An Interview With Dave McAnally of Derision Cult
22/12/2022, William ZIMMERMAN
Hi Dave. Thanks for the interview. First let’s talk about your two most recent singles, “Bastards Of The World” and “Deaf Blood”. What can you tell us about these tracks and how they fit in together?
Well we knew all along we wanted to get "Deaf Blood" out there front and center because it’s more of a straight ahead rocker. The single for "Bastards of the World" is actually a mix done by the gang at Glitch Mode for the Glitch Mode comp that came out right before Cold Waves. "Bastards" is a pretty metal track– It sort of harkens to the Hansel Und Gretyl sound. If you listen to Mercenary Notes there’s a lot of flavors on there beyond the heavy stuff, but we wanted to lead off with the heavier things.
"Bastards" is really about my experiences in the ad agency world and working with big tech. When you’re front and center in silicon valley with all these guys, you see right away that for all the ways they’ve changed our lives, it’s really just about more efficient ways to sell you the next watch, or car or laundry detergent or whatever. Those are the bastards basically. "Deaf Blood" was Chris Connelly’s lyrics, but he knew what that overall theme was. Chris is much more poetic than me and his words have a more abstract vibe to them. So "Deaf Blood" I’d say could be more universal and open to interpretation than some of the other tracks. I’m from the outlaw country world where you just kind of lay your testimony out there raw and it is what it is.
On ‘Deaf Blood’, one of the mixes features Chris Connelly and Reeves Gabrels. How did you hook up with those guys and what roles do they play in the mix?
Well it really started with me hooking up with Sean Payne to produce this. Once he was involved it just felt easier to reach out to people in Chicago to help us with tracks. So Chris Connelly was the first one and really once he laid down his vocals, and was fantastic to work with, I started thinking of other amazing people to work with and Reeves was at the top of that list because he’s a guitar hero of mine from way back. Plus, Chris has a David Bowie tribute band and part of me was like “man how cool would it be to have Chris do a track with a Bowie guitarist”. One thing led to another and that track came together. But from there, Justin Broadrick from Godflesh did a killer mix of a track on the EP and then Martin Atkins did a mix on the "Deaf Blood" single as well as The Joy Thieves. Then Jim Marcus from Go Fight did the visuals. So by the time we were done we had a lot of amazing people we were lucky to have help me with it!
You recently got your own hot sauce. How’d that come about and how did you participate in selecting the ingredients?
That was pretty cool how that came together! The hot sauce is made by a company called Common Descent Provisions which is run by an old high school friend of mine Chris Bengston out of Kansas City. I very distinctly remember being on vacation with my family in Boyne Mountain Michigan and just like out of nowhere it occurred to me that "Deaf Blood" would be a sweet name for a hot sauce. I already saw artists doing some interesting tie ins and actually- Martin Atkins’ talks about clever ways to market your music was already something that I thought about. So I texted Chris and ran the idea by him. It was a fun thing to do for sure. Over the course of the summer he sent a few prototype recipes me Sean and his wife Anatasia would try them out. Then we landed on one that wasn’t like BLOW YOUR COLON OUT hot but enough to where it’s got some bite. It goes good with Chicken I’ve found and works well just putting straight on chip. We deliberately made it black because hey, it’s goth industrial!
‘Mercenary Notes Pt 1’ is the forthcoming full-length album. This is a concept album infact, right? What’s the central theme?
I don’t really think of it as a concept album in the traditional sense. There’s no storyline persay. But there’s definitely a central theme to it. It’s about how technology, media and the overwhelming amount of information humans process is impacting us and what we need to do to survive with our sanity in tact. So the tracks all kind of revolve around that idea in different ways. Like "Year Hope Failed" is about how technology is replacing livelihoods and how machines do a lot of things better than humans do and if your’e going to survive, you need to adapt and be agile. But then "Slaves Rebuild" is sort of about how media overstimulation- particularly in with young women (as the father of a daughter this is important to me) - can create this sense of inferiority. Then as I mentioned with "Bastards" of the world, we’re all dialed into systems that are the greatest arbiters of intent in all of human history and their sole mission is to sell you another fucking nissan.
How did you personal experience in advertising play into the theme of ‘Mercenary Notes’?
Its’really shaped how I look at big tech and the web. I’ve been doing search engine optimization since before there was a Google. I was there in the first dot com bubble, and I watched platforms rise and fall. We’re at a time now where the world is a fundamentally different place than it was 20 years ago. My kids don’t know a world without the internet. But in that ad business, I was in the war room for presidential campaigns, superbowl campaigns and programs that seize on a movement in the cultural zeitgeist like me too or Black Lives Matter. I know what resources were behind certain stories getting pushed and others suppressed. There’s a sample in Year Hope Failed where James Whittaker - who was a head engineer at Microsoft is saying that the web is fundamentally flawed because he discoverability mechanism is what the advertiser wants you to see. There’s a lot of truth in that. I know because I was there as the whole thing took shape. So I’m acutely aware of how much of a role digital media plays in people’s lives and what the good and evil lies therein. So the experiences of looking at data and deciding what messages to push and what to draft on really influenced what I talk about on Mercenary Notes.
You’ll also have some special guests on the upcoming album including Justin Broadrick of Godflesh. Who else do you have participating?
Justin was awesome to work with! I love the mix he did of Slaves Rebuild. It’s like from the depth of hell! He took what was already a dark track and made it really dark. Sean is a huge Godflesh fan so that was pretty cool to get Justin on board. But beyond that as I mentioned, Martin Atkins also did a killer remix of Deaf Blood and he used live drums. That part is really cool to me because those are THE drums he did those PIL albums with as well as all the NIN, Ministry and Pigface stuff. He has them setup as his museum in Chicago and he’ll let you sit behind them. But just knowing THOSE drums are on that mix is a really cool music nerd thing for me. As you mention Reeves Gabrels plays guitar on some tracks, Chris Connelly did vocals for Deaf Blood and then on the Deaf Blood Single, Dan Milligan from The Joy Thieves does a really cool chill remix of Deaf Blood. He did a mix on the Sys Machine album last year and that was amazing.
What’s next for Derision Cult beyond ‘Mercenary Notes Pt. 1”? Do you have a vision for Pt.2?
We started out with 8 tracks and Mercenary Notes Pt 1 has 5 of the those. We wrote Mercenary over the summer. The other 3 are in various states and we’re going to do two more. It’s two parts because they’re all part of the same theme. We leaned in on these because they were the ones that felt like they were moving the fastest, not necessarily because they’re good and the others are shit! In fact there’s a track on the next one called "Abdication Day" that I’m really excited about. We have some mystery guests we’re working on for part 2 that I don’t want to jinx myself on. But if they come together, it’ll be amazing. Visually it’ll need to continue Jim’s vision so I’m sure he’ll beinvolved in that one too.
If you were arrested for a certain crime, what crime would it be which made all your friends know it was you?
Streaking and getting busted at a gas station after I asked if the hapless attendant was Sarah Connor
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