I caught my first DieMonsterDie live show back on Halloween of 2009. I’d spoken with the band in their practice space a few days before the show while I was on assignment for a different writing gig I had at the time. However, this Halloween show was the first time I’d actually seen them live. Let me tell you, what I experienced was a grungy, dirty, stripped down show full of blood and monsters. Their live performance showed me that you don’t need a million dollar budget to do a shock-rock stage show right. It showed me that a band can put on a $50 per ticket performance even though I only had to pay a $6 cover at the door. Most importantly, however, it showed me that Salt Lake City is home to one of the most dynamic and musically interesting horror-rock bands I had ever known. Well here it is four years later, and I’ve seen DieMonsterDie multiple times since that cold Halloween night in 2009… and my opinion about them hasn’t changed one bit.
Since then there has been a lot going on with the band including multiple line-up changes, and a couple of album releases. The first album they released since 2009 was 2011’s Fall To Your Knees. I actually covered this album’s release in an earlier HorrorNews.net article (If you’re looking for more of a primer on DieMonsterDie, this is a good introduction). Here we are two years removed from the release of Fall To Your Knees, the band has been through their share of ups and downs, but thankfully they’ve successfully trudged through the muck that comes with being the filthiest band in Salt Lake City to bring all of us a brand new album entitled October 21, 1976.
I was lucky enough to, again, catch Zero Delorean, the illustrious front man of DieMonsterDie and talk about his band’s brand new album:
What has been going on with DieMonsterDie since we last spoke in May of 2011?
Let’s see, we successfully hit goal on a Kickstarter project that funded our new album entitled October 21st, 1976. The album is gonna be available as a very short run of vinyl LPs. You can also find it for purchase on all the usual digital outlets or listen for free on Spotify. We were run out of our rehearsal space in Windhawk’s garage due to the cops being called constantly by shitty neighbors. That set us back a few months. The band is currently down to half of the lineup due to our bad blood and infighting. It was a volatile batch of guys who burned bright and quick. We got a great album out of it at least. DieMonsterDie played a fantastic show opening for shock rock legend Lizzy Borden. He did the thing with the TV and his voice was perfect. I lost the power supply to my footboard and the promoter ditched out before the end so he didn’t pay us, but as I understand it that’s our fault for not getting it in writing. We’ve had some time off since July but on October 26th DieMonsterDie is throwing their 2013 Halloween Ball. We are reuniting the classic “Only the Dead Will Survive” lineup of Meat, Delorean, Blades & Rising for a night of shock n’ roll unseen onstage since 2008. We’re real excited for this because it’s been way too long since we played publicly. It’s gonna be a great time. Our official fan club Zealots of the Bloody Circle is up and running on the Facebook so go on over there and sign up, we’ll be eternally grateful. A friend of the band Sir Steven Godfrey, who was instrumental in the success of our Kickstarter page is now handling the page mastering of the Zealots page.
How would you describe October 21, 1976 to someone who has never heard DieMonsterDie before?
Hmm, well to start with it’s out latest album. It’s an angry record made by four guys unhappy with each other and struggling to bring the album over the finish line. There’s 13 songs you could describe as Shock Rock, ranging from short to medium length and covering various tempos. It’s a catchy album, infectious really, and listening to it only one time through is like trying to eat only one potato chip. Lyrically it spans from down-to-earth to out-of-this-world. Horrific, sometimes abstract, and at times touching. You may detect influences of Ramones, Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper, GG Allin, and maybe even a smidgen of Danzig. The music is based on early rock n’ roll’s song structure with a smattering of metal thrown in for good measure. It’s the best DieMonsterDie album of 2013.
How would you describe October 21, 1976 to someone who is a long time DieMonsterDie fan?
Consider everything I just said in reply the last question and then add that it’s the best DieMonsterDie album you haven’t heard yet. You will enjoy that October 21st, 1976 will be available on extremely limited edition vinyl LP as well as digital download format. It’s a landmark of overcoming adversity to achieve a mutually-held goal. If you’ve enjoyed DieMonsterDie in the past you may even grant this album “Instant Classic” status. Perhaps even “Timeless” and “Milestone”? But seriously, despite this album nearly being the death of us all, the album is solid and pleasing to the ear. However if your friends didn’t like DieMonsterDie before, well… they still won’t.
How did the music come together for this album? What is the band’s writing method and style? Was there a different writing style for this album or did this come together much like other albums?
Typically the writing process occurs during rehearsal with at least a majority of the band present and the first spark of a song could start from anyone. The idea could be a cool drum beat or riff imagined on the spot with the band then building on it. Occasionally someone may bring in an idea they cooked up at home but it’s much less common. We’ll work it over, adding parts and arranging and always keeping an eye on the clock so that the song doesn’t go for too long. It can be challenging to check your ego and realize that every piece of a song isn’t necessarily pure gold. Working with brevity in mind and a willingness to edit brings the cream to the top.
