Industrial metal band, Dead Animal Assembly Plant have released their highly-anticipated new album, Bring Out The Dead, via Armalyte Industries.
The album features single, "A Violent Breed," which was brought to life in an elaborate video that showcases the worst of humanity's failings.
Rock Life recently spoke with Dead Animal Assembly Plant's vocalist Zach Wager, who spoke about how the album came together, what's next for the band and how they view their tight knit community of fans.
Q: Can you talk about the process of getting the new album together? What do you want people to know about the direction? Zach Wager: The album, whilst certainly our most cohesive one to date, was definitely a long drawn out process and almost a hodge-podge tapestry stitched together. Some of the first songs written for the album, like "The End of You" or "Sacred Disgrace," were labored over for quite a while.
We began the basics of some of the songs shortly after our Prime Cuts EP was released. Even since that time there were some band member change overs, which can always complicate the process of writing, but we picked up a fair amount of momentum as the album's song writing became more consistent.
I'd say in comparison to most of our previous releases, this one overall is more aggressive. Not just in the music, but also the entire tone of the album. Yet, one thing we've always liked to do is play around with different styles and genres. We never wanted to pigeon hole ourselves into sounding one way and that's it.
We had more fun with different song styles on this one, but also wanted to maintain some semblance of narrative. So, we'll have songs that may sound more traditionally metal, but we also went into down tempo trip hop or frenetic rockabilly.
Q: How do you feel the album fits in with the current state of affairs across the globe?
ZW: It's funny because it's almost as if the album was written for or during this whole pandemic. We completed the album shortly before we left on our national tour in 2019 and it was originally supposed to be released in early 2020. Lo and behold, things went completely sideways and now the album feels more relevant than ever.
Although to be honest, when are humans not completely making a mess out of things? The whole album does follow this loose narrative that starts in the cemetery at the gates of the underworld. Then, you descend further and further into the cesspool of human nature. But, we do talk about the spread of disease, social inequalities and, just for levity, some good old fashioned ghost stories.
Q: What inspired the single "A Violent Breed?" How did the video come together and have you been happy with the response to it?
ZW: The impetus of "A Violent Breed" really centered around a sample the song opens with: "America is an irradiated wasteland." I think that statement really drove -thematically- the nature of the song itself.
I know it can sound like a cliché when people say "real life inspires them" but, in this case, it's absolutely true. The depths in which humans can inflict immeasurable pain and suffering on not only other humans, but to all living things, is a story as old as time.
The song, and eventually the video, really does focus on what we feel are the most egregious facets of humanity that are responsible: religion and politics. I think it would be hard to argue that those two parts of life aren't particularly guilty.
We filmed the video about a week or so before we left on a six-week tour in 2019. We originally had the idea of releasing the video in support of the full album, but circumstances, mainly the pandemic, changed that trajectory.
Despite having the tour looming, we managed to get together a wonderful cast of actors and a brilliant special effects make-up artist, Zach Smith. It had been a few years since I worked with our director, Karl Whinnery. He had done our previous videos, so I am always so happy to have the chance to work with him again. He's always been a strong visionary and has had the ability to take the ideas I throw at him and elevate them.
The video was an adventure, as all videos should be! [laughing] The whole lot of us drove out to the filming site the night before. This turn of the century single room school in the middle of nowhere. Some camped out and most crammed into our bus. Then, the following day, we got to filming and spent the whole day battling absurd heat, swarms of bees and some very curious, but super friendly locals.
All in all, we're quite happy with how the video turned out and the overall response to it. You can always pick things apart in how you could have done this or that different, but then you're just gonna drive yourself bats. Learn what to do and what not to do but, in the end, you have to sit back and appreciate it. And we most certainly do.
Q: Besides the album release, what should fans be on the lookout for?
ZW: Well, we wish we could say we were embarking on a tour to support the album but, alas, there's just no real responsible way to do that at the moment. Yet we are dusting off the cobwebs and are starting to practice again. We want to get more songs off the new album practiced and primed for the time we can return to the stage.
We do have some additional fun things people can sink their teeth into. Recently, we collaborated with Belgian surrealist photographers, Mothmeister, on their second art book. We had done some work with them in the past, but this one was particularly intense.
We wrote a nine-track 'sonic landscape' where each song represents a specific chapter in their new book. The idea was to create an audio layer that would represent the emotion and concept behind their photos. Our aim was to help create an immersive experience for their viewers.
They are incredible artists and we were so happy to work with them. You can actually order their book now from their etsy page here. Each book includes a download of the soundtrack for free. So, if you want more DAAP in your life, and perhaps want to hear us in ways you wouldn't expect, then definitely snag that book! Their art is hauntingly gorgeous.
We are also gearing up to record a live set in late May. This set will be professionally recorded from multiple camera angles with soundboard audio and edited. Then, it will eventually be released on YouTube. We don't quite have a release date for that yet, but keep your grape peeled. We will definitely post more about it as more info becomes available.
Q: Your high energy live shows are an important part of the band. What can people expect when you are able to hit the road again? Do you have any shows booked yet?
