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Dead to Fall    
Dead to Fall
Metal Update caught up with members of Dead to Fall when they played a small show with labelmates Atreyu in Rockville Centre, NY. Considering how the two support bands were marginal on this bill, everyone was looking forward to seeing Dead to Fall even more than they were earlier that day. My first time seeing them was with shitty sound at a small NYC venue. Their debut was still two months away from hitting the streets and guitarist Seth Nichols (who had only joined the band a few weeks earlier) thought he had broken his guitar while performing. Needless to say it was not the first impression Dead to Fall wanted to make on New York. This show was their chance to make the proper impression, and did they ever.

For those who have not heard their Victory debut 'Everything I Touch Falls to Pieces' you have to ask yourself why. It is one of the most punishing metal hardcore crossovers since Prayer for Cleansing (you'd better start talking to yourself if you don't recognize that second reference). There is very little hardcore in the whole album (for those metal purists out there) aside from some wall-shattering breakdowns. Instead, Pieces is full of chest-piercing blast beats, ripping Euro-guitar melodies, and a disgustingly sinister attitude. From the thrash breakdowns of "Eternal Gates of Hell" to the dual intertwining riffs that close "Graven Image" and the vivid lyrics of "Words Ignored" and "Tu Se Morta" - Pieces kicks your ass and gets you to beg for more. Live, all of this is unleashed on the willing crowd the way a firefighter unleashes a thick blast of water on a burning building. You may not realize what is hitting you at first, but you immediately come to terms with the fact that it's for your own good.

Transcribed here is the conversation I had with Seth, lead growler Jonathan Hunt and drummer Dan Craig after we crawled from the ruins of what was their Backstreet Blues debut. We spoke about the band's origin, how Victory Records signed them, what touring full time has been like to a young band and how they get along with some of their tour mates. It may even contain more information than you cared to know.

METAL UPDATE: How did the original line up of Dead to Fall meet?

JONATHAN HUNT Most of the original lineup went to high school together, besides Bryan [Lear - guitarist]. We were all in bands since we were 14 or 15. Dead to Fall actually had a completely different lineup to start with. I think there are only three original members left. The lineup we have now, we've had for about five months. Seth is the most recent member.


MU: (motioning to Seth) We had a conversation earlier, and you're 23, right? But most of you are. . .

JH: One guy is 20, the rest are 21 and he is 23.

MU: How did you (Seth) get into the band? What happened to allow that slot to open up?

SETH NICHOLS: I had been talking to Jon and Bryan for a few years at shows in Chicago. I went to a show about six months ago - a Soilwork show - and they were there. I think Dan [Craig - drummer] said something about needing another guitar player.

JH: We said, "You play guitar, you should play guitar for us," joking around, but I gave him my number and told him to call me. He calls me the next day and was like, "Can I do that?" We were pretty screwed after Matt [Hartman - old guitarist] left.

SN: I came up the next weekend, hung out with them and practiced. After a few weeks they decided I was in.

MU: Did Matt leave suddenly?

JH: It was kinda sudden. He was having a lot of money problems and he moved to Cincinnati to live with his parents, which is six hours from Chicago. He was saying, "I'm gonna come up every weekend for practice," before he moved, and once he moved it was, "I'm not gonna come up every weekend," and then, "I'm only gonna come up once a month." He then called me up and said, "I can't afford to go on tour with you; I have too many bills. I have to leave the band." You know, what can I say to that? So we started trying people out.

MU: Bands tell me that their writing gets influenced by politics, books that they read, movies, etc. What influences your writing, both musically and lyrically?

JH: My lyrical influences is just life - what I encounter, people I encounter. It's very therapeutic to write. I'll write things down when I get really pissed off. When I'm really upset about something I'll just write and write until I get like 10 pages. Then about a month later I'll go through it and see if there is anything I want to use for a song. They usually write all the music before I write the words. They'll make a tape of it for me and I'll take it home or listen to it in my car, trying to sense what the emotion of the song is and what I think about when I hear the music.

SN: Bryan wrote most of the CD.


JH: We haven't written any stuff with Seth yet. Seth has only been in the band five months. We practiced three times with him and have been on tour since then.

MU: Have you written any new material on the road yet?

JH: (laughs) No. We don't even know all the material on the CD yet. Our friend Anton [Jones] who was our original guitar player recorded the CD. He can't tour because he works full time. . .

MU: How long have you guys been on the road? Victory seems like they tour the fuck out of their bands.

JH: I think Victory wanted us to tour a lot, but one of the criteria of signing us was them asking, "Hey, do you want to tour a lot, do you want to be a full time band?" because they want that push of people touring to support their album sales. And there is no reason to put out a band that's not gonna tour - nobody outside their hometown is gonna know who they are. I think any big label wants full time bands - that's the draw. Now, what was the original question?

MU: About how long you have been touring.

JH: We're the kings of having bad things happen to us and having to go home. We've supposed to been on tour from July, starting at Hellfest, until now, but somebody's mother had a heart attack and we had to go home. Somebody got really sick, Dan our drummer, and he couldn't even play so we had to go home. But we want to be on the road straight until we start to write the next album, which we hope will be next fall.

