The brief history of Dysphoria is one of a chance meeting
at a mutual gig 1998, of James (then of ‘Ewigkeit’
and also drummer for then notorious Brighton punk band
‘Sperm ov Doom’) Neil (a molecular
biology student, very occasional guitar-player and contributor
of the odd riff to ‘Ewigkeit’ catalogue of albums) and
vocalist John (psychotherapist by profession, bassist
for Brighton rock / punk band Geronimo Arkwright,, and all-round stoned
You say you play ambient death metal what exactly does this mean?
I have to confess that dividing
music into categories does not really interest me, however people like
to have music categorised for them so they can presuppose something about
the music produced by a band. The term ambient death metal was something
we coined without much thought because it loosely describes our music
if this phrase appears something of an oxymoron then it is because we
are not interested in limiting ourselves through categorisation. The term
is intended only as a reference point for people as they want music to
be described as something however I find it depressing when bands categorise
themselves merely to follow something which has already been established
this seems to be a fairly redundant way of making music. Dysphoria was
a band formed solely for the music and for the aim of having a good time,
as the band have no expectations we feel free to create whatever we like
as long as it suits us at the time rather than trying to follow some bullshit,
theatrical, one dimensional image we have imposed upon ourselves. We coined
the term as it was the most apt way we could be bothered to describe ourselves,
it wasn't something we thought too deeply about but if it helps people
get a handle on our sound and progress with us with an open mind then
great, we don't care to have a label for ourselves where people can have
expectations of what we "should" do. Far too many bands (especially
on the serious underground scene) are far too willing to be boxed in by
a label which dictates to their creativity when they then try to change
direction naturally then they are accused of selling out.
Do you not feel though that ambience and death metal are polar opposites of each other and therefore ambient death metal is almost a contradiction in terms?
Yes of course it could be said that the two things are if not polar opposites then perhaps mutually incompatible. However all music relies on certain things such as rhythm and melody to create mood the question is merely which mood you wish to create. I cannot say that we are a traditional style death band and I hardly believe the term has any relevance anymore except for certain retrograde bands that wish to recreate a certain period of music. However to someone who has not heard the music it is the easiest way to describe ourselves. Also I believe that our music contains contrasts which make it neither strictly brutal nor ambient create something with the feeling of both. By contrasting things it becomes more interesting than trying to maintain one thing all the time. For example, brutality is totally relative. When one describes a piece of music as brutal in one sense it's bullshit as no piece of music can be rated as brutal or evil or extreme or dangerous (if one places much credence in this concepts) alongside, say, the events occurring in East Timor. Furthermore if all ones aim is to be brutal than by lack of variety one becomes less brutal. This is what has happened to death metal, the bands who relied simply on brutality had to become faster, have sicker lyrics or whatever until they became a parody of themselves. After a while anything without variety becomes the norm and cannot stay extreme indefinitely, even a soldier in a trench in the First World War must have got used to the shelling. What is brutality or extremity but the absence of less brutal/extreme conditions and without the contrasts how can anything remain extreme? These things are not absolutes that can be obtained but instead can only be maintained via contrasts in styles. This is how we like to use our music to attain feeling which can be bounced off of ambience or extremity as and when we feel like it and to heighten these feelings. Finally! It is stupid to imagine anyone lives in anger or whatever constantly even in a minute a huge variety of emotions address us and it is simply more interesting and true (which perhaps go hand in hand) to reflect this in ones music. (Phew)
Where does the front cover for the demo come for the demo 'Listen to the smoke' come from, as it is pretty darn weird?
It is from a book owned by our drummer James (the rest of the band cannot read) called "witches" - if you give a toss you can contact the publishers for this tome. The picture is supposed to be a representation of the foul and mysterious art of alchemy. Incidentally, Emperor also stole a picture from this book, which was used on their 'As The Shadow's Rise' 7" EP.
I noticed that the sleeve says this demo is dark 002 have the band done another demo?
No we have not but James produces albums and demos for other bands (see contact address if interested) and had previously designed an demo cover from the British underground black metal goblins Old Forest which was released as Dark 001.
It is apparent that the band takes pleasure in all things green and leafy, in what way if any does this affect your music?
Well it makes a pleasant change from the difficult labour of being drunk all the time and can give a different slant on things to booze. The magic weed has obviously influenced the album to some extent as much of the writing and recording was done under the influence. However, I couldn't say how far it influenced the demo as I was too stoned at the time.
One of the highlights of the demo for me was the use of bongos mid-song, especially as they are used alongside the main riffage rather than as a token gesture, what inspired this ludicrous yet effective idea ?
The demo was generally written and recorded in various forms of intoxication, which combined with our willingness to try anything in the music led to experiments with bongos etc to improve the sound. Basically the bongos were around when the demo was recorded we were drunk or stoned enough to think they would be a fine addition and so we put them on. If we had sobered up and thought they sounded shit they would have been dropped but as you say it worked. As for using the bongos alongside the main riffs what the fuck would be the point in sticking them on the end or whatever. If you're going to bother with something it may as well be used properly.
There is a myriad of styles at play within your music, at times I am reminded of black metal, others katatonia or more bog standard death metal and then all of a sudden it reminds me of the ambient fork arcana or melodic death metal. Does this eclectic approach reflect the bands listening habits and how do you make these various influences come together to form a cohesive whole?
However we are all influenced
by extreme metal from both the black and death sides or whatever as well
as more laid back groovy stuff and more retro stuff that was responsible
for extreme music whether it be classical jazz or blues. I tend to think
anything goes with music and when writing try to draw on whatever influences
(consciously or unconsciously) that appeal to me at the time. I think
it is a mistake to deny yourself listening to any from of music as any
form can inspire you. Even bollocks in the charts is based on older and
better music and if people can still get some of that through the sanitised
version palatable to them or even become aware of better music through
it then that is fine.
The band hasn't gigged yet
for two reasons firstly because we all have other commitments which means
that we only dedicate part of our time to the band and secondly we are
lazy bastards who can't be bothered with the hassle.
How has the demo been received so far, any good reviews or label interest etc?
Yet again our supreme laziness
has let us down here the demo was recorded in the summer of 98 and we
have done little to promote it as we recorded the first mainly for the
music. However we believe in the music we are writing and have another
demo written which are working on for release by the end of the year.
We haven't pursued labels or pushed the demo much as we are keen to write
more and most importantly get a better recording before committing ourselves
Is Dysphoria the opposite of euphoria? and what made the band choose this name?
Dysphoria is basically a clinical term for unhappiness or mild depression. Our bassist john who is a mental health worker thought up the name. The rest of the band agreed to the name as it has a nice melancholic ring to it yet is derived from a clinical term.
What do you think to the UK underground at the moment? Is it thriving in your view or does it lack any sort of a fanbase from which to develop?
I think if there were no fanbase
then there would be no fanzines like this running, however it does seem
that extreme music is less able to win any form of mainstream respect
in this country which reflects itself on a smaller and less committed
underground scene. There is no mainstream magazine, which reflects the
underground any more, but there are many committed fanzine writers and
high quality English bands that deserve respect.
ROCK ARD ROCK EAVY ROCK ANIMAL.