Philadelphia-hailing rockers Mannequin Pussy have been conjuring music that moves, both physically and mentally, since …
Brisbane’s lords of darkness Darkcell are gearing up to unleash the beast in the form of a brand new self-titled album and a release tour that’s sure to shake the earth underneath you.
Rising in the ranks of Australia’s heavy rock music scene, Darkcell’s impressive discography over the last seven years has elevated this self-proclaimed underground cult band to the lords of Brisbane’s horror rock scene.
In the lead up to the 12th of April release, Darkcell vocalist Jesse Dracman spoke with Hysteria about Darkcell the album, the journey behind it, and the legacy they hope to leave for their fellow Black Sheep.
“The journey on this album was pretty special” began Jesse. “We went through a lot of changes in making it. I remember starting out, we weren’t quite sure what we wanted but we had some ideas. And I have to tip my hat to Chris Fehn (ex-Slipknot), who heard some of the demos in the early stages of the album and gave us a little piece of advice. We took that advice and then the album blossomed exponentially. We are a self-produced band after all, so it was refreshing to hear and take on an outside perspective, especially from someone we look up to and admire.
Darkcell really continues on the theme that we’ve run through the course of all our albums, with a bit of evolution. And that’s spelt E-V-I-L-ution. What we’ve done is just grown as a band over time and we felt like we’ve reached a point where it was the right time to speak a lot of those heavier textures. Not that we neglected them in the past, we just didn’t feel like it was the right time to have those themes come out. Now we’ve got something that’s hopefully a bit more provocative to the ears.
“We put music out there to people, to ask questions of everything in life. It’s really a rebellious, anthemic album that has something in there for everyone, but it does come from a place that’s inspired by real life and real events. There’s nothing made up in there, it’s all from the heart and soul.”
We have no interest or desire to be in the same plateau as those two-minute noodle bands out there that the media seems to focus so much attention on, we’re quite happy and comfortable being the underground cult status band that we are.
[ Jesse Dracman ]
Expanding further outside their comfort zone, Darkcell also boasts an array of guest vocals from a mix of genres including Tim Sköld (Marilyn Manson/KMFDM), Lindsay Schoolcraft (Cradle Of Filth), KidCrusher (Official) & Johnathan Devoy.
“That part was really really cool for us. We didn’t make this album with the mindset of ‘we need to do all these collaborations to make it really cool’ it was just more-so what the songs needed.
KidCrusher for a start, we’d talked at length for quite a while on how cool it would be to team up and collaborate on a song, but it was just finding the right song. So when we recorded Stars & Stripes, I could hear what he could do and I felt like KidCrusher could bring something to this that will take it to the stars—and he absolutely killed it, what he did was just great. He brought that edge and energy to it and it’s really nice to create that bridge between genres as well and being that he’s a horror theme artist as well, it’s really cool for the community to see that.
Working with Devoy, that was just natural. When we wrote Godless prior to bringing him in, it was a completely different song. Then we finished recording it and I could hear Devoy’s voice in the song, so I kept saying to Matt (Postmortem Matt, Guitar & Co-Producer) ‘I really think Devoy can add something to this’, and then he just absolutely nailed it.
Tim Sköld, just saying that name in association with us is pretty wild. I still get the shakes from it a bit. We worked previously with him on our remix album and he always complemented our production skills and our song writing. He had this song kicking around called Night Rider and he sent it to us basically said ‘Darkcell the shit out of it!’ It was creative control to the extreme and he loved the end result.
Then closing out with Lindsay, that was like the last piece of the puzzle. I could hear her voice on this one track in particular, cause it’s such a deeply sentimental song. It’s a song that when I explained the story to her and where it came from, she was only too happy to be apart of it. It was really special to have someone of her talent come and not only play the synths and the pianos but sing on it as well. She comes with this approach to music that is so refreshing and she’s got such a good attitude about it to, it just made working on the song together so much easier and she just brought everything and then some to the track.
So I guess when you ask about legacy, I think giving power to the people and empowering them to feel good in their own skin is the kind of legacy I’d like to leave.
[ Jesse Dracman ]
Overall we couldn’t be happier with the range of people we got to work with on this album, it really helped us take it to the level that we wanted to take it to.”
As far as leaving their own Darkcell legacy that separates themselves from the rest, in Jesse’s opinion, it’s already happening.
“I always say we’re in this together. So many of [Darkcell’s] songs are thank you’s to people and messages to them to say you are not alone, because we do live in a time where people really feel that sense of loneliness. We give them a voice to say you’re not alone, you’re part of something special and, as we say, black sheep marching to our own beat. That’s what we are.
As a band, we do feel like the outcast in this Australian industry of trends and cultures and we’ve always accepted the fact that we’ll never be the ‘cool kids’, and we don’t want to be. We have no interest or desire to be in the same plateau as those two-minute noodle bands out there that the media seems to focus so much attention on, we’re quite happy and comfortable being the underground cult status band that we are. And it’s great that the people who come to our shows, they see that, they’re apart of it and we’re all just constantly having a party together.
In terms of leaving a legacy, the impact that [Darkcell] is having on the audience already, hearing the stories from people on a day to day basis, I feel like the legacy is already forming. I have some people tell me how one of our songs has saved them—which is pretty heavy to take on board. I can count at least 7 or 8 families with autistic children who have told me that Darkcell is such a great gateway for them and their kids, that connects them so closely. People who’ve talked to me about depression and suicide and how our music has helped them find their voice and find a new sense of freedom. So I guess when you ask about legacy, I think giving power to the people and empowering them to feel good in their own skin is the kind of legacy I’d like to leave.”
Never a band to do things half-assed, the album drop will be followed by an extravagant release tour along the East Coast. With hundreds of live shows under their belt, and their reputation for a groovin’ good time preceding them, Jesse only has two bits of advice for those lucky enough to be catching their next tour.
“Firstly, don’t leave your tickets till the last minute. We try not to sound like an informercial but we don’t want people to miss out, so when we say ‘get those pre-sale tickets’ we mean it. Secondly, make sure you stretch before the show because it’s going to be a workout!”
Darkcell Album Release Tour 2019
Sydney // Friday, 26th April // Valve Bar
Newcastle // Saturday, 27th April // The Cambridge
Warrnambool // Friday, 3rd May // The Loft
Melbourne // Saturday, 4th May // Stay Gold
Gold Coast // Friday, 10th May // Vinnies Dive
Sunshine Coast // Friday, 17th May // Solbar
Brisbane // Saturday, 18th May // Crowbar