Interview with guitarist and vocalist Dan Pool
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: June 19, 2020
Individual live pics by Paul Curry
Must Kill is a new thrash metal band formed in 2018 in Milton Keynes, England. They look to the old school thrash and death metal scenes, taking bits and pieces, and employing them in their music. Even though the band has been around less than two years, they have already made some noise in Herts Beds and Bucks, the counties in England that surround London.
This foursome released their 4-track debut EP, Ghost Malevolent, in March 2020 and we here at The Metal Crypt headquarters heard it and were pretty impressed. We contacted them and guitarist/vocalist Dan Pool kindly stepped up to tell us what made him start the band and what plans they have for the future.
How's life in Milton Keynes these days, with the Coronavirus pandemic raging all around the world?
Dan: For the past nearly two months I've actually been living in Germany, in Düsseldorf. I came to visit just before the travel ban was put in place and my return flight was cancelled.
I'm essentially stuck in Germany, but I'm really lucky because I have somewhere to stay. It hasn't been bad at all and I actually love it here anyway. I've been working here normally anyway because I have my work laptop. The only difference is that I'm not in England. When the current situation started, I think it was a global problem. Supermarkets were short of really funny things like toilet paper and pasta. The shelves were completely empty. It was quite annoying. Going to buy toilet paper from the shop and you can't even find it is ridiculous, but you see the funny side of it as well, when people panic in that respect. Now, you can actually buy things like that in the shop and there's not a massive shortage here in Germany, at least.
The most noticeable difference with this pandemic has how dead the city is. Düsseldorf is normally a very busy city. All the shops and restaurants are closed and that's quite depressing to see because I've seen the other side of when, on a normal day, there's so many people and it's really alive. I think a lot of people have been getting a case of cabin fever because they're kind of stuck inside.
I think it's basically been the same in England, to be honest. From what I've seen, I think traveling is a bit more restricted. If you want to go driving in your car or something, they say "essential travel only", but I've never really experienced that here in Germany. Next week, I think some shops are going to start to open. Yes, these are very strange times, but hopefully, we'll be over this in the upcoming months.
THE START OF MUST KILL
You guys formed this band in late 2018. How did you end up meeting each other and putting a band together?
Dan: We formed Must Kill in late 2018. James and I, we've known each other for over 10 years. We played in a band together previously called Abadden. It was a thrash metal band. We actually released one album called Sentenced to Death, which you can find on all major streaming platforms. Basically, we met when we were quite young. James and I have always had a great connection musically, meaning we both have a love of thrash metal. I'll play a riff and he knows exactly what beat to put with it and vice versa. We have really good chemistry with that.
With our old band, we released one album, and then things went really quiet for various reasons. Daryl, the lead guitar player, actually joined as a bass player in that old band for a little while. That's how we came to know each other. That band hasn't actually split up, it's just on a hiatus. I don't see it coming back to life any time soon because we want to focus on Must Kill. That's how we know Daryl. I thought he was a great bass player, but he's an even better lead guitar player, as I'm sure you've heard on the EP. Just to give you some backstory, when my last band went quiet, I stopped playing music for a few years for various reasons.
A few years later, I had this, I'm going to say itch, this thing inside me, which is like, I want to write music and I need to do that. I love writing music. I feel like I've really got something to offer with that side of things. I realized that it's something that I really want to do with my life as well because I'm so passionate about metal music and, like I said, I feel like I've got something to offer. Because I have such a passion for it, I want that to be my career choice. I do have a full-time job, and I am committed to that as well, but music is the thing which I really want to do. I'm working on both things, but music is what I really want to do. I want to be in a touring band.
Anyway, after a few years had passed, I had this idea to start this new band. I'd actually spoken to Daryl about this previously. It just got to a point when I thought I'm going to start this band now. I suggested the idea to Daryl, and he was really into it because he really wanted to play lead guitar. I asked Bell if he'd play drums, and he said yes. I already had a few song ideas. One song, "One Face Fits All", was already written. Because I hadn't written any music for years, it took me six months to write that song. I was just sitting on it for ages. I didn't think it was that good because I couldn't think of any other songs to write. It's one of my favorite songs now, funny enough. We started playing that and then we continued to write more music while trying to find a bass player, which was a bit challenging at first. It was more about finding someone who is into the style of music and at a high-level as well. John got in contact with me via an ad after a few months. We auditioned him. We thought he was a perfect fit. I'm not even sure if he knows this, I haven't told him, so he'll find out when he reads this. When he auditioned, I thought he was good and I thought he would be a good fit, but after playing music with him, since he joined and especially recording with him, I actually didn't realize how much of an awesome bass player he is. I think we're really lucky to have him in the band because he is awesome. He has a great sound and style of playing. I'm really looking forward to what he's going to add to future music as well.
