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Trevor Strnad (The Black Dahlia Murder)

Interview with Trevor Strnad from The Black Dahlia Murder
by Caio Botrel at 25 May 2020, 8:23 AM

THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER recently released their latest album, titled "Verminous." Metal Temple writer Caio Botrel recently caught up with vocalist Trevor Strnad to talk about the latest release, and other topics. Check it out here!



Greetings Trevor it is an honor to have you here at Metal Temple online magazine. How have you been doing in these crazy days of infection?

Trevor: I've been good Luckily we have this new album coming out so I have positive stuffs to focus on and you know, I’m occupying my mind by doing a lot of press, I’ve been very busy with that so that’s good that we have our album coming out.

Yes, sure! Its like an escape from that shit.

Trevor: Yeah! it is definitely cool to give something to escape to our fans right now, you know… there’s nothing but time. Speed of life is very slow right now, so people have plenty of time to listen to the new album now.

I think that in a long run, it is going to be advantageous for us. I think that with that kind of listening, with that amount of time you guys are going to reach way more people than before, you know? Because people are checking bands they don’t know or that they just doesn’t listen much to. A lot of people will discover The Black Dahlia Murder now.

Trevor: Yeah, that’s my hope, man. That’s what we are hoping for. We did take a hit on pre-orders a little bit, because we were supposed to be on tour and we couldn’t sell CD’s and also people weren’t able to go to the record store. But there were a lot of pre-sales, we did it very well and we hit the charts pretty hard, which I can attribute something of that of us showing up on the charts to the corona thing that kinda leveling the field  for everybody. Its weirdly a unique time and its special for us, very very cool.

Talking about your early days as a musician, how did you get yourself into music and what did influence you back then and what does influence you now?

Trevor: It started with anything that was guitar-driven that my parents were playing, I liked Def Leppard. It was always about guitars. Metal came in to my live at around like nine or ten years old. The Black Album by Metallica was everywhere you know? It was on the radio and everything, but then Megadeth was the real band that blew my hair. That was the moment when I was like: yes, I’m a metalhead and I have place in the world now. Shortly after that in 1995 my first Death Metal album was “Pierced from Within” by Suffocation and it probably still my favorite and then I just started playing in my own bands like in high school and we were very clumsy I played guitar very poorly and played in some punk bands, I would play guitar and sing… and I wanted to be in a metal band,  but we just didn’t have that kind of chop, to really learn our instruments at the time. But yeah man, you know, I’ve always enjoyed playing in bands it was definitely a healthy outlet for negative energies and I had aspirations of getting out on tour and making real records and stuffs, but it wasn’t until I met The Black Dahlia Murder, that it started to be like a possibility. They were so talented even in the very early days of the band, that I put my guitar down permanently and it was like “these guys are going to stuck me my guitar” so I’m just gonna focus on writing lyrics and vocals and hopefully join this band. Yeah man, its been almost twenty years now and its insane that it’s the same band that it was then, you know? We were just young kids, who wanted to get out on tour… its being amazing to say the very least.

Cool! I mean, you guys have almost twenty-one years old!

Trevor: Yes, we were just a local band and we were not very good, but we had dreams and wanted to take it seriously… and we worked for it. Yes, man, twenty years, its crazy! It got by really fast.

You guys manage to do something that not many bands can do, being around for so many years and just improving since day one, each concert and each album. It just gets better.

Trevor: Oh thanks dude! Its definitely felt like a growing process and we were very naïve around the first album. The first album is kinda sloppy you know? We were reaching really far to play the more technical aspects of that music at the time and we didn’t have toured yet or had that kind of experience yet, so the whole thing seems like a growing process and I feel like that we are still growing creatively as a band and there’s a lot of energy and excitement to make new music and I hope that it goes for another twenty years.

Let’s not say twenty, but in fifty years I do another interview with you and we talk about that (laughs).

Trevor: Yeah! That’s okay (laughs)

Well following the topic, what are the things that drives your most intense desires of making art? I mean, what motivates you to get out of home, to go on tour and go to the studio with the guys, write new songs and everything.

Trevor: I think the biggest motivator is the live scene, when you are playing your music and people are in the crowd are receiving the music and liking it and reacting like dancing, singing alone, stage diving. That is the ultimate kind of connection, its like the reward for our hopefully good studio album. It is the driving force. And success, we kind had a lot of success, we have been very fortunate with every album and its being like a snowball, you know? It just getting bigger and that’s a very good motivator. Its awesome to have fans waiting for your next move, anticipating your next lyrics and it’s a huge honor, you know? To be a good live band is our biggest focus and its been our advertisement for the band. To be on tour, to be fistful as possible and its definitely working out, so just playing the show, having and awesome connection with our fans. Its like a drug that make us really high.

