Interview with guitarist/vocalist Dan Alderson
Interview conducted by MetalMike
Date online: September 4, 2017
The U.K.'s Horrified started out as a straight Death Metal act influenced by both the big names in the genre as well as some of the lesser-known acts. In just a few short years and three full-length albums, their sound has evolved tremendously to the point where you might not realize the same band created the debut Descent into Putridity and their latest, Allure of the Fallen despite being released only three years apart. Dan Alderson, the driving force behind the band, as well as playing guitar and providing vocals, took some time out of his very busy schedule to give the readers here at The Metal Crypt some insight into the new album, the band's musical evolution and where we can (hopefully) catch Horrified live in the near future.
MetalMike: Hey Dan! Thanks for taking some time to give The Metal Crypt readers some insight behind Horrified. How are things going at the moment?
Dan: Hi Mike! Thanks for getting in touch and asking me to do this interview for The Metal Crypt and your continued support with the band! I'm literally answering these questions after a very productive rehearsal. We have a lineup change coming up after a show we are playing in October (this won't be announced until after then so I can't go into detail). We are currently practicing with a new member who will be stepping in after that show whilst also getting ready for that show with the current lineup. Of course, we are also handling everything that comes with an album release. Dealing with press, packing up an abundance of pre-orders and shipping them out to presale customers, getting merch pressed for shows and online ordering, dealing with promoters for bookings, etc. We are pretty busy and productive right now, which is great after a very quiet time for the better part of a year while the new album was being worked on! Oh, we may also be writing material for the next release already....
MetalMike: Can you take a moment and introduce the rest of the band for those not familiar with the current lineup? Are there any other members besides yourself for whom Horrified is their main band or is the situation similar too many musicians today and Horrified is one of a number of endeavors?
Dan: The current line-up is me on guitar/vocals, Dan Jordan on guitar, Lee Anderson on bass and James Charlton on drums. As I said in the last question, there will be a lineup change after the gig we are playing in October but I can't give details here. Lee and James play in an abundance of bands but Dan and I only really play in Horrified, which is our absolute main priority musically.
After this line-up change, there will be three members on that train of thought which will provide Horrified with its most dedicated line up to date. I also have a side project on the go currently but that is happening at a very slow pace. I'm also taking up guitar duties for another band in their live line-up. This project is split up around the country with minimal practice making it easy for me to fit around my prioritization for Horrified whilst allowing me to scratch a couple of musical itches that I can't with this band.
MetalMike: Congratulations on completing album #3, Allure of the Fallen (due out September 29, 2017). How proud are you with what you've come up with this time-out?
Dan: Many thanks! Well, I have to say I feel like a broken record when I give this response, especially considering I gave similar responses in regard to the change from the debut to the follow-up. Allure of the Fallen presents another HUGE step forward for Horrified in every department. This is definitely the most complete release that I've done not just with Horrified but in my time doing music in general. Even though I feel performances and production have taken another noticeable step forward (the latter being vastly superior this time) I have to admit I'm incredibly pleased with how the arrangement turned out, both the individual songs and the tracking of the album. I spent a very long time writing and refining these songs with the purpose of providing a complete, flowing piece and I feel that objective was achieved.
MetalMike: Having heard the album I can say the musical evolution of Horrified is in full swing. Can you take us through where Horrified has been starting with Carcinogenic Feasting through Descent into Putridity, Of Despair and arriving at Allure of the Fallen?
Dan: Horrified started off in a very tongue-in-cheek manner. I was just a kid finding my way in the art of making records and wanting to voice some riffs/music I wanted to put out. I used the studio facilities during my time at university to make that possible during the demo/debut times. I guess a comparable example of how we have progressed is if we look at Death's and Edge of Sanity's discographies where the early albums began rooted in the nitty-gritty of American/Swedish death metal styles respectively. The bands subsequently added new elements with each new release and evolved in that manner. Descent Into Putridity was written with not much thought put into it. I just had riffs put together that I thought sounded cool. It was with Of Despair that I started to take writing and arranging things very seriously. This element of dedication with songwriting was taken to new levels with the new record, hence the results....
MetalMike: Why the constant change? Is it a mechanism to avoid becoming stale or are you someone that lives on constant change and challenging yourself?
Dan: I think I touched on this in the previous question. A lot of my favorite bands and biggest influences progressed and evolved over the years. I'm not really a fan of stagnation and I would never want to put out the same album over and over again. I do challenge and push myself very, very hard to write the best material possible. Which when thinking about it now, I consider to be a big reason why Horrified are an evolving band as I'd hate to repeat myself. I'm also pretty much just writing music that I would want to hear from a band myself. I do think the progression for this band has been relevant and done at suitable pace from record to record though, which is something which will continue with following releases.
