Interview: Revocation-Scrambling Brains and Taking Names

Posted by Morgan Ywain Evans on Sunday, February 27, 2011 at 1:54 PM (PST)

Relapse Records‘ Boston, MA based Revocation are blowing up more and more lately, with tons of critical acclaim and a truly enviable support slot (along with A Life Once Lost, woot!) for legendary death metal champions Atheist’s first North American tour in many years. Revocation’s convulsive mix of tech-death, thrash and “whatever” is such a potent blend that they were even asked recently, based on their skill level, to cover “Pull The Plug” by Death for Decibel Magazine’s Flexi Series (streaming here).

Revocation are insanely fast, gifted and versed in all that is death metal, pushing it beyond some blood drenched horizon line. Go pick up a copy of Revocation’s recent EXISTENCE IS FUTILE and listen to the epic charge of “Enter The Hall” or the winding, death defying grim sweep of “Dismantle The Dictator”. Many bands have guitar heroes and while Revocation are fans of sick technique, that’s just part of their appeal .The thrilling heroics of guitarist David Davidson and the able support of his very nasty cohorts are just part of the group’s appeal, dedication to musicianship that goes hand in hand with a camaraderie that comes through in the group’s aesthetic as well as stage presence. It’s a specific underground vibe you can’t fake. At the same time, “Dismantle…” (or any number of their tunes) are truly mind-boggling, proving they are well deserving of their opening slot on the upcoming March run with Atheist.

To read the full interview click here.

I’ve been reading Robert Jordan/Brandon Sanderson’s THE GATHERING STORM while listening to the superb re-release of Augury’s CONCEALED the last few days. It’s been a perfect soundtrack to the impending darkness of that book or just plain evocative on its’ own musical merits. I’ve been really getting deeply engaged with the dark cosmology of Augury’s brand of “death prog” (a far too limiting term for the awesome scope of their sound). Some people dismiss heavier forms of metal because they find the lyrics indecipherable, but so what? Your ear eventually adjusts or you can read along with the booklet and suddenly the words conjure images in your mind that cause serious reflection (as anyone who’s ever chilled with an Augury, Revocation or old school Candiria record can attest). As I often say, it’s almost like having a key to a secret world or society, no matter how unwashed and violent it can be at times. I didn’t know of Augury until recently and even as a seasoned metal head at this point, it is a huge part of what keeps me interested in heavy music-that unexpected discovery of a band that gives you chills again and makes you want more. Such was certainly also the case when I first saw today’s true subject Revocation open for Divine Heresy and Portugal’s own version of metal royalty, lupine BM howlers Moonspell back in October, 2009 in New York City. They took the stage and blew the roof off like they were headlining.

Fast forward to the present…I was more than stoked to actually book Revocation for a one off show at a venue called The Basement in my mutated, yet generally rowdy town of Kingston, NY (with openers Now There Is Only A Signal, To Hell And Back and Dead Unicorn) just a few weeks ago! It was really shitty weather and a Sunday night and so the turn out was pretty piss poor, but the Revocation dudes were really chill and gracious (and hopefully Revocation weren’t too freaked out when the bar owner had to violently eject a wasted Mexican who tried to buy his girlfriend onto the sidewalk in front of the band during load out! Seriously, this drunk guy was so sketchy, asking me how much I’d paid the band and then kept telling me he loved white girls over and over and hated black people, then tried to buy the club owner’s girlfriend! He needed to be 86’d).

Ok. Enough intro, already! The following is a talk with Revocation about…everything!

Morgan Y. Evans: You’re definitely one of my favorite bands to see added to the Relapse roster in the last few years. You’re playing a handful of shows leading up to the Atheist run, right?

David Davidson (Vocals/Guitar): Yeah. These are kind of one off shows to keep us busy while we’re home. We’ve been recording and doing that whole thing so we wanted to play a couple regional shows to get back out there and still play to fans even though we aren’t on a larger tour.

MYE: I would never classify you in my mind as a band that has to play to keep your chops up, because the band is so nasty, but I guess it still doesn’t hurt.

Anthony Buda (bass): Every band needs to practice. There’s no magical band that doesn’t have to (laughing). No matter how good they are.

MYE: I’m sure Eddie Van Halen still plays guitar in his bedroom. Well, maybe not (laughing). Ok, I read you are doing a follow up to EXISTENCE and also maybe if you could talk about the Death cover you put out. That was bad ass.

David Davidson: Thanks, man. We’re in the stages of mixing right now, so we’re getting it all squared away. Tweaking the different levels and all that. Making it the way we want to hear it. We worked with Pete Rutcho again at Damaged Studios. He did the last two records. He worked with everyone from Seemless to Bury Your Dead, and he’s kind of a local guy. Great ear and great dude to work with. He gets our band and knows the approach we want. He can deliver, so we are really excited to have worked with him again.

