We Talk Shred, Lovecraft, & Partying w/ Dave Davidson of Revocation
While gearing up to release the band’s killer new album The Outer Ones and headline some massive tour dates, metal’s most stylish shredder sat down to answer some of our questions on all sorts of shit.
Hi Dave, so one thing I’ve wondered for a while now is after being being involved in such a long-term union with (ex-drummer) Phil, do you think your playing/writing style has changed since starting to work with Ash? If so, in what way(s)?
The great thing about Ash is he can adapt to a lot of different settings so I didn’t really have to change up the way I write or play at all. I communicate with him in much the same way that I did with Phil, although I’ve stepped up my game as far as demoing my material out since we don’t have the luxury of getting together every week.
That’s good to hear! The majority of your lyrical themes on The Outer Ones are ostensibly of mythical origin, including some concepts you’ve created yourself and others you’ve adapted from existing fiction/folklore. Is there an allegorical element to them at all? Do you prefer to approach political topics under the guise of allusion (e.g. ‘Labyrinth Of Eyes’) these days rather than a direct attack (e.g. ‘Fracked’)?
Yeah, these days I enjoy writing in a more allusive way so that my lyrics are more allegorical. Sometimes it’s cool to go right for the jugular and say exactly what you mean but currently I enjoy telling a bit more of a story that might use symbolism to get to the same point. I feel like I can be more creative in my lyrics that way and it makes the final product more compelling.
Definitely, a little ambiguity goes a long way. Revocation’s music has also referenced a number of Lovecraftian themes throughout the years, have there been any other less overt literary influences that listeners might not have caught?
There’s definitely been some biblical references over the years, maybe it’s because I was raised Catholic and went to Parochial school as a kid. Those themes are so prevalent in our culture and still have such an affect on people’s lives that I feel compelled to write about them, especially because there’s such a deep layer of symbolism there that makes them all the more interesting.
Less overt literary influences come from a variety of writers. “Only The Spineless Survive” and “Profanum Vulgus” off our last album were inspired by Dr. Cornel West and Tavis Smiley’s book “The Rich And The Rest Of Us”, while some of the lyrical material for “Blood Atonement” from our newest record was inspired by Mikal Gilmore’s book “Shot In The Heart”.
Sometimes it’s merely a quote or line of poetry that can influence me. When I was on tour in Denmark for the first time I discovered an old church courtyard that had an ominous statue of the grim reaper holding a baby, inscribed on the plaque below was “Death took her child into unknown lands”. That quote really resonated with me and was the catalyst for the lyrics to “Cradle Robber”.
When composing a solo for a song, do you typically jam a few different versions and choose a fave or do you usually have a single general idea and it’s just a matter of nailing a sweet take?
It’s the former generally. Once in a while I’ll hear a melody right away for a solo that becomes stuck in my head but more often it’s a matter of improvising over the riff until I hear stuff that I like. Sometimes I’ll have multiple drafts of the same solo and maybe choose different pieces from each take that I like. It’s a lot like writing an essay I’ve found. The first paragraph usually takes the longest, but once you have your intro the ideas start flowing out from there.
Jazz has played a big part in shaping your guitar style and has seen a bit of a resurgence in metal of late, is there anyone in particular who really excites you in terms of fusing genres these days?
The new Starebaby was really cool, amazing lineup of musicians as well. Voivod have always been great at fusing together different elements so I’m really excited to hear their new record once it comes out.
The Outer Ones has seen you incorporate slightly more dissonance than you’ve typically used on record in the past (I espeically enjoyed the undercurrent on ‘Blood Atonement’). As someone who’s a noted fan of Gorguts, Thantifaxath, Dysrhythmia etc. but doesn’t necessarily have the creative outlet to experiment in that realm (like Dan does with Artificial Brain), do you ever find yourself feeling restricted at all in that regard?
I think I do get to explore those sounds with Revocation. Throughout our whole catalogue we’ve experimented with various levels of dissonance, although I do think it’s more prevalent now than ever before. For me Revocation is about exploring new ideas and pushing the boundaries of metal, so I don’t feel restricted when I’m writing because the elements of our sound are pretty varied.
Our resident Andrew WK adherent Hessian Hunter wanted me to ask what’s the key to writing riffs that are both brutal and fun, and which records inspire you to party hard?
I’m not sure how to answer that haha, there’s no set formula for me when it comes to writing riffs, I just play what comes naturally. Records that inspire me to party hard vary from Kiss‘ Lick It Up to Anata‘s Under A Stone With No Inscription, it just depends on the mood I’m in.
I feel that, what have been some of your favorite records of the year so far?
Thantifaxath – Void Masquerading As Matter
Craft – White Noise And Black Metal
Obscura – Diluvium
Sulaco – The Prize
The Fearless Flyers – Self Titled
Miles Davis and John Coltrane – The Final Tour
Cool, I’m still yet to hear that Sulaco. Is there a particular playing technique you’d like to see utilised more often in metal? For instance, I’d really like to see a pick-scrape/slide revival. Conversely, are there any you think are on the verge of becoming as obnoxious as the sweep-plague of the mid-2000’s?
Haha, for me it’s more about the content of the riff than the actual technique. Sweeps can be over done but if someone uses them in a creative way than it can be a breath of fresh air. As a writer and soloist I try to work on a variety of techniques so that I can use them as needed.
Very diplomatic. Has your setup become more advanced and involved as your career has progressed? Or are you at the stage now where you’re stripping things back to essentials?
It’s not super advanced but I’ve definitely made some improvements to my setup over the years. The tour that we’re about to embark on is going to be a whole new level though since we’re bringing out a full lighting rig that’s synced up with the music. Dan and Brett have been diligently programming the lights for our headline tour and they’re very hyped on how everything is looking so far. Setting up for the show every night is going to be a lot of hard work but I think it’ll really add to production and I can’t wait to unveil it.
Hell yeah. Get at it on one of these dates and say thanks to Dave for very politely shredding your face off while you’re there. Also stick around for Spear’s full album review tomorrow in Tech-Death Thursday, ready for The Outer Ones‘ September 28th release date.