Melbourne’s Gravemind are taking some calculated steps to ensure that they aren’t just another deathcore band in the scene. With the release of their latest single, ‘The Death Of Teyolia’, the band released a terrific comic book-style lyric video to accompany the intense song, and it really helps to flesh out the song’s narrative. It makes the song a far more memorable, impactful experience when these two mediums are combined and how the band tells their stories is as important as what those stories entail. With a full 15-page comic now out for ‘The Death Of Teyolia’, a tour happening next month, & plans for a new release to drop sometime in 2017, the band have set the wheels in motion. Vocalist Dylan Gillies-Parsons recently jumped on the phone with me while he was at the Melbourne Show over the weekend so I could take Gravemind’s interview virginity. Oh, yes.
So my first question is whether or not the band’s name is a reference to the Gravemind from Halo 2 & 3?
[Laughs] it definitely came from that. We find naming our stuff the hardest thing to do, so we all sat down with a bunch of “metal” or “death metal” names. Our guitarist, Michael [Petritsch] brought up Gravemind and we thought it was sick; it sounds metal. Once he said it was a Halo reference, I thought it was cool, as we’re nerds, but we’re trying to keep it metal. Some of us are Microsoft, some of us are Sony; but we unanimously like the name.
Oh right on, man! Well, with being “nerds”, with the lyric video for ‘The Death Of Teyolia’ being a comic book style, I think it goes without saying that your fans of comics and graphic novels in general?
Yeah, absolutely! I initially wanted it to be an animated short, kind of like a Dragonball Z short, but it was going to cost in the tens of thousands. So I scaled it down, but not compromise on what we wanted it to be. It’s still kind of nerdy but is still something that we all really love.
Well, I think that this lyric video stands up there as being one of the best or at least one of the more originals, save for Feed Her To The Sharks ‘Buried Alive’ video, and I loved it personally.
Oh thank you man, that’s so cool. You tend to find certain ideas do the rounds in the local death metal community, which is still small. So if you see an idea, it’s nearly always being done before, so we wanted to try something that hadn’t been done before. It is just one single, but we still wanted to put a lot of effort into it and deliver a cool story. I think a lyric video is the most cost effective way to get a story out there and with the comic book idea, it was an easy fit.
One thing that I love about the clip is when Teyolia seeks help from the local gods, and your lyrics and vocal delivery are presented as clear parts of dialogue between her and the gods, instead of your vocals just going over the top of the story in a disconnected way and just having plain text boxes.
It’s so cool that you think so, actually. I had that idea for a while of a track having highs being Teyolia and the lows for the gods. As I was writing the lyrics to the track, I could already see the story happening and see it in a linear progression. I always wondered if people would dig it and we’ve got some great feedback from it, which is pretty exciting.
Sweet, and yes, it came together really well! The lyric video and narrative didn’t feel like an afterthought, either, which is what I really took away from the song.
Yeah, that is really important to us with our music. We need to thematically think it all out. With the way that Damon [Bredin, guitar] is writing the songs now, I have story ideas that I can work with and see how we can translate the story into death metal. That’s what we think makes ourselves unique and on the cusp of something original. We’ve got such a saturated genre that the last thing we want to do is haphazardly throw ideas together.
Ah, good to hear! So what came first for you, the comic book and the story or hearing the song and thinking about the story from there?
That’s a good question. In this instance, it was tracked to the story. I already had a story in mind with this character and this Aztecan vibe, but I had to wait till I heard a track “like” it. But one of the songs Damon wrote gave me some intense jungle vibes to it and I knew that I could tell the story to this song, and that’s how we decided it to be the single.
Cool! With the concept of the song, the songs having further meaning than just the face value wasn’t something I got from ‘The Hateful One’, which just-
-Felt like another deathcore album?
Yeah! I mean no disrespect to it, but this song seems so much deeper and more meaningful than that EP.
We didn’t have any expectations with the first EP we just wanted to make an EP of music that we loved. At the time, there are so many throwbacks to various types of deathcore and while it was a concept EP, it’s a fault of my own that it’s tied to something that can be so written off as just more deathcore. You look at the track listing and seeing a song like The Lowest Circle Of Hell; you might think what exactly is there to look into there. That EP was a concept release, and we got some good feedback from it, but we also thought ‘Shit, we maybe missed the boat with the concept, so let’s drive it home next time’. But you’re right; the concept doesn’t come across as strongly. Though, we always wanted to be a concept band from the offset and have stories conveyed in the music. It’s always going to be conventional death metal with the brutal, heavy music, but the stories will change.
I don’t think it’s a fault of your band or anyone else’s that deathcore gets so written off in its themes. But I think having a really cool piece of added art can make listeners enjoy and like the song a lot more and you can attach to it much better.
That’s something I really try and do the most of in the band. As I’m just the vocalist, we do fuck all [laughs]. I try and think about everything around the music and being so meticulous with it. The music is the most important part but layering it with added things can make it bigger and make it really stick with someone more. That was our aim, at least.
