Dead Animal Assembly Plant Interview

Dennis: How did the band come together?

Zach: I’ve always been a total drama dork and into all things horror. So when I was taught enough to haphazardly maneuver my way through DAWs, I knew I wanted to incorporate a theatrical element to the whole presentation. So from the onset, I had a rough idea of character development, but in terms of performing it needed as much of a live element as possible. That’s when it made the leap from a solo project to a band. Cobbled together, we managed to do our first live show in March of 2011.

Over the years we’ve had band members come and go and I appreciate the mark each member left. There’s always more expanding and evolution… never getting too comfortable in one way. It started as just a fever dream and I feel very honored to still be doing it – for what we’ve been able to accomplish and the support we’ve had over the years.

Dennis: It is definitely great to see the realization of your goals and the band look and sound great too! You’ve all been doing great work! What is the band’s mission/vision?

Zach: We’re here to give y’all a horrific good time! Here at the slaughterhouse, all are welcome and when you’re here – you’re a fellow butcher – you’re family.

Dennis: Very cool. I can just imagine what Thanksgiving dinner would look like with the family preparing for dinner in a slaughterhouse. Quite the scene. Ha..!

Zach: We want to give people an experience… put something back into the great ether because music and art..at some point…saved all of us. It’s important to share in that experience.

Dennis: Definitely! Do you have a leader or does everyone have a say in the band direction?

Zach: We don’t really have any designated leader. We are a true collaborative effort and everyone has an equal say. Which isn’t to say sometimes I don’t do things and ask for forgiveness later haha.

Dennis: Ha ha! Well hey, sometimes you’ve gotta, right?

Zach: Usually though it’s something to benefit the band as a whole and not the individual. We all operate on our own in some capacity and will present ideas to the group.

Dennis: As long as it is working, that is all that matters. What are the rest of the band’s musical backgrounds?

Zach: I’d say the most common denominator is a history in playing aggressive music – in whatever form that takes at the time. Eric (aka Zero) played in numerous bands in the past and was involved in a number of other projects. He has a great ear for hooks and super guitar driven composition. Jason (aka Skorn) has been a drummer for decades and again has been in a number of projects including a Sepultura tribute band. He just kills it and is so intense on stage. In fact, when he joined DAAP he had to – more or less – slow and strip down his intensity to follow the ebb n flow of the songs. I understand it is difficult to pull back when you are just used to just blasting the kit the whole time, but his incredible drumming skills definitely elevated our live performances and has made us feel more comfortable pushing the studio work as well. Nick (Nix) has a stronger punk background and brings that undying energy into everything he does. For Rebecca (Buzz), DAAP is the first band she was apart of, but she’s been writing songs and playing the guitar since she was a kid.

Dennis: Nice! I can relate on to Skorn having been in a speed metal band myself, the aggression fuels the speed, etc. For the image of the band, do you each have a consistent look? Or do you change things up often?

Zach: We’re all a little ADD when it comes to our looks. We’re always looking to change things up and not stay too stagnant on one particular look…make up style..etc. Yet we want the changes to feel natural and not forced. Wearing the outfit and not letting the outfit wear you. We all help each other develop our characters, but really everyone does take ownership of their characters…I think it means more if you feel like it’s an extension of you as opposed to something decided for you.

Dennis: How do you set yourselves apart in both your image and sound?

Zach: Obviously masked/make up/theatrical bands are nothing new and we aren’t sitting here stroking ourselves pretending to be trailblazers. We all have loads of influences, but we work hard at making it our own. Something personal and not just a carbon copy. There’s a rich history of theater and music going back thousands of years and for us we just want to continue pushing that. Pushing ourselves to see what we can do next. I guess we focus less on ‘how do we make ourselves different from this band or that’ but how do we make ourselves the most DAAP-esque as we can.

We don’t want to try to compare or compete, but just push ourselves to continue to grow and create. When you start looking at other bands or get fixated on what someone else is doing then you can lose sight. There’s an inherent competitive nature that unfortunately hurts the community because it makes people bitter or petty. There’s a lot you can learn from other bands no matter what your personal feelings are about them. In the end, you just have to push yourself…don’t get too complacent with your look or sound. And don’t get too preoccupied with whatever everyone else is doing or thinks of your art.

