Revocation – Arbiters of the ShredThursday, 11th August 2016
A case of working one’s way up the heavy metal ladder due to work ethic and musicianship, it seems that with each passing year, Revocation is earning more and more of their deserved spotlight. Playing a blend of technically driven, yet melodically accessible version of death/thrash has won them over fans from the start, but since the band has hit Metal Blade for the past two releases, their stock has increased significantly.
Their latest album, the recently issued Great is Our Sin, sees the high caliber performances continuing to up the ante on what they can accomplish. They move in some melodic directions, but they also stay true to what has made them a success. Currently on the road for the Summer Slaughter festival (the band’s second run with this one), we were able to grab vocalist/guitarist David Davidson before the band’s set in Poughkeepsie, NY to answer some of our burning questions.
Dead Rhetoric: What do you feel is most different about Great is Our Sin?
David Davidson: We have a different drummer this time around. Ash [Pearson] joined the band last year and his playing style is unique for our sound. He can blast, he can thrash, he can do all the standard metal beats, but he also has a real fusion and prog background. He listens to bands like Rush and Frank Zappa, so I think he brought some of that influence to our sound this time around.
Dead Rhetoric: Was it an easy process to put him considering how long Phil [Dubois-Coyne] had been with the band?
Davidson: It was actually pretty easy – when we started jamming our new material, it sort of clicked right away. There was a little bit of getting to know each other’s playing styles but for the most part, it was just off to the races.
Dead Rhetoric: Revocation was on Summer Slaughter a few years ago. What pulled you back for a second round – was it good timing?
Davidson: Yeah – the new record was coming out when the tour was starting. We got the tour offer so we thought it was sort of perfect. For the last album [Deathless], we were over in Europe when it came out so it’s nice to be in the States this time so we can give it a big push with a great tour.
Dead Rhetoric: Now that you have a few more releases out, is it hard to pack everything into the short amount of time you get on the tour?
Davidson: Straight-up, we just can’t fit everything. There are certain albums that we just can’t play when we are doing a 30 minute set, on a tour package when there are 10 bands. We want to play some new material, and a few older songs that are classics that have been part of our set for a while. I think on this set, we are playing three new songs and three older songs.
Dead Rhetoric: Revocation has always tried hard in your live performance to not be one of those bands that just sit there – considering your music is so technical, do you pride yourselves on the fact that you put a lot into your live performance?
Davidson: You have to deliver live. No matter what kind of promotion or Internet buzz there is, there is no substitute for a live show. We try to bring it every time. The music is quite technical – we were joking around and our bass player was saying that the new material was so hard that he couldn’t drink before our set. But it’s good – you always want to challenge yourself with every new release you put out, and you want to challenge yourself with your live performance and to deliver the songs as close to the record as possible…but also give it that live aspect where you are putting on a performance for people as well.
Dead Rhetoric: With the technical aspects involved, do you find it challenging to play guitar and sing at the same time when you are playing live?
Davidson: It’s quite difficult. Especially on the new songs when your muscle memory and coordination is not quite as engrained as on the older songs that you have been playing for years. It can be hard every album cycle. Its like, “ok, how do I execute this now? We did it in the studio, so I can I have it come forward without screwing up the vocal pattern and the guitar pattern?” It can be tricky, but it’s just like anything – try to practice it slowly and figure out the up-beats and down-beats and the rhythm. It can be tough if the vocal line and guitar line are contradictory, which they often can be in our music, it’s tough to separate your brain into those two halves. Plus, just singing in a metal style is very physical. You have to push from your diaphragm and it takes a lot out of you to produce that sound.
Dead Rhetoric: The new album has more clean vocals than some of your past records. Has it been a seamless process to decide where to kind of put those aspects into the songs?
Davidson: I kind of let the music inform me. If I am hearing something, I’ll take a step back from it and see what needs to go there. Should it be extreme vocals or something more melodic? Oftentimes I just try to hear the melody in my head – I just sort of trust my instincts.
Dead Rhetoric: When you are writing, as you are as prolific on record as you are live, do you take into account being able to write something that will translate well live?
Davidson: It’s hard to say. I think we just write how we write, and then figure it out afterwards. It can be a challenge to execute things – for example, we are playing “Crumbling Imperium” live. It has an extended clean section that is punctuated by these distorted guitars. In the private space, you separate it out, like “I’ll take the clean part and Dan – you play the heavy section there.” You record it, and then you figure out how you are going to divvy up the tasks of who is playing what part or what harmony.
Dead Rhetoric: It also seems like you gave Brett [Bamberger] a lot of space on the bass playing on this record. Was that a conscious decision?
Davidson: I think that the bass is the most prevalent on the new record. Brett came in with a lot of ideas. Sometimes we dialed things back, sometimes we amped things up. Every member of the band wants to bring their A-game to every studio session and performance. I think that’s why we work together so well. No one is really resting on their laurels – everyone is trying to fire on all cylinders to deliver the best performance for themselves. As it comes together as a collective, I think it creates some really cool moments on the record.
Dead Rhetoric: Great is Our Sin comes from a quote from Charles Darwin. What made you go with that particular title?
Davidson: It was very poetic, and I thought it was a cool lens to view history. The more I thought about it, the more I thought it would be a great concept for a record. To look at events from history from the Middle Ages up to present day and have “Great is Our Sin” as the overarching theme to view society and humanity.
Dead Rhetoric: More recently, you have been able to tour more internationally. How would you describe touring in say, Asia, as opposed to North America and Europe?
Davidson: It’s definitely different. A totally different culture, and a different vibe. But it’s really cool. I love to travel – touring and playing in front of fans is my favorite part of it. But being able to experience different cultures, different cuisines, and visiting locations and sight-seeing, it’s so much fun to go out there and just sort of soak that all in. For example, I knew nothing about Singapore. I loved Singapore – it was so awesome. They have these cool bio-domes there, and it’s a super clean city. It was really gorgeous. Getting to experience other places and people, it’s so rewarding to me. It’s one thing that I really like about touring.
Dead Rhetoric: Is there a place that you haven’t been able to tour with Revocation yet that you’d like to go?
Davidson: New Zealand. We did Australia and that was a blast. I’ve heard New Zealand is similar but also really beautiful. South America would be cool – we are touring with Krisiun and we were talking about Brazil. They were saying that Brazil has a great scene, and there are some other countries in South America that also have excellent scenes. We’ve done Columbia so far, but it would be cool to go back down and do a full South American tour.
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