Contributor’s Note: Mark Dean of (AntiHero Magazine, The Spill Magazine, Madness To Creation) converses with Donald Carpenter of Blisskrieg on the 15th episode of Madness To Creation Podcast. In this episode, Donald discusses how the band was formed. You might have heard Donald’s voice from hard rock bands Submersed and Eye Empire. On February 22nd, Blisskrieg released their debut album entitled “Remedy” on all digital streaming platforms. Blisskrieg is composed of Donald Carpenter on vocals, Todd Whitener, Matt Taul and Jesse Vest. The band is composed of members of Submersed, Eye Empire, Days Of The New and Tantric. Here is what Jesse had to say about “Remedy”:
“It’s a surprisingly diverse album,” says Jesse Vest. “There are songs that we think will satisfy fans of our past projects, but there are other songs that will catch some fans off-guard. ‘Inside Me’ is the first song on the record, and we felt it was the best representation of what people could expect to hear from us in the other songs. It has the bold vocal harmonies, heavy bass and drum grooves, and a mix of melody and aggression in the guitars that are recurring themes in the rest of the album.”
Fans can find Blisskrieg at the following locations:
Mark Dean: Hi. How are you?
Donald Carpenter-Blisskrieg: Hey, how’s it going?
Mark Dean: I’m not too bad. It sounds like you’ve got your hands full.
Donald Carpenter-Blisskrieg: Yeah. We’ve got the kids in the house here.
Mark Dean: All right. Keep you busy then, especially at this time.
Donald Carpenter-Blisskrieg: Yeah. Oh no, I’m free to talk. I was just trying to get situated. You’re calling right on time.
Mark Dean: No worries. It’s a bit of a surreal time for the world over the last year. But in the middle of a global pandemic, you have a band, you’ve got an album, you’ve obviously been pretty busy.
Donald Carpenter-Blisskrieg: Yeah. I mean, I guess we all had a lot of time on our hands. And for guys like us who prefer to stay busy and have been making music for a while, it was a pretty exciting time to be able to come together.
Mark Dean: What about the origins of the band? Let’s start with the name. How did that come about? How did you meet the other guys in the band? And how did you get together?
Donald Carpenter-Blisskrieg: Well, I’ve been a fan of their music since their first band. These three guys started a band called Days Of The New. Out of the Midwest here in the United States. And I was a big fan. I was actually born the same year as those guys. We were all about the same age. I was a senior in high school and they were signing a record deal and going to play with Metallica. So I was a big fan from early on and never would’ve thought in a million years that we’d be playing music one day together, but that’s how it happened. So I think it was towards the end of last year or actually two years ago, Todd Whitener, the guitar player had reached out to me on the internet and had just mentioned that he was a fan of my music and that he wasn’t sure what I was doing, but that he was interested in being creative and wanted to see if I would get together and write some music with him.
And over the time that we were going back and forth, he started to reconnect with Jesse Vest and Matt Taul, who were his original band mates. And so as they were talking, he hit me back and was like, “Hey, I know we’ve been talking about writing some music, but what would you think about doing a band with these original guys that I started my journey with? Would you be interested in that?” And I was honoured to be able to help. And so I took the gig. And I think one of the most dreaded parts of starting a band is trying to name the band. There’s really no rhyme or reason to what makes a successful band name and if it’s even the name that makes a band successful. Usually it’s the music that really separates everything. But we started kicking some ideas around and Jesse had this idea of Blisskrieg, and the idea was trying to spin on a negative. The term Blitzkrieg was never really associated with anything too positive. Yeah, without going into the immediate. But basically, when you break the original word Blisskrieg down, it stands for lightning war.
And we just thought that for one, there is a battle for our soul really, when you look at what’s going on in the world. And for us, being guys who had been out of the game for a while and were taking a chance in stepping back into it, we just wanted to bring a little love back into the world. We just wanted to bring a little more understanding and a little more happiness. And we thought, if we could be as aggressive with our love and our understanding and our connection as we are with some of these more negatives, that the world would probably be a better place. And so, he came up with this little play on words, which is Blisskrieg, which is our idea of bringing in more of a loving war. That’s the way we translate it, is a loving war. We’re here to battle the forces of darkness with more of a positive energy.
Mark Dean: Yeah. So you’ve actually created a new word as well as a new album.
Donald Carpenter-Blisskrieg: Yeah. I guess you might as well have fun with it. I guess that was a serious explanation, but it’s nothing you want to take too seriously. We just really got together and let it flow. And that’s exactly what it did, it just came out of us.
