INTERVIEW: Trevor Strnad of The Black Dahlia Murder

With 17 years and eight albums under the band’s collective belts, The Black Dahlia Murder is pretty much black-metal royalty at this point. Vancouver’s metalheads will have another chance to see the band this Thursday (May 24) as part of the Modified Ghost Festival at the Rickshaw.

In advance of what is sure to be a hell of a show, I spoke to The Black Dahlia Murder’s vocalist and founding member, Trevor Strnad, about the band’s music and experiences on the road. Of course, touring has changed significantly for the band since starting out. Trevor explains:

It’s definitely become more streamlined as we’ve gained success. I mean, I love knowing that most of our shows are going to be well-attended and come off without a hitch, but I do miss the early days when we didn’t exactly know what was going to happen. The victories were small, but very exciting. Staying with a bunch of strangers was sometimes a fun gamble. I miss that.”

There were downs to match the ups, though, Trevor admits:

I don’t, however, miss when that went awry. Angry roommates coming home and kicking us out at 5am, ferrets, impromptu sausage parties — I don’t miss that part of it. At times, when compared to the early days of uncertainty, the whole touring process has become a routine that can seem a bit like the movie Groundhog Day.”

When I ask Trevor what keeps the band going while on tour, he answers:

The success of the band is a very driving force. I want to get in front of as many of our fans as possible and, hopefully, please them. I think live music is a very powerful force, and I wish all of our fans could experience the shared magic of a The Black Dahlia Murder show. Without them, we are nothing. I am very thankful.”

The Black Dahlia Murder is currently promoting its eighth album, Nightbringers, which came out last October. When the band last played in Vancouver (on Halloween, no less), it had just come out, and Trevor is looking forward to playing those songs fans who have had time to become familiar with them, saying:

Every time you release a new album, there is a certain time frame of the fans playing ‘catch up.’ The response has been so great to the album and the demand seems to be there to hear every song. I think it definitely helps the crowd get into it when they hear songs they can sing or air guitar along to. I hope to be able to stick my microphone in people’s faces and hear them belting out some Nightbringers lyrics. As the singer, there’s no greater joy for me than seeing that people are into what I’m doing with my writing.”

Talking about Vancouver specifically, Trevor tells me he is looking forward to coming back to the city, saying:

We’ve had a lot of great shows, and it’s my belief that Vancouver has a great metal scene. They always seem excited to see us, and we greatly appreciate that excitement.”

Some of Trevor’s favourite bands from the BC/Vancouver metal scene include Auroch, Mitochondrion, Abuse, Allfather, 3 Inches of Blood, and Strapping Young Lad.

Trevor also speaks about how the writing process has changed since the band’s inception. In the beginning, he says, it was kinda messy:

Things were quite different for us during the first two albums. We used to write collaboratively, together, in person. Sometimes it was magical. A LOT of the time, it was five dudes fucking around and making noise. Eventually, I would end up writing lyrics over a crude boombox recording of a song we could barely play yet.

It wasn’t until we were drummerless during the writing of Nocturnal that we dove into Pro Tools as part of the demo process. I really think it was responsible for the jump in quality from Miasma to Nocturnal… giving the guitarists the space and means to develop ideas to another level, rather than just the mess of writing at band practice. Now, when I hear a song for the first time, it has both guitars, bass, and realistic sounding drums. Then, I sit in my underwear and work lyrics out while I listen to the mp3s. I think starting with a higher-quality demo results in a better product overall.”

See Trevor along with the rest of The Black Dahlia Murder at Vancouver’s Rickshaw Theatre on Thursday, May 24 (part of the annual Modified Ghost Festival).