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Interviews Dark Angel

Interview with guitarist Jim Durkin

Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen

Date online: April 29, 2015

Live pictures by Luxi Lahtinen

Who would have guessed? Californian thrashers Dark Angel are back after breaking up back in 1992. Meyer, Rinehart and Hoglan tried to get Dark Angel back together in 2002 with new bass player Danyael Williams however, things didn't go as planned. Ron Rinehart suffered a severe spinal injury in an accident and the band was forced to break up again. In 2013, Dark Angel was given another opportunity to raise its massive dark wings.

With Jim Durkin and Eric Meyer on guitars, Ron Rinehart on vocals, Gene "Atomic Clock" Hoglan on drums and Michael Gonzalez on bass Dark Angel played a number of shows in 2014 and at the same time worked on new material for the band's as-yet-untitled comeback album. The Metal Crypt contacted guitarist Jim Durkin via email and inquired about Dark Angel's forthcoming album. Jim didn't have much to say on that score but gave us plenty of information about the band. Read on!

Luxi: Hey Jim. Congrats on your birthday (Feb 7th, 2015)! Did you do anything special?

Jim: Just hung with friends at home, ha ha!! I'm simple. Thanks man!

Luxi: Speaking of celebrating, 2015 also marks the 30th anniversary of Dark Angel's We Have Arrived album. Do you have any special shows scheduled for this year where you might play We Have Arrived form start to finish?

Jim: Nothing at this point. Since we were ONLY doing special appearances, we figured we'd do some of everything. BEST of...

Luxi: Dark Angel played a bunch of shows in 2014. How would you sum up the year? Do you feel like the band made a return to the limelight at the right time?

Jim: We knew what we needed to do and did it! It was a fantastic time with incredible shows and people. Time was passing by and the offers were there so we said "let's do this NOW!!" We are all here, we are healthy and should do this while we can. We were never NOT going to do this so it was GO and BANG!!

Luxi: It's been reported that Dark Angel's new material is coming together pretty nicely. Could you tell us how many songs are ready for the next album and are they closer to Time Does Not Heal or Darkness Descends musically?

Jim: It will have all the elements that we are known for. It will be BRUTAL, I promise. We have tons of GOOD riffs. We are taking our time. Dark Angel has never been a band that pops out an album a year; we move slow BUT we deliver. It will take time, that's all I can say. We are NOT putting a time limit or deadline on this. It will come when it comes.

Luxi: How have you shared the songwriting process? Has it been you and Eric that have come up with the main ideas for the new songs?

Jim: Well we let everyone bring stuff to the table. I really want all the guys to be happy about this and for no one to feel left out. It's not the JIM show or any one guy. If it sounds like us, it will get used.

In the beginning I wrote stuff riff wise and most of the lyrics and ALL the song titles/concepts and later Eric contributed some riffs. When Gene joined later he and I bonded and went with it and it sort of became the core. After I left it was Gene who went to bat so I'd say it's whoever is focused on the outcome at the time. My contributions stand.

Luxi: Was it easy to start composing new material for Dark Angel after all these years? It's been quite a while since the Leave Scars album came out...

Jim: Ah, we just GO! We'll see what comes out. There are plenty of good bands out there and you can go nuts if you start to worry about who's doing what or what's relevant. I just try to be the best ME I can. It will sound like Dark Angel; NO trends here.

Luxi: I have to believe that while you have been writing material for Dark Angel's comeback album you have tried to ensure that these new songs sound like 100% pure, old school Dark Angel. I would guess it's extremely important for you guys to make an album that you can be proud of after many years and not make you think you should have done things differently. Is this correct?

Jim: We know who we are and what we need to do. Period.

Luxi: How many songs are you aiming to get recorded for this forthcoming Dark Angel opus?

Jim: No idea; we just go like we always do. Dark Angel always recorded every track we had and that's why there are no bonus tracks coming out of the woodwork.

Luxi: Can you tell when you might enter the studio to record it? By the end of the year, perhaps?

Jim: All I can say is when we are ready, we will go. NO PROMISES or deadlines.

Luxi: Are you going to produce it yourself or do you have plans to hire someone to turn all the knobs for you on this record?

Jim: I can tell you we will NOT produce ourselves. We have resources and ideas. We will get whoever is best for the band. It's really too early to worry about that right now. The album is not even written.

Luxi: I can see that Dark Angel's main focus being on getting this new opus recorded and then concentrating on playing gigs again. Will you avoid booking gigs for the band before the album is out or do you believe that you might do some one-off shows here and there especially with the summer festival season knocking at the door?

Jim: If the right offers come in we will look them over.

Luxi: How did you like your show at Jalometalli festival in Oulu, Finland last August?

Jim: I loved it. Finland is beautiful and so are the people. It was our final show that year and a great way to end the year for the band. Meeting Loudness was awesome! Having Chuck Billy hanging with us was awesome!! I had a wonderful time.

