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Chris Brock Of Early Graves Talks New Album "Red Horse" And The Life Of Makh Daniels

Photo of Early Graves

Band Photo: Early Graves (?)

After experiencing the devastating loss of front man Makh Daniels in a car crash back in 2010, Early Graves is back now with John Strachan of the Funeral Pyre handling vocal duties. The band just released new album "Red Horse," and has been on the road promoting the release throughout the U.S.

During a tour stop, Early Graves guitarist Chris Brock spoke with us about bringing on a new vocalist, as well as how the loss of Makh has affected the band. Looking forward to the future, Chris comments, "It’s interesting because people only want to talk about his death, and people are so obsessed with this idea of death, nobody really thinks about the counterpart, which is life and living."

Check out the full interview below to see what Chris had to say about celebrating birthdays on the road, performing with Pig Destroyer, and dedicating a live song to Makh.

xFiruath: You just had a birthday on the road, didn’t you? Did you do anything special that night?

Chris: Me and our singer had road birthdays. Mine was the 8th of October and John’s was the 16th of September, so we’ve been birthday boys. Nothing crazy. John’s birthday was the first night of the tour with Skeletonwitch we were on. So we had some beers or whatever. The same with my birthday, because at that point we were over a month into a tour, so we went back to the hotel and had a beer and went to bed.

xFiruath: You guys just played the MetalSucks CMJ showcase the other night. How was that?

Chris: It was amazing. I really had no idea what CMJ was all about. I was concerned it was going to be like SXSW, which was a madhouse, but it was more just like a show. The turnout was amazing and it was sold out before doors. Pig Destroyer was awesome and it was a pleasure to meet them. Despite the music being as aggressive as it is, they were really nice dudes, very down to earth.

xFiruath: You now have your new vocalist from The Funeral Pyre and you’ve been out on tour with him for awhile. How is that fit going so far?

Chris: It’s great, I can’t ask for anything more. I have nothing to say except it feels great. There was no weird transition or anything like that, it’s been a very smooth ride considering how different John and Makh are as people and on stage. John has brought it, so I can’t really say anything other than it’s been amazing.

xFiruath: You’ve got your new album “Red Horse” coming out now. What went into this album and how is different from previous work?

Chris: It’s definitely different from the other two records. I would say the songs have more going on in them. Some of the preliminary reviews think we got less complicated, but the riffs are actually a lot more complicated and more technical. We definitely stepped up and wrote more interesting things for ourselves to play. I think the record is a lot catchier. Unintentionally maybe, but in general we wanted to focus on writing really, really good songs. We’re stoked about it. I think the reception so far live and in the press has been positive. Another thing is there a lot more melody actually. It’s kind of sprinkled throughout the record. We added some melodic parts we didn’t do before. I think it’s a cool element we added to the band and it makes the heavy parts sound heavier.

xFiruath: Was any of this material written when Makh was still around or was this all written after the crash?

Chris: It was all written after. When he died, the album had only come out like a month before, so we were still learning how to play those songs live with him live. We had written a little bit of stuff in-between recording that record and it being released, but we’ve never done anything with that stuff. All the stuff from “Red Horse” was actually written for the most part a couple of months before we went into the studio, so it still feels really fresh for us. For the most part everything is brand new.

xFiruath: What’s happening in the lyrics on “Red Horse?”

Chris: There’s a multitude of things going on lyrically. I suppose maybe John is the better man to ask for that. “Pure Hell” is, and I’m giving my interpretation of it, is a song dedicated to Makh live when we play it. The song comes from a back patch Makh always wore from a band Makh was into. But the song isn’t just about that, it has to do with living your life full and giving everything. Then there’s songs like “Death Obsessed,” which I have chatted with John about what that’s about. Maybe for the rest of our, I hesitate to call it a career, because in order to be a career you have to be living off it, and we most definitely are not, but I think for the rest of our musical career as a band people are going to ask us about Makh. Part of me really likes it because I like to chat about Makh and I like people to know about him. We were an unknown band before he died, so it’s nice to talk about it. It’s interesting because people only want to talk about his death, and people are so obsessed with this idea of death, nobody really thinks about the counterpart, which is life and living. That’s kind of what I feel that song is about. There’s straightforward songs like “Skinwalker,” which is just about in my guess rotten people and how rotten people can be in general. The lyrics are open to interpretation and I think somebody could get something out of all the songs.

xFiruath: What’s happening there in the Bay Area for metal these days and where does Early Graves fit in?

Chris: The four of us are from the Bay Area, and John is from Los Angeles. It’s weird, because we kind of don’t in some ways. We’re friends with a multitude of bands big and small, they’re rock bands and noise bands and deathcore bands and they’re shoegaze black metal bands and all that shit, but as far as our kind of stuff, I don’t see a lot of bands. There’s not a lot of bands in the Bay Area that we have much in common with musically. There’s a lot of cool things coming from the Bay Area. You could say the same for L.A. as well. We probably have more in common with some of the bands down there like some of the more grindy bands and some of the more kind of death ‘n roll, because we mix rock and roll with our extreme metal. We kind of skate this line, but there’s not a lot of stuff very similar to us.

xFiruath: While on the road for stretches like this what music are you listening to?

Chris: Right now we’re listening to Def Leppard. Earlier we were listening to the new Pig Destroyer record and we jammed that. But on the tour we don’t listen to a ton of metal. We go through phases. We listened to the new Propagahndi, I think Dan and Tyler and I were really excited for that. But I think most metal bands can vouch that it’s not something you want to crank all day in the van. I used to listen to Fleetwood Mac and Mozart quite a bit, but I don’t do that too much anymore.

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Ty Arthur splits his time between writing dark fiction, spreading the word about underground metal bands, and bringing you the latest gaming news. His sci-fi, grimdark fantasy, and horror novels can be found at Amazon.

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