Mark Dean: What about the song creation? I mean, do you guys still live fairly close by? Were the song’s created over the internet? Did you actually get together? How did the album come about in terms of composition of songs and tunes?
Donald Carpenter-Blisskrieg: Well, I think the game has changed a lot over the last decade or so, with all these different accelerations in technology and the ability to share content over large distances. So Todd’s based out of Nashville and Matt and Jesse are still in Indiana and I’m in Texas. And so early on, it was, we would share tidbits of these ideas. Little risks and little things that we were gravitating to. And everybody would be like, ooh, I like that or ooh, I like that. And then we would plan to make time to come together and we would meet at Todd’s house. He has a studio there in his home. It has an amazing energy to it. I mean, we were only getting together to create music. We weren’t young and dumb, we’re not getting together to drink and party and do all these other things.
And so when we got into a room, it was a very focused atmosphere and everything was very natural. I think when you’re signed to a label or when you’re young and there’s a lot of expectation, I think sometimes it can take some of the fun out of the experience.
I think it can make it a little difficult sometimes. And for us, with this instance, there were no expectations, there was no pressure. It was just getting together and just trying to vibe out and write what we felt. And me as a lyricist, I just wanted to be able to try to write stories that not just told my story, but told their story as well. And we’re on a road to redemption, and so there’s a lot to be said for that. I think anybody who gets to midlife, I think starts to reflect. And you start to look at things and maybe some of the things that you got right, but also looking at some of the regrets that you have and wishing you could have done some things differently. And so we were able to just let all that go and just have a lot of fun with it.
Mark Dean: What about in terms of promotion? Are you guys just solely promoting it yourself? Do you have a label interest in releasing it? Are you going to sell it to the world basically?
Donald Carpenter-Blisskrieg: Well, I mean, it’s a crazy day and age when it comes to the music industry, and a lot of labels and management and so on are trying to figure out what their next step is. So I don’t know whether they’re necessarily in the game of finding new bands. We have a history, and so we already have a little bit of a buzz and have some momentum that we can focus on individually. And so really, we’re taking that same mentality we had with creating the record, which was, there’s no rush, there’s no stress to try to make anything happen. We all have balance in our lives now.
We have family, we have jobs, we have all these things that allow us to take our time and not feel like we have to rush any one particular aspect of this. And so for us right now, it’s just about getting it out there to where we can share it, allowing the industry to catch up to the times. And if there’s a place for us out there, whether it’s on the road or whether it’s with the label or whether it’s with the management, representation or so on and so on, then it’ll find us. And if not, then we still have each other, we still have fans out there that do a great job spreading the word. And in the end, that’s really what it’s about. It’s just between us and the fans.
Mark Dean: I mean, it’s a great album, I’ve been fortunate enough to hear it in advance. You got to get a label behind that to give that push, because the world needs to hear great rock music like that, I think.
Donald Carpenter-Blisskrieg: Yeah, for sure. I mean, we’re dinosaurs. We’re getting new to this whole social media play and all of that. And so, labels do look at those numbers, they look at your likes and your followers and your views and all that kind of stuff. And so, I guess this allows us to work on some of that, to build our fan base, to let people know we’re out there, to get the buzz going. And then hopefully it’ll get into the right hands. And if that happens, I mean, we’re all ready and willing and able to step up to the occasion. And I have a good feeling about it all. I’m not really trying to think too far ahead.
With my past experience, ego can get in the way a lot of times. And so I just want to be grateful and humble for whatever comes our way. I mean, the fact that we’re conversing here today, it makes me feel special. So it’s just good to be back at it.
Mark Dean: I wonder if you could pick maybe just a couple of tracks from the album and talk to me about maybe the lyrics, what the song’s about, how they came to be created?
Donald Carpenter-Blisskrieg: Right. Well as we started putting the songs together, there was a storyline that was starting to take shape. And I think it was really, like I was saying, a lot of that reflection that went back on our lives and some of the regrets and some of the triumphs and the tribulations. And so the album starts off with a song called Inside Me, which was “our first single.” It was hard to listen to this record and figure out what song we wanted to put out there first.
And for us, Inside Me was just … it was a song that doesn’t really give too much away as far as what the album is going to give you. But in the same sense, it does give you a good range of some of the different sounds. And the lyric concept behind it really came down to starting this central character off on this road, like I said, road to redemption. And for that first song and that story, it really came down to acknowledging the demons within, the beast within. Whether it fuels our mental illness or whether it fuels our addictions and our self-destructive behaviours. And some of that ego, like I was talking about, that goes into it.
