DR. LIVING DEAD – Bringing Crossover Thrash To The Next Generation
We are all well aware of the resurrection of thrash. Rare is the opportunity though to experience such a fun crossover act like Sweden’s Dr. Living Dead. They inject a sense of humor in their personal and sometimes poignant lyrics. They possess a strong visual image, and currently identify themselves with nicknames rather than revealing who they truly are as musicians. Their debut self-titled album is packed to the brim with 16 quick hitting songs that are careening about in your life in less than 37 minutes.
Serious about getting their thoughts across, bassist Dr. Rad quickly fired the answers back to my interview almost as quickly as they were sent. If you miss the days of 1985-1989 crossover thrash, when punk and hardcore came into the metal mix and seemed to expand the audience appeal of this music, than Dr. Living Dead may be a welcome release to add to your vast collection of bands. Read on, learn on, enjoy.
Can you fill us in on the early development of Dr. Living Dead? Didn’t this originally start out as a project, and at what point did you decide to make this a full band? Have you all had previous experience in other metal or hardcore acts prior to Dr. Living Dead?
It all started with Ape and Toxic who got tired of their old band that wasn’t going anywhere because all the members seemed to pull in different directions. They had this idea for a new project and recorded some songs very quick and spontaneous. The concept of the Doctor evolved from a small drawing that Ape had made and it just came natural to use it for the band.
The decision to make it a full time band came when we started getting attention on the internet and people were sending e-mails and stuff asking for merchandise and demos. The quick reaction was a bit of a surprise at the time.
Yeah, we have had bands before but that is classified information at this time.
The mascot you’ve developed I have heard is kind of a cross between an Eddie or Sargent D character- who came up with the design and is it true the name of the band came up as a result of the character- or were there other band names you were considering?
Like I told you before it was Ape who came up with a small sketch and that became the seed that would eventually grow into the concept of the Doctor so it really didn’t seem that far away to name the band after him and use him on the cover. It seemed to fit the music and vice versa.
You have a very strong image for the band with your skull masks, bandanas and such. What are your feelings on image and music and do you believe one should be more important than the other when it comes to Dr. Living Dead?
Well, we feel that with this band they are equally important for 2 reasons. First off they are both part of a concept that has been there from the beginning. It would be hard to ditch the image now and just play the songs you know. But make no mistake, we are in it for the music. We could start a band without having an image and just concentrate on the music, no problem, but that’s not what we want to do with this one.
The other reason is that the image is also there to keep ourselves entertained. It’s not just a thing to get attention or whatever, we have a great deal of fun while working on new stuff. The intention with this band was never to just be "another band", we wanted to do something a bit different.
It appears that on your debut album you seem to gravitate towards a lot of the American thrash/crossover groups in your influence catalog, such as Suicidal Tendencies, S.O.D., and Nuclear Assault. Would this be a fair assessment, and how do you try to differentiate yourselves from that mid to late 80’s movement with your original songs?
Yeah it’s no secret that we all love those bands and we listen to them a lot. We try to emulate the feeling and sometimes the sound that those bands had but without putting too many limits on ourselves. The most important thing for us is the attitude and spontaneous vibe that you get from not being too complicated when it comes to songwriting and arranging.
I think that if you write stuff that is from the heart and have a wide spectrum of influences, and hopefully a bit of talent as well, you are going to end up with something that stands out and that is original enough. But you have to keep in mind that a lot has been done within this kind of music and we’re not trying to re-invent the wheel or something. We’re just doing our take on it and try to come up with stuff that we like ourselves.
How does sense of humor play a part in the lyrical outlook of the band? I sense a love of American comedies, such as "Gremlins", "Kindergarten Cop", and the Child’s Play horror series in some of your songs…
Well, we do like to have fun with the lyrics and stuff sometimes but we are not a comedy act. We all share pretty much the same type of humor and we always have a lot of fun when being around each other so it feels natural that it shines through in the lyrics as well.
Like I said earlier, a lot of it has to do with amusing ourselves. However we do have songs that are meant to be taken seriously and I think people realize that even with the funny lyrics there are things that are worth thinking twice about. Like Jello Biafra’s lyrics for example, it all seems like a joke at first because of the sarcasm of it all but there is really a lot more to it.
But honestly, how can you not love a movie like Kindergarten Cop?
What is Dr. Living Dead like in a live situation? What can people expect from your show, and do you throw in any special covers to enhance your original material?
We really try to put on an explosive show when we are onstage. That is very important for us because if you don’t come off that stage absolutely drenched in sweat that means you didn’t try hard enough. That is the way we want people to remember us.
We’ve played a couple of covers but personally I like performing our own material more.
What would you change about the music scene in 2011 if you had the opportunity and the financial means to do so?
I would change the way people produce music these days. Please stop misusing those damn drum-triggers and stop making records that sound like machines, only Meshuggah are allowed to do that.
Does anything scare you about the fast paced technology world that we live in?
Sure, I don’t think anyone can foresee what the world will look like in 20 or even 10 years. It’s like everything is accelerating faster and faster and soon something is bound to happen that is going to put an end to it. It’s a messed up world for a lot of people.
That’s why we put our faith in the Doctor when he rids the world of its current leaders.
Tell us about your 3 all time favorite records, be it metal/crossover or not, as well as the live concert that had the greatest impact on you as a person?
I don’t like answering questions like this. I really try to avoid making lists because frankly, I don’t see the point in it. I will narrow it down to just one record that probably is the most important one to me and that is Somewhere In Time by Iron Maiden. I know Ape will agree with me on that.
Seeing Iron Maiden live for the first time was also something that had a great impact on me.
Have you begun the writing process for the follow up album, and if so will there be any twists and turns in terms of lyric themes or style musically for the group?
Yes, we do have quite a lot of material that we are working on that will be used for a new album. It’s a bit too early to say what it will end up like but I don’t think anyone who likes the current one will be let down by it. Our goal is to start recording in early 2012.
Tell us something the average person would not know about your home country?
We once had a pop group called ABBA and we make Volvos.
What is your favorite physical format to listen to music on: vinyl, tape, 8-track, or compact disc? What is your most prized possession of metal in your collection- it can be music or otherwise?
I speak for all of us when I say vinyl. It sound great and it’s a feast for the eye to look at a nice vinyl sleeve. Just can’t beat it. Anything is better than mp3’s though.
I have a few things in my collection I really like. A couple of them would be my still sealed copy of Iron Maiden – Piece of Mind printed in the US which means it’s not the usual gatefold sleeve. I also have a sealed copy of the Virus 12" poster-bag that is quite rare. The Virtual XI double vinyl is also really cool. Not many bands printed vinyl in ’98.
How would you describe the personalities within Dr. Living Dead- and what each person brings to the table to make the band special/unique?
Well, when it comes to the music it’s me, Ape and Toxic who write all of the songs, sometimes together and sometimes individually. But we always work on the songs a lot when rehearsing and arrangements may change and parts here and there might be replaced etc. Dawn usually help with the arrangements and not so much with the riffs.
Ape is doing most of the lyrics and then we work on them together. He also is the mastermind behind all of the artwork etc. He is very creative and really talented and the band would never be the same without him.
Ape & Toxic have known each other since they were like 8 years old and are kind of like 2 brothers. And brothers tend to have a lot of arguments but I think sometimes tension brings out great art so in the end it’s all good.
Thanks for the interview and