I came by DISMA’s demo, "The Vault Of Membros", just by chance and for the first time in years (dare I say a decade) I was blown away by a band after the first listening. A raw combination of pounding Doom Metal and crushing Death Metal, they have recently released their incredible debut LP, "Towards The Megalith", on Canadian Profound Lore Records. The album is just a continuation of their brutal, heavy and evil style! This is no "New Wave of Old School Death Metal". With members and ex-members of FUNEBRARUM, INCANTATION and METHADRONE, DISMA is pure Death Metal played by musicians that have been around since the late 80s / early 90s. So they know exactly how it should sound like! Bill Venner, one of DISMA’s guitar players and founders, kindly accepted to answer these questions for VFTD. Read and learn.
The first aspect that caught my attention was your band’s name. What is the meaning behind it and who chose it?
"I (Bill) came up with the name back in late 2005 or so. The origin of the name came from and mixing the band name XYSMA with DISMAL plus other secret sources and the final word stuck, so I kept it in my arsenal of possible names for a band idea. I was originally going to use a ‘ Y ‘ instead of the ‘ I ‘ but I thought it would cause it to be pronounced differently so I nixed that idea. So one day I was at work and I started to draw a logo with "DISMA" in mind and I liked what I was seeing so I kept it for the band idea. I hand drew the logo a few times and finally came up with the final one right before our first demo."
Were there any other members before the current line up came together?
"I wouldn’t say there were any ‘actual’ members but a few close friends did jam with us over the early days. They all played an integral part in helping us out in some form or another. For the most part it has been the current line-up since the first demo songs were written."
Has the work of the members with your other (past and present) bands influenced DISMA?
"I can’t say there is a direct influence of any kind, but I do believe we all take a part of our past musical experience with us wherever we go."
Craig had been inactive for some years now. How did he become a member of DISMA?
"Well it started out with us looking for a bass player for the band. Craig has always been a close and personal friend of Daryl and I over the years and he had mentioned to Daryl that his old METHADRONE bassist Randi Stokes was looking to play in a band. After we had the stable line-up of Daryl, Randi, Shawn and I we recorded some rehearsal videos of us jamming the demo songs. One day Craig was hanging out with Randi and Randi played him a video of us rehearsing ‘Vault Of Membros’. Craig heard it and wanted in!!! The music set off a spark in him and the rest is history!"
All of you have been involved in the scene for some time now. In your opinion which aspects are better and worse, comparing nowadays scene to the "good old times"?
"I’m sure all us old folks have the same opinion on how the scene has changed over the years and miss certain things that are lost forever. With anything you are going to go through a natural progression or change over the years and at some point you aren’t going to like what’s going on, so you adapt and remove the unwanted aspects. For me Death Metal and Metal in general took a dive around 94 or so (some will argue sooner). All of my favorite bands went to shit and it seemed there was no hope as things were also getting stale as well. Black Metal was good in the beginning but that turned into a poserfest in no time, so I turned to the newer Doom scene that was emerging as that seemed to satisfy my hunger for the missing heaviness that was missing in the Metal scene at that time. Over the years there were a few great releases in all of the genres but it was never the same as the old glory days as they were few and far between. But during the late 90s I started listening to a new scene emerging from Europe and other parts of the world. New Grind and Gore bands had captured that old feeling and took Death back into the gutter where it belonged. Bands like DEAD INFECTION, SQUASH BOWELS, REGURGITATE, GUT and many others kept the putrid sounds alive and carried the torch into the next decade for me. Music was fast, heavy and filthy again, plus the vocals were more brutal than ever. Now in the past few years things are getting better as a lot of old bands reformed and some newer bands seemed to show so some promise. The old school Thrash revival kicked in as well as the old school Death scene a few years ago but to me it will never be the same as the old days. I would also like to point out that I do not like Nu Metal and Nu Death. I hate all of these NU bands with these polished digital productions with triggered drums and horrible PANTERA vocals. Most of these so called Death / Thrash Metal bands of the past few years sound more like KORN than anything else. So I would say modern music has nothing on the old days. To be honest I only listen to a few new bands and usually resort to the classics when I want to listen to music. So overall the recent scene has improved with the OSDM and OSTM revivals… but how long can this last without getting redundant? Vinyl never really went away and there are analog formats still available so that is good. In reality a lot has changed, but did it really? The scene just evolved with the times and I didn’t follow what I disliked."
