Two years after the release of their acclaimed debut record Choke The River, Prince Edward Island sludge-metal band Death Valley Driver are back. Performing at the Esquire Tavern on Sunday evening, the group has a new record out now, Graveyard Dead, which blends the group’s heavy metal and hard rock influences.
It has been an exciting past couple of years in the world of these P.E.I. rockers. In February 2012, the group’s debut album won the Music PEI Award for Loud Recording of the Year while also peaking at the number three position on campus and community radio across Canada. They were also given the amazing opportunity of opening for Metallica when the legendary metalheads played Halifax in July 2011.
Death Valley Driver vocalist Dan Hodgon tells The Times & Transcript that while having the chance to perform before thousands as a part of the Metallica show was amazing, the group also seized the opportunity to step up the Death Valley Driver live show.
“Playing with Metallica didn’t have us scrutinizing our songs as much as us just wanting to tighten up our live show,” Hodgson says. “We’ve always been fairly confident when it comes to our style. When you are watching these world-class bands like Metallica play, it is hard not to take lessons away from their live show with respect to the delivery of our songs live.”
Recorded in their home province, Hodgson says that the group originally went into the project anticipating that the Choke The River follow-up would be an EP. Once the group got writing, Hodgson says it became evident they could move forward with a full-length record instead.
“The new record came together pretty naturally once we decided to move forward with recording. It was like a whole creative well opened up.”
Once recording was completed, they enlisted the assistance of acclaimed American producer Billy Anderson in a rather simple way: they asked if he would be interested in working with them.
“It is a nice age that we live in these days where basically everyone is in relative easy reach thanks to social media and what not,” Hodgson says. “I had been a fan of Billy’s since 1994 or so thanks to his work with the Melvins and Eyehategod. I sent him some of our songs and asked if he would be interested in mixing and mastering Graveyard Dead and much to our delight, he agreed. Billy is notorious for not taking on projects for the money but he dug our songs which was a huge confidence booster for the band and for me personally. I have so many records that he has worked on in my collection, this meant a lot to me as a music fan as well as a musician.”
While playing live will be a crucial promotional tool for Death Valley Driver moving forward, the band also has an excellent new video for their song “Bloodfeud.” Shot with their friend James Arsenian, the video combines a performance of the song along with a more light-hearted view of the band in what is essentially an exercise boot camp.
For reasons only known to them, some acts can be reticent to show any sense of humour in their videos. For Death Valley Driver however, showing that they do not take themselves too seriously is the best medicine as far as they are concerned.
“We wanted to do a goofy Hard Day’s Night-kind of video this time around,” Hodgson says. “I think the video translated the different personalities in the band rather well in that respect. You see a lot bands not having fun with their videos. Some bands can pull off the looking serious thing well, especially in a high-concept type of video. For others though, looking serious doesn’t look natural at all. To us, it is all about the delivery when it comes to making videos, not necessarily how sharp it looks. If our videos can get a reaction one way or the other, that is what counts at the end of the day.”
Article published in the June 7, 2013 edition of The Times & Transcript