Luxi: I know curiosity killed the cat but I am still going to ask if you have a working title for this comeback album. Obviously one of them isn't Atrocity Exhibition, I guess...

Jim: Yes!!! "THRASH METAL" ha ha hah!!! Noooo, I can't be giving up everything! You will see.

Luxi: Are you going to release this new album on your own (like Rigor Mortis did with their Slaves to the Grave album on their own Rigor Mortis Records) or will you let some record label put it out and handle all the promotion and stuff?

Jim: Like I've said it's too early to tell or discuss.

Luxi: I have to believe Dark Angel has received lots of label attention since you reformed the band. Have there been any candidates that Dark Angel might sign with?

Jim: Too early to discuss.

Luxi: Eric and Ron had their Hunger project for a year or so and the 3-song demo they recorded in 1993 naturally had a strong Dark Angel vibe and feel to it. I assume you heard that demo. Do you remember your initial thoughts about it and was it something like "please stop ripping off Dark Angel so bad jerks..." or something along those lines, ha ha!!

Jim: Nooo, Eric and I hung out a lot in the 90's. I still have the cassette. It did not sound like Dark Angel at all to me. Two ex-members making music. The music sounded more relevant to what was going on in the scene. I enjoyed it for what it was. I was glad to see them doing something. I saw Ron's band Oil a few times as well.

Luxi: What about Dreams of Damnation? Is it completely over or is there still something bubbling under the surface in that camp?

Jim: That's a case of we will always play together when there's time. We have a lot of unrecorded material and we have a lot of FUN together. I hang out or talk to Loana, Charlie and Ricky all the time. We are family. They are very supportive of me and my goings on (in fact Charlie's texting me right now, ha ha ha!!).

Luxi: You also had a short stint in LA's Ruthless back in 2008. What kind of experience was it for you to be a part of their line-up? How did you join the band in the first place? How was it to play something other than Thrash Metal?

Jim: Ha ha, I've known those guys since I was 18! I love them! It's the most fun I've had with my clothes on! They had Keep It True booked and they needed a second guitar player so I said "I'm in!" I had so much fun I ended up staying for a while. In the end they needed a full time guy. I'm a huge Metal/Hard Rock guy. Love playing that style!

Luxi: I guess you joined when the reactivated Ruthless tried to make their return in 2008. You have known their singer Sammy DeJohn for more than twenty years so I guess when you were asked to join it was easy for you to say "yes" correct?

Jim: Yes, I met Sammy when I was 18... I think he was 30 by that time... hahahahahahahahahahaha (joking Sammy). Very easy to say yes! A GREAT time! I LOVE Sammy D!! He is hands down one of my BEST friends!

Luxi: What do you miss most from your time with those guys?

Jim: They party like animals!! My liver would not survive!! Some of the worst hangovers I've ever had! I talk to them all the time. They have a new album called They Rise that was produced by Bill Metoyer! I have a few riffs on it.

Luxi: When the first official announcements about Dark Angel's reunion went public Don Doty, ex-Dark Angel vocalist, made a misleading statement about his involvement with the reunion, that he would be a part of it. Do you know what made him to do something like that? Did posting this false information hurt Dark Angel some way? It felt it was a pretty irresponsible act.

Jim: All I CAN say is he has not been in Dark Angel since 1986 and we will never work with him again.

Luxi: Have you shaken hands with him and put this episode behind you or is there still some animosity between him and the current line-up of Dark Angel?

Jim: Not on our part as far as I know. He's not in the band. We just don't care. We are DARK ANGEL and we don't have time to worry what he does. Good luck to him.

Luxi: Back to the current Dark Angel line-up for the last couple of questions. Do you believe you have ever had chemistry this good in Dark Angel? Seeing you guys play at Jalometalli festival in Finland last year made me think this Dark Angel line-up is definitely meant to last for quite some time. You seemed to be having so much fun on stage and you obviously enjoyed every moment when you got the chance to perform in front of your supportive crowd. I guess my eyes haven't lied to me, have they?

Jim: In my opinion this is the BEST Dark Angel line-up there ever was or ever will be. We have a great time! We have always been in contact even when I left. Looking back now I would have had to leave back in '88, it was not them. It was my life but just leaving? I would have done it differently. It was the best line-up then and still is in every way today.

Luxi: How much do you think you guys have to prove with this forthcoming album?

Jim: You know I don't think about it that way. We are DARK ANGEL and we just do what we do. I just want to have fun and above all KICK ASS. And we will!!

Luxi: That's all I had in mind for now. Thank you very much for your time Jim and all the best with your future endeavors with Dark Angel. And those famous last words are naturally yours... ;o)

Jim: "EVER TO RISE AGAIN" :) Thank you Luxi. It was my pleasure to do the interview.

Other information about Dark Angel on this site
Review: Time Does Not Heal
Review: Darkness Descends
Review: Leave Scars
Review: We Have Arrived

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