2014-12-18 Dawnbringer

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One of the most exceptionally gifted musicians in our contemporary Metal community is Chris Black from Chicago who is not only the mastermind of HIGH SPIRITS and PHARAO, but also of DAWNBRINGER whose latest release "Night Of The Hammer" is once more a high-class album between musical modern spirit and past. So we asked him where he takes all his ideas from, if he is working on furthermore projects, and if he wants to step into King Diamond´s shoes...Interview

Hi Chris! How are you?

I’m fine, thank you.

Your new record "Night Of The Hammer" sounds a little bit less harsh and rough to me than your last two albums "Nucleus" and "Into The Lair Of The Sun God", but instead it is even more melodic and catchy. Did you want to have it some more in the direction of HIGH SPIRITS, or did the songwriting simply turn out this way?

It simply turned out this way. Also the production is more smooth compared to the previous DAWNBRINGER records. Especially Nucleus had quite a rough sound. But you’re also correct that the songwriting is more compact, the rhythms more basic, and so on. 

"Night Of The Hammer" contains a song called "The Burning Of Home". Is it meant to be a pun with "The Burning Of Rome"? What does this anthem deal with?

Yes, that’s exactly right about the title. It’s about the self-destruction of a society, basically, when self-oppression has failed and the only option is violence. It’s a bit of a precursor to something I’m working on now, in that sense. Not musically. Musically it’s probably the song with the most ties to the previous two DAWNBRINGER albums.

The song "Funeral Child" reminds not only me of old MERCYFUL FATE and KING DIAMOND. Did you intend to write a homage to these Danish legends? Are you such a great fan of them? And how difficult was it to scream like The King?

The first half of the song is a bit of a tribute to the KING DIAMOND band, yes. I am a big MERCYFUL FATE fan as well of course, but in particular the opening drum fill and the style of the guitar solo are based on Mikkey Dee (current drummer of MOTÖRHEAD - annotation of the editor) and Andy LaRocque (current guitarist of the KING DIAMOND band - annotation of the editor). When it comes to the vocals, the high screams are actually not too difficult. The lower notes of the falsetto voice were far more difficult.

How far do you consider DAWNBRINGER as a real band concerning the process of songwriting? Do the other musicians have any portion in the development of the records, and how many percent of "Night Of The Hammer" was written by yourself?

Except for the guitar solos, 100% was written by me.

With also PHARAOH, HIGH SPIRITS, SUPERCHRIST or at last METALUSAFER you have several other active projects respectively bands which rightly receive rave reviews in the whole Metal-community. Where do you get all the ideas from to animate these activities?

It comes simply from being a fan and being lost in the universe of Heavy Metal. It’s all „fan art“ to a great extent.

To connect to my first question: it seems that you are a very energetic songwriter, so how do you decide for which of your projects/bands the one or the other idea matches perfectly? When you have written a tune, do you immediately know for example that it fits to a DAWNBRINGER record?

It’s usually obvious, yeah, but not always. I guess it’s like doing an organ transplant, sometimes the host will reject the new organ, and you try again or you find a new donor. With this album, I wrote „Xiphias“ first, quite spontaneously. I knew right away it was for DAWNBRINGER, even though it sounds quite different to anything we’ve done before and also to the remainder of this album. Nevertheless it was my gateway to writing the rest of the album and what would be allowed.

My info to the new record indicates that DAWNBRINGER nowadays play "Singer-songwriter Heavy Metal" with "a classic '70s vibe". Do you see DAWNBRINGER as some kind of "retro-band" and as a part of this new 70's-influenced Rock-scene? By the way, do you see something in Occult Rock?

Nah, „Sun God“ was way more 70s-influenced. We’ll always be primarily a 90´s band though.

What bands and musicians are your primary influences? And do you listen to some other stuff than Metal?

Not if I can help it. I like a bit of psychedelic music and some heavy funk, but my favorite bands are the same ones as always. I still buy every new release and see every gig I can from MOTÖRHEAD, IRON MAIDEN, KING DIAMOND, W.A.S.P., GAMMA RAY, BLIND GUARDIAN, HELLOWEEN, SAXON, RIOT (V)... maybe not all of these bands are doing their best albums nowadays, but most are worthwhile at least, and I still support them because they need to go on for as long as possible.  The day will come when all that’s left are tribute bands, and that’s a sobering thought.  Anyway, it’s impossible to say where my primary influences lie. It includes the bands I named already and thousands more...

When will we be able to see DAWNBRINGER or one of your other bands on stages in Germany next time? And do you prefer either club-gigs or festivals?

With HIGH SPIRITS we have played a large amphitheatre and also a packed club, and we quite like both atmospheres!  It’s a bit easier to control the sound in a smaller room, but in either case it comes down to the sound crew to make it happen. We don’t have any live plans for DAWNBRINGER but would like to do some gigs in 2015.

What is going to be your next release? Can we anticipate something from one of your already established projects, or will it be from a completely new constellation? Do you plan to found a new project in the near future?

The next release is the vinyl version of "Night Of The Hammer" that will be released in January 2015. Then the full-length debut from AKTOR, which is myself and Jussi and Tomi from the band CIRCLE. It´s going to be released in February 2015.  AKTOR is hard to describe. Perhaps the genre is Adult Contemporary Heavy Metal! I have two other album projects going also, not counting a few collaborations that are slowly materializing - as was the case with AKTOR. 2015 should be just as busy as 2014.

Do you have some special final statement for your fans in Germany?

Well, thanks for being such a great audience for us and for heavy metal of all kinds.  Hope to see you in 2015!