Creativity in a band is a quality that cannot truly be learnt. An innate sense of self, the creative output of a band will be their defining ideology regardless of how grandiose their ideas might be. Not one for being pigeonholed, Revocation are a true creative band. Blending the likes of Old School Death Metal, Black Metal, Thrash Metal, the list goes on, into their veritable melting pot of a sound. A testament to the band’s unique output their latest release Great Is Our Sin is yet another milestone in the band’s fast increasing catalogue. Whilst on their first offensive over in the UK in support of the new album we were able to speak to none other than guitar virtuoso Dan Gargiulo about the Revocation ethos and just what Great Is Our Sin means in their grand design slowly engulfing the Death Metal community.
Listen to the full unedited interview on our Soundcloud below or read the full, unedited transcript beneath that!
I’m here today with Dan Gargiulo from Revocation! This is day…
Day four. Yeah, still early in the tour.
The all important boring question, how is the tour going?
Great so far! We haven’t been here in like two years so we didn’t really know what to expect. We put out a new record in that time that we were away and it shows. People are really excited, we’re selling tons of merch, we’re meeting people at the tables, its awesome. We’re having a great time.
Is that just In Europe or have you played any UK dates yet?
No this is the first UK date but usually do pretty well here, so I’m pretty excited for tonight!
The last time you guys were here was with Cannibal Corpse right?
That was a crazy show, that was on Halloween.
Oh wow so its almost like the same timeline. Lets get onto Great Is Our Sin! Previously we spoke to Dave about what it was like in terms of inspiration but what was it like from a more musical perspective?
Well I mean, I can speak about my songs because I don’t really necessarily know what is going through Dave’s head. Although I did know that he wanted to kind of take our sound in a more Prog direction but still have the ripping songs you know? One of the songs I wrote is VERY old, I actually wrote it when I was 21. I was thinking like “Oh man if I was in a cool band like Revocation, what would I write?” Then I brought that to the table for this record. We took some riffs out and updated and made it cool and that became “Monolithic Ignorance”.
Then the other song “Cleaving Giants Of Ice”, that was the other one that I wrote. I kind of just, heard the preproduction versions of the songs that Dave had and I felt like the album needed a mid paced, trudging, power chorus kind of jam. I kind of simplified my approach to Metal writing on that song. There’s not really anything complicated happening there other than like harmonies. Our goal with this record was to basically keep the Revocation sound intact, we don’t want to sound like we’re a different band. At the same time take it somewhere new, you know what I mean? We’re probably going to be doing that on the next record. We want to sound like Revocation, there’s always going to be double bass, blast beats and thrash beats and stuff like that but we want to experiment a little bit with every album.
I was going to say, you’ve got so many genres all going at the same time. What exactly is the Revocation sound then?
I mean, I was a fan of Revocation, before I joined the band back when their demo came out. It reminded me a lot of Death and Exhorder and stuff like that. We’ve gotten a bit away from that sound, to me it feels like its in the vein of what we grew up listening to. Anything from Black Metal to Old Death Metal from 1995. Melodic Death Metal, Prog Metal all the stuff that we were in high school listening to. That’s what it is to me, just a blend of all the mid nineties Metal.
Do you think that its slightly updated as well?
Well yeah of course! Just because of modern production, we’re also influenced by our peers. Sometimes we will go on tour with a band and think “Wow, this riff that that band has is really cool” then we will go for a jam session and play something similar to it. We’re influenced by what is going on now as well but at its core, its very much a mix of what was cool to us in the late nineties.
You guys have been on all sorts of line ups, you’ve played with The Contortionist, Dying Fetus.
The Contortionist tour was amazing.
That was the one that Fallujah was on right?
Fallujah yep! Both great bands.
So do you think that its given you a possibility to be more accessible?
Totally, I think that is one of our main strengths as a band. We can tour with a band like Dying Fetus and play our more Death Metal songs. Then we can tour with a band like The Contortionist and play our more progressive type songs. We had Alex Rudinger playing drums for us on that tour, which was really fun! He’s a great dude. We think about the bands that we are going to be touring with and then we tailor our set to match their sound. Not entirely, we’ll play songs that are a bit different, we want to stand out a bit from the other bands.
