff

Recently you began streaming a new single and another single. Can you tell the readers how you expect the singles to live up to the reputation the band built since they formed in 2004?
“Chaos for the Fly” is much longer than our usual material but it is also a bit heavier and there isn’t a moment in the song where it feels like a long song. “Subterfuge” which came out on Feb 14th is also a bit heavier than our last album but it just hits hard and fast. We tend to blend sub-genres in the heavy metal genre- and to be honest none of us keep up on the sub-genre thing- our fans are used to our albums having different feels to them. In the end they all sound like The D.O.O.D., but we have little desire to do the same thing twice. I think both of these songs will hold up strong against our previous material and we all feel very confident that we will make our fans happy and gain some new fans.

How does the band's name make you stand out, and what was the inspiration?
The name stands for The Distinguished Order Of Disobedience. It became The D.O.O.D. because that’s hard to spell that whole thing out when people are looking for us. The D.O.O.D. started to stick with people and many think it has something to do with “The Big Lebowski”, which it doesn’t. The Distinguished Order of Disobedience is a medal that was given in Belgium for winning a battle by disobeying a direct order- and also for refusing to help with the German war efforts.

How does the band differentiate from other bands? Did you intend to develop an exclusive and diversified sound from the outset?
We have always had a unique sound that is ours- it really is a blend of influences from the band members who all love metal- punk and rock and other genres, but all of us have different tastes and feels we like. So in the end when a song gets written, whether we all write it together or one person comes up with the original idea, everyone will add their take on it- and in the end it sounds just like us- a combination that wouldn’t happen with any other circumstances. We concentrate on writing songs the fans want to hear, but again they have to get through us as a band first and the writing isn’t over until it’s a song we would like to listen to. All of this is to say on an album there may be the feel of many different genres all blended together unlike a band who goes in trying to achieve a certain sound we achieve a certain sound just by not limiting ourselves to any one certain sound. I think from the beginning of the band the collaboration in the writing process has always been there so it lends itself to the end result which always sounds like us, and live we try and make our shows a little more animated and theatrical, because in the end we want our fans to have a great time at a show- they pay their hard earned money and we don’t ever want to disappoint.

Indicate the genres that the members of the band listen to most often, and explain how you usually combine them.
I am not limited by genre- I listen to multiple genres from death metal to pop music- but I am a metal head at heart, and I love Industrial metal as well. Ray likes some of the more traditional metal to listen to on a regular basis, but he likes nu metal, progressive metal, and death metal as well. Rudy I believe, is a punk rocker at heart but he loves thrash and all kinds of metal as well as old school classic rock stuff- he’s a bit of an encyclopedia of music. Jonzey, I think is another one of us who will listen to just about anything that sounds good and is written well regardless of genre, I would say she leans a little more towards Nu Metal but she keeps an open mind and listens to a variety of different genres. Indy seems to really love anything progressive, death metal, Viking metal, neoclassical metal etc. In the end we combine these genres by writing together, Ray has a great sensibility as to classic and heavy riffage, Jonzey can spot a musical hook a mile away, Indy comes up with these complicated riffs that when combined with what ray does really goes a long way to forming our sound. I a lot of times use little tricks I’ve heard in say a blues or a pop song or some 1960’s groove rock when coming up with lyrics, hooks and melodies to guide as an aid, plus the industrial feel also show up in the music quite often on an album, anything to make it interesting and at least have parts of the song go maybe where you didn’t expect, all without alienating our fans or audience by being over the heads of the average listener.

To date, how much material has been released by the band? How did you develop the sound you were looking for by experimenting with different feels on each release?
Including the album that first came out with a bit of a different lineup- we have put out five albums- “When Push Comes To Fight”, “Playtime In the Apocalypse”, “Beautiful Ride”, “Buttercup”, “Firefly”. Plus a reissue single of “Infected by Faith”, and a Cover of King Diamond’s “No Presents for Christmas”. That is excluding the new stuff “Chaos for the Fly” and “Subterfuge” which will be included on our sixth full length album that should be out in June which doesn’t have a name as of now. Each album usually starts with ideas for one or two songs and they always lead down a similar path for the album naturally- with “Firefly” we had a slightly more industrial feel to the songs and we had some help from producer Matt Laplant to really put out our most polished sounding effort. On that one we actually tried several different ideas for most of the songs- trying them played in different ways, and in the end it just turned out perfect. This new album is a call back to just heavy metal we grew up with mixed in with a modern sound, we are very excited to show it to the world.

