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Interviews Deathyard

Interview with guitarist and vocalist Chris Hofler

Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen

Date online: March 27, 2024


Live pictures by Martyna Seth Pawlowska

Deathyard is a 3-piece metal band from Poland that was formed in 2018 and have released two full-length albums (the debut Creation of the Universe in 2019 and its follow-up album, No Longer in Pain, in 2023) since the band's inception. What separates the band from many others is their serious determination and attempts to create something that is a good mix of many styles: death metal, thrash metal, progressive metal, you name it. It challenges its listeners in a pleasant way as it's been done the properly and with skill and care.

Chris Hofler, who takes care of vocals and guitar in this talented Polish metal act and is also the band's true dynamo, gave us a good insight into the world of Deathyard, telling us about the chemistry he has with his fellow band mates, the creative processes of the albums, difficulties related to getting the debut album done piece by piece, his love for metal music in general, and so on. Read on to educate yourself about this very promising Polish metal gem.

Howdy, Chris! What's been cooking at your peaceful home lately, music-wise? Been busy creating new songs for your band, Deathyard?

Chris: Hi Luxi! Although we've recently released an album, we're already contemplating the next one. Currently, I'm revisiting the songs we have in our "database" that haven't been released yet. However, in the meantime, entirely new compositions are also emerging, and I'm increasingly excited about our third album.

You released your second album, titled No Longer in Pain, in December 2023, which has been getting overwhelmingly positive reviews. Has this positive flood of reviews surprised you?

Chris: Honestly, we strongly believed in the material we created, and we hoped it would resonate with our fans, but it has to be admitted that the speed at which our audience is growing, and the positive reception have pleasantly surprised us. It definitely motivates us a lot, and we're already eager to create the third album as soon as possible.

THE CREATIVE PROCESSES OF THE ALBUMS

Apparently, making this album was very different compared to the band's debut, Creation of the Universe (released in March 2019), simply because you did everything on that one from start to finish, including the drum programming. Now you had a full band working on No Longer..., so there's naturally a drastic change working as a real band vs. doing everything alone. Could you tell us about the writing and recording processes of your follow-up album? Was it a more demanding process, especially with two other individuals involved?

Chris: Working on the new album was definitely more enjoyable, and I was constantly excited as the guys in the band poured their hearts into the new compositions. It was very interesting for me to see the songs I had written grow even further with Igor's and Thiago's skills. I think we understand each other musically very well, and this work was pure pleasure and a wonderful adventure. It's a completely different situation when one person tries to articulate something with many voices, compared to when several people speak with one voice. I'm also happy that the great producer Marcin Bu┼║niak joined the work on the album, seamlessly fitting into our vibe and becoming the icing on the cake of the production, contributing to the sound we ultimately achieved.

Returning to the times of your debut album, Creation..., what was it like to get everything done yourself? Did you face any setbacks and what did you learn about techniques that can be done in a properly equipped studio environment?

Chris: The difficulties were there right from the beginning because, firstly, I didn't have the money for a professional studio. So, I decided to teach myself music production. I bought a cheap interface and spent hours discovering the secrets of recording and mixing, hehe. Secondly, I couldn't find the right people who would believe in this project and have enough skills to record it with me. Another thing, while simultaneously conceptualizing Deathyard, I decided to become the vocalist. Until then, I had only played the guitar, so that was a huge challenge for me as well. Moreover, I dreamt of having a fretless bass in my band, and I couldn't find a bassist who could play such an instrument. So, I bought a fretless bass and had to spend some time mastering it before recording it on Creation of the Universe. You can imagine how much determination, perseverance, and belief in what I was doing all of this required from me. But what seemed impossible finally worked out, and I am very proud of that album, even though it certainly has its flaws. It will always be special to me. When I released it in 2019 and received the first very positive reviews, tears of happiness welled up in my eyes, and I thought, "Dude! You did it!"

The songs on Creation... are amazingly strong and mature sounding for a debut album, so apparently you didn't want to rush things too much before entering the studio to record them, am I correct?

Chris: The entire process of conceptualizing Deathyard, creating songs, recording, and everything I mentioned in the previous question took me about a year from the idea to the release. If you sense maturity in this album, I'm very pleased!

FINDING THE RIGHT GUYS TO CARRY OUT THE VISION OF DEATHYARD

How did you find Thiago (Parrolas) on bass and Igor (Dymkowski) on drums to share the vision you had in mind regarding this new album?

Chris: When it comes to Thiago, it was a complete coincidence, haha. I went with my friend Roman to an '80s/'90s party, a typical event for dancing and meeting some nice girls at the Warsaw club "Hydrozagadka." Carrying a beer across the dance floor, I accidentally spilled it on Thiago. As I began to apologize for the situation, he noticed my Kreator shirt and said, "Dude, awesome shirt." I asked, "Bro...! Do you play any instruments? I just moved to Warsaw and am looking for people for my band." He responded yes, and we exchanged phone numbers. A few days later, we met for an audition, and it turned out that Thiago is a very talented musician, especially handling the fretless bass.

As for Igor, I found him later by posting an ad looking for a drummer. Igor responded to the ad. Initially, I was a bit skeptical because Igor was only 18 at the time, and a few seemingly more experienced drummers had tried and unfortunately couldn't handle it. However, I suggested he learn two or three songs, and we could meet for an audition. His response was, "I know the entire Creation of the Universe album very well because I'm a fan, and I even play it on the drums sometimes. So, we can play the whole album right away." We met for a rehearsal, and Igor turned out to be a perfect fit, blowing us away with his skills. He became an essential part of the band.

