The Day of The Beast hail from VA and are truly crushing death/thrash band and here is an interview with band member Steve:
Where were you born and where did you grow up? Did you come from a big or small family?
I guess this is the part of the interview where I'm supposed to describe a mentally and physically scarring childhood and tell stories about sleeping in a drawer while my Mom shot heroin with Santa Claus in my Snoopy camping tent. But no, it was nothing like that. I was born in College Station, Texas where my dad was an engineering professor at Texas A&M. We moved to Virginia a year later when my dad took a job at NASA as leader of the structures and materials research branch. My family was something directly ripped out of a black and white 50s sitcom complete with family dinners every night, church every Sunday, and "Hiya Slugger! How was School?” I lived in a textbook nuclear family with my mom and dad, and an older brother and sister. Childhood was frighteningly normal, so I can only really conclude that I was simply just born a weirdo.
What was some fun things you liked to do as a child?
I always preferred indoor activities during the earlier years since I wasn't particularly into sports or...having to move. I really liked TV, movies, video games, and books, especially ones that scared the ever loving bejezus out of me...which might have also accounted for my weirdness. When I got old enough to leave the confines of my neighborhood via bike, I always had a fondness for exploring, especially the woods. I also used to catch a lot of small animals and eat them. Cooked of course, but still enough to make most people tilt an eyebrow at me.
When did you discover the wonderful world of music? What were some early bands that you listened to?
My family always thought I would be musically gifted, but I think I was just more interested in making noise and pissing people off. They tried to nurture what they thought was a gift via making me do marching band in school, but I never enjoyed it. Their intentions were good, but the whole "lets take mostly socially awkward kids and have them march around in front of the whole school wearing the stupidest fucking outfits imaginable” idea should have been rethought. As far a music I listened to, I never really had any good music role models. For my parents, music began and ended with the Beegees and Anne Murray. My brother and sister both listened to a good deal of 90s alternative which I enjoyed and it definitely helped. However they both left for college when I was still fairly young, so there was only so far I could go just listening to what they listened to. My friends were mostly rednecks (being from the south, I always use that term endearingly), but face it...they aren't always known for having the best taste in music. I was definitely on my own when it came to discovering music that resonated with me in that sublime, euphoric way.
Now how did you end up discovering the metal side of the music world and what were some first bands that you got into and are you still a fan of those bands today?
As stated before, I always loved horror movies and other shit that would make me sleep with the lights on. Eventually, I started to embrace the dark side of human nature (at least in an artistic sense). I found it cathartic, exciting, and well...badass. A lot of people don't understand why I would like to surround myself with such aggressive, violent music...but I feel its the same logic as why I would rather watch the movie Aliens than the Notebook. And well...to me, Metal is just a horror movie in music form. Some of the first extreme metal bands that caught my ear when I was a teenager was Cannibal Corpse, Children of Bodom, and Exodus from a guy I went to school with. Once I got my first car with a CD player...shit was on. The mix CDs started rolling out. Every metalhead who ever lived loved to pull up to an intersection next to some soccer mom with her overachieving kids and blast "Fucked With a Knife” as loudly as humanly possible with their windows down, and I was no different. Of course I still listen to all three of the those bands today. Bodom's first three records are classics, Cannibal Corpse is always solid, and Exodus was and still is the greatest thrash band on the planet. These are my opinions of course, but this is my interview. Ha!
Now once you discovered metal was it like a drug that you need more and more of?
I was always weirder than most of the kids anyways, so at that point...fuck it. This was gonna be my life. It was more than just cutting my hair and throwing on an Abercrombie shirt was gonna fix. As a person who already had an over-the-top personality, blasting some metal was just another way to be over-the-top. Whether is pissed people off or not.
Did you do any tape trading or read any fanzines or webzines at all? Was and is there any cool records stores where you are based out of?
I used to make mix CDs for people and have people make mix CDs for me. That was my primary way of discovering bands. That and the internet. I never really began to collect physical releases until a bit later when I had money. Internet webzines aren't something I read particularly often since most metal websites are bogged down with stupid bullshit and flame wars, so I prefer to stick to physical zines. I always make sure to pick them up when I see them available at shows and festivals. I am actually lucky enough to live close to good handful of killer records stores. Fantasy in Newport News, Skinnie's in Norfolk, and American Oldies in Newport News all have a huge metal selections on both CD and Vinyl formats. Anthems of the Undesirable based out of Norfolk also has a solid collection of hardcore and grind releases.
Now at one point did the though of joining or starting a band come up? What did your parents think of it at the time? Do they support you being in a band nowadays?
