Demon Hunter just recently dropped their latest offering, True Defiance, via Solid State Records. I had a chance to talk history, 2012 tour plans, the new record and more. Check out what vocalist Ryan Clark had to say over our email chat.
Demon Hunter has been going strong for 12 years now. You guys have seen many member changes. Following the same story of say Petra, Newsboys, etc. Will you guys be willing to do DH as longer as God continues to open doors?
Absolutely. I see no end in sight for the band at this point. We still love being in this band.
The name of the band is a pretty bold name. When people hear it there is no doubt in their mind you guys are a Christian band. How did this name come to be?
Honestly, we were jokingly throwing out band names one day, and it just came out. We liked it so much, we decided to run with it. We knew it would be the kind of name people would remember. In some ways, the name itself was the catalyst for the band. Once we had the name, we got serious about making the whole thing happen.
Most bands in your status usually move up to a bigger label. Like Sleeping Giant’s recent move from Facedown to ANGR/Century Media or For Today’s move from Facedown to Razor & Tie. Yet, you guys have stayed with Solid State for all these years. Do you ever plan on moving up on labels? Or are you guys’ home at Solid State?
Our relationship with the label is unlike any other bands’. Not only have I been in 3 bands signed to the label, over the past 17 years, but I’ve been working as art director and lead designer in the label’s art department for 11 years. Needless to say, we have a connection here that goes beyond the norm. I can play a much bigger part in the marketing aspects of the band because I work 15 feet from the marketing department. I can control every aspect of the band’s aesthetic presence, even on the label side, because I’m the one doing it. Perks like this would be hard to find elsewhere.
When you guys first came out, your promotional pictures found you guys hiding your identity. Like your label mates, Oh Sleeper during their When I Am God era. Was this the idea of Demon Hunter or your record label at the time?
This was our idea. Nothing to do with the presentation of the band, be it aesthetically or musically speaking, has ever been an idea or suggestion of the label.
We didn’t want to be bound to pre-conceived notions about the band because of our previous endeavors. Demon Hunter was nothing like Training For Utopia (mine and my brother’s band before DH) so we didn’t want every review to compare the two. We wanted to tread our own path.
Additionally, it was a way to create some interest and get people’s attention. Withholding information is one of the best ways to get people intrigued.
Your last record, The World is a Thorn, had one of the best tour lineups I seen in forever to support that album. You guys had Sleeping Giant, Inhale/Exhale and A Bullet for Pretty Boy. Now your new album, True Defiance, just dropped. Can you give us an insight as to who may play the True Defiance tour?
It will be the same lineup, save for Jeremiah Scott on guitar in place of Ryan Helm. Yogi, Jon, Patrick and I are all still rocking.
Speaking of which, what can fans expect from True Defiance?
True Defiance is definitely a Demon Hunter record. We stay true to the overall concept and aesthetic of the band. However, we are pushing ourselves on this record, so you will hear an increase in technicality, speed, range… it’s DH on 11.
Now, every record means something to every songwriter. What does True Defiancemean to you?
The overarching theme of the record is to do with an attitude of unapologetic steadfastness- getting stronger and more assured in my faith, the older I get.
Ryan, you recently took center stage on a song for Impending Doom’s newest album, Baptized in Filth, for “My Light Unseen.” Was that weird taking center stage for another band outside of Demon Hunter?
I’ve done a lot of guest vocals on friends’ records. This one was a little different because I’m doing vocals throughout the majority of the song, and they’re the lead vocal, as opposed to backups. I had a lot of fun doing it, and I think it came out really well.
You guys have toured with a lot of really good acts. As I Lay Dying, The Great Commission, Haste the Day, etc. Are they any friends or newer bands you guys would like to tour with in 2012?
No new bands come to mind. I’m not particularly fond of most current metal. I’d like to tour with Soilwork, Scar Symmetry or someone like that. I think those bands would mesh well with what we do.
The sound of Demon Hunter has developed a lot over these long 12 years. Do your influences change with them?
Some influences have been introduced over the past decade, but most of the “core” influences have remained the same. My tastes for heavy metal exist mostly in the 90s.
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Demon Hunter has experienced a good bit of success in both Christian and secular markets. What’s the biggest thing to happen in your career because of this?
It’s always nice to have support from both sides. We’ve been very blessed in that way. Support from Christian fans usually means a connection beyond the music, deeper into the lyrics and beliefs of the band. And support from non-Christian fans usually means an appreciation and respect despite those things. Both are important to have. We don’t want to preach to the choir, but we also don’t want to alienate the like-minded.
Last December it was announced that Ryan Helm, your rhythm guitarist from 2010-2011, left to do a solo project. In a statement following this announced he said “was inevitable; however, it was on good terms.” Do you guys know any details about his solo project, Damien Deadson?
Damien Deadson is something Ryan has been working on even before he joined DH, so he’s been invested in that for a while. We wish him the best.
Again, returning to the release of your sixth album, True Defiance. It seems a lot of your albums feature guest vocals from friends and talented vocalists. Who can we find turning up on this new album?
There are no guests on this album. We kind of reached the summit, nabbing both Speed and Christian on the last record… so it’s hard to know where to go from there.
What are plans to do in support of True Defiancethis summer? Festivals, tours, music videos?
We’ll be announcing some summer tour dates soon. Stay tuned for that.
“My Destiny” was the first single to be released with a music video from True Defiance. I have to ask, what is the story behind the skaters for the storyline of this video?
The skateboarders represent us as kids… growing up in suburbia, getting into trouble, hanging with friends, skating, discovering new music. This was a common thread for all of us in the band… and “My Destiny” is about those years.
Aaron Sprinkle has produced all six of your albums. Most artists usually do like two or three from the same producer and move onto the next. Why have you continued to go back to him after all these years?
Aaron understands our vision. When we’re in the studio, Aaron becomes a member of the band. We trust him. Many of the details you hear throughout a Demon Hunter record are Aaron’s ideas. Most importantly, he has an incredible understanding of vocal melody and harmony, which is an invaluable asset for us.
Last but certainly, not least. In the video for “My Destiny”, Ryan is supporting a pretty awesome beard. How long did it take to actually grow that thing out? Please tell me you don’t have any plans of shaving that thing. Someone has to give John Wand (bassist from A Plea for Purging) some competition (haha).
Too late. I already shaved it. I was growing it for 16 months. I needed a change.