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Staying Power: An Interview With REVOCATION Guitarist/Vocalist David Davidson

By Peter Atkinson, Contributor
Tuesday, November 4, 2014 @ 4:26 PM

“I always try to keep the song structure in mind when I'm writing so that helps me stay on track. Even if a song is full of really technical riffs I still want to make sure it has a flow, otherwise it ends up just sounding like a riff salad.”

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Live Photo By Lisse Wets Photography

Boston’s REVOCATION has arguably been the most productive band in metal over the last half-decade and change. In the time it takes most bands to release one album – two at best - the quartet has issued five albums in rapid succession, starting its debut Empire Of The Obscene in 2008, as well as the 2012 EP Teratogenesis in conjunction with Scion AV.

In that time, the band – led by founding guitarist/vocalist Dave Davidson and drummer Phil Dubois-Coyne and joined more recently by guitarist Dan Gargiulo and bassist Brett Bamberger – earned a solid reputation in the underground for its masterful mix of technical death metal virtuosity and ferocity, epic thrash dynamics and remarkably consistency. Touring its ass off also certainly helped.After issuing three albums via Relapse, beginning with 2010's Existence Is Futile, the band jumped to a new label home, with Metal Blade, to release its fifth and latest effort, Deathless, on Oct. 14. The album earned the band its highest Billboard Top 200 entry yet, at a respectable #124, 35 spots better than 2013's self-titled fourth album.

Deathless - recorded with producer Zeuss at Planet Z studios, which has been something of a ground-zero for deathcore and metalcore over the years – tops what has come before and stands a the band's finest hour yet. Its dazzling performances, memorable songs and deft balance of brutality, melody and dexterity make it a technical death/thrash metal total package.

Via e-mail from somewhere in Europe where REVOCATION was on tour with CANNIBAL CORPSE, the Berklee-schooled Davidson offered the following about the band's rather relentless schedule and work ethic, the changes that went on going into the new album, and how slow and steady progress can be the key for a long career in extreme music.

KNAC.COM: First off, has Phil rejoined you yet, or is he still recuperating from his broken arm?

DAVIDSON: Phil's still recuperating, we're currently rolling with Ash [Pearson] from 3 INCHES OF BLOOD right now and he's been doing a great job.

KNAC.COM: Hopefully it wasn't too serious an injury. I busted one of mine playing softball last year and was back in business in six weeks - worst part was the rehab.

DAVIDSON: It was pretty bad from what I've heard, but it was a clean break so he should heal up fine.

KNAC.COM: Second, were you guys with CANNIBAL CORPSE for the drama they had in Russia [having authorities cancel several shows at the last minute because of “improper visas” and stop one show midway through so police could “search for drugs”] or did you join up with them after that?

DAVIDSON: We weren't on those Russian dates, our first show with them was in Finland on the start of their European tour.

KNAC.COM: That looked like it was some pretty scary, Cold War era stuff. Hopefully, if you missed it, there won’t be any more trouble during the rest of the tour.

DAVIDSON: Yeah we missed all the drama, the shows have in Europe have been running really smoothly so far.

KNAC.COM: That's a pretty mighty bill with CANNIBAL, AEON and yourselves.

DAVIDSON: It's been amazing, this is our best European tour that we've done to date. All the shows have been packed and the response we've been getting has been great.

KNAC.COM: It's a pretty long tour - six weeks - and you cover a lot of ground, obviously not a bad way to launch the album there. Is Europe still somewhat “unconquered” territory for you?

DAVIDSON: In a lot of ways yes, we're playing a lot of places that we've never been to before on this run so I definitely feel like we're in uncharted territory.

KNAC.COM: You guys have already been plenty busy in the states - summer with DEVILDRIVER, fall with CROWBAR – not a bad run up to the album release. How did those go for you?

DAVIDSON: Both those tours went great, we got along really well with all the bands and we got a chance to break out some new material to get people excited and talking about the new record.

KNAC.COM: I assume you will be taking a break for the holidays - what comes after that in early 2015 and beyond?

DAVIDSON: More touring [the band actually plays in Asia and Australia before Christmas], we think this record is going to have some staying power so we're looking forward to hitting the road hard in 2015 and hopefully play in even more places that we haven't been to yet.