And so, the lyric concept really tells that story through that central character’s eyes of this self-destructive process. And really coming to the realisation that if he or she, whoever’s putting themselves in that position, that if they don’t get it under control, that they can lose their soul. They can lose the opportunity to really make the most out of this life that they’ve been given. And so throughout the process of the album, this character really goes on a journey of self discovery. And it’s really a fun ride, especially when you get to the last song on the album, which is called Remedy.
And that’s actually the title track from the record, and it’s a completely different landscape. We wanted to go to a place where we felt that the character had come to a place of peace, a place of understanding, and a place of clarity moving forward as to the true focus and the true purpose of life. And so those two songs are really proper bookends for that story.
My personal favourite song from the album is a song called Waiting.
And one of the reasons for that is just, for me personally, I keep talking about this road to redemption. I needed to be able to let go of a lot of the self hate that came into understanding my ego process. And so that was really a personal song to me that just … In the chorus, it just says let it go, let it go, let your tears fall down like rain, your life will never be the same. Because it’s like, when you can really let the weight go of regret and just understand that we all make mistakes and then it’s a learning process and then we can get better at this thing called life, then it really allows you to be more truly of who you are and to find your purpose in life. And aside from the message on it, it’s just a really rocking track, it has a good jam to it.
Mark Dean: Obviously, the band came together in a time of world crisis. Do you see the band having any longevity? Was it a one-off project? Has it fired or fueled all of the individual band members to work together in the future? I mean, what about, in terms of live shows, the band continuing more than just the lifecycle of the album?
Donald Carpenter-Blisskrieg: Right. I think once again, we haven’t tried to over-plan or over-process- we’re just letting it really happen. But I will say this, the way that we’ve all verbalised it to each other is that we’ve created a brotherhood here and we’ve created a home. We all have other things that we do, we all have busy lives, but we want to be able to have a place where we can come together and just create and get away from all that.
And once again, not feel that pressure. Just to have a brotherhood. We’ve all experienced the pressures of the industry and having a label, and it can tear bands apart, it can tear that brotherhood apart. And so for us, I think the important thing is just to keep it simple and stay focused on that. If the industry comes back around to where we can play shows again, I think it’s important for us to do that. The fact that we came together when we did, to me, says a lot as far as the purpose behind it.
It’s not something that we have to feel pressured to make, go one way or the other. We just know that it’s here, that we have each other, that we have a place to come together and create music when we feel that it’s necessary, and we have the outlet to share it with people. And if we strike gold and it all comes together, then I mean, that’s awesome. And if it doesn’t, well, then we have each other and we have a platform and we have an outlet and we’re living our lives’ passionate and we’re feeling fulfilled. And in the end that’s all that matters. So I mean, we plan on maintaining this brotherhood until the day we die.
Mark Dean: Yeah. I certainly feel personally that songs really only come alive when they’re out and they’re performed for a live audience. You guys must be itching, when you’ve been doing those tracks in the studio, to actually go out and perform them live.
Donald Carpenter-Blisskrieg: Yeah. I mean, we were actually just talking about that, maybe trying to get together to do some type of webcast performance or something. Just to give us a good excuse to get in a room and turn it up. We were also talking about how of a challenge it would be to play it live. This stuff is, there’s a lot of layers to it.
There’s a lot of instrumentation and a lot of vocals as well. And so we’re starting to kick around some ideas on how we could do that and what it would take, but you’re exactly right. I mean, you’re one band when you’re in the studio writing and when you can actually get out there and start playing live shows together, you become a different band. And I think you start to write differently and everything really starts to come together even more in-depth. So that’s one of the beauties of this process. We’ve gotten so much done, we’ve come together so well, but we still have so much more room to grow and do so many more things together. So yeah.
Mark Dean: Listening to the album, obviously the songs stand out. I was particularly taken with your vocals. I mean, I was actually asking myself, how come I haven’t heard this guy sing before? I wonder if you could just briefly outline maybe your musical background for, as I said, people like me that wouldn’t be maybe too familiar with you?
Donald Carpenter-Blisskrieg: Right. Well, thank you. I appreciate those kind words, it makes me feel very well. I started singing at a young age. Music has always been a part of my life from very, very young. I started out as a classical singer in school and right around the time that I started that journey. Bands like Soundgarden and Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots. The grime sound came about and it just stole my heart. And so I started dabbling in that world and spent some time in the military. And when I came out of the military at a young age, I started my first band named Submersed. And we were signed to a label named Wind-up Records, which is known for bands like Creed, Evanescence, Finger Eleven, Cinder, which is a really big band now.
And so I was on that label, we’d put out two records, we had some minimal success, we had worldwide exposure, but was never really able to do a lot of overseas touring. But it gave me enough experience to make some relationships and open some doors, and it was a lesson in ego, once again. I think it was a blessing in disguise that things turned out the way they did. I can honestly say that I wasn’t really ready for any type of true success, but it gave me a lot of experience and it gave me a little bit of a fan base to grow with. And from there, I was a part of a national touring act called Eye Empire, which had some international players involved in it.
And we did a lot of touring and played a lot and gained a lot of fan bases, but it just burned itself out. Touring is a very hard life and it can really put all the relationships to the test. And unfortunately it didn’t work out, but once again, everything happens for a reason and it was a learning experience. And it brought me to where I am and who I am today. So I’ve been doing this for almost 20 years, but have just been waiting for that opportunity to really break out. I’ve had a lot of fans that have supported me and kept me going year after year after year. There was a few years back that I just didn’t think I would ever sing again, I didn’t think I was going to be in music again. I was just really, once again, dealing with a lot of those
… and a lot of those negative feelings that can really eat you up. Honestly, it was my journey back to faith that allowed me to just surrender a lot of that to the Lord and say, “hey, listen, I’m going to stop trying to think about my next step. And I’m just going to say, wherever you need me to be, take me there and I’ll be ready and I’m going to be a humble servant.” And as soon as I did that, the phone started ringing and messages popped in the inbox and here comes Todd asking me about great music. And there’s just so many things going on now. And to be, like I said, talking with you across the pond and being able to share something that just means so much to me and to have my voice be heard, it’s just a phenomenal feeling and I’m just so grateful.
Mark Dean: Moving forward, do you see music becoming more of a part of your life or just something that you can run in unison with all of the other different elements that make up your life?
Donald Carpenter-Blisskrieg: I think balance is the best word to answer that with. I feel an absolute sense of balance, even to the sense where I feel like there’s more I could do, there’s more opportunities I could take advantage of. The important thing is just doing what I’m intended to do. And I do feel that I was born to sing, I was born to connect through music. And so I think moving forward, the way I look at it is I feel like everything leading up to this was just practise. I just watched Tom Brady win his seventh Super Bowl. It’s a big story over here in the United States right now. And me and my friends are looking at each other and we’re saying, we got a whole another second half to play. And it’s time to go out there and take a lot of this experience that we’ve garnished and go out there and utilise it and have fun with it and make an impact on people’s lives. And yeah, I see me making more music than I ever have.
Mark Dean: That’s great news because as I said, I really do love the album ever since it got out. I think it first got linked about a week ago, it’s on repeat pretty much every single day. So good luck with the album. I really hope it gives you the opportunity to progress. And hopefully, when the world situation gets back to normal, you can get out and play those songs live.
Donald Carpenter-Blisskrieg: Absolutely. Yeah. I think there’s definitely a connection that happens when you hear it. Some goosebumps that happen and stuff. But being able to go out and connect with people live and they can see the passion coming out of you. And my favourite part is the merch booth afterwards, shaking people’s hands and hearing stories and making connections. That’s really what we are as human beings. There’s so many fences being thrown up and there’s so many boundaries and there’s so many labels and there’s so many divisions that are just being thrown out there. And to me, this is what’s beautiful about music, is it just brings so many different people together. And when you’re in that room together sharing in that energy and there’s no boundaries, there’s no division, it’s just a deep seated connection. I think it just helps to remind us all what we’re truly here for.
Mark Dean: That’s brilliant. It’s been good to talk to you. As I said, I can’t praise the album highly enough. And good luck with it.
Donald Carpenter-Blisskrieg: Thank you so much. Appreciate you for having me. And anytime, let’s chat again.
Mark Dean: Definitely. Thank you very much for talking to me.
Donald Carpenter-Blisskrieg: You too, brother. Have a good evening. God bless.
Mark Dean: Cheers. Bye.
And there you have it! Fans can check out this interview featuring Donald Carpenter(Submersed/Eye Empire) of Blisskrieg via Soundcloud below:
Fans can listen to “Remedy” by Blisskrieg via Spotify below:
Fans can find Mark Dean at the following locations: