Earlier this week, we spoke over the phone with Detlyn Raven, the vocalist of Melbourne’s up and coming heavy outfit, Advocates. In this interview, we get into the nitty-gritty about the band’s lyrics, the heavy themes of their new EP, ‘The Complex Truth, the ‘Destructive Tendencies’ music video, re-releasing their 2014 single ‘Detriment’, and on the band working with one of their collective heroes – Landon Tewers of The Plot In You. Get it in ya.
First off Detlyn, are you the sole lyricist for Advocates?
Kinda. Our drummer, Simon [Webby] and myself, write all of the lyrics, with the other boys adding in parts if they want to. But generally, the drummer and I will do most of the band’s lyric writing.
Cool, as the lyrics are where I wanted to start us off. On the EP, there are some very aggressive and dark lyrics and while they work for metalcore, they are also really typical for this style of heavy music. However, I find that there are some really personal and honest lines in there, so with that being said, would you consider yourself an angry person?
Honestly, not really. A lot of the lyrics we write about our based on past experiences, rather than present ones. Generally, we’re all pretty happy guys and obviously, life has its ups and downs. But most of the lyrics do come from the past when we were growing up.
So with these songs based on past experiences as you say, there must be a lot of personal truth in there, yes?
Yeah, absolutely! Then again, we’ve always upped it by ten. Maybe we’ve written songs that sound a lot worse than it actually was, just to really sell the emotion in our music. The stuff we write about has definitely happened or has been a feeling we have all felt at some point t in our lives, but we up it by ten to sell that song and to make sure it hits you where it needs to.
That’s an interesting point, and also thank you for your honesty, of admitting that you guys do amp up the song’s emotional weight. Just to make sure the music “works”.
Exactly, there’s not much point to writing a song to make it not as emotional to some people. Of course, people will take a song how they want, but we’re writing songs for us. It can also be a good release to make it worse than it is, just to really help get off your chest. That’s what we always do in our writing.
So that also translates to a song and music video like ‘Destructive Tendencies’?
Yep! As I said, we write about our past and amp it up by ten to really hit you. Especially with ‘Destructive Tendencies’, that video is literally us putting everything we’ve written about with the EP’s seven songs and pulling it all into one music video. Past experiences do come into that, whether it be the drug addiction of a family member, that video was to really show that these issues are real; that we don’t just brush them to the side.
Of course, and I did notice that about the EP’s artwork as well, dealing with suicide or at least the thought of suicide and the struggle of depression.
If you watch the film clip where the guy is doing all of these awful things, the picture of the man in the artwork resembles that protagonist in the music video. Based on the fact, that he hung himself due to his substance abuse and his domestic violence and it hits him that he is in the wrong. Just to show again that suicide is all around us, and is based on a lot of different aspects and the other songs on the EP, which people can piece together once they hear it.
And sadly, with those issues, suicide is often the end result for many people. Also, the lyrics of ‘Destructive Tendencies’ seem to come from the victim’s point of view but the film clip’s narrative centres on the abuser. I’m not sure if I’m just talking shit there, but that’s just an interesting observation I had.
Generally, it was more of a mix for that song. It wasn’t so much focused on a specific person in the video, it was more just letting people know that suicide, domestic violence and addiction do tend to go hand in hand. And as you said, it can be the end result for some, which we’re of course not saying that suicide is the answer. It sadly happens or affects everyone, and if someone is struggling you should help them out as best you can.
Yeah, obviously, you’re not endorsing someone killing themselves. But with these kinds of themes or lyrics, did you and Simon find it difficult to write the lyrics for these songs or did they just flow out of you?
Yeah, of course. We do touch base about what we’re writing, and it was hard, as they did bring back past memories or things you’ve been through, and even us trying to make it hit the listener where it hurts. It’s a hard thing to do, to write lyrics about such heavy subjects.
For sure. As the vocalist, do you ever find it weird to scream someone else’s words?
In this case, not really. We’re all best friends, and maybe we’ve gone through some hard times before we met, but these guys are my best friends. If it was someone else, if I had just joined a band and someone else was writing the lyrics for me, it may be different. But this band, we’ve all gone through some of these things together, from domestic violence to alcoholism and we’ve all grown up in the last three or so years’ we’ve been a band. We’re all close. We don’t just play shows and don’t talk. We hang out every weekend, whether we’re playing music or not.
