With Soundwave officially a thing of the past and the prospect of a Down Under Download Festival nothing but a vaguely-realised pipe-dream, Australia is in desperate need of quality music festivals. Sure, we have UNIFY and that satiates most of your average heavy music needs, but what if you’re a ‘live by the riff, die by the riff‘ metal-head?
Well, never fear fellow long-hairs! The ‘Thrash, Blast and Grind Festival Tour’ is here in 2017 to deliver all your head-bang-inducing, whiplash-related necessities. With an impressive line-up of national and international acts, Killyourstereo.com was lucky enough to have Dave Davidson, guitarist and founding member of extreme metal masters Revocation, on the phone to discuss their latest album, eccentric tour supports, mixed bills, ‘weirdo walks,’ and eating animals from our coat of arms.
Hello Dave! How are you doing?
I’m good. I appreciate the interview!
No problem at all dude. Revocation are heading back to Australia as part of The Thrash, Blast And Grind Festival Tour in February, which has an excellent line-up. How stoked are you to be coming back Down Under?
Yeah, it’s an incredible line-up and be super stoked to be a part of it. It’ll be awesome too, because we’re also hitting up New Zealand on that run, which we haven’t been to before.
That’s awesome. Now, the last time the band was here was in 2014 for a tour with Thy Art Is Murder. Is that right?
Yeah, that’s correct.
What did you guys think of Australia? Did you have a good time?
Man, we had an absolute blast. The shows were great, and Australia is just such a beautiful, great place to be, so we managed to do some sight-seeing, plus the fans were great too. The whole thing was just awesome.
On the Thrash, Blast And Grind tour, Revocation will be playing alongside local Aussie acts like King Parrot and Psycroptic, who have done substantial touring across the U.S. in recent years. Do you, and the other members of Revocation, already have a repour with those bands?
Yeah, Psycroptic were on the bill last time we were in Australia, so we’ve definitely toured with them before. King Parrot, I’ve never toured with them before, but I have seen them live and I’ve heard that they’re rad dudes, so it should be a good time.
Definitely. I think it should be interesting from a live perspective, as while Revocation, King Parrot and Psycroptic all are undoubtedly metal bands, they each have their own unique and heavy sound. Are you personally a fan of mixed-bill line-ups Dave?
I think it’s great when you can bring diversity to a tour package. That way it’s not a case of every band sounding exactly the same. However, that being said, it’s also cool when there are bills that are honed in to a particular aesthetic. You know, you see that a lot with like a ‘black metal’ tour, where they all have the same vibe, but one might be more ‘atmospheric’ or one is super-punishing and riffed-out. So, I think you can look at it from either angle, and it’s cool.
On that note then, in your time with Revocation, releasing multiple albums and touring all over the world, what’s been the strangest or weirdest band you guys have played with?
Hhhmm… Let me think about that… Maybe like, White Wizard, or something like that? Because they’re like an 80’s metal/rock band, doing like a power-metal type of thing, and we’re more of a death metal/thrash band doing more aggressive stuff. I mean we do have some rockier parts I guess, but not songs where that’s the entire vibe. Although those shows like that are usually great, like that time we went out with Forbidden and Havok, where it made sense, because with Forbidden all their parts have singing, but they’re still very thrashy.
You guys released ‘Great Is Our Sin’ in July last year, and it was easily one of my favourite albums from that year. What’s the response to the album been like for you and the band, and how do you feel those new tracks go down as part of the band’s live set?
The response across the board has been great, and all the reviews I read, along with the fans responses I got in person or online, have been overwhelmingly positive. And I think that the new songs have been going over great live. We just got back from Europe a while ago, and we played a bunch of new material on that one, and it seemed like they were already familiar with the material, which was a cool feeling.
When a new record comes out, are you ever hesitant to read those reviews and see what people are saying about it? Do you try to give yourself a ‘quarantine’ or ‘embargo’ period for a lack of better terms after an album release, or are you jumping straight in, to find out what people think?
There’s certainly a curiosity there, for sure. A lot of times, what will happen is that our label or management will send over reviews, but usually if they’re doing that, they’re going to be positive. It’ll be like ‘Hey, check out this review that so-and-so wrote about you guys,’ and then we’ll re-post it or whatever. So, whenever that stuff comes across the desk, it’s always positive, unless they really wanted to fuck with us [laughs].
