Interview: Alan Cassidy, Black Dahlia Murder

Alan Cassidy of Black Dahlia Murder. Photo by Jay Russell.

The Black Dahlia Murder are currently on a tour across Europe in support of their latest album Abysmal which was released back in September 2015. We caught up with drummer Alan Cassidy prior to the doors opening for what was to be a fantastic night of quality metal in one of London’s most iconic music venues The Underworld in Camden.

Jay: Alright, I’ll just jump straight into it, how is the tour going?

Alan Cassidy, Black Dahlia Murder 1
Alan Cassidy of Black Dahlia Murder. Photo by Jay Russell.

Alan: Tour is going awesome! I think we are a little over a week into it right now and just got done playing Ireland and Scotland. I’ve never been to Ireland so that was cool. Its really awesome to be touring with Benighted, super fucking sick band and their performance is just outrageous. We’ve had some really cool opening bands too. Got to see Ingested last night who played with us and that was fucking sick so yeah, the tour has been awesome!

Jay: So how were the Ireland and Scotland shows overall?

Alan: It was cool, we played the Cathouse in Scotland and that’s a cool venue although the equipment load in is the worst thing in the world because there’s no elevator so you literally get to take every piece of equipment up like 30 flights of stairs and then take it all back down again at the end of the night. Not sure which one is more dangerous going up or down.

Jay: Good warm up though!

Alan: (laughing) yeah! I guess! And then when you’re totally exhausted you just get to lift the heavy stuff down the stairs again! Ireland was a very very hot gig temperature wise. I was just soaked half way through the show and my shorts were dripping and I just felt like I was going to fucking shrivel up and die on stage in the middle of the set.

Jay: Have you played The underworld before?

Alan: No actually this is my first time

Jay: You’re in for a treat! Temperature wise…it gets HOT in here especially when its packed out and I heard that its pretty much a sold out show

Alan: Oh cool! Yeah I have a giant can light pointing on me right now so I’m like, yeah should take about three songs to really feel this!

Jay: So overall the shows have been good which is awesome, have you made it to the UK previously? I know you were in Abigail William for a period of time…

Alan: Yeah I actually never made it over hear when I was in Abigail Williams. We only really did US stuff and so my first time going internationally anywhere besides Canada was with Black Dahlia Murder. I think this is my third time to the UK. This is definitely a more extensive tour right now than we usually do around this area so its cool! I am glad we are finally getting to revisit it.

Jay: Definitely! So how is touring mentality these days? When you consider the tragic events in Paris at the back end of last year, how has that affected you both as a band and as an individual when it comes to coming out on the road especially in Europe.  Has it changed anything in terms of the feeling backstage or anything like that?

Alan: Well, me personally yeah, I was shocked when that happened and I was slightly worried about stuff like that happening but you know it can happen anywhere any time so to live your life in constant fear of that happening, its not a good mentality to have. You’re just going to be paranoid constantly. You can’t let one situation like that make you want to crawl up into a hole and make you never want to leave your house. You just have to keep pushing on and just be smart about stuff if you can.

Jay: You can’t live your life in fear. The show must go on!

Surfing at the Black Dahlia Murder show in London, 2016. Photo by Jay Russell.
Surfing at the Black Dahlia Murder show in London, 2016. Photo by Jay Russell.

Alan: Exactly

Jay: So, the tour is in support of Abysmal which is absolutely incredible in my opinion. Naturally some of our readers wouldn’t have heard it so how about giving us the lowdown on the album, the inspiration and what to expect for someone who is walking into it without ever having heard you guys. What can the listener expect?

Alan: I would definitely say that this is probably the most aggressive Black Dahlia Murder album yet. Its definitely the fastest one so far too. I think the album has a lot of different approaches to the sound and stuff. Our songs have always varied in terms of style and feel but I think more so on this record. We have a pretty straight forward black metal song in there almost, there’s a song with our first slam in there so that was really cool because I always dig those parts in music. But overall it’s a lot faster and with a beefed up Black Dahlia sound that you’ve come to know but with a little bit more branching out and going outside the box a little more.

Jay: Out of curiosity, how difficult was it for you to transition from Abigail Williams to The Black Dahlia Murder?

