During Blessthefall’s set we get the chance to sit down with Despised Icon vocalist Alex Erian about the past, reuniting and of course a new record.
Here we are in London, Impericon Festival… How have the shows been, hows the tour been in general?
So far so good, I mean it’s been quite overwhelming you know. We see a lot of diehard fans that are coming out of the woodwork and their still around still supporting us, we also see a lot of fresh faces people that have heard about us after we broke up, never got the opportunity to see us. We make it a point to try and meet as many fans as possible and we hear their stories and I feel like a lot of people have been waiting for this for a while so it’s definitely heartwarming, it’s definitely motivating as well. So we’re here in London played a badass show and looking forward to tomorrow, simple as that.
What does Impericon mean to you? Especially with helping with your reunion shows in Europe back in 2014.
You mean Impericon as a company?
Yeah as company and with the festivals as well.
Despised Icon started working with them back when they were named Imperial, we were one of the first bands that they did merchandise for so we go way back. Same for Avocado Booking who have been, we’ve been working with both companies 10 years already. It’s a working relationship but it’s also developed you know into friendship as well so they’re definitely supportive of everything we do and when the time came to officially come back as a band you know we reached out to our friends at Impericon, our friends at Avocado and we were like, “Yo we would love to play these shows”, and they were like “We would love to have you!”, simple as that.
What does this represent to us? It’s a diverse line up I like that. There’s extreme bands like us, Chelsea Grin are a bit heavier as well, then there’s Blessthefall who are on the other side of the spectrum, all amazing bands, Hatebreed is headlining tonight one of my favourite bands so I enjoy that diversity. That being said I do miss playing with bands that are a bit more extreme or within our scene but ya know thats what this type of touring setting is for, playing in front of people that have never heard of us before and ultimately making new fans.
What were the deciding factors of reuniting and did you ever think about coming back sooner?
No (laughs). To be honest when we broke up 6 years ago already I don’t think any one of us foresaw, I don’t think any one of us expected for this to happen. We were in a state of over-touring, being productive and efficient putting out a record every year and a half with constantly being on the road…we were at the crossroads ya know. All of us were pushing 30, all of us were in serious relationships and a lot of people had kids on the way and had new career opportunities, a lot of people wanted to try out different things, so thats why we broke up. I stayed in music but there’s a price to everything and I didn’t wanna keep the Despised Icon name and play with a bunch of other new members and ultimately become a cover band, so you got to learn to let go and pick your fights.
Something happened along the way we went and saw Max our ex-bass player who is now in The Black Dahlia Murder, all of us went and saw him, think they were on tour with Carcass and it was the first time all of us were gathered for 4 years. The next thing you know we start talking about, “Hey remember this tour, remember that tour, remember the time we lost Steve”, got super nostalgic and now all these guys their kids are on average 4 years old almost 5 so I think it’s a bit more manageable in their everyday life for them to leave short periods of time. Like we’re on tour now for 3 weeks even that is pushing it but we made it happen. Before wasn’t possible but now we’re in a state where, sort of back to the roots, found that missing spark so it’s a great feeling to be back on the road with some of my best friends playing music, being fully invested in the sense that…dude its like work you know you punch in punch out you sorta get lost in the whole touring thing and you sort of forget how appreciative you should be for being given this opportunity and now we sorta realise that and now its like a bonding experience again. We had reached a point where we needed our distance and now its good to hang out, its good to have a couple of beers and go to our drummers place spend the afternoon and jam, talk, hang out. That’s what we lost somewhere along the way and thats what these reunion shows helped rekindle…very happy to be here and feel very fortunate.
That leads into my next question, can you remember and describe your feelings when you were on your farewell tour and the first few shows you played back together? How different were they on the spectrum and how did they affect everyone else in the band?
During our farewell tours we were all a bit burnt out, some of us were looking forward to wrapping things up. I’m glad we did things properly we did a world tour span of maybe 4 months or so.
Yeah I remember seeing you guys on the Parkway Drive tour.
Yeah we ended things on a high note, some of us were looking forward to ending things and there’s no bad blood, we were sick man we were over it. Looking back we really needed this break up or hiatus or however you wanna put it in order to come back fully re-charged. The feeling now is much different you know I lost touch with my drummer, I lost touch with my other singer but now we’re the best of friends again and its…I keep saying the same thing it’s a great feeling (laughs).
Now coming back and doing another round of Impericon Festivals and a European tour, does it more feel more special you’re coming back with the announcement of a new album?
Oh definitely! We were actually supposed to put out our first single right before this tour and play some new material, but you know we have to work with the labels agenda so we had to push it back. Actually as soon as we get back from this tour thats when we’re gunna start posting new music. We already have new videos that are done, we’re ready to rock man and as far as playing these shows its good but we’re playing songs we wrote like in 2004 or 2006, 2008 like its been a while so I’m looking forward to playing the new material. We worked hard on it but it also came to us naturally. I feel like taking such a long break was beneficial you know creatively speaking. I’m really proud of this record, proud of the songwriting, proud of how it sounds you know 5/10 years back this whole scene got into a state of over editing everything and everything sounded too digital and we sorta took a step back from that. We might have edited a bass drum here and there, real talk, but like its very minimal editing instead of doing note by note or a tiny part of a riff we recorded songs, sections at a time, same for vocals. Nowadays you see big productions with multi layered vocals and everything and thats sick, but that doesn’t always translate properly live as far as Despised Icon is concerned. What you hear on CD is what you hear in a live setting so I’m really happy that as well.
Dude the new material is fucking in your face man, you would expect like a bunch of 35/36/37 year olds to soften up…you’re in for a surprise definitely.
‘Beast’ comes out July 22nd 2016, what can people expect from it? Is it a similar style you’ve gone down or is there a few surprises?
Expect sheer brutality. If you are a fan of our older material so stuff off ‘The Healing Process’
or the ‘Consumed By Your Poison’ stuff then I think you’ll be pleased with the mosh and slam. But also if you’re more of a fan of the fast, technical aspect of our later records then you’ll be pleased as well. It’s a mixture of both bit of the old bit of the new, definitely paid a bit more attention to songwriting, the structuring. As I said it’s definitely chaotic yet theres a certain structure to all of that.
Who needs a new Despised Icon album, you or the fans?
Oh! Thank you for actually surprising me with a good question cause I’ve been saying a lot of the same things…I don’t wanna sound selfish but I feel like I needed it more in a sense that I consider myself to be a creative being, I can’t live without music. I can picture myself in high school picking up a pair of drumsticks for the first time, starting bands with my friends, hardcore bands, metal bands you know. We’re talking about early 90s shit and everything else just took a secondary place in my life. I’ve been into music ever since, taking a little break here and there but I’m very passionate about what I do still and lucky that I haven’t lost myself to this whole grind and everything…I don’t know…give me a second to think about that.
I mean obviously I’m thankful for the fans and everything but I just love creating music and love being reunited with my friends and this band gives me the opportunity to do so, short and sweet. But I forgot to mention by the way Andy Sneap, he’s from the UK he mixed and mastered our record, he did ‘The Ills of Modern Man’ for us so shout out to him for making us sound so well. Like I said we needed this but we gotta be thankful about all the fans. We played 3 reunion shows last year 2 of which were in the UK, Ghostfest and every single pound we made on those shows we reinvested in the band, we didn’t pocket any money. Ultimately the UK fans that came out to those shows paid for the new record, paid for the video shoots, the photo shoots and all that so it’s not about the money its just about playing music short and sweet…thats why I’m still here man.
Finally, what bands have impressed you in the deathcore scene since you guys went away?
None, I’m more into traditional hardcore or traditional death metal. That being said there are a lot of bands who do it well, Thy Art Is Murder are blowing up I remember touring Australia with them in 2010, was definitely impressed with them and I remember hitting up Century Media, we used to be signed to Century Media I was like, “Yo this band Thy Art Is Murder are sick you should sign them”, and they were like “No it’ll never work”…well I guess I was right (laughs). Fit For An Autopsy they’re a great deathcore band as well, but you know…I’m just stoked to be playing with Hatebreed right now (laughs)
‘Beast’ is out on July 22nd 2016 via Nuclear Blast
Interview by Joshua Clarke (@JPClarke91)