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Eric Jarrin Despised Icon - Interview
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Despised Icon

It's been 7 years since Canadian deathcore band Despised Icon last released an album, "Day Of Mourning". The band called it quits after a number of years touring and recording in 2010 but despite saying they were done with it, 2014 saw them return for a couple of reunion shows which then eventually led to the band's latest album "Beast". We spoke to guitarist Eric Jarrin to give us an update on what made the band return and what fans can expect for the future of Despised Icon.



Steve: So how's things?

Eric: Great! Couldn't ask for better.

Steve: Are you guys on tour at the moment or just at home?

Eric: Yeah back at home. We got back 2 weeks ago or a little more than that, a month ago we were in Europe and we are just at home chilling until next week when we are going to start a couple of summer festivals here in North America.

Steve: By the sounds of things in other interviews I have seen, you guys are fairly rejuvenated.

Eric: Yeah I guess so [laughs]. Or we are doing what some would say 'Dadcore' [laughs].

Steve: I like it! It could be the new thing!

Eric: Yeah what started as deathcore has just turned into dadcore [laughs].

Steve: [laughs] I like it, I think you own that one now!

Eric: [laughs].

Steve: So what was it like after so many years away from Despised Icon to come back together?

Eric: It was great! To be truthful, when we broke up in 2010, we were fairly burnt out and the majorty of the guys in the band started families. I have kids, the drummer has kids so to be back at it after so many years feels really good. We kind of missed each other and the rush of being on the stage and rocking out playing death metal and brutal music [laughs]. So it's just amazing right now and the response is just overwhelming, I thought we weren't such a big deal and people would just forget about us like any other band but our fans stayed behind. And what's even more surprising is the new generation of fans that we got while we were away like, we did a couple of reunion shows 2 years ago and there was so many new faces and new fans so it's just great, feels really good!

Steve: Awesome! I for one was holding out hoping you guys would get back together one day!

Eric: Well when we broke up 6 or 7 years ago, we were done. At that time if you were to tell me that 6 years later Despised Icon would be back releasing a new album, I wouldn't believe it [laughs].

Steve: [laughs] So this wasn't planned!

Eric: No it just happened like that.

Steve: So whose idea was it to bring the band back together? Was it one of you guys or was it a collective 'Let's do this and kill it''?

Eric: It's funny because all the stars were just aligned because it kind of happened naturally. The thing is about 2 years ago Max (Lavelle) our old bass player who is in The Black Dahlia Murder now, they came through Montreal which is our hometown in Canada, to play a show and suddenly [we were] just surrounded by all the ex-members of Despised Icon. And then we were having a couple of beers together and just remembering that time we were on tour and then we did this and did that and we just had good memories and a lot of fun. We kept on receiving offers year after year since we broke up, to play reunion shows so we said, 'Hey you guys feel like jamming out and maybe do a couple of shows?' And then we did the reunion shows in 2014 and then from there we kept doing other reunion shows in 2015 and that's when we were like, 'Alright, what's next?' People just keep requesting for new music. 'Do you guys want to give it a shot and try to write some new tunes and see how it goes?' And it went super easy, we sat down and tried to write a couple of songs and it just poured out of us so that's the whole story.


Steve: So how do you believe that "Beast" has evolved in terms of sound and production? I mean from my side of things it's definitely signature Despised Icon but it would be interesting to get your perspective on it.

Eric: I guess in a way that's what we were aiming for. I mean for them to be away for that long, when you come back, first of all, we knew fans would be waiting for it. They may be expecting a certain sound in a certain signature of the song writing and at the same time, some of us have had plenty of time to do other stuff and play with other people and experiment in other musical ventures. Alex (Erian, vocalist) has been busy with Obey The Brave, I had my prog band Heavens Cry during that time so when you do Despised Icon, you do Despised Icon and you don't try to reinvent anything. We just approached the song writing the same way we did for all the previous albums we wrote and production wise, one of our favorite productions we ever had was with Andy Sneap on "The Ills Of Modern Man". So once we had all the songs down and ready to record, we just gave him a call and said 'Hey would you feel like maybe mastering another album for us like the good old days', and right off the bat he was like, 'Sure let's do this'. So yeah I guess we wanted to come back with something that people could just relate to intensely.

Steve: What's your favorite track on the album so far or is it too early for you to call?

