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16/07/2008 – Interview with DAVIDIAN

The German Thrashcore band DAVIDIAN released their newest album, "Hear Their Cries" (review), about three months ago. It's a brutal release from start to finish, also thanks to producer Andy Classen, who's famous for giving Thrash and Death bands he worked with a fat, but ferocious sound. "Hear Their Cries" was my first acquaintance with this band, who also welcomed Dave Hopkins on vocals.

As a result of this release, I was curious to know more about the band, their ideas, music and some other, small things. The answers were provided by the newest member in the band, vocalist Dave Hopkins. Enjoy and if you haven't done so yet, check out DAVIDIAN and their new album.

Davidian logo

First of all, congratulation with your newest album. As you have read, it was much to my liking, this mix of Thrash and Hardcore. As long as you don't go Metalcore or Emo, everything's alright, hahaha. ;-) Anyhow, "Hear Their Cries" has been out since a few months now. Are you still as satisfied about the end result as when the recordings (incl. mix and mastering) were done?

Hi Tim! Thanks very much for your compliments. Yeah, we are happy right now. It was our first project together as a band with the line-up with me in it, and so it is something special for us as a team. We all worked hard and we are very pround, and most of all, we are really grateful to the great work of Andy Classen on the album. It's not just about the sound on the album - working with him is a privilege. He knows how to balance pushing you to your potential while at the same time allowing you to follow your own thing as you create. I personally went right back to him with my other project due to that experience.

Davidian bandHow have the responses been so far? (Be it press, family, friends, colleagues, ...) And do you take certain comments with you when writing new material?

The responses have been very positive, both in the press and among our friends and fans, which is what's most important to us. There have been some critical points dealing primarily with my vocal style being so different than past DAVIDIAN albums. Honestly, at first it bothered me a bit, but then it actually fueled me and the band to continue following our own path, bringing together these two styles without following the Metalcore wave or the New Wave Of Old School Thrash. EXODUS, TESTAMENT, ONSLAUGHT - those masters do that stuff better than anyone ever will, so there is no point in trying to copy them, so we do our own thing.

The man behind the buttons was Andy Classen, famed for his work with HOLY MOSES, TANKARD, SPELLBOUND, LEGION OF THE DAMNED, KRISIUN and many other extreme Metal bands. How did you get in touch with him and who else did you have in mind?

We wanted to work with him because we like listening to bands he produced and the sound he always did is awesome and got its own character. Best example is DEW SCENTED's "Impact" album. So we contacted him, send him a copy of our old album "Abuse Of Power", and he wanted to work with us. We will get back to his studio for our next album as well, I think.

What was it like working with him?

Like I said above, it's much more than just going in and recording. The guy is a magician - and I mean that literally. You go in with your ideas and he absorbs them and then mirrors back what you want with increased precision and grace. I myself work as a writing professor and as a psychotherapist, and in my mind he works the same way. He doesn't try to make you create or be anything other than you are, but he magically pushes you to be better at what you do and who you are.

The songs on "Hear Their Cries" and apparently on "Abuse Of Power" too are very much religion-inspired (also the Exodus), plus the cover is also an indication of this.
a) What's your view on religion and believing?

Ya, honestly, we've had some interesting discussions about this as a band. When I first came in, the guys were pretty scared once they started seeing some of my titles ("Count Your Beads", "Forty Days"), and they thought I was writing a Christian album. Hahahahahah, that shit was fun, watching them squirm. But it's not like that. I would characterize the themes as being more about mythology than religion. Religion is the formalized political functionary of the mythology. Often it weakens the power of the mythology, and the function of art has always been to rediscover and recommunicate that power. So, for me personally, that's what I try to do for myself through writing. If other people connect to that, it's great. If not, then it's ok too - Metal is above all that anyway ;)

Hear Their Cries coverb) What's the symbolism/story behind the cover with the man's hands stitched together?

Well, like I said before, religion sometimes keeps you from actually experiencing the power that was intended with the particular mythology in the first place - stories used to be told around fires, painted on caves, etc. At some point, priests started taking over and controlling the message. You gotta break out of that, even if you do participate in the ritual. There's nothing wrong with church or prayer or meditating or any other ritual - the problem is if you are listening to someone else while you are doing it instead of the voice inside you.

Did you consult books and websites for the lyrics?

I myself studied mythology and psychology, and I've written a great deal on it, and so I used a lot of those references, particularly from alchemy, "The Judas Gospels", "The Gospel According to Thomas", "St John of the Cross", Thomas Moore, Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell and others.

The logo is also more normal compared to what is looked like on "Abuse Of Power". Is this an element that will change with every album or do you plan to hold on to a certain design?

This symbolizes the change in the band - a new start while maintaining the aggression and no comprimises attitude of producing whatever we are feeling.

For this album you signed with Limited Access Records, which isn't exactly a big one. Why them?

They are great to work with, much like I explained about Andy above. They work their asses off WITH you. It is trully a team. They communicate often and directly with us and they let artists do what they need to do. It's great to have the support while at the same time feeling free to be creative.