It's pretty good, because you guys write the songs out of your minds, but people from all around the globe, it doesn’t matter where they come from or what language they speak, they all feel the same way. That’s fuckin’ amazing.

Trevor: I love that! I love that about the underground, that it is so international and like you said, this music defies languages, defies class and it bring us all together. The internet is a cool place for that, because you kind get a sense for how big the scene is and it connect us all, specially during these times where we can’t see each other. I’m just very thankful for having found the underground at all, as a kid. It gave me so much life and excitement and I still buy tons of albums all the time and listen to new bands. I still have that same joy for hunting music.

That is great man. I watched a video of you showing your house and your shirts and album collections. Is this something that you like to collect on the road? Like going searching for rare items and stuff?

Trevor: Yes, for sure. There aren’t many record stores left as it used to, but I would roll into town on tour and go look for the record shop right away. I’m always on the hunt for rare albums. This times it kind of push me the internet more, because I have around four thousand metal CD’s and I’m really into going super far on the underground, and its kind of hard to find the albums on an average record shop, so I use the internet to buy album directly from bands, different distros and Bandcamp for example, has been a very good thing for me. Yeah! I’m collecting and I’m almost getting mailed all the time, I just like the physical aspect of collecting, you know? Its kind of a synonymous with the underground.

It makes us feel a teenager again, don’t it? Reading a magazine while listen to our favorite record.

Trevor: Yes, It keeps me feeling young and excited about what we do on The Black Dahlia Murder and we have a very high profile and I try to use that to help other bands, wearing shirts of the bands, always talking about them in different articles. I have a column at Metal Injection called Obituarist where I right about new bands and new releases and there’s a Spotify list that I put out every month. I have one of those dropped there in a couple of days. It seems that our fans are thankful to hear my voice on that matter, you know.

Is there any specific rare item that you have in your collection?

Trevor: I have more holy grail t-shirts, a lot of Rust In Peace Megadeth’s shirts. They are my favorites and Megadeth is like my favorite band from all time. The Vic that glows in the dark, that’s the one man! That’s the ultimate metal shirt and I cherish that one. Megadeth is like the first band that I felt in love back then I was at school, I had a Megadeth shirt for everyday in the week and people made fun of me at school and called me Megadeth, but I didn’t care (laughs).

I love Megadeth as well and as a Brazilian, I was so happy when Kiko joined the band. What do you think?

Trevor: He’s great dude! He’s an awesome player and I love Angra too and was very smart for Dave to choose him, he’s a very incredible player.

Let’s talk about your vocal techniques, because they are great and there’s very own identity. How did you start singing? Do you have any tips to share with you aspiring singer fans?

Trevor: I started to sing Carcass at first, I wanted to do two different voices like they have. Jeff Walker and Bill Steer were like my biggest influences right away. I spent many years not knowing what I was doing, so I would go on stage and have a huge adrenaline and then I would get very tired, so I learned how to sing with less effort. When you see Corpsegrinder he looks like he’s going absolutely crazy, but he’s very calm and calculate everything about his doing and he’s thinking about how he is breathing and those little factors that you need to realize. There’s a lot you can learn from this traditional kind of singing approaches, because they all use the same kind of breathing techniques. I would recommend to a young kid to find the artist you would like to sound like and try to emulate them and then to check out Melissa Cross which are very helpful for metal singers, that’s how I learned correctly, which made me able to sing a lot faster so it was definitely a good point.

Melissa is the redhead girl right?

Trevor: Yeah! Vocal coach to the starts (laughs).

Well, let’s talk about your new album “Verminous”, it’s a great album that you just released. So far I have listened to the album twice and its one of my favorites from all The Black Dahlia Murder career. I heard a lot of varieties and different dynamics on each song but also the whole material. It’s a very dynamic album… it was something intentional or it was a natural process?

Trevor: We’ve been gradually moving towards this direction with the last two records, dynamics and having songs that are more emotive to people and a little more epic hopefully. It wasn’t something that we talked or had a meeting about, but we really wanted to have an album where the songs had a really strong individual identity and would stand on their own legs. We tried to make an album that we wanted to listen all the way through and It feels like a roller-coaster ride of different colors, emotions and flavors, you know. Just trying to be really creative and keep intact what The Black Dahlia Murder sound that we established, but also make some exciting new blood in the music too.

What does “Verminous” means to you? There are any special meaning to you?