MU: How was the tour you did with Incantation?

JH: The shows were kinda weak 'cause the promoter kinda slacked off on that, but some of the shows were amazing. You were at the New York show, right?

MU: Yeah. Wait, no. I was at the New York show you guys did at ABC No Rio.

JH: Oh, the Caliban show. That was a fun show. But the Incantation tour was awesome 'cause those guys are. . . just. . . friggin'. . . you wanna talk? (smiling at Seth) 'Cause I've been talking the whole time.

SN: Incantation fucking rocks. It was great. All the bands got along really well. It wasn't quite what we expected. We went into the tour expecting a lot of attitude. It was a thrill for me because I've been listening to Incantation for a long time and they were just really nice guys and they treated us really well.

JH: Decapitated. . . Vitek their drummer is just straight up brutality. His feet are like. . . (makes a raspberry noise with his lips and tongue). . . It's like a snare drum roll, but on the bass drum. Impaled treated us like we were their little brothers. For a gore metal band, they were so nice. I mean, a lot of the bands were older than us. Decapitated is our age, but they're Polish and they don't know any English, so they were hard to talk to. But Vehemence, the other band on the tour, were our age so we kinda clicked with them a little. They were a band starting out as well.


MU: Have you guys played with any other really big acts?

JH: In Chicago, we played with Rise Against. We've played with Darkest Hour, Living Sacrifice. We played with The Crown in Chicago. A lot of times, when a bigger show comes through we'll be lucky enough to get on that in Chicago.

MU: That actually brings me to my next question. How did you guys get on the bill with Arch Enemy and God Forbid for that Chicago show?

JH: That's all Shane. Shane is the one of the metal promoters in Chicago and the guy is just fucking incredible. He's hooked us up so many times. He's got two bands called The Payback and The Killer Triple - hardcore bands. He's even between the hardcore and the metal scenes - he does both shows. He's just one of the backbones of Chicago hardcore and Chicago metal, and he wanted us on the bill. We draw decently in Chicago and I think we'd be a good opener for that. We're also good friends with endthisday and, sadly, it's one of their last shows. Ironically it's their first Chicago show. They're from Milwaukee, but there was this whole big beef about how they couldn't play Chicago for a while because somebody got in a fight with somebody - you know, one of those lame things.

MU: I wish I had the money to go out there because I wanted to see endthisday to begin with, and just to see all four of you on this bill together would be outrageous.

JH: We bumped into Sworn Enemy at a gas station on the way to Providence, Rhode Island, too. They pulled up next to us and we were like, "Hey, what's going on? What band are you?" They were like, "Sworn Enemy" and we said, "Shit, you guys are tough!" But those guys were cool and we talked to them a little bit. They're on that bill as well.

MU: How has your response been from the crowds on tour?

SN: I think before the CD came out it was pretty good, people seemed into it, but ever since the CD came out it's been a different story. Kids have been going nuts, singing the words. It feels really good.

JH: I mean, we'll have an off night where nobody knows the songs, but that is why we are on tour - to bring the CD out and have people hear it live. Hopefully they'll buy a copy, find it in a store or download it. We played Alabama the Sunday before the CD came out and there were like 20 kids who knew all the words 'cause they downloaded it and figured out the lyrics. I was so excited. Then there are some shows where we've been there twice and still no one knows any of the words. You've just got to keep going through those cities and keep doing it.

MU: True, because a lot of the stuff that is on the current CD was featured on the demo, or "Eternal Gates of Hell" was featured on "Graven Image" is on the Victory compilation. Most of the stuff was released before the album came out.

JH: Yeah, you're right.


MU: How has the current tour with Atreyu been?

SN: Those guys are gay. Gay, gay, gay.

JH: Yeah, I kinda go half way. Some of them are cool and some of them are just total dicks.

MU: Really?

SN: (laughing) We actually got in a fight with them the other day.

JH: Yeah. Justin [Jakimiak] our bass player - he's got this attitude where he gets really angry sometimes. He had a really bad day and one of the dudes was picking on him, and he [Justin] just slugged him. We had to pry them apart. . .

SN: It was the drummer, the biggest guy.

JH: It was our smallest guy versus their biggest guy. . .

SN: And Justin just wiped the floor with him. It was so funny.

MU: Before we go any further, is it alright to print this?

SN: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah.

JH: Yeah we don't give a shit.

SN: They're the ones who are pussies. (both Seth and Jon laugh) Stupid fags with their singing parts. (Jon is laughing extra hard)

MU: You were the one in your underwear.

JH: I'll tell the story so you can have it on the interview, but I was moshing in my boxers tonight and Chris from Atreyu pulled my boxers down and everybody saw my small, shriveled mosh wiener. (everyone at the table cracks up)

MU: It wasn't that cold in there though, so, I mean. . .

JH: It's just. . . shut up! I have a small penis. (even more laughing at Jon's confession)

MU: How much more touring are you gonna be doing over the next couple of months?

