Heavy. Beautiful. Crushing. Cathartic. These four words can easily be used to sum up the majestic musical tidal wave that is Orange County’s doom-metal outfit DESTROY JUDAS. The band released their first album “Wake” independently, online – allowing people to name their own price(even if it’s $0), and have created a buzz within the local underground scene with their impressively loud, emotional live performance. This is a band that truly lets the music speak for itself, when it comes to image and promotion. During their sets, the venue’s lights dim and the 5 members(which includes 3 guitarists)are, for the most part, in darkness save for the light cast by a screen onstage. As Destroy Judas plays through their set of massive, mournful(and yet somehow uplifting) arias, imagery of the sea and nameless humans in personal torment allows the listener to sink within themselves. This band is more than just good songs – they are an experience, and not for those unwilling to face their inner self-deceiver.
My interview is with Dan Kaufman(formerly of Eyes of Fire) – singer, guitarist, and main composer for DESTROY JUDAS.
MA: The debut album “Wake” seems to have a few running themes within it – the obvious one being the sea. Did you intend to incorporate this theme into the material before it was written? What is the significance of the sea in “Wake”?
DAN: The theme came from the music. When the first song “Wake” was starting to take shape, the opening notes reminded me of the sea. Almost like a soundtrack to the swell, rise and fall of the ocean waters. The lyrics are loosely related to each other. It’s kind of like reading the last writings of someone who has given up. Grown sick of the world and has decided to end their life by walking into the ocean.
MA: The members of Destroy Judas have a history of respective bands, past and present – including Phobia, Eyes of Fire, Asunder, Noctuary… How did you all come together for Destroy Judas?
DAN: It’s really just separate souls coming together at the right time to make it happen. I knew I wasn’t done playing after the demise of Eyes of Fire and it just so happened everyone else was game to start doing something new. Something different, for some of them. The next thing you know there’s an actual band with some songs.
MA: I’ve seen Destroy Judas play quite a few times now(amazing experience every time!). You guys utilize a projector and screen to project images that compliment the music. What inspired you to do this? Why did you choose the imagery you chose?
DAN: I’m glad you enjoy what we do. It means a lot to us that people enjoy the experience of our shows. The images, we feel, enhance the live experience. It helps generate a mood or mindset, if you will, for what we are playing and helps distract the audience from just fixating their attention on us as band members, and more on themselves – making it a more personal experience. It all came from the love of Pink Floyd. Their shows were so intense and mindblowing. All the multimedia they would have at their shows only made it more so. We want to do something that’s worth coming to see. Something other than five ugly guys on stage making the mad face and screaming at the audience. The imagery comes from songs. The lyrics. The feeling.
MA: Destroy Judas is one of the loudest(probably THE loudest) bands in Los Angeles. Is the volume a matter of personal preference, or something you feel is necessary to drive the overall “point” of the music home?
DAN: What we lack in talent we make up in volume. So we’re really really really really fucking loud. I have always played loud. Growing up listening to bands like MC5, Motorhead and Amebix – you can just tell that those bands were loud as fuck live. Plus, when I personally go to see bands live (particularly metal bands), I like them loud. I want to feel the music as well as hear it. Plus most venues we play don’t have the most amazing sound systems, so we just make it easy on the sound guy to just worry about vocals and the samples.
MA: On a similar note, why three guitarists?
DAN: It just happened. No reason in particular. Makes it a bit more difficult, though, to write songs. Don’t want a bunch of clashing guitar parts going on, and you don’t want to always have all three of us playing the same thing.
Photo by Scarlett
MA: “Wake” is available online, and people can name their own price – even if that means free. Why did you decide to do this? Do you plan on releasing free material again in the future?
DAN: I’m a big supporter of artists being in control of their art. With today’s technology bands can do it easier than ever before. Plus I know what it’s like to really like a band and not to be able to afford to buy their music. We do this so people can enjoy our music. Not just people with money. It’s a very DIY ethic we have towards what we do. Do we plan on doing it again? Sure, if the situation calls for it.
MA: Are there any touring plans in the works?
DAN: We kick tour ideas around from time to time. I really can’t see us doing a full blown US or world tour, just because our lives and the economy prevent us from doing that. A west coast or southwest tour could happen though, for sure. We all just have to make sure we’re available to do it.
MA: Is new material being written? If so, what can we expect(stylistically, thematically, and otherwise)?
DAN: We’re about 95% done with writing the second release. Just getting the vocals down and polishing up some music stuff, then we’ll hit the studio to get it all recorded. The new stuff is pretty epic. Very orchestrated stuff, with lots of good use of the triple axe attack (how’s that for a Leather Wolf reference?). Thematically, it will be dealing with what happens after death. Where you go or not go. And spirituality.
We’ve started to lay the ground work for another release as well. We’re just keeping ourselves busy.
MA: So what exactly is the meaning behind the band name?
DAN: Destroy the deciever. Destroy your deciever. What ever you make of it. I’m sure everyone can make it personal to them.
MA: What’s next for Destroy Judas?
DAN: That’s yet to be seen. Improve the live show. Work on more visuals and write more songs. We’re all here for the ride and we have no idea where it’s going. But it’s been a good one so far.
DESTROY JUDAS is playing with funeral doom masters MOURNFUL CONGREGATION, this Monday(December 5th), at the Five Stars Bar in Los Angeles. More info can be found here.