It was a blustery, yet warm evening in Iowa. It’s something only us Iowans understand so deal with it. Dead Horse Trauma is setting up shop to tear down Spicoli’s Rockade in Waterloo, Iowa. I was fighting the flu during this time, rundown on virtually no sleep, yet Eric Davidson was gracious enough to donate his time to talk to me for this interview. In this interview, you will get to learn what goes on in Eric’s head during the writing process of a Dead Horse Trauma song and creation of “Life”. Check out the review of “Life” on here. I gave it a four-star rating for a reason. It is packed with a punch and Dead Horse Trauma continues to push the envelope with their sound. Please like Dead Horse Trauma on Facebook at www.facebook.com/deadhorsetrauma or go to their official website at www.deadhorsetrauma.com in order to pick up “Life” or some cool merchandise. Without delay, here is my conversation with Eric Davidson, vocalist of Dead Horse Trauma.
Madness To Creation: When you hear the name of a website called Madness To Creation, what do you think of?
Eric: Visually speaking, I think of an artist that is spilling paint onto a canvas, in a real aggressive haphazardly way. It makes me think of abstract, forcefully put onto paper.
Madness To Creation: Very cool, Dead Horse Trauma recently released “Life”, let’s get inside the head of what the recording process for a Dead Horse Trauma song and album looks like.
Eric: This time around, the difference between “Life” and all of the other albums that we have had is that we recorded in a completely different way. What happened to us is that this is our seventh recording now, so the first time we recorded, we wrote all the music together in the same room, we had a drummer that wasn’t as much of a player in the room, he would write all of the stuff on computer and would learn how to play it after the fact, so we would find something that worked, he was kind of inhibited by, well, he wasn’t held back by the skills that he had had, he would write stuff beyond his skill, and would learn how to play it, that was kind of his creative process, so we would kind of adjust with that, so we would start writing it differently, so guitars, Seth would throw something down on the guitars and send it to Jayson, Jayson and him would go back and forth. Then, a drum track would be thrown on it, and then it would come back to me, I would kind of give edits and stuff like that and the vocals, how I wanted the canvas to be, after that it would be adjusted accordingly, kind of build on that, and we would end up with the canvas for me to put the lyrics to, and then I would write the lyrics. We got really good at that process. That works really good in a way that making products does, but what happened is that we ended up becoming a song factory as opposed to a band. When you’re doing that kind of thing, you get really good at being efficient and doing things in a particular way, we kind of lost the way with the emotion that you put the music into. So, we got really good at writing songs in that particular way, one thing that doesn’t happen when you become a song factory is that a lot of the emotion is lost, you lose that magic moment inside the studio where you’re like, “oh, wow, that was something really special”. Everybody’s got that, “wow, we gotta make sure we record that”, so that’s what we did is that we tried to hone that, try to get rid of as much of the process that we had had, and we try to find the good emotional music spots that evoke emotion.
We sat in pre-production for a week, which is normally ten times longer than what we would normally do in pre-production. Pre-production was a very minimal part of what we used to do and because we worked with a lot of, we would just find stuff and record stuff and be like, “oh cool, that sounded really cool”, and work from there as opposed to having a target in mind and record that target with an engineer in mind that knows exactly what he’s doing and is like, “you wanna do it this way, I’ll make sure that it gets done”. So by working with Rick Lander, we were able to accomplish a lot more things, a lot more of setting the rules as opposed to finding out what we have to work with and taking what we can get kind of thing. Pre-production was a lot longer than we have ever taken on any album, we sat there for an entire week in the studio. It was literally one week. We lived in the studio, we had sleeping bags and everything, we would sleep there, then we would get up and work on music, we would order food and we would eat there, go to sleep, wake up, work on music all over again for an entire week. That’s how we ended up with “Life”. Rick Lander had a lot of experience, he did a lot of research into our music and into our sound into what he thought we should do. Me and him would work hand-in-hand to try to make sure that we kept to the goals that we had in mind as a band, and to what he had in mind to come up with the album.
Madness To Creation: Can you think of a moment in the recording process where it felt like the stars were aligned for Dead Horse Trauma and the song came out exactly how it was meant to be?
Eric: There was a lot of times, well the way the process went is that we would write the song, and the first day we were just writing and getting a bunch of these ideas down, we tried to accomplish the first song, and then the next night, we would work on a new song, and we would re-record that song we just did. That would be the second recording of the first song, so we would always have the next one, and while we were doing that, we had the first song sent off to Germany. Chris Stanley did our production in Germany, and he would have all the samples and all of the keyboards, all of the stuff that you would hear on the album. He would send it back to us with the ideas that we sent to him, and if it’s a version of it, it usually blew us away, and that we be what I would be writing the lyrics to. So at the same time, we would have the song, lay down the vocals, we hear it completely as a song, us as a group in the room, we would hear it for the first time and we were like, “holy s***, that’s f****** crazy”, or “this is not where it’s supposed to be, this is not what we had in mind”.
Madness To Creation: So, you gotta have that holy crap moment?
Eric: Yeah, we went into this wanting to write the best music that we have ever wrote. If it wasn’t exactly what we wanted beyond our ability, we would just throw it out. We went into the studio with 20-something songs,and with the songs written, we kept like four of them, a lot of it just didn’t come out the way we wanted it to, so we would write something new.
Madness To Creation: What’s one thing that bands and recording artists take for granted when they craft a song?
Eric: People get accustomed to things that sound really cool. Sometimes you get the typical verse, chorus, verse, chorus, breakdown, chorus, chorus, then it’s done kind of thing, a lot of it is the structure, we try to keep the beat completely generic in our structure, keep a familiarity to it, something like where you’ve heard this before, but there’s a fine balance, a lot of people don’t take that into consideration, but we’re all about not putting rules into the creative process, part of making good music is breaking the rules, so creating the rules is counterproductive to the artist.
Madness To Creation: What sets Dead Horse Trauma apart from all the other bands that we might hear?
Eric: I think we have our own sound, we’re melodic and chaotic, we’re the kind of thing that can start a mosh pit but you can also hear it on the radio. We tow a lot of lines, we try to push the balance of what’s accepted on radio and mainstream to what’s heavy enough to be respected by the metal elitists. We really bounce all over the map in that.
Madness To Creation: Thank you very much for talking about the creative process of Dead Horse Trauma.
Eric: Thanks a lot man!
And there you have it, again, please go to their official website or on I-Tunes to pick up a copy of “Life”. In an effort to further entice you to picking up a copy of “Life”, here is the single entitled “Fugue State” below.