Defying Decay discuss their new album, working with Stuart Birchall and what’s next

Bangkok alternative metal band Defying Decay are creating a name for themselves with their hard-hitting songs and their drive to keep pushing the boundaries of their music.  The band was co-founded in 2010 by “Jay” Room Euarchukiati (vocals/guitar/synth), with Kongpop “Jump” Thongrat (guitar/piano), Theon Adam (bass/programmer) and Mark Mironov (drums) rounding out the line-up.  Although starting out as one of the youngest metal bands in Thailand, the band over the years have developed their own sounds based on the bands that have influenced them the most.  The band has undergone several line-up changes over the years, but Jay’s love of performing and writing music has kept him focused on keeping the band going.  Defying Decay will be releasing their latest album Metamorphosis this Spring, an album that saw the members recording it remotely as they are currently all spread out.  The album has a nu-metal feel with catchy choruses and weird sounds, as well as some electronic elements.  The album will feature the two recent singles “Ghost” and “Judas Kiss”, both songs seeing the band take a more creative direction with their music videos.  While “Ghost” was influenced by the ’90s rave scene and Prodigy sci-fi lighting, “Judas Kiss” footage was ultimately used by Jay and producer Stuart Birchall for an award-winning short film they developed called APEX.  Admiring Birchall’s video work with bands such as Bullet For My Valentine, Architects and Bring Me The Horizon, Jay decided to reach out to Birchall to direct “Ghost” and “Judas Kiss”, with led to a collaboration between the two.  With plans to write more music and tour for the upcoming album, the next few months will be busy for the band.  Staff writer Emily May recently spoke with Jay about the upcoming album, working with Stuart Birchall and what’s next for the band.  You can follow Defying Decay and stay up-to-date with all upcoming tour dates and music via the following links.  Check out the videos for “Ghost” and “Judas Kiss” below.

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You helped to form the band in 2010 and began rehearsals covering songs by bands such as Bullet For My Valentine, Linkin Park and Slipknot.  Would you count those as some of the band’s main musical influences at that point and how have your influences changed over the years?  Did you have an idea of the sound you were going for starting out or did the band explore different sounds?

At that point, we all weren’t too familiar with each other as a band because some of us had literally first met at a concert with no other connection but the love for metal. We all had our differences but what brought us together was our love for music and what we could all agree on at that time were those songs that we all loved.  At that point, we were just bunch of kids playing whatever was most memorable in out teenage years, but over the years we’ve developed sounds based on those influences by exploring different sounds and now we have Defying Decay

What was the music/metal scene like in Bangkok during the band’s early days and how has it evolved over the years?  What was it like to be one of the youngest metal bands on the scene at that time and did that present any specific challenges?  

 It was a very small community, we literally knew everyone involved and I feel like it hasn’t evolved much…as a matter of fact it’s been going backwards. Metal is not that big nowadays in Thailand and people in the scene are not constant.  You will see people breaking up and they’ll be gone and then you have new faces that come and go. Being one of the younger metal bands came with its own challenges. For example, in the beginning I had problems singing / screaming because my voice hadn’t changed yet so it was more difficult to scream and sound good.  Overall, the scene was quite receptive of us during our early days. 

The band started writing original material in 2012.  What was the band’s songwriting process during that time and how do you feel it has changed over the years?  What is the main inspiration for your lyrics and does everyone share in the songwriting?

Before, when we wrote a song, I would come up with a guitar riff and we would try to work everything around that. Nowadays we care more about the song itself, so I will try to write with an acoustic guitar and just sing and come up with chorus parts.  Sometimes it’s an electronic bass and I work a loop or something, or sometimes I find a sound that interests me and make something cool from it. Like, Judas Kiss’s synth was an 8 bit sounding synth with a bit crusher. To be honest, what really inspires me is gears.  I would get excited and be inspired to write when I just find a new cool sound from a synth or even a guitar sound built with a bunch of pedals, and making the sound exciting rather than like an actual musician who would sit in front of a piano and think about the actual melody. Even though that does happen sometimes in the band, because Jump is a pianist and some songs on the record were written from a jamming session with piano. Other than that, nowadays we do everything on computer programs and try to arrange the song on the computer and make a demo even before playing it together. Lyrics-wise, I don’t really have a specific message to say, except songs like ‘Ghost’, I do have a message. Other than that mostly I would try to come up with a vocal melody first before even writing the lyrics. I would sing a melody that is cool with just random words and I would substitute those random words with whatever lyric that works. Some songs like ‘Crimson Butterfly’, I would try to listen to the music first and see what the vibe and tone feels like and write lyrics from how I’m inspired by that vibe and tone. As for everybody’s participation in lyrical songwriting, it’s really just me and Howard.

The band was recognized early on for including extensive guitar solos in your music.  Was it always the goal to have the guitar be prominently featured in your music?  What do you love about guitar solos and what guitarists would you count as having your favorite guitar solos?

 It wasn’t really on purpose but that naturally just happened because Jump and Howard would come up with some cool riffs that work and we would just let them use it. We are all guitarists in this band…me, Jump and Howard…so we understand how important the guitar solo is for the guitarist. If it sounds cool, sure, why not use them? Personally, my favorite guitar solo is Jump by Van Halen. It’s technical but it’s not complicated and it’s quite memorable like a catchy chorus and I feel like it’s not a solo for showing off, but rather an expression.

Having gone through several line-up changes since forming, what has kept you driven and motivated over the years to keep going and forge ahead with the band?  

 Although undergoing several line-up changes was challenging and hard for me at the time, you just have to really believe in it. I do it because it’s fun and it’s one of the only few things I enjoy doing in life. I really enjoy playing and writing music both on stage and in the studio. 

Your upcoming album ‘Metamorphasis’ will be released in the Spring of this year!  What can people expect from the album?  What was the recording process like?

 In ‘Metamorphosis’ people could expect modern nu-metal sounding record with catchy choruses and weird sounds. While we were writing this album, the band wasn’t together most of the time as were studying in different places so members would individually come up with ideas and record a demo and send it to each other and we would develop the song. It was a new experience and it was kind of fun because it was challenging and songs were better this way because we got the overall perspective of the song by stepping out of the jamming studio and having individual time to really listen to the song on our own.

The album was a journey for the band that tested and changed you as people and artists.  What can you tell me about that journey and what you learned about yourselves as individuals and as artists?  Did it change the direction you wanted for the band?

I mean quite a few things actually. One of the biggest changes from our first record is that on ‘Metamorphosis’ we worked with a producer and had other people helping us. Contrary to the first record, which was all written by me primarily with no producer and recorded by myself at home. This experience really changed how we looked at things in what takes to make a great record.

You’ve said that you love Imagine Dragons in part because they are evolving music by stepping away from the traditional use of guitars and using other instruments instead.  Although you still feature guitars in your music, are you hoping to take the band’s sound in this direction and experiment with other instruments?

Definitely, I honestly feel that if we make another record and basing everything off guitar like this record it probably end up sounding the same or really similar. Like there’s so much you can do with just 4 octaves on a guitar. I would absolutely love to try to and get away from writing with a guitar next time. It is a challenge as it is the instrument I know best and grew up playing the longest. But I mean if you don’t get out of your comfort zone you can’t really get anywhere.

The band’s video for “Ghost” was released last year and the latest video for “Judas Kiss” was recently released.  You have said that you had become a bit bored with videos of the band playing and wanted to get a bit more creative.  What inspired the ideas behind these videos and what led the band to experiment with more electronic elements for “Judas Kiss”?  

“Ghost” was inspired by 90’s rave scene with all the lasers and Prodigy sci-fi lighting and “Judas Kiss” footage was actually supposed to be for “Ghost” narrative but we thought it was too intense and it is really strong on its own so we decided we wanted to make a new video out of it and we used it for a short film ‘APEX’ which won over 50 awards in film festivals last year. I’m a huge fan of sci-fi movies and anime so really it was that element that got me interested in trying that with “Judas Kiss”.  It’s our first song with electronic vibe in it, so we thought it was fitting.

The video footage for “Judas Kiss” was used by you and your video director Stuart Birchall to make your award-winning short film APEX.  What can you tell me about the film and the inspiration/idea behind it?

The film was from a footage saved from ‘Ghost’ music video and we wanted something dark and cool.  I guess it’s really Nine Inch Nails inspired.

You developed an interest in collaborating with Birchall following his work with Architects, Bullet For My Valentine and Bring Me The Horizon.  What stood out to you the most about his work that led you you want to work with him?  What has it been like to work together and do you have anything in the works together currently?

His works are really dark and cinematic and it’s something I really like.  He also directed one of my favorite music video which was `Alpha Omega’ by Architects. That was the first music video I saw from a metal band which was quite abstract and profound, and I don’t really see that in a metal music video so I wanted something like that for our band. ‘Alpha Omega’ music video didn’t feature the band playing but by doing so, it really made the song stronger visually and it’s something I haven’t seen since the video called ‘Stinkfist’ by Tool. 

You recently released an acoustic version of “Shattered Memories” from your first album.  What prompted the decision to do the acoustic version?

I’ve always enjoyed acoustic music, because it’s fun and it’s easy to listen to. Few of the first songs in the record came from me strumming acoustic guitar and singing on it so we decided to do it. Album version wasn’t that great because we were young and listening back, I feel like we could’ve done better so we released an acoustic version of it to make up for that feeling, really.

You have said that this year will be all about more music, more tours and more Defying Decay!  What’s next for you?  What do you guys have planned for 2019? 

We will release a new album and hope to tour in new territories like Europe and America and write more music.

 

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