It’s not often that you hear a band exceeds their expectation when they make the decision to attempt to crowdfund an upcoming album. Washington D.C band, Darkest Hour, had individuals all over the world gung-ho about their next creative endeavor and have maximized the opportunity to create a piece of musical magic. Gearing up to release their ninth studio album, ‘Godless Prophets & the Migrant Flora’, I caught up with the guys to discuss the creative process, their Indiegogo campaign, tattoos and more.
Congrats on the upcoming release of your ninth studio album, ‘Godless Prophets & the Migrant Flora’. Fascinating title. Tell us about the creative and recording process this time around.
As you may or may not know this album was crowdfunded first then upstreamed to Southern Lord Recordings. This gave us the unique experience of being able to be in complete control. I think that made a huge impact on the album creatively. This time, everyone that was involved had a role and played it brilliantly. We spearheaded this thing ourselves with our loyal fans and friends at our backs, that made all the difference and in the end, I think it is why this album is so “Darkest Hour” sounding!
What were the actual changes that you experienced musically and as a band that you intended to bring forth on this record?
This is the second album with a revised rhythm section. The band has been going through a constant musical evolution but it was completely accelerated by the fact that we seemed to really find our groove writing wise this time. On every previous album, we had not only the viewpoint of a producer to contend with but also a management team and record label. This time Kurt Ballou (the producer) did a great job of helping to amplify our vision rather than to revise it. So I would say the ACTUAL change this time more than anything was again our ability to control and make decisions on this album in every aspect.
Let’s talk tattoos. Tell us about some of your favorite personal pieces and the artists that brought them to life.
We love tattoos first off. We enjoy getting tour tattoos more than anything, it’s definitely something we always do on tour, look for a friendly shop and get something tour related tattooed, it’s a DH tradition I guess you could say. For us, at least meaning trumps beauty so we love tattoos that have “character” (ones that may not always LOOK the best but when you got style, you got style). It’s hard to pick a FAVORITE tattoo as they all work as a greater part of our overall body art BUT, if I had to pick I would say either my AC/DC for those about to rock neck tattoo OR my Rocket Ship tattoo. Both of those were done by Brady Duncan at Orange Tattoo Company in Maryland, he’s been my go-to artist at home for a while now. Also, my first tattoos were done by Jeff Whitehead out of Tattoo City in SF, he is also amazing and I am very proud of those early pieces too!
Tell us about your Indiegogo Campaign for ‘Godless Prophets & the Migrant Flora’.
We have been very overwhelmed with the whole thing. First of all the response was amazing. We couldn’t believe we overfunded it so fast. At the same time, the work and energy that has gone into this is like nothing we have done before. It has really connected us with the fans and friends who funded this whole thing. We couldn’t be more thankful for the chance to make this album. At first, we were definitely skeptical but it was our long time manager who convinced us to give this whole thing a shot, for that we will also be forever grateful.
You guys are currently on the road with Ringworm, Rotten Sound, Tombs, and Rivers Of Nihil. Have you played with the fellow bands before and what has your experience been like so far?
We have played with Ringworm a few times over the years and they are always a powerhouse to see live, so we knew what to expect. I had never seen Rotten Sound before the tour but I can tell you, they are awesome and they throw down hard as shit! Rivers of Nihil are also a great addition to the tour, the guys are super chill for some of them being so young. Don’t be fooled, though, they lay it down live and it’s been a joy to watch them perform the last few nights. Tombs has not joined the tour yet so I’ll have to hold my review until I experience them live (but we loved what we heard online – that’s why the are on the tour!).
Do you have any words of wisdom that you can share with kids just picking up an instrument with the intent of starting up a band?
I have three major pieces of advice.
One is: Go to college.
Most musicians think they have to go ALL IN to make their dream of music a success. This means they oftentimes neglect other parts of their lives. Later this neglect can turn into resentment and depression as they realize their lives are not WHOLE. So learning an outside skill is very useful. What I have found is that my college experience and degree have given me the confidence and knowledge I have needed to navigate life as a musician, without it I may have felt desperate or trapped by my options, instead I feel the opposite. I know I CAN do other things but, I CHOOSE to do this with my life.
Two, Learn to change and adapt fast.
A lot of musicians think they need to have “their system” or “their routine” but life out here on the road AND navigating a career means being able to change and adapt at any moment. In short, my friends who have been able to do this have survived and flourished as musicians with those who haven’t have had a hard time maintaining that balance I mentioned.
Three, Stay loyal to those in your life who truly support what you do – at the same time don’t be afraid to cut people loose who are a negative influence or drain on your time and energy.
I would be nothing without the support of my family and friends, mainly the support of my loving wife who has been a support of the band for over a decade. Successful people surround themselves with successful people. Make sure this rule applies to those around you. It’s also important to know what is meant by that word “Successful” – you must come to terms with your own idea of what that is and make sure you can verbalize it.
What do fans of Darkest Hour have to look forward to this summer and for the rest of 2017?
We’re already booking dates as I type. Looking forward to a tour of Japan & Australia, with more dates to be announced in the USA and Europe as well. 2017 & 2018 is all about LIVE ROCK AND ROLL!
If you could sit under the table and listen to any two human beings carry a conversation to draw inspiration, who would you choose and why?
This is actually a hard question. I guess it’s not clear if these hypothetical people could be still living or not. So for the purposes of this interview, I am going to answer with ANY TWO humans. I would give anything to hear Eddie Van Halen and Dimebag Darrel talk guitars, amps and life. Together they may be my two biggest guitar influences and to be a fly on the wall in that situation would be F*****G EPIC!
Out of all of your discography, what are your three favorite songs to play live?
This is going to sound so cliché but it’s true, these three new songs we are playing, I love! I mean it’s just so much fun to play them, so much new energy in the room, none of the old songs can touch that feeling right now. So I’m going to say: “Knife in the Safe Room”, “Timeless Numbers”, and “Those Who Survived” – our three new singles are right now my favorite jams to rock live!
Last but certainly not least, any closing messages for your fans?
Thank you! We cannot say it enough. Everyone who pre-ordered via either IndieGoGo or Southern Lord Recordings you are helping build this band, push this record, and keep the darkest hour music legacy alive. If you haven’t picked up the new record please check it out online and if you do love it, please pick it up! Unlike record deals we had signed in the past, this situation is very profitable for the band and you can rest assured that your purchase will go directly towards funding the life of this band. We are honored to have a place in your heart as artists and if you ever see us at a show make sure you yell at us and get a high five in!