Trenton, New Jersey metalcore band Beyond Dishonor has made a lot of inroads towards reaching their goals; turning heads while playing on bills with acts like Chimaira and Skeleton Witch and becoming known in the industry as one of the hardest working bands on the east coast. It is all coming full circle for the guys this fall as they have not only a great new video but a new EP, “Generations” coming this September 17th, all of this leading to the fact that you will be hearing much more of Beyond Dishonor in the coming year. I caught up with the band (All of em) for this interview to learn a bit more, read on….
Q. Hi guys…thanks for talking with us….I just watched your video for “Heisenberg” with the sound cranked and think I may have heard the earth opening up to swallow us all. The video is obviously something of an homage to BREAKING BAD, how much work or fun was it making it?
A: (Mark Salmon, guitar) The original concept of the song is an obvious pop-culture reference that is wound around our perception of the music industry and our place in said industry. When we did the storyboard for the video with Mitch Martinez (letlive, Underoath), we knew we wanted to have the flavor of Breaking Bad while portraying the apparent control of the record industry and social media’s influence on how bands are portrayed, need to be portrayed and how acceptance is so contrived. The video was a two day shoot, about 12 hours each day. Day one was the live portion, and I think we played the song about 32 times, according to the notes. It was very physically demanding, to stay fresh and active on take 30 as we were on take 2. Day two was much easier, but the set-up of the room, the monitors, the lighting, it was very challenging to get it perfect. He (Mitch) shot with RED Epic camera’s and lots of large booms and tracks for movement, and he had jammed on the song for weeks, so he knew every little nuance of the song, and that helped immensely. Overall, we were thrilled with the final product, the editing and post production, and apparently others agreed. Following our press release for the video, it had 5000 views in 48 hours and was received unbelievably favorably. I think over 30 major music blogs, including heavyblogisheavy, metalsucks, Noisecreep, all ran articles on the video.
Q. You guys are from Jersey and have gathered a pretty nice fan base locally which is spreading beyond that scene. People in the rest of the country have pop culture based misconceptions about New Jersey based on everything from Snookie to Sopranos to Bon Jovi!! What are some of the things that make your scene and your fans GREAT?
A: (Bryan San Martin, bass) New Jersey has been home to all of us, for better or for worse. A couple of us are based out of the North Jersey/NYC area and a couple of us are based out of the South Jersey/ Philly area. Our drummer is from Trenton, and we have a private practice studio there. While we can all definitely spot some slight differences between North and South, I think that the one big thing we can all agree on is that New Jersey fans are definitely die hard. And that means die hard HATERS as much as fans, hahaha. Mostly though, they show us a lot of love and a lot of support, and for that we are thankful. NJ crowds represent a blue-collar, hard-working mentality, and I think they demand a lot of their bands. So, if you can succeed here, you really gain a strong support base. I’ve heard many bands, both local and national, from different parts of the country mention how passionate crowds can be around here. That’s definitely one of the things that make our scene great. We are proud of Dirty Jersey, just don’t mention Jersey Shore……
Q. You have a new EP comin out this June and it features some pretty cool song titles and more pop culture inspirations, including Robocop and even Chappelle Show. It’s interesting that you can draw from such a wide array of sources, who writes the majority of your bands music and lyrics and how do songs usually come to you?
A: (Reese Dunlap, Vox) Musically, we have a very collaborative process, but it typically starts with our guitarists. Mark and Wes have riffs they compose and they have a vision of where the song will go from there. They bring their vision to the table and together we build our songs from their initial foundation. For the more recent music, we have fully embraced the pre-production process, allowing everyone to tweak the music digitally, creating a strong framework for us to then hammer on in our studio. Once we have what we feel is the best possible version, we update the pre-pro to reflect it, and call it a day. It helped immensely with the recording.
