On the street that Birthdays lays in London – the venue that will stage live performances by Dragged Into Sunlight and Bossk in a few hours – it is really fucking windy. So windy that at moments, frustratingly, vocalist T is completely blanked out by distortion from the wind hurling itself through my dictaphone – no voice can be heard, just a horrible and frustrating crackle. However, thankfully, they are only brief moments and you can read what we discussed about collaborations, famous criminals and maintaining secrecy in the age of the internet…
Rich: First of all, how are you?
T: Fine, tired. Very tired.
Rich: What is the meaning behind the band name? Personally, there’s a double connotation and I can’t decide which…
T: Yeah, the meaning behind the band name, I guess it just came about, there’s no massive… People have made a lot of it, thought about it quite a lot and got their own interpretations of it. People have emailed me these big stories saying “I read this psychology textbook and it had that sentence in it” and told me the whole tale about it, and I’m like, for us, it really did just come about. But it’s kind of ironic that people now interpret it because that’s what we expect them to do with the music, so they interpret the name as what they want it to be. I believe there’s some textbooks early on that refer to being ‘dragged into sunlight’ and addressing issues of self-complex kind of things, a self-theoretical underline to it… but I can’t say that’s why we chose the name, it just came about…
Rich: Just coincidence then.
T: Yeah, it just came into one of our heads. It’s as simple as that.
Rich: What was the basis that Dragged Into Sunlight was built on, how did it happen?
T: We were all down-and-out really. We’d done bands for about 12 years – up to 15 years for some of us. We were all in those bands, the people who took most of the weight of the band on a day-to-day basis, and you’re doing that for fifteen years and you’re touring and playing to empty venues and moving gear around all the time… I think, to be honest, we were really burnt out, that the bands weren’t doing much after that much work. It’s a very difficult scene, the DIY scene, it’s very difficult. You need to be prepared for hard graft but it’s the case that you end up doing that for fifteen years and you end up very burnt out and cynical. I think with Dragged Into Sunlight it was all those different members from different bands and different projects, who were somehow linked through various people and we ended up coming together and basically decided to do something different, completely different, just based on what we wanted to do and what we wanted to see out of metal… what we would do if we could just do our ideal bands, and we came together and that was Dragged Into Sunlight. I mean, it provided the reward, y’know, because we weren’t trying anymore and we weren’t bothered about touring, we weren’t bothered about recording; we were there just to jam music. I think that really reflected in the music but that’s how it came about: it was just a very natural energy between us.
Rich: Yeah, it sounds like it has a lot of elements to it, all moulded together.
T: Yeah, everything comes together and it’s the right connection between every personality involved, which brings about Dragged Into Sunlight as a bigger picture – without one piece, it’s just not full, it just doesn’t work. So, it is what it is nowadays and we keep doing what we do; which is making music for ourselves.
Rich: That’s fair. So who or what would you say is your biggest influence? And this can be in or outside of music.
T: I think for me it’s other human beings that are my biggest influence. I have no sort of ideological person that I look up to massively. There’s musicians I respect, there’s actors I respect, there’s theorists that I respect… a lot of minds in a lot of different professional fields that I respect; but I think the people I learn most off are the people around me. I guess I’m a bit of a people-watcher… and those are the people I look up to, in a way, I guess those people are my influences because I learn to be a better person or I learn to be a worse person, and you take a lot from other people and your surroundings and it develops you as a person. So yeah, in terms of influences it’s what’s around me, everything around me all the time.
Rich: Just the environment then.
T: Yeah, yeah, everything.
Rich: Well, you’re known as an incredibly anonymous collection, but I saw footage recently where you guys turn around, and I was wondering if the secrecy is something you’re departing from, or…
T: No, no, it’s not at all, it’s just something we’ve always done in the set; it’s the sort of end-of-set thing to say ‘this is goodnight’, in a way. But I think for us, the secrecy just comes from never wanting personal-professional lives to mix, we like to keep them both separate because we are at that age group, between the people involved – there’s so many people involved – but between us all, edging towards where it’s fucking tiring doing shows, y’know, it fucking breaks you; especially when you’ve burnt yourself out doing it in DIY bands for fifteen years beforehand, you’re pretty broken as it is. So yeah… sorry, what was the question again dude.
Rich: It was if the secrecy was something you’re departing from.