Dennis: How has the band managed shows and touring and now these pandemic days, what is the band doing to stay busy, marketable and profitable?

Zach: We are currently managed by Todd Adkins of Surreal Entertainment. In the past he’s helped us put together tours and get contacts we previously didn’t have. There is a blended approach of his assistance and a degree of self management. In that we still – on our own – reach out for endorsements, explore PR avenues, and build up relationships from all aspects of the entertainment industry. We’ve all been staving off madness in our own ways…delving back into other areas of art. Profitable..that’s a whole other story haha. It’s a business but it’s also a labor of love. It’s a good thing we do have our “normal” jobs because it does help fund our musical endeavors.

As far as marketability – this goes back to your previous question about setting ourselves apart. We strive to create something unique and memorable – from the sound to the imagery. I think that’s part of being perceived as marketable. You want to give people something they can associate with or be drawn to in some way. People deserve a show from start to finish whether they are at home listening or at a show. You have to sell the idea of yourself to people and give them reasons to keep coming back. There are a million bands out there. A million distractions. What reason are you giving people to believe in what you’re doing? First, you have to believe in it and market yourself [to] yourself… what do you want to see? What do you want to hear? Go from there.

Dennis: Well said! Yes, these days, it is all about making that connection with the fans, not an easy task to say the least. I would say the hardest part is maintaining the balance between being yourself, coming up with something that is an extention of your vision and yet not going too far that could be perceived as gimmicky. Does anyone have any background with management?

Zach: No. No one has any formal management training and it’s been a learning process, which is both exciting and frustrating. Because there’s a lot in terms of connections and communication that admittedly we lack, but we try not to get discouraged and find out how to work through the complex and shady labyrinth of the industry.

Dennis: Well, you have a great brand that you’ve created with your band and as long as you’re able to stay away from the shady aspects of the industry, you’ll get a lot of on the job training with it just by your experiences. Hopefully, you can find some time during the pandemic to read up on this though too. Who are the chief songwriters?

Zach: Currently, it really has become of a collaborative effort. It really is a song by song basis. Someone will come up with a riff and then we’ll build on that. I generally write the lyrics and perhaps have some really rough foundation of a song, but the songs seldom end the way they started. It makes the process more dynamic when people are able to put in their own pieces; their own personality fragments. Eric and I have worked the longest together in the band in terms of writing music so we do have a pretty solid connection. If there’s a looming deadline or something we need to hammer out we can usually get something out pretty fast. In the end though, it’s important that everyone feels happy with what we’re putting out.

Dennis: Does the band have any limitations on what you’ll write about or does anything go?

photo by Nichole Montana

Zach: Anything pretty much goes, we don’t want to completely pigeonhole ourselves into one genre or lyrical theme. There does need to be some cohesion, but when you give yourself that freedom, that element does come somewhat naturally. Conceptually most of the songs come about organically. We generally don’t sit down and say “hey let’s write a song about monsters…” More so there’s just a spark of a concept that we continue to unravel. Yet we all share the same cynical view of things, so I doubt you’ll see any songs about sunshine and lollipops anytime soon (storm clouds and chainsaws maybe haha.)

Dennis: Ha! How many shows would you say the band has under its belt?

Zach: Shows? Yikes…not sure I can really throw out an exact number. I will say for the first several years of the band we played mostly in the pacific northwest, therefore, we didn’t play as often. We didn’t want to saturate everyone and become one of those local bands that plays every month. You need to build some excitement and when you play the same area too often people get bored.

Dennis: Exactly, every show should be a special event that everyone needs to be a part of. Have you toured a lot before the pandemic?

Zach: Yes we’ve done a few smaller west coast tours in 2017/2018. In 2019 we embarked on our longest tour. The Bring Out The Dead Tour….6 weeks grinding on the road in our big blue bitch of a bus. I still don’t know how we managed to drive that thing from Portland, OR clear to Richmond, VA and then looping all the way back. It’s still a surreal adventure in hindsight and all the wacky things we did. It was rough…we never knew when we’d breakdown. How far we would go. We just focused on getting to the next show. Before we knew it we had made it back home. Still crazy to think about.

