Interview with Beyond Dishonor
By Raphael Shlosman
Hard work, determination, no boundaries, and some fucked up humor would be the perfect way to describe New Jersey’s rising band Beyond Dishonor. A reoccurring theme to some of my reviews and interviews have always been about “fuck genres” and “rules need not apply”, well this band obviously is cut from the same cloth. Their musical backgrounds are as unique and driven as their actual compositional style. Their first album ‘Travesty’ is a testimonial to their nature in so many ways, while leaving the door open to evolution.
I caught up with this Jersey five piece as they are preparing their upcoming EP entitled ‘This is Madness’ (due out this coming winter or fall) to talk about all things past, present, and future. Get ready folks I think we may just have a break through band so sit back and meet a band we will be sure to keep covering, Beyond Dishonor:
Rafi: Best place to start in introducing you to the VF reader is, how did you guys come together and what influences your sound?
Mark: Mike and I both were coming out of previous bands. Mike was in Denied the Rapture and I was in a band called Divine Dissonance. We were recording at the same studio, when my drummer had quit the band and Mike’s guitarist had left his band, and both projects became defunct at the same time. I got in touch with the guy that helped record us and said I was looking to start a new project and was looking for someone to work with. Apparently he was screening calls for Mike who really didn’t want to work with any bands that had original material at the time. Jay ended up connecting us and we started talking. We had an immediate connection with interests, so we met up and started jamming. The rest is history.
Mike: We had a little bit of a turnover at the guitar spot while building a name for ourselves, and decided to put out an ad. This guy Wesley answered it and showed up to jam, as soon as he came in I noticed he had a huge afro, and I mean huge I had never seen one so big before. We were already a interracial band, but the hair was shocking. Wes had just come off touring with Van’s Warp Tour in his band American Six Gun. Wes immediately knew exactly where we were going and was a natural fit. Also Wes brought in knowledge of the industry we didn’t have before.
As far as our sound we all came from own diverse backgrounds in musical interests. It really comes out in our sound I think, there are elements of progressive, deathcore, certainly thrash, big European influence since Mark is really into some of the bands from there, Reese (Vocals) is into some rap and early hardcore. Add that all up with a very strenuous recording process and you get what you have heard.
Rafi: With so many backgrounds it must be nice to not have to pigeonhole yourself with genres, is that something you are looking to do?
Mike: It is definitely something we are looking for, we don’t want to get nitched into a genre. It gets a little difficult when you are trying to book shows though. We definitely have a metal core in our hearts, though people have classified us as “party metal”; I don’t necessarily agree. Some people say we are more deathcore than let on, I don’t really think we are. With the release of the last album (‘Travesty’) a lot of people compared us to August Burns Red which I didn’t even understand. I can certainly see the influences but it’s not like we were sitting down listening to ABR and decide to write ‘Travesty’. I will say that the new album we are putting together right now is going to be more diverse in terms of soundscape then the previous one.
Rafi: It’s funny but in older days it seemed to be a plus when a band challenged it’s audience and left them guessing, however these days it’s all about finding a formula and sticking to it.
Mike: It’s funny how many people try to lump us into one genre and hate on us. However that is the signs of the times and there is not much one can do about that. We just hope people enjoy seeing us live and when they listen to our CDs it shows what they can expect in a live setting. Since it’s not always cool these days to actually play one’s part on a recording.
Rafi: I can see that, seems these days everyone is on the Pro-Tools wagon over producing their material and giving fans a little deception of what to expect. I have always been more a fan of the raw recordings, is that where you guys are coming from?
Wes: We went to a new studio called Trax East with Eric Rachel (has recorded Skid Row and Black Dahlia Murder to name a few)to record a soon to be released single. He did use Pro-Tools but used it properly. The biggest thing is that with some of the newer albums the drums especially sound almost robotic which Mike is not a fan of, Eric completely stayed away from that sound. Also some of the guitar sounds that he brought out had a very old school feeling to them which we love.
Mike: We do realize that the younger listeners are looking for drum triggers and mass effects on guitar, I would say we mixed that with the old school sound real well on this EP we recording. It’s funny Eric was telling us about bands that would come into the studio and wouldn’t even setup a drum kit, they would just let him know where the notes need to be. We would never do that, and none of us are fans of that type of sound. Our bass player Nick (Petti) wanted to be miced, he didn’t want to do the direct in. We like to emulate that raw feel. When we were recording we had Reese (Dunlap) run outside and do jumping jacks just so that we could get that kind of raspy sound. It came out great, so you will get a little bit of both worlds on this next EP.
