|Daken... Picture: Ashley Maile|
Every once in a while I discover a bunch of musos I absolutely dig from the moment I hear their first track, and Daken is one of the “finds” I’m still totally stoked over. If I could somehow get my ass to the UK to see one of their live shows, I would. I was able to track down vocalist Dave Hirschheimer for a chat to share a little more about the band and its music.
For those who haven't heard about Daken, Dave describes the band as a “four piece 'loud as fuck' alternative/rock/metal band from London, UK. Daken's music is best described ‘dangerous, driven and fucking dark!”
In addition to Dave, the band consists of Jimmy Catamite (guitars), Nilshen (drums) and Ben March (bass). Dave adds: “Well we're all quite mischievous at times, but nothing too serious or unlawful… I suppose Jimmy is the worst and has a tendency to get so pissed that he'll fall over somewhere on his own and mash his face up. Nilshen likes to chuck his guts up half way through a drinking session, obviously to make more room. Ben is just old, so he has his slippers on, tobacco pipe at the ready and plays computer games.
“I apparently got so wankered at a Guns & Roses show that afterwards I was throwing a pizza on the dirty floor, cuddling it and then eating it (I can't remember a fucking thing)… our own show the following night was seriously painful!”
Okay, so apart from evoking visions of Carnivore's Jack Daniels and Pizza, Daken does offer a serious sonic assault to its adoring audience.
Dave elaborates: “I'd like to think that when we put a show on, for any audience, we walk onstage to a bewildered bunch who are firstly intrigued by our look... Then we just crack them around the head as hard as we can with heavy slabs of riff, drum and vocal attack… by the end of the set they belong to us.
“The musical inspiration behind Daken stems from a varied collection of bands, genres and sounds. I suppose it can stretch all the way from classical music, through to 1980s pop, 1990s grunge, right through to brutal death metal--and I feel no shame in mentioning any of those styles/genres as they've built up what Daken has become today and have definitely had a profound affect on the band's sound.
“If Pantera were still in existence, then they'd be an ultimate band for us to share a stage with… same goes for NIN. Alice In Chains, Soundgarden, Slayer… even bands like Radiohead or Tool would be amazing to play shows with, considering there are songs within the Daken repertoire that have similar dynamics and melodies that wouldn't sound out of place for their audiences.”
Commenting on Daken’s creative process, Dave says: “The writing process has always been down to me. I've always been a drummer (for a long fucking time), drummed for some huge bands/acts on huge stages and I was always in and out of shitty unsigned death metal/heavy bands. I've played the guitar for as long as I've been drumming, but just as a second instrument and ended writing riffs for some of the unsigned bands I was in.
“I got to the point where I was fed up of being in bands and them eventually imploding, so I bought a shitty acoustic and dived head first into singer song writer territory! I was heavily influenced by Elliot Smith, Jeff Buckley, Jose Gonzalez, Radiohead and so on. I then taught myself to sing (it was fucking terrible in the beginning and I knew it, but persistence pays off!).
“I've always loved strong voices like Layne Staley, Chris Cornell and tried desperately to learn their strengths--I seemed to have developed my own voice with their help. I combined my heavy past with the new melodic inspirations and went out live playing acoustic solo shows--fucking terrifying, but an amazing sense of accomplishment.
“Then I began writing heavier music and recording everything with the drums, guitars and bass …as well as producing it and recording it all.
“I start everything in a very simple manner and then build it into a structure, which is then layered so it'll work in a live environment. About 30 songs later and I'm still doing it and loving it.
“So with Daken, even though the other guys don't officially write anything, they still make the band what it is--a great band and we kick arse live! We all have input in the band’s look, photos, videos, shows and so on… It's a good set up and we get good results working this way.”
With regard to facing some of the challenges musicians face these nowadays, Dave concludes: “Bands, musicians, creative types always face new challenges--there's always someone out there who is better than you and that's always an incentive to get better in every way possible.
“I think from a personal perspective, it's good to recognise this but to not let it stop you or distract you. Only sexy midgets or dwarves could prevent me from striving for the best ;) I don't know how they do it, but they have a secret knack for distraction.
“In terms of competition for Daken, I don't see any band out there on the same level as us as competition. I'm very confident with the music and the whole package we deliver, so if there are other bands of a similar level then I see them as exactly that and not as someone to compete against… it's music, not sport! We always try to support other bands doing what they love doing.
“Musos today have it a lot easier than they did before the internet was in everyone's pockets. When I was learning the craft of drumming and writing music, I had to use these amazing things called ears! And although I've found the likes of YouTube extremely useful in terms of learning from other 'heroes', I still believe that training your ears to the point that you have absolute trust in them is vital.
“Instead of watching an instructor online, or your favourite drummer/guitarist/bass player/midget do their thing, there's something incredible about listening intensively to something and then working it out--and what an achievement it is once you've got it worked out!”