An Interview With Trevor Strnad of The Black Dahlia Murder.
Racket: On this album, you tried to lyrically reinvent BDM – I know you made the lyrics more personal, but is there anything else you changed in your song-writing this time around?
Trevor: Well, this album is basically a complete removal from the Unhallowed, as far as lyrics go. It’s kind of all over the map, and very personal, which to me has been very fulfilling and therapeutic.
Racket: Your vocals are very intense, what do you do to maintain such vocal strength?
Trevor: I drink hot water before practice and before shows. It’s actually a trick that Ben from Soilant Green tipped me off to, it definitely works better than…people always say drink tea and stuff, it works better than that, really gets your vocal chords ready for some screaming.
Racket: You stated yourself that the addition of Zach Gibson on drums has enabled you to write more complex arrangements – what is it about Zach that enhances the overall outcome of your music?
Trevor: He has great passion, he actually writes music with his drums, his music has this personality to it. He has a natural talent for metal music, he’s been playing for so many years, I’ve seen photographic evidence – I’ve seen a picture of him at age 3 with drumsticks in his hands. His family got him into metal when he was very young, and he’s always played in metal bands, and he just absolutely loves metal, and it really shows in his playing.
Racket: Your guitarist John describes the new cd as "more pissed off" than it’s predecessor – where did you draw your energy and inspiration from when it came to writing this new album?
Trevor: Basically it was the experience between records. There was a lot of turmoil, and at the same time there was triumph for us, it was a very manic time.
Racket: Whats your personal favorite song off of the album, and why?
Trevor: I love the title track, I think it’s the best song we’ve ever written. It has a lot of atmosphere and emotion to it. It’s kind of an anthem to metal fans.
Racket: You guys are playing Ozzfest this year –
Trevor: Yeah, it’s kind of intimidating because we’re a somewhat underground band touring on a commercial scale.
Racket: Tell us a little about how you got there.
Trevor: Metalblade pretty much asked us ‘what do you guys wanna do this summer, do you wanna play Sound of the Underground?’ and we said yes, and then they said ‘do you wanna play Ozzfest?’ …so obviously we had to go with Ozzfest.
Racket: What do you expect to gain from the experience?
Trevor: Well, being able to tour with some of the bands, that would be great. And also the interviews…and all of the press that this would get us.
Racket: Are there any musicians you’d love to go on tour with someday?
Trevor: Meshuggah – I worship their last two cds, I think the music is very original and that they were really making a statement on those cds, so I’d love to take some time to pick their brain for a while.
Racket: You’ve done a lot of touring in the past, are there any experiences on tour that stand out more than others?
Trevor: Definitely, they go up and down. The last tour was definitely down [laughs]…basically, they were diehard King Diamond fans, they were only there to see King Diamond. A good tour – As I Lay Dying, Scarlet, and Every Time I Die. Even on the first day I knew it was going to be great, a fun time. It was just wall to wall fans, like you could run around out there, walk on their heads [laughs], every show was great. It was a lot of fun, and it was such an experience, like…a whirlwind.
Racket: You said that this album is many steps closer to where you want to be – where do you hope to see yourself a few years from now?
Trevor: Well, this album is a lot more conceptual, and that’s the overall direction I want to go in. We’re always learning, and always building our own style, and that’s kind of where – the direction I want to go in.
Racket: You probably get asked this often, but lets talk about the bands name (The Black Dahlia Murder was a very gruesome murder of a young actress in 1947), what was it that influenced your decision to use that name?
Trevor: It’s not really about like….like we don’t want to try and glorify the murder of this girl, it’s that there’s something about the case that keeps people coming back. There’s a horror to it but it’s real, and I had seen a thing about it on tv, and I was kinda freaked out, it was just insane, and I wanted a name that would make your hair stand up. So one day at practice I said ‘I think this is it guys’ and I showed them the website (http://www.bethshort.com) and we went with it.
Racket: How do people generally react to it, considering the fact that it’s related to such a gruesome crime?
Trevor: Well there’s a little backlash sometimes but it’s nothing unusual with metal bands, I mean, we could have done it the easy way and named our band like….baby eater or something…
Trevor: [laughs] but we wanted…more meaning to it. And, the Black Dahlia Murder is still somewhat cliché for a metal band, like the images it portrays, but I really, the main reason for using it is sort of the whole….feeling about how this case happened so long ago but people are obsessed with it, they just keep coming back to it.
Racket: Whats one band or musician that you love, that people would least expect you to listen to?:
Trevor: You remember that band…in the 90’s….94 I think, they were called Nada Surf…
Racket: Um…what band?
Trevor: [spells it] They kind of went back into an indie status after they were big on MTV back in the 90’s…well anyway, they just put a cd out and it’s really really good, I love that cd. Other than that, I love the Cardigans, The Flaming Lips, oh and this one band…I think they’re from the Boston area, they’re called The Wilhelm Scream…they’re kind of a punk band, with kind of earthy tones….I love that band. Also I got the new Tegan and Sara cd, have you heard of them?
Racket: Yeah actually we interviewed them recently.
Trevor: I just got that cd and I cannot stop listening to it.
Racket: What was your major motivation to join/form a band?
Trevor: It’s pretty much still the same, to continue to make music together – because we’re, the five of us are going to make music either way, whether it’s together or alone. Also to have fun, and inspire….and inspire people to have fun, we try to be a positive force, even outside of our music. You know, we don’t want to think of our music as a product, we want it to be more personal. And it’s an outlet, for me to say what I could never say otherwise. And also, the brotherhood is necessary, between the band members. I don’t know how bands can do it when they’ve changed members, I couldn’t do it if it were impersonal, I love the guys.
Racket: What are some of your musical influences?
Trevor: Megadeth, they were my first favorite band, I loved the hell out of those motherfuckers. And Carcass, I like them a lot. I think their music is really carefully written.
By Kim Worpek