Rafi: In terms of lyrical content, I did notice some self empowerment messages. However I’d like to get your input on where the influence for the lyrics come from?
Mark: The last record ‘Travesty’ was loosely based off of old movies and some personal experiences. For example, the song “Shinebox” is based off of the movie ‘Goodfellas’ and a time period where our singer Reese was being taken advantage by someone in his life. So the album wasn’t exactly a concept album based on older movies but a part of the equation with personal experiences put together.
Mike: We didn’t really want to challenge the listener to figure out the different meanings, but they kind of did on their own. Reese did a great job of taking his emotions and masking them in a way with the movie references in a very surprising way. I remember when we were in the studio and I read the lyrics to “Back Bacon (Gluttony is a Sin)” ,which was based slightly off of the movie “Seven”, and a very smart commentary on our society; I was shocked at how well it was put together. But I will let the listeners kind of come up with their own opinion to what it was about.
Rafi: You guys have been playing with some great bands (ex. Unearth, Chimaira, Winds of Plague) what lessons have you taken from them for your own band?
Wes: It’s funny when we get done with shows people always come up to us and ask what label we are signed with, I am guessing it could be from how we conduct ourselves. We really dedicate ourselves to the shows, bringing out great gear that we work hard to invest in; it leaves people with the idea that we are part of the touring package. It’s funny when people ask us “where are you going to next?” to which we reply “oh we are just about an hour south of going home.” (all of us laughing) So the main lesson we take is how professional these bands are. We have a great time in our 20-30 minutes on stage, but after that it has to be run like a business, we don’t break from that mindset. You don’t see the bigger bands getting involved in drama on Facebook, so we try to emulate that. One other thing we take from the bigger bands, is that they never take themselves too seriously. One band that we always play with is called Molotov Solution, these guys are really heavy but when you talk to them they are like your buddies next door. It’s all about being real with the people around you, and we definitely follow through with that.
Rafi: In this day and age with the record stores being a thing of the past and bands having to find new ways to attract fans. How do you plan to engage your crowd to get them involved?
Wes: Aside from telling our fans to take our CD and make torrents of it so people can illegally download it. (all of us laughing) We do these series of comical videos on YouTube there is one that is comparable to “Robot Chicken” on there, parody of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It”, we even have one that is a public service announcement teaching people how to properly like a band page on Facebook. (laughing) Another thing we have going is people love our merch, Mark is a very talented graphic designer…
Mike: And when we say talented we mean he is very good at stealing other peoples’ ideas and making it our own. (all of us laughing)As I said before our music is pretty indefinable so we can play a bar one night and then play a venue of 15 year olds the next day, so we can appeal to both the beer drinkers as well as the water drinkers.
Wes: The water drinkers? (all of us laughing)
Rafi: So what are the plans for touring?
Mike: What is that, I have never heard of that before? (all of us laughing) We have taken the weekend warrior bit to the max, we have taken the 60-70 shows a year that we get offered. However we do believe that tour when you have something really good to put out which is what we are working on right now. We have heard from some of the bands that we played with about going out for two weeks and they lost their money, have scurvy, and didn’t accomplish much. We are being a little calculated in doing a few short runs and waiting for something worthwhile to come around instead of doing tours on our own. It’s much better to get on tour with a big band and get involved in the mix than going out by yourself and playing for 11 people at a hole in the ground venue. We are looking at getting this EP done and in the fall/winter getting everything together with a label and PR.
Rafi: So to wrap things up what would you like to say to the people reading this interview?
Mike: That is a good question, eat your Wheaties and black people are not as scary as they may seem. (all of us laughing) I would like people to stop lumping bands into a stereotype and immediately hating them. I just saw a kid today on Facebook saying “what the fuck is up with all these metalcore bands?” when this same band does August Burns Red covers. I think people should spend less time worrying about how a band fits in a catalogue and more on how their music sounds. Worry less about the genre, and just support them because you like their music.
Live Upcoming Dates:
4/13/2012 Upstairs at Club Risque Philadelphia, PA
4/14/2012 Sounds Asylum Middletown, NY
4/15/2012 The Legendary Dobbs Philadelphia, PA
4/20/2012 Warehouse 24 Woodlyn, PA
4/26/2012 Hotel Brunswick Lancaster, PA
4/29/2012 DINGBATS Clifton, NJ
5/11/2012 Fontana's Bar New York, NY
5/12/2012 Mojo Main/ Mojo 13 Newark, DE
5/19/2012 The Silo Reading, PA
5/26/2012 Rams Head Live! Baltimore, MD