Trevor Strnad of The Black Dahlia Murder: Bringing Down The Fourth Wall

American death metal force The Black Dahlia Murder prepare to inflict some Abysmal love upon Australia.

Scarcely has there been a band as renowned for shredding, pulverising and sheer energetic live shows as American death metal force The Black Dahlia Murder. As one of the most fun-loving, approachable and fan-friendly bands, The Black Dahlia Murder have delivered hundreds – bordering thousands – of epic shows worldwide and are getting geared up to hit Australian shores this May to blast the final leg of their recent album tour Abysmal before hitting us all again with their much-anticipated forthcoming release.

As recording the new release builds up to its climax and The Black Dahlia Murder are preparing to depart for Australia, Metal As Fuck caught up with vocalist Trevor Strnad to get the lowdown on touring, getting amongst the crowd and Album Number Eight. The last time that The Black Dahlia Murder appeared in Australia was in 2015, shortly before the release of Abysmal. What memories remain of touring Australia? Strnad thinks for less than a second, “Ah yeah man, just partying with Psycroptic and Colossus, they’re great bands and great dudes; great friends. Playing the Crowbar twice was a highlight, you know, that place is a really small, sweaty affair, you know, very intimate, fun. It was fun all around.’ The Black Dahlia Murder, in an average year, will do around two hundred shows and have been on the road pretty much constantly since the release of Abysmal in 2015. Strnad is super excited to finally bring Abysmal to Australia, “Our appearance in Oz will be like Abysmal’s last stand, because we haven’t been out there at all during the whole record’s cycle, so we definitely owe you guys some Abysmal love, for sure … We’ve been home for… a minute… but I mean we do tour very brutally, you know, we’re gone I’d say … more than half the year. It’s a lot. That’s just how we do things, man, if there’s an opportunity to be somewhere and play, we’ll take it. There’s no saying no – that’s kind of like our rule. So, The Black Dahlia Murder pretty much lives on tour.

Is there anything in particular that you like to bring to the stage show that enhances the album? “We just try to not bite off more than we can chew in the studio, you know, we try to keep it pretty bare bones, not lay down a million guitar tracks or anything else that we can’t reproduce live, you know so we want to sound just like we do on a CD, live, and that’s kind of something we keep in our back pocket. But ah, I think this band is a live band, first and foremost, I think that’s the most important thing; to be a good live band and to be a band that attracts people to come see you.” It definitely seems that there is an increased necessity for touring these days, Strnad agrees, and it’s critical to be a band that cuts the standard live. When it comes to performing live, he feels a deep sense of sincerity to his fans. “There’s so many bands on tour and you have to be good, you have to deliver what you’ve laid down, you have to make good on the promise you made your fans when they heard your record. It’s kind of the responsibility I feel, you know, and to survive, to have longevity, we feel like we want to have an edge over even these young bands coming out, you know, so we try to be intense, try to convey the passion that we feel for this music.”

Even after sixteen years and countless touring miles, Strnad is quick to declare, “You know, I channel my love of death metal in what I do in Black Dahlia. I’m here as a fan as much as I am a contributor.” The Black Dahlia Murder have packed out arenas, played to massive festival crowds all over the world as a household name, yet are well known to take the stage in tiny local venues, hanging out with their fans. Strnad explains that either way, it’s an unbelievable experience, “I think they’re both cool in their own way, but I think that for us it’s all about a personal show, specially if we can get to where there’s no barrier and you can stage dive or come on stage and sing into the microphone…I really like to be able to interact that much with the crowd. I love to be able to reach the person in the front row, you know what I mean, like literally reach my arm out and grab the shit out of them [laughs] that’s what I prefer, but there’ something to be said about playing at a big festival and when it’s going well and witnessing the mania of the crowd, you know like “EVERBODY DO THIS!’ … “GO IN A CIRCLE!” and everybody does a circle pit and there’s something really satisfying about that, you know, kind of being a general barking out orders to so many people. So I like both but I think for us, we’re best in a close-quarters environment.”

The enthusiasm Strnad displays for playing live shows is inspiring. Clearly, he and The Black Dahlia Murder genuinely revel in the energy of their audience. What can we expect next month here in Australia? Strnad predicts the chaos pending: “What you can expect is a raw, visceral experience, where if you want to get involved and you want to sing in the microphone you can do it. If you want to jump off the stage and crowd surf, you can do it, I totally encourage that, that’s what I want, I want to bring that ‘fourth wall’ down and just be a part of the crowd and have the crowd be a part of the show. That’s what we strive for. So come, come get involved, that’s what we want!” With an outstanding catalogue of seven studio albums to date, picking out setlists must be tough. Do Black Dahlia fans have any particular favourite songs the like to hear? “Oh yeah for sure, you know we try to pay attention to that, it’s not entirely selfish what we do in our writing, we try to think about what has resonated with the fans. You know…Deathmask Divine is a song that I think will always be around, Funeral Thirst from the first album, I Will Return has become a live staple since Deflorate in 2009, I feel like we know what they like, they definitely latch onto the most macabre stuff that we can come up with in terms of lyrics and themes and stuff so, the more violence, the more zombies, the more wearing people’s skin…the more of that the better [laughs].” So, all the good stuff right? As far as the forthcoming Australian shows go, has Black Dahlia decided on setlists? “We’ll work it out beforehand, we’ll be practicing before we leave but right now everything’s on the studio, all eyes are on what we’re doing with the album pretty much so, we’ll get there when we get there but for now it’s all about Album Number Eight.” ‘

Album Number Eight’ – the title yet to be revealed – is fast in the works. But when can we expect its release? “Well yeah, the release date hasn’t been set in stone yet, we’re talking about Fall, it should be wrapped up by May 1st, that’s when I’ll be finishing up my vocals and yeah man, I just look forward to this next chapter, obviously we have yet to come over there and play on Abysmal, so that will be kind of like the ribbon on the Abysmal era, once we play those shows and yeah just looking forward to the new chapter, new artwork for people to get excited about, new songs, new t-shirts, new tours, new everything! That’s kind of the point of doing a new record, man, just staying fresh in people’s minds…. I like the beginning of a new cycle, I think it’s exciting, exciting to have new surprises for people, to get reviewed again, everybody gets their yardsticks out and measures your worth all over again, you know, so I’m excited for that. It’s fun.” Well, it’s refreshing to hear that Strnad is looking forward to putting himself out there again, and how has The Black Dahlia Murder approached Album Number Eight? It seems, more of the same brutally infectious enthusiasm, “Its definitely all written now, it’s been written for a while, it came together quite quickly, I think we get inspiration from everywhere, we get it from touring, we get it from the fans, I think it’s constantly a growing process, and I don’t really see, like, a ceiling on what we can do, it feels like we are still a young band, or a band that has room to grow and still has different things to do, you know, its still exciting to be in this band, it’s amazing to be loved, its amazing to have fans waiting for what you’re going to do. It’s about the coolest thing I could have ever dreamt for myself, this is my dream and it’s still in action here!” So, hold onto your meat pies, Australia, and sharpen your stage diving aim, because The Black Dahlia Murder is coming to unleash mania.

The Black Dahlia Murder Australian Tour 2017 with The Faceless, Putrid Pile, Whoretopsy and Unravel:

9 May, Badlands – Perth

10 May, Fowlers Live – Adelaide

11 May, Max Watts – Brisbane

12 May, Manning Bar - Sydney

13 May, The Corner Hotel – Melbourne