In terms of vision, we all share a similar musical sensibility. The guys appreciate the melodies I create, and they seamlessly infuse their magic and talent into the atmosphere, adding to the overall vibe.

Musically, I admire how passionate and ambitious you have been on this album as far as the content is concerned. The songs have many layers, ranging from more aggressive, powerful, and violent moments to moody, emotional, and even mystical numbers, creating a pretty darn awe-inspiring whole I must admit. Was that one of your goals?

Chris: I'm the kind of metal listener who relaxes perfectly with Nile or Death blasting through the headphones, dancing at the club to Rainbow's "Stargazer," silently singing along to favorite Megadeth tracks, or getting sentimental with W.A.S.P. ballads. So, metal music holds the most precious thing for me, which is freedom. That's why I have no intention of limiting myself in compositions. Every person has many layers, and so do I! And I don't want it to be one-dimensional rubbish but rather a full spectrum of emotions.

You seem to have very well-trained vocals because you can change your vocal range like a chameleon, from a very emotional type of singing to high-pitched screams (à la Rob Halford), so I must ask if have you taken any vocal lessons from a professional teacher or does your singing come naturally?

Chris: Honestly, I've only been singing for a few years, so thank you for the compliment. I'm self-taught; my ex-girlfriend encouraged me to dedicate myself to singing (maybe she overheard me in the shower, haha!) and really, it was around 2017 or 2018 that I started slowly working on my voice. Before that, I was just a guitarist. As I mentioned earlier, this music gives me freedom, so I try to make sure my voice allows me to fully express that.

When I listen to your follow-up album, at times names such as Communic, Trivium, Nevermore, Testament, and Type O Negative, seem to pop up in my mind. Do you consider some of those names as your main musical inspirations and/or influences?

Chris: From the ones you mentioned, I'm quite familiar only with Testament. I need to catch up on the other bands because it's the umpteenth time I've read comparisons, for example, to Nevermore. I'm eager to check them out, but they weren't inspirations for this album. I'm not even sure what inspirations I would list because that wasn't the point of this album; it was meant to be total honesty without over analysis.

MAGIC AND BEAUTY

The cover for No Longer... looks stunning. What does it represent if we kind of peel it back layer by layer?

Chris: As you may notice, in our album artwork, a woman always appears as the main character. For me, the female figure embodies magic, beauty, and purity. I remember once when I had a trip on DMT, it was precisely a woman who led me into another dimension, giving me her maternal kindness, security, and solace. This cover depicts exactly such a figure, one who has learned to live among demons and understand their presence, she is powerful and full of light, ready to move forward.

How much do you blame some of your closest friends, parents, relatives, etc. for your musical abilities and the thinking that music can have many forms and if you are more open-minded, you can do many things within music itself and not get stuck with one certain formula?

Chris: Over the years, I think my closest ones were key. While none of my parents or grandparents were involved in music, for instance, my grandfather painted pictures, and watching him as a child, I learned what passion means. My father taught me discipline, and my mother and grandmother, tenderness and kindness. As I grew up, I realized that freedom is the most wonderful and desired gift. Consequently, I believe that it is precisely openness, being oneself, and that freedom that allows for multidimensional expression.

CHILDHOOD'S HOLY TRINITY

Each of us has some childhood heroes. If we restrict this topic to some artists and bands, what are some of your childhood heroes that you looked up to when you became seriously interested in listening to music?

Chris: My first true hero in that regard was and still is Dave Mustaine to this day. His character and incredible musical mind strongly inspired me to pursue music myself. Following him, Chuck Schuldiner, for similar reasons, and then Ronnie James Dio. So, I guess you could say they're my holy trinity, haha!

This question may be a tough one, but what kind of things motivate you to write music in the first place?

Chris: When I lock myself in a room with a guitar and start creating, I just transport myself to another dimension; nothing else matters to me at that moment, it completely disconnects me from reality. It's like some separate planet to which I constantly want to return, and there, I feel fully free.

What has been your proudest moment with this band so far?

Chris: Certainly, the first gig we did together that went really well, and the moment when I received a response from Tim Ripper Owens, who agreed to record the song "Devil's Queen" with us. Tim is one of my favorite vocalists, and I had always dreamed about this opportunity.

FUTURE GIGGING PLANS

What kind of plans do you have for playing shows?

Chris: For 2024, we already have a concert tour planned from September to December, with around 20 shows throughout Poland. As for 2025, the dream is to venture beyond the borders of Poland... we'll see. :)

The future is hard to predict, but what kind of plans and goals do you have as far as some of your future endeavors are concerned, other than those live shows?

Chris: I try to live in the "here and now," so I don't want to predict the future but rather work towards it. I definitely want Deathyard to release at least a few more albums and maintain the same passion and determination it has today. Whatever the future brings, I'll accept it with respect.

Okay, I think I have covered what I had in mind for this pleasant "interrogation" (ha!) with you. Thank you very much, Chris, for your time in getting this interview done and I also would like to wish you all the best with the band. May your road be successful, filled with rewarding surprises. Any proper closing words to wrap up this conversation perhaps?

Chris: I thank you immensely for the conversation, Luxi. Those were truly interesting questions, and I feel honored to have been able to answer them all. Greetings to the readers of The Metal Crypt, and long live heavy f***ing metal. Cheers!

Other information about Deathyard on this site
Review: No Longer in Pain




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