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Dave Davidson Revocation - Interview
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Revocation are one of those bands I discovered a few years back through their first album "Empires Of The Obscene" which I first heard around the time that "Chaos Of Forms" was released so when news was announced that the band were re-releasing the debut album through Metal Blade Records, it took me back to those 11 brilliant songs which still holds up extremely well today. I was intrigued by the re-release of the album so I had a chat with frontman and guitarist Dave Davidson to discuss "Empires Of The Obscene" and how that album became the beginning of Revocation's career.



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Andrew: You came down here last year with Thy Art Is Murder which was a great tour, we caught a couple of the shows. How was it for you?

Dave: It was fantastic! We loved the Australian crowds, it was just awesome to be in that part of the world playing shows and all that great stuff.

Andrew: And it was your first time in Australia wasn't it?

Dave: Yeah it was our first time over there.

Andrew: How did you find the Australian crowds? Were they better than you expected?

Dave: We didn't really know what to expect, we were pleasantly surprised for sure. Everyone was super stoked and it seemed like people were waiting for us which was really cool because it was our first time there and it's nice to have a little anticipation build up around the tour. So yeah it was really fantastic!

Andrew: Yeah it was an awesome tour. The 2 shows we did catch in Perth, one of the shows was an all ages show with the younger kids. Have you done many of those kinds of shows before with the all ages?

Dave: Yeah we've played a lot of all ages shows before, unfortunately there's not a ton of all ages venues. In Boston and other places, a lot of times it's 18+ or 21+ because of liquor laws and all that stuff but it's always great to play in front of a younger crowd because they are so hungry for music. I remember being a young kid back in the day, once upon a time being stoked when I could actually go see a show because a lot of times there aren't avenues for that. So it's great to play in front of a younger audience, that's for sure.

Andrew: Yeah absolutely. I remember talking to CJ (McMahon) from Thy Art Is Murder about how you got on the (Australian) tour, I think you hooked up on a tour in the U.S. with those guys a while ago?

Dave: Yeah we did Summer Slaughter with them a couple of years back and we hit it off really well with those dudes. They were all super great and they definitely crush it live so it was great to go over and be on their home turf and have them kind of show us around and show some Australian hospitality!

Andrew: Did you do some sight seeing while you were here?

Dave: Yeah we went to a zoo in Adelaide I believe, I got to hold a Koala which was cool. I got to eat Kangaroo which was pretty crazy but the zoo was probably the coolest thing that we did, we got to see all the different wildlife and like I said, getting to hold one of those little Koalas was a good time.

Andrew: How did you like the Kangaroo?

Dave: It was good, the flavor was nothing too gamey or anything. It maybe reminded me of pork or chicken or something from what I remember.

Andrew: Now one of the reasons that we wanted to talk to you today is the re-release of "Empire Of The Obscene" which is such an amazing album, I remember it being my introduction to the band as well. Tell me a little about why you decided to do a re-release of the album now?

Dave: Well the time was right and we brought it to the table for Metal Blade to get the first crack at it and they were definitely stoked on releasing it. So we were really pumped to finally get it out to our fans because that was the record that really got us signed in the first place and got us on a lot of people's radar. So the fact that we were able to put it out through our current label Metal Blade just seemed to make a lot of sense to us.

Andrew: I was just listening to it again just recently and as I said, it's such an amazing album. Do you remember much about putting that album together and writing it and all that?

Dave: Yeah that record, we self-released it so I remember a lot from that process. Everything from recording the record to getting the artwork together. I even remember going into this place called Wonder Drug Records which they actually priced the album for us, I remember going in and meeting with the dude over there and getting the proofs for the record and getting everything organised and making sure that the booklet was all taken care of. So we were very hands on because we were the only ones taking care of all that stuff back then so it was a learning experience for sure.

Andrew: Since that time you have put out a few more albums and have progressed quite a bit, especially with your last album "Deathless". When you look back on "Empire Of The Obscene" now, do you still love those songs now as when you first wrote them?

