Generation Kill – Perpetual Indifference

Wednesday, 13th November 2013

Afforded (if that’s even the right word) extended downtime thanks to guitarist Gary Holt’s continued involvement with Slayer, Exodus frontman Rob Dukes has turned his attention to Generation Kill, the side-band-no-more he formed in 2008. Dukes – a longtime native of New York – hatched up the idea of Generation Kill with former Pro-Pain/M.O.D. bassist Rob Moschetti with the goal of combining their various influences (Sabbath, Maiden, punk, thrash) into a veritable melting pot of pure metal. Their 2011 debut Red, White, and Blood proved to be a bit of a wash, but their latest and greatest We’re All Gonna Die demonstrates a noticeable improvement on all fronts.

The album’s variety (trust us – it’s quite multi-faceted) along with the surprisingly sturdy clean vocals of Dukes (who still keeps his Exo-snarl in top form) should throw thrash hagglers for a loop, and more importantly, provide some distance between any and all comparisons to his breadwinner. Obviously, it’s the type of album Dukes could never do with his main act, but as the man would go on to tell DR, it would be entirely too pointless to bust out another by-the-book thrash album. That, and much more were on the docket when Dukes phoned DR on a Sunday morning. Have a go…

Dead Rhetoric: With Gary doing Slayer, you have some Exodus downtime. Did that provide a nice opening to do the sophomore Generation Kill album?

Rob Dukes: I live in New York, so we were going to do it anyways. It started out as five guys who are friends who grew up together listening to the same music. We aren’t bar people – we don’t go to bars and hang out, so we’d just get together as friends, and instead of going to a bar, we had a rehearsal studio and we’d go there and hang out, smoke a little weed and play music. One thing led to another and we had a bunch of songs. The first album, I look at it like a demo. We recorded it at my house, we recorded it in three different recording sessions, and it wasn’t really cohesive. Rob had written a lot of the stuff; I wasn’t there for it, so we had only written a couple of the songs together. This album, we rehearsed, wrote and rented a rehearsal space and just lived in there, got together three-four times a week and really wrote this thing together as a band. I think when you listen to the two records back-to-back, it’s not even close.

Dead Rhetoric: Due to your association, you’re going to get labeled as a thrash band, but the new album is not a thrash record at all.

Dukes: No, it’s not a thrash metal record. That was the hardest selling point. It was really hard to get this band signed because people didn’t know how to market it. Like, “You guys aren’t thrash metal.” I’m already in a thrash band, why would I want to have two thrash bands? I want to do something different. We could have taken the easy route, but listen: Exodus is one of the best thrash bands in the world. To really try and make it a thrash band like Exodus…c’mon. That’s my point. I don’t listen to thrash constantly. I listen to a lot of different styles of music.

I listen to things that would make some thrash fans go “Ewww.” To be able to bring that to the table along with everything else we listen to, and I think we’re influenced by what we grew up on. I did another interview and somebody asked how we got started, and I said “Listen, we’re all the same age. We went to school together. We all grew up on Black Sabbath, and these are the bands we found on our own, like Maiden, and Priest and Sabbath.” But I also found Queen, the Clash, and the Police, TSOL, and the Sex Pistols, so I have a plethora of influences, along with everybody else in my band who are the same age and are into the same things. To bring that all on the table…I think we wrote songs that we can play together and enjoy, but also songs we can listen to and go “This is cool stuff.”

Dead Rhetoric: In some of the promo videos you’ve done, you have a Pennywise shirt on, which is automatic cringe-worthy for some metalheads.

Dukes: If I toed the party line, I’d always be wearing a Slayer shirt. Pennywise are my friends, I was a roadie for them for a while, we’re still friends, and now we’re peers. We play pretty much the same club circuit and when I’m on tour we’ll leave messages for each other in the hotel rooms. Whatever, I like punk rock and a little Southern California punk rock. Metalheads can be very narrow-minded when it comes to music. I’m not a pure thrash metalhead. Listen, if a thrash guy said to me “Eh, Maiden and Sabbath.” They played a lot of mellow shit.

Judas Priest’s Sad Wings of Destiny, that album is a roller-coaster ride, and that was one of our influences for this album. We can play a bunch of different stuff so let’s try it. Sabbath, “National Acrobat” goes into “Fluff,” so give me a break. They all played mellow and it’s not that narrow minded [makes thrash guitar sound]. It’s what I do with Exodus already, so I wanted to do something different. That’s what this is all about. I didn’t want to get labeled; I think we can play with any band out there. I can play with Madball and do okay, I can play with Exodus and be fine…I can open for anybody.

Dead Rhetoric: How important is a song such as “Prophets of War” in showcasing how versatile the band is?

Dukes: I don’t think anyone has heard me sing like that because Exodus doesn’t do it. There’s going to be people who are going be like, “Dukes, is that you?” People will be kinda weirded out. That’s actually been in the top 12 of Sirius Radio for six months, which means people are flipping out over it. To me, it’s one of the best songs we’ve written because it’s prolific, it’s epic. It has a very old-school Maiden and Metallica feel, and has all the elements you could ask for: It has a great guitar solo, you can shout and sing along to it, and the lyrics are all about stuff that people can identify with.

Dead Rhetoric: The Obama sound clip at the end…is that real? It sure sounds awfully real.

Dukes: No, no, no. [laughs] That took me like, 12 hours to do. [laughs] I had to download multiple speeches he did. Basically, I had an idea of what I wanted him to say, so I wrote out what I wanted him to say, then I had to download multiple speeches, find each word, and put it all together. It took me forever.

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