We cannot wait to get back out there. There’s nothing really like it. It’s like existing between realities.

Dennis: How does the band approach social media? Do you have one person to handle it or do you all work on it?

Zach: For the most part, I handle the social media. In terms of posting or starting PR campaigns, but Rebecca (Buzz) is our graphic designer, so she helps with making flyers and the vast majority of our art. Yet, let me tell you – I am not opposed to having a social media manager, cuz that stuff is draining.

Dennis: Yeah, Buzz’s graphic work has been incredible! I can also agree to the amount of work involved for social media, you have to plan out what to post, when to post it, monitor the post, rinse and repeat to keep building the audience for each social site. Very time consuming. Has COVID-19 given the band any inspirations with the extra time to write anything you may not have if the pandemic wasn’t happening?

Zach: It’s forced us to slow down which has helped in continuing to learn more studio techniques, exploration of compositions, and we have some really exciting collaborations coming up. There’s no shortage of horrific inspiration in the world these days. Especially living in one of those eeeeeevvvviiillll ANTIFA “Anarchist” cities *cue foreboding music*. The real monsters are people. We’re reminded of that everyday. The real horror show is the violent oppression of citizens. The cultivation of virulent hate. That isn’t some abstract concept we see on the news from some other country. It’s right outside our doors.

Dennis: And these days, the monsters have been multiplying more and more each day. Hey, there is a song title for you…. “Monsters are multiplying”… you’re welcome! Ha! Just kidding, of course. Have you been able to lay out a plan with this time for the band once things return to normal?

Zach: There were a lot of emotions we had to traverse as this pandemic unfolded, but now we’re getting our heads back into it. The plan is to get the album out and then hopefully shortly thereafter start hitting the road to support it. Even if it’s in a limited capacity. It’s scary though because of the incredible failings of the federal/local governments on supporting the arts. So many wonderful venues have been forced to close. Whatever normal looks like when the dust settles..we’ll still be here to bring the noise.

Dennis: I have heard nothing about any support for the arts during this pandemic and while I understand people are struggling to put food on the table, they also cannot let the arts die either. What do you hope to accomplish once things are back?

Zach: We just want to keep playing live. Doing more tours. We’ve done independent tours up to this point so it would be great to be able to tour with a bigger band. More festivals. Get the slaughterhouse over the pond and play Europe and Asia. This has shown us that our whole of life can get turned upside in the blink of an eye. There’s no time to slow down or make excuses. Let’s ride this runaway burning train into the inferno baby!

Dennis: Overseas tours would definitely make a big impact for the band. What is one thing you would like your fans to come away with when listening to your music?

Zach: Music has always been a way to reach people you’ve never met. A way to share in an emotion..a memory..an experience. Music lets you have a conversation with someone when you aren’t there. It understands you when no one else does. It gives you permission to cry or be angry without judgment. Music has always done that for us and we hope on some level we’re able to give that back. Whether it’s just to have fun and not think about things for a while, or to realize that you aren’t alone and there are total strangers out there that feel the same way you do. Life is a strange journey and we want to take it with y’all.

Dennis: And what a long, strange trip its been too! Just kidding. Do you have anything else you’d like to share with us?

Zach: No matter who you are and what your beliefs are…be safe. Be healthy. It’s ok to be angry – to be scared. Don’t let it consume you. Let’s get through this and we will see you back out there. Cuz when you’re in that moment and the music takes over…nothing else matters.

Dennis: Thanks so much for your time Zach! Have a good one and stay safe!

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Biography:

The Sweet Meats Slaughterhouse was founded in 1895 by Wilhelm Schröder. Internationally known for his advances in industrialized butchery…he produced 30% of the meats consumed in the United States. In 1915 tragedy struck the small town he called home when all the livestock took some unexplained fatal disease. The ever resourceful Schröder turned to the only available meat. The townsfolk. When they discovered the terrible truth – they enacted their own form of justice. Feeding the once prolific Schröder to his own machines. The Sweet Meats Slaughterhouse remained eerily quiet and vacant..until one night…horrible noises resembling music emanated from the dank hallways.

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