Artiest: Done Dying
Geïnterviewden: Dan O'Mahony, Mike Hartsfield, Chris Lohmann, Kevin Panter
Interview afgenomen op: Groezrock
Label: Reaper Records
Op de tweede festivaldag van het Meerhoutse festival Groezrock had ik de eer om de hardcore mannen van Done Dying te interviewen. En hoe onbekend ze ook zijn, deze mannen hebben hun eigen soort hardcore gecreëerd in de jaren dat ze bestaan. Festivalblog mocht een interview afleggen met de gehele band, namelijk zanger Dan O’Mahony, gitarist Mike Hartsfield, bassist Chris Lohmann en drummer Kevin Panter.
Hi! Welcome to the interview with Festivalblog. It’s an honor to interview such a great band as yours. It’s one of your third times that you’ve been in Europe, no?
Dan: Some of us, yeah.
Mike: Yeah, the first time as in this band.
Well, can you tell me something about Done Dying?
Dan: Well, we’ve all known each other for more than 20 years. But we’ve never been all in the same band at the same time. The way I look at it, we were all going in sort of hitting a stage of life where things are getting harder and not easier. And I think we’re the kind of people that if we are going to get tough, we make noise. And we are creative people, I think we are all musicians by nature and at the time we weren’t making that kind of music and surely not together, so we’ve thought about it, like a little bit. So we jumped into it with two feet and it happened very fast ‘cause we needed it. We needed some kind of release during hard times.
What kind of music did you make before Done Dying?
Mike: Same stuff.
Dan: Different variations in hardcore, but we’ve all done a lot of hardcore.
Is there a reason than you came into hardcore? Where did you find your inspiration?
Dan: Well, that’s maybe separate from each other.
Mike: Yeah, I mean, you stick with what you love. It’s where you want to be.
Are there any bands that have an influence on your work then?
Mike: It’s the stuff that we grew up with. We haven’t reinvented the wheel, but we’ve done what we love. It’s our interpretation of...
Dan: I think we are reflecting a couple of key periods from growing up into hardcore, but not keeping the ends. I mean, there’s a lot of late 80’s in our sound, there’s a little early 80’s in there. I think that means it represents the times that we are just kids. And probably the type of hardcore world the best we’ve had, because it’s been in our lives the longest.
Kevin: We are not teenagers anymore. Same sound that we’ve liked when we are 15 years old, but the message of being so old as we are now.
Chris: Filtering after 20 years of music. It’s impossible to put one or several bands together, it’s just a mix.
In what for bands were you before Done Dying?
Dan: They are small bands, famous in basement music (laughs). The band of mine that people may know about is the band that we've called No For An Answer and there were others as well. My relationship with Chris goes back to the time that I had a small record label and he was putting his records out, like he was in a band called Black Spot and Kevin and I were in a band that called Speak 714.
Chris: Kevin and I were in a band that called Collateral Damage.
Mike: Oh, and I was in a band that called Outspoken and I was in Strife for a couple of years. I ran also New Age Records for a couple of decades.
Well, for another question then, you are not very famous in Europe, but what did you think about the show today?
Dan: Yeah, we are a very new band with very old men (laughs). We’ve played 3 shows in the last 3 days. They couldn’t be more different and there was something great about all of these shows. We’ve played for maybe 200, maybe 300 people today. It was fantastic and they had a sense of humour. But they also really liked it that we had something to say. We’ve played last night at a small club where there was like a 100 people. They liked the way we relaxed. We’ve played for 10.000 people on the first show and that seemed to be a whole place with love for our music. There was a different reason each night, but it was every night a beautiful thing. Today, I’m not crazy for corperated sponsorship in a festival, but that will not say that I’m against it. It’s just not my favorite event to play, so it was a relief that that tent was filled with such good natured sweet people.
Do you prefer a club show then?
Dan: I even like it to be freaking big.
Dan: So you can stand on the stage and you will feel like Moses.
Mike: The show we played in Berlin, none of us ever played a show half as big as that. And when we got up there we’ve just kinda looked out and there were so many people. I usually get stressed out before we play and I couldn’t even comprehend all of the people so I didn’t even stress out.
Dan: The weird thing about really big shows is that the crowd becomes so largic it can be threatening. It’s not a scary thing anymore, it’s a big beast..
Kevin: If you see the bands of today, the different genres, the different people, and represent them all together it is refreshing.
Mike: And for us to even have a shot playing these places..
Dan: Yeah, we are really giving a lot because of our history from years ago. I mean, no band have played such few shows as we have. And now we are here in one of the best rooms and with one of the best line-ups for any other stages for the whole weekend. I mean, fuck it, I think it pays to pay your dues.
Dan: No one should to do something for 25 till 30 years and not show some respect for it. We are doing this band less than a year and we are just playing some of the biggest festivals in the world.
Mike: Yeah, this is our fifth show ever as a band. (laughs). Yeah, we played twice at home and we came here and we’ve played 3 shows and it’s like, we’ve officially played more shows in Europe then in our country.
Dan: And we’ve working on our third record. (laughs hard)
Mike: For a long time, we’ve played the show with 2 records, 2 LPs. We’re like a little out of order.
Can you tell me then something about the differences and the similarities about your 2 EPs ‘Shelf Life’ and ‘Dress For Distress’ ?
Dan: I don’t think we see the differences, everybody else does. They were written and recorded very close together and engineered by the same guy in the same studio.
