Heavy Metal, Light Shows And The Truth About Killian's

To cross the line between hard rock and heavy metal you have to charge into an aggressive state and hold nothing back emotionally and musically. This does not mean shying away from diversity or creativity.

But in true heavy metal, the only offense is being worried about who you will offend. Judas Priest, AC/DC, Megadeth are all bands who made a name for themselves by saying what they wanted first and worrying about what people thought ... well, never worrying about what people thought.

To be recognized and famous in the mainstream world takes adherence to some level of conformity. The beauty of rock music is that the best kind was made by bands who broke away from all the norms. Some of history's greatest authors created with an eye on what society felt and how they would react to their points of view. Make no exception about it, the greatest writers in rock n' roll, especially in its loudest form, blinded themselves to society, and wrote with reckless abandonment of its rules.

These days, mainstream metal has become too normal. The bands of our generation look the part, act the part, but don't feel it. The words they write may sound dangerous. In a backwards way they are just a desperate attempt to conform; an attempt to sound violent and dangerous, when the music's true inspiration originated in a shopping mall.

These bands, desperate to convince their record labels to ink their next option, have grabbed attention away from the true metal bands. In the past a metal band lived and died by its live show. Nowadays, the music, in some cases, seems play a secondary role to the amount of supermodels shagged and amount of bleach in an artist's hair. Entertainment is done in the media as much as it is done on the stage.

True metal music can be heard by stepping away from the mainstream and taking notice of a local band like Slowdrown. The band is, and when success comes, will remain true to their grass roots. They do it themselves. They put together CD's and a powerful live light show and, most importantly, work hard as a group until their songs are strong enough for them.

Not the radio.

The sound they've created harkens back to metal's glory days. Slightly before Riki Rachtman still had a career. It's loud, sometimes obnoxious, unrelenting and, of course, contains lyrics which are blind to society's norms. It grabs you in and doesn't let you go.

It's a sound that may not cheer you up when you're in a bad mood, but it may help you realize why you got there. It's not sugar-coated. It's the truth as they see it. Not how you want to see it and not how you want to see them.

The band dresses, performs and sounds how they want. They're metal on the outside, but nice guys who are sincere in wanting to give their best to their fans, underneath. They don't frown upon dipping into their own pockets to do so.

Their sound does draw from contemporary metal, but their approach will remind the listener of a band who was once struggling to make it in San Francisco. This band played music that was as far from the mainstream as possible. Metallica, now nationally known, changed the state of metal.

It's good to know we've got a band like Slowdrown here in Jersey.

Did you guys aim to make a CD that you guys would actually go out and buy?

Dan: I myself would want to say, 'dude, that CD was fuckin' great, so go pick it up.'


Chris: I just kind of rate [it like this] ... If I can, like, put the CD on and have it repeat over and over and still be able to fuck to it, then I'll go with it. (Laughter.)

George: For the note, Ed's leering in the background with his Guinness. (Laughter.) For the whole conversation.

Eddie: Very lovingly.

George: * Lovingly *

Adam: Put that in asterisks please. (Laughter.) [Publisher's Note: Sure thing, Adam.]

Eddie: Irish mud. Killian's is not Irish beer. Put that in there, too. It's made by Coors.

How do you guys come up with your lyrics and what do you focus on?

Dan: (Sarcastically.) Death and destruction ... no. (Laughter) I usually write a lot about what I'm going through. I've got a very turbulent, fucked-up life. And, I struggle a lot. So, a lot of the vocals are based on [that]. I don't get into subject matter as much directly. I won't say to myself, 'I'm going to sit down and write about this topic.' I don't ever really do that.

I'm a poet first and I'm a lyricist second. So, when I write what I feel, I break it down. And I'll put rhymes in and I'll make the syllables and everything fit properly. I'll edit my shit. And I'll format it into song version and then I'll take it from there.

But it's really all ... it's pretty much heartfelt shit. It's like ... I'm the type of person that when I'm upset and something goes on in my life that I can't handle ... instead of fucking somebody up and going to jail or fucking harming myself, or destroying something that I couldn't replace, I'll write. I'll write, I'll go work out, I'll go do something. But mostly, it's writing. It's the best way to get out your feelings is to write down exactly what you're feeling, what you want to say on paper. And I think that that shit is just fucking like ...

Adam: It keeps Dan out of jail. (Laughter.)

Dan: You know, it's my get out of jail free card and it is the best type of lyrical form that you can get in terms of touching the base of emotions. You know? You want to be emotional. You want your lyrics to be emotional. You can differentiate between a plastic singer and a real singer who's actually feeling what they're saying to you. So anything that I write comes from my heart. Ultimately.

And a lot of it's about what I feel and sometimes it's just what I think. Sometimes it's just what I feel. If something in the world pisses me off and I'm feeling it at that moment, I'll write something down about it. You know?

Especially with 9/11, who the fuck didn't feel it? I wrote a whole slew of shit. All sorts of shit because I was pissed. That's my hometown. That's my home city. And, like, one day, you may hear that shit in a song. That's how the shit works man. That's usually how it works out.

Adam: There are some songs that we actually have collaborated on lyrically, too. A couple songs that I had actually written, gave Dan the bulk of what I had written down. Sort of the same process. Same kind of the thing. Kind of delving into the back of your mind. I mean, we work a lot together on the melodies ...

Dan: We always collaborate. Being two singers. I don't treat him just like a back-up like, he's as much as a front man as I am in terms of vocals. Because we really do a lot of harmonies and bullshit like that.

Adam: Everything we do lyrically and melodically is definitely very calculated. We don't ... it's the same thing with the music, we don't just slap it down and say that's good enough. We'll hum and haw at a melody line or harmony line until we're absolutely dead sure that that's the way it should be sung. And those are the words that we want to convey.

