Melting hearts and breaking teeth across the country, Shinto Katana have come a long way since their debut album – ‘Cold Streets’ was released in 2008. In light of their forthcoming release – ‘We Can’t Be Saved‘, vocallist Dave Naylor spoke to us about what’s hanging down at drop G# and what’s cooking up for the rest of 2010.
To kick things off lets begin with the essentials, what are your top 5 video games of all time and what’s your favourite Asian dish?
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Mario Kart (any version), Fifa 10, Tiger Woods 10, Battlefield: Bad Company 1 & 2, (the rest of the dudes would probably say Call Of Duty or Mashed). Favourite asian dish would have to be Pad Thai.
Fantastic, so please, tell us a bit about yourself – what’s your name, and role in Shinto Katana?
My name’s Dave and I do vocals in the band.
In 2008 you guys released your debut full-length, ‘Cold Streets’ which gained a massive reception across the country. Can you give us a brief run down of what’s happened for you guys since then?
Since the release of Cold Streets, we’ve toured the country a bunch of times, made some amazing friends along the way and shared stages with some of our favourite local and international bands. Life’s pretty sweet in that aspect. As well as all that, I think we’ve become a more focussed band and gained a stronger understanding of what we all, individually and as a band, would like to achieve from it.
Your second album – ‘We Can’t Be Saved’ is set to be released this July via Dogfight Records with a few tracks from the CD online already. How’s the response been so far and what should we expect for this release?
The response to the online songs has been mixed. Some people are diggin’ it and some people prefer the older sound we went for with ‘Cold Streets.’ I think this is something every band experiences if they hang around long enough to release a second album. People who loved the old record should expect similarities in the new album with some twists and additions of new influences that we decided to work with in order to keep things fresh. We didn’t want to write the same album twice. So we focussed on capturing more of what we’d originally set out to achieve without creating a stale example of what we’d already done. The album drops July 9th.
Your new tracks have showcased the ways your sound has altered for an overall heavier, and none other than facemelting experience. What have been your main influences in the writing process of ‘We Can’t Be Saved’ and are they any different since your last CD?
I can’t speak for the entire band because we all brought our own personal influences into the picture for this record. I know that when Joel began writing the riffs for this album, he was drawing his influences from the likes of Meshuggah, Dead To Fall, Despised Icon and Cannibal Corpse where as I myself can recall listening to a lot of After The Burial and Molotov Solution at the time. Along with these newer influences being brought to the table, we never once steered away from drawing on further inspiration from some of the bands we would have been listening to in the process of writing ‘Cold Streets’ such as On Broken Wings, Remembering Never and The Black Dahlia Murder.
Sumluck Namsing Illustrations, who has worked with the likes of All Shall Perish and The Black Dahlia Murder, composed the art for this release. What was the inspiration behind these morphing zombie bodies?
When we first spoke about what we all wanted in terms of artwork for the CD, we knew we wanted something dark and somewhat disturbing. We came up with a theme, and then searched for artists on the internet who had similar styles and colours that we felt would work perfectly with our ideas. We had a huge list and it came down to an elimination process as well as availability of artists. Going with Namsing was something we all seemed to agree would work perfectly. We were happy to let him run wild with our ideas and we’re stoked with the end result. The booklet looks evil as fuck!
You guys have branded yourself not only as one of Australia’s heaviest acts but also as lyrically ruthless. In light of song titles such as ‘Homicide Note’ and ‘So Long Stranger’, what’s the general theme and inspiration behind your lyrics?
Lyrically, "We Can’t Be Saved" is a lot more pissed off and vulgar in comparison to previous efforts from the band. The past year and a half have been pretty shitty for me, personally. I’ve struggled to keep my head up at the best of times. The only things that have kept me from completely losing my mind are the friends that stand by me, and jumping on a stage and letting out every emotion in an arguably extreme fashion.. Every song on this record has a story behind it. I draw influence from the things in life that really piss me off, but I try my hardest not to be too specific. I like to leave my songs open enough for anybody in any situation to be able to relate to in some way or form. If you can chuck your ipod on when you’re having a shitty day and turn your mood around with music, you’ve got shit sorted. "We Can’t Be Saved" is like a stress ball i guess.