Trevor: Yes, basically the idea behind Verminous is the hidden world of the underground that an average person doesn’t see or know about, they don’t have that kind of knowledge. Verminous is about spreading that flag of knowledge, as we are the rats and worms and undesirable creepy creatures that the perfect world don’t want to acknowledge. I use that as kind of a metaphor for the underground, the sewer world that you see on the cover of the album is kind of what I’m talking about. I just feel like our culture is a secret to most people and they don’t understand what motivates us and what we love about it so much, while they are so committed in family. Its definitely a healthy outlet, you know.

Following this idea, what does Death Metal means to you? It’s the ultimate way to express yourself with music?

Trevor: That’s how I feel. Its like an unfiltered art, there’s nobody making Death Metal with the delusions that they are going to become rockstars. It’s a labor of love and its for a certain few, its not for the masses necessarily, so its an unfiltered art that isn’t sensed, that isn’t trying to be mainstream… so its pure, a really pure form of expression for me and I feel like Death Metal is seem like a villain, a scary monster, like a horror movie. Its kind of looking like from the killer shoulders and there’s a lot of catharsis for me, writing lyrics like that, embodying a powerful character and sing those lyrics on stages. It’s a positive release of negative energy.

What does inspire you to write lyrics?

Trevor: It’s a bit of everything, honestly. Things that happens in the real world, like horror or macabre kind of news, but I am definitely influenced by what happened in the past in Death Metal kind of elements and themes, so I often return to those. I’m also influenced by classic horrors with vampires, zombies and werewolves, you know, like typical elements… I like to keep them alive with what I do lyrically. Inspiration can come from everywhere, I’m opened to all different kinds. I take writing lyrics for the band very seriously and I put myself into the characters that I create a lot and it’s a lot of fun for me. It’s a challenge to honor the great music the guys write, to honor what they’ve written and its really cool to see people responding so positive to what I’ve done… to ask about lyrics for the next record, its exciting.

The Black Dahlia Murder have released two videos, one for “Child Of Night” and the other for “The Oaken Sake” and they are both pretty different. Can we expect more videos from that album during the quarantine?

Trevor: I’m not really sure, but I know that there will be some play through coming in the future from the guys. The second video we did during the lock down and I’m pretty sure you can tell it. I’m open to do another in the future, we just need to see what everybody thinks and there are songs that I would like to represent on a video, so I’m open to it.

What fans can expect until you get the green light to hit the road again? You did a cool Netflix Party and it was one of the coolest ideas. Who came up with that and can we expect more, like a streaming gig or something like that?

Trevor: We do have a pre-recorded live show from one of our last US tours that have a professional sound and I’m pretty sure that its going to be streamed by Metal Blade eventually. Otherwise we are just trying to be present on social media right now, I’ve been going live for interviews, for Zoom, Twitch, playing games and talking to the fans. We are trying to maximize our presence while we are stuck up inside. I would expect to see a lot more live content coming from us, maybe another Netflix Party in the future, because that was definitely fun to hang out with the fans, have a drinking game during the movie which would definitely shit my ass for sure (laughs).

It was a really funny idea, because it connected all the fans. Its different from setting up a live streaming concert, which the fans are only going to watch. But with the Netflix Party, the fans could get in touch with you guys, it felt like being on the same place.

Trevor: Yeah, it was definitely the coolest aspect of it, so we will keep that in mind for the future. Being there in the comments, speaking with the fans while something is streaming, it’s a very powerful connection. People need entertainment right now, people need distraction from this entire situation, so if we can offer that, that would be great. I’m all for it.

You guys played in Brazil a couple of times. What are the plans after this virus is gone, can the whole world expect to see “Verminous” live after this virus is dead, buried and gone?

Trevor: Yeah man! We are going to hit the ground running as soon as we are able to and we have global plans to get everywhere. We will definitely come to South America, Brazil its been a while now and we owe you guys a show. I’m looking forward to it and I think that its going to be very healthy when its all normal again.

I have two fan questions. Do you have any ritual before going to the stage or studio?

Trevor: Well, for me I drink throat coat teas, I have one before soundcheck and one before our show. It’s a nice hot tea with lots of herbs that opens your throat nice and wide and I drink some whiskey to go get on the mood and go crazy. Whiskey is also good for your throat if you have a rough voice, you can gargling a little whiskey, it tastes gross but it helps. Then we would all hang out together in the band and joke a lot around, setting up a positive mood together while listening to different songs. We like to go on stage with a group kind of conscious and attitude. We definitely hang out together before the set and try to breed that positive energy.

Well, last but not least. Would you like to share a message to your fans out there?

Trevor: Yes, to the Brazilian fans. Thanks for the support during all those years of support and patience between our appearances there, we are definitely going to come back with our new record and we are going to play it live as well as the old stuff. So be safe, be inside and I will see you on the other side! I appreciate the press and the kind words and hopefully I will see you in Brazil sometime!



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