ABOUT STAYING TRUE TO THE THRASH STYLE
Was that the toughest part of forming the band, finding four like-minded guys who had a common understanding of what this band should be all about musically?
Dan: It is hard to find like-minded guys who have a common understanding of what the band is about 100%. I've got quite a few friends who are into metal, but they're not all into the exact same type of metal as me.
I'm really into old school stuff like '80s thrash, old school death metal, stuff like that. I do like newer music as well, but old-school stuff is my first love, so to speak. One thing I've learned getting older is not everyone has to be into only '80s-style thrash or death or whatever. I think if older musicians have different influences, you can create something really interesting because now, compared to when I was 19, I don't want to keep writing thrash metal 100 miles an hour, just writing the same thing all the time.
I want to write something that's different. Obviously, stay true to thrash but also add some interesting dynamics to it. Also, just because something's not metal doesn't mean that it's bad. Obviously, there is so much amazing music out there other than metal and rock music. The way I'm approaching it now is I would just like to leave it open so we can just add all these weird and interesting things to our music and not box ourselves in and say, "We only play thrash." That's fine if bands want to do that, but personally, I want to push this band to see how far we can go musically.
Is Milton Keynes the kind of city where one can find like-minded musicians for a metal band easily?
Dan: Actually, Milton Keynes is an interesting place. There are lots of musicians who are into alternative music, metal. A lot of young people as well, like in their early 20s or their late teens. I had auditions and people in Milton Keynes, but it just wasn't the level I was looking for. I did notice that in Milton Keynes, there is actually lots of people that are into that style of music.
Many bands start out covers of other bands. Did you have a similar start? If so, which songs did you cover?
Dan: My old band started off playing covers. For us, it was mostly Metallica covers. We covered songs like "Seek & Destroy", "Master of Puppets", "Ride the Lightning". We did "Walk" by Pantera. The typical ones that bands will do. With Must Kill, we played "Bonded by Blood" by Exodus sometimes. The main riff for "Bonded by Blood" is the riff that defines thrash metal for me. It's one of the best thrash metal riffs ever. Sometimes we put that in the set if we want to add something different. We don't focus on covers too much with this band, even though they are fun to play. I think at this stage, we're focusing on writing.
Besides your band, what are some other new metal bands from your city that people should keep their eyes out for in the future?
Dan: There's a band, not from Milton Keynes, but from Hertfordshire. One of the local bands in that area would be a band called Dolyrus. A really good band, really good musicians. They've been around for a couple of years now. I would definitely keep an eye on them. There's another local band, it's a one-man band. They're called Descendant of Odin. It's basically one guy, and I think he records all of his stuff himself. He plays live, but he plays with the backing track and stuff. He's a really tight guitar player, and he is a really good songwriter as well. I think a lot of people know him. His songs are in the spirit of Vikings, sort of like Amon Amarth. I would keep an eye out for him as well. They are a couple others from the London area, but they're quite close to where we live. A technical death metal band called Xelas. I played with them for a little while a few years ago. Really talented band. There's another band called Overthrow as well, which the drummer from Xelas plays in as well. I would say I'd definitely keep an eye on those guys as well. I think they're recording right now and will be releasing something soon.
Perhaps it might seem a little bit odd but when I was listening to your 4-track EP titled Ghost Malevolent the other day, it distantly reminded me of the Brazilian all-female thrash act, Nervosa, and not only the music itself but also your vocal parts. How would you take this observation, eh?
Dan: I always find it interesting when people give me feedback on how they interpret our music, what it reminds them of. It's quite interesting that people compare us to this and that, and they're not close all the time. There's been quite a few different interpretations of what we sound like. I like Nervosa as well. I saw them at a festival a few years ago. I really liked that single they did, "Death". I think that's a really good song. I'll take it as a really good observation because her vocals are really brutal, so definitely take that as a compliment.
Like I said, I find it interesting when people have these different interpretations.
ED WITH HIS MIDAS TOUCH IN PRODUCING
What kind of a process was it to get this EP recorded at EAS Studios? Did Ed Sokolowski know right off the bat what type of sound you were looking for? Did you reference any albums to tell Ed "This is the kind of sound we would want", or wasn't that really necessary as he pretty much knew already what type of sound fits your band?
