Cleansing Emotions

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Sadness prevails in my musical taste. I marvel in the beauty of despair. Even as a musician, I find my compositions to be filled with gloom. Nevertheless, I have always found it difficult to explain to people why I hold this type of art close to my heart. That is until I met with North Carolina’s kings of gloom, Daylight Dies. On April fool’s day 2006, I ventured down to R.F.Ds of Washington D.C. for Daylight Dies CD release party of Dismantling Devotion. Hanging with the band is always a good thing, especially if you want to get drunk, and lead vocalist Nathan Ellis took care of me on that end by supplying me with beers from Belgium and Germany that I couldn’t pronounce. Weinstephaner was definitely the favorite of the night. Talking throughout the evening with the band and their many fans I heard tale of Daylight Dies own brand of beer. That is something I would love to try one day. Proceeding to get drunker and discussing our metal tastes, the party went on until the early hours of the morning. Somewhere in the mist of all of this I got a chance to sit down with drummer Jesse Haff and discuss the happenings with Daylight Dies thus far.

Daylight Dies made a solid impression on the metal world in 2002 with No Reply. How has the response been so far for Dismantling Devotion in 2006? Have your expectations for this release been exceeded?

The response has been overwhelmingly positive to Dismantling Devotion. It seems that some people have made a real connection with these songs and it’s rewarding to see that. We’re also personally satisfied with the end result. I feel this is an important album for us. We have been out of the public eye for several years, we changed labels and have been working on this material for quite some time. We wanted to put a solid foot forward and we feel we’ve done that.

It seems that the press is being very kind to the album thus far. Has Daylight Dies found themselves getting more press?

I do notice a bit more press and overall attention this time around. Hopefully that will further open the doors for those who’ve never heard our music.

Explain the album title Dismantling Devotion. How did the band come up with the title and what is its significance?

It refers to the disintegration of relationships. The decay of close bonds we hold with special individuals in our lives. You can apply this to intimate relationships, such as your partner’or non-intimate, such as friends and family. When a bond or relationship ends, there is almost always a dramatic emotional aftermath. The subject is unique in the aspect that it’s universal to all people, yet intensely private.

How does the lyrical content and atmosphere of the album reflect your lives?

You’d probably have a hard time talking about these subjects even with close friends, yet it’s cathartic to get it out in a song. I don’t know if Nathan intended to necessarily follow this thread when he began writing the lyrics for the album’but in the end, this common theme emerged. We felt the title described the content aptly. For Daylight Dies, the lyrics- just like the music, are a personal reflection of the darker moments we all face. This has always been and always will be the focus of Daylight Dies. The music and lyrics will always have direct relevance to what’s on our minds or going on in our lives.

Depression is an emotion a lot of metal fans journey further into with their music. Why the depression and dark emotion in your music? What is the reason for such hidden thoughts?

Music is a tremendous vehicle for the cleansing of emotions. Everyone has troubling times in their lives and deals with it differently. Some exercise or play sports and some talk with friends’we write songs. Writing these songs can be a healthy process to channel the entire spectrum of negative thoughts out of our selves and into the ether. On top of all this we all have obviously loved dark music. For whatever reason, it is more inspiring and has a level of importance that happier music seems void of. The music which we strive to create– and we also love– is not just ‘entertainment’, it’s an important artistic and personal expression. The ability to relate and connect to music is key.

As we said before, it has been several years since the public has heard from Daylight Dies. What was going on during that time for the band?

Our previous vocalist (Guthrie Iddlings) decided to leave the band in 2003 while we were touring for the last album., No Reply. We had to turn down a couple of high profile tours while we searched for his replacement and decided shortly after to begin writing the new album. A year later we had found the perfect new vocalist in Nathan and we were ready to record. We approached Relapse for funds and even agreed on the amount. The actual delivery of the funds seemed to be delayed. It became obvious pretty quickly that our lengthy inactivity resulted in a priority drop at the label. Relapse had several bands exploding at the time and paying their bills, so they weren’t in a hurry to get us back in the studio. Conversely, because of a full year passing since we were active’we wanted to begin recording as soon as possible. Eventually we mutually decided it was best to move on, and there are no hard feelings.Then we began the search for our new label and received several offers. We negotiated at length with a couple, which ate up another huge amount of time. After negotiating ages with one label in particular, we heard rumors of serious financial problems. So thankfully we avoided a potential career killing decision. Then we heard Candlelight was interested, and it was clear after talking to them just a few times they were the right people. So all this chaos wasted a few years, but some things are unavoidable. We’re all happy where we ended up.