What is the creative process of your material? Do all members take part when composing music and lyrics?
"The writing process usually consists of Daryl and I getting together a day or two during the week to write at his house. We’ll throw riffs back and forth with each other working out second guitar parts and coming up with basic song structures. Usually we’ll pull out the drum machine and use that as well to get an overall idea on what direction we want to take the song. Once we have something we are happy with we present it to the band at rehearsal. At this point we work out the final drum patterns with Shawn as he has a lot of great ideas. Shawn definitely adds a new dimension to the writing process as he never wants to settle for a simple beat, and he’s always looking to challenge himself. For the most part I will take the initiative to direct the song on what goes where and how many times a part should be played. The rest of the band will also contribute to that aspect of the writing as well as we always want to make the songs as powerful and dynamic as possible without getting boring or repetitive. Then Randi is brought in to work out his bass parts as well as finding new ways to make the ceiling collapse!!! Last but not least, Craig will work out his final vocal patterns and complete the process. We’ll go over the song and change parts until we are sure it’s killer and is as catchy as possible. Daryl and Craig will write the lyrics although I have written some in the past on a song or two. This writing process seems to work the best for us right now but there are always exceptions as everyone in the band has a voice and can contribute their ideas as long as it works and keeps within the vision…TOTAL DEATH!!!!!!!!!!!"
Were you aiming at that heavy blend of Death and Doom Metal or did it just come out naturally when the band first started?
"When I started listening to extreme music back in the 80s I’ve always leaned towards the slower heavy stuff, so this came very naturally for me when writing music for DISMA. My biggest influence when writing Death Metal came from listening to AUTOPSY in the early days; they were the masters of Death and Doom. CANDLEMASS were always a favorite as well. So yes, we were aiming for it from the start. That is also the reason why we are tuned so low, slow and heavy go hand in hand."
Lyrically, your song themes deal with darkness and death. Do you think that specific topic is already saturated or it is an endless source of inspiration?
"To be honest "all" lyrical themes for Death Metal and the music scene in general are over saturated, but this style seemed to fit the music the best. Using satanic, gore or even political themes would not work well for us. Most of our lyrics are loosely based on movie themes and dark subject matter that anyone who is into death metal can appreciate and relate to."
In my humble opinion, your demo tape "The Vault Of Membros" caught the underground by surprise with its heaviness and atmosphere, since no other bands play your style of music with such conviction and passion. Were you expecting that impact from the tape when you started passing it around?
"At first we did not know what to expect as we did this for us and had no intent on pleasing anyone but ourselves. The music was not written in a forced manner to coincide with the new OSDM revival but to get some music out of my system that has been burning in me for many years. A lot of the music that I had written for the demo was a lot of riffs that I’ve been playing around with over the past 20 years or so. Our goal from the start was to create a very heavy and filthy sounding demo and for the most part we came out very pleased with the recording. Both guitars and drums were recorded together so we would get that organic live feel. We recorded everything in one day and mixed it. We knew a lot of our old friends from the scene would appreciate the music but never expected it to get the reviews it did from the newer crowds. Craig’s notoriety definitely played a big part in our exposure, as so many people are happy to hear him singing Death Metal again."
Profound Lore Records released your debut album "Towards The Megalith". Are you guys satisfied with the label’s work so far in terms of promotion?
"The promotion has been going great, Chris Bruni (Profound Lore) has been doing a lot for us in terms of exposure and support. He even came down to see us when we played the "Rites of Darkness II" fest in Texas, and recently came down for our record release party on August 6th in NYC. So far we’ve had some great exposure in all the top Metal magazines thanks to Chris, and from what I hear he’s almost sold out of our first pressing of the CD!!!!! Things are definitely good with Profound Lore as Chris is a nice guy and easy to work with."
DISMA is based in the New Jersey area. Has the local scene response been what you expected?
