An Interview with Dave Boyd from Twisted Tower Dire
Not many heavy metal bands have, unbowed, stood the test of time without breaking up or falling apart quality-wise. For every hallowed name that’s kept their quality level up since the start, scores more have fallen- but not Twisted Tower Dire. A venerated name in the heavy metal scene, Twisted Tower Dire have been going strong since 1995, and their newest album, Wars in the Unknown, comes out in just a few weeks. In support of the album, I asked guitarist Dave Boyd some questions.
Most of Twisted Tower Dire’s lineup has been stable for more than fifteen years now, and Jonny has been in the band for more than ten years. How have you guys managed to keep together so well when nearly every other band around half as long has not been able to achieve the same thing?
I’m really not sure, haha! We’ve all gone through changes over the years, but what hasn’t changed is how much we love TTD and playing heavy metal. I guess that helps drive the band forward and keep us on track. We also try to run the band like a democracy and let everyone have a say in decisions. We all enjoy spending time together too and that helps!
Scott mentioned in a Metal Squadron interview that Marc and Dave were writing most of Wars in the Unknown, with less input from Scott than there was in the past. Did that throw any wrenches into the writing process?
I wrote out the rhythm guitar parts and recorded the first demos with Marc playing drums. Scott has been the main songwriter so it was weird trying to write these songs at first. I approached it with some apprehension because I was worried the songs would suck or the band wouldn’t like them. I think “These Ghosts Can Never Leave” was the first one we recorded where I said “okay, this can actually happen”. Scott also gave me the first riff in “Eons Beyond” and I build the song around it. He also wrote the chorus for “And The Sharks Came Then” because I had something doomy and kind of boring there. That chorus makes the song, so I’m glad he did!
Now that reviews are starting to pop up, how do you feel the reception compared to Make It Dark‘s? Given that eight years have passed, do you think Twisted Tower Dire occupies a different space in the metal scene compared to when that album came out?
The reception for this one seems to be very positive so far, so we’re happy about that. “Make It Dark” was an interesting release because it was the first one with Jonny and a slightly different style. Sometimes people don’t like change at first and there’s nothing we can do to get around that. We’re all proud of M.I.D and the only thing I’d change at all is the production. It’s not bad but I think we could have done it a little differently. It’s hard to believe it’s been 8 years since that release! I don’t know if TTD occupies a different space now. Some people assumed we were dead as a band, so just being back on the map feels good. I do think we’re more mature now as individuals and as a band. We’re more focused now and I feel like we’re reborn as a band.
I had the chance to see the band at Frost and Fire the other year, but Twisted Tower Dire has been relatively inactive for the last few years- should we expect that to change anytime soon?
We’re booked to play the Legions of Metal festival in Chicago but nothing else is lined up right now. We would love to travel to Europe and play a festival, but smaller local shows are becoming difficult to pull off with schedules, kids, work, etc. We’ve been talking about limiting ourselves to playing festivals and events where we can hope for a decent crowd and have the opportunity to sell some stuff. We live pretty far apart from each other, so it takes a lot of coordination just to schedule a practice. We will still consider anything we’re offered, so don’t let this deter anyone!
How important is imagery to you guys, from how you present yourselves to cover artwork to lyrics? How many songs are written around stories, as opposed to the other way around?
I think imagery is important to all metalheads… just look at the album covers, haha! We definitely put some thought into that and with artists like Jim and Scott in the band, they often take the reins with the artistic stuff. I think Scott often writes lyrics and music at the same time, so in his case it all comes out together. This album was a little different because the music was written first and several of us wrote lyrics after the music. I guess the music inspired the stories on this album!
This is the longest wait you’ve gone between releases before. Was that because of other musical endeavors, or something else?
There were a lot of factors. I think I started writing and recording ideas in 2014, so we were kind of late from the start. I would write the guitar parts and then record demos with Marc whenever we could get together, usually two songs at a time. That alone took a while. Once we had the music we had to write lyrics, record the instruments (which we did ourselves), record vocal demos, record the final vocal tracks, assemble all of the audio and hand it off to Kevin 131 to mix and then master. Very little of this happened simultaneously and we also have other bands and distractions that slowed the process. I’m just glad we got through it and we’re very happy with the end product!
It’s been twenty years since The Curse of Twisted Tower came out. Do you have anything special planned for this year paying tribute to that?
That’s a great idea, I wish we thought of it! I wish I could report that we’re playing the entire first album at a massive venue in front of hundreds of fans. Maybe we could bake a TTD cake? Seriously, we should do something. I’ve wanted to re-record ‘The Epic War Never Ends’ with Jonny on vocals for a long time. That’s still one of my favorite TTD songs. I wonder if anyone else would want to hear that? Now the wheels are turning!
Given how many non-album releases that the band had early on, some of which never made it to CD or vinyl, are there any plans in the works for an anthology? Similarly, any plans to reissue some of the longer out-of-print albums on vinyl again?
We don’t have any plans to reissue anything now, but we’d certainly entertain the idea! Our friend Mike Pritchard did a vinyl release several years ago called the “Secret Demos” and it includes a lot of covers and hard to find recordings. We also have demo recording from “Crest of the Martyrs” that we could release on vinyl. We talked about doing that a few years ago but it got stalled somehow. You’re giving me good ideas!
Twisted Tower Dire started out during a dark time for the kind of heavy metal you’ve always played. How do you feel about the current state of the genre? Has there been any particular time that you’ve felt like there was a resurgence?
There are a lot of bands carrying the torch of traditional metal, so things are good! I personally recognized the resurgence when TTD played the Keep It True festival. KIT and other festivals have proven that there’s a real interest in this genre worldwide! We just need these events to pull everyone together.
Do you have anything else you’d like to say?
I’d like to thank our fans for supporting us and the rest of TTD for sticking together and finishing this album. We’re all very excited about this release and hope everyone like it. Cheers and METAL!