JH: Yes. (laughing) I don't have a place to live. He doesn't have a place to live. So, we live in that van. We're gonna have a few days off for Thanksgiving and a few off for Christmas, but I think our next days home are in March. And we don't care. That's what we wanted. Go to or or our Web site - our tour dates are on those three sites. I think Thunderdome has the most up right now - it's our booking agency and it has tentative dates as well.

MU: Aside from the fact that you share a common hometown, how did Victory find you guys?

JH: Matt, guitar player number two, knew Kathi Haruch [publicist] at Victory and we gave her a demo. She knows a lot of people. We figured we wanted to be on Ferret or one like that because that's an amazing label. The thought of being on Victory never even crossed our minds. We thought, "We don't even have an album out, just a demo, and we'll see if some of the midsize to large hardcore labels want to put us out. I think she was listening to it at work and someone else heard it. It got circulated around the office and everyone dug it. They came to three shows and a couple of practices. We played a couple of showcases with them - they saw us probably 20 times before we signed with them.


MU: I'll tell you my Dead to Fall story really quickly. I kept in contact with a lot of the promoters that serviced me as a college journalist. Kathi and I were talking about getting some CDs to me to review. I told her that I am a huge At The Gates fan and Swedish death metal fan and she said, "I've got this CD of this band. We just signed them and I'm not sending them out for promotion, but I'm gonna send you a copy because I know you're gonna love them. I got your demo probably a month, maybe even a month and a half before I saw you guys in New York City, and I fucking lost it. When I got the promotional package from Victory, and I knew your CD was close to coming out, I tore through that package like a five year old on Christmas morning.

JH: That's awesome. That totally makes our day. The way we look at it is we just play music that we like, we rock out to it, and we like our band. When other people like our band it totally baffles us. We still have the attitude that we're just a band jamming out in somebody's basement. We've sold something close to 2,000 CDs in the states right now, in the month and a half since it's been out, and we're just like, "There's 2,000 people in the United States that want to listen to our band?" It's so weird.

MU: Well, hopefully there will be a lot more once this interview is published. My last question is a tough one, but where do you see yourselves fitting in - more of a hardcore thing or a metal thing?

JH: That's such a tough question 'cause we did a month with Caliban and then a month with Incantation and both tours were completely different. Different kids, different venues, different promoters, and it's just two completely different worlds. Both have their pros and their cons. I think each member sees us fitting in differently in each one. Like, I'm more of a hardcore kid who likes metal, while Seth, Dan and Justin are metal kids who like hardcore. We try to be that band that can do both. There aren't a lot of bands that can fit into both genres. I think hardcore kids are more open-minded with us because we look it - we have short hair, etc. - but I think metal kids definitely like us too. People ask us what we are and I say we're a metal band. The best short description I can give is it's At The Gates with mosh parts.

MU: Yeah, actually I think that's what Kathi said to me.

JH: We've noticed that promoters tend to treat you better when you're on a metal tour - you usually get food and water, and you feel like you're in a touring band. With hardcore, kids are more likely to go out and buy your stuff when you're a band no one's ever heard of.

MU: One last thing. What kind of music influences you guys? Are you into strictly metal and hardcore, or do you get into classic rock and shit like that?

JH: It's whatever we listen to, except for the wussy stuff we sometimes listen to. I mean, when you are in a van for eight hours a day, every single day, and you have a retard in the front who only listens to Lamb of God, and. . . What else does he listen to? Lamb of God. . .

SN: Soilwork.

JH: Soilwork and Arch Enemy, and that's it. This guy right here, Dan, that's all he listens to. Soilwork, Lamb of God and Arch Enemy. Sometimes we'll convince him to put something else in.

DAN CRAIG: And Killswitch!

JH: Oh yeah, and Killswitch Engage. Everyone else has headphones and they sit in the back.

DC: I drive about 90 percent of the time, so we listen to what I want to hear. That's the reason.

JH: He doesn't have his own headphones, so he says, "I'll drive."

DC: And Meshuggah.

JH: And every now and again, Meshuggah.

MU: What about Britney Spears? I noticed all your posters in the back of the trailer.

JH: We just think she's hot, but he (points to Dan) thinks she looks like a dog.

SN: But he's an idiot.

JH: He's just a fucking retard 'cause she's the hottest girl. . .

DC: It's all about Shakira. You guys are a bunch of fags.

JH: You know, they've got those Britney stickers at gas stations, and we go to a lot of gas stations 'cause our van only gets 10 miles to the gallon. (pity laugh from everyone)

In the end, as we are leaving the pizzeria, Jon asks that we mention that despite all the references to Britney and Shakira, it should be known to all that Angela Gossow [Arch Enemy] is actually their goddess.


review of Dead To Fall 'Everything I Touch Falls To Pieces'

"Eternal Gates Of Hell" from 'Everything I Touch Falls To Pieces'





Interview: Brian Ferry [ ]
Photography: Brian Ferry
Metal Update Editor: Brant Wintersteen [ ]
Webmaster: RED [ ]

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