Dying Wish – Building a CommunityTuesday, 7th November 2023
Coming hot off the much-deserved buzz that encompassed their debut, Fragments of a Bitter Memory, Dying Wish returns in 2023 with their follow-up Symptoms of Survival. An album that seems to build upon everything the band was doing well, and intensifying and augmenting it in every way for the better. We were able to grab vocalist Emma Boster a few days before their current tour was to commence to discuss all things Symptoms, metalcore influences and what she enjoys about the genre, and much more.
Dead Rhetoric: First off, how’s your hand recovering from the broken glass shower incident?
Emma Boster: It sucks, but it’s getting better. I still don’t have complete mobility without assistance, so it’s about working on that. When I have my support on, I can hold my hand enough to grip a microphone. So it shouldn’t affect me on tour, other than I can’t lift so I won’t be super helpful. But it’s fine, I’m a singer anyways [laughs].
Dead Rhetoric: How do you feel that Symptoms of Survival compares to Fragments of a Bitter Memory?
Boster: I think it’s a great step up from the foundation we built with Fragments. I don’t think that we are really stepping outside of the box too much or doing anything too crazy. We are more just mastering our sound that we established with the first record. We drove it home on Symptoms. We aimed to make kind of the same statement, but with newer music.
Dead Rhetoric: How do you expand your sound, even a little bit, while keeping it sounding natural?
Boster: I just think it’s all things that we have wanted to do, and have sampled in the past – like, ‘this is what we are capable of.’ I think we owned it, and didn’t shy away from just trying to reach this new level. I think as long as you own it and it feels genuine, it doesn’t sound too different.
Dead Rhetoric: It’s natural that there’s a progression over time, otherwise it gets stale. But at the same time, if you don’t own it as you go, people tend to get really grumpy about that in metal.
Boster: I try not to read comments too much. There’s a lot of people who are like, “I love the cleans” and there are others who say, “I want less of that.” You can’t really let that dictate you. I think that it just clicks and makes sense that this is the direction that we are heading in, but we aren’t abandoning our core sound as we do it.
Dead Rhetoric: The promo states that you’ve ‘found your sound’ with Symptoms. What makes you feel like something clicks with how the band works?
Boster: I just think in the process of writing Fragments, the idea of writing a record was really foreign to us. We were able to achieve a lot of things, but there were some marks we had missed. So we spent a lot of time really establishing an idea of what we wanted to accomplish with this record. It felt much more clearly outlined, as far as what we wanted it to sound like, and I feel like we really achieved that. That was nice for us to be able to figure out what was really essential in what we tried to do.
Dead Rhetoric: Discuss your approach to lyric-writing, particularly with songs that hit a more personal side of you. How do you keep things personal, but to the point where people can still connect with it?
Boster: I think that a lot of it is just leaning on my guys a bit and ask them if it’s something that seems too specific – can someone relate to it? I don’t want to make it all about me; it is my story but I want to make it so others can relate to it. So I bounce that off of them. I use certain word choices, and making it less literal and more poetic helps too.
Dead Rhetoric: How do you determine what you want to put out into the world? Whenever you release something that is personal, it’s putting it out there for everyone to see. What makes something okay for you to share, versus something that’s not?
Boster: It’s definitely weird, and when we first started writing music, I didn’t expect that we would be where we are today. So I was writing more for my own personal, cathartic experience. When we became a band with more attention, it was already such a huge part of the band. This is how I relate to this music, so it would feel disingenuous if I abandoned that core part of who we are. So it’s definitely scary, and I’m an extremely sensitive person, so if things are not received well and are thrown back into my face, it’s not always the easiest thing for me to deal with. But it’s made me a tougher person to be that vulnerable with random strangers all the time [laughs].
It’s also weird to me, because I thought that writing more personal music and being that open would make me seem more human to people. But I feel like people sometimes forget I’m just a normal person. So that dichotomy is strange to me sometimes, but that’s just the worst case scenario.
Dead Rhetoric: With Dying Wish, there’s feelings and sounds that go back to the roots of metalcore. Could you talk about the difference between paying homage to a sound versus essentially copying it?
Boster: I don’t really know, because it just kind of happens really organically. We make it pretty intentional that we have all these influences. We are influenced by bands like KIllswitch Engage and August Burns Red, these earlier metalcore bands, but we also grew up listening to hardcore music and growing up in that scene. Those two sides have always intersected a bit. But those two elements plus us having a bit of a cleaner sound and production – it’s not a whole lot but it comes off in a more refreshed way in the Dying Wish sound.
Dead Rhetoric: What do you find appealing about the hardcore and early metalcore scene?
Boster: I just think it’s really fun music. It was a sound that got lost throughout the years of heavy music. Sam [Reynolds] is an incredible guitarist, and has the ability to do all those riffs. I can sing and scream, so I wanted to do my own sound, but like a sultry Amy Lee/Howard Jones style [to my singing] instead of a lot of modern, polished metalcore bands, which have really high singing voice.
Dead Rhetoric: The upcoming tour is named, ‘Come get killed by Dying Wish.’What’s important in getting the crowd into the music in the live arena?
Boster: I just think we go out there and give 100% all the time. We have so much energy. I think one thing I wanted to accomplish with our shows was to make a community vibe where everyone feels welcome. You can be whomever, doing whatever, however you connect with the music. We encourage as much participation as possible. We aren’t standing up there like statues telling people to move. We give our all as well, so I think it’s good to give off that contagious, fun energy. Finally, I think people connect with our music. For me, as a music listener and enjoyer, those are always the shows I have the most fun with as well.
Dead Rhetoric: I haven’t been able to get to a live show unfortunately, but I’ve checked out some live videos. How do you stay focused with people going crazy, stage diving and so forth, all around you?
Boster: I definitely get lost in it sometimes, but we have played so many shows. Last year we did six tours. I think we just got used to it. For me, it throws me off more when people aren’t moving around. Then I feel more of the attention is on me. When I’m sharing that energy with everyone in the room, it takes the pressure off me a little bit.
Dead Rhetoric: So is that something that you kind of build by reputation? Where people learn that it’s okay to say, jump onto the stage for a stage dive?
Boster: I think so, yeah. I mean, we kind of encourage it at the show. If someone hasn’t been to a Dying Wish show, or know what we are about. We will make sure they know it’s a good place to express that kind of energy at a show.
Dead Rhetoric: There was a surge of metalcore in the early 2000s where it was everywhere. Then it became almost like a dirty word. Do you feel that it has lost that stigma again?
Boster: Yes and no. I think there are two different kinds of metalcore. Not to say that one is good and one is bad. I’ve seen the memes – there’s metalcore, and then there is metalcore derogatory. I don’t have an opinion about those bands, but groups like Sleep Token or Bad Omens. Groups that have evolved it into rock music.
I do think that the more original/authentic metalcore sound is making a big comeback. It did become a lame thing for quite some time. People have said that metalcore is at the best it’s been in a decade right now and I totally agree with that. I do think it’s become less of a dirty word and more of a positive thing again. If we have anything to do with that at all, I’m super stoked.
Dead Rhetoric: What do you think metalcore needs then, to keep it moving in a positive direction?
Boster: I would just say that I think metalcore is in need of something – it’s starved for something fresh and diverse. The more that you can bring it back to the roots, but make it your own, that’s what is driving and popping off right now. Just do something different and start bands. I feel like I don’t see that.
I’m excited about Roman Candle on our upcoming tour. Those guys are in their early 20’s, I think the drummer might even be 19. You don’t really see kids that age making music anymore. I encourage people to start bands – your first band is probably going to suck [laughs], but then you are going to be in another one that’s better [laughs], so you can make connections and do it. There’s not enough bands!
Dead Rhetoric: What’s something you’d like to change in the metal scene to make it a better place?
Boster: I would love to see more people hiring women or queer people, or people of color. People making bands with them, or getting equal opportunities. I’ve seen what happens behind closed doors, and even though there are obviously a lot of amazing people behind the scenes, I think that we are tokenized. A lot of us want to be treated like normal people, and appreciated for our skills and what we bring to the table. I definitely think that is something that is changing, especially in the genre and its getting better year after year, but we still need to continue working towards making it an equitable and safe space for everyone.
Dead Rhetoric: What else do you have planned for next year?
Boster: We are leaving for tour Thursday. The first leg we are in Santa Cruz, Arizona, and Texas with our friends in Exide, Gates to Hell, and Omerta. Then we are on the Headbangers Boat – it’s a cruise. I’ve never been on a cruise so it will be interesting. We are on that for five days. Then the rest of the tour with Boundaries, Foreign Hands, and Roman Candle starts in Tampa. Then we are covering the rest of the US and it takes us into December. Then we are going to rest, because we have a lot planned for 2024!