Boston technical death/thrashers Revocation are already back with Deathless, and this one proves to be even stronger than the band’s previous self-titled effort. I spoke with Dan Gargiulo (Guitars, Vocals) about the new record, as well as it’s lyrical topics which range from life experiences to ancient history. I also asked him about his favorite Morbid Angel records, seeing as the band covered “Sworn To The Black” on the disc. Finally, I asked him about his thoughts on the metal scene in general… and they’re not quite so pretty. But I’ll agree that they’re true!
Wow. I never thought that you guys would release another album so soon! Your fourth full-length (self-titled) album just released last year. How did you guys get everything together in time to release another one so quickly?
Dave and I are writing constantly so we had a ton of raw material. Mostly riffs and rough skeletons of songs. We spent about a month in the practice space jamming out the tunes and fleshing them out.
So tell me a little bit about Deathless. What is one word that you could use to describe the record? Additionally, what are some new things that you guys wanted to offer to people that they might not have heard on previous albums?
One word I would use to describe the material is “varied”. We aimed to retain our sound, but no two songs are alike. There’s blistering tech-thrash and slower more DM songs. There are atmospheric moments on the new record that we hardly touched upon previously. Vocally, it’s our best offering yet.
Tell me about the recording process for the disc. Where did you record it and how long did it take? What was the atmosphere like in the studio? I’m sure you guys got right to, considering how speedy this release got out!
We recorded our newest record with Zeuss and it was a blast. He gets us and knows how to get the sound we’re chasing. Clear but not over-produced and plastic sounding. We went with natural drum tones with the exception of a sample for the kick drum. We have become experienced in the studio, as this is our fifth full-length; so the process went very smoothly and quickly.
I haven’t actually gotten a chance to hear the record yet, but let’s talk about the lyrics for a bit. You’ve got some really interesting topics here, like “Labyrinth Of Eyes” and “Witch Trials” which seems to me like Deathless is a record with several topics. What inspires the lyrics?
That’s correct. We covered some current events like “Labyrinth Of Eyes” which is about government spying, as well as “A Debt Owed To The Grave” which is about Dave’s personal experiences working in a hospital and “Witch Trials” which is about witch trials in Salem. There’s no overarching theme of the album lyrically, other than the fact that all the lyrics are negative, with the exception of the title track.
Dan, I also noticed that you’re also in Artificial Brain. How is playing in Artificial Brain different from playing in Revocation? A friend of mine swears that that Artificial Brain record is the best he’s heard all year. Do you think that it made a big enough impact to be able to release another one?
Artificial brain is my creative outlet. I write for Revocation on each album but it’s very much Dave’s brainchild. When I make a song for Revocation I have to be conscious about our sound and whether or not the riffs will suit our vibe. With the Brain, I can do whatever comes naturally to me. I’m flattered that the response to Labyrinth Constellation has been so positive and there will be another record. We’re about halfway done with it. It’s faster, mostly.
There’s a cover of Morbid Angel’s “Sworn To The Black” at the end of the disc as a bonus track. What would you consider your favorite Morbid Angel record and why?
It’s hard for me to decide which Morbid Angel record is my favorite. I like them all (Pre-Heretic) for different reasons. It’s not my favorite record but I think that Formulas Fatal To The Flesh doesn’t get the recognition it deserves.
Additionally, what are some of your personal favorite records of all time? What do you think was essential to the style of Revocation?
I couldn’t possibly list all my favorite records here. But as for the ones essential to Revocation, I’d say all the classics: (old) Slayer, Metallica, Megadeth, Testament, with a hint of Anata and Forced Entry… and Guns N’ Roses. I am the only person in the band who hates Guns N’ Roses.
Other than kicking ass in other great bands, what do you guys do for a hobby? What is something about you that we’d never guess?
Between tours we work. I work at an animal hospital, Brett is a corporate manager at a chain of restaurants in New Jersey and Dave gives guitar lessons. So really I don’t have much time for anything other than work and guitar, but I still find time to cram a few hours of video games. My favorite games consist of no action and lots of slow and tedious turn-based combat.
Let’s talk about touring. What are some of the best touring experiences that you’ve ever had? Additionally, what are some of the best and worst experiences about being on the road in general? Would you recommend that bands tour?
The best part about touring for me, other than the fact that we get to play our music every night to a new crowd; is just seeing the world. It’s really that simple. Some days when we’re cooped up in the van on a ten hour drive we’ll all comment on how great the scenery is. Every country we’ve visited has its merits. Making friends all over the world with people I actually care about, not just acquaintances is fulfilling. I feel that on my deathbed I’ll be able to look back and be thankful I didn’t spend my 20’s in a cubicle just to buy a nice car or something pointless. I don’t live for material possessions.
We’re living in some pretty volatile times, with ebola rampant in Africa as well as extremists murdering people over religion in the Middle East. So what do you think? Are we getting close to the end?
I dunno if I’d say we’re near “the end”, but it’s certainly not looking good. If I allowed myself to get upset about all the evil in the world I’d be crushed under its weight. Not to say I’m not bothered by it – I certainly am, I just need to be able to shrug it all off in order to laugh and enjoy my life. Some people are not as lucky as I am and face hardship every day in this world. I feel for those people and I feel their lives would be easier if our government valued human beings more than they value profit. Of course, that’s a generalization. I’m not a political scientist. I just hate the way humans treat each other.
What do you think about the metal scene today? What are some things that you like and dislike about the scene, if any? Is it as strong now as it was in the eighties?
I do think metal is still strong. I don’t know exactly how strong it was back then because I was born in 1985 and didn’t start playing guitar until 1996, but it’s certainly strong. Just look at the turnouts at euro festivals and stuff like that. People love metal all over the world. It’s not quite as big in the states for whatever reason, but that doesn’t mean metal is “dying” or anything. As for what I dislike about metal, I won’t name names, but there are a ton of hacks out there – bands that are purveyors of whatever sound is trendy and do it poorly. For every band that puts a fresh spin on their genre and gets popular there are a million copycats that have no talent and should just quit. Fortunately there is a hugely varied underground in metal. I’ll never get bored so long as there are pioneers, and there are many of them today. You just have to look below the surface. If you only listen to the radio, you’re missing out on 99% percent of the good bands.
So now that Deathless is out, and in the length of time that the Japanese bands usually put out an album (one or two a month, sometimes even more) what is next for you guys? Maybe another record next year?
It’s too soon to say, really. We’d like to ideally put out one per year but nothing is set in stone. We don’t currently have plans to hit the studio, but like I said earlier; we are constantly writing. We have tons of material and could make it happen sooner than you’d think.