Dear Chester, I only realised a few days ago that it’s nearly been a year …
What is The Deathgate? Well, we now know it’s the second EP from Melbourne Deathcore outfit Gravemind, but for a while there, we had no idea.
Was it a tour, a festival, a compilation album? It was bloody good hype campaign, that’s what it was. Now with the EP announced and a release date of Friday, 11th August locked in, it’s time for the band to live up to the hype they created. Judging by what we’ve heard of the EP so far, including lead single, Anaesthesia, it shouldn’t be much of a problem. We caught up with the group’s vocalist and creative force, Dylan, to find out more.
Hysteria: So you guys are now moments away from the release of the EP. Going back a few weeks, you were actually knee deep in this really exciting teaser campaign, essentially fooling many of people and wigging out even more. Now, that must have been a bit of fun?
Dylan: Uh, bit of fun is the most mild way of putting it. Stress-inducing and just absolutely worrying. Because this is the first time we’ve done it and we’re a relatively small band, independently trying to push this big idea, this big concept, and luckily we’ve got such a great, talented guy like Tim on board. He really helped us out, getting those emails sent to all you guys and getting questions going, that for us it was really just kind of stressful having to do everything behind the scenes. Like we basically made everything; we had all the music ready, all the music videos, but we couldn’t let it slip, anything sci-fi related, so there’s no promo pictures on anything we were doing. It was just a lot of inactivity for a while, and then hoping that when we put this website out, people are going to be interested enough to work out the secrets that we’d had hidden in there.
I don’t know if you realised or not, but we actually had hidden one of our songs in the audio. So that, it’s during that seven day countdown, when everyone’s wondering what is it, whether it’s a band, whether it’s a show, whether it’s a this or a that, there was actually the possibility of pretty much working out from the sound of our music what it was all about and who it was, sort of thing, but funnily enough, no-one found out until the last week, which was pretty cool … This week, actually.
I noticed that some people actually got to your website, somehow got into the back end to access the audio of it and then flipped the audio of it and put some filters through it to work out what you just told me. Did you ever think anyone would go to that much effort?
Well, kind of I was hoping on it. I was really hoping. I put a few clues in that audio to give instruction on how to work it out. Like there’s morse code at the end of it, and that is kind of like an elusive clue as to what to do with it. But I think a lot of audiophiles, a lot of music geeks, like myself, basically, as soon as they heard that, they’re like, “Ah, yep. That’s reversed. It’s slowed down. I know what to do here, I’m going to be the first one to do it,” and we had a few people biting. You know, Alex from Kill Your Stereo was right on it. He loves that sort of shit. The Music was on it as well, they worked it out straight away. It was really cool. It was exciting to see that people were straight on it and it wasn’t just going to go to waste.
It’s dreary. Deathcore’s a dreary place to be. But, there’s so much opportunity for creativity still in that genre.
Were you worried at all? I can’t imagine you’d be able to sleep all that well, you know? You got this whole kind of dichotomy of whether people are going to discover it immediately and blow your cover or not even bother to dig that deep. What was that like?
It was worrying, to an extent, but worst case scenario was that no-one figured it out and that no-one really cared. Like I thought there’s not a lot riding on it besides our interests, and I thought if someone doesn’t pick this stuff up, at least it’d be a kind of cool thing to talk about a bit further down the track. It would be nice to be like, “We still have some stuff, we had all these things hidden,” and just have a conversation about it. So we could get away with just talking about it, but it just … Each domino fell right where we fantasised about it happening. Like, “Oh, what if they work it out but they don’t know it’s us?” Or “What if someone starts asking all these silly questions? And what if …”
It was great. They were just ticking all these boxes. One person … Like, we were already seeing people making, I wouldn’t call them assumptions, but it was like they knew what it was. Like, “Ah, it’s obviously a split between eight different deathcore bands in Australia, don’t you know?” Like … It was just like, “Are you’re kidding?” I was like, “No.” Like it was great seeing all those things that happened like exactly as we hoped they would, but definitely very worrying, in the end, whether it was just going to be a big waste of time or not. But again, it wasn’t going to be the worse case scenario, if nothing happened.
The real meat of what you guys have going on is the EP itself. So it seems like you guys put as much effort into the EP as you did into the teaser campaign. So reading through who was involved, there was a bit of a proverbial ‘Who’s Who’ of Australian heavy music put their fingerprints on this one. Tell me a little about getting all these people involved?
Yeah, absolutely. So we were lucky enough to be looked after by Lance Prenc. He’s an amazing mixer and master, and he did our first EP. He’s done all our music; so he’s done our first EP, our single, and so going with him was a no-brainer. We’ve actually been able to grow with him as he’s gotten bigger and better clients. He’s done work for like Boris the Blade, I, Valiance now, like he just knows how to mix. He knows how to make a fat mix, essentially. So going with him again was a no-brainer, and then we knew that Scottie had a bit of a do with recording the Alpha Wolf albums. So he wrote the whole thing, and then he was learning from Jamie and from Lance some more techniques on how to record. It was kind of like our booker, Sabian, was like, “Hey, how about you hear that, Scottie? He’s looking to do some recording work.”