Explain the recording process for Dismantling Devotion. How long did you spend writing material? What was a typical day in the studio like in the studio?

We spent from late 2003 until early/mid 2005 writing the album. The drums and acoustic guitars were recorded in Volume 11 studio’s which is about a 5 second walk from our rehearsal room. Everything else was recorded in various locations’the rehearsal room, bedrooms and bathrooms and on. As layered and textured as our music is we simply could not afford to spend the entire process in a studio. Thankfully Egan O’Rourke (bassist) is a great engineer and is able to find alternative solutions that still result in a studio sound.

I’m not sure we had a ‘typical’ day in the studio, since various parts of the process were so different. Maybe the more revealing parts of the process were Barre or Egan being alone in the rehearsal room with his guitar or bass and the computer. Hitting a key to begin recording, and then quickly switching to the instrument to play. Not the best environment, but you have to ‘do what you need to do’ I guess. Another interesting turn of events was when our old bassist, from pre-Idle times to be in town for a couple of days. He had been living in New Orleans for years playing jazz, but had evacuated a day or two before Hurricane Katrina hit. We knew we wanted some cello on various tracks. So when we heard he was in town, we gave him a ring. We rented this piece-of-shit cello for him to play a couple of parts, and’perhaps not surprisingly’it sounded like shit. He suggested to use his antique up-right bass instead. So we mic’d him up in Egans bedroom with his beautiful and enormous up-right bass and it sounded incredible. A really special moment and an amazing turn of events that lead to. I definitely won’t forget that.

Similarities to early Katatonia, Opeth, and other European and Scandinavian acts have been made about your music. How do you respond to these comparisons?

Barre and I grew up in the early 90s listening to the entire European metal scene. We were listening to bands like Katatonia, Opeth, Paradise Lost, Sentenced, Anathema, In Flames, Amorphis, and many more when they were first emerging. We were lucky enough to be exposed to this whole scene prior to most in the U.S. metal scene knowing it even existed. We still enjoy many of these bands to this day. So it makes sense people would make those comparisons, as we grew up with that music an they served as an early influence. But our influences also widened many years ago to include much outside the metal genre. That differs for each of us, but we’re often listening to the cure, Fields of Nephilim, Depeche Mode, Dredg, Jose Gonzalez, Tenhi, and so on. We’ve tried to incorporate a lot of non-metal influences as well, and I think that’s pretty evident on Dismantling Devotion and will continue to be in future releases.

What day jobs do you guys have if any? Do you guys practice much?

I’m a web producer for a film company based in Los Angeles called Brave New Films. Barre teaches guitar and works at a music store. Egan tech’s sound for all kinds of plays and artists that come to town. Nathan works for an online advertising company. As for Charley, I’m not sure exactly what Charley is doing lately. We rehearse three times a week’it’s something we enjoy doing and is a god opportunity to keep the songs sharp for shows.

What does the future hold for Daylight Dies? Any big tours or events about to happen for the band? Are you guys anxious to hit the road whether it’s in the states or overseas?

One big tour in particular is being arranged as we speak. Unfortunately I can’t give any details yet, as it’s not totally confirmed. We have our fingers crossed that it will happen. With any luck it will be announced in the coming weeks, but I’ve learned to not count on anything until it’s finalized in the music business. We’re also an opening act for the Emperor reunion shows in New York City. We’re looking forward to that, as it is obviously two very special nights. We all want to tour for this album in Europe, but north America has to come first, so we’ll take one step at a time.

[Daylight Dies]

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