MetalMike: On Horrified's earlier releases the titans of Death Metal were clearly signposts by which you navigated the waters of the metal scene. Who were your heroes back then and which bands are you looking toward as you take Horrified in a more epic direction?
Dan: When first tabbing up the riffs for the early material I saved the file names in guitar pro as "Considered Dead 1" "Considered Dead 2" etc. Make of that what you will, haha! But yeah, Gorguts' debut was a huge one back then and I was borderline obsessed with the riffs, production and drum work with that one back then. When Horrendous released their mammoth album Ecdysis in 2014 it really struck a chord as to how a band can evolve and achieve new artistic heights with their music in spite of how things started. If I could name the one single album which inspired me to take Horrified down the direction started with Of Despair, then it would be that one. Other than Horrendous the bands that influence me to write these days are Atlantean Kodex, Caladan Brood, Dawn, Dissection, Summoning, While Heaven Wept, Sacramentum, Mourning Belevoth, Vinteralnd, etc., etc. Doom plays a huge role in terms of musical influence these days and styles such as Funeral/Death-Doom provide me with an emotional response and stimuli few other styles could hope to match which is something I want to express with our material too.
MetalMike: As a musician and songwriter, do you listen to other metal bands or are you concerned that you might become overly influenced and subconsciously emulate them? Do you write the songs for Horrified or are the other members welcome to bring their contributions to the table? Regardless of who does the actual writing are all the members involved in bringing the songs to their final form or are they pretty much complete by the time they are recorded?
Dan: Well, I'm an absolute passionate and devotee metal fan so being a songwriter does not stop me from listening to my favorite bands and records that inspire me to play or write. All my ideas start in my head so I know they have come from within me. On Allure of the Fallen, I wrote the entire album bar one track. "Unanswered" was co-written by me an ex-member. On the next record, Dan and I are doing a lot more writing together. By the time we record, the songs are 100% complete due to us being able to practice to Guitar Pro files and pre-production demos.
We then just lay down the parts as we wrote and intended them to be in the writing phase. This element of song writing and pre-production really does help with a release in general as you can become familiar with songs before proper recording takes place and I consider it to be one of the most essential elements to making a record in the modern recording age.
MetalMike – I have to say my favorite song from the new album is "Unanswered". It really captures that "epic" feel for me. What is your favorite track on Allure of the Fallen and why?
Dan: Thanks! This seems to be an early favorite or highlight for people who were involved in making the record, the press or close friends who have heard it. I have to say it's a personal highlight for me for exactly the reasons you stated. I think having that input from Rob (Hindmarsh, ex-guitarist) on the song at the time and building on his sections helped take the epic levels to a new high. The arrangement really came together smoothly and quickly during the writing process and I made a very big effort to build up themes. Picking one highlight for me is pretty much impossible as each song was written to play its part in how the overall album becomes one epic piece from start to finish!
MetalMike: I assume it is safe to say you'll be playing live in support of Allure of the Fallen in the coming months. Are there any songs from the album that you feel will translate into the live setting better than others? Are there any songs that you foresee any trouble recreating live?
Dand: We have been out of the scene for a while, so the new album will re-establish those connections we had on the live circuit and hopefully build new ones for shows! We are doing an album launch show in October where we are headlining and playing Allure in its entirety. We are also confirmed for a pre-show for a well-established festival in April 2018 (I can't give any more details because it isn't officially announced yet). Those are the only two shows on the calendar so far, but we are striving to get a lot more booked and are doing things to make that a reality as of now. "Unanswered" is actually coming off brilliantly live. Dan Jordan has written a few alternating lead/melody parts which he plays and would have certainly been tacked on the album if he was in the band while we were making it! "The Perceiver" is also ace live as Dan again came up with a great ending to get around the fade out. The only song that is coming off hard is the closer due to how layered it is in parts.
MetalMike: Speaking of touring, any plans once the album is out where fans will be able to catch the band live? Have you given much thought to a set list? For instance, will you reach back to Descent or stick with newer material? Are there many places to play locally for Horrified?
Dan: New material for sure, as with that line-up change mentioned before. We are just getting down a few select songs from Allure to keep in the set and will probably start jamming and debuting new material live to keep moving forward. If we don't get offered any shows for late 2017 we will be booking our own tour (at least four dates, with the aim of a full week) to do the rounds in country to support the album more. There are a couple of decent venues still left in Newcastle, but I don't want to overplay the local scene much going forward.
