Changing vocalists in a band is never an easy thing to pull off. It's especially tough when the singer is someone of the caliber of Brian Fair (also of Shadows Fall fame), but that's exactly what Death Ray Vision faced after the musician couldn't commit the kind of time needed to put into the group. Luckily for Death Ray Vision, Jeff Gard entered their lives. "I was staring at some significant time off from Killswitch Engage touring, and really wanted to revisit the Death Ray stuff again," bassist Mike D'Antonio tells me about the dilemma the band found themselves in.
"I had begun writing and had a discussion with Brian about his availability. It was clear that his time was limited, and visits to Massachusetts would be sparse at best. We both agreed that it might be best for Death Ray Vision to find someone local, if I wanted to pursue the band further. Luckily, [guitarist] Pete [Cortese] and [drummer] Colin [Conway] were down with the idea of writing and starting the search for a new vocalist. We then tried out a few guys, but nothing really fit together till we jammed with Jeff. After a few practice, we knew he was the guy."
In terms of style, Jeff and Brian bring different things to the table. I ask Mike what aspects of Jeff’s vocal style changed up what Death Ray Vision did on this new material. "Jeff has an effortlessly broad vocal range. It was extremely easy to write with him, and he was very open to trying new and alternate takes on each song. After the initial 2 or 3 demos were finalized, it became apparent that we could push the band in more directions than previously considered. Having a blank canvas (vocal wise) was very gratifying, and allowed us to be more creative musically. Suddenly the band took on new life, and I think it shines through on the new album."
Yes, the new album. Hitting stores later this month, Negative Mental Attitude follow's Death Ray Vision's 2013's debut album, We Ain't Leavin' Till You're Bleeding. How about we check out a sampling of the new vocalist/album? Soak up "This Disaster" below:
Mike gives some background on the new track: "'This Disaster' was the first new song that Pete wrote for 'DRV 2.0.' We all instantly loved its drive and it’s Suicidal Tendencies-esque style breakdown. Vocally it is the most 'hardcore' influenced track, and it has that 'knee in the balls' kinda attitude. Definitely one of the more fun ones to play in the set… lots of energy."
I have to admit that it brought a smile to my face that when I saw that Death Ray Vision named the album Negative Mental Attitude. I’m “friends” with some musicians from the hardcore community on Facebook and I see them post about PMA (Positive Mental Attitude) all the time, and then turn around and post something completely nasty about someone the next day. "Our record titles are very tongue in cheek. They are designed to kick you in the teeth, and give you a sarcastic grin at the same time. But yes, it was taken from folks I know that preach PMA and are anything but.
"It just goes to show, just cause you have the PMA tattoo, doesn’t mean you’ve attempted to adjusted your outlook."
Since I’m the same age as the guys in Death Ray Vision, I know that romanticizing the ‘90s East Coast hardcore scene isn’t a hard thing to do, especially since their band consists of folks who have played in such acts as Overcast and Cannae. I bring this up to Mike and ask for his thoughts. "It’s no secret that Death Ray Vision is an open love letter to East Coast ‘90s hardcore. It was powerful stuff to me growing up, and it made me feel like I was a part of something bigger. I do tend to get stuck in the past with all genres of music, not just hardcore.
"To be frank, true originality is always more hard hitting, yet far more difficult to find. I guess it boils down to the first band you fall in love with as a kid, and how well they deliver their respective music style. It is only natural to compare your favorites to like minded imitations, its unavoidable. I am hoping that DRV isn’t just a carbon copy of that time. I like to think that we put a good spin on the classics.
"Barring my previous statement, I personally enjoy the hell out of some newer bands like Code Orange and Power Trip. Sometimes it’s all about the riffs for me, and those bands know how to deal 'em out." I can't disagree with my friend here.
Negative Mental Attitude will hit stores on Nov. 23 via Bullet Tooth and can be pre-ordered in several options.