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Festival Essentials According To Dead Label

Dead Label is a heavy metal band from a town in County Kildare, Republic of Ireland. Founded in 2008, the band consists of Dan O'Grady's raw and brutal vocals, combined with some insane riff-age from Danny Hall and the blast beats of drummer Claire Percival.

The band has released two albums so far, "Sense of Slaughter" (2012) and new album "Throne of Bones" (2016), both illustrating their insane passion and talent for metal music.

Dead Label will be playing at the UK's Download Festival this June, so I spent some time chatting to Dan O'Grady (DG) about the upcoming Download Festival debut, their most recent album and some other bits.

Check out our conversation here!

So, when people think about an Irish band, their minds jump to folk music, U2 and maybe a bit of Enya. There have certainly been some heavy metal bands to come out of the Emerald Isle, but not many recently. What brought you three together to make some sweet metal music?

DG - Well, Danny and Claire have been playing together in bands since they were teenagers. I got asked to join a band that they were playing in called VX. I remember being so excited to go try out for VX. I am and have always been a gigantic metal head and always wanted to play in a metal band but growing up getting into playing music I always ended up playing in indie rock bands because I could never find anyone to play metal with. The closest I got before getting a chance to try out for VX was me and a friend of mine used to jam really bad Trivium covers in his house. Long story short anyway I got into VX and it was great but unfortunately that band broke up. I remember being devastated. I was finally playing in a metal band and it was over but after like 2 weeks of sitting around doing nothing Danny Claire and myself decided to get together and have a jam, just the 3 of us and we haven't looked back since.

Tell me a bit about the album, what inspired you to write Throne of Bones, how did the recording process go?

DG - Man, Thrones was an amazing experience from start to finish. For me personally I had a goal to absolutely destroy "Sense of Slaughter" our first album. I just felt that we didn't get to show what we were truly made of on that album. We were a lot younger and very inexperienced writing that album and I really felt we could have done better. So going into the writing for "Throne of Bones" I had my own little vendetta. We did something on "Throne of Bones" that we didn't do on "Sense of Slaughter" which was demo. We demoed everything. We would write a song, go in and record it, put it away, pull it back out, listen to it to death, tear it apart, rewrite it, you name it we did it. There is not one note or cymbal hit or lyric on that album that was not thought about. Everything that is on that album is there for a reason. Recording that album was an unbelievable experience. We got to record the album in L.A. with Chris Rakestraw who is an amazing producer/engineer. He really brought the best out of us in the studio. He would get us to play things over and over until we nailed each part. It probably sounds really tedious but somehow Chris just made it so easy and so much fun. We owe a lot to Chris for making that album sound the way it does from the performances to the mixes, he really did an amazing job.

What themes have you involved in the album? Are there any you connect with personally?

DG - There isn't just one theme on Thrones. Each track tells it's own story in a way. For me the message in "Salvation in Sacrifice" really resonates. The song is about finding your salvation in something that you have to give up or "sacrifice" and for the 3 of us in this band we have to give up being away from home, away from friends and family when we go out on the road or it can even boil down to not going for a few drinks down the pub with friends because we've got practice the next morning. But this is what we were put on this earth and that is our salvation.

Who designed your album cover?

DG - An amazing artist called Ken Adams. He does a lot of work for Lamb of God. We got in touch with him and he said he would love to work with us and he came back with the finished product and we were all blown away.

So! Just about a month until you play Download Festival. Are you excited?

DG - Yes, we are beyond excited to play Download for the first time. I went to Download a few years back for the whole weekend and I remember thinking just how amazing would it be to get a slot at this festival. It's a dream come true. Another tick off the bucket list.

Are you staying the whole weekend? Is there anyone you plan on seeing whilst you’re there?

DG - We are planning on staying for the weekend. Why not, it's Download! We are playing at 12pm on the Saturday so that leaves the rest of the day and Sunday to catch as many bands as possible.

What are your plans for your next album?

DG - We are pretty deep into the writing process for the next album. We actually just finished our first round of demoing some stuff. And it's sounding pretty heavy. If I had to compare it to Thrones, even in it's early stages it's a much heavier album. I don't think people should expect any clean vocals on this one hahaha.

Now a little off topic, what would you say is the ultimate 5 item package for a great festival weekend? 5 things you would NEED for it to be hardcore?

DG - Ok I'm probably the wrong person to ask this question because I am a complete light weight haha. My idea of a hardcore night is 2 beers and bed by 11pm hahaha. But I'll give it a shot anyway. 5 items to make your festival hardcore.

1. Get the obvious out of the way, Alcohol. You have to have booze at a festival.
2. A radio. Gotta have something to blast Behemoth out of when Aerosmith are playing.
3. Water balloons. Something to torture the people with who are camping around you.
4. Fireworks, if you could get them into the campsite without security knowing that would be badass.
5. A golf cart to get you from A to B as fast as possible.

Do you think its acceptable to sacrifice washing yourself if it means more time to party at festivals?

DG - Absolutely yes 100%. You have plenty of time to wash when you get home. Just burn the clothes you bring to the festival after it's over hahaha.

What would you say is the best drinking game you know?

DG - Beer Pong. Best drinking game ever.

Is there anything else you want to add?

DG - Yeah, just to let everyone know know that we will be playing the Dogtooth stage at Download at 12pm on the Saturday and to keep an eye on our Facebook page for all upcoming gigs and news and all that stuff. Thanks for taking the time to talk to me today.

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Zora's avatar

Amy is an enthusiastic photographer who works in all areas the media, but specialises in live action, and is up for experiencing all kinds of music events.

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