Brian Eschbach from The Black Dahlia Murder

The Black Dahlia Murder love a cone (almost as much as touring)...

It was getting late on Thursday evening and the phone line was being a total piece of shit...luckily The Black Dahlia Murder (BDM) guitarist Brian Eschbach didn’t care. He may well have been totally baked. I don't know about such things...

The new BDM album Ritual is released on the 21st of June and Brian is completely and utterly in love with it – he would be because he helped make it; but what’s different about it to previous BDM albums? "It’s more dynamic – we tried to incorporate a couple of different elements that we didn’t feel were too far outside of our sound. Definitely with having multiple writers in the band that all understand what we’re trying to do was a huge help; we’re really excited about the album coming out and we’re really proud of it.”

There have been some rumblings on the metal circuit about the use of stringed instruments on some of the songs; personally I’m mad for the juxtaposition but some fans may not be so ‘embracing’...what does Brian think the fans reactions will be? "I hope it would be good. We think the tracks sound pretty cool; there's a little bit of that used here and there but nothing overly super-symphonic like a Demon song or something (English metal band from the seventies) – you know what I’m talking about.” Indeed; less is quite often more when it comes to such things...

BDM are working on how to play the stringed songs live, and according to Brian they’ve “...already bounced around in our heads what we need to do to make that happen.” They have big plans for the album (in a live sense) and have definitely given a lot of thought to how to pull off the best live shows. The band is (was?) in Italy when I spoke with Brian – they’d recently left Istanbul after playing a killer gig. According to Brian the band is “...really close to the Alps right now; they’re really close and it seems like we’re almost surrounded by them. It’s surprising that I’m in Italy right now. It’s very German or Austrian around here (eh?!); definitely a nice day up in the mountains here.”

So how’s the tour been so far? Brian is very enthusiastic; “Great. It’s been really great - this one’s just about done so we’ll probably go home for a couple of days before we head back out on the road again. It’s going to be a pretty busy summer – the summer slaughter tour will be going on in the states and we’ll be hitting up a couple of European festivals in June (the Metal as Fuck Global Gig Guide can tell you exactly where - Ed.). We’re going to be out there grinding at it.”

So there’ll be a couple of days off and then it’s back on the road again for the band. The collectors pack for Ritual comes with all manner of fun stuff; a Ouija board, some coffin nails, sage smudge/incense sticks (for cleansing your aura after contacting dead spirits?), tee shirt, the list goes on...and the band are pretty glad that most of their creative input was listened to. One of the tracks from Ritual, Conspiring with the Damned, is all about a demon invoked with a Ouija board – is the band encouraging fans to dabble in the black arts? Brian laughs at the idea but then adds: “Now anyone who gets it can try and contact their dead friends on their own terms. If they believe enough...”

When the band were in Denmark, they used Twitter to try and locate some stinky weed; did they manage to get on? “We sorted that all out; it was definitely not a problem. There was this little hippy neighbourhood, well, more like a street that’s been there since the sixties called Christiania in Copenhagen, you can go in there and buy weed and smoke it...” At this point Brian’s voice drifts off in reverie of the fond memory... He comes back after a short pause with “...and mushrooms and shit...they just kind of have their own law on this one block. I would highly recommend it.” I am beginning to suspect that he is, perhaps, slightly toasted...

I ask him for his opinion on drug use and how it relates to artistic endeavour, namely songwriting; “Excuse me?! What...?!” I think I just blew Brian’s mind. I reword the question along the lines of ‘what do you think about getting off your nut to write songs?' and there is a massive silence. I’m not sure if it’s the phone line or if Brian is pissed off with me... You know...having a smoke and writing, you guys are almost famous for it? Hello?...Brian? Luckily, he hasn’t hung up – he’s merely giving the question the weight that it deserves (I always ask the hard questions...) "It doesn’t hurt, man. In all the years of doing it; I’ll go as far as to say that it’s helpful. Very helpful. It’s not for everyone because some people just do that sort of thing and then curl up into a ball and get all paranoid and weird, and I don’t think that’s a very creative place to be. But for me; the ideas just start flying...” As does Brian...

Regarding the ‘gifts’ (ahem) from fans, Brian is ecstatic; “It’s never a problem...we enjoy it greatly and would encourage it to continue...” and he sagely adds ”...a good thing is always nice...and appreciated.”

So give me three words to sum up being in The Black Dahlia Murder? “Fattening. Stressful. Fun.”

There are heaps of interviews on the web and I noticed that BDM tend to ‘share the love’ when it comes to being quizzed – do the band take it in turns? "You can’t milk one person’s mind for too long with questions; when an album comes out, a lot of people want interviews so everyone just pitches in and takes turns.” says Brian. It works well; there’s nothing worse than being the ninth or tenth interviewer on the list...

The band love touring and according to Brian: “We’ve had the pleasure of touring with Cannibal Corpse in a lot of places and that’s always awesome; those guys are great. As far as meeting favourite bands, it just doesn’t really stop – there are always old and new bands that we’re meeting and that’s really cool.” In his voice you can hear the fact that he can’t believe his luck. Brians new favourite band is Beast in the Field, from Detroit – and fortunately for Brian, BDM will be on tour with them next week, he describes them as “...a kind of weird instrumental, stoner-sludge thing. They fucking absolutely kill it live; they’re like old Black Sabbath without the vocals.” By now the quality of the phone line has deteriorated to the point where I can hardly hear Brian (and he’s probably had enough of talking some to some weirdo Aussie journo on the other side of the world) so I thank him for his time and let him go and (maybe?) have another cone. And I don’t mean ice-cream".