MetalMike: Being from the U.K. and close to mainland Europe, have you been able to take advantage of the multitude of festivals and bring Horrified's music to a relatively large audience? If not, are there any festivals you have your sights set on for the 2018 festival season?
Dan: Well, we sure hope the new album brings some decent offers for some good shows in Europe! We played one decently known festival in 2015 "Gothenburg Death Fest" in Sweden, obviously. This was the biggest audience we ever played to (Just around 150 - 175 I think). The festival we are doing the pre-show for is based in Scotland but we actually don't really get asked to play by an abundance of promoters for whatever reason. Hopefully third time will be a charm for our live calendar to be busier than it has been.
MetalMike: What would be the dream tour for Horrified to join, if given the opportunity?
Dan: Well, touring the states with Horrendous would be ace, as we've worked with Damian on two albums and we've been online buddies for a few years now. The rest of the guys are really cool and are dead supportive of Horrified! It would also be a bill with similar bands, really. I guess opening for some melodic black metal dream team tour including reformed bands such as Dawn or Vinterland would be unbelievable (In terms of more surreal chances, haha).
MetalMike: tough question next; why play in a band these days? The music industry is set up where unless you're Iron Maiden or AC/DC, you can't live off being in a band. With illegal downloading record sales are a non-factor so the only way to make money is incessant touring and merchandise sales. Can you envision a future where Horrified is your career or will it have to be something you do in your spare time, passionately, of course!
Dan: Well, I currently stack shelves while I'm training to be a music teacher, which provides enough income for the point of life I'm at currently. Once I'm qualified, I am hoping to teach music in college to be able to make a living out of the thing I'm most passionate about. I do approach Horrified as a "career" mentally but not in a sense of making a living from it. More like the records we make, shows we do and any sort of impact we have out there. There are many, many challenges doing a band and it can be a little overwhelming (especially when you are in charge of the band, like I am with Horrified) Hell, I even had a borderline breakdown when I couldn't handle it anymore (combined with what was going on in my head and real life) last summer and went a little crazy, which lead to me going under the radar and hardly doing music much for a very long time. Thankfully I'm past that and I'll never let that happen again. Music has to be done out of passion, as you say in your question. You have to love it so I guess doing a band is a labour of love for a lot of people (including me). But all of this leads to some pretty gratifying situations in life. I can't tell you how great the feeling is of sharing track previews for the first time after bleeding out on a record for months. Or receiving some really inspiring feedback from press or someone you respect, or playing a good show in front of a crowd. It's all that type of stuff that make you want to do it really and I couldn't really imagine my life without these things or striving to make the best material possible and delivering tight sets as a unit. Life would be pretty boring and dull without it.
MetalMike: What's the best advice you've gotten from a fellow musician and, if different, is there anything you'd tell an aspiring band based on what you've learned?
Dan: Wow, this is a bit of a curve ball. But a very cool/good question! I've had a lot of advice from my peers and musicians I have worked with or am friends with whom I respect. I wish I could pick out a quote but nothing springs to mind at this time. I guess my 2p (2 cents for us in North America! - Metalmike) would be to only commit to doing music if you have a serious fire inside you and a vision you want to achieve.
MetalMike: With Horrified's evolving sound, when can we expect the Happy Power Metal album?
Dan: Haha! Good one, this made me legit laugh. Maybe album 5 when we realise poppy structures are easier to write and record than the material we are pushing currently!
MetalMike: Is there anything we didn't cover you'd like the readers to know about Horrified or Allure of the Fallen that we haven't covered?
Dan: I think I've said quite a bit. Your questions allowed me to go pretty in-depth. Thanks for doing your research and taking the time to come up with this interview and getting to know the album, of course. I really appreciate when someone really gets to know our records!
MetalMike: Thanks again for your time Dan! Good luck in the future with Allure of the Fallen and Horrified. Last words? Don't forget to tell us where we can keep up to date on Horrified's activities.
Dan: Thank you for the kind words of encouragement and support Mike, it means a lot! We have a lot and I do mean a lot going on at the moment. I have to say the new material may be even more accomplished than Allure. We are certainly trying our hardest to outdo ourselves again. For now, I hope ya'll enjoying the new record and thanks for your time and support! Cheers all!
|Other information about Horrified on this site|
|Review: Carcinogenic Feasting|
|Review: Of Despair|
|Review: Allure of the Fallen|
Copyright © 1999-2016, Michel Renaud / The Metal Crypt. All Rights Reserved.