Thursday, October 1, 2009

Mayhem and Majesty with The Black Dahlia Murder's Newest Member

In the latter part of 2008, melodic death metal group The Black Dahlia Murder received word from then lead guitarist John Kempainen that he was quitting the band. At the time, they were on tour and had to continue as a four-piece band instead of the usual quintet. But filling in the gap didn’t take long. Former Arsis guitarist Ryan Knight was recruited with the help of a friend of the band, and the rest is history. Double Stereo caught up with Ryan Knight recently to introduce him to the fans and talk about what’s new with The Black Dahlia Murder.

Not just anyone can join The Black Dahlia Murder. How do you know the guys? What was it like to join the band?

Ryan: The way I knew the band was through my old band, Arsis. We toured with Black Dahlia last year. It was a like a B-markets tour before Summer Slaughter. The guy who we just recorded our album with, Jason Suecof, has a partner that engineers with him. His name is Mark Lewis. I had known them both for two or three years. One day I call mark and told him I could not be in Arsis anymore. I knew he worked with a lot of bands, and asked him to put the word out. A couple of months later, I got a call from Mark telling me Black Dahlia was looking for a new guitar player. I told him I’d totally do it. I had just gotten through touring with those guys a few months before. Brian Eschbach called me that same day and that’s how I’m in the band.

So how has your life changed since being in Black Dalia Murder?

Ryan: It is just another level, comparing the band I was in to Black Dahlia. Obviously we are doing bigger tours and just traveling everywhere. My first show with them was actually in Iceland. I have been to Europe for six weeks with them. It was a really big step, but it’s been fun.

How has Mayhem Fest been for you guys this past summer?

Ryan: This past summer for us has been amazing. The exposure you get from Mayhem is incredible. We played in front of our fans, Slayer’s fans and even Marilyn Manson’s fans. You had this big melting pot of people that are into all types of stuff. People go crazy every day. But some days, when it was really hot, like a show in Florida, they were like a stone wall. I can’t blame them though. The heat was brutal that day.

What’s going on with you guys now that Mayhem is over? I know your new album, Deflorate, just came out on September 15th.

Ryan: Yup, it came out on Metal Blade Records. Now we are starting our tour with Children of Bodom and Skeletonwitch. After that we will be around playing everywhere.

Tell me something you liked about this year’s Mayhem Tour. Is there anyone you discovered or liked checking out live?

Ryan: Touring with Slayer is a lifetime dream come true for anyone on this tour. I haven’t watched them every night, but I’ve watched four or five times. All the bands on our stage were label mates. We’ve toured with a lot of them before. It was fun though, like touring with our friends.

Did you catch Marilyn Manson?

Ryan: I have a couple of times. I am not that big of a fan, but he brings people. That’s cool. I never thought I’d be on the same tour with him back in seventh grade when I first heard him.

Right on. So I imagine there will be no sleep for you guys the rest of this year at least?

Ryan: Sleep? Not happening. We have a lot of touring going on.

Besides it being the first time where you have been on the actual album, what is different about Deflorate in comparison to the previous Black Dahlia Murder albums?

Ryan: This record is definitely a step up from the other albums. It is still a Black Dahlia record, but at the same time there are some new things like new time signatures we haven’t experimented with before. I’m the new lead guitarist, so when you change lead guitarists then obviously the leads are going to be different. They’re cool though.

Any different themes to any of the songs on Deflorate that Black Dahlia hadn’t done previously?

Ryan: I know on some songs Trevor had done maybe a sci-fi sort of thing. The last album had sort of a night feel. Deflorate’s cover art has sort a “deserty” sort of space theme. It has a big moon. It’s not a spaced theme album though.

It’s not a Pink Floyd cover by any means?

Ryan: Oh no. From the lyrics I’ve read, and I have read quite a few, it does have kind of a sci-fi theme. I know Trevor is into older mid ‘90s death metal. Sometimes there is a lot of gore in there. He is all into that so that is all there still. There is still Black Dahlia.

Tell me a little about the Majesty DVD.

Ryan: It has 2 discs. One disc is live footage. It has a documentary of how we are as a band. It goes from our life in the band. A lot of the band smokes weed and there’s some of that in there. It is not like an in-depth history, but more like a day in the life of the band. It was shot over the course of a couple of years. I’m on it for the last twenty minutes. It does have some really good live footage, but it isn’t just the run of the mill live DVD. Kids who have seen it come up to the guys and ask about their shoes and stuff that they saw them wear on the DVD.

Does that sort of thing surprise you?

Ryan: Not really. Brian, our other guitar player, wears these all white New Balance shoes. It’s like a funny thing that kids notice that.

Funny but I don’t think that fans see that as very metal. Now a Revolver Magazine cover…that’s metal. How has the Revolver Magazine cover changed things for you?

Ryan: The Revolver cover was cool. Revolver is like everywhere. I could tell my mom to go get one at like, say, Kroger’s and it will be there. That’s how big it is. It’s cool. We all felt honored as a band to be in it, especially Trevor having the cover. It is a step that says, “We’re here.” It helps us carry the torch for death metal. In a lot of ways I think this band is sort of a gateway band.

In what sense?

Ryan: It is a gateway into the realm of more extreme stuff. I hope we can continue being that. A lot of kids are already into Slipknot, Disturbed and bands like that. That is what’s good about us being in Revolver. They do a good job of not only taking stuff people know about and putting out there, but also cover some of the up and coming smaller bands.

I’d be interested to see in about a year what level you make it to, especially after a Revolver cover. In terms of what I will refer to as the “Mayhem bands,” you guys aren’t quite a headliner yet. You’re mid level right now. I’d love to talk with you later on about how your life has changed once again.

Ryan: We will definitely keep trying to bring blast beats and fast music to more people.

With all the exposure, do you ever see yourself breaking through to mainstream rock radio the way Slipknot or Disturbed have? Or do you think that you will remain off the air?

Ryan: Well, I don’t know. I can see us on maybe satellite radio maybe. Mainstream radio? I don’t know if we will ever be on mainstream rock radio like Slipknot. We won’t ever sell a million records or anything, even though selling albums is like a thing of the past. We’re just going to continue to push it and see where it takes us. We’re not too worried about it. You don’t join metal bands to hit it rich or anything. You join because t is what you love to play and listen to.

Any last words before we wrap up?

Ryan: Thanks always to fans. We wouldn’t be here without you. Be sure to get the new CD, Deflorate, on Metal Blade Records.

The Black Dahlia Murder - Necropolis from Alex Stones on Vimeo.

Interview originally published on Double Stereo. For more great reviews, free downloads, interviews and music, visit

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