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Interview

DaiTribe Details the Making and Promotion of "Epochalypse A.D."

Photo of DaiTribe

Band Photo: DaiTribe (?)

DaiTribe offers a brand of modern metal that both scrapes and soothes. Their debut CD “Epochalypse A.D.” features singing and screaming; distorted and clean guitars and speed and groove. The band used Sterling Winfield, known for his work with Pantera, to mix their album. Although Winfield’s didn’t influence the band to sound like Pantera, the Cowboys From Hell seemed to have left a drop or two of Black Tooth Grin on “Epochalypse A.D.”

Since 1998, DaiTribe has been hard at work on the road and at home in the Chicago area gigging and gaining new fans. Even though the group released “The Second Coming” EP in 2005, “Epochalypse A.D.” is their first full-length. With the addition of singer Rich Collins, DaiTribe has entered a new “epoch” in their career. The band hopes to carve its own niche in an uncertain time in the music industry. Read on further to find out more about “Epochalypse A.D.”

Darren Cowan (Rex_84): DaiTribe released “Epochalypse A.D.” on April 17th. What kind of reaction from fans and journalists has the album received?

Tristan ‘1690’ Grigsby: The fans have been great. There isn’t a disc that sounds like this and they’ve wanted a complete disc over one with a song or two for a long time. They tell us that it’s about time someone stepped up and rang the bell for them.

Cowan: After releasing the album, you made three You-Tube videos. Each video contains Rich Collins giving a breakdown of each track. How do you feel about these videos? Would you like to use this as a promo tool for the next album?

1690: I believe in direct-to-fan interaction. That’s the world we live in now. Using vids to give them an insight into the process and your intent is beneficial on every level. It’s a way to clearly communicate that we’re in this together. It also become expected. When KISS or Judas Priest would release something, there was no way to ask them directly unless you happened to be able to meet them. That was pretty rare. Now, everybody knows about the social sites and things like YouTube so they ask all types of questions. They research you, the disc, shows, everything. The videos lay out the subject matter as a platform for discussion. I expect that we’ll certainly continue along that path for future releases.

Cowan: How has the band progressed from “The Second Coming” to “Epochalypse A.D.?”

1690: Each time you go into the studio, writing new material, there should be noticeable progression. The general clichés are true. You refine what you are as well as the process in which you do it. It’s the exact opposite of beginning your band. Early on you attempt to do some of everything to kind of earn your stripes as it were. After you’ve done it for a while, you just discard the things that don’t work for you as a group. Every time you’re cleaning house basically. Reducing and refining the sonic picture. We certainly make conscious choices to move towards a destination. You’re attempting to capture where you are at a moment in time and more clearly focus that audio picture for the listener. “Epochalypse A.D.” is the best representation of just that. It’s where we’re standing in this moment.

Cowan: The album title combines two words—epoch and apocalypse. Do you feel, as the definition of epoch relates, the album is the start of a new beginning or lengthy period of time for the band?

1690: It certainly is a new beginning. The state of the industry is diseased. This is the new frontier. Everyone’s attempting to get their space and carve out their piece of things. You have to do more than plant your flag, you have to design it, sew it and attach it to something as well. With all that effort, I certainly want to see that flag waving for a long time.

Cowan: Song writing is ultimately what makes or breaks an album. How do feel about the song writing on “Epochalypse A.D.” Did you make a conscious effort to keep your music dynamic?

1690: Proud of it without a doubt or hesitation. It’s only about the song writing. Without that, you don’t have anything. We’re dynamic people and that certainly comes across in the songs we write. It’s not so much an effort to keep things dynamic as things aren’t done to remove those dynamics. Too many bands steer away from them so they can be “heavy” when it’s the placement of dynamics that give your music true impact and effect. Something loud placed next to something quiet sounds twice as loud and impactful. That moves a crowd and I’ll take that every time.

Cowan: From deep grooves to melody to eyes-bulging screams, “Epochalypse A.D.” has much to offer the modern metal. I even hear a bit of Pantera in your sound. Were you trying to get a bit of Pantera to rub off on your production when you used Sterling Winfield who worked on “Far Beyond Driven?”

1690: No, not at all. Having Sterling mix the disc came about after it was produced and recorded. He inherited it, as is. You can’t make something into anything without the proper ingredients. I’ve certainly got the ultimate respect for Sterling’s catalog of work—his complete catalog. He was chosen because of his vision and what we thought he would add to the mix, not an attempt to make us sound like any one of his previous projects. You look for people that understand or see things along the same path as you and aren’t afraid to tell you when you’re about to misstep. He was best suited to take the recording to the next level and I believe he did a great job of doing just that.

Cowan: You made a video for “I Hate Me.” First, why did you choose this track? Second, recount making the video.

1690: We chose “I Hate Me” because of the impact and pace of the song. It being the first video for the band, we wanted a clear statement of what we’re about—high energy impactful music. The first thing you want is to get people’s attention. The best way to do that is to smack them right between their eyes hard and grab them by the throat and not let go. Let them know what your intentions are from jump.

The first thing that comes to mind is how incredibly hard that everyone worked in the heat, especially Nathanial E. Bell and cinematographer, Derek Ashbaugh. The day we shot that video was unseasonably warm. They just walked in and got to work. Not one complaint for the entire shoot. You’re always gonna have technical issues, mechanical issues, what have you, yet those guys came in with a clearly defined purpose and just knocked it the fuck out. They listened to the track and attempted to shoot what would be best for the video instead of making us do something just to be in a video. Consummate professionals and for a guy like me that hates to wait around, they made it as easy as it can be, particularly when you see the end result of it all.

Cowan: DaiTribe has only released an EP and full-length since forming in 1998. Why doesn’t the band have more to offer from the studio?