Lyrics nearly always start as pure gibberish while working out a vocal melody and chorus. It’s usually at this point that a song title is decided and worked into the chorus. Often times the vocals will remain fluid and unfinished right up until the band is in the recording studio although we do try to have just as much of the lyrics solid as is possible before we enter the studio. Stylistically the music is a simple base of rock n’ roll with extra sugar on top paired with lyrics that are usually horror-based but also encompass other topics or even straight-up stream-of-consciousness kind of stuff.
This time out the music came together much more slowly than it has in the past. We suffered through a Spinal Tap-esque cornucopia of hurdles such as conflicting schedules, asshole neighbors and their police enforcers, and of course, plenty of infighting. All these combined resulted in much less time spent trying to write music although we did stick to our traditional writing method.
The biggest difference between writing this album compared to past albums is that we were working with the limitations of vinyl in mind. With an LP you only get 18 minutes per side, 36 minutes total compared to 70 minutes on a CD. That calls for a much greater efficiency in songwriting. There was definitely a lot more editing of ourselves involved this time out. Once we had 13 songs written we realized we had to shave much more time than we thought, so that was challenging. We thought we’d need to cut only a couple minutes from a crop of songs we considered written, but it was more like 13 minutes and fortunately the songs are better for it. Prior to shortening the songs we had the title track clocking in around 7 minutes, and at least 2 more pushing the 5 minute mark. In the end the only long track to emerge uncut was I Will Always Hate You Frankenstein.
I suppose that with a CD a band might tend to indulge itself a bit more. Realizing that all our songs didn’t have to remain as written to be pure gold was eye-opening.
Where do you come up with the topics of the songs and can you give us the meaning or story behind some of the songs on the album?
For the most part I’m the primary lyricist and our song titles come to me as a flash of inspiration, like the devil is on my shoulder whispering sweet nothings in my ear. I’ll be going about my business when a bolt from the blue stops me in my tracks and I’m thinking “Holy f*ck that would make a great song, better write that down.” Other times a title will come to me mid-jam and abracadabra – the song now has a name and story direction.
For years I’ve kept a notebook where I’ve written down potential song titles and at times we’ll refer to it to select a title for a new number we’re working on. There’s probably around 120 that haven’t yet been used.
Here’s the stories and meanings of each of the new songs:
- Zealots of the Bloody Circle – A straight-up tribute to those wonderful folks who supported our Kickstarter project. As a way of showing our gratitude they all are mentioned by name in the words. I think the backward vocal enhances the evil by at least 60%.
- The Forbidden City of Kun-Laa – is a tale of the archetypical mystical lost Tibetan city. At the end of the world, the only prize worth seeking lies in the cursed city of Kun-Laa. In addition to being forbidden its location is overrun by robot gorillas.
- I Will Always Hate You Frankenstein – is a story told from the perspective of Dr. Frankenstein’s monster as he exacts vengeance upon his creator. It delves into the loneliness the monster would have felt after being rejected which I think is very relate-able to listeners. Virtually everyone is familiar with the bittersweet feeling of loneliness, and virtually no one enjoys it.
- By Your Command – is the twisted tale of a wizard captured by enemies and slated to be shot at dawn as a sacrifice to ancient prophecy. His final spell is uttered, slowly transforming him into a vengeful undead creature. The bullet meant to end his life comes too late. The chorus is in french because… why the hell not? See if you can decode the chorus’ cryptic meaning. Also I realize there is a bit of an anachronism with the inclusion of wizards and bullets but try not to over-think it.
- 666 Rock n’ Roll – is a tribute to the infernal goat-lord, a ritual of praise and gratitude for the bounty of diabolical rock n’ roll he has bestown upon us.
- Pearls For Daddy – is a schizophrenic number relating the many, many unrelated things that pass through my mind in a 3 minute span. Then it segues to the power of Christ and how one is compelled by it. Finally the last section relates to a sexual finishing move I developed several years ago.
- October 21st, 1976 – The title track. It tells of a fallen viking warrior, his resurrection and the Valkyrie whose heart is forever entangled with his own. In defiance of Wotan, the date reflects another starting point in the eternal cycle of their forbidden love affair.
- Devil’s Trellis – Recounting the timeless teenage struggle of boy versus the ancient and evil rose trellis that stands guard between himself and his lady love. Believe it or not there’s a tiny bit of Romeo and Juliet’s influence in there someplace.
- Don’t Panic This Is Only A Test – Cautions the citizenry that all is indeed well and that the message on their TV screens is merely a test of the emergency broadcast system. In the event of a true zombie apocalypse there would be instructions regarding what to do to stay safe. A directive to remain calm broadcast from the subterranean safety of DieMonsterDie’s Science Bunker.
- 1-800 Moon Patrol – Provides a glimpse to the future of lunar colonization through 8-bit nostalgia goggles. 1-800 Moon Patrol stands as the best line of defense against the wicked Dr. Moon.
- The Trouble With The Neighbors Is…. – a semi-autobiographical and metaphorical tale of DieMonsterDie’s legendary struggle with intolerant neighbors and law enforcement while simply trying to sing an innuendo and double-entendre laden song about f*cking.