At the same time, I don’t want fans to come to the show “It was a great Death Metal show but that band Revocation sucked. They were playing all this Thrash shit” We have to keep that in mind but we’re able to do that. There are some bands out there, you might be a Death Metal band then you can’t ever tour with a Blackened Death Metal band because it just won’t work and you don’t have any other songs that sound different. I think that is one of the things about our sound that I am into.
What about going back to work with Zeuss again, what was that process like for you?
Great. He’s easy to work with and he knows us really well, he knows the stuff we’re into, he knows the kind of sound that we want. We don’t really have to spend much time being like “Ok, hey Zeuss, we want it to sound like this” because he gets it. He knows that we want the drums to sound natural. Obviously we have to be competeitive with modern bands, it has to have a sound that kids are gonna get into but at the same time we wanted it to be kind of raw. We’re not using digital amp simulation, we use real amps and mic up the cabs, stuff like that.
The drums are barely sample replaced. I think there is a kick sample, I don’t even think there was a snare sample. Ash’s playing comes through, it feels real, that’s one of the things that we want to go for, we want to sound real. We don’t wanna sound like quantized drums, a lot of bands nowadays it sounds like the drums are fake and we don’t want that sound. Zeuss understands that, even when we’re tracking, he will give us his opinion. He will be like “Are you really sure this note works?” really scrutinise shit in the studio and make sure that its perfect. He’s got a good ear for Metal, its good to have his opinion because he is really the first person hearing the songs besides us when we start tracking. We value his opinion very much and he gets a great sound.
Good producer. You’ve worked with him for three albums is it now?
We did one EP with him and then we did two full lengths. Probably going to work with him again after this.
What is the plan for the tail end of 2016, more towards the beginning of 2017?
This is the end of 2016. Yeah, this is the last thing that we’re doing and then right after this tour I’m filling in on lead guitar for Abbath. So I go home, play a couple of rehearsals for like a week and then we go on tour. That’s a US tour with Children of Bodom so I’m excited about that. I’ve been an Immortal fan like my whole life, I’m excited to tour with them! Then 2017 we’re in the process of booking up. Its going to be busy year but nothing is set in stone yet so I can’t really say much. We are going to do 70,000 Tons of Metal in February and we’re going to do New Zealand with King Parrot. A couple of other bands haven’t been announced yet but it should be a good tour.
Going slightly off topic, do you think that the fact that you are in Artificial Brain, has that changed your songwriting?
Oh for sure yeah! Most definitely. Well what originally happened was that I started Artificial Brain in like 2009, early 2009, with a bunch of guys that I grew up with in my town. Our songs were originally kind of technical, then I joined Revocation and we were playing all this technical shit and I went home and said “Ok I want to write something else now.” Artificial Brain’s sound warped a bit in a different direction. Now when I write for Revocation its a totally different style than what I write for Artificial Brain.
It has also carried over to the shit that I write for Revocation just because I’m writing so much, I have sounds in my head and ideas, they’ll spill over. Sometimes I will write songs not knowing which band is going to get it until the end. Then I will think, well this feels like Revocation so I’ll take this riff out. I’m really excited about Artificial Brain, we just finished our second album. Its on my phone but its one track. We’re getting some guest vocals in the Gmail, then we’re going to remaster it and put it out for real early next year. I’m really excited about it.
We briefly spoke about the artwork designed by Tom Strom…
He’s here tonight! Dave just went out to get a drink with him. He’s a great dude.
What is your favourite little panel?
Oh man! I like the eyeballs. There’s a lot of little frog, eyeball creatures that I’m really into and I really like, I think its in the main panel, there’s a skull with a centipede looking thing. It reminds me of a videogame boss or something. I’m really into it but also another thing I really like is the white background I feel like you don’t see too much of that in Metal nowadays, its a lot of black, which is cool too but its cool to have a white album.
Like The Beatles haha! A couple of topical questions, as its going to be Halloween soon, I think that “Madness Opus” is an HP Lovecraft inspired song. Have you guys got any other songs that are inspired by him?