Dan: With Ed, he's a local guy from Milton Keynes. I have known of Ed for years because James recorded with his first-ever band with him when James was 15. That's how we've known Ed over the years, but I'd never worked with him previously. When Ed worked with James, it was over 10 years ago. We spoke about going with Ed. We had a meeting with him where we started talking about the ideas and everything.
Ed, since he was a kid, he was always been massively into metal and everything. He started off recording metal bands and over the years, has diversified who he records with. He does pop, indie. He basically does everything. He doesn't close himself off. We sat down and spoke to him about what we wanted to do with the EP and he was really interested in doing it. Then we went from there...
Before we started recording, we all sat with Ed and he asked, "What kind of guitar sounds do you like? Drums, bass?" and so forth. Interestingly enough, especially with the guitar tones, we always came back to bands which producer Andy Sneap recorded with, so bands like Exodus, Testament, Judas Priest. The guitar tones he gets are just unbelievably crushing. To be honest, we got exactly what we wanted out of that recording as well.
Ed had an idea of what he wanted it to sound like. He wanted it to sound as natural as possible, not too overproduced, keep it raw, old school but with the modern sound as well. Before we started recording, I thought that the CD was going to sound good. When we started recording, I didn't realize how passionate Ed is about what he does. It doesn't matter if he's working on metal, or rock, or indie, pop, whatever. He's just so into what he's doing. If he didn't like the music, he wouldn't want to work on it. He always gives his opinion and he's honest about everything. I think we fed off that energy, especially me. He inspired me to want to get better as a musician. He puts so much extra effort into making it sound good because he cares about the quality of it. I don't think you get that with every producer. I think that's what makes him different because he really cares about the project he's working on. That's something that I didn't expect before going into the process, but when you start talking to him, you start just buzzing and talking about different gear and bands and stuff like that. To be honest, the EP came out more amazingly than I thought it would. I think it's a case of we all had a common goal to make something sound really, really fucking good. Like I said, after that, he really inspired me to want to get better as a musician.
DAN AND HIS GOLDEN PENCIL
How did you find Dan Goldsworthy to do the artwork for the EP? Was he recommended by some of your friends perhaps?
Dan: I found Dan Goldsworthy through Ed. I was talking about the concept which I had for Ghost Malevolent when we were recording. I said to Ed that I was trying to find an artist and finding it quite difficult. Ed remembered a guy that he used to speak with and said to look for him and see if he's still doing anything like that.
I found Dan on Facebook. He does so many big metal bands. He does stuff for Cradle of Filth, Gloryhammer, Accept, Hell. Who else? There's Halestorm and Sylosis as well. He does a lot of big bands and his stuff is just absolutely amazing. I knew straight away when I saw his artwork that I wanted him to do the artwork. I sent him a message and he got back to me straight away. He said he was fully booked for months on end. With someone that good, of course, they're going to be busy. So, he turned down the job. I said, "I'm happy to wait." I'd rather wait and get it done by the person I want instead of someone else who I'm not really into. Then we just started chatting on Facebook just about metal in general. We started to build up quite a good relationship talking about metal and normal things. He ended up sending me a message asking when we needed the artwork by? He ended up doing it for us, which was absolutely amazing. The way it came out, it was exactly what we wanted. He did an absolutely amazing job. I still look at it now and I can't believe that it's our CD artwork.
I think we built up a really good relationship because he's a really cool guy. He did an absolutely amazing job on the artwork. I hope that we can work with him again in the future.
Do you already have enough songs ready for a full-length release? How would you describe any new stuff that you have composed thus far?
Dan: We're not actually far off from having enough songs for a full-length release, we've just been focusing on promoting this CD. We have written a few other songs. Daryl has come up with lots of ideas as well, very, very interesting ideas, really cool. We've got so many riffs in the bank so to speak, so there's plenty of stuff to write into material.
We've got a few songs written already. They're a bit different from what we did on the EP so far, but I would say all four songs on the EP are different anyway. That's the way we want to keep going. I don't want to keep writing stuff that sounds the same. I mean, I've got this one song I've written, which is a lot darker than what we've done before.
It's still fresh, but it's quite dark. I just want to make it as interesting as possible. We're not going to keep writing the same song after song. I'd like to think that even though the songs sound different that we're still going to have a sound where you can tell it's the same band. So, yes, I'm really excited about focusing in the upcoming months so we can get our next release out.
We're thinking about just recording one of the songs. Release a single just to keep getting some music out there. I don't want to leave it too long and not release something new. We just want to build on the momentum of this release.
PROMOTION MEANS EVERYTHING
Proper promotion is essential in order to make your band known worldwide. How has this promotional side been taken care of in the Must Kill camp?
