Demon Hunter has recently released two album’s entitled “War” & “Peace”. Our Brazilian friends from Metal Na Lata webzine have conducted an interview (in Portuguese) with frontman Ryan Clark, check out the English version below.
01 – How or where did the idea of launching 2 albums at one time come and what were the “complications” that this brought to the planning of the band?
We’ve been sitting on the concept of two simultaneous and stylistically-polarized albums for quite a while actually. We knew that it would be a pretty huge undertaking, so we had to wait for the right time to do it. With the songwriting help that I now get from Patrick, fleshing out the sheer volume of songs needed was finally more of a reality. Plus, rounding out albums 9 and 10 at the same time felt like the perfect opportunity to make this idea happen.
02 – War and Peace are not just “twin albums,” they also represent the 2 main facets of Demon Hunter, aggressiveness/softness. Was the composition process different from the usual one because there was already a targeting or everything flowed as usual? Are there old compositions that have been used here?
War definitely came easier. Being that an ordinary Demon Hunter album is primarily heavy, writing the heavy songs felt pretty standard. When it came to writing Peace, it was a bit different. The first handful of songs came pretty easily, but as we continued, I started to think more about the range of song style displayed on the Peace album in and of itself. It was definitely never the intention to make a completely stripped-down acoustic album or anything like that, so I knew that straightforward rock songs would likely set the base level… but I wanted to be sure we still explored a range while we had the freedom to do so. Songs like “Recuse Myself,” “When The Devil Come,” and “Fear Is Not My Guide” were an important part of diversifying that album. No older compositions were used on these albums. Every song was written specifically for them.
03 – This formation has been around for about 8 years and was responsible for recording half of the Demon Hunter discography. What is the secret of achieving such longevity with the same members?
For starters, we don’t tour full-time, which makes playing live still fun. Secondly, we don’t all live in the same place, so when we all get together to record or rehearse, it’s like an awesome reunion. Most importantly, I’ve found that in order to make the long haul, you have to be in the company of great friends, and people that are capable of navigating each others’ idiosyncrasies.
04 – Something that fans always expect are the deluxe versions of your releases and again we saw that it will be something neat and done with great care, even more so in times where music is increasingly consumed digitally. Does it always work to make something better and more attractive than the previous project?
Making each deluxe edition better and better each time is definitely something that grapple with. In the end, what’s most important to me is that they’re all a bit different, they all feel like Demon Hunter, they’re all exciting, and worth the investment. As a person who collects special/deluxe editions from some of my favorite artists, being able to offer something unique like this for each album has been a huge pleasure.
05 – This year marks the 10th anniversary of “Live In Nashville,” the band’s only live album. Are there plans for a new format release, who knows outside the United States?
We have no plans to reissue the live album for the 10th anniversary, although there are a number of 20-year anniversaries for our albums on the horizon… so stay tuned for something exciting there.
06 – A subject that we can‘t stop addressing is the issue of the tour in Brazil. It was scheduled to happen originally in January 2018, but for the sake of private reasons it needed to be postponed, but so far we have no news of how the actual situation of the shows is, if they will in fact happen, whether it will be this year, etc. What is possible to tell us about this?
Booking tours—and shows in general—has always been a bit of a science for us. Being that the majority of us have serious careers outside of the band, scheduling can be very difficult. We usually need to plan way ahead of time, and it’s likely that things cannot shift from the original plan. If things change, or need to be rescheduled, it can be difficult to find that opportune pocket of time again—especially when it pertains to traveling outside the country. Doing so is an expensive and time-consuming endeavor, so if all of the pieces don’t line up, it’s hard to justify.
There were a number of factors presented in late 2017 that made leaving the country for a week quite a hardship. One thing I’ve learned through this situation is that claiming “personal matters” is apparently not enough of an explanation to garner any appropriate level of respect on the issue—as the pestering has been incessant to say the least. More specifically, two people in my family died during that time period, so it would’ve been extremely heartless of me to go play shows in lieu of attending memorials.
07 – Speaking about Peace it is one of, if not more, experimental works by the band. You had no limits and made use of elements of various styles to assemble the disc. Can we say that it was more challenging to be done than War?
Covered this in question 2.
08 – The band has the tradition of reimagining some of their compositions in acoustic versions. An album in the format is something that can happen more forward in the history of the band?
This is another concept that has been on our radar for some time. Again, there will be a right time to see this concept through, but we intend to do some variation on that idea.
09 – Have you ever thought about making War and Peace a single work, mixing the tracks of both?
No. The intention was always to produce two autonomous collections of music. They’re meant to be experienced individually.
10 – The sonority of the new works comes in line with what was presented in “Extremist” (2014) and “Outlive” (2017) and, not by chance, both went through the hands of Zeuss, renowned professional in the area of mixing and mastering. What is it like to work with someone who has names like Iced Earth, Dee Snyder, Suffocation, and others on his resume, and what he brought special to Demon Hunter?
