Hailing from Waterford, Michigan, melodic death metal outfit, The Black Dahlia Murder will be heading to South Africa for the first time to perform at RAMFest in March 2020. The Black Dahlia Murder’s frontman, Trevor Strnad, reveals details about their upcoming performances at RAMFest and what their previous festival experiences have been like.
Thank you for taking the time to do this interview – we are so excited to have you here! How did this tour come about? What made you decide to tour South Africa?
Thanks for having me and for having us in your beautiful country! We too are very excited about our RAMFest appearances! I’m not entirely sure how it came about to be honest. I think someone contacted our manager, EJ Johantgen with an offer. Touching down in South Africa has been on our short list for a while now… We’ve heard of a few bands coming over prior to ourselves who reported back with great experiences (Cannibal Corpse, Darkest Hour) and we’ve been eager to add this to our list of worldly conquests. I have noticed a lot of fans from South Africa on our social media outlets… enough to know that there was surely some kind of buzz for us there. It feels especially good to bring our music to fans in a new country. It’s a very special feeling to deliver a show for a crowd that has been waiting for years upon years… to finally make their wishes come true.
What can the audience expect from your performance at RAMFest?
Fans can expect an exciting show filled with all the classic TBDM tunes as well as some brand new music from our upcoming album. In fact, you guys will be the first people to hear anything from the new record in a live situation. You get to be the guinea pigs!
What do you look forward to the most when touring internationally? Will you have time to travel around South Africa before or after your shows in Cape Town and Pretoria?
I like to see what the fans are like in each corner of the world. I like to see what their extreme scenes are like… how hungry for extremity they seem. In this case I feel like an American ambassador for the extreme. Not many of us have had the opportunity to come over from our scene. It’s a benchmark for us. A yard stick of worth.
Yes and I am looking forward massively to seeing the sights you have to offer. I got a glimpse of the schedule and although we are only playing two shows we’ll be there for a few additional days to do some adventuring and partying.
How do you go about preparing yourselves before a performance? (i.e. warm-up with scales or meditate to clear your mind?)
The guys will run through some songs on their instruments together, unplugged, along with our drummer Alan on either a practice pad setup or sometimes a whole electronic kit (if there’s room). I do a few simple warm ups that I learned from my sixth grade chorus teacher. Some basic scaley stuff. Some of us drink whiskey to get over our stage fright (its also medicinal for a scratchy throat) and we just hang out and tell jokes and get into a positive frame of mind together. The guys are my best friends and we take that energy up on to the stage each night.
What is the wildest thing you’ve seen or done on tour?
Drive on the expressway in Russia at well than more than 100mph. We were so late going to the airport after our equipment had gotten trapped in an elevator (long story) earlier that day. We were all laughing out loud at how scary the whole situation was… we knew we’d have to do some action movie driving just to make it.
You’ve played at some prominent festivals. Which festival has been your favourite to play at and why?
Hellfest has been really good. Full Force. Wacken. I think the time we opened the mainstage at Wacken was one of the highlights of this whole TBDM experience. We were absolutely the first band that day and didn’t know what to expect, and lo and behold there were thousands of people that came bright and early, ready to rock!
What has been your biggest challenge as a band and what is the secret to your enduring musical partnership?
I think the biggest challenge is the amount of touring that we undertake each album. Its exhausting. I think its been the main reason the people that left in the past of the band did so… its not a comfortable nor glamorous life. It’s often insanely boring and very repetitive. It can definitely grind you down sometimes. Our secret is laughter. We are very very fortunate that we have such a friendship between our members. We’ve always been friends with each member of the band… they aren’t just hired guns. We endure a lot of hardships together so its important to surround yourself with people who are generally optimistic. Its insanely hard having a negative force dragging you down constantly.
Who or what inspired you to pursue a career path in music?
While Dave Mustaine and Megadeth were my first love in Metal, it was Henry Rollins and his DIY conquests with Black Flag that he detailed in his book “Get In The Van” that really got me interested in touring. I was obsessed with it. Somehow, that book about being miserable on endless tours got me really excited to try and do it on my own. The way the band did everything themselves was really inspiring to me and my young friends. I used to fantasize about going out in the world and playing music with a real band.
What do you feel is the best song you’ve ever released and why?
The best songs are yet to come on our new album Verminous. As for what’s been available to the public I am still very much in love with the song “I Will Return” from our fourth album Deflorate. It’s got a really big dramatic intro, and the verse riffs are just awesomely frosty Swedish black metal worship. We often close our sets with this song and it’s just completely massive live.
What advice would you give to a young band just starting out today?
Utilize the internet to it’s fullest potential. Be diligent with social media and work hard to converse with fans on an individual basis. I would recommend using Bandcamp to start in place of a label. It’s an easy platform on which to sell digital downloads of music as well as a decent front for physical merch sales. If you do get signed to a label, don’t sign away the rights to your merchandise. Your merch is the only chance you have to stay out of the red. If you have to, one design per album to the label is acceptable. I would even say that having a label isn’t everything in this day and age. Look at bands like Traitors and Shadow Of Intent. They are doing what they do without a label and its totally working.
Trevor Strnad (Vocalist)