Interview with bassist Dani Fernández and vocalist Dave Rotten
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: March 6, 2015
Streaking out of the Spanish underground scene comes Thrash Metal comet Holycide a band formed in 2004 but one that didn't fully establish their lineup until almost 10 years later. Holycide is fronted by Dave Rotten, who has used the power of his lungs mostly with long-running Spanish Death Metal pioneers Avulsed. Holycide's first outing, a 2-track demo titled No Escape, was their first test of the waters.
Encouraged by the response to No Escape, Holycide unleashed their new 5-song EP, Toxic Mutation, featuring a cover of Dark Angel's "Merciless Death" in February 2015. This EP feature some quality Thrash Metal that doesn't pale when compared to many other recent Thrash Metal releases so The Metal Crypt decided to dig around and find out how Holycide are planning for world Thrash domination. Bassist Dani Fernández and vocalist Dave Rotten took some time to tell us more about this and other Holycide related things...
Luxi: Holycide is a new name on the map of Spanish Thrash Metal. How was this band started? Dave already told me that it took nearly 10 years to find the right musicians to form Holycide...
Dani: Absolutely, yes. Miguel played some shows with Avulsed and Dave talked to him and that was the real beginning of Holycide. When they called me they already had 2-3 songs composed by Miguel and we fixed them and got the old school sound we wanted.
Luxi: I guess it is obvious you all share a common interest in old school Thrash Metal. How closely do your tastes match each other when it comes to Thrash Metal in general? Do you believe having similar musical tastes is one of the reasons the chemistry in the band is so good?
Dani: Since the very beginning we all had a very clear idea of what we wanted to do. Not many bands do when they get started. That is possibly one reason the songs we created are so good. We were all moving in the same direction. All of the members of Holycide like Thrash Metal, both old school and more modern Thrash. We are open-minded although the essence of our Thrash Metal is old school.
Luxi: Tell us something about the recording of Toxic Mutation, the first official recording by Holycide? Were you able to get things done the way you originally hoped?
Dani: Our first recording was a 2-song demo titled No Escape and our first released recording is Toxic Mutation. The bass and guitar line recordings were homemade and the drums and vocals were recorded in a studio. The mixing and mastering were done in Overheads Studios by Raul Furnier and we are absolutely proud of this work. The sound of Toxic Mutation is just amazing.
Luxi: My favorite track off Toxic Mutation at the moment is a song called "Apocalypse Raiders." It is like a dangerous journey whenever I listen and it also happens to be the longest track on this mini-CD, clocking in at 5:28. Do you see Holycide writing similar lengthy and epic Thrash Metal tunes in the future to give some balance to your faster and shorter numbers?
Dani: Why not? Everything is a matter of how the composing flows. This one just came out like this in a natural way. We don't look at the length when writing a song. We'll try not to write seven-minute songs, ha ha, but something in the 3-4-5 minute range will be the normal thing for us to write as far as song length is concerned. We don't write fast songs or slow songs on purpose. We'll try to make sure all the songs have good intensity and aggression and avoid monotony. Many bands just go for fast stuff and then all the songs sound the same. We'll try to write dynamic songs to keep the listener interested all the time with fresh and well-arranged compositions. I hope we'll succeed on this.
Luxi: Both guitarists, Miguel and Salva, sound very seasoned and capable of churning out killer, mind-piercing riffs and amazing solos. I guess these fellows don't need much guidance as to how the guitars in Holycide should sound, do they? ;o)
Dani: You are right, both are killer guitarists indeed. The only guidance that they needed was "never stop playing dudes!!" ha ha ha!!! In fact, Miguel is a guitar teacher. He's very skilled and he was Salva's teacher. That's why Salva joined the band; Miguel knew him and his abilities as a guitarist.
Luxi: When Holycide compose a song what aspects do you always try to pay extra attention to, so that it turns out the way it's been imagined in your minds?
Dani: We only pay attention to sounding like motherfucking Thrash Metal at all times. If it's not sounding Thrash enough, we are not doing it right, ha ha!! We don't want to do dull and boring Thrash Metal or stuff that is too technical or, like I said earlier, too monotonous by playing full speed all the time. We try to mix various elements, keep the songs catchy and memorable and, at the same time, aggressive and furious. So far Miguel and I are writing the songs and then we all arrange them until we reach something we all like.
Luxi: Have you ever argued over things like whether to keep this riff or that song part should be throw away and so on?
Dani: We have never argued about songwriting related issues. We mainly try to discuss the best way to do everything in a constructive spirit. Dave does have two basic rules that we all respect though; we avoid modern groove riffs (like Pantera's) or anything too light sounding, à la Megadeth. I think if we just follow these two basic rules, then everything should be just fine with us, ha ha!!
Luxi: Was covering Dark Angel's "Merciless Death" an obvious choice for all of you or were there a pile of other choices there that you wanted to cover for Toxic Mutation?
Dani: We had a few more options but we always thought "Merciless Death" was the best choice for us, for sure. We had covers from bands like Demolition Hammer, Infernäl Mäjesty, Recipients of Death, etc. in mind but in the end we opted for Dark Angel, which is a fave of all of us.
Luxi: Perhaps it's only me saying this but in a way your vocals on Toxic Mutation are reminiscent of Esa Lindén of Demigod when he switched from his Death growls to a more Thrash approach. Have you noticed this yourself?
Dave: Ha ha... no, to be honest that never went through my head! In fact I'm not that familiar with Esa's Thrash vocals. I can't think of it right now although I remember I heard his other band Neverborn like 20 years ago or something but I can't remember precisely how his vocals sounded back then. I love Esa's growling vocals on the first Demigod album, in any case!! I must say my Thrash voice is a blend of different influences although I can't find anyone with a vocal style similar to mine. I just didn't want that typical Kreator-type of voice, which is quite easy and vulgar (nothing personal, you know). It's okay for some bands, but it tends to sound quite tedious after a while unless you're Mille from the 80's Kreator (nowadays he sings very bad, nearly as bad as Mr. Mustaine, ha ha!!).
Luxi: How long of a process has it been for you to find the right tone to sing Thrash Metal? How is your Thrash singing different from your Death Metal growls (in Avulsed, Christ Denied, Putrevore, etc.)
Dave: I must say that even though it took me like 10 years to get the band together with the right members and although we already had two songs recorded from around 2010, I never tried any Thrash vocals so it was kind of mystery even for me as to how I was going to sing, haha!! I've been growling for 25 years now and I can do many different types of growls but I never tried a different style so for me Holycide was a big challenge. I wanted to prove I can do more than just growling. I must say I'm just a beginner here, ha ha!! Singing Thrash is very different from doing Death Metal vocals. Not harder or easier, just different, and I have to get use to modulate my voice and create different moods while singing, as I do with the growling stuff. In Thrash Metal I have to sing louder in order to sound more aggressive and the feeling is equally aggressive when I am singing. When recording Death Metal growls, I have to be quite near the microphone but when doing the Thrash vocals, I have to be like 50 cm away from the microphone, ha ha!!
Luxi: How much new material do you have ready and do you see Holycide recording their debut album by the end of 2015?
Dani: Yeah, we have some new material and maybe we will begin the recording of our debut album by the end of 2015 or the beginning of 2016, depending on the composition process. It might take longer, who knows?, but this our initial plan. We don't want to get stressed with this in any case so if it we end up recording the album in the summer of 2016 or whenever, then that's the way it was meant to be. We just don't want to do things under pressure or in a rush because we may end up writing utter shit, ha ha!!
Luxi: When the right time comes to get a Holycide full-length studio album out will you go with Xtreem Music or perhaps on some other label?
Dani: Xtreem Music cares a lot about us but if we ever receive a call from Century Media we would think twice about it, ha ha!! The EP has only been out for about a week now and we're very happy where we are. We are taking it one step at a time and not aiming too high, just following our humble path to see what the future holds for us. Once we record our debut album we'll see if any bigger labels are interested. Honestly, that's not something we lose sleep over, ha ha!! Right now we just want to enjoy playing Thrash Metal and that's enough for us!!
Luxi: Making a video is always a nice way to get a bit more promotional for a release. Do you have this on your to-do list?
Dani: Sure, we are already working on a possible video clip and, at the same time, a lyric video. This second option is the easiest of course, so we'll see how and when we do both.
Luxi: What do think of the current Spanish Thrash Metal scene? It seems like it is flourishing nowadays with many examples like Angelus Apatrida, Fuck Off, Aggression, Exodia and the list goes on and on...
Dani: Yes, you're right. There are lots of good bands in the current Spanish Thrash Metal scene but Angelus Apatrida is the most well known name at the moment. They are opening new roads for the rest of but they're not the only band for doing so. We have many good bands here like Trallery, Mutant Squad, Breathless, Rancor, Crisix, Legen Beltza, Omission and many others besides the ones you mentioned above, of course!
Luxi: What do you think has happened in the Spanish underground scene over the last few years that has allowed it to produce so many Thrash Metal bands these days?
Dani: We may not have as many underground Thrash bands as some other countries. In Spain we have more of the other forms of extreme Metal like Death Metal, Hardcore, Metalcore, etc., but also some very good Thrash Metal bands, which I mentioned about in my previous answer. Perhaps people will become more aware of these Spanish Thrash Metal bands in the future, you never know.
Luxi: How much live playing do you hope to do with Holycide?
Dani: We'll do the concerts that are offered to us just to demonstrate the potential we have in Holycide. All of us have a good amount of live experience that we gained with our bands in the past so we're not rookies. We are pretty anxious to start playing live with Holycide!!
Luxi: Are any band names out there that you'd love to tour with? Getting a perfect match for the kind of stuff that Holycide does is way better than touring with a band that comes from another planet musically, right?
Dani: Naturally we prefer playing with bands similar to our style. It would be a pleasure and/or a dream for us to play live with bands like Slayer, Destruction, Kreator, Dark Angel, Testament; all the big names, you know? But we would be happy playing any show, small or big, we really don't mind as long as we get an opportunity to perform our songs live for people.
Luxi: What are the "hotspots" in Spain for Metal bands to get gigs these days? Are there clubs that mainly try to book mainstream Metal names only? What about the more underground Metal orientated clubs that might be better for a band like Holycide?
Dani: Actually in Spain there are many clubs where you can play and not only large clubs for all the biggest and most established names. However, I think the main problem is that Spanish underground bands are not so popular here in Spain at the moment and playing outside your city is a problem sometimes. I think this occurs because new bands want to be as big as Metallica or some of the other more popular bands right after their first albums are released. It is like they want the moon immediately, which is kind of absurd and lame. Like I said before we prefer to go step-by-step and not aim too high right off the bat. That's why we wanted to release our 2-song demo first then record the EP with the next logical step being recording an album. In the meantime we will just try to build up a name for ourselves and try to get more live experience for the band. Those are the steps we are going to take as Holycide.
Luxi: How would you say 2015 looks for Holycide?
Dani: 2015 is our first full year with Holycide. This indeed is a very important year for us but we'll do our things slowly and expect people to get interested in our music. During 2015 Holycide will aim to play some good live shows and write well-balanced Thrash Metal compositions. That's our realistic goal for 2015, I think.
Luxi: Thanks so much to both of you for your time and all the best for your future endeavors with Holycide. The last words belong rightfully to you...
Dani: Thank you for the interview, it was a pleasure! I just want to recommend to everybody that they follow us on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/holycide), listen to our music (and buy, if possible) at our Bandcamp site (holycide.bandcamp.com) and above all, we hope to see you all at our shows very soon!! 'til then, salute and adios people...c-ya!
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