You guys just finished up a massive tour with US legends Shai Hulud and Canberra’s very own – I Exist. What was your strangest experience, and favourite show on this tour?
This is a hard question for so many reasons.. Pretty much everything that happened on this tour was strange. A lot of funny shit went down. But as I’ve been reminded constantly, what happens on tour stays on tour. So let’s just say 3 separate car accidents is pretty strange.. And being so drunk that you brush your teeth with Bepanthen sucks! It’s hard to pick a favourite show, but there was a real good buzz about the Seaford show. Shit popped off.
What’s one quality of your band that in your opinion, separates you from any other in the universe?
It’s gotta be Jimi. Jumping off stage and circle pitting with your guitar? who else does that? haha.
You guys have established yourself as one of the largest hardcore outfits to emerge from Sydney, what do you have to say about the bands and people involved with this scene?
I really like the bands and people involved in Sydney hardcore. I mean sure you’ve got your shit talkers, your fashion police and the odd shithouse band, but what I like about it most is that everybody seems to get along to an extent. There’s no real beefing or crews hating on other crews or any of that bullshit that you see in other states. I rock up to shows any day of the week and I can walk up to anybody in the room and say hello and have a chat because this is where we fit in. Nobody’s an outcast.
Who’s the best with the ladies in your band and why do you think this is?
Haha. Okay, well I guess I have to say me by default because I’m the only single dude in the band.. But that could also make me the worst? If i said anybody else, dudes would be in trouble haha. What I will say is.. When Tron starts dancing, I swear you can actually see the girls melt around him.
Being a small Asian boy, I would hate to get into a fight with any one of you machines. Are you guys as mean as your music, and do you think your fans see you this way?
I don’t consider any of the dudes in the band mean at all. I mean, we’re all pretty much the most chilled dudes in the world if you meet us. We let our anger out on stage and half the time you’ll probably catch us laughing with each other over something dumb afterwards. Same goes for anybody who likes our music. If you’ve got anything bottled up inside, get involved with the show, jump on somebody’s back and sing along, run around like an idiot, give me the finger while I’m singing, I don’t care… just let it out in a safe
environment with us to avoid doing something stupid out on the street.
Believe it or not, one of my friends died for a little while when she heard that mid-way breakdown in ‘Sunset’. What’s the most violent experience that has happened at one of your shows?
Funnily enough, I’ve never physically seen anybody getting hurt at our shows when it happens. But it does happen. Sometimes I’ll have kids walk up to me covering their mouth with tissues and then they’ll move it away to say "LOOK WHAT I DID DURING YOUR SET!!" and they’ll have missing teeth and blood all over their mouths. It can be confronting, but they seem to feel they’ve achieved something so I’m stoked for them.
What are your top 5 releases of this year so far, and some upcoming that you’re looking forward to?
I’m gonna have to go with..
Reign Supreme – Testing The Limits Of Infinite (okay, it was released last year but I’m still moshing)
Deftones – Diamond Eyes
Iexist – I: A Turn For The Worse
As I Lay Dying – The Powerless Rise
A Loss For Words – The Kids Can’t Lose
Looking forward to the new records from Impending Doom and The Acacia Strain.
And the new Relentless full length is a cracker. pick that up when it drops.
Before we close up, who are some bands in the country you recommend readers to keep an ear out for?
If you haven’t already, definitely check out Iexist, Phantoms, Coma Lies, Remassacre and Endless Heights. All bands are doing pretty rad stuff at the moment.
Thanks a bunch for this interview! Whilst all the Shinto Katana fans out there eagerly await your release in June, what advice do you have for them to prepare themselves for the onslaught that will be ‘We Can’t Be Saved’?
Support Dogfight Records and australian hardcore, because it’s sick. m/ >< m/