Their name’s of­fen­sive and they play bru­tal mu­sic, yet some­how Mary­land’s Dy­ing Fe­tus are man­ag­ing to in­fil­trate the main­stream. We in­ter­ro­gated them about their plans...

Metal Hammer (UK) - - Contents - WORDS: DOM LAW­SON

They might never be a house­hold name, but Dy­ing Fe­tus are carv­ing out their own death metal niche.

When­ever I hang with peo­ple from nor­mal walks of life, if they bring up what I do, it’s al­ways an in­ter­est­ing con­ver­sa­tion. They’re like, ‘Sorry, what was the name of the band?’ Ha ha ha!”

Be­ing a pro­fes­sional mu­si­cian is in­du­bitably at the pretty fuck­ing cool end of the em­ploy­ment spec­trum. As a mem­ber of Dy­ing Fe­tus for the last 16 years, co-vo­cal­ist, bassist and lyri­cist Sean Beasley has man­aged to forge an en­dur­ing ca­reer in heavy mu­sic. Along­side his band­mates, co-vo­cal­ist/gui­tarist and founder mem­ber John Gal­lagher, and drum­mer Trey Wil­liams, he has trav­elled the world and per­formed in front of all man­ner of dis­parate au­di­ences. In 2013, thanks to a naïve but en­dear­ing comment about their suit­abil­ity for top­ping the bill at Down­load fes­ti­val made on­line by one loyal Bri­tish fan, the Mary­land trio en­joyed a brief mo­ment of ephemeral fame in the UK, as ‘Why not Dy­ing Fe­tus?’ got fully memed and Andy Cop­ping did the de­cent thing and booked the band for an opening Main Stage slot on that hal­lowed Don­ing­ton turf. But in­stead of dis­ap­pear­ing back into the un­der­ground shad­ows when main­stream pun­dits turned their at­ten­tion to the next trundling band­wagon, Dy­ing Fe­tus took that mo­men­tum and ran with it. As we speak to Sean and John, they are in the midst of a Euro­pean tour as main sup­port to Hate­breed: some­thing that most in­sanely bru­tal death metal bands could never dream of do­ing, let alone do­ing with great suc­cess.

“This is ac­tu­ally our third tour with Hate­breed, the first one in Europe, so there’s ca­ma­raderie there,” John drawls, blearily and pre-morn­ing cof­fee. “Their crew’s look­ing out for us, we get bet­ter ca­ter­ing, and we’re play­ing in bet­ter venues than most death metal bands. So right now we’re liv­ing large and

I can’t say this tour is hard work. But you still have to want to do it, I guess. Jamey [Jasta, Hate­breed front­man] has been a fan of the band for a while and he sup­ports death metal. But I wish there were more bands out­side of death metal that we could tour with. I must ad­mit, it’s a chal­lenge. As soon as we start do­ing our vo­cals and the blast­beats, it does get a bit ex­treme for a nor­mal rock’n’roll lis­tener, ha ha ha!”

It’s hard not to snort de­ri­sively when are­nalevel bands start piss­ing and whin­ing about the rigours of life on the road. For Dy­ing Fe­tus, 26 years af­ter form­ing in John Gal­lagher’s na­tive Mary­land, con­stant tour­ing and a laud­able ded­i­ca­tion to reach­ing as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble has become the only way for a band this ex­treme to sur­vive. Grab­bing op­por­tu­ni­ties like a tour with Hate­breed rep­re­sents the glossier end of what this three-man wreck­ing crew have to con­tend with, and yet nei­ther John nor Sean have any com­plaints. In keep­ing with the death metal scene’s tra­di­tion of hard work and hu­mil­ity, this is sim­ply what be­ing in a band is all about.

“Huge bands play three days a week and they have time to rest,” shrugs Sean.

“Whereas we play ev­ery day, more or less. A day off means we’re los­ing money. So you have to take good care of your­self or you can’t keep do­ing this. If you get trashed ev­ery night, it’s hard to get up ev­ery day and have wob­bly knees on­stage.

But it’s a gen­eral thing for most bands to con­sider, whether they can live out of a bag or not. It’s all good if you can handle that. But for the three of us it’s been eight years, and it’s been very good. It’s all been easy, from lock­ing in to­gether to play the songs, to get­ting along when we’re on the road. Ev­ery­thing clicked and it’s stayed that way. Hope­fully it con­tin­ues.”