T: No, no, it’s not, the answer is it’s not. The secrecy is there. We’re not religious; we’re not something like Ghost. The secrecy allows us to keep on doing what we wanna do; which is making music that we love. Without it… nowadays, you’ve got a world where nothing is a secret: you’ve got Facebook which tells you everything, the internet tells you everything about anyone. I think there’s something special about not knowing everything about a band and for us it’s separating the two personalities.
Rich: Yeah, well you’ve done a pretty good job, it’s near impossible to find anything.
T: Yeah, the people who do sort of mingle with us or in our collective or in our circle, they all know us and we respect each other. I think they also know that it’s the case of this is what we do and no-one knows. Not even our merch guy; because he wants to get away from his life and wants to go on tour for thirty days or five days or whatever and have a bit of a break from reality and wants to do it without anyone on his back or any weight on his shoulders. That’s what Dragged Into Sunlight’s about as well.
Rich: You did some recording for Widowmaker in the Palace Of Skulls in Czech Republic, what was that experience like? How was it?
T: We were actually on tour with Rwake in Copenhagen in Denmark. We made a stop and we had a dictation device… and everyone was saying we’ll get this underlying track for Widowmaker that’s sort of a soundscape; we’ll leave our recorder somewhere and record an entire day. Then we got to this palace of skulls and we were kind of like, ‘Well, what would happen if we just left the recorder in here for 24 hours’, and we went back the next day and we had a soundtrack that we put behind the album, basically. It’s interesting what you hear, because various people are standing near it at certain times and you’d never tell that’s integrated into our recording but we felt it gave it the atmosphere that we wanted; but not just a sort of an empty static, echo or reverb, we wanted the atmosphere to mean something and for that, it’s basically a temple, a graveyard. There’s bones everywhere, it’s got real atmosphere to it and to capture that atmosphere on tape and to put it in so subtly that people don’t even know it’s there… the feeling that communicates is there.
Rich: Yeah, you can definitely feel atmospheres. There’s a guy called Jacob Kirkegaard and he records in different places like churches, and all that kind of stuff, it’s haunting.
T: Yeah, it’s good to listen to. You can listen to that stuff for like four hours. It’s pretty epic.
Rich: Famous criminals and serial killers have a prominent role in DIS’s sound – in the samples – with Jeffrey Dahmer and Charles Manson, etc. What started your interest in them?
T: It’s just an interest in true crime; I’ve always had an interest in true crime. I think I became obsessed with their sort of feeling… [wind blocks out a chunk of the recording]… they’ve killed other human beings and it becomes intriguing. When you’re trying to learn off people, you’re that type of person where you people-watch, and you see these people who just can’t be understood: they didn’t have any motive, they’re no different from anyone else but some of them have done horrendous things. Having met people like that when I moved out to Texas for a while, where I lived and worked on death row, and to meet those type of people first-hand and to learn so much about them and their lives, to study them as people… it’s still very intriguing: some of the smartest people in the world and they’ll never be let out, Charles Manson for example: it’s the case of what did he really do? He was just very harmful to others to have around, he was very manipulative, and so if they were to let him out, there’s no doubt that he’d firstly be a multi-millionaire – several times over – and he’d probably still be a very dangerous person to have around. But to understand that personality and meet people along those lines, you can learn a lot about yourself, a lot about them. So that’s the infatuation really.
Rich: Yeah, ‘cause people like that are instantly disregarded as madmen but they’re pretty much everyday people.
T: Yeah, they’ve just taken the norm of society and they’ve broken it. One day they were like ‘I don’t live by your norms, I’ll see you later’. That is how they seem to have opted to go off the grid basically and do what they want, and if that involves killing five people, they kill five people. Now, a lot of them are sort of accepting that they’re paying for it, and it’s time that they’re paying for it, but…
Rich: Yeah, sometimes it doesn’t bother them.
T: Some of them it doesn’t bother them but others it does, again, that’s something you can learn from people, the different effects on your personality having done something like that and living with it, and how do you live knowing you’re gonna die. There’s two options: either you get 45 years without parole or the death penalty. And both of them you’re either gonna end up very old and dead, or definitely dead. It’s just how people face those realities… [wind blocks out another chunk of the recording] … finding out that trait in people, it infatuates me.
Rich: That’s pretty crazy. Well… who would you consider to be in the same vein as you, with goals and aspirations or intents?
T: Musically or?
Rich: Yeah, musically.
T: I think musically its bands who have been around for a long time and they’ve not taken ‘no’ for an answer, they still sorta break their backs. A band like Demigod for example, they play death metal and their early albums – and what they’ve done since – is very inspirational. They were inspirational to me when I was younger. [wind blocks out yet another chunk of the recording] It gives you hope that you’re never going to get too old for it, about something you love so much, with extreme music… but y’know, the reality of it is you can’t do this when you’re fucking 90-years-old, you can’t break yourself forever. There comes a time when things do have to calm down around you and you’re sorta desperately holding onto that… [heavy wind] …and since we’ve lived it for so long, it would be nothing to go without it. It wouldn’t be detrimental for everyone else; but we’d have no outlet – the truth of it is, we’ve been playing in bands for that long. I mean, an outlet, that is what Dragged Into Sunlight is, completely. It’s an ecstasy; everyone puts 210% into the music.
Rich: You stated that Hatred For Mankind and Widowmaker are two separate, unrelated releases. Will these releases be a part of a sort of series?
T: Hatred For Mankind and Widowmaker are both very different records, we refer to them as being a different sort of route to a body of sound. Hatred For Mankind has its sound and Widowmaker has its sound, and who knows, there’s more sounds to the band. It’s a band that draws so heavily on an advanced range of influences, I mean, to bring them all together you end up with them firing in different directions: you’ve got Hatred For Mankind which is sort of faster, harsher and with Widowmaker it’s heavier, lonelier and more depressing… and then you have Terminal Aggressor which is harsher and it’s noiser. We’re up for developing our sound and just doing what we want to do, it’s about not staying with a single sound. We might have more releases with a familiar theme, like a theme you can associate it with, maybe perhaps make it more like Widowmaker than Hatred For Mankind but I don’t think we’ll ever be tagged into a single subgenre, or even a style. If it is a sort of sequential release to Widowmaker then people will know that’s what it is, we’ll tell people that’s what it is. But we’re just working on multiple things now; one of the things is the split with Gnaw Their Tongues. It’s just so interesting to completely stray away from guitar-based music to harsh noise: a lot of grindcore influences all mixed by Mories [Gnaw Their Tongues], so a lot of Japanese noise in there. I mean, there’s such a wide range of influence going into it, and then you have people like Nate Hall, who have guested on it in little bits and pieces. It’s basically a collection of people involved with Dragged Into Sunlight, as well as people who are outside the band, that work on a similar mindset, and thrown their inspirations into it, and now Morie is putting it all together and hopefully we’ll come out with more great tracks. We’ve finished one or two… so yeah, that’s the next thing we’re working on for vinyl release.
Rich: So that’s the Gnaw Their Tongues release? I was about to ask about that! I was just wondering, if the opportunity ever came across, would you perform live with Gnaw Their Tongues?
T: Yeah, we’ve played a show with Aderlating, which is Mories’s other band, in Holland in 2009, but Gnaw Their Tongues, they don’t like doing live. Each to their own and they’re busy enough guys, they just think ‘it’s not for us’. I’ve asked them about it ‘cause it would be a pleasure for me to see Gnaw Their Tongues live but it’s not something that’s on their agenda, I don’t think.
Rich: It would be insane to see.
Rich: Well, the last question then: can we expect any more collaborations?
T: Yeah, definitely. If there’s someone we like we’ll work with them. We’ll get involved, we’ll pop into the studio and lay down something… if someone blows our minds in terms of talent, then we’ll look to hang out with them and jam with them and stuff. It’s very much what feels right. We don’t really know what the next thing we’ll be working on or where the next tour will be but you can always guarantee that there’s people involved on the same wavelength as us, and those people, if we can do recordings with them; or we can help out on their stuff even – ‘cause that’s what it’s about: a small collective of people who’ve reached the end of the lifespan of touring 200 shows a year into a collective family. It’s very close-knit. And if it means people enjoy making mixes, enjoy noise records, then yeah, there’s plenty more collaborations and there’s plenty more people I’d like to work with.
Rich: Are there any in particular you’d like to work with?
T: Well, as I’m only one person of the group, I couldn’t say for the band, but right now, off the top of my head, Nate Hall. We love US Christmas, they’re a brilliant band. Very, very few people in the UK have heard of them really.
Rich: I haven’t.
T: You should definitely check them out; they’re fantastic, a great band. A track called “Scalphunters”, which is such a fucking heavy riff man. They’re definitely something to check out, they’re a big inspiration, so to work with Nate from US Christmas on something, it’s been really cool. A really good learning experience.
Rich: I’ll have to check that out then. Well, thanks for talking to me man, I really appreciate it.
T: Thanks, thanks.