Dan: At the moment, I've been focusing on the Instagram side of things, trying to build up our presence there, but everyone's been chipping in so that we can all try to get our online presence out there more and more. Personally, one day I'd like someone just to take over that side of things for us, to have someone who just can focus solely on that, because personally I'd rather just focus on writing and playing music. As you said in your question, it's essential for a band to become known.
That's one thing that we have to do for now, but I really hope one day in the future that we'll have someone who can do that for us. Everyone's been chipping in and taking responsibility for band promotion.
How much did the video for "Your Last Breath"—which by the way, is a great video from you guys, help you get the band's name out to the masses?
Dan: We released it on YouTube, which is the main avenue and it has done really well so far.
YouTube has been a good platform so far for getting the band's name out there. Our EP was added to a playlist as well. I think within two days it got like 5,000 views. YouTube has been really good for us. Instagram has been really good with gaining more interest as well.
We've noticed in the past few weeks that we've had a lot more merchandise sales come through as well, which has been amazing. We've had orders from Japan. We've had quite a few from the USA. We had one from Canada. We had Sweden, Denmark, France, Germany, the UK. That was awesome just seeing orders coming from all over the world. I really think by going through those channels we've gone through, that was the reason those people came to know about us. We want to keep improving on that and get as much promotion as possible, but it's still early days at the moment.
PLAYING LIVE IS FUN
How important is playing live for the band?
Dan: The only reason I play music is because I want to play live. I live to do that. It's the reason I play an instrument and want to play in a band. If it was a case of writing music but never playing live, I probably wouldn't do it because it's just such a rush and it's so much fun to play live. Like I said, I want to get to that level where we're touring and playing in different cities every night, because I just have such a passion for it and playing live is just the best thing ever.
Because of this pandemic thing all of that has been put on hold, so we haven't had a proper chance to get out there and play live yet, but I can't wait till that day comes, because it's the only reason I'm playing in a band. I don't think the band would exist if we couldn't play live.
Do you have some cool venues in Milton Keynes that allow metal bands to play on their premises?
Dan: Milton Keynes actually has a really good venue called The Craufurd Arms. In recent years, they have had quite a lot of big-name acts playing there. They've had Soulfly, Madball, Sylosis and I think Fleshgod Apocalypse played there just before this thing with the pandemic occurred, but, yes, that's a really awesome venue. Also, just outside Milton Keynes you've got Club 85, which is an awesome venue as well, really great stage. That's in a place called Hitchin. Then, in a place called Luton, which is not far from Milton Keynes, you've got The Castle Tavern as well which is a really good music venue as well.
There are quite a lot of good venues to play in the surrounding areas.
At the moment, due to this unfortunate Covid-19 situation, playing shows is simply impossible. How worried are you guys about this situation?
Dan: True. We can't play live at the moment, which is unfortunate, but it is what it is. I wouldn't say that we're worried about not being able to play at the moment, because now we can focus on promoting the CD.
I know playing live is the best way to promote it, but the time will come and we are focusing on writing new music as well. It's strange not being able to go and see bands either because we do that all the time, so definitely having some withdrawal from that. I think when we're able to go and do that again, I think we'll have this new appreciation for actually just going out to see a live band.
I think, in England, especially because I live near London, we're spoiled with the bands which come to play. So many bands come to play every week. Maybe you could say people take that for granted for a little bit because we're quite lucky that those bands come and tour there all the time. I definitely can't wait for that to open up again.
Do you have a plan B as far as the band's future comings and goings are concerned?
Dan: To be honest, we're not thinking too much about it. We're just focusing on writing music and promoting the band, not worrying about the band's future. When we're able to go and play again, that's when we're going to start playing live and continuing as normal, so, yes, we have no concerns at all.
Well, I think that's all I had in mind for this interview. I, for one, would like to thank you, Dan, for your time for making this interview happen—and in the very same breath, I also want to wish you all the best with your future endeavors with the band. The last commentary is left for you now... ;o)
Dan: Thank you very much for doing this interview with me. I hope we can do another one in the future as well when we're going to release something new.
Anything left for me to say? Yes, when we're actually able to play live again, we're just going to try and play as many places as we can through the UK, Europe, hopefully America one day. Maybe I am speaking too soon. We would love to come and play in Finland as well.
If you know any good venues in your local area, please let me know. I would love to arrange that in the future. I hope anyone reading this interview goes to check out our release Ghost Malevolent. You can check out Ghost Malevolent on all major streaming platforms and you can visit our website at www.mustkillband.com. Thanks a lot.
|Other information about Must Kill on this site|
|Review: Ghost Malevolent|
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