~ A View From Towers To Unknown Hooded Phantoms ~
~ Interview mit Gitarrist Dave Boyd ~
Kennt ihr das? Wenn bei Fachsimpeleien der magische Name TWISTED TOWER DIRE fällt, ertönt ein Raunen um euch herum und wildfremde (gibt es die eigentlich noch auf einschlägigen Festivals?), nette Menschen hängen sich wie Tauchsieder in das laufende Gespräch und erklären dir, warum dieses oder jenes Album der Nicht-Jungfrauen aus Virginia für immer ein Platz in ihrem Herzen haben wird.
Ich kenne ehrlich gesagt niemanden, der mit KEINEM Album der Amerikaner was anfangen kann, eher treffe ich auf Dedikation, Verzückung und wahre Liebe. Ein Grund mehr, mit dem diesmal Hauptverantwortlichen Dave Boyd ein Frage-Antwortspiel auf Fanebene zu machen, nachdem Scott Waldrop mir zuletzt schon bereitwillig alle Infos zu seinem geistigen Kind WALPYRGUS offenbart hatte.
Let’s get started with some information about the new album.
‚Wars Into The Unknown‘ is definitely a return to the typical TWISTED TOWER DIRE-style before ‚Make It Dark‘. It’s been a while since then and I think the WALPYRGUS record felt like a consequent follow up to musical influences on your latest record and gave Scott the opportunity to put in all the ideas that would have brought T.T.D. too far away from its own musical identity. So what happened between ‚M.I.D.‘ and now?
You pretty much got it right concerning WALPYRGUS and ‘Make It Dark’. Scott’s always been the principal songwriter for T.T.D. and we all loved ‘M.I.D.’, but he wanted to push it even further with future music. He wanted to channel his “inner Ramones“ and go even more melodic and „catchy“. This was the main purpose of forming WALPYRGUS. As time went on, he was afraid that our styles would be too similar if he wrote the next album, so he asked me to work on some material. I had helped with songwriting in the past, but nothing as big as this. I didn’t even know if I could do something that we all liked, but a few demos later it seemed to be working. I began by listening to our whole catalog and deciding what I liked best about the songs and tried to channel that into new songs. I guess it worked out alright?! I wrote most of the music, Scott wrote most of the lyrics and Jim (Hunter – bass – also OCTOBER 31, WALPYRGUS, WHILE HEAVEN WEPT) and I did lyrics on a few songs. We’re all very pleased and hope everyone else is too!
I am no Prophet, but I would lose my complete trust in the german metal scene – as far as we’re talking about the ‚KEEP IT TRUE-and festivals-like-this-people‘ – if ‚Wars Into The Unknown‘ shouldn’t kick in and ‚Tear You Apart‘ like ‚The Thundering‘ of the ‚True North‘ – to describe my feelings with the first three new titles of the album. No THIN LIZZY, no diverting epic parts – just pure US-Metal in its most origin form. Extremely well done! A lot of my friends also liked ‚M.I.D.‘ and WALPYRGUS after that (it is no secret that I was hooked immediately when Tom Philips played the first recordings in his car around 1 ½ years before it actually was released – man it was like being back in school!) but other real old TWISTED TOWER DIRE fans had a hard time to get used to this change. But I think both kind of dudes will embrace the new one after a much too long eight year T.T.D. soberness period!
Thanks so much, I’m glad you like it!!! You can’t please everyone, but we’re hoping most TWISTED TOWER DIRE fans embrace it at face value. I love THIN LIZZY and diverting metal parts, but this was my first attempt at writing a bunch of songs and I tried to keep it simple. I fully expected us to add parts and make arrangement changes, but everyone liked the songs, so we kept everything more or less as I arranged it. After I wrote ,The Thundering’ and ‘These Ghosts Can Never Leave’ the rest just kind of came out. It almost wrote itself, but it still required a lot of trial and error and good decisions. I had some earlier ideas that were very thrashy and I either changed them or abandoned them. ‘The Beast I Fear’ and ‘Tear You Apart’ still have a thrash edge, but I left it at that so we’d have a more rounded album. I guess it does come across as a „pure“ US Metal album, but I was just trying to make a decent T.T.D. album!
And I can only assure you and everybody else here once more: You nailed it! I propose turning up the stereo to eleven – as we know that a powerful metal album deserves it…or even better LIVE! That brings me to only logical next question with a hint of personal hope: You surely get out now to kick some ass on stage over there around your area. Tell us about plans concerning that and if there is possibility to see you here again soon? I think it’s been a while since KEEP IT TRUE (2007) – Jim Hunter just came back from some WHILE HEAVEN WEPT farewell (Never say never!) Gigs in Europe. What about the rest of the gang?
Thanks so much! Right now all we have booked is the LEGIONS OF METAL FESTIVAL in Chicago. We’d love to make a trip to Europe and play a festival – or a few of them. We probably can’t make it a full tour, but we love Europe and playing these festivals is pure magic! I haven’t been in Europe since VOLTURE played KEEP IT TRUE in 2012 – I miss it!
Haha, a very good hint. I’ve just been watching the TWISTED TOWER DIRE gig from 2007 and the VOLTURE gig from 2012 on the K.I.T. DVDs. Scott quit drinkin’, started with running and lost quite some pounds, you can see that extremely. Five years later you really kicked some ass with VOLTURE! Most of our friends were extremely fond of the outstanding vocal performance of Brent Hubbard (it was him, right?). Speaking of extraordinary singers I don’t want to stab into old wounds but your die hard fans will always remember and miss Tony Taylor who died in a motorcycle accident (as far as I know) – rest in peace, man. Why did he leave the band before and is it true that ‘Make It Dark’ was kind of dedicated to him?
