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Interview with Black Daggers
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
My dad had (and still has) a 1970’s Pearl Wood-Fibreglass drum kit. I was hitting the skins on that kit the moment I could hold sticks. Eventually I grew up and could reach the hihat pedal, then even later I could reach the kick drum pedal as well… at the same time with my other foot! The rest was history after that revolutionary moment.
If I didn’t get into music I’d probably would have my pilot’s license. I only had room for one expensive hobby.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
When I’m not playing music I tend to do some woodworking or go on road trips to the mountains and lakes. Woodwork is good for the mind and hands, road trips and the mountains are good for the soul. It helps me to process daily life… and then sometimes I turn those thoughts and feelings into sounds I find pleasing and what some would call music.
How long has your band been around?
Arguably since Valentine and I met. So about two years. Mike and Stan came into the picture approximately a year after, give or take.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
Red Deer, Alberta. How it influenced our music is that it’s hard to find the right people to form a band in the first place and being in Red Deer it’s even harder because it’s much smaller than a city like Calgary or Edmonton. So Stan drives up from Calgary to jam with us and we were also looking for a singer, but after 8 months, Valentine took one for the team and hopped on the mic for lead vocals. If we found a local guitarist or another singer I’m sure we’d sound different entirely.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
From my perspective, I was looking for a name that “sucked the least” as I tend to put it… because a personal view of mine is that most band names are very… “whatever”. Black Daggers came up and it sounded the least crappy, the least cheesy, and felt like it could fit with what we were generally going for. It wasn’t metal but it could get heavy, it wasn’t acoustic but it could be lighter. It leaned to the “darker” side of things a bit, but It had room for us to be ourselves and didn’t feel like it confined us to anything in particular.
Others may find our name to be total cheese balls and that’s fine… I get it!
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
Our shows are yet to come since coming out with the debut record, so I’ll fall back on a story from my last band.
Bass player broke his Low E string on the last song of the night. He wrapped it up quickly around the head (or what was left of it) and on the spot transposed the rest of the song to the remaining 3 strings like a true professional. Played it flawlessly minus the few seconds he was dealing with the broken string.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
Any bar or pub with a decent stage and crowd are the best for me. I like small shows where we can be loud and play for you and get people going.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
I think either Stone Temple Pilots or Alice in Chains (or both) at a minimum for me. Then expand out from there with another group or two. Tool definitely comes to mind and so does Rage Against the Machine… or Soundgarden or Audioslave if Chris Cornell was still around.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
1) Have a group chat for communication with everyone in the band. Coordinate jams and other band related items in here.
2) Practice and show up to jams on time. Don’t be a flake.
3) Being in a band is like dating 2, 3, or 4 other people at the same time. Learn to compromise and let your band mates know when you appreciate them, don’t just bitch about things you don’t like. It goes a long way to keeping the ball rolling.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
Just play and write the best music you can. Quality over quantity. Don’t over think it.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
The whole record resonates with me. It was a concept Valentine and I discussed early on in the writing process. But the stand out songs to me are:
- “Best I’ve Got” because I can relate to the idea of giving life your all and it was still not enough and you’re ready to give up.
- “Surfin’ A Vib” because it feels like you got this new lust for life and you're pumped but something ominous is behind it.
- “City Limits” because you just want to run away from everything. You’re just over it all and want to escape, but you know at the end of the day you’re responsible for whatever happens. Even if the devil comes to collect, you agreed to the deal in the first place.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
“Surfin’ a Vibe” is my favorite to play but “I’m Here” seems to be a really popular one.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
It usually starts with one of us bringing a series of riffs in. There might be no structure or arrangement to it yet, maybe it’s partially arranged, or it might be entirely arranged. But the first thing we usually do is record it right into Pro Tools and start to arrange various parts, maybe add more parts, rearrange and so on until we have something we like. Then we learn it and jam it. Once we know what we’re doing, then it’s time to re-record it again for real as a complete performance like a band.
Recording is very much a part of our writing/arranging process for music.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
In my mind this record is not so much about a message as it is about harnessing and communicating a series of thoughts, feelings, and emotions people can relate to.
That’s not to say we won’t have a message in future music but this current release is more about trying to establish a connection with the character of the album.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
Absolutely. We get past it by communicating regularly and also knowing what battles to pick. Does that thing you’re being so stubborn on really have to be? Or perhaps you’re not super motivated by a certain thing but you are willing to do it for the guys in the band that are. Compromise goes a long way, especially with four radically different people.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
We’re already working on new music. We have stuff from the writing sessions of “Phantasmagoria” and new stuff since recording it. You will likely see some kind of release or two in the first half of 2024. “Phantasmagoria” is only the first record in a four part series of records we intend to release. However, we have two or three other songs we might complete and re-release on “Phantasmagoria” because they came from those writing sessions and fit the subject matter.