A lot of bands lack groove, but one band that certainly doesn’t is Celbridge’s finest thrash metal band, Dead Label. Musically they have their finger in many pies which has lead them to spread their creative wings and opened many doors, allowing them to tour with their influences Fear Factory, Machine Head, and Gojira. Drummer Claire Percival talks about the band’s history, the new album Throne of Bones, playing MetalDays, touring with their heroes, future gigs and Machine Head’s The Blackeneing album.
Jack: Hi guys, thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. How are you doing?
Claire Percival (Drums): Really good thank you! Happy to answer, they look like interesting questions! [Smiles]
Jack: Well thank you. So how did Dead Label form?
Claire: Well the three of us were in a previous band together called VX with two of our friends. When that band finished we really wanted to take the next step and get professional so we formed Dead Label. Dan had done backing vocals in the previous band and when we suggested he become the frontman he nailed it!
Jack: It’s clear upon listening to your music that you have a wide range of influences. What are the main bands that have influenced you?
Claire: Metallica, Machine Head, Gojira, Pantera. They would be the four main ones. We do listen to a wide range of music though, a given drive on tour the music can range from Whitechapel to Simon and Garfunkel, the Dumb and Dumber soundtrack, Nelly, who knows!
Jack: What is the scene like in your native Ireland?
Claire: Its getting better every day. When we started out there were some amazing metal bands, a lot of who have stopped. There are now some amazing bands too. The Bloodstock Metal to the Masses competition is really bringing the scene back together. There is more of a sense of community than before, with bands collectively trying to make noise to be heard of this island. I also see more bands taking the plunge and traveling which is brilliant!
Jack: What Irish bands do you recommend?
Claire: Vile Regression, Magalligog, Dichotomy, The Devil Wants Her Swagger Back, Red Enemy, Hero in Error, Theories Divide, Aesect, Call to Arms, Enshrined, Celtachor, Xerosun, Killface (check these out first!) God there are so many more!
Jack: You just released your second album Throne of Bones which you’ve said feels like is the first Dead Label album even though it’s the second. Why is this?
Claire: Well this is the first album we went in with a bit more planning, we really took our time and started writing for this to be an album. What I mean is, we wrote songs and then put them together to form Sense of Slaughter. With Throne of Bones, we wrote a lot of songs but there was a vision we had and even if a song was good if it didn’t fit the album it didn’t make it. We planned everything to a tee and we are happy with how it came alive. The numbers of the songs, the flow of the album, track to track it was all planned. So I guess we mean it is our first album where we really intended to write an album.
Jack: What was behind the title Throne of Bones?
Claire: The title refers to the song which is about governments destroying their own countries, people dying at the expense of bad decisions. People getting ahead based on people dying. Its so true of the world today and unfortunately it seems to have increased.
Jack: What was the recording process like?
Claire: The recording process was so fun. We love being in the studio, hearing the songs come to life. We were very fortunate to record in two amazing studios in L.A. We did the drums in East West and it was such a good experience, we did everything else in Sonora and there was so much history in both studios, it was brilliant. We worked with an engineer [named] Chris Rakestraw, he was one of the coolest dudes we have ever met. He just has this amazing knack to get the absolute best out of you while still being super encouraging. He got us and what we wanted, straight away. We would hope to work with him again and again, bar his talents he was such a nice person and funny as anything and we miss him!
Jack: What was the inspiration for the short track ‘The Cleansing’, is it an interlude to the album, an intro for ‘Exhume the Venom’ or something else?
Claire: We like to think of ‘The Cleansing’ as a break, the album is quite heavy with a lot of “pounding” tracks so we thought that ‘The Cleansing’ would wipe your palette so you could really enjoy the following songs!
Jack: What inspired the video for ‘Salvation in Sacrifice’?
Claire: We wanted to do a performance-based video, and we were trying to keep it simple as the song is straightforward. We figured the song made us feel like just jumping around at a party so that’s the idea we had! We didn’t want to put a big moment in it, like in ‘Are You Ready to Kill,’ because we wanted it to be aired on Scuzz and blood to the degree of AYRTK is bit much for television!
Jack: How did you find playing MetalDays festival?
Claire: MetalDays is an incredible festival. It is run so well and everyone is really looked after. From the day we were booked we were kept informed and at no point did we have any questions. The production team [was] so efficient it was like a holiday! The festival itself is paradise. It [was] set in the middle of the mountains in Tolmin, on the most crystal lakes I have ever seen. It [was] sunny and glorious. Slovenia is such a hidden treasure of a country and then you have this week long metal festival right in the depths of the mountains! It [was] a safe festival with loads of options in terms of bands, food, and camping! The variety of bands playing would cater to everyone, the food options [were] so diverse and there is all types of camping from family to party to girls who are alone! I strongly recommend it to any festival goers! As far as I know the ticket price [was] not that expensive and it is five days, plus there is the metal beach! Which is just a lot of metal heads, water and inflatables! We had a really good show at MetalDays and we would definitely go back 100 times!
Jack: In the past you supported the mighty Gojira, what was it like playing with them?
Claire: It was one of the best experiences we have ever had. Gojira are one of our favourite bands. They inspire us in so many ways, when we first booked the shows we were just happy that we would get to see them two times! But then we we actually saw how they work, how their crew work, we were more inspired. They are a tight team who do everything to perfection. Their crew really work in good spirits and run everything like clockwork. everyone is happy and respectful and it was so insightful to see that a band of their fame being so humble. They were so nice and welcoming to us that you would never think they were the band who wrote ‘L’Enfaunt Sauvage’!
Jack: Do you have fond memories of playing Bloodstock?
Claire: Yes, very fond memories. We wanted to play Bloodstock for many years, so we really enjoyed it when we got there. We did a lot of press for the days leading up to the show, we were worried with our time, as we were on Sunday at 12:40 and we thought everyone would be asleep, but the tent was full! It was an incredible show!
Jack: You’ve toured the US before, what are the major differences between the US and Europe?
Claire: In the US everyone buys merch, and they tip! But the crowds are better in Europe, well for the most part. America has awesome crowds too, but there is just more power in say a German crowd! Both have their pros! There is a lot of driving in America too, it can take eleven hours on one road! Touring in both continents is fun!
Jack: What was it like playing with Fear Factory across Europe?
Claire: That was the best five weeks of our lives so far! Fear factory are awesome n their fans rule! We played with Once Human also, who are really nice people! We left that tour as a family and we miss those guys! Fear Factory have such energy in their show and the crowd is pumped before the show begins!
Jack: What are your upcoming plans?
Claire: We have a tour in Scotland, we are playing in Edinburgh and Dundee, then we are supporting Raging Speedhorn in Ireland! It should be a busy few weeks!
Jack: Finally, you’ve toured with Machine Head in the past, what’s your fondest memory of the tour?
Claire: Machine Head are the best. That was our first big support slot and it was so scary! Dave walked us on for our first show, don’t know how to describe how that felt! It was like a dream! They are the best bunch of people, the kindest! When we toured with them, Adam was still in the band, now Jared is on bass and he is the man too! Fondest memory was when we played in Dublin with them, we were watching from the side of the stage and Robb called us and Ben from Evile out to do ‘Let Freedom Ring with the Shotgun Blast!’ Life doesn’t get better than that!
Jack: The Blackening turns ten years old next year, what does this album mean to you? Do you think it is the album of the decade?
Claire: The Blackening was a game changer, for Machine Head and for metal. Master of Puppets of our generation I think it has been called and I agree. What an incredible piece of work that album is. Its so raw and melodic and heavy. It has everything.