A Conversation With Mistress Tina And Dan Rhodus Of DesDemon
New York's DesDemon, who were recenlty highlighted in our "Unearthing the Underground" column, are an exciting new addition to the female fronted metal arena, including echoes of power metal and other genres outside the traditionally Gothic style.
Vocalist Mistress Tina, who started in pop and worked her way into metal, and drummer Dan Rhodus both explained to me the themes of the band's music and their collaboration with Aspera keyboardist Nickolas Henriksen on the latest DesDemon EP "The Awakening." Read on to find out about the band's history, the story behind their name, and their upcoming activity.
xFiruath: What first got you interested in being involved in music?
Tina: I’ve always been into music and signing. I started taking lessons when I was 14. I didn’t have any family members who were into metal so I stumbled upon that through friends. Since I lived in New York City at the time I was influenced by that because there were so many things happening around me. At home I sang more pop music but then I got into harder music.
xFiruath: How did the members of DesDemon meet up?
Dan: Tina and I were in a band together previously and so was our guitar player. We were all playing in the same New York City metal scene and our two bands ended up meeting each other up in Montreal. The two bands broke up around the same time so Tina and I decided we wanted to start something new. We called our guitar player and from there we got together and started writing music. We found a couple more people, a bass player and keyboardist, and took it from there.
xFiruath: What’s the story behind the band’s name?
Tina: It’s actually from William Shakespeare’s “Othello.” It’s based on his wife, who was accused of cheating on him. Her name was Desdemona and in a couple of pages he mentioned Desdemon, which obviously was a play on words with her accusation. So we work that theme into our music.
xFiruath: Tell me a bit about the EP “The Awakening.” How would you describe its sound?
Dan: Well obviously it’s female fronted metal. It’s a little towards power metal but I think it’s a bit darker than traditional power metal or symphonic metal. It’s a dark, heavy metal record really.
xFiruath: Where was “The Awakening” recorded?
Dan: We recorded it at Prime Time studios up in Yonkers, New York. We had a couple of engineers work on the project and it was band produced.
xFiruath: You also had a guest musician on the EP from the band Aspera?
Tina: Yes, Nickolas Henriksen actually approached me a couple of years ago. We started talking a little bit and he offered his talents and he was really nice about it. He was really cool and did it really quick.
Dan: Yeah he did a really good job. After he did the record we played a festival in Belgium and we didn’t have a keyboard player at the time so he flew down from Norway and played the gig with us.
xFiruath: That trip to Belgium was DesDemon’s first European trip. How did it go?
Tina: It was a great trip. Everyone there was really supportive and was really into the whole music scene. It was a really fun experience.
Dan: It was a big crowd and everyone was into it and stuck around and supported all the bands. They had bands from all around Europe, we were the only U.S. band there, and people came just to check out new stuff. The production company treated all the bands really well and we’re looking forward to go back.
xFiruath: You mentioned earlier that you have some of the Shakespeare themes in your music, but what else do your lyrics deal with?
Tina: It’s about vengeance and violence and betrayal. Just heavy metal.
xFiruath: Well that’s what Shakespeare was frequently about, so they kind of go hand in hand.
Tina: Yeah, especially during his dark years when he was approaching that very depressing time. We’re really continuing the story of Desdemona.
xFiruath: Are there any plans for a full-length album to follow up with “The Awakening?
Tina: That will most likely be at some point next year. We’re currently writing more material.
xFiruath: What’s your local metal scene like?
Dan: It’s a pretty small scene here, but a lot of the bands are pretty tight knit and take care of each other. We play with a band called Livesay, they’re like a shred guitar type band, and we play with them all the time. We also play with a really good tribute band called Them, which is a King Diamond tribute. They put on an amazing show.
xFiruath: What’s going on as far as live shows with DesDemon?
Tina: Our biggest show coming up is at the Gramercy Theatre in New York City with Primal Fear.
Dan: We have a bunch of local shows, tri-state area shows, with bands from around here. We’re working on going out of state a lot this coming summer. There should be a lot of news about that in the coming weeks. We’re also working on a trip back to Europe, but nothing’s confirmed on that yet.
xFiruath: I haven’t had the opportunity to interview very many female fronted bands so I’ve got to ask about how that dynamic works. When you’ve got one girl and lots of guys out on tour is it weird when you head out on the road and they’ve got girlfriends or whatever at home wondering what’s going on?
Tina: I don’t think so, no. Most of the women that I’ve encountered are really cool with it and supportive.
Dan: As far as everyone in the band, we’re all very close and the band member’s wives and girlfriends are all friends. We all know each other really well so there’s never any issues like that.
xFiruath: Outside of DesDemon what are you listening to lately?
Dan: A lot of Primal Fear actually.
Tina: Primar Fear, Queesryche, Blind Guardian.
Dan: Blind Guardian and Iced Earth. I’m a big Dream Theater fan so I listen to that a lot. Symphony X too. It’s a couple of years old now but their latest album has been in my CD player for ages.
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