KNAC.COM: OK, enough questions about touring. There are few notable changes with the new album: new producer in Zeuss, new studio, new label, new style of cover art – did you guys feel like you might have fallen into a rut after 10 years/become a bit predictable, or was it just a matter of keeping things fresh, keeping you on your toes so that you didn’t fall into a rut/become predictable?

DAVIDSON: I think we wanted to keep things fresh and mix it up a bit. We had a good run at Relapse but we felt the best move for the band was to go with Metal Blade. We really enjoyed working with Pete [Rutcho] on the past albums but we all wanted to do a proper full length with Zeuss [who produced the Teratogenesis EP] and I think the results came out awesome.DAVIDSON: KNAC.COM: Despite all the changes, the band doesn’t seem to have reinvented itself musically here – and I don’t mean that as a critique. What were you looking to bring to the music this time to give Deathless a unique spin? And were you really looking to do anything radically different, or just improve on what you’d done before?

DAVIDSON: We want to progress with each release and Deathless feels like a natural evolution from the last album. I wanted to bring more diversity to the album this time around, especially in the vocal department. I think my vocals are the heaviest they've ever sounded but there's also sections were I went with more of a melodic approach to give the music some contrast and to add some atmosphere.

KNAC.COM: You guys could go way overboard with the technicality if you really wanted to, given your obvious chops. Is it a constant battle to keep that in check and weave it into memorable songs, like “Labyrinth Of Eyes” for instance?

DAVIDSON: I always try to keep the song structure in mind when I'm writing so that helps me stay on track. Even if a song is full of really technical riffs I still want to make sure it has a flow, otherwise it ends up just sounding like a riff salad and doesn't feel cohesive to me.

KNAC.COM: You don't waste any time cranking new music out, five albums in six years or so, that sort of productivity is unheard of these days. Is the “constant churn,” if you will, good for the creative process – a practice makes perfect situation - or do you ever find yourselves feeling rushed?

DAVIDSON: I've never really felt rushed before because I tend to write a lot of material in my down time. I don't wait until it's time to go into the studio to start writing, if inspiration strikes me tomorrow and I come up with a riff I'll record it and save it for later. I actually just wrote a riff at soundcheck the other day, I can't say for sure if it will make it on the new record but I have it recorded so I can revisit it. All that being said, sometimes I'll go for quite awhile without writing anything, we've worked so hard on this last record so I'm kind of looking forward to giving my brain a break from writing REVO material for a little bit.

KNAC.COM: Were you pleased by the initial response to Deathless? – I saw some pretty great reviews and the album nearly cracked the Top 100 here.

DAVIDSON: Yeah, we're all stoked on the response it's gotten from fans and critics alike and Metal Blade is really pumped as well. It was out highest charting record to date so we are definitely on an upswing right now.

KNAC.COM: REVOCATION have been considered up and comers to this point, do you feel it’s time for you guys to step up to “the next level,” such as it is, with Deathless and beyond?

DAVIDSON: Yeah, we all want to make this our career so we can fully focus on music. I'm hoping Deathless is the record that takes us to that next level.

KNAC.COM: Was moving to Metal Blade part of that process?

DAVIDSON: Definitely, we had a blast working with Relapse but I think Metal Blade has more of a worldwide presence and is just a bigger label in general.

KNAC.COM: How have things gone with them to this point – are you doing more press, seeing more support?

DAVIDSON: Totally, the press has been constant for this record and Metal Blade seem to be pushing the band more in Europe which was our goal.

KNAC.COM: Do you get the CANNIBAL tour if you're not on the same label?

DAVIDSON: I'm sure it helped that we're on the same label but CANNIBAL ultimately make their own decisions when it comes to taking out bands.

KNAC.COM: Are you happy with the slow/steady progress the band has been making – especially over the past few years?

DAVIDSON: We're making music for ourselves first and foremost so it's been a slow but steady climb for us. I'd rather have real staying power rather than blow up overnight and then have a sharp drop off where people lose interest because they move on to the new flavor of the month.

KNAC.COM: If it’s enough to ensure you guys can keep it rolling, then great. You’ve got a good thing going and let’s hope it stays that way.

DAVIDSON: Thanks. man. Yeah we're in it for the long haul. We're all really passionate about this band and we feel like big things are on the horizon.

Pick up a copy of Deathless in the KNAC.COM More Store right HERE.

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