Well, I think you nailed it really well with the new single. Now, is the story of ‘The Death Of Teyolia’ apart of a larger narrative or just a one-off track/story for now? (You can download a free copy ‘The Death Of Teyolia’ comic book here.)
It’s definitely stand alone, as what we’re gonna start writing about next will have more emphasis on things that really matter to us as people. I can’t give away the goose too much as it could change in my brain at any day. It’ll be different, but the new music will speak for itself more and be less literal, where Teyolia follows along so much to the comic. So the music will have less stringent ties with it’s narrative and the next thing we do won’t be another comic book, it’ll be something much larger.
Very keen to see what you dudes cook up next. I find Teyolia’s story a very interesting one of revenge and bloodlust. The face that she does all of these horrible things to try and save her lover yet it’s those very actions that damn her. That’s how I saw it, anyway.
Well, the revenge stuff fits really nicely into your typical, brutal death metal sound. But with her story and that song, I was really trying to get across spiritual transcendence. Teyolia and her partner were finding their own way without the gods and it’s a cautionary tale of how easy it is to lose the plot. When he dies, he’s already transcended through his death, so she goes to her gods for help and they lead her to the very place she was trying to escape from. I look at the meaning as the downfall of humanity, as cutting the strings from our spirituality in our capitalist society and worshipping false gods. The spirituality in our lives needs to be tapped into more, and not be so poisoned by organised religions. So, that’s my free your mind speech [laughs].
[Laughs] I think it’s interesting the self-aware nature of Teyolia’s descent into madness and revenge. She knows what she’s doing but embraces the bloodlust. It’s a character that is now wanting to commit these acts, as opposed to simply having or needing to commit them.
For sure! For her, it’s a miss-step. She’s smart enough to know what she’s doing and she’s experiencing something so primal and visceral, which is something in human nature that you can’t escape. There’s a reason why we can’t stop killing each other, it’s…engrained in us and we should disconnect from that nature.
You know, I never thought I would talk this in-depth about deathcore!
[Laughs] right!? It’s so cool; we’re making progress in the realm of deathcore.
Now, this is such an “interview” question, but when do you think we’ll see the release of this new EP or album?
We’re not going to rush it, and we haven’t rushed anything we’ve done thus far so we won’t start now. If it’s any indication of how Damon and I write together, we’ll have it out, as a ballpark figure, in the middle or third quarter of next year.
Look forward to it, dude! Perfection takes time, so you know, take your time!
Well, we hope we get close to that! Guaranteed, two weeks after we put it out, we’ll probably hate it, like most musicians. Just because we’ll have heard it 200 times by then.
Oh, I can relate to that so much. When writing a really big review or feature article, you’ve just looked at it for so long that you start to hate it and you’re missing really tiny grammatical errors that you should be instantly picking up on.
Yeah, you can relate that feeling to so many things. That’s the scary the thing about being an artist, is you work on a project and you put it out and you don’t know whether its good or not anymore. You may have liked it with when you started writing it, but now you have no idea. Until you get the feedback from people.
So true, man! Now, I wanted to talk about the tour that Gravemind has coming up soon…
Yeah, we’re going up the East Coast in October with I Shall Devour and To The Grave and we’ll also be playing Adelaide for the first time as well. Really pumped for that one!
Right on. With Mortal Kombat’s Subzero & Scorpion being used the poster, and with the tour’s name [the Flawless Fatality tour], I loved the whole package really.
Hell yeah! And hey, if anyone asks, Gravemind is representing Scorpion on this tour.
Well, if you guys are going to be Scorpion than that may make I Shall Devour Subzero & To The Grave Reptile.
Oh, that’s sick! You should see the tongue of Dane, the singer from To The Grave, he has this crazy low scream, it rips through the side of his cheek so he’s basically Reptile. He’s insane.
Oh, cool! He just doesn’t have any of the shitty CGI effects from the old MK movies.
[Laughs] man, I sweated those films so hard as a kid. Now, a couple beers, some mates and a Kombat session with the boys goes down a treat.
Nice. Those films are basically the SyFy original movies of their time; so bad but you know can’t not watch it. Maybe you’ve already answered it, but what’s your favourite MK character? I always go with Goro because a man with that many arms can’t be wrong.
Goro’s cool, but its Scorpion for me. Through all of the games and every spin-off that’s ever been out, it’s always been Scorpion. Even on Shaolin Monks, where you had to finish the game first just to play as him, you can bet your ass that I did that.
That’s dedication man! With that Dylan, we’ll have to leave it there, unless there’s anything you’d like to add before we wrap this up?
Not really man, but you have popped our interview virginity, so thank you Alex; you were a very kind lover, very gentle!
[Laughs] I am a very sweet lover, that’s for sure. I’m going have to mark myself with a tally of all the bands whose first interview is with me, kind of like the Predators when they kill a Xenomorph.
Oh man, we are nerding out today, I love it!
Ah, it’s always good fun. But thank you so much for your time today, Dylan, enjoy the rest of the Melbourne Show, and I wish you nothing but the best for the tour!
Thanks so much mate, it was an absolute pleasure talking to you, Alex.
Gravemind are touring with To The Grave & I Shall Devou next month. Dates below!