"The response in NJ has been good so far. Our first show was at the NJ DEATH FEST back in October of 2009 and it went over very well…people actually came to see "us" play! But to be honest there is no place good to play in NJ, most clubs don’t want to waste a night on Metal. Just recently a club cancelled a show we were playing so they can do a Rap music night instead…FUCK THAT!!!!! NYC is the place to go to play shows in our area as it has such a diverse musical environment and a rich history in underground music. Overall the people of our local scene like and support us. There are many diehards in our area that live for brutal Death!"
With your debut album out there, which plans do you have for the near future?
"Our plans right now are to write some new music and play some shows. We are confirmed for "The Rites Of Darkness Fest III" in San Antonio, TX on December 10th 2011 as well as "The Maryland Deathfest (MDF)" in 2012… 2 great fests with great line-ups we cannot wait to play!!!! We are also in the process of making some new t-shirts as well as some patches and stickers. We are also going to be doing a vinyl / LP version of "Towards The Megalith" released through Doomentia Records some time early next year! The first 500 copies will come with a bonus 7" that will contain 2 new tracks that we hope to record soon. We are also going to be releasing our demo "The Vault Of Membros" on vinyl through Detest Records sometime in the near future. It will also contain some unreleased material as well, so keep a look out for that."
Even though there are tons of new bands coming out, it seems everyday an old band, well known or not, reunites and starts playing gigs and recording songs. What is your opinion about it? Do you think it is all about the money or they genuinely feel the urge to play again?
"For some of the bigger bands it’s probably the allure of money but I believe it is always initiated by the urge to play. It’s in your blood and when it calls you have to answer! Besides, I don’t think there is anything wrong with making some money playing music as long as it doesn’t effect your writing style. It’s nice to be rewarded on your efforts and why not? It always seems that it’s the band who is the last to make money. So I think its ok as long as you keep true on what you are doing, I hate it when a band reforms and the only thing that is the same is their band name."
Do all members have their regular day jobs or has anyone accomplished living off the music business?
"We all have our day jobs and probably always will as we are a lot older now and the option of living off the music itself is not on anyone’s horizon yet. It’s very hard to make any "real" money doing this unless you play more of a commercial / trendy style or plan to go out on the road for a while. For now, as a supplemental source of income it is fine, but it is a must for me to have a job / career with a steady income and benefits. The music scene cannot offer us that at this point. Besides, once music becomes a job for me its no longer fun and I usually lose interest in it."
The internet; a blessing for some, a curse to others. What is your opinion about it related to the global scene and music in general?
"To be honest I think the internet is great for music. Sure some of the mystique of the underground is lost from it, but what it offers to the music scene overall is amazing. Having a website is a must for bands and if you want to survive these days you need quick info as snail mail does not cut it anymore. Music had to keep up with the times and there was nothing stopping the implementation of the internet. C’mon, the internet is the best record store ever!!!!!! Besides, having the option of searching out a band and hearing them before you buy is one of the best features of the internet. Be honest…Could you ever go back to a scene with no internet after having it for all these years? So I think the positives definitely weigh out the negatives despite it leaving a bad impression on certain people / bands."
Finally, I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to answer these questions. Is there anything else you would like to add or share concerning DISMA?
"Well I would like to thank you Alfonso for the interview and to have us featured in VOICES FROM THE DARKSIDE. It is definitely an honor for us!!!! If anyone is interested we have a new website: www.dismaband.com. Also we have another site up as well: www.dismaband.wordpress.com. Also add us on Facebook for current info. We are probably going to get rid of our MySpace page soon as it is total garbage now! For a copy of our CD contact: www.profoundlorerecords.com. We also have a couple of 7"es out now. Visit: www.necroharmonic.com for "The Manifestation" 2 tracks (title track is exclusive to this release!) color vinyl limited to 444 hand numbered copies…almost sold out…hurry!!!!! Roy also has some of our t-shirts still available. Also www.doomentia.com for our split 7" with WINTERWOLF (FIN) 2 tracks, available as a picture disc or black vinyl… So take a look!! Thanks again Alfonso and Frank!!!!!!!!!! Take care and stay sick brothers. Bill Venner – email@example.com."