When it comes to our lyrics, I draw my inspiration from my life experiences and internal struggles, It starts from a personal place inside my head and the words just begin to flow once I settle on an initial concept. I love using symbolism in my writing, and it comes almost naturally to me. That’s how I entwine things like Breaking Bad and Chappelle Show into my lyrics, I love using double entendre, it gives me the ability to reflect my emotions and paint pictures using many different forms of imagery. One of my favorite things to do is to wrap our underlying meaning/jab/stab/feeling in a pop-culture metaphor, and then watch our fans slowly figure out how it all ties together. It’s something I have done since our first album, and now we as a band collaborate on just how sneaky we can be. It’s a lot like creating a maze for a child and getting stoked when they finally figure out the exit.
Q. This isn’t the first time you have been in the studio or released music….how different was the making of Generations from your last recording?
A: (Mark Salmon, guitar) “Generations” was off to a completely different start from any previous album because we did most of the formative writing on laptops and focused on picking apart the songs from the beginning, rather than writing a complete song and then changing it 50 times after we worked through it via practice. One of the key things we did, prior to putting any music to paper (or hard drive), was we listed out our favorite songs by our individual favorite influences and picked them apart to take inspiration for our album, not as the creators, but as fans – i.e., if we didn’t write the music, would we listen to it and get into it? Additionally, working with Andreas Magnusson (Black Dahlia Murder, Impending Doom, This or the Apocalypse) was eye-opening because he was stern in his criticism, and forced us to re-think certain elements in an effort to make the final product as professional as possible.
Q. You have had the opportunity to tour or play shows with many big names on the hardcore metal circuit and get in front of THEIR fans and attempt to win them over or turn them into Beyond Dishonor fans. Is this as hard as it sounds or actually a pretty fun challenge?
A: (Wes Ingraham, guitar) Every band is different. Every situation is different. Every show is different. A band can play a show and get no response. Then, that same band can play to the same amount of people, in front of the same demographic, in different market, and people will go crazy. Also, time slots of a bands performance means everything. We actually prefer to go in the middle, out of state, to maximize exposure. The challenging part, for a band like us, is that we are currently not backed by a label or agency. If we can’t get a promoter to work with us in a different market, we have to do the bulk of the work, do our research and book our own show. We hand pick the bands to play shows with us. One mistake we avoid that other bands don’t seem to get is the concept of sticking around for other bands. I cannot stress how important that is. People remember that. Even if the band is not your favorite, stick around and make a connection. In my opinion, it is karma and it will come back to you.
Q. Your band has gotten involved with an organization called Bands Against Discrimination. Have you seen discrimination firsthand in the music scene and what drew you to this organization?
(Mike Lock, drummer) We have, sadly, experienced discrimination, because we are an easy target. But before I address that, let me say that metal, in general, is a refuge for those suffering from discrimination AND for those who are the offenders. It’s crazy. Kids feel isolated by schoolmates, parents, whoever, and they turn to metal as an alternative lifestyle where they can possibly be more accepted. Then, once they get there, they are subjected to a whole new level of torment, because the genre-ing and sub-genre-ing of metal leads to an unexpected level of separation. We see it at almost every show we play – like I said, crazy. “Oh, you like THAT band? Well, me and my friends DON’T, so you must suck”. That being said, we are a combination of every target imaginable – a black, a Hispanic, a dad, a black and white dude, and an older guy. But we have spun it to the positive side – we are proof that you can surpass expectations and labeling at the same time. That’s why we really are excited to be working with a group like BAD. They don’t have a specific agenda, they are not speaking out for a specific cause, but speaking out against negativity, discrimination and bullying. They don’t want to get caught up in religious agendas, or pro-this and anti-that – they really are pro-humanity, and we can get behind that fully.
Q. Mike, as a drummer you are kind of in a unique viewing position during shows. What is the most batshit crazy thing you’ve ever seen go down at one of your gigs?