As they start to nudge, some­what au­da­ciously, at the metal main­stream,

Dy­ing Fe­tus could hardly be in a bet­ter col­lec­tive frame of mind. It’s ob­vi­ous that

Sean, John and Trey are a finely honed and har­mo­nious unit – not least from the ab­so­lutely de­ranged lev­els of pre­cise, deathly violence that they ex­hibit on their first al­bum in five years. Charm­ingly ti­tled Wrong One To Fuck

With, the fol­low-up to 2012’s Reign Supreme is, alarm­ingly, the most righ­teously evis­cer­at­ing record the band have ever made. Their trade­marks are all present and cor­rect – vi­cious blast­beats, gut­tural vo­cals and, most im­por­tantly, those mosh-friendly ‘chug parts’ – but while most bands aim­ing for a higher rung on the metal lad­der would con­sider mel­low­ing out or writ­ing a catchy cho­rus or two, Dy­ing Fe­tus have done the ex­act op­po­site, mak­ing this their nas­ti­est and most un­re­lent­ing col­lec­tion of pit-in­cit­ing anti-an­thems yet. For Sean, who writes all the band’s lyrics, the new al­bum is both a mul­ti­fac­eted re­sponse to how un­de­ni­ably fucked-up the planet is right now and a good op­por­tu­nity to delve into the more twisted side of the band’s con­cep­tual world.

“I guess it’s more on the bru­tal side this time, lyri­cally, but there’s still some pol­i­tics on there,” he nods. “We have the song Wrong One To Fuck With and also Die With In­tegrity, and those have this su­per-dark mob-style vibe to them. But the rest of the songs are about dif­fer­ent shit. There’s a song called Fal­lacy, which is about Hol­ly­wood pop cul­ture, and how any­one su­per-fa­mous can get away with any­thing, as long as they go through the steps and apol­o­gise pub­licly. I was think­ing of [fa­mous NFL quar­ter­back] Michael Vick in

“we’re play­ing bet­ter venues than most death metal bands” DY­ING FE­TUS ARE TOUR­ING WITH HATE­BREED FOR THE THIRD TIME

football. He was in­volved in dog-fight­ing, he gets busted and then goes to jail for a year and half, and then he says he’s found God. He comes out and he’s a fuckin’ hero, you know? It’s a fuck­ing joke. If he was a reg­u­lar per­son, he would still be in jail.”

one of the draw­backs of be­ing an un­der­ground band with a mildly of­fen­sive name is that the po­ten­tial to cross over to a big­ger au­di­ence is min­i­mal at best. But some­thing sig­nif­i­cant has hap­pened in metal over the last 15 years: whether you call them death­core, mod­ern death metal or some other vaguely ac­cu­rate ep­i­thet, many of the most ex­cit­ing bands to emerge have made no bones about their debt to Dy­ing Fe­tus. Along with fel­low pur­vey­ors of ‘slam’ (es­sen­tially bru­tal death metal with groovy break­downs de­signed for the mosh­pit) such as In­ter­nal Bleed­ing, John Gal­lagher’s crew kick­started an en­tirely new mode of death metal ex­pres­sion back in the 90s, and the rip­ples from that blast are still be­ing felt to­day.

“I think what we ba­si­cally did was to have el­e­ments of Suf­fo­ca­tion and a lot of the slam stuff that was go­ing on, but we also took some in­flu­ence from Car­cass,” John re­calls. “Those guys were singing with two vo­cals and that brought an­other el­e­ment into it, so we just em­bel­lished what was go­ing on, putting our twist on ev­ery­thing. I never went at it think­ing, ‘I’m gonna do some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent!’ We’ve toured with De­spised Icon and Carnifex, and they credit us as some kind of in­flu­ence. I just think it’s re­ally im­por­tant to have the next gen­er­a­tion, the new gen­er­a­tion, be­ing down with your stuff. That’s the only way you’re gonna remain rel­e­vant, so we are thank­ful for that.”

They’ve con­quered Down­load, toured with Hate­breed and dis­cov­ered that there are a lot of peo­ple around the world that re­ally, re­ally like death metal. But Dy­ing Fe­tus are not daft: they know there’s a limit to the suc­cess a band can have play­ing this mu­sic, but they carry on re­gard­less be­cause they fuck­ing love it.

“Get­ting big­ger isn’t easy for us, not with our name!” Sean chuck­les. “But it’s like the new al­bum ti­tle. Is it of­fen­sive? Who cares? We do what we do. There’ll be no more beat­ing around the bush! We’re op­ti­mistic about the fu­ture, but also re­al­is­tic. We’re still play­ing death metal and we love it, so we’ll keep do­ing it. optimism only goes so far, ha ha!”

The fact is, they’ve sur­vived for a quarter of a cen­tury do­ing things their own way, and as the world seems to become more bru­tal and ex­treme, it’s not hard to imag­ine Dy­ing Fe­tus’s mu­sic res­onat­ing with more and more peo­ple as time goes on.

“We’re just do­ing what we want to do and tour­ing where we want to, tak­ing things as they come,” John con­cludes. “That’s how it started at the be­gin­ning. We had our day jobs and we’d have fun with the band, play­ing the stuff that we wanted to hear. We’re do­ing much more and much big­ger things these days, but the spirit is the same as ever. We just want ev­ery­thing to be bru­tal.”


“with our name, get­ting big­ger isn’t easy!”


Dy­ing Fe­tus: no rest for the wicked

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