Does your objective of creating the sound you desire extend to independent mixing, mastering, and production of your material? Would you prefer to produce your own music or work with professionals and explain where your music is headed?
We usually will record all of the songs that will (potentially) be on the album. Then we will go through and see if there is any other instrumentation or production work that needs to be there. At that point we will go into a larger studio knowing what we want and how to get the desired results. This current album we have had the pleasure of having the legendary Jim Morris from Morrisound Studios behind the recording desk. The advantage of that is we get to pick his brain as far as anything else we may have missed that might help bring the music to life a bit more. We have worked with producers in the past, we worked with Matt Laplant (Sevendust, Nonpoint etc) on the “Firefly” album and he had a very different approach to the way the music was created and recorded. It was a wonderful experience and all of us love the way the album came out. I prefer to self-produce wherever possible, but even then we always appreciate some outside input, because when you become close to a project it becomes your baby, and your baby can do no wrong, but a good friend will tell you that it’s not cool that your baby is screaming in the grocery store unchecked if you get my meaning. I really do prefer having at the very least someone else doing the recording that doesn’t have the same biases as we do when it comes to our own music.

How much did your experiences working with Jim Morris and Matt Laplant help the band with writing and composing from those times onward?
Working with Matt Laplant on our last album “Firefly” was a great experience for all of us, (hopefully for him as well) but I think it really taught us during the writing process to take a look at what was written and try to see alternatives that may work better or be a more impactful piece of the songs. He’s a meticulous guy, and it was really good to kind of pick things apart and put them back together again, it made the songs shine a bit more. We currently have done only two songs with Jim Morris at the board. We are not working with Matt this time around, and we have taken that focus from “Firefly” and really are scrutinizing the songs for this album. Jim is a guy who is amazing and seasoned and knows what he is doing, and while he may make a suggestion or two what we have really learned from working with him is to trust in our instincts and also what makes it easier for him to do his job to the best of his abilities. Jim is not producing this project, we are, but his years of working with others and experimenting and finding out what works or what has worked in past experiences, makes the task of coming up with the end result on our end a lot more comfortable and natural feeling.

Did you intend your latest singles to differ from past material or did it happen naturally?
I think there is always a natural progression towards having things change from what has already been done. I believe we all have the intention to just write a good song, no matter what but the inner feeling of not just following the formulaic writing styles we become comfortable with is always there. And hey if one song sounds like it belonged on say our “Buttercup” album that’s fine, but there is an unspoken natural progression to avoid becoming redundant.

In general, do you see bands taking underground metal in new directions, or are most of the bands you have heard doing the same thing?
The bands that I encounter seem to usually try to go in a different direction or find some sort of new take on an old favorite style which is always good. There are always a handful of acts I run across that are incredibly talented and write great songs but they are not taking any risks or trying anything that sounds different from what is mainstream norm- if you can call any of it mainstream really. I usually chalk that up to two things, the first is they think if it works for (insert popular metal band) then we have a better chance of being heard, and the second is very simple- it’s what they like. Both are legitimate reasons although I personally believe if you are playing music you have to love what you do if you want to have a chance at getting anyone else to like it. I think the world works very differently these days and the way people find music isn’t as organic- there are algorithms that are telling you as a listener what you might like if you like this band or that- and a lot of time the new directions aren’t as easily found but rest assured, they will be. Personally just love to see people doing what they feel is creative.

Do you think it would be better to view those algorithms you described as suggestions and still rely on whether a band speaks to you personally?
I absolutely think so. I am sure that is what they were made for initially. But there is nothing like the excitement for a music lover to “find” a new band and really fall in love with the music- or what the lyrics have to say to you, or just the overall feel. There is certain magic to it, people used to go to record stores and look at album covers and see if they spoke to them, and sometimes they would buy things unheard based on that, or based on the one song. Sometimes that would go horribly awry but when it didn’t, it was this feeling that was beyond just finding a new piece of music, and it was like meeting a new friend… I will stop waxing nostalgic. Algorithms are cool and they certainly may turn people on to similar music and that is great. I just encourage people to step outside that box sometimes and go on treasure hunts. Talk to friends and see what they are into. Or even better go out to your local venue and see a show, whether it’s a big show or a little one, you can really find some awesome things being done that suit you.