1690: The first things that we set as a priority were writing and performing. DaiTribe take the long term view on our career. We didn’t just get together over a case of beer and decide to do this. There’s too much shit out there. We wanted to take whatever time necessary to achieve what we set out to do. Having a proper vocalist mattered. Writing proper songs mattered. We focused on giving the audience a show instead of just surrounding ourselves with smoke and pyro and charging people too much money. Since all that has been dealt with, we now plan on releasing material regularly. The reason sales are down and attendance is low has as much if not more to do with the product being offered, as the stereotypical “file sharing” scapegoat. Too many bands aren’t doing enough for what they want as a return. We work at our craft and that takes time. Something as a fan of music, I would like to see more bands do.

Cowan: DaiTribe went through a number of vocalists before welcoming Rich Collins. What were some of the reasons these other singers didn’t work out? What does Rich bring that the others lacked?

1690: Talent. That’s the most direct answer to your question. Not everyone can do this. Unlike what tends to be shown on the airwaves these days, there’s just not a lot of developed talent. It’s become acceptable to start doing something and very quickly be anointed as something else immediately. It’s a lot easier to do one great song than to craft and forge a long term career. You want to work with people that will work just as much and as hard as you do. Look at any long term standing band and you’ll find that over and over again they put in the work.

Cowan: In your bio, Rich said, “we make the music we would want to hear or go see live…” Who are some of the bands you like to see live, bands that inspired DaiTribe?

1690: There are bands that you may take notice of and then there are bands that make an impression on you. I was raised in a jazz household. There was no rock, even on the horizon. So for me, that changed with KISS. Judas Priest (“Screaming For Vengeance”) and Cheap Trick (“Dream Police”) were seminole bands with discs that changed my trajectory. Gotta throw Iron Maiden (“Number of the Beast”) in next. I could certainly list Alice Cooper (“Welcome to My Nightmare”), The Rolling Stones (“Tattoo You”) and The Who (“It’s Hard”) as well. I spent plenty of time learning the art of songs from all of them. We’re back to the song and the presentation of that song.

I like seeing any band that delivers live. Anthrax, Megadeth, SLAYER, Alice In Chains, Black Label Society, Living Colour, Machine Head, Testament, King’s X, Shadows Fall, Ace Frehley, and Toto. That’s just off the top of my head. I’ve seen them all in the last year. On their worst days, every one of those bands is just BRUTAL!

Cowan: DaiTribe lives in Chicago, the third largest city in America. Did you find gaining recognition difficult in such a large? What have you done to differentiate your band from the legion of other bands?

1690: Chicago is like two worlds next to each other. There’s the city and the burbs. For most bands, it is just too much to traverse. We knew early on you have to play both. There are just people that don’t come to see you unless you’re on their side of the fence. You have to treat it like two cities and cultivate it accordingly. We respect our profession by being professional. Show up on time, fuck the crowd up, and take no prisoners. That makes you stand out quickly cause a lot of bands just stand there waiting for the crowd to be impressed with being in the same room as the band. Give them something. We bring an attitude and a presence that jumps off the stage and forces you to react. I wouldn’t say it was difficult as much as it was just a longer process. It’s just intrinsically what we are.

Cowan: You bio states that the group has toured all over the United States. Please tell our readers about some of these tours and the outcome.

1690: Well, we’ve all toured the states with different bands. Some of those tours were great well organized professional outings and some were just, not. Playing with professionals that have a great attitude is always gonna be positive. You learn a lot watching the bands you tour with. When things go astray, they make the most of it and lead by example. Everything else is just a train wreck. Sometimes you just see what not to do and sometimes you are the spark for another band on the bill. I’ve been fortunate and shared stages with great, great bands. The results vary. If you search on YouTube, I’m certain you can find any of us onstage where things just lined up and we had a great time. I like to support the family. It’s not uncommon for me to end up jamming with someone the last night of a tour. Shadows Fall was the most recent one that comes to mind.

Cowan: “Symptoms of Desire” from the “Second Coming” EP received air time on radio stations throughout the country and then the world. How did you get your music in front of disc jockeys?

1690: “The Second Coming” was a special circumstance. I had been in a discussion with a bass player I know and it turned to radio airplay. His genre is all about those charts and stats and he was blown away by how unaware and uninterested I was by that type of posturing. DaiTribe never attempted to focus on that side of things. We’re a live band. When we started it just never particularly interested us as an avenue to pursue. When we would play “Symptoms” for people that represented us at the time, they all kept saying the same thing. “This song is so strong that there’s no way it won’t get picked up by radio.” You can’t be a metal band and send radio a “single” so we packaged it as part of an EP and that’s all it took. We just announced that we were doing it specifically and directly to radio. Sent it to about 200 stations and then we started getting ads and spins fairly quickly. Next thing you know, internet sites and blogs wanted to play it as well. We marketed it specifically to those stations and nowhere else. After beating down the first door, we were in.

Cowan: Do you feel getting this song on the radio was your breakout moment?

1690: No, there’s really no such thing anymore. Everyone’s path is so different. DaiTribe approaches each thing with the attitude of something to prove. There’s no comfort level achieved or implied so you just do the things as they come up. It’s like building something by adding one brick at a time. Next thing you know, you’re looking at a pretty well constructed fortress.

Cowan: What’s next for DaiTribe? Do you have tour plans?

1690: The schedule is pretty full right now. We’ll continue to promote “Epochalypse A.D.” and we’re just starting our tour rehearsals. Maybe we’ll sneak in another video? Just in a holding pattern to get the final ok to announce the upcoming shows. We’re definitely gonna see DaiTribe on the road.

Rex_84's avatar

An avid metal head for over twenty years, Darren Cowan has written for several metal publications and attended concerts throughout various regions of the U.S.

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