Sometimes I hang out and drink coffee and talk to people who make death metal. Sometimes, those people are Trevor Strnad, the vocalist for the Black Dahlia Murder. They’ve got a new album coming out and it’s a banger (just go with me on this, I’m very old). Trevor was goodly enough to put up with my bullshit and talk Satanism, politics, and gin and juice.
Trevor Strnad: Are you Drunk in a Graveyard or what?!
DIAG: You fuckin’ know it.
TS: What’s going on, how are you doing? I’m hanging at home, drinking some coffee, doing some interviews and getting pumped for the new album release.
DIAG: Yeah, we are super excited for that, and before we get into that, please tell me who you are and what you do?
TS: Well, I’m Trevor Strnard, I’m the vocalist of the Black Dahlia Murder, I’m one of the original members, which is like sixteen years now I think. Too many to even get it right anymore.
DIAG: Yeah you guys have been around for forever.
TS: Yeah, me and Brian, man, it’s the two of us and we are the originals, and we’ve been going for a long time now. It’s been a long and drunken blur.
DIAG: SAME. So for those of our readers unfamilar with the Black Dahlia Murder (blasphemy!), can you please describe your music and some of your influences/inspirations?
TS: Sure, its a little bit hard to nail us into one genre, but it’s death metal, it’s melodic death metal, with elements of black metal and thrash. I think that pretty much covers all the bases there. Influences are definitely old school death metal, early 2000’s late 1990’s melodic death metal. At The Gates, Carcass, Dissection, uh Darcane. We pull influences from a lot of places, but I think that is like the core of things.
DIAG: So, your new album Nightbringers is coming out, can you give us some background on that and what we can expect?
TS: It’s coming out October 6th on Metal Blade Records, it’s our eighth album and the first to debut our new guitarist, Brandon Ellis who is a young wizard. I’d call him a prodigy of his instrument even.
DIAG: He’s from Cannabis Corpse, yeah?
TS: Yeah, Cannabis Corpse, Arsis, and he’s definitely soloed on a bunch of albums, but this will be the very first time that his own music is going to be on a record. He wrote four whole songs for the album and they’re outstanding so, it feels like he’s the secret weapon of this one. He definitely lit a fire under all of our asses when it came to creating this thing. We wanted to keep up and I think it’s a better record for bringing him in
DIAG: So do you think the addition of Brandon will change up your sound for this album?
TS: I would say it did a little bit. It’s still Black Dahlia Murder at the core and we try to keep it recognizable and kind of stay the course that we set with the first album so many years ago. But he has a lot of different influences that he’s brought and there’s a similar kind of rock kind of influence. The song towards the end of the album, “As Good As Dead” has a sort of Megadeth or Queensryche kind of feel to it which is very different than anything we have done before and there’s a lot more new wave of British heavy metal and trad metal parts kind of creeping in there too and that’s kind of his influence. So it’s very cool.
DIAG: Sick, I can’t wait. So, I’ve read a quote of yours recently and that was, “death metal is for free thinkers”, can you expand a bit on that?
TS: Uh yeah, to me, you know, metal as a whole is for free thinkers, and to me it’s equivalent with Satan. It’s the opposite of the norm, it’s the opposite of religion, it’s self reliance, I think. Satan is the easy word to frighten Christians basically, which is why we use it. But really at the core of it, it’s all about self reliance, about self preservation, and living life how you wanna live it, without the fear of some kind of imaginary punishment, you know at the end of it. You know, it’s about seizing the day.
DIAG: Sort of a “better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven” type of thing?
TS: Yeah, but I think at the end of it, you’re just dead anyways, you know? So it’s like, just tear it up while you’re here because that’s all you’ve got.
DIAG: Do you consider yourself a Satanist?
TS: Yes and no, I mean there’s a lot of different facets to it, and there’s a lot of ideals that I do align myself with, just like what I said, self preservation, just doing things on your own will, is what we are trying to get across to people. Take control.
DIAG: I totally agree. So, how do you feel death metal fits into the current political state of America?
TS: I think it’s an escape from all of that, you know, the climate is very interesting right now. Right now, obviously you know we have this terrible president and right now everyone is up in arms and there’s tons of violence and hate coming out and right now it’s like an escape. It’s always been an escape for me whether I’m creating music with the band or diving into it and listening to other band’s records you know. It’s a fantastic world, and you know it’s funny, thinking about all the gangs and violence and all the macabre stuff, but at the end of the day it’s all about, for me at least, playing a show and bringing people together, giving them something that they can use to forget about work and forget about their problems for an hour or so, hopefully.
