Ever in search of the Riff, Demon Lung was a glorious discovery. Mahlon (our in house music encyclopedia) fired off a text message instructing me to check out this band. Based on name alone, I’m interested. It was an instant attraction for me. I hit up their Reverb Nation page, got sucked in, “liked” them on Facebook, followed them on Twitter…ya’ know, obviously attacked them via social media. I emailed them via their website that evening. Lucky for me, I got an immediate response from drummer Jeremy Brenton. Turns out, the members of Demon Lung and the writing staff at The Blood Sprayer have a shitload in common!
As is evident in the headline, Demon Lung hail from Las Vegas. They’re music mines in between the caverns of the heaviest, most epic doom metal and the finest of NWOBHM records. I can throw some names at you as I hear them in Demon Lung’s music (Candlemass, Reverend Bizarre, Church Of Misery, Iron Maiden, Mercyful Fate, Sacrilege, Black Sabbath, Pentagram, etc.) but those are merely influences that can be plucked out and replaced by other killer bands at a moment’s notice. While the en vogue thing in heavy music seems to be female-fronted badassery (see The Devil’s Blood, Jex Thoth, Royal Thunder, Blood Seremony, Jess & The Ancient Ones, Seremonia, Castle, to name a lot!), but Demon Lung have their own thing goin’ on. Vocalist Shanda Fredrick comes from a different place entirely in delivery, which truly sets the music of Demon Lung apart. She has a distinctly dark sounding tone that feels far more menacing then her peers, particularly when set to the lead-heavy riff machine that make up Demon Lung. But beyond all those more than qualifying traits, I have yet to explain just why they have so much in common with all of us and all of you (the readers). Take one look at the artwork and song titles on the band’s latest full length, The Hundredth Name (currently available via Candlelight Records) and it becomes quite clear: These cats love them some horror flicks! I’ll toss a few song titles out to you: Eyes of Zamiel, Hex Mark, Blinding Of The Witch…sounds pretty evil and ominous, yeah? Well, when you read the interview, you’ll find out why. It became apparent through email exchanged between Jeremy and I that they were horror lovers of a high caliber. In addition to talk of Fulci, one name was dropped that (as all of you know) won my heart: Jim VanBebber. It was at that moment that I realized a mere review of their record simply wouldn’t fucking do!! No! I wanted to find out more about this band and of course, what flicks have inspired their punishing music. I got to do that with Shanda, Jeremy, and guitarist Phil Burns. Here within lies tales of cat-themed bands, Mt. Dew, and the greatness of a Fastway soundtrack. Enjoy the interview then visit their website.
1. Okay, to start off, give us a brief history of Demon Lung. I know you guys are based in Las Vegas, but let’s be honest: No one is from Las Vegas, right? Where’s everyone from and how did the band form?
Jeremy: Shanda actually IS from Las Vegas! Phil and I grew up together in Southern Indiana. Pat is from outside of Louisville, about an hour or so from where we are from. So being all from the same area, we have a lot of things in common musically. Whether we will admit it or not, we know every Skynyrd lyric for example. It’s engrained in our DNA. We also have a taste for Mountain Dew, Charlie Daniels, and Pantera. We can’t help it.
Phil and I had a horror/death/doom band back home that was going nowhere. I came out to Vegas first. I put together a few recording projects out here and eventually met Pat and we were in a Southern/Stoner Rock band for a while. That’s how we met Shanda, playing gigs in Vegas, and she was in another band and we crossed paths quite often. Her voice is very unique and we started talking about what we could do together. Eventually, Phil moved out to Vegas and we started writing.
Shanda: Normally, you’d be right, but I’m an actual Las Vegas native. And I fear I’m stuck here my whole life because I’m addicted to the 24 hour aspect of this city. Jeremy and Phil are from southern Indiana and Pat is from Kentucky. Our new guitarist is from Portland. So we have a nice mix of cultural backgrounds, enough to keep each other entertained on long drives.