Eric: Yeah it's kind of difficult because I guess I like all of them but it depends on the day, I prefer this one or that one. But I feel every song has it's own character or signature and it's funny because it reflects on some of the comments I can read on the internet since we released the 2 tracks. The first track that we released, the title track "Beast" was mostly written by me and Alex the singer and it's more traditional death metal with influences by Suffocation and Morbid Angel and we also have that slam riff in the middle of the song which is heavily influenced by Devourment and all those bands we used to listen to. And then a week ago we just released "The Aftermath" which is the first track of the album which is a little more straight forward hardcore song but mixed with a lot of grindcore stuff but it's more like the song structure is more simple. I can read all the comments where people say, 'Oh yeah we can hear the Hatebreed influence in that song'. So maybe it's a little early to call for a favorite one but these days one of the songs I enjoy a lot on the album is "Inner Demons", it's one of the more I would say intricate or complex, structure wise and a lot of good riffing and drumming going on.

Steve: I've been lucky enough to hear the album in it's entirety and for me "The Aftermath" took me back to MVP, I'm really digging that track at the moment. Do you have any tips or tricks for any aspiring guitarists out there that might want to emulate your sound?

Eric: I guess the best advice I can give is just do whatever you feel like doing and just be passionate about what you do. It's cool to shred and to do 6 string and do arpeggio's and stuff but I guess down the road, what's really going to pay off is to listen to a lot of music and try to integrate all those influences and bands you listen to and do your own thing. Just try to have your own character in whatever you do, that's been my mojo for all these years. I can play some leads but I know I'm not a superstar shredder or whatever but I practice and jam with friends and with people, jamming with a good drummer or someone that can hold down a good beat is just going to help you to be tight and become a good band. That would be my best advice I could give.


Steve: Given that you guys have been around for a long time and are real road dogs I guess you could say, is there anyone that you would really love to work with, whether it be a band or a producer? Anyone really that you would love to tour with but haven't had the opportunity?

Eric: We've had the opportunity to play huge festivals and play with bands but I would really like to share the stage with either Gojira or Meshuggah. These are great bands who have been around for a while and just release really great albums so far, either of those 2 bands I would be tremendously honoured to open for them and share the stage with them.

Steve: I love to ask this question for anyone I interview but what was the last album you bought or downloaded?

Eric: Actually the last album I bought, it's a tie between the new Megadeth album (Dystopia) which features Kiko Loureiro who is one of my favorite guitar players and Chris Adler from Lamb Of God which he did a great job. That album is amazing, I've been a Megadeth fan since I was a kid and I haven't enjoyed a Megadeth album like that since "Rust In Peace" in 1990 [laughs]. And at the same time I bought a vinyl from Opeth, their latest which is titled "Pale Communion". It's really good prog music to me and I'm a huge prog fan so I can say that these 2 albums have been my jam for the past couple of months.

Steve: Awesome! So what can the fans expect in terms of Despised Icon's live show?

Eric: Well like I said earlier, when we did those reunion shows 2 years ago we've been pretty much doing things on our own terms and in our own pacing and that's just the way we're going to keep doing it because it just feels right. We're not pressured by anything, we take the time we need to do stuff and as much as we love playing shows and touring, some of us have careers now back at home and have families to take care of and provide for. So people can expect us to play shows, play festivals, do mini tours everywhere around the world but it just might take some time before we get to play everywhere. If you ever see a Despised Icon show advertised in your city, well you better show up because it might take a couple of months or years before we manage to get back there. But that's what we'll just do, we'll keep on writing music because that's what we love in the first place. We're passionate about writing and playing music so we will keep on releasing records and play shows as much as we can.

Steve: So that leads me perfectly into my next question, can we expect to see you guys in Australia this year or perhaps next year?

Eric: We will definitely try to work on it and if we can't make it this year, we will definitely try to make a trip down under next year to promote the new album.

Steve: For sure, we definitely look forward to it! Do you have a message for the fans of Australia that you would like to say?

Eric: Thanks for supporting us and keeping it real for us. I mean we've only been to Australia once 6 years ago, we had one of the best times there and we definitely want to come back and play for you guys. Thanks so much for supporting us and we will try to see you soon!

Read our interview with Alex Erian HERE.

Interview by Steve Monaghan on June 17th 2016
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