That’s cool, as it’s not as common as some may think, and it seems like you’re all on the same page.
Yeah! Plus, some of these guys aren’t from Australia and none of us really knew each other that well when we first started. It was crazy how easy it worked. The first band practice we had and it flowed so well and like you said, we were all on the same page. Which is surprising at it can be hard to keep five dudes happy at the same time, but it’s worked out really well so far.
One of the tracks I wanted to talk about was ‘Detriment’ with Jack Bergin from Void Of Vision, as that song’s two years old, I found its inclusion here kinda odd. Kinda like how Graves used a new mix of ‘501’, a two-year-old single for their new album, ‘Monster’.
We planned not to have the song on the EP. When we released it on YouTube back two years it actually came out in mono. When we released it, we were about to do a tour in New Zealand, so we didn’t have time to ask Declan [White, mixer/engineer] to fix it. It didn’t come out as tight and polished as it should have been, but at that time, people need to hear it and have it out. No one really pointed it out to us either, which was really surprising to us, as we know how negative the Melbourne scene can be. Plus, 2014 was when we first started playing shows as a really young band and we all know how people like to nitpick things. So that’s one of the many reasons why it made the EP. We re-tracked the entire song and to be honest, it’s one of our most popular songs as well. In this case, it’s more of a fill track and not the main song off the EP like ‘Destructive Tendencies’.
With what you mentioned there about the Melbourne scene being negative, can you elaborate more on that and have you found that to be the case in our cities?
Well, we’ve only just started to break through the ceiling of not being a Melbourne band, and more of an Australian band. This year has been our first year where we’ve started playing in other states.
But there is hate everywhere. They’ll be people all over the world who don’t like your band, but the most important people are the people who like your band. I’m not saying the Melbourne music scene is full of hate, and obviously, we’re a Melbourne band and it’s home to us. We just see more hate here than any other place as we haven’t played other cities and states enough just yet. I’m sure the more we play, the more places we’ll find people who don’t like us.
Stemming from that, have you guys ever found negative reviews of your songs or of your live shows?
I can honestly say that we haven’t. We don’t look for it but I’m sure that there are heaps out of there. There’s nothing we’ve ever been tagged in saying that we suck. But if we do see something really positive, we’ll share it and what not. If someone higher up like Landon from The Plot In You, he shared ‘Beaten’, saying that we were good. We all screenshot it and sent it to each other, feeling like it was the best day of our lives. I personally have never read anything negative about us but again, you can’t please everyone so we’ll just cop it on the chin and move forward.
That’s the best way to go about it, honestly. On the topic of Landon Tewers, I feel like that bands’ earlier stuff has a very big influence on your sound. So having him on the song must have been a very big deal for you all and how did it all come about?
Dude, I’ll be perfectly honest with you, when I got the track back from Landon, I cried. The Plot In You are one of our personal favourite bands and for me personally, having him being such a huge inspiration to me as a vocalist and a musician was such a big deal.
When we first started talking about having a feature, we’d already had Jack from Void and we were thinking about getting some better known. I said why don’t try an get Landon from The Plot In You? I did everything in my power to make it happen. I messaged the band’s Facebook page, I emailed their manager, I hit up Ash Hull who is friends with him. I follow Landon on Twitter and I saw he’d actually tweeted his email address for any merch orders for his solo stuff as his Big Cartel page was stuffing up. Within that day, I had gotten a reply from him, but even then it took almost a year until we could get the track to him and he could record his parts. We actually got the track back the week before they toured with Make Them Suffer and I cried; it was the greatest day of my life. So it was a long process but we had been actually talking back and forth for a year or so.
That’s so awesome to hear and his parts work really well on the song too! Plus, ‘Take Me Away’ may just be one of the best songs of the year. But hey Detlyn, we’ll leave our interview there. Thanks so much for jumping on the phone with me tonight.
Perfect man, thanks so much for having me!
‘The Complex Truth’ is available December 8th. Pre-order it here. Also, Detlyn has a crippling fear of sharks. Just thought that you all should know.