The band got together very organically. Jeremy and Phil grew up together in Indiana, so that relationship was already established. Jeremy moved to Las Vegas, around the time Pat also moved to Las Vegas. Both got involved in bands, where they met. I was introduced to them through the local scene. We all became fast friends, Pat and I even worked at the same place for several years. Phil decided to move out. His move was the catalyst to all play together. This was the first time I had done a metal project, though I’ve always been a metal fan, so it was really exciting and an honor that they asked me to sing. I really admired all of them as musicians and I still do.
2. Conceptually, Demon Lung focuses on the occult and horror-themed imagery. What lead the band toward that type of subject matter? Was it a deliberate decision or was it a natural progression?
Jeremy: It’s what we are all the most interested in, so you write what you know. I’ve tried to write about other shit in other bands and it never works out well.
Shanda: It’s (both) deliberate and natural. We all live and breathe horror movies. Collectively we have seen every horror movie that has ever been created. Which is a bold statement, I know, but it expresses how much time and effort we put into watching horror movies. So, it was sort of natural that we went to that theme, but it was also very deliberate because we use movie lines in some of our lyrics.
3. Doom rock/metal has been on an odd sort of upswing over the last few years. There have been bands from overseas (Graveyard, Witchcraft, The Devil’s Blood, Year Of The Goat) that have made quite an impact on the heavy music community. More recently, American bands like Orchid are making their mark in that scene as well. Given that you guys are a part of that heavy music world, what do you think is driving the popularity in this style of rock? In addition, what other U.S. bands do you guys encourage fans to check out that they may not have heard?
Jeremy: We don’t really consider ourselves to be part of that, although we like all of that stuff. Most of those bands are kinda blues-based. We tend to get lumped in with a lot of bands that have female singers (as well), and because a lot of those bands are kind of retro, then we get categorized as” kind of” retro, too. We don’t really dress like we are from the 70’s or try to sound like that either. Our guitar tone certainly doesn’t sound like anything from the 70’s. It’s basically a death metal tone. The roots of our music is with Candlemass and Solitude Aeturnus…. The more epic side of doom metal.
Jeremy: Iron Maiden will always be the biggest influence on me as they were my first favorite band and will always be my favorite band of all time. But I listen to all metal genres from the lamest power metal to the most terrible black metal. We all have kinda different influences. Phil has always been way into Alice in Chains but also death and black metal. Shanda is more into stuff like Orange Goblin and Sabbath, but she’s also obsessed with Jinx Dawson of Coven and that first record. Pat listens to more stoner rock like Queens Of The Stone Age, Kyuss, etc. As a band we come together on the epic doom like Candlemass, definitely.
Shanda: Candlemass, Black Sabbath, Coven, Jex Thoth, Captain Geech and the Shrimp Shack Shooters, COC, Iron Maiden.
5. In previous conversations, it became apparent that you guys and I have something in common: An undying love of Jim VanBebber films! How’d you discover VanBebber’s films? Along that same line of questioning, what other genre films have been an influence on Demon Lung?
Jeremy: Through our love of Pantera and Phil Anselmo in our youth, we were directed to a band called Necrophagia that Anselmo was resurrecting in the mid/late 90s. Phil and I LOVED Necrophagia! It was a revelation. A band completely and totally about underground exploitation/horror films was everything that we’d ever wanted, so I read everything that I could get my hands on about them. Somewhere either Anselmo or Killjoy mentioned “Charlie’s Family” and Jim Van Bebber, so I tracked down a copy of “My Sweet Satan”. It was immediately our favorite thing. We showed it to all of our friends and basically watched it on repeat. Of course we then gathered up Deadbeat and the rest of JVB’s stuff and studied it like it was our job. When “Charlie’s Family” (which became “The Manson Family”) finally came out I loved it, too. For years, it was like this fictional thing that (seemed like it) would never be discovered, but it is an awesome film. Our band is all about horror films, so it’s hard to list specific ones. Essentially ALL of them. On the EP, we had songs about Prince of Darkness, Hellraiser, and Pet Sematary. The new record is a concept entirely about Warlock. In the future there will be many more.
Shanda: I’m a newbie to Jim VanBebber, but I am now a die-hard fan, nonetheless. 5 or 6 years ago, Jeremy introduced me to his work, starting with My Sweet Satan. It was more interesting and compelling than anything I had seen. Deadbeat at Dawn has become a band staple; you can often here us exchanging quotes to each other. As for another genre, I would say documentaries are a huge influence. Especially is they are about the satanic panic or serial killers. Reality can be pretty bleak and scary.