About the bandname, DAVIDIAN. I instantly think of MACHINE HEAD then (I probably am not the first to mention this). Or is it taken from a religious context? Where did you get this name from and why exactly this one?

No, people should not attach to much importance to our bands name. We choosed this name cause it sounds awesome! In fact we like MACHINE HEAD, thats all. Why MACHINE HEAD titled their band some years ago the same as DEEP PURPLE's famous and well- knowned album?! ;-)

The band was formed in 1997, so in a way "Hear Their Cries" is an anniversary album, unless you'll do something next year, since then it will be ten years since the real line-up and creating own material, right?

Yes you're right, i think "Hear Their Cries" will be also prevailing next year and then its an anniversary album for us, haha. One fucking decade of uncompromising modern thrash metal made in Germany! Stay tuned, the story continues, haha!

The first few years you played covers. From which bands? And what made you decide to drop this kind of playing and write own songs?

You know, most musicians starting playing some covers to get in touch with the music, to get in touch with the whole materie, to jam with other people. We played covers of MEGADETH, METALLICA, SEPULTURA and TANKARD, for example. But soon we decided to write the first own songs, we never used to be a coverband. To be a pure coverband it isnt that true musicianship for us. And to make money with others peoples work would be nice but also awkward. We always wanted to be creative!

Are you all trained musicians or was there also lots of self-teaching involved?

I as a singer go to lesssons with a great singing coach. I'm the only Metal singer under him. The rest are opera singers! So, it's always humbling to go there. Those people can really sing. The embarrassing days are when someone is following after me. ;-) But, it really helps in giving me power and range to have that kind of coach. My bandmates are all trained in some way, everybody took lessons in the past years several times.

You are the new guy on vocals, coming from the States. The previous singer, Chris Prendergast, also came from abroad. How did you get involved and is it easier to look for a foreign singer than someone from Germany?

I was already here working in my other project PARSIFALL ( I read about the guys needing a singer and I knew their reputation and checked it out. We clicked right away, both personally and musically. As far as i know it was by pure coincidence that myself and their last shouter, Chris, are foreign singers. It wasn't a criterium for them when they did the auditions. But it has some advantages in terms of writing lyrics or talking to the people sometimes.

Davidian band picture 2008How are songs created? Do you come together and exchange ideas while being together or does each work on stuff and then contacts the others for further development?

Yes, we compose mostly by the traditional way of songwriting. We come together and jam new riffs / licks / parts to figure out new songs. But it's also important for us to send songparts or ideas per mail. So everybody can work at home too. It helps a lot.

Two demos in quick succession, then a few years for a first album and another 5 years for "Hear Their Cries". Do other things demand more of your time or aren't you the kind of band that wants to release an album every 2 years, for example?

You know, it's not that important to put out an album every two years containing the same songs in others arrangements. We wanna put out QUALITY and if it takes more than two years, it's okay. But 'till "Hear Their Cries" we haven't had a record deal. Now it's something other. If a label wants you to put out a record every two years, you gotta do that, because they must earn money, you know. It's a difficult circle. Hard business. We will see.

How have the gigs been so far? And did they have an impact on the writing process?

The gigs with me have been great - what Metal's all about, in my opinion. We have fun, but we take what we are doing very seriously - and that is to connect with the crowd and explode with everything we have. No, the live playing doesn't affect the songwriting as usual 'till yet.

Speaking of gigs, any tour plans or will you stay in Germany?

We have played several gigs outside of Germany and have several scheduled right now. We also are working on a booking relationship to ensure our getting out there wherever people want to hear us. So, playing a good tour is possible in the near future.

Comparing your musical work so far, is there a significant difference in style/compositions between the demos and the albums you've made so far?

Of course, there are very big differences between every recording we put out. Mainly in terms like straighter, more compact, more direct songwriting, better technique and better skills, even some more melodies, intelligent lyrics and of course much better sound and artwork as well. And this developement will continue.

You seem to have your own festival: ZABBADUSCHDER Open Air. Is this like any other festival or do you give it a special touch?

Dude, seems like you have to come over to our festival, haha! Of course it's NOT as any other Metal festival, it's much more different! Our festival has its own supreme familial atmosphere and the prices are unbeatable for the equivalence, the party and the bands, you will get! We do that AS fans FOR fans!

Last question: When you're not busy for the band, how do you kill time? (jobs, studies, hobbies, ...)

I personally work in the jobs I mentioned above and so a lot with my other band PARSIFALL. I also like to write a lot and travel. The other guys working in their jobs as well. Alex on drums works as a tradesman in a big musicstore, Micha is a graduated engineer for mechanical engeneering, Tim is a machine operator in a big papermill and Alex, the other guitarist, is working as an engine fitter. So, 'till yet, we gotta earn our fucking money in such simple way, haha.

That's it for me, for now. Many thanks for doing this interview and all the best with DAVIDIAN. Any final words you wish to add?

Thanks a lot for your time man! It means a lot to us!


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