Describe the lyrics and subject matter of your singles, and how personal their meaning is.
I’d like to think we try to approach some topics in a way that will help people to rethink a narrow-minded way of thinking. In “Chaos For the Fly”, the whole idea what’s normal for the spider is chaos for the fly plays a bit with a power shift, what happens when the fly becomes the spider and the spider becomes the fly. To me it’s a fun thought that kind of reminds me of when the hero wins the day, or when the person who has been terrorized in a horror movie turns the tables and almost becomes more horrible than the villain. Lyrically if we speak of government or organized religion or current topics, it is never from the standpoint of ‘I’m right, you’re wrong’. When we were young, the best music always encouraged us to question authority and not take anything simply on face value. It’s more the thought that whatever you believe, make sure, if it’s important to you, to question it. If the questions you ask cause problems, then something may just be wrong. With “Subterfuge”, to me it was obvious that we have all sorts of problems between the governments and the media and the things that go on beyond the public eye. It’s an encouragement to remind these very powerful and important outlets that without the people, they would have no purpose. The idea of true justice is something that comes up often in lyrics I write. Not being a political creature in the usual sense, I will never endorse any political party for any reason. The thought of people taking back power is very big for me.
Other times we like to use lyrics to tell stories, some are personal narratives, and some are based on things that were seen or heard that spark a narrative for the songs. I am also personally a huge horror movie fan and more often than not there will be an element of horror, or some sort of dark twist that shows up on the albums. All of our songs are personal to each one of us in different ways, but they all have the care and time put into them that we all feel.

What is the source of your incentive to question authority? In what ways have you developed your ideas through lyrics since the beginning?
My source for questioning authority definitely started from when I was a kid first learning about music. My mother taught me about Elvis Presley and I started looking at what he did. As of now you could definitely say it’s tame but at the time he was almost an outlaw. He heard stuff he liked and he did it, not really even knowing it was against the societal norms and bucked the systems of prejudice at the time. He was the most popular thing out there and people would put him down for his performance and he was just living his best life musically most of the time doing exactly what he felt. To me that was true freedom.
Then I heard The Doors on the radio and fell in love with the idea of poetry and fire in the lyrical performance. Jim Morrison didn’t think he had any kind of voice so he just tried to express himself. All of this lead to punk rock where the whole idea was to question authority and societal norms. That to me was rock and roll, to look at the hypocrisy of the world around you and ask why. How is this helping anyone but yourselves? As I got older I understood more about how things work but I saw more and more people just going along with the program and not even wondering at all why. In my opinion, if you take everything at face value, especially those driven by people who stand to gain financially and with the promise of more power to them, you’ve given up. I hope I still have that need to question things when I’m 90.

Is it possible for music, particularly underground music, to change the world for the better?
I think underground music and all music really has the power to get into people’s heads and that’s all it takes to spark a change in thinking. In the end it can change the world for the better, although it may be only planting seeds. Sometimes they grow into something beautiful that will add to the world for years to come, sometimes it just becomes a small flower that has a moment of beauty and gets run over with a lawn mower in spite of it. I think if underground music can do anything to change the world for the better it is inspiring. It doesn’t have to be through dissent or violence, it could be with dragons and love songs or songs about heartbreak. If someone out there loves it, it raises their spirits and allows them to feel more confident in what they do and how they do it. And to gather some other perspective on things is a bonus.

Is it generally the case that more people are beginning to listen to the lyrics written by bands, getting past the stereotypes associated with underground music? Or are stereotypes still a hindrance?
I think that people have always listened to lyrics, the problem is the interpretation, for me it’s half the fun to find out the interpretation of others of something that we wrote, but the way underground and metal music has been stereotyped in the past has solely been based on the way they are interpreted. I really believe that the world is in a much different place now for the stereotypes that used to be held, nowadays, the people with the weird closed-minded interpretations are working their way into the minority as mainstream America is well on its way to accepting a lot more in their entertainment. It’s no longer people in the government or the religious aspects of the world that are scaring people with the “scary hateful lyrics” that they never read into in the first place. I think most people hear something and like it enough to really listen to the music, they make the decision to support it and listen or just move on to something else that they do like or agree with. In a way the stereotypes were almost better because they drew more attention to the underground scene. Even negative press is still press.