I bumped into the former bass player at Skinnie's Records in Norfolk. He saw me buy a Demolition Hammer CD and told me about a thrash band out in Va Beach that needed a vocalist. I told him I'd come try out for it, half-jokingly since my only real experience with vocals was singing along to Sodom albums in my car. I guess he went to practice and told the other band members who tracked me down online and pestered me till I showed up to a practice. I felt completely out of my element at first and belched a couple shitty growls into the mic (that I was holding all wrong)...which somehow landed me the gig. I got the hang of it quickly though. My parents didn't quite know what to think at first and to be honest, I still don't think they do. But they were very proud when we released our first album which was favorably reviewed in magazines like Metal Hammer and Terrorizer. They actually went out to Barnes and Noble to purchase both magazines to show off to relatives. They've still never seen us perform, but I'm ok with that considering the references to Satan, booze, and tit-fucking that slip into my between song banter.
Now is the Day of the Beast your 1st band or were you in any bands prior to that? How many members did you go through to get to the current line-up? What is the current line-up?
As stated in the last question, this was my first band. We started as five-piece with me on vocals, Eric Barlow and KC Raider on guitars, Aaron Jacka on drums, and Justin Shaw on bass (who had recently departed from Arsis...the bass player I had met at Skinnie's only lasted a few practices). That is the lineup for our debut album from 2008. Aaron split with us on good terms, KC split with us on not good terms, and we brought in Jeremy Bradley and Mike Gardner respectively to fill in. Mike left shortly after the release of our second album when his side hobby of writing zombie novels started to take off. Steve Redmond from the death metal band Cyaegha quickly came in to continue guitar duties. Our current lineup is me on vocals, Eric Barlow and Steve R. on guitars, Justin Shaw on bass, and Jeremy Bradley on drums.
Do you think being based in Virginia helps or hurts the band or doesn't matter either way?
Obviously no, several very well known metal acts have emerged from Virginia. GWAR, Municipal Waste, and Lamb of God, all of whom are from Richmond, are the biggest names that spring to mind. However Richmond is a much more artistically diverse city when compared to Virginia Beach. It does hurt us to a fraction of a degree since there aren't more than a couple handfuls of real metal acts from this area to perform with, but at least that makes for a musical climate where we can at least stand out. Plague the Suffering, Throne of Carrion, Waiting Mortuary, and Possessor are a few of the powerhouse metal bands from the area. There is also a very sizable hardcore and grind scene in Va Beach.
Tell me about the early days of the band, how songs came together and how was band practice, etc.
KC and Eric used to meticulously write out the songs in full and it was my responsibility to write lyrics to fit them. These days, its a much larger group effort and which I think makes for better songs. Communication between a singer and a guitar player or a drummer in a musical sense is like trying to explain what "Tubgirl” is to a Nun, but eventually we get each other figured out. We're still working on it though
Now the CD I got from you not to long ago, what are your thoughts on that release now that it has been out a bit? How have the reviews and repsonse been to it?
Personally I feel like the second album was more of a group effort and much more focused in terms of what we were trying to achieve sound wise. The album has seen predominantly good-to-very good reviews...even a 10/10 floating around out there. We are very proud of our second release and feel we can only keep getting better and better.
Tell me a little bit about each release you have out and are all still for sale?
Response to both albums have been pretty similar. Both albums are available at a variety of different distros and retailers both physically and digitally. Google could probably tell you more than I can...and of course they're both available for sale at any of our live shows.
Do you plan on sending your stuff to any labels and if you signed with a label what would you want them to do exactly?
Of course it'd be nice to have label support in order to not have to worry as much about DIY touring. We'd certainly have to weigh each option as carefully as possibly in order to not get fucked over or be exploited. Plenty of underground bands have been quite successful without a major label backing them, but it'd be nice to relieve some of that work load that comes with being a predominately DIY band.
Is there a solid metal scene where you guys are based out of and is that club Jaxx's still around and did you manage to see any shows there if it is closed?
Virginia is full of quality bands if you know where to look. Richmond is full of them, but other areas contain some of VA's best kept (and hopefully not for long) secrets. Even cities which lie in the mountainous regions of the state are host to some of the best metal the state has to offer such as Hunter's Ground from Lynchburg or Rotting Obscene from Blacksburg. Some of the best shows I've seen have been at Jaxx. I've seen Exodus, Kreator, Pentagram, and countless others play there. We have never played there because Jaxx (now called Empire) has always done the pay-to-play bullshit with any bands who aren't on a major label tour. Great place to see shows, probably not the best to play if you aren't on tour.
Do you get to play live much and do you think your a good live band? What did you think of your recent show in NY playing with Artillery? Are there any live clips on say You Tube?