Mike: I don’t think there was a progression period because it all was written so closely.
Dan: Some songs were weeks apart.
Chris: They were written on the same time. We had songs they were on the re-release. We’ve recorded them, but we already knew them.
Dan: The fourth song on the EP-release, was the second song we’ve ever wrote. The fourth song on the second record was the first second song we’ve ever wrote.
Mike: Yeah, it was kinda like what balanced out more and what was somehow a progression in our way. It was all very similar and all very us, but we split up songs in the way the songs balanced with each other. And we made faster and slower songs and that’s how we worked the EPs out.
Dan: We’ve agreed to do a record for a friends label and at the same time we’ve got an interest from another label and we are in a very lucky position to do both. That’s what happened.
Will there be a next album?
Well, a really different question. The hardcore in 2014 is really different than the hardcore in the 80’s and 90’s. How do you think about this? Do you think that hardcore nowadays is not gonna survive the next 20 years?
Dan: It’s not ours. It’s theirs. It’s younger people hardcore and if they were trying to be like us it would be pitifull. And if we are trying to be like them it would be more pitifull.
(Kevin en Mike laugh)
Dan: There are similarities, they are a tight group like we are. You back up your brothers and your sisters. But in our days it was new and it hadn’t a history like in the hardcore nowadays. The one thing that I have to say about hardcore is that we must keep it about something, do not just sing about the music or the band is singing about other bands, that’s just so wrong. You know when we came into this music, there were many bands that are writing and singing about the government and the war about drugs. That’s a very rare thing and a very important thing as well, to be voiceless and then to make us access this music and to do not only bring a voice, but also make noise. People need to share their lines and make up their minds in all the gifts that hardcore gives.
Can you tell me then something about the lyrics in Done Dying?
Dan: We’ve use a lot of reggae stuff (laughs)
(Mike laughs hard!)
Dan: No, we write a lot about money and financial situations and other family responsibilities. Because that’s at the point that we are in life. I think all bands, unless the bands that are really just for entertainment, I think they should tell the story about there own lives. So that’s what’s happening here.
Mike: It’s fine, because reflecting back when guys that were in their 20's, hardcore was just an outlet of frustration and anger. And it’s funny, because now we need hardcore more than ever, ‘cause we have death and families and pressures and life and jobs and careers. Like we’ve got life pressures.
Dan: There’s more to scream about now than in the last 20 years.
Well, I think that you saw a lot on the 5 shows that you’ve did. What’s the craziest thing that you ever did on stage?
Yes, did. Haha!
Dan: Why is everyone looking at me? Well, I really hugged a sweating, disgusting man today.
(Mike and Chris laugh hard!)
Dan: I licked a tough man’s neck last night, because he was annoying me.
Mike: I didn’t even know about that.
Dan: There was one kid that was hitting everyone in the face with his elbow at people and he told everyone that I wanted to give him a kiss. And I said ‘Yeah, come on’. And he was like ‘Naaaaah’.
Mike: I think the craziest thing is standing in front of 10.000 people, waiting for you to play on the third show ever.
Kevin: I agree with that!
Mike: It’s just surreal.
Dan: It’s been amazing for all of us, and for all of the people that are coming up and that are really older guys. There are not a lot of women, but that’s just the tragedy in the hardcore. But it’s really satisfied if they come up to you and they know you in shows of the 90’s. And it’s really satisfying how many close friends or many people where we work with for decades are coming up to our shows and work. When people we grew up with and are really looking up to are standing in front of the stage and they are looking like you are the hero, that’s like ‘what has happened here?’ Again, I think that it takes some effort to do something like this that we do on stage but at the same time we are really seeing some unusual awards for us.
Maybe a personal question, but is there something that you wanna do all over in your life?
Mike: Well, maybe starting this band a few years ago.
Chris: I think we have the average things of regrets.
Dan: This is a good question. Not easy to answer this.
Dan: You are asking a question that each member of Done Dying can answer you for 20 minutes long (laughs).
Chris: I really wanted to ask you how many space you have on your recorder?
Chris: Okay, then we can go talk behind the back in a minute or two.
Dan: In reality, I didn’t write or publish a song in like 15 years, from 1999 to this year and that was incredibly stupid. I’ve got into journalism and went political, I did something on websites for show speaking things. I organized small things and it was all into nature, just the same in hardcore, but at the end of the day I’m just fine with those things and I’m good at it. So it will be stupid to drop the ball.
Kevin: I think I regret to take not many chances in hardcore and playing it safe. This is the first time that I ever went to Europe with a band. I guess I was arrogant. I felt like I deserved it ‘cause all my friends went to Europe and were playing shows and I was waiting for my chance to come and I regret now for not maybe leaving and just taking the risk. I took the easy road. I wished I pushed myself a little bit harder and doing something with guys that made me feel good.
Is Done Dying referring to all of your bad decisions in life?
Dan: No, that name is a reference to deciding that it's enough of letting the bad things happen and letting it squeeze out of you. Not doing it, is like surrender. Screaming reference to fighting back.
Okay. For the last question. Can you describe Done Dying in 3 words?
Mike: Done Dying Here.
No, not your name!
Dan: Truly, I’m so happy with a bandname that represents everything for us. So no, 3 words not gonna do it for me.
Well, okay then. Thank you for this interview. Can we do a picture?
Dan: No, the camera can break then. And you won’t want that! (laughs hard). But yeah sure, it was a great interview, thank you!