Do podcasts and other videos on social media help spread information that is not found on the news as much as they help unsigned bands gain exposure?
Honestly, we discuss videos of ideas floating around about the world around us these days a lot more than we discuss the news. I think a lot of thinking people don’t trust a lot of what the news is reporting to be true fair, non-biased and honest, which was the basis of journalism to begin with, but the landscape is cluttered when it comes to getting information on news or the state of the world today. Some of it is very helpful and some of it is even worse information than you would get with the news outlets or from your politicians. The trick is, and I think our younger generations are becoming more adept at, and if they aren’t, they need to, discerning between what’s real and what propaganda is written for an agenda. As far as helping entertainers (musicians, artists, what have you) it is invaluable for spreading the word. And for music listeners and appreciators, it is a great time, because they get to know the artists in a more personal way than ever, and it gets them closer to the experience.

Is what’s happening in the news industry also happening in the entertainment industry as more people start their own channels where they review movies or make their own?
Sure, when it comes down to brass tacks though it’s better in the entertainment industry than the news to have opinions floating around untethered. Entertainment is subjective and so to be able to put out what ever art or opinions of art and potentially have an audience is great and helps move the attention of others towards something new or different, as well as giving an outlet to creators who may not have had an outlet previously. With news it would be best to get facts and not opinions but that ship has sailed, now it’s a situation where we have to choose which opinions may be facts a lot of the time and it is not advantageous in my opinion to the community at large. The upside: we may get more information about things the powers that be may not want us to have. With entertainment there aren’t as many gatekeepers telling us what to put out content wise, although it takes the individual artist(s) learning more about marketing themselves and promotions to get your product seen or heard. At least people have a chance they would not have had prior to the internet uprising.

Regarding the two above questions, what is the extent of creative control independent labels and unsigned bands will have over their distribution and songwriting in the future, respectively?
In the future technically they should have total control, realistically, they still have to follow the money at the end of the day unless we can come up with a better system of distribution than exists now. The problem here is that artists and creators and independent labels aren’t seeing the fruits of their labor. Everyone works hard at what they do and still it is only a small percentage of people who get paid and right now who that is depends on the people running the streaming services. There needs to be a better solution so that wat the people with talent can distribute their art and possibly get paid enough to keep creating, and as it stands now the circle of people seeing the end result of a paycheck is getting smaller. I have no solution for that, we make music and hopefully it gets to people and they like it as much as we do. The future can certainly be bright. And songwriting has way less gatekeepers stopping creative control, but distribution, although many kudos for the fact that you can widely distribute these days, is nothing when there is no longer product to buy. Most musicians don’t do this for the money, but all musicians run into the situation where we have to eat and support our families somehow, so the fact that services distributing music are getting paid and artists making music are not should change in the future. I hope that doesn’t come across as complaining. If I never make another dollar playing music I will still make and play music, but there are some issues there.

What is The D.O.O.D.'s plan for promoting constructive change on future releases?
First and foremost, we plan on making people feel some type of way. Love it or hate it you’re gonna remember it. If you don’t then we haven’t done our job. We really just want people to have a great time and live the best lives they can. Everybody deserves that. So, we want to entertain, and make people feel something, whether it has a deeper meaning or it’s a story written in song form. If there are any seeds to be planted, our plan will always continue to encourage people to think for themselves, don’t take what others say at face value, and also don’t automatically assume that they are lying either. Do research if something moves you or concerns you. Find out everything you can and formulate your own opinion. Most of all we like to spread the feeling of family, nobody makes it through life easily alone but together, no matter the problem or the odds, we stand a chance to live happy, and live with the strength that every one of us have.

Is the message you mentioned what you most want the band to be remembered for? What impact do you most want the band to have? Is this in line with the level of musical originality you wish to achieve?
If we could be remembered for that it would be wonderful. The only impact I want is for people to enjoy themselves when they listen to our music. If they can relate to a concept, a lyric an idea, that’s wonderful. If they just like the way the drums go boom boom that’s enough of an impact, but as long as we are around we will give them something to listen to and make it as well as we can. As far as originality- we will continue to push in whatever direction that we feel, and hopefully our fans will continue to feel as pleased by it as we are.

-Dave Wolff

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