But yeah, in general, I think it’s cool to see what people have to say. And like I said before, we’ve been really fortunate, where it seems that every record we’ve put out, has been met with really good critical response. Of course, we’ve had a few negative reviews, which every band is likely to have, but by and large, the majority of people seem to really get behind us. Which is awesome, you know, to feel that support, whether it’s from a critic or a fan. I think people can tell that we’re a real band: we came up from the underground, we have the upmost respect for death metal, thrash metal, black metal; all these different genres have gone in to making our sound what it is. And I think people really appreciate the fact that we’re one of those newer bands—even though we’ve been a band now for a decade at this point—that’s really flying the flag for underground metal.
That’s awesome. When you’re touring a new record, do you feel a sense of obligation to tip the balance of the set so to speak, towards the new songs and the new record? Or are you trying to pull from those older records, and keep the set as diverse as you can?
I think the further we get into our career, the more we want to try and focus on playing the new stuff. Just because, and the end of the day, if we’re doing a support slot—or hell, even if we’re headlining at this point—we have so many records to pull from. We have more records than some bands who have been around for ten years longer than us. So, no matter what, when you have 70 songs to choose from, you’re going to have to omit the majority of them [laughs]. So, I think for us, it boils down to playing the classics, acknowledging every record if there’s time, and really trying to push the new stuff.
But, you’re always going to find people who want to hear the old stuff. On that European tour I mentioned, we didn’t play anything off ‘Empire of the Obscene’ [2008, re-issued 2015], thinking that ‘You know, no one’s really going to care. So let’s just push the new record.’ And then inevitably, there were a few fans that were like “Nooooo, you didn’t plan anything off ‘Empire…’! I love that record!” [Laughs.] So, you know, you can’t please everyone, but for us as musicians, we’ve always written music for ourselves first and foremost. So when we’re putting together a set, it’s like ‘Hey, let’s play the new material and put it out there.’ Because it’s all fresh and it’s super exciting to play, and hopefully, that excitement is going to transfer to the crowd when they hear the songs.
Absolutely. With the band coming back to play for Australian audiences this year, what are you looking forward to the most about being Down Under, Dave?
It’s still a pretty new spot for us, so we usually look forward to a bit of sight-seeing. Last time we were there, we were able to go to the Sydney Opera House, which is obviously such an iconic and amazing landmark, with some beautiful architecture. So, I’m looking forward to just going on some more ‘weirdo walks’, where I just kind of go exploring and discover something new. It’ll be cool to also hit the beaches, which was something we didn’t really get to do a tonne of, last time we were there.
For sure. It’ll be summer here for us, and definitely hot enough.
Exactly! And it’ll be the frigid north where I’m from, so it’ll be good to have some blazing hot sun and work on my tan [laughs]. Actually, a lot of the food we had when we were over there was awesome too. I had one of the best breakfasts of my entire life when we were over there. I had kangaroo when I was there, which was cool, so I might try some other kinds of food and different cuisines.
Man, kangaroo meat is delicious.
I know! I didn’t feel so bad, because they told us that it was kind of an invasive species at that point, and they were like ‘You’re actually doing us a favour right now, by eating this’ [laughs].
Well, there you go. Now, to wrap up Dave, with 2016 locked away and Revocation positioned as one of the new guards of extreme metal, I wanted to ask you what were some of your favourite metal releases of the past year?
Sure, I mean there was a lot of great stuff that came out that year, but off the top of my head, I’d say the new Gorguts EP was really cool. The new Dysrhythmia record is really awesome. I’m in love with the new Ayahuasca record, that record just blew my away and I listened to it on repeat! The new Deathspells Omega record was cool, that’s an awesome one as well.
Oh, and new Meshuggah, obviously! They’re always a band that brings the heavy, and I definitely got my share of low-tuned, syncopated madness. There were so many great releases that year. It’s great time to be a metal-head!
Revocation’s sixth full-length album ‘Great Is Our Sin’ is available now, and you can read our review of that record here. Revocation are touring across Australia & NZ this month as part of the ‘The Thrash, Blast and Grind Festival Tour’ line-up, and tickets are on sale now through Oztix.
The Thrash, Blast and Grind Festival Tour 2017: