I recently had the opportunity to hear a great new band. Max from Deadly Light sent me a message via Facebook filling me in on who they are and what they do.
From their website:
Deadly Light writes loud, metal-infused, cinematic songs dealing with the nature of consciousness and the search for meaning.
Being a huge fan of metal I was really looking forward to checking them out. Max sent me a digital copy of their EP “Six Walls” and I’ve been listening to it ever since. Yes, it’s not death metal, don’t be shocked here… I like ALL forms of metal.
There are elements of many different bands here, from the layered sound of bands like Paradise Lost, dirge like riffs of Sunno))), the quirkiness of Voivod and more. There’s a bit here for every metal fan.
Recently there’s been metal bands popping up with an underlying theme, and that’s the spirituality of the band. Like Dosa Jhana who’s been featured here on Precious Metal, and The Firstborn, Deadly Light is on a spiritual path of their own. I was able to talk to the band via e-mail about their music and their path’s… enjoy!
PM: Tell us a little bit about Deadly Light, when did you guys start, etc? What does the name mean to you? Influences?
Max: Deadly Light started around February 2009. Eleusis, the previous band we were in, had broken up and Don and I started inventing a new sound. We wanted to move in a heavier, darker, more primitive direction musically. When Dave heard one of our new tracks he told us he wanted to sing for the group, which was great because he’s got the Cavalera/Cobain/Cohen trifecta thing going on.
The name Deadly Light is from the H.P. Lovecraft story “The Call of Cthulhu.” Lovecraft was talking about how the discovery of secret knowledge can lead to cataclysmic destruction. I liked it because it speaks to the collective unease we have regarding our gifts as humans: self-awareness, scientific inquiry, existential thought, etc. As a species we have embraced these gifts, pondered the mind, constructed great cities and investigated the mechanisms of the universe. Yet there is still a fear that our own knowledge and abilities will somehow destroy us in the end. This is a subject that’s always been fascinating to me, and so Deadly Light felt like the right name for this band. It’s been a good fit because our songs are generally about the search for self-knowledge, and that path can take you to some very dark places.
PM:You guys consider Deadly Light to be a Buddhist inspired band. Are you all Buddhist practitioners?
Dave: In the larger picture, we are all practitioners of waking up. It gets tricky when one adds “-isms” and “-ists” to the equation. That may imply that we are not open to other traditions’ teachings or practices of growth and awakening. In this day and age, with all of the wisdom traditions available to us, it just doesn’t vibe with us to say we are an “-ist” to the exclusion of other valuable forms of spiritual practice and philosophy (yoga, shamanism, centering prayer, etc.). We value any teaching that helps bring more compassion and wisdom into the world. That said, Don and I are Vajrayana practitioners and formal students of the Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche. We have dedicated ourselves to practice and study in the Buddhist tradition, but our goal is not to be Buddhists; our goal is to be Buddhas.
Max: I’m not a practicing anything, currently, and I really like Dave’s take here. I think there is wisdom in many spiritual traditions. My tendencies are more toward agnostic thinking, so I’m still trying to hone in on my own spiritual truths and trying to get more comfortable with the idea of being a spiritual person. Spirituality is a very personal thing for me, and I tend to avoid what I perceive as the “hive mind” of organized religions.
PM: It’s pretty rare to hear a bunch of Buddhist metal fans actually running into each other, never mind starting a band. How did you all meet?
Don: Actually, Max and I met through a friend at a Gnostic church in Seattle about six years ago. Our friend actually made the effort to introduce us because he thought we’d hit off in terms of musical aspirations and a lot of other similar interest. He was right! Max and I started our first band, Eleusis, about 2 months later. Several months after that, when I first started practicing meditation regularly, I joined a local Buddhist community where I met Dave. The first few times we hung out we ended up talking shop about music. He started giving me some cds from his previous projects, and I was really impressed with the wide variety of cool stuff he had done. When Eleusis’ original bass player (Ben Cory) had to leave the band, we asked Dave if he’d come and play with us. We all got along really well, and wrote several tunes together before Eleusis broke up about 6 months later for unrelated reasons. Max and I started Deadly Light shortly thereafter, and I gave one of our demo tracks to Dave. He sent it back to us–with vocals!–and the three of us ended up writing songs again, this time with Dave doing lead vocals and adding ambient electronic material.
PM: I really enjoyed your demo. Did you guys record this yourself? Have you heard from any independents about releasing a full length or will you guys fund it yourselves?
Max: Thanks! We’re really glad you enjoyed it. We did all the recording ourselves. Both Dave and I have some experience with audio engineering, so it was just a matter of getting the recording gear we needed and taking the time to hammer it out. We wanted to put out something that was pro-quality and I think we got pretty close to that, despite a shoestring budget. We’re all really proud of the disc.
We’ve sent it out to some labels to see if anybody will bite – no word yet. But doing the recording ourselves, while time-consuming, makes more business sense in some respects. We got tired of shelling out huge amounts of money for studio time. And with digital distribution (iTunes, etc.), we can go global without a label. The thing we’re missing is wider distribution and promotion of the physical disc, which is exactly what labels provide. So I think we’re gonna cross that bridge when we come to it, but continue to put out stuff ourselves. Besides, I really like the recording, engineering and production process. We learned a ton making “Six Walls.”
PM: I, as you probably already know, am also an avid metal fan and was involved with a band. How do you find balancing your practice of Buddhism and meditation with the practice and such with the band?
Don: We all work a lot, and Max and I are in school as well. Add meditation practices, family commitments, and a band, and our lives are pretty busy. We’ve all come to band practice exhausted many times, but as soon as we start playing, it’s all worth it. We’ve all done meditation, or yoga, or other formal practices at some point, but I think writing and playing music together ends up being where the rubber meets the road in terms of taking practice off the cushion and into the world. All of the elements are there: discipline, concentration, patience, and trying to be as open and expressive as possible without over-conceptualizing and letting ego muddy things up. We’re free to work with all of the enthusiasm, joy, frustration, darkness, anxiety, awe, and whatever else comes up for us and channel it into positive, creative energy. My teacher once told me to ‘drum out ignorance’ and I’ve really been trying to take that to heart whether I’m sitting on the cushion or behind the drum kit.
Max: I’m not a practicing Buddhist, but I wanted to say that for me the band is actually the thing that balances the rest of my life out. I’ve been involved with really cerebral scientific work for a long time. I look forward to every rehearsal and show because they help me express the more visceral parts of myself.
PM: I got to ask, what is the song Red As Blood about? For some reason it invoked images of Red Tara to me so thought it’d be interesting to find out what it really is about.
Dave: The song has a few different themes running through it, but in terms of deities, the inspiration here is Vajrayogini. Don and I were in the midst of ngondro/guru yoga when this song was created. It deals with the realtionship of the ego to Vajrayogini. As the thangka shows, the ego is getting crushed under Vajrayogini’s foot! I’m sure the ego has something to say about this…”I surrender,” maybe? Or “get the fuck off me,” depending upon how its day is going.
PM: Are you guys working on anything new? I hear you are just about to play your first live show on the 28th of May, getting pumped for it? (If you answer this after the show please tell us about it).
Don: We had our first live show several weeks ago, and the May 28th gig was our CD release show. We had a great turnout, good audience response, and we’re already getting more shows lined up as a result. I think we had a lot of intense energy happening on stage – definitely a performance we all felt great about. We love playing live – there’s nothing like it!
We’ve written 3 new songs since releasing Six Walls, and are working on a fourth right now. I think our songs are getting even heavier, but we’re also mixing in a little bit more in terms of rhythmic and melodic variation while trying to keep that primitive, tribal-esque feel.
PM: I want to wish you all the best with Deadly Light and I really looking forward to hearing where you guys go next.
Max: Many, many sincere thanks for the kind words and for taking the time to write to us!
Want to check out more on Deadly Light? Check out their website @ http://www.deadlylightmusic.com and check out what Rod Meade Sperry, from The Worst Horse and Shambhala Sunspace had to say about the band.