And, if there's any question about it, we can tell every time we play it or sing it. We can tell, something's not right and we gotta get back to that. Sometimes it's more of a collaboration lyrically, sometimes it's less. Sometimes melodically, it's more of a collaboration, sometimes it's less. But I think we gotta be on the same page in terms of where it all stems from.

Dan: And how we want it to sound.

Adam: I think everyone in the band has been through some really heavy-duty shit in their lives. And, ah, that's one of things that sort of strikes me the most. It's that everything that we're doing and all the emotion we're pouring in it is really 100 percent from the gut and from the heart. Like, no, no doubt about it.

George: The lyrics ain't about drinking beer with chicks at a party and driving your friend's car fast. It's all about real life situations that happen.

Adam: We're not bitching and moaning about some problem in society that we see on TV or anything like that. Most of this shit is real in our lives.

Dan: I write very indirectly so it's almost impossible sometimes to pinpoint exactly what is the subject of the song. So, in that essence, I say that the songs are what they are for every single person that hears them. Whatever it means to them differently is what that song is about, for them. Because for me, mostly, it's personal, and a lot of it I really wouldn't even want to elaborate on. I think that's good, because that helps people get in touch with it more.

Being able to say, 'This is so indirect that he's speaking exactly just about that. It makes me think about this time and when I did this and when this happened to me. And fucking that mistake I made and fucking whatever.' And then take it from there. That's another serious aspect of the lyric-writing process.

Chris: Which goes back to what I was saying before. That what we write is real. And Adam was saying it and you'll hear it. Like, if you listen to this over and over, if you listen to this tape, you'll hear it over and over. What we're doing here is straight from our guts. We feel what we're playing and you'll see it, you know. You'll see it tonight, man. You watch those kids. If you watch their faces, sometimes their eyes well up when we're playing songs, you know, because they're getting that emotion. And that's really, that's really what it's about, what it comes down to.

I noticed when I saw you guys play at the Saint you had a whole light show going. How did you put that all together?

Adam: Our goal right from the beginning was, we didn't want to just be five guys in jeans and t-shirts doing whatever. We really wanted to put together a show, because there's a million bands out there with good music. We want to entertain, the complete package. We want the light show, we want costumes, we want props, we want kick-ass movement, we want slammin' music. We want everybody to leave that show with the total experience just knockin' them on their ass, and the light show is definitely a big part of that.

It really wows me. Here's a one-year-old local band, taken shit to the next level. Doing shit serious. As if, as if it was a nine month tour.

George: We're working as hard as we possibly can. We want to convey to the people. Have them leave the show feeling like they actually paid for something. Because a lot of times you go to a show and realize why did I spend fuckin' money? It wasn't a show.

Adam: That band sucks. That show sucks.

Chris: Whatever we can do to make it like really entertaining. That's what we're doing, playing a show, and we're trying to entertain people. Of course, we want them to keep coming back. Every time we get together, every time we rehearse, we're on the phone with each other every single day, really, like working on something. It's, like, what else can you do for the band? I call these guys and they call me just to see if anything else is new. Every single day, we're all talking to each other.

Everybody in this band really, really works hard in all different areas. And there's a lot of bottom lines with this band that always ended in really positive stuff, you know. When it comes down to getting shit done, it always gets done. The end, you know. And we're always creating. It's a never-ending process. Anything new that we can bring into the show ... sometimes it don't work, you know. You've got to experiment a little with the show part of it, but we do. We just try to keep it real interesting for everybody.

Dan: So, in other words, the real ultimate bottom line is that this is a real band, with real people, that feel real emotions and convey it. And that's it. You take it how it is. There's nothing more you can really say about it. Yeah, Josh!

What's your goal with the band? Is it to get signed and tour?

Dan: I think we all have different goals. My goal, personally, is to be able to take care of my family with out killing myself everyday, being that I'm a blue-collar man. Ultimately though, I really just want to touch as many people as possible. I really just want to touch as many people as possible. I'd like to be comfortable and be like, 'yeah!' but I don't wanna pimp it. I wanna touch people and be real and then actually be comfortable and not be destroyed by this fuckin' disgusting world that we live in.

George: We're all doing two jobs right now, is basically what it is. This is a full-time job for us. And we have full-time jobs. We're trying to make this our living. We wanna play and make people happy. Not even make people happy, just make people feel what we're playing. Feel what we're feeling. And make money. We don't care about being fuckin' gazillionaires or millionaires. We just wanna survive.

Eddie: Not that I wouldn't want to be a gazillionaire, if there's such a thing, but that would be nice. If I could pay my bills and still live in the same place and tour and play shows, I would be happy.

Josh Davidson

Josh Davidson has written music feature articles for Jersey Style and served as the Jersey Shore rock columnist for Steppin' Out Magazine. Other music writing credits include Aquarian Weekly, Jersey Beat, Backstreets and He has written free-lance for the Asbury Park Press' Community Sports section and has written featured articles for its news section, as well as covering campus news and sports weekly for the Signal, the College of New Jersey's (formerly Trenton State College) student newspaper. He has worked as a staff writer for The Independent, and his work for Greater Media Newspapers has also been published in the News Transcript. He is a former beat reporter for the Ocean County Observer who presently is a news writer for Symbolic Systems Inc. supporting the US Army's Knowledge Center. His music writing covers a vast range of topics, from the current cover band craze, highs and lows of the original scene, to the early days of the Jersey Shore rock scene in Asbury Park. He is also a musician, having written hundreds of songs as a singer/songwriter, and playing them out as a solo/acoustic artist. He has also played with cover bands, including It Doesn't Matter, and several original bands, including as the guitarist for the solo project of singer/songwriter Dave Eric. He continues to work on solo material and is presently the guitar player for Jersey Breeze.