Damon, our writer, he went in to do some recording with Scottie and just said, “Oh, this guy’s great.” He’s just like, “A really good working environment; really professional.” Really pushed him to get a good sound going. It just kind of fell in our laps, all these different people to work with.
Then, of course, we were looking for a guest vocalist. We kind of wanted not do another deathcore vocalist on the album, so I was talking to Sabian and I said, “Hey, wouldn’t Aidan be keen to do a part?” It all just kind of fell into place pretty easily.
On this EP, there’s a big emphasis on this collective suffering that people go through. But tell me a little bit more about that. What themes did you find yourself talking about with EP Number Two.
So basically, what we are is we’re a concept band. We like stories. But those stories, they kind of hide what we’re really trying to say. They’re like the nice, brutal icing on the cake. So when we wrote the next EP; when I wrote it lyrically, I wanted to basically have a lot more for people to find, should they wish to. So that top layer, essentially, for this EP was to have a nice, cool, brutal sci-fi story; something that’s pretty easily digestible if you just wanted to listen to heavy music and yeah, have a headbang, or whatever. Then it’s just there for the people that want to listen to it.
Then when you dig deeper, I really wanted to write songs that could be more related to on a more personal level. So I guess, what I said, when said, “This EP an unburdening of mainstream ideals,” it’s really what it’s about. Essentially what happens in this EP is this spaceman, the Protagonist is what we called him … What an innovative name [laughs] He goes on this expedition on this alien planet, and slowly starts to lose his mind through isolation and basically, he’s about to die. But through that near-death experience, kind of going back to the beginning, to the core of what it is to be human, to what it is to be conscious, living entity, he changes his mind. So essentially, he goes and he changes his entire outlook on what it means to be alive. That’s what those first two songs of the EP kind of represent. They’re like that trajectory towards the beginning, towards The Deathgate, which is this thing. I guess, for a sci-fi story, it’s this thing, it can’t quite be described. It’s not really like something you can say with words or use with the English language; there’s not really a word for it.
You’re listening to it, and you’re kind of like, “Oh, yeah, this sounds like another deathcore record. It’s pretty cool.” That’s fine, if you want to do that. But if you’re listening to the lyrics of the song and you’re going through this rollercoaster firsthand; so you’re trying to imagine it from your own point of view. That’s where I’m really trying to throw all the different audios at you and all the different ideas about really unburdening yourself of what people think of what it is to be human, essentially.
I think it’s laden through that and you’ll hear it in the last three songs. They’re more reflective; they’re more about, “Why are we this way? Why are we like this? Why are we all consuming? We’re destroying the species that we’ve come to be.”
So if you’re listening to this as a fan and you think you’ve cracked it with the sci-fi story, and you’re following along to the sci-fi story and you’re digging it, you’ve only scratched the surface of this thing. You’ve got to keep on digging.
Well that was the hope for it, yeah. Again, it’s still very in typical death metal, it’s very metaphorical, a lot of it. It’s really meant for anyone that wants to take away whatever they want to take away from it. But that was kind of the ethos behind having all those secret messages hidden through all the hype campaign. It’s just trying to let our viewers and our audiences know there is stuff deeper if you want to dig for it. Because we are striving over ever tiny detail so that you can be sure that if you are thinking you are finding something out, chances are we put that there for you to find.
What kind of feedback have you had from the singles so far? Have people been resonating with that deeper message?
Yeah, they have. It’s been really, really interesting, because typically our audience, they come to expect a certain style of deathcore, and a lot of the time it’s very negative. But in this instance, the two singles we put out, they still kind of follow along that theme of … They are kind of like heavy-themed songs, but they are kind of laden with positivity. It’s funny, a few of our fans are picking up on that and they’re really enjoying it. They’re enjoying the more personable, more relatable undertones in the music, as opposed to just your typical deathcore, “I’m going to murder everyone,” kind of feel. Or, “It’s the end of the world,” or, “I’m Satan.”
It feels like it’s about time that that genre added some new life into their message, which is what I think you were just saying.
It’s dreary. Deathcore’s a dreary place to be. But, there’s so much opportunity for creativity still in that genre. I think anyone that says they want to just abandon it is because they don’t think deathcore’s cool anymore, they might be missing the point. You got some great bands that are technically still writing deathcore, but it’s some of the most interesting music I’ve heard. Bands like Blind Oracle; I, Valiance’s last EP, it all falls in that deathcore spectrum, but it’s all still really interesting. It’s not what you’ve heard before either.
Gravemind will be releasing their second EP, the Deathgate, on Friday 11th of August. You’ll be able to catch them performing it live in Brisbane on Thursday the 14th of September, in Melbourne on Thursday 21st of September, and Launceston on Saturday the 23rd of September. Click here for details and tickets.