Alan: The drum parts for Black Dahlia songs are pretty straight forward. Its a lot of thrash and blast beats, I mean that’s basically metal but for Abigail Williams, I really had to listen to the songs and learn them verbatim because black metal has such stylistic drumming to it. I don’t want o say its technical as such but its got so much feel and groove to it and that’s what I love about it. Black metal overall has a lot of cool drumming to it so I had to learn a lot of that to understand the feel of the songs and take that into my playing. Going into Black Dahlia was fairly straight forward. The speed and intensity was toned town in comparison to Abigail Williams so it was a little bit easier and quicker to learn The Dahlia songs. It just came together a lot quicker.

Jay: What’s your favourite Black Metal stuff out there at the moment?

Alan: Oh man, Trevor just showed me Pale Chalice who are a California band I believe. I really like this band I heard a couple of years ago called Ansur. They have this one album I really like called Axiom. I don’t believe it was ever released in the US but its some of the cooled prog black metal I’ve heard. Enslaved are cool. What else…I fucking love Craft, they are just so in your face. I mean when you have an album called Total Soulrape, you know that’s going to be intense as fuck. There’s loads of other shit I’m can’t remember right now.

Jay: Do you see a big difference in the Black metal/death metal music scene in Europe compared to back home in the US?

Alan: Oh man I would say overall Europe has a way bigger metal music scene. I think the general public for the most part understands it better. Somehow its commercialised more widely here. I’ve seen some advertisements for random companies here where they incorporate metal into it. Using bands songs and actually portraying it a little more accurately than most people do in America. It seems that Death metal doesn’t seem to be such a big thing over here though as it is back home. People in America are super into Death Metal. There are so many great Death Metal bands over here that it makes me wonder why it isn’t bigger.

Alan Cassidy of Black Dahlia Murder. Photo by Jay Russell.
Alan Cassidy of Black Dahlia Murder. Photo by Jay Russell.

Jay: So what’s next for The Black Dahlia Murder? What can we expect for 2016?

Alan: After this tour we have something lined up. I don’t know exactly what’s going on with it yet. Its shaping up but I can’t give you any real accurate details to it yet but I think mainly its just going to be a lot of touring this year. We took a lot of time off from touring last year, spent December to February writing Abysmal. April we were mixing the album and we didn’t do any touring until June which was the tour in Australia so I think we are going to try stay busy this year and now we have new material I think we will be aiming to push that pretty hard.

Jay: Final question then before I let you get on and prepare for tonight’s show. I imagine touring has its moments when you try and cure boredom on busses and just travelling so for our readers, what’s been on your iPod playlists recently?

Alan: Oh man, I haven’t been listening to a whole lot of stuff lately, I’ve almost got burnt out on music for a minute. I have been mainly listening to podcasts. I was checking out this one called The Last Podcast On The Left and its all about the occult and conspiracy theories and all of that weird shit that people like to hear about. But musically, I’ve been going through a lot of new and old. I just heard the new wormed track which was fucking awesome, I can’t wait for that new record. I’ve been getting into some noise rock; I really love that annoying pissed off sounding stuff.

Jay: I guess when you’re on stage every night blasting you probably don’t want to go back on the bus and listen to more [laughs]

Alan: Yeah exactly! Sometimes I like to listen to a bunch of old stuff and a bunch of new stuff but now I am just in this phase where I don’t feel like checking out anything new but I also don’t feel like listening to anything old so I’m like waiting for something to inspire me to listen to music again

Jay: Well for some inspiration and as we have been talking about Black Metal, I’d recommend checking out something new that Cacophonous Records have just signed. A band called The Infernal Sea. Absolutely ferocious and super cool. They play live with these awesome plague masks. Absolutely killer, that would be a recommendation from me when you get some time to check out new stuff.

Alan: The Infernal Sea? Awesome!

Jay: Yep! Well thanks for taking some time out of your schedule to chat with us. Its been a pleasure. Can’t wait for the show tonight.

The latest album from The Black Dahlia Murder Abysmal is available now through Metal Blade records. You can check out the latest video for the track ‘Receipt’ taken from the album.

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