ZW: Oh boy, we have so much pent up energy that we cannot wait to take out on the stage! This is the longest we've gone without doing any shows since the band started 10 years ago and it is driving us up the wall.
We believe in giving people a fun and energetic show. It doesn't matter if there's 5 , 500, or 5,000 people. Everyone deserves a good show and there's something intoxicating about being on stage where it's impossible to just stand still. So, when we're able to hit the road again, people can look forward to newer/crazier stage props, outfits, new music and the level of energy that only being stashed away because of a lousy pandemic can cause.
We don't have any shows booked yet, but we are hopeful that things will continue to level off so we can start getting things going again.
Q: For those who aren't familiar with the backstory of the band, can you quickly summarize its origins?
ZW: Back in the late 1800's, a German (Herr Schroeder) staked his claim in small town America and opened up The Sweetmeats Slaughterhouse. The industrious fellow found new ways to fulfill the demands of his fine meats and invented high output butchery machines. Unfortunately, a mysterious illness befell the cattle and the butcher was left with a difficult decision: give up his venture or find new means to acquire meat.
Well, der metzgermeister, with the help of his dedicated employees, began taking the towns people in the middle of the night and feeding them to the machines, then hand feeding them back to the populace. Word got out and the angry citizens stormed The Sweetmeats Slaughterhouse and fed him to the machines. There, the building stayed empty and eerily quiet for decades, until horrible noises resembling music started emanating down the dilapidated hallways.
And here we are: the butchers of the apocalypse! Pleased to meat ya!
Q: Your music touches on so many different elements and genres, was that a conscious effort on your part from the beginning? ZW: It absolutely has been a conscious effort from the beginning to not solely contain ourselves to one style of music, although it's never been forced.
As we all work on the songs and they start to develop from their foundational stage, we like to let things progress naturally. An entire song's direction can change course if things don't sound entirely right. On that same note, we don't want to challenge ourselves in not being scared to explore different genres.
Every type of music has something to offer. It doesn't matter what it is or if it's 'mainstream' or what have you. We like to borrow elements from different genres to make songs sound less repetitive or predictable, but still cohesive, which can be a delicate balance.
I feel from the onset we always approached song writing in that way, which has given us that freedom and flexibility. It's a double-edged sword because you can lose people who are purists for what makes a genre a genre and I get it. Some people want something that adheres to the confines of what makes metal, metal for example, but we'd rather just have fun with genre hopping exploration. Q: How does the costume and makeup process work for the band?
ZW: One thing we as a band like to do is give the individuals the space to create and expand their own character ideas. Sure, we do help each other out to expand concepts or execution of certain things, but each person does create their persona.
It's an ever changing landscape too as far as our makeup or costumes go. We still maintain the consistency and running theme with the idea of the slaughterhouse butchers, but we also don't want to become too stagnant so we will bounce ideas off each other. We've done each other's makeup before or helped each other refine it. Our costumes we will source out to independent artists/designers or we will make them ourselves. We try to be as self-sufficient as possible, but also love to support small business and independent artists.
On average, it takes about an hour or so to get ready for a show depending on the circumstances. Even though sometimes it can get really laborious, it's also very satisfying to be able to create and fall into these characters. In a way, wearing a mask or makeup is freedom because you get to let yourself go.
Q: What does the strong fan base that you've built mean to you, especially over this last year of not being able to get out and see them?
ZW: Our fans mean everything to us, to the point that using the word fan almost feels disrespectful. I know it isn't a disrespectful word, but we like to consider those that have supported us as part of the family. Slaughterhouse residents is my general affectionate term for them because there's no separating who we are and what they are.
The DAAP family has gotten us through the darkest times and given so many of us in the band that motivation to keep going. That beautifully positive energy to push ahead when there are many times you just want to give up. We owe the world to them. Musicians, artists on a whole really, are a little, or a lot, neurotic and it is very easy to get lost inside your own broken head.
The support we've experienced and the kind words people have said really makes you stand back and appreciate what you're a part of. Music in general, at some point in all our lives, has saved us. We have the opportunity to put something back into the ether and if we can get one person through a difficult time or remind someone that they're not alone in their struggles, then it's all worth it.
We miss everyone like crazy. That is by far one of the best parts of playing live: being able to interact with all the people you meet. How the moment brings you together with these people and the bond you share. Even if you never see these people again, in that momentm you are sharing something real and we miss that a lot. We cannot wait to get back out there. More importantly,we want everyone to be safe and healthy.
Q: Is there anything you'd like to add?
ZW: Here, on the precipice of our 10 year anniversary from our first live show, I just wanted to again thank everyone from the bottoms of our cold dead hearts. It's been a crazy twisted ride that has had no shortage of incredible peaks and valleys.
We wanted to thank you for taking the time and interest in interviewing us and for everyone who helped us get to this point.
We look forward to getting back out there, creating new music and whatever happens next, we want to take that adventure with our slaughterhouse family. Stay safe and stay healthy and let's get through this madness so we can get rowdy together again. Cheers!