- Graveyard Shock n’ Roll – is loosely based on the classic film Return of the Living Dead mashed up with a declaration of DieMonsterDie’s burning desire to party with YOU!
- Just One More Fucking Time – relates the saga of my state of mind at the time when it was written. I believe this song was the second to last song written for the album and it reflects the tension I was feeling. Depression and nihilism are my constant companions and the sentiments expressed are what happens when I’m unable to keep them at arm’s length. Toiling in obscurity for most of your life takes it’s toll but ultimately I always pick myself up from the dirt, strap on that guitar and do it all just one more f*cking time.
How big was the Kickstarter project in putting this album together?
Kickstarter was hugely instrumental in this project and it would have been much different without it. Most notably in that there probably wouldn’t be a finished album at this point in time. It ain’t like, without Kickstarter, there was resources we could reallocate to cover the expenses just involved in recording, vinyl be damned. This a band that lives hand to mouth in a big way. Furthermore, we held together to the absolute limit of everyone’s endurance, I doubt we had even another month left in us. Speaking for myself there was several times where the Kickstarter responsibility was the only thing keeping me from walking away in frustration. I wouldn’t be surprised if the rest of the band has a similar tale to tell. Without Kickstarter there surely would not be any vinyl, vinyl being prohibitively expensive. So expensive in fact, that even with the Kickstarter funds we’ve been forced to compromise greatly on the vinyl’s packaging. Still, it’s gonna look great all put together and in our eager hands. Honestly it would have likely been a digital-only release. CDs would have been a long shot for a product that nobody seems to want to buy anymore. Most people who I ask “When was the last time you bought a CD?” get the thousand-yard stare as they search their faded memory for a long-forgotten album purchase. This response is a big part of why we wanted to do this album on vinyl in the first place.
It seems to me that every DieMonsterDie album has somewhat of a different vibe than the last album, but it seems like October 21, 1976 has a much different vibe than your last album. Would you agree? Why or why not?
One thing’s for sure, it’s definitely the angriest album we’ve ever made, or perhaps I should say it’s the angriest we’ve ever been when making an album. In addition for this record we wrote and recorded tuned down a half step from our usual standard E. This lends a somewhat heavier tone overall.
To my ears October 21st, 1976 sounds like a natural progression from A Great and Terrible Loss, almost a part 2 if you will but with a better drum sound and a generally better mix. I would also say that this album’s mix is more organic and rock n’ roll sounding than the slick metal explosion of our previous album Fall To Your Knees.
What about live shows? Do you have any plans to play in front of an audience?
Our next live show is on October 26th at the illustrious Burt’s Tiki Lounge and it’s our (semi) annual Halloween Ball. This year we are featuring the classic DieMonsterDie lineup of Meat, Zero Delorean, Mercury Rising and Raven Blades onstage together for the first time since 2008. We’re super excited to play together again and this year we will be joined by our longtime friends in Anything That Moves (Mercury’s band) and Left Of Right (featuring Sam Hainus from the beloved Left For Dead). We also plan to play more live shows in the next year now that this album nonsense is finally out of the way.
Next year we may have something fairly big on the horizon but we’ll be keeping it under wraps for the time being. We hate to toot our own horn before our chickens are hatched.
Can you divulge the significance of the date October 21, 1976?
Now while our song by the same name is a viking love song, the true meaning behind October 21st, 1976 is less literal and is instead more metaphorical in relevance. It’s different for everyone really, you’ve
just got to look deeply within and find the October 21st, 1976 inside yourself. You know, ask yourself “What is the significance of October 21st, 1976 to ME?”
What does the future hold for you guys?
It holds more local gigs to be played than last year, we’ll continue writing new music until there’s enough there to make yet another album, new shirts and merchandise and if you can’t wait for us to make new merch, Zazzle.com has several nice DieMonsterDie design for the ridiculous price of 43 bucks plus shipping. Yeah, you read that right, it’s not a typo. If you buy one you’ll be the first but don’t all of you rush there at the same time and crash the website in your quest to claim this prestigious honor.
For the foreseeable future we are taking a much more fluid approach toward a new lineup and as always a willingness to accept high-paying gigs out of state. High-paying is the operative word here. It’s not cheap to pull us from the Science Bunker.
We will make a few videos in support of the new album and we will have new live footage from our 2013 Halloween Ball.
Tennis lessons are definitely in our future and surely we shall burn a few more bridges before we are done as we teach the world to sing in perfect harmony.
I should mention that we plan to bring back the more elaborate stage show too.The future is full of wide open possibilities glittering on the horizon like the fabled golden city of El Dorado.
We also need to shop for wall coverings for the Science Bunker….
As you can see, DieMonsterDie’s future may not be crystal clear, but their vigor has been renewed. I hope that this band continues to paint the streets of Salt Lake City red with the blood of their victims and finally succeed in their continuing mission to destroy Rock N’ Roll!
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