Anthony Buda: As far as the Death cover, in between the last two tours we did we were working very hard on the recording process for our album. Decibel got in touch with us and said they wanted us to do this cover, but the deadline was when we were on tour. We were starting the tour in less than a week. We only ended up having three days to prepare and rehearse for it.

David Davidson: It was totally insane. We had three days to learn the cover, get studio time and record it before tour in one day. We made it happen!

MYE: Plus, Death is a sacred band to some people so it isn’t like it wasn’t high pressure!

Anthony Buda: We wanted to give it the treatment we deserved.

David Davidson: The reason we got asked is because someone at Decibel had heard we were big fans of Death. We played as Death for Halloween one year and played a song from every single record. We are no strangers to the music of Death. “Symbolic” was in our set for awhile.

MYE: How did you decide what Death song to pick?

Anthony Buda: We thought “Pull The Plug” was a classic song and for the younger people who might not know Death as well, let’s bust a song from the earlier part of their catalogue that’s amazing. Fresh exposure.

David Davidson: The later records already had such great production, so what’s the point of re-recording something off of SYMBOLIC or THE SOUND OF PERSEVERANCE which already sounded so great? We wanted to go back to the grittier recordings like LEPROSY and give it a bit of a more modern production and see how it’d sound.

MYE: I dig that. It had aspects of the original but sounded like you guys.

David Davidson: We tried to pay homage to the material.

MYE: When I first saw the band I loved the camaraderie and wondered how that translates to the writing process. You’ve turned a lot of heads with the last record and was wondering if you feel any pressure?

Anthony Buda: We definitely feel the pressure. Critics have been very, very positive to EXISTENCE IS FUTILE and we’d be very disappointed in ourselves if we didn’t exceed people’s expectations for the next one, y’know? We want it to be even better. That is the challenge, because we really liked EXISTENCE, but we think the new stuff is even better. It’s great.

David Davidson: We honed our songwriting. You’ll get some songs that are around the 3 minute mark. If you look back to our first cd EMPIRE OF THE OBSCENE we had songs around the 6 or 7 minute mark. Nothing against long songs, but we’ve tried to trim the fat a little and not clutter it up. Keep the solid development and keep it smart but also have it be really hard hitting and aggressive at the same time.

MYE: Live you can play the short ones and then bust into one of the more epic songs when you feel like it, too.

Anthony Buda: We were thinking about what songs would be good live as we were making the new record. We’re doing the two guitar thing now, so we had a lot of fun with that.

David Davidson: We can do long harmonized lead sections now and it really does that justice live. We can have more counter lines. Dan just kind of perfectly worked out. He was the second guy that auditioned and learned all our songs by ear! That’s no easy task. A lot of times there is a lot of dissonance in metal but he still nailed it by ear and blew us away. It was a perfect fit.

MYE: I was watching one of your instructional clips on Youtube, I think for “Dismantle…”. There were probably some people who were relieved to see you break it down and play it slower, piece by piece. Now, how did the Atheist tour come about? How does it feel?!!

David Davidson: We are incredibly excited to be playing with Atheist. Growing up listening to them, I never thought I would ever see them play, let alone be on a tour with them. For all of us, it is a death metal fans’ dream come true AND they put out a new record that totally rips. They’ll have new and old material to play. We’re just excited as death metal fans let alone to be able to play with them. Very, very cool.

Anthony Buda: We’re very excited. We’ve been fans since day one…well, maybe not day one! We weren’t cool enough to know about them (laughing), but shortly after day one! It is a dream come true, like Dave said. We got to play with Pestilence last year a couple shows. That was another one to chalk off the list of amazing older bands that we never thought we’d get a chance to play with that we did, so…

MYE: That’s shit rad, man! Your band seems like you have a good sense of humor and camaraderie on stage and the skill is there as well. I came from punk and then got more into metal. You have the rapport with the audience AND the skill. I love, for example, how in Megadeth or when he was in Metallica, you’d hear or see how Dave Mustaine would joke with the audience and break down the barriers.

David Davidson: We’re serious about our music but in our personal lives, we like to get on stage and have fun. Sharing an experience with an audience that gets it and likes it, how can you not have fun in that setting? We were always fans growing up of Pantera home videos. Those guys were killer players and the music was aggressive as fuck and serious but they could have a good time. We like to rip it and rage together.

Anthony Buda: If you have no exchange with the audience your performance is sterile. While we focus on the precision playing and expanding boundaries, we want to have a positive, high energy experience.

MYE: It’s not just a clinic. Like you said about Pantera, you can’t be afraid to have footage of yourselves out there like when Dimebag is wasted and throwing stuff at a car!

David Davidson: (laughing) That was my favorite part of those fan videos. They’re pulling pranks on stage or fans come onstage and head bang with them. People connect with that.


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