Dave: Yeah I mean I think I've changed a lot as a musician over the years and I think that's the whole goal, is to progress. So looking back, there's probably a few things I would maybe change here and there but at the same time, that was such a snap shot of our lives back then and who we were as musicians back then. I think it still holds up today very well, I think it's cool for our fans to hear that progression in our music. We were very ambitious back in the day and wanted to do a lot so there's a ton of different riffs and time changes on that record and I think you can really hear what we were going for even way back in 2006 when we started writing that material.

Andrew: What exactly were you going for on that album? Because when I try to describe your music to some of my friends and other people, it's very hard to pinpoint what exactly your style is because you kind of go a little bit here and a little bit there. If you were to describe your music to people, what would you say?

Dave: We are a bit of a melting pot, we were sort of one the first generations that I feel really had better access to the internet. Growing up in previous years for other musicians, your scene was kind of your scene. They had tape trading and all that kind of stuff but if you grew up in like the Bay Area, chances are thrash metal was kind of your scene that you grew up on. Florida in the 90's, chances are death metal was kind of your scene and we were kind of like that matrix generation where it was sort of just plug in and download everything all at once so it wasn't that strict genre defining line. I listen to thrash metal, I listen to death metal, I listen to black metal, I listen to progressive metal and I think all of those genres kind of filtered in all at once and kind of plug in your brain and download it and all of that stuff. So I would say we are a mixture of death and thrash at our core, I think "Empire Of The Obscene" was a bit more of a thrashy record. I think as the years have gone by we have become sort of a more death metal band but death and thrash is the core of our sound and then of course there is some progressive elements, there's some black metal influence or grindcore influence here and there that sort of seeps in. There's even a punk rock kind of D.I.Y. aesthetic to our whole vibe because I grew up playing shows not only with metal bands but also with punk and hardcore bands in the Boston scene. We would play a bar with a death metal band and then we would play an underground warehouse show with punk bands so I think all those experiences filtered in to make us who we are today but certainly that first record is definitely a thrash metal record with a heavy dose of death metal and some progressive elements.

Andrew: Yeah I agree there is definitely a more thrashier element on the first album, even on the second album and maybe the third album "Chaos Of Forms". But one of the things that I really dig about it is occasionally you throw in a bit of 80's rock sort of stuff in there as well which is also awesome to see. Who are some of your biggest influences on the guitar?

Dave: Well there's definitely an 80's hard rock / 90's rock influence on certain parts. One of the guitarists that really inspired me to take my playing to the next level was actually Slash, I was listening to Guns N' Roses and stuff like that which really got me playing everyday, trying to learn the solos and picking up little licks here and there. I think especially on the "Empire Of The Obscene" record you can hear some of that rock influence, some of the solos like in a song like "Exhumed Identity" comes to mind with a bunch of different guitar leads happening. And even the very ending of that song is a little bit of a nod to Guns N' Roses with that little outro solo. But yeah Slash is a big one as far as guitarists go, Joe Perry is the guitarist that got me to play guitar period, before I was into metal and all that stuff. I was around 11 or 12 listening to Aerosmith and they were sort of my gateway drug band and listening to Joe Perry made me want to pick up the guitar so that's certainly another rock influence there. Alice In Chains as far as rock bands go, that kind of brought a weirder element to it. They kinda started off in the L.A. scene trying to be like that more of an 80's vibe and then they came more and more into their own sound, got a darker and weirder vibe. So that inspired me a lot and then as far as metal guitarists go, I've got such a long list of players, everyone from Dimebag Darrell to Luc Lemay from Gorguts so I've got a wide range of influences.

Andrew: I think that makes for a better guitar player as well, I even hear jazzy elements in there too. I understand you went to a guitar school or something when you first started playing?

Dave: Yeah I went to an arts high school so when I hit 9th grade, 9th through 12th I was playing in a big band and learning about jazz. I had a really great guitar teacher who I'm still close with named Colin Sapp so he really turned me onto a lot of great jazz guitar players. I remember being kinda thrown into the wolves den and here I was thinking I was a pretty good player and I started learning these jazz solos. I mean these were pages and pages long of these amazing, improvised solos of players like Wes Montgomery and Pat Martino. So I played in what was called a guitar ensemble back then but that really opened my eyes and my ears to a different approach to playing and after I graduated from high school, I went on to study at Berkeley College Of Music which is a prestigious music college in Boston and I learned a ton there as well. I studied primarily with jazz guitar players there, guys like Bruce Saunders and Brett Wilmott and Jon Damien so everyone from bebop players to more modern jazz guys. I learned a ton studying with all those dudes just because the jazz approach to guitar or any instrument is very involved and highly in-depth with a lot of theory and all that kind of stuff. So it definitely opened my ears up to possibilities.

Andrew: Yeah absolutely and the progression of the band as the years have gone on I guess has been attributed to whatever you have learned in your guitar playing. Now that you have "Deathless" which came out last year, how do you feel that album is compared to your earlier work?

Dave: I feel that "Deathless" is our best record to date but I also kinda feel that way with every record that we've put out, I think every record is an evolution. I love all our records, obviously you're giving birth to these 10 songs or whatever so you love each one individually but I feel like as a musician, the overall songwriting I think is the best on "Deathless. I think our performances are the best and that's really the way it should be, you progress as a musician so every new release you put out, you hopefully want to be your best but you don't want to go backwards obviously. But I think every record that we've done has it's own personality, it's what I'm most proud of. I wouldn't really change anything about any of our records because they stand on their own like I said. But speaking from my own performances as a guitar player, soley on that I think "Deathless" was definitely my best playing that I've laid down on recording to date.

Andrew: Yeah there's definitely some sick stuff going on in "Deathless". It's an amazing album but it's also a much heavier album than maybe "Empire Of The Obscene" which is kind of the progression that you guys have gotten on. Which brings me to a question that comes up quite a bit with a lot of metal guitarists in how heavy music has gotten over the years. Do you find that we can't really get any more extreme than what heavy metal has gotten to now these days?

Dave: I don't really like to subscribe to the whole rat race of who can play faster or heavier. For me it's all about a simple thing like does a record have a vibe, is there a mood to a record. They're trying to express an emotion like sadness in music. Is anyone like, 'Oh what's the saddest record? Is this record sadder than that record?' It's just an emotion that's meant to move you in a way so that feeling of aggression, how sincere the music is has a lot to do with it and how that comes across. There's certainly really polished sounding recordings that have low tuned guitars in the modern scene, and really clear and crisp sounding. Is it heavier than an old Cannibal Corpse record? Probably not because they were the purveyors of death metal so it's all about the mood and vibe to me. Of course there are great artists that come out every year with amazing stuff, just looking back through the list of all the great records that have come out this year. A brand new record by a band called Old (sic) just came out and they're like Voivod-y, thrash, little bit of punk. Kind of like space thrash almost, like a weird kind of vibe that they've got on but it's so sincere and hard hitting and dirty sounding and it just makes me want to crank it in my car sterio when I'm driving around. So that is what I'm looking for when I'm listening to new music, not so much the rat race of 'Oh is this going to be heavier than the last record? Is this going to be faster than the last record?' But if it's sincere and does it have a vibe that I can tap into. Does it make me feel something, that's what I'm looking for.

Andrew: Obviously it's about the songwriting first and foremost, I guess back in the day it used to be about who could play the fastest and who could play the heaviest but now that everyone has pretty much done it, where can you go? So I guess it's all about the songwriting and making the best songs possible.

Dave: Yeah I mean I feel like there was a certain level of competition back in the day. Let's face it, there's always going to be a level of competition when it comes to music. That's the sort of society we live in and everything, this competitive based thing. But again with music I want it to be about human expression and the last thing that I want when I sit down to write something is like, 'Oh how can I compete with something else?' I just want to write music for me and if it comes out that it's the fastest thing that we've ever written, then sweet. But if it comes out that it's the slowest thing that we've ever written, then that's also awesome because then that's going in the opposite direction. It's like the whole thing with tuning down, bands were getting lower and lower in their music but there's a thrash metal band from the States called Vektor and they actually tune up a half step so they're playing at standard. So that's just totally going in the exact opposite of how so many bands are following a certain trend so it just goes to show the pendulum swings one way and there's some different people out there that want to go the other way just to go against the status quo which I think is always great.

Andrew: Yeah definitely! Just before I let you go, I did want to ask you about the new drummer in the band now, you had a bit of a change in the lineup. Can you tell me exactly what had happened and how it all came about?

Dave: Sure! Phil (Dubois-Coyne) left the band at this point I believe it was over the summer, so he's pursuing his own projects right now and doing his own thing. And we had toured with Ash (Pearson) previously with 3 Inches Of Blood before when we were out with Death Angel on tour, it was us, Death Angel, Battlecross, 3 Inches Of Blood and I think it might of been Diamond Plate. But a very cool thrashy tour and I remember back then watching Ash play and just being totally floored by his playing so he was the dude that we called to fill in for us. Phil actually injured his arm last summer so we called him to do some fill in gigs for us when we were playing in Europe with Cannibal Corpse and he also filled in for us a little bit this past spring so when Phil moved on, he was definitely our first choice. We got to tour with a lot of awesome drummers this past year because of all the fill ins but Ash to us seemed to be the best overall fit in terms of personality and playing style. He really is just an incredible drummer, the stuff he's playing with 3 Inches Of Blood is super tight heavy metal traditional stuff but he can do just so many different things. He can bust out Dillinger Escape Plan covers, he can play odd time. He just has a great groove when we're doing the rock stuff so for us we really feel like he's a great new addition to the band, we're super excited to work with him in writing the next record.

Andrew: OK cool, so obviously he's the new permanent member but is he still with 3 Inches of Blood or has he left that band now?

Dave: Well what had happened was 3 Inches Of Blood actually broke up.

Andrew: Oh right OK! I had no idea that happened!

Dave: Yeah they're doing a couple of farewell shows in a week or so which will be the last shows ever. It wasn't like we were stealing him away, 3 Inches Of Blood was going to be doing some final shows and it wasn't announced to the general public but he kinda let us know that, OK 3 Inches Of Blood is coming to a close so we were like, 'OK well if you're a free agent, how do you feel about joining Revocation?' and he was stoked on it so it all worked out.

Andrew: Yeah good timing I suppose!

Dave: Yeah we weren't stealing him from 3 Inches Of Blood!

Andrew: [laughs] Yeah fair enough! Well I better let you go but it would be great to see you guys come back to Australia some time, even as a headliner. What have you got as far as tour plans for the rest of the year?

Dave: Right now we're at the end of our cycle, we toured very heavily off the "Deathless" record so we're not planning on going back out probably until we complete the next record. So right now it's basically the "Empire Of The Obscene" record is coming out November 13th, I think that's worldwide date but it might be a little different for some other territories but it's coming out November 13th in the States. So that will be a catalogue piece that can kinda tied our fans over until we release the next new record and our plan basically is to write in the rest of the fall and winter time and go and record it sometime in the winter and have it hopefully out by the summer time. But until then we really have no other plans, just sort of laying low and making sure that we can write the best record that we can possibly write.

Andrew: OK cool well after the success of ""Deathless", we're really looking forward to this new album then as it was fantastic stuff. Thanks for your time today, it's been an absolute pleasure and hopefully we will see you in Australia again some time!

Dave: Oh definitely man, thank you so much for the interview!

Interview by Andrew "Schizodeluxe" Massie on October 26th 2015