Dying of the Light interview

Heavy metal band Dying of the Light recently hired out our studio to film their Factory music video so we got some behind the scenes photos of Rangi and Chris performing. You can see the whole shoot on our bands gallery page. We also took the chance to interview Rangi.

You make a lot of noise for a double act. How do you achieve this and what are your individual roles?
Dying of the Light is essentially a two piece (myself on guitars and second vocal and Chris on bass & first vocal) but we rely heavily on technology. We compose and record on the computer. The ability to layer and warp things to an almost infinite degree in the digital realm is something we like to use and abuse. We first started writing songs on the computer out of convenience and the drums for those early demo recordings were simple drum software rhythms. When we first started playing live we had a third person to the band to play drums but that didn’t work out so we fell back to using the computer drums. It’s one of the cornerstones of industrial music that there is a heavy tech component, and many of the bands who influence us used drum machines and synthesisers. We didn’t think it was unusual to play along to pre made tracks that contain drums, keyboards and other noises. It means we can push out a sound that is as big as a hundred people but it’s just the two of us.

How do you describe your music?
Heavy as f**k ass-kickery. Our music comes from a hybrid mish-mash of our influences. We have the heavy guitars of metal. We have heavy computer beats inspired by industrial and electronic music. We write heavy down-tuned riffs of doom. The vocals and lyric content on our Monolithium EP have a theme to them, they all touch on subjects such as the decay of society and personal freedoms, the struggle to remain moral and just in a society built on unsustainable untruths. The music is appropriately heavy to support the weight of the thoughts and message. We are currently working on our debut album which is incorporating soundtrack elements such as epic drums of war style percussion and some drone and orchestrated sounds. Our goal is to make music that is bigger than big, heavier than heavy.

How did you meet Chris?
We’ve know each other since we were teenagers. We went to the same school in Picton. We didn’t really get along at first, but eventually bonded over a mutual love of comics, sci-fi and horror movies and music. Our formative teenage years where set to a soundtrack of Iron Maiden, Nine Inch Nails and Metallica amongst many others. We formed a band in Christchurch in the 90s and made sludgy, dirgey racket under the name Chapel of Gristle. I moved to Dunedin and Chapel of Gristle eventually fizzled out. Eventually we both ended up in Auckland and decided to have another crack at making music. Dying of the Light was born. It’s almost a continuation of Chapel of Gristle, but now we are older, uglier and grumpier. Hopefully the music is too.

What’s the funniest/most random thing that has happened while performing?
Outside of the usual problems like breaking a string on stage, the random things that happen to us are usually related to the fact that we play along to computer generated backing tracks. The computer is brutally unforgiving of human mistakes and quirks. If you go out of time you can’t look over at the computer and expect it to slow down or fill in space between musical queues until you can catch up. We try and combat this by practicing our asses off so that we are as tight on the changes as the metronomic computer, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way on stage. Once you are up there on stage sweating through the lights it’s all too easy miss a musical queue and that leaves you trying to play catch up. Not exactly funny, but there you have it.

What do you want people to feel when they listen to your music?
I believe music is a very effective medium for creating emotional connections between people. Without wanting to sound pretentious or grandiose, we attempt to use music to express certain concerns and frustrations we have about life, the state of world and the human condition. As far as what people feel when they listen to it, I’d hope they’d connect to the visceral emotions we try to embody in the music. I think the lyrics of our EP are based on broad fears we have about living in the modern age, so the listener should be able to identify and think “yeah, that freaks me out too”. Live music performance is a cathartic experience for me. If it’s a good gig I’ll be completely drained afterward, like I’ve emptied out my entire grievance. It’s kind of like a cleansing. It’s a positive experience even though it’s an aggressive expression of emotions.

Do you think of lyrics before you compose or vice versa?
For the most part the music has come first for all of our recordings. Songs start off as a beat or a riff and then we build around that. Often a good riff will stimulate a vocal melody and the music can then change to accommodate a developing vocal. Chris does the lion share of the lyric writing but for my part I am always picking up queues from other influences, such as a poetic sounding turn of phrase from a book or movie. The Monolithium EP contains a chorus that is entirely lifted from a monologue from a movie. It’s a terrible movie, but the scene is (in my opinion) the best scene in the entire film. It’s delivered by the character of Dracula who is lamenting on the hollowness of spirit that comes with being immortal. It’s a great passage and in a different context it makes for a kick ass lyric. I’m not going to say the name of the movie.
We are trying a new approach to lyrics with the writing of our debut album. The album is forming loosely around the retelling of a personal journey through a catastrophic tragic event. Lyrics will help describe the emotional ups and downs that accompany something soul destroying, dealing with it and coming back out the other side. It’s not a ‘concept album’ as such, but we are trying to incorporate story arc elements into the lyrics. I this case we are writing music and planning out a song map that allows us to make sure we hit certain moods or tempos help illustrate the struggle of the story.

How important are visuals to your band?
The beauty of music is that you can create an experience for someone that is completely devoid of reliance on visual things. Even in complete darkness music can still conjure things that you can ‘see’ in your mind’s eye, and things you can feel as an emotional response. It’s quite amazing when you think about it. Having said that, I think that you can’t be involved in creating music in this day and age without having a care for visuals. It’s often the first impression that people get of your musical identity. To that end we are striving to create a visual style to the band that is unique to us. We started with a logo designed by amazing Dutch artist Khomatech. The logo looks modern and ancient at the same time. We wanted it to resemble a forgotten icon of power that might have been rediscovered by an emerging society after the apocalypse. That idea is in all the visuals we used for the packaging of the Monolithium EP. The photo shoot we did with the awesome Pegasus Photography had a post-apocalyptic, modern primitive vibe that is really evocative. That influenced the music video for the song Monolithium. We wanted the video to be like a post-apocalyptic road movie based on movies the movies and comics that influence us like 2000AD Judge Dredd, Mad Max, and The Children of Men etc. It’s all done in a very guerrilla style with no financing and is reliant on the help and support of creative talented friends. We are really happy with how the visuals complement our music. It’s a fun thing to be involved in dreaming up a whole package. It’s a lot of work because we are doing it all ourselves, but it keeps us out of trouble.

You can check out some of their music by visiting
dyingofthelight.bandcamp.com

Watch the video for Monolithium
www.dyingofthelightnz.com

You can see the whole shoot by visiting our
bands gallery page

Dying of the Light