DIAG: Oh absolutely, One of my favourite parts of a show is just watching all the crazy fuckers come together and lose their shit.
TS: That’s what it’s about man, I love people crowd surfing, singing into the microphone, people stage diving, and to me, that’s the goal of the show, to get all those things going, and you know it’s fun, it’s a lot of fun. A lot of smiles to be had at our shows, you know? Even if it’s death metal, it’s still good time music.
DIAG: So on the subject of tours and shows, you’ve got a tour coming up with dates in Canada, the US, and Mexico. What can fans expect from a Black Dahlia Murder show and do you have anything evil planned for our hometown of Vancouver?
TS: Well you can expect all those things I was talking about hopefully. A wild crowd, lots of good times, beer spilling, people moshing, crowd surfing, people singing into the microphone with me. I really like to interact with the crowd, break down that fourth wall and just try to encourage some serious mayhem. We will be playing some new stuff obviously. The tour kicks off October 6th, which is right when the album comes out, so we will be playing Nightbringers, which we have already debuted, plus some other new songs, plus some old songs, so you can expect that we will be covering all of our bases.
DIAG: So what are some bands that you are currently listening to?
TS: I really like the new Obituary. I feel like they came back in a major major way and they’re just as good as their 1990s stuff, so I’ve been playing the hell out of that. The new Dying Fetus is incredible. I’m looking forward to the new Morbid Angel, definitely. This has been a very awesome year for death metal. The new Decrepit Birth is really good, the new Suffocation is good. The new Immolation. A lot of classic bands are showing up this year.
DIAG: So, if you could go back in time and give your younger self some advice, what would it be?
TS: I guess it would be to lighten up a little bit. There were some member changes that happened in the early years that degraded (sic) into fighting and some shitty things were said, you know and relationships were severed and I have some regrets in that regard. There were some bridges I was able to mend over time you know? But now I think.. when people leave the band, you’ve gotta take it in stride. You’ve gotta realize that people’s dreams change. Touring is hard work, you know? Six years in a van. It doesn’t sound that fun, you know?
DIAG: Totally. I’m glad you’ve been able to mend some of those bridges though.
DIAG: So, with all that down, that brings us to the Drunk in a Graveyard lightning round, I’m going to give you two things and you have to pick which one you like better.
DIAG: Daffodils or daisies?
DIAG: Tea or coffee?
DIAG: Puppies or kitties?
DIAG: Clowns or mimes?
TS: I guess a clown just by a hair, because god, I hate mimes.
DIAG: Justine Bieber or Drake?
TS: I guess Drake, he seems slightly less annoying?
DIAG: Digital or analog?
TS: Umm.. I’m a digital guy. You probably would expect me to say analog, but I’m a CD man. In terms of recording, I think analog is better but it’s rare.
DIAG: Liquor or whores?
TS: I guess liquor, that’s the one I prioritize the most.
DIAG: Don’t we all? So I guess on that note, beer or whiskey?
DIAG: Tits or ass?
DIAG: Slasher movie or haunted house movie?
TS: Slasher for sure, that’s where I’m at. As a kid, my first foray into horror was Friday the 13th.
DIAG: Nu metal or metal core?
TS: Shit. I guess nu metal? I don’t know. At least it’s funny. It can be good and funny.
DIAG: So that brings us to our very very last question, so because our website is called Drunk in a Graveyard, we focus on horror movies, heavy metal, and getting fucked up drunk, we would like to ask you for your recommendation on your favourite horror film to watch and the intoxicant of choice to go with it?
TS: Alright, we have Beyond the Darkness. It’s an old Italian gore movie, it influenced one of our songs, Deathmask Divine, which is probably one of our best known songs amongst the fans. In the movie, the main character embalms his lover with his own taxidermy tools and that’s just.. I thought it was pretty hair stuff. And I would drink with that a gin and pineapple juice, which is awesome. Dangerously awesome, it covers it up pretty good, and you know, Snoop Dogg would approve.
DIAG: Sippin on some gin and juice motherfucker. And on that note that’s all I have for you!
TS: Thank you! It was fun! I realize now I never answered that thing about Halloween but I am looking forward to it, and hope to see you then.
The Black Dahlia Murder’s album Nightbringers is out October 6th on Metalblade records. You can preorder here.
Big thanks to Trevor for being kindly enough to talk to Drunk in a Graveyard. Hope to see you guys out on tour soon!