Well, the reason Zeuss is the first mixer to break the Demon Hunter streak of doing only two albums, is because I love his work. To me, Zeuss’ sound has a timeless quality to it. When I go back and listen to Extremist, that’s a mix that I’d be happy to have today.
11 – Jeremiah is not only an excellent guitarist but also the producer of the band. This double journey should not have been the easiest, especially since we had 2 albums being recorded at the same time. At some point did the producing side have to weigh more and lead to a different direction than the band planned?
Jeremiah tends to take everything in stride. He knew that this would be a huge endeavor, but he was very easy-going about it. There were definitely moments when it was clear that this was a lot of work to handle, but I think all-in-all we did a pretty great job of ensuring this long process remained a fun one. Having Jeremiah as resident producer not only means we have the ability to do things more fluidly, but also means that pulling off concepts like these two simultaneous albums can be a reality. At the end of the day, we don’t need to book studio time or schedule an outside producer, and those are honestly the biggest factors in recording an album.
12 – The band re-released last year’s “The Blessed Resistance,” the official Demon Hunter fan club. The same comes fully repaginated and with almost daily attractiveness bringing material first hand to subscribers, curiosities and various information. How important is this band/fan connection to you?
The reimagined Blessed Resistance has been nearly 3 years in the making. This is a massive undertaking for us as a band, and I believe it’s the very first of its kind. We aim to take the band/fan connection to a place that is unlike anything that’s been done before. The five of us are working together on this nearly every day, creating content like podcasts, tutorials, written blogs, and much more. This concept allows us to effectively function as a full-time entity even when we’re not touring, etc. The plans we have for the future of TBR are massive, and again, push the boundaries of what’s expected from ordinary band/fan interaction.
13 – Ryan, his vocal has presented well-diversified proposals in these works, either presenting a well ripped approach in “Cut To Fit” the full lull of “Fear Is Not My Guide.” How do you work your voice today so that it flows well both in something more sung and “shouted”?
Singing comes naturally for me, so that takes less practice or planning. Screaming is obviously something I do less frequently, so when I’m in the zone of recording screaming parts, it’s important that I do them all in the same span of time, in order for my voice to remain broken-in.
14 – Many fans have not liked the tracks currently being tracked by Demon Hunter, complaining about the lack of that aggressiveness of the early years. I particularly find it difficult for such criticisms to be based upon hearing War, but what do you think of comments like that? Do they ever affect the band in any way or do you just follow the game normally?
I don’t pay much attention to the comments, so things like this definitely don’t influence the songwriting. I think what we’re doing today is a natural progression of the ground we’ve laid over the past 18 years. It feels like we’ve matured on a number of levels while still staying true to who we are. In the grand scheme of things, I think we’ve changed far less than most bands that have been around for nearly 20 years. Listen to Underoath from the 90s versus today. Or Bring Me The Horizon… Deftones… Avenged Sevenfold… Everyone changes over time. The goal is to balance change with elements of what your fans appreciate most. If you look at the stats, it’s clear Demon Hunter fans appreciate the more melodic material over the heavy.
15 – I heard “Gunfight” and I tell you that I would happily lose a tooth during the moshpit in a live performance. How difficult is it for you to choose which track is going to be for bonuses? Do we have anything left over from the War and Peace recording sessions beyond the 22 tracks announced in the deluxe edition?
It’s definitely difficult to select a track listing… and when we end up with a selection of songs that we all really love, it can be hard to figure out which song to make the “bonus” track. However, in this—the digital—age, it’s some consolation that a song will be widely heard even if it’s not on the standard track listing. This is most apparent for us, as our song “I Am A Stone”—a b-side from True Defiance—is by far the most listened-to Demon Hunter song on streaming platforms.
Sept. 27 @ Kentucky Fair and Expo Center, Louisville, KY
Sept. 29 @ Kentucky Fair and Expo Center, Louisville, KY
Ryan Clark – Vocals
Patrick Judge – Lead Guitar
Jeremiah Scott – Rhythm Guitar
Jonathan Dunn – Bass
Yogi Watts – Drums
“Demon Hunter” (2002)
“Summer of Darkness” (2004)
“The Triptych” (2005)
“The Triptych Deluxe Edition CD/DVD (2006)
“Storm The Gates of Hell: Fan Edition (2007)
“Storm The Gates of Hell: Special Edition CD/DVD (2007)
“Storm The Gates of Hell (2007)
“45 Days CD/DVD (2008) [review]
“Live In Nashville” (2009)
“The World Is A Thorn”: Deluxe Edition CD/DVD (2010)
“The World Is A Thorn” (2010) [review]
“Death, A Destination” [3 album set] (2011)
“The World Is A Thorn”: Deluxe Edition (Digital) (2011)
“True Defiance” (2012) [review]
“Extremist” (2014) [review]
“Outlive” (2017) [review]
“War” (2019) [review]
“Peace” (2019) [review]
Video for ‘On My Side’
Video for ‘My Destiny’
Video for ‘I Will Fail You’
Originally published in Portuguese by Metal Na Lata