Scott definitely cleaned up his act! I think seeing pics from this show was one of the tipping points that convinced him it was time to change. I’m very proud of him, he seems well balanced and happy now. Yeah, Brent Hubbard was singing at the VOLTURE K.I.T. show. He’s pretty amazing! He can hit those super high notes but can also impersonate Bruce Dickinson, Glen Danzig and others on stage. Pretty impressive…!
Right around the time we were recording ‘Netherworlds’ Tony was dealing with a lot of personal problems. We weren’t sure what to do but we decided we needed to do something. We decided to ask him to take a leave of absence from the band until he could get back on track. He couldn’t handle that option so he just quit. It was a very difficult meeting and I regret how we left things. He moved to Florida soon after and continued performing, right up until the day of the accident. He was riding home from a gig when it happened. Jonny (Aune – also WALPYRGUS, VIPER) took over at that point and the rest is history. We couldn’t replace Tony as a singer or a friend, but Jonny has done a fantastic job and we’re extremely lucky to have such a talented singer and friend who puts up with us old men. His vocal tracks on the new album are incredible! Of course we dedicated ‘M.I.D.’ to Tony and we still miss him. Rest in peace brother, cheers and metal!
You seem to have a new cover artist. Tell us something about the idea behind that and what is your personal favourite T.T.D. record compared to the new one? And last but not least – is there anything left to say about the lyrics and who wrote them? (Metal alzheimers already hits me, when I reread your first answer – but anyway)
The super talented Martin Hanford did this latest cover and he’s actually done most of our album covers. I think the only one he didn’t do was the original cover for ‘The Curse Of Twisted Tower’, but he did a revised version for the re-release. Also, he did the outline work for ‘Make It Dark’ and Marc’s (Stauffer – DRUMS – also DIVISION) wife Beth did the coloring. We gave him a vague idea of what we wanted for ‘Wars Into The Unknown’ and let him run with it. I think we said „include a hooded figure with a burning sword, desolate surroundings, werewolves“. It’s a little less complicated than our other covers, but I think it compliments the album well.
I think ‘The Isle of Hydra’ is my favorite T.T.D. record before this release. It’s the first one I was involved with at all during the writing process and the songs are raw but recorded well. It’s just a straightforward recording and the tunes are pretty killer! Kevin 131 recorded that one and also mixed ‘W.I.T.U.’, maybe that has something to do with it as well.
Scott wrote the majority of the lyrics and Jim and I each wrote the lyrics for two tracks. I did ‘A Howl In The Wind’ and ‘The Beast I Fear’ and Jim did ‘Eons Beyond’ and ‘Tear You Apart’. I think they all turned out great! I don’t dabble much in writing lyrics, but I had ideas for those two tracks and decided to take a crack at it. I always wanted to write a song about bigfoot and that opening riff for ‘A Howl In The Wind’ reminded me of a knuckle dragging giant so I thought, hmmmm…this might be the one!
I see…NOW. Although ‚Netherworlds‘ is very different with this mysterious FATES WARNING atmosphere, ‚Crest Of The Martyrs‘ shows the love for graveyards & tombstones maybe also some guys involved in WALPYRGUS have and ‚M.I.D.‘ with its fantastic comic style and the violet dressed chick could go back to the bonded witch (?) on ‚The Curse Of Twisted Tower‘. Looking closer at those first two covers (as they are now) you’ll definitely recognize the similarity of Martins style compared to the new one. Especially the return to the artful logo of ‚The Isle Of Hydra‘ and – wait a minute! Damn, the hooded figure in the back of ‚T.C.O.T.T.’ … is it HIM in a new cloak? Haha, seems to be a lot hints to the old stuff – not only the powerful songs. Sorry – I am totally into art & comics, so I had to examine that more nerdy.
We certainly like mysterious hooded figures! We didn’t intentionally include one on the new cover to tie back to the earlier albums. It must have been subconscious or seemed like the obvious thing to do. The song ‘Light The Swords On Fire’ describes some murderous marauders who wield the burning swords and that figure is supposed to be one of them. We talked about including all of the characters from all of the songs on the cover, but I think we thought that would be a bit much. Bigfoot, sharks, the cave beast, cloaked figures … well, it actually might have been killer, haha! We’re all nerds and some of us are artists (Jim and Scott), so we definitely like the process of working on concepts for the album covers and seeing it come to life. I remember seeing the original ‘The Curse Of Twisted Tower’ cover for the first time and wondering why my character was wearing a skirt, haha! It’s all in good fun and Martin always delivers something that’s high quality and entertaining to see.
You got some final words to your german fans and maybe a peek into the live playlist (we promise won’t spoil to our american sisters & brothers who’ll have the chance to see you sooner)?
Right now the live set includes a few new tracks (‘These Ghosts Can Never Leave’ and ‘Light The Swords On Fire’) and some „classics“ from over the years. ‘Axes And Honor’, of course ‘When The Daylight Fades’ and ‘Final Stand’ from ‘The Isle Of Hydra’, some more tracks from ‘Crest Of The Martyrs’, and of course ‘The Witch’s Eyes’. We hope to rotate in more of the new tracks if the album does as well as we hope it will!
We love Germany and hope to play there again very soon! I’m always blown away by how dedicated German metal fans are and what great people they are. It’s great meeting so many people at these shows and festivals and hearing what they think of TWISTED TOWER DIRE (hab’ ich’s nicht gesagt? – Anmerkung des Fragestellers) We have some fans in the states, but we really feel we’re among or metal family in Germany and really all of Europe. Thanks for making these trips something special! Cheers and PROST!
Thank you Dave!
And to complete the circle with the last track of the album – which is hell of a new alltime-fave in my whole TWISTED TOWER DIRE world – ‘These Ghosts Can Never Leave’ – and you didn’t! Welcome back, guys!