Well off that same record “The Blackest Reaches”, that’s a song that I wrote, Dave wrote the lyrics and that’s also inspired by HP Lovecraft. Not really any particular story just kind of the Lovecraft mythos. Every album that we have put out has had a Lovecraft song on it except for Great Is Our Sin. I don’t think that has a Lovecraft song. Great Is Our Sin, I don’t want to say that its a concept album but there is a thread tying most of the songs together. You know current events, apocalypse stuff like that.
On the first album “Summon The Spawn” that was a Lovecraft reference, the second album, the title track on “Existence Is Futile” is kind of like a Lovecraft inspired thing. Every album we have had some nods to him and I think on our next record, Dave was talking about maybe talking about going more into that fantasy realm. We have done a serious real world album and now maybe we want to do something else, again not set in stone, we’re just bouncing ideas off each other. I love anything by Lovecraft, his imagery lends itself to Metal lyrics, its very dark and creepy. I don’t know if you play videogames but Bloodborn, that kind of vibe.
Especially with tracks like “Monolithic Ignorance” and things like that do you think that that is quite current given Trump…
Oh yeah! I mean we hate Trump hahaha! I’m not the biggest Hillary fan either, she’s a corrupt politician but I mean Trump is just an idiot. At least shes competent. To expand on that more, now that you mention it, when we were recording “Profanum Vulgus” I was doing a vocal part. Its about a greedy person, basically. I was getting so pissed in the studio, you can hear it in my voice, I was actually angry and I was thinking about Ted Cruise and Donald Trump and I was just getting mad! That helped me perform in the studio.
So you can thank Trump for that!
Hahaha, yeah I can thank Trump for that.
What’s your favourite Horror movie and favourite Horror movie villain and why?
I mean, I love The Exorcist. I think one of my favourite things about the original Exorcist, there are scenes that to me are scary but nothing is even happening. There’s a shot where the camera is upstairs, in the hallway upstairs and you just see the bedroom door and nothing happens but its just so ominous and creepy. Just the cinematography is great.
Other Horror movies, I love the VVitch! Other people hated on the VVitch, I thought it was amazing. They use a lot of old time dialogue and I can understand why people weren’t into it. There are parts here and there that are a bit corny but I think overall its an amazing movie. It was necessarily scary, its just like eerie and I liked the ending. A lot of people didn’t like it but its awesome. Definitely one of my favourite Horror movies of recent history.
I watched Annabelle recently.
Oh is it good?
Yeah, its like The Conjuring.
Oh I like The Conjuring! Me and my girlfriend are always trying to watch Horror movies together, I haven’t seen that one yet though.
Do it! So what has been the worst Halloween costume that you have ever had?
Well my mum is an artist so I always had good Halloween costumes! I remember when I was in pre-school I was Father Time and she made me this kind of grandfather clock costume. Oh yeah ok! One year I was a ghost, the simple poke holes in a sheet costume, I was in second grade. There was a bunch of little kids, we had this parade and we were walking around the play ground in school and get the parents to come and laugh. I put my costume on wrong and I couldn’t see anything and I was wandering in the middle of the parade, in the middle of nowhere just some confused kid in a ghost costume. I guess that’s probably my worst costume haha!
Finally to finish up, what has been a record that you have been listening to over the last six months to a year?
Well I’m always listening to Deathspell Omega, Abagor put out an album called Leymotif Lucifer which I’m really into. I think that’s their most recent album, its kind of like a return to roots for them almost? They kind of had a phase where it was super experimental Black Metal and this one is a bit more straightforward Black Metal. I just love their style of Black Metal, its very fast, very evil sounding and harmonically there’s more going on than say, Dark Funeral. Where its like you have minor chords moving around and that’s kind of it.
Abagor its a bit more unique. I’m really into that band I think they’re from Austria. I’ve been listening to Svarta Daudi a lot, this band Adverserial I’ve been listening to a lot and honestly, not much else! I’ve been really focused on making that Artificial Brain album, we just finished it like a month ago, now I’m kind of free again I can start listening to music. Before I was just listening to songs over and over and like tweaking them, I didn’t get a chance to listen to other stuff!
It’ll be worth it.
Yeah, yeah! I’m excited for it. Its a bit more pissed off and a bit less atmospheric but its still like atmosphere like sad but there’s more fury behind it this time around.
Revocation’s brand new album Great Is Our Sin is out now via Metal Blade.