A: (Mike Lock, Drums) This is a very true statement – I would say the wildest thing I ever witnessed while playing was that I watched my girl take a spin-kick to the face and immediately go unconscious. She was way in the back, away from all the melee action, but a crowd killing prick happened to go in her direction, and my vantage point allowed me to see it go down. We stopped mid-song, and I took off from the riser to check on her. Once I knew she was ok, I made my way back to the stage through cheering crowd, and we re-started the song from the exact moment we stopped. The crowd went nuts, the national we were playing with still talks about it to this day. Besides that, the other craziest/scariest thing was at IceJam 2012 in Baltimore. There were about 1800 people in the crowd, and we were in the latter parts of our set, and our singer (Reese) was about to jump the barrier and go into the crowd. However, the barrier was unstable, and as he put his foot on it to push off the stage and over, it flipped backwards, and he buckled over the front of it, slamming his face and arm into the concrete, which was at least 5 feet below stage level. He immediately lost consciousness and his legs flipped over his body in a horrible way. From where I was, I did not see it happen, but I saw the face of everyone on side stage, and the two guitarists. We kept playing, and all of a sudden, I hear his voice, and he starts screaming again. The crowd went absolutely ballistic and it was nuts. Many thought he was dead, because he was unresponsive for about 20 seconds, and there was blood EVERYWHERE. Turns out, a small cut over his eye and a broken arm. If you follow our YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/locks4lock) you can see a great video called Das Kast. Just watch it.
Q. Beyond Dishonor is self managed, self booked and independent of any record label affiliation but you have accomplished a great deal. Do you see the band ever wanting to become involved with any of the above agencies or do you see a better opportunity doing things yourselves?
A: (Wes Ingraham, guitar) Firstly – I hate booking!!!! So MUCH!!! I do very well by us. I know a lot of promoters and bands that treat us very well and are willing to help us out. However, it is a very stressful process. We really are ready to get a full team behind us – booking agent, PR, tour manager, label – I feel with the right people behind us we could get in front of the people we need to be in front of. We will talk to any label, manager, booking agent, or random industry personnel willing to speak to us. We have done well, better than most, and will continue as far as we can because we are growing and learning, but are reaching a point where we need that team to get to the next level. We appreciate any and all help that we can get!
Q. You have grown your fan base plenty the old fashioned way…by playing live as well as operating social media and things like that. Do you think the average fan understands how important t shirt sales and buying merch is to keeping a band above water?
A: (Bryan San Martin, bass) To an extent, I think most fans, be it the average ones or the diehard ones, have a basic understanding that buying merch is important. However, many don’t appreciate the difference between buying merch for a signed band versus a band like us. Besides the standard “eating, cleaning, gas, drinks” angle, it helps us survive where others get some minimal assistance. It helps us to print more merch and even come up with new goodies for our merch table. It helps us buy onto tour packages that other local bands would not be able to do. It helps pay for videos, for web hosting, for PR, for consultant fees, and so much more. At the end of the day, the awesome fans that show up, rage with us, and buy merch are the ones that help us keep doing this. Fans often ask us “when are you coming to my area?” Well, the more merch we sell, the more frequently we can come through your town!
Q. Thanks for taking the time to talk with us and good luck with your new EP, hopefully you will be booking some more dates nationally in the coming months. Is there anything you want to say to people before we wrap this up??
A: (Reese Dunlap, Vox) I just want to say that if you haven’t seen us live or heard of us yet, to come out to a show and have fun with us. The music we make is our way of expressing ourselves and trying to make a personal connection to the world. Our music may be heavy, but it is of an ilk that the most die hard of metalheads and also the fringe listener can find something to take away from it. The live show though….that’s where we make our mark. It’s high-energy, it’s tight and it’s certainly in your face. Finally, we are proof that age, race and musical background mean nothing and that no matter what others tell you, we are proof that others never define the potential that you have within you. Thanks for taking the time to read this!
To help the guys with their quest to get a minibus and to preorder their new EP check out their indieagogo page here http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/beyond-dishonor-s-the-joy-of-touring-minibus-fundraiser
for more on Beyond Dishonor, www.beyonddishonor.com
see Beyond Dishonor live:
August 15th The All Stars Tour at Gramercy Theatre in New York, New York
August 16th The All Stars Tour at Reverb in Reading, PA
August 20th Chimaira, Threat Signal, The Browning, Dark Sermon at The TLA in Philadelphia, PA