We typically play locally only once every couple of months just to keep things feeling somewhat fresh, but we are always up for some travel. Being asked to play the show with Artillery for their first US appearance was a huge honor especially considering we aren't NY locals. It was a long drive, but totally worth it. The bill was large with 8 bands, but they were all top-notch and deserved to be there. Also, we were treated exceptionally well by the show's promoters as well as the staff of the St. Vitus bar. Some of our live stuff is on youtube, but it doesn't compare to the real deal. No youtube video does. Only the people who have attended our shows can truly attest to how good we are live, but we always see plenty of faces, both familiar and new, every time we play...so I guess we're doing something right.
What goals, if any, does the band have? About how much time in any given week is spent doing band related stuff?
We just want people to hear our shit, enjoy our shit, and come out and watch us play our shit. We would love to be able to get to the point where we can quit our day jobs and be career musicians, as long as we're allowed to keep playing music that WE want to play...but we never expected to not have to earn it. We practice twice a week for about 2-3 hours or a so. A good chunk of that is spent drinking beer and making fun of each other. Practice is always entertaining.
When can we expect any new music?
We have already started working on couple new tunes which are near completion. With the guitar talents of Steve Redmond in the mix now, we are definitely at our strongest in terms of musicianship. One promise is that it definitely won't take 3 and half years between albums again. It shouldn't have last time, but shit happened. A lot of shit. But we've learned from these experiences and are more motivated than ever to keep pumping out the metal.
If you had to choose 5 songs to cover, what songs would they be and why?
1. Exodus "Strike of the Beast”-A great thrash anthem which only seems appropriate for a thrash band called The Day of the Beast to cover.
2. Mercyful Fate "The Uninvited Guest”-Just a terrific, punchy tune that I think we could put a fucking vicious spin on. However Mercyful Fate is one of the most respected bands in the genre and we would have to make DAMN sure we did it justice. Easier said than done, but I think we could.
3. Slayer "Angel of Death”-Maybe a cliché choice, but even on our worst night playing for the toughest crowd, we could make everyone wake the fuck up, mosh, and scream along for this baby.
4. Pentagram "Sign of the Wolf”-A thrash band covering a doom song sounds tricky, but I think we could fucking beef this song up and make it sound really sinister. Some of the best lyrics out there as well.
5. Iron Maiden "2 Minutes till Midnight”-It's one of the best songs ever written by any band of any genre and fuck it...I just wanna cover this fucking song.
What is the best concert or band that you saw live and is there any band you want to see live that you haven't yet?
Best show ever was probably the night we played with Exodus in VA Beach in a tiny, packed club. Seeing Bolt Thrower at MDF in 2009 is up there. Iron Maiden on the Somewhere Back in Time tour and Kiss on the Alive 35 tour where also incredible, life changing shows for me. I've still yet to see Black Sabbath, Motorhead, or Judas Priest, which baffles me as much as you. I also haven't seen Morbid Angel (I missed them at MDF to play the Artillery show). The last band I need to see before I die is Carpathian Forest, but unless we get booked to play a European festival with them, I can't see that being too likely. Ha!
Have you been to Virginia Beach?
I have and I loved it. We all live right outside of Va Beach. Cool place. Hot girls. Always fun to go to the ocean front and watch the Jersey Show rejects get in fist fights.
Tell me a little bit about each band member.
Eric is a tattoo artist and plays some mean guitar, Steve R. and Justin like to work out a lot to keep the ladies swooning, and Jeremy hangs out on his farm with chickens, turkeys, goats and other assorted beasts. I make, bottle, and label my own hot sauce (which is available online and at our shows). All of us pretty fucking funny, especially Eric and Jeremy. We all like to party, drink, and eat ourselves stupid. Not to mention we're all pretty goddamn handsome. Ha!
For those who have never heard of the band, what would you describe your music as?
A recent magazine article described us literally using only two words in the description. "Sonic Hell.” Works for me!
Plug any websites you have and what stuff do you have for sale?
We have the usual CDs and shirts as well as a pretty fuckin' killer line of Hot Sauce. We have six flavors ranging from 1 Pentagram (Mild) to 5 Pentagrams (Paralyze-your-fucking-tongue deadly). All of these are available at our webstore at beastshop.bigcartel.com. Also check out the label that put out both of our releases at www.canonicalhours.com as well as their sizeable distro, www.salvationdistro.com. And of course our Facebook page www.facebook.com/thedayofthebeast. I also front the doom/death/sludge band Whorebath (gotta love that name). We have
Steve any last words, the floor is yours and horns up for doing this interview.
Guess I'll keep this brief and just say I truly enjoyed doing this interview and I thank you (Chris) for allowing me the opportunity to be part of Pest Webzine. Not sure when this will be published but keep an eye out for us and we'll be on tour with Swashbuckle this July/August. Looking forward to bringing some of our Relentless Live Intrusions to your city. I also front the doom/death/sludge band Whorebath (gotta love that name) so check us out if you're into that sorta shit. Once again, thank you for your support Chris and I hope our paths will cross again. Thrash till fucking death!
Interviewed by Chris Forbes