6. Everyone has skeletons…so, what are some your previous bands and their names? Meaning, the bad ones, the ones you’d prefer people DON’T discover?
Shanda: I was in an indie band called The Cat’s Meow. All of our songs were written from a cat’s perspective.
Jeremy: Pat and I were in a band called Bob Fisk which was an unfortunate name because there was actually a dude with that name in Vegas. It was named before I joined though so I can’t be blamed for that. I played one show in high school in a band called Jelly Belly and the Beanstalks. We played a shitload of Metallica covers in the rain and my drums rusted.
7. Considering the toppling of the music industry a few years ago, putting out records and touring are far more difficult than they used to be. How do you guys navigate the music world? While this is a great time to be an artist in terms of unlimited opportunities to release that creativity (technologically speaking), making a living as a musician is far more difficult? What are your feelings on the current state of music/art?
Shanda: It’s very difficult, but in a way that’s good. You have to really love making music to be in a band nowadays. We sacrifice a lot of time, money and daily comforts. But I think we will always do what we can to make a quality music and show.
8. Time for some fun questions: First, what is your favorite horror movie soundtrack? It can be a score or just a great collection of songs, but what is your favorite?
Jeremy: FASTWAY – TRICK OR TREAT… OF COURSE! To this day that is my test to see if a record store is cool. I go straight to the soundtrack section and if they have the Trick or Treat soundtrack on vinyl, I will stay and check the rest out. If not, they suck. I also happen to love the Sleepaway Camp 2 soundtrack: DESPERATE TO SURVIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIVVVVVVVVVVVEEEEEE!!
Phil:Charles Bernstien – A Nightmare on Elm Street, Fabio Frizzi – The Beyond, Fred Myrow & Malcolm Seagrave – Phantasm
9. What is the desert island horror flick list? Top 5 untouchables for Demon Lung?
Jeremy: I could spend a week on this, so I’m just going to name the first 5 I can think of without going too crazy: Return of the Living Dead, Trick or Treat (every October 31st it’s a must), Gates of Hell/City of the Living Dead, Demons, Silent Night, Deadly Night (xmas eve staple)
Shanda :My Boyfriend’s Back, Night of The Demons, Hellraiser: Bloodline, Day of the Beast, Tombs of the Blind Dead.
Phil: RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, DAWN OF THE DEAD ‘78, EXORCIST 3, WITCHBOARD, THE BEYOND.
Jeremy: Waffle House when we are in an area that has them (there aren’t many out west), favorite beer at the practice space lately has been Hamm’s, and favorite music guilty pleasure for the band is definitely Billy Dee Cox: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCfNB_qfl9Y. For Shanda and I, our guilty pleasure is nu country from the 90s. I had the displeasure of working solo-shifts at a country radio station in southern Indiana for 2 years in the late 90s. So engrained in my cerebellum is every lyric to every terrible country song produced prior to 1998. Shanda’s mom listened to that shit when she was growing up, so she knows it too by proxy. On Sirius/XM there’s a station called “Prime Country” that plays all that shit 24/7 so we will throw that station on and amaze ourselves at how much of it we know and we love to hate it. Especially Collin Raye, that dude’s songs have the most hilarious lyrics ever written.
11. To wrap this up, give us some information on what’s going on for Demon Lung for the coming months. I know the new album is out when this interview goes live, I also know you wrapped a tour with Castle recently, so what’s next? What’s the rest of 2013 look like for the band? AND where should readers go to pick up your new record and merchandise (so you’ll all make the most profit off of it)?
Jeremy: We are doing a real DIY west coast tour that starts on June 29th in Salt Lake City, all the way up to Seattle and down the coast. The Northwest dates are with our friends Wounded Giant from Seattle, and we hook up with Castle again for a few shows in So Cal as well. When we get back from that, we are trying to plan something big for December. Either a full U.S. run or possibly Europe, which we have always wanted to do. In the meantime, we have a few more dates with Wounded Giant in August, and the Southwest Terror Fest in Tucson in October. There will definitely be a lot more shows popping up this year.