It has been said, for some, the last place you will receive recognition is in your own back yard. Nothing could be closer to the truth when it comes to the three members of DYING. In the past seven years; Beau Cousins, Jonny Switchblade and Andy Hate have been steadfast contributors to Fayetteville’s musical “underbelly” within the genres of punk and metal. But make no mistake, the lack of spotlight has never had an effect on the driven attitude of the group. If anything, it has fueled it. The trio was involved in some of the most brutal and well-respected bands Fayetteville has known including Lethal Red, Bling Grenades, Queen Beast and BKA. Since 2005, those that dared ventured past the neon of the main strip and immerse themselves in the local underground scene were exposed to endless nights of loud, angst ridden filth that, more times than not, had one or more of these three gentleman on the stage.
For as long as I have known them, it seemed conceivable that this band of brothers would always be creating some form of music together and in late 2011, DYING was spawned. At times, an eight-ton anchor dragging a muddy riverbed and then more furious than a back alley beating, it is a hemorrhaging wound of sound that is comprised of a sludge, trip, doom and punk hemoglobin. Even as echoing traces from former bands weave in and out of the blood-soaked fabric of their album BORN, the recording stands on its own as a natural progression of the member’s musical journey. DYING is nastier than earwax and may not be for everyone. But for those who like their music rough around the edges, a slight bit experimental and without pretense, consider your prayers to be answered.
In late July, the long awaited recordings of the band were finished and it was decided that a sit-down with Andy and Beau was long overdue.
BORN is a strange amalgamation of five songs of varying lengths and could be called, either way, an EP or LP. They appear, in some sorts, to be chapters in a story. Was there a method to the madness and is the work ‘conceptual’ in any way?
Beau: The album is a concept album. I’m hesitant to mention the series of novels it is based on because, I feel, the listener will lose nothing if they are ignorant to the theme. It can be intensely personal in parts and I don’t want that taken away from anyone. Having said that, it is not difficult to realize the concept. Especially, if you are familiar with the books and read Andy’s lyrics.
Andy: The different tracks on BORN are definitely all parts of a larger story. Hopefully, listeners will be able to pick out lyrical references, here and there, and get a feel for the story and atmosphere we’re trying to create.
Much like the music itself being an odd combination of styles, the sound of BORN is a tightrope act between homemade lo-fi recordings and an independently produced smaller label sound. Was this intentional or a result of a DIY approach?
Beau: What you hear is absolutely intentional. I think we would be lying to ourselves and the listener if we had made a really slick sounding record. The rawness is an accurate image of how we view the band and how we sound live. I wouldn’t say “lo-fi.” You could call it “LOW-fi”(laughs). The low end is heavy; the high end is almost nonexistent. The drums are shelved and very grungy sounding, almost unintelligible in parts to reflect certain tribal drum sounds read about in the novels mentioned above. Noises come in and out of the left and right channel, there are harsh buzzes and hiss along with other strange sounds that give a feeling of anxiety which reflects our view on the world and how we feel as human beings. That filthy punk rock aesthetic suits us. I urge the listener to turn it up and embrace it and not turn away from the ugly face of the band.
Andy – We are not a “clean” sounding band, lots of rough edges, noise, low end, and very loud equipment that create a sort of ambience. BORN was our best try at catching that raw darkness we feel represents us as a band and also conveys the story we are trying to tell.
On the production end of things, I see you brought in Thor (Queen Beast, Lethal Red) on supporting vocals. Care to tell us about some of the other people involved in the project?
Beau: Thor Carver, of course, is an old wolf and was more than happy to help with background vocals. Hank Overby is a fan and local musician. I believe he has a project called Wolfwhistle going as well as being in Miniature Colossal Men. He is an excellent saxophone player and we were lucky to have his talent on the record. Justin Slavens came in and laid down trumpet. He’s a great multi-instrumentalist with a project going called Pride of the Thicket. Austin Oxner played djembe for the title track. He drums for Swamp Donkey as well as DirtMother. We’re very fortunate to have these talented friends come in and take our sound and make it their own.
Andy: Beau and I produced the project. Beau engineered, recorded and mixed all the tracks. We had Chuck Schaaf (Deadbird) master the finalized recording. The artwork was done by John Moore (noir33) back in the early part of 2012.
Locally, who are some other bands you feel may be just ‘under the radar’ or are there any older recordings, of now defunct bands, people might want to check out?
Beau: The above mentioned bands, of course, are all bands we like locally. As for our other recordings, done by Andy and I, you can download BKA’s first (and last) EP at: http://divshare.com/download/16183991-691.
As for other local bands I enjoy; Genome Chomsky, The Bling Grenades, Crown of Bullets, Vore, Left Holding the Gun, Friday Maybe Saturday, The Inner Party, The F*cktards, Thunderlizards, Perpetual Werewolf, Send and Return, Hellbeast and Sock Party. So many to list, I’m sure I’ve forgotten someone.
It is easy to complain or long for the good old days when it comes to Fayetteville’s music scene. Since you began creating music here, what has changed that you feel is different or a positive element, which could be expanded on, as far as playing, recording, promoting or attending music is concerned?
Beau: Fayetteville will always be full of fine artists and musicians. Because it is a college town it’s usually a brief stopping point for people who graduate and go on to other cities and therefore will be ever evolving. We will continue to make and record our own music. This is all we can do and if it expands on the Fayetteville music scene so be it, though I can’t comment on whether or not it has a positive effect on it.
BORN is available as a digital download and a numbered limited edition of 25 in CD format. To hear more or purchase, visit dyingarkansas.bandcamp.com