(Last Friday, the 16th of October, Nuclear Blast released Scriptures, the first Benediction album since 2008, with Dave Ingram back behind the mic. And it is thus very good timing that DJ Jet has brought us this interview with the man himself.)
Dave, you have such an extensive career in death metal stemming back to the golden ages of the genre, having been in Benediction, then Bolt Thrower, and many other bands since then, and now back in front of Benediction today. What were the early days like in Benediction and Bolt Thrower?
Hey there, my dear friend. Thanks so much for the interview!
Right, jumping straight into it I can say that “back in the day” there was no internet to help facilitate self-promotion. You really had to work for things and have patience, since snail mail took a while. There were way more phone calls back then. I can remember standing around inside the one rehearsal studio we were at in early 1993. We were playing pool, and awaiting a phone call from the record label (Nuclear Blast) to let them know we were going to re-sign with them. While we waited, in walked Robert Plant and asked if he could use the phone. We explained the situation and he fully understood, saying he would come back later. One of us (I forget who) said to him, “You were great in Whitesnake.” He left with a confused look on his face. That’s just one example of what life was like back then. It was always fun, and it still is today!
Along the way have there been any “bumps in the road ” that ever had you rethinking your musical career?
Any bump in the road ought to be met with a simple shrug of the shoulders and a logical process to iron out any problem easily. If anything can actually cause a musician to rethink their career then I’d wager that their heart was never really in it in the first place. Of course, I’ve had these “bumps” in the business happen, but I’ve known how to deal with them. The personal problems are just that… personal. I dealt with those in ways that were necessary at the time. I’m still here, so I must have done something right!
Nowadays we have the internet to help out with recording and promotions and a slew of other things. What did you have to rely on to get the word out back in the day?
As I said earlier, it was down to hard work and determination. Everyone in the band did their part, whether it was replying to interviews, writing to fans, sending out flyers for promotion, speaking with the label, or a million other tasks that were always at hand. Don’t get me wrong, the entire process was incredible fun. If you can’t have a good time while doing it then it becomes just another job. We sure knew how to have fun, and now we’re old dogs we still do… just we’re careful we don’t break anything.
What were the circumstances at the time that lead to your decision to leave Benediction?
There were multiple, really. Most of them the usual reasons. One was that at the time I had just moved to Denmark, and had begun setting up an entirely new life here. The busy schedule with the band back then wasn’t viable, so I did what I thought was best for all parties.
In the 22 years that have passed since your leaving Benediction, what are some of the bands you have been working in (and I know there are many)?
Okay, pull up a chair as this may take a while. Besides Bolt Thrower, whom I’m pretty sure most people will know, there were also a couple of Danish bands. These were called Desert Mouth, and Downlord. The former only made one demo and never got to play live, though Downlord released two albums and played shows in Scandinavia (as support to Bolt Thrower!) After Downlord had achieved its goals we decided to call it a day, in 2008. I then began a weekly online show called Metal Breakfast Radio, which is still running to this day though in a much limited capacity (more so due to the Covid chaos.) I’ll add some links at the end in case anyone is interested in checking out these projects of mine.
While Metal Breakfast Radio was ongoing, and around 2013, I started doing the bands Down Among The Dead Men, Echelon, and Ursinne. After a brief stint with Hail of Bullets I was out touring (and also recording/releasing) with Just Before Dawn, and then also began the project Hellfrost And Fire. There’s also a band called Troikadon which is still being worked on, so as you can see there’s been a shitload of things happening. Since 1998 I’ve had 11 full-length releases, with another 5 planned over the next 18 months. And this doesn’t include any new ones I may get involved with, as I seem to have difficulty saying no.
And Dave after two decades away from Benediction, what prompted them to ask you back in and what was your reaction to the request?
Originally it was just going to be a temporary thing. Their old singer, Dave Hunt, was going to take time out to focus on his PhD, but it soon became clear that he would need more time for it and couldn’t commit to the band or a new album. I’d been asked to cover while he was away for some select shows, but I was then asked to join full-time. I’d already spoken with my wife and son, and they had said that if I was asked to be a permanent fixture then I should not hesitate one moment. I jumped at the chance, I was overjoyed.
So here you are back in Benediction and the band is in the middle of touring and writing a new album with Darren and Peter and new members Dan Bate on Bass and Giovanni Durst on Drums. What was the dynamic of the band like, working with the new rhythm section as well as the original members?
Very little had changed, besides the new members – who only made things stronger and gave us more structure together. There was still the same sense of humour, even if we had all matured (well…except me) and the only real difference was the writing process which was done over the internet. The guys would write the music, send me tracks, and I’d set lyrics to them. Then we would see what (if any) changes were needed. Then we would sign off on the song and move to the next. It was a very smooth way of working.
There have been 12 years between albums. What did the band wish to accomplish with this album as far as music goes, with three different members on this album compared to the last?
They were looking for a very, very old school sound and style of album. And boy, did they ever manage to make that! Even the new blood (Dan and Gio) and the new old guy (yours truly) knew what was necessary to fulfill this idea. I’m very proud of this release. More so than anything else the band has done.
Are you the sole writer of the lyrics? What state of mind were you in when writing the lyrics and what are some of the messages the lyrics portray?
I usually would be, yes. Though since there was a transition of vocalists there were also three sets of lyrics that Dave Hunt had written. The band wanted to keep them, and I had permission to adapt them to both my vocal and writing style. I treated them with respect, and I hope to soon hear what Dave thinks of them.
Were you able to get this all completed before the pandemic restrictions?
Luckily we were. The album recording was completed by around November of last year, and the mixing process began. The pandemic began in February – about a month after my first hip replacement surgery – but everything was sewn up for the album by then, except for the production work. Scott Atkins did an outstanding job of it. He was a hard taskmaster, but the final outcome was worth him cracking the whip.
I notice you also snuck in a video — when was that done and what was in that bottle?
Actually there were two videos recorded but as of the time of this writing, the other one hasn’t aired just yet. The bottle was red wine. In fact it was some cheap and cheerful Black Tower that I had bought for after the shoot, but I thought it might be a good idea to bring it out as the director wanted me static and in the chair. I thought, “well if I’m gonna put my feet up I might as well enjoy myself!”
Editor’s intrusion: the second video just came out last Friday, and here it is:
The cover art is very reminiscent of old school style album art. Tell us a bit about the art as well as the artist.
The artist is Wolven Claws, who also goes under another name…which I’m not sure I’m supposed to disclose BUT I can give you some trivia, in that back in 1992 he played bass for Benediction on a tour of Europe. Indeed, we wanted elements and colour schemes from previous Benediction albums, and an overall OSDM feel to it. He managed to capture our descriptions perfectly.
Did you record this locally?
You mean the album or the videos? Either way, neither were “local’ for me or the drummer as he lives in Italy and I’m in Copenhagen, Denmark. The album was recorded in the south of England, and the videos were recorded up in the North. Pretty much opposite ends of the country!
Early reactions to the album have been great and so far fans have not been disappointed in what they hear. What did you think when you heard the album for the first time after it was all mixed and mastered?
I was completely blown away by it. It sounded far MORE than it did during the recording process. The mix and mastering made it shine, but it still contained the dirty old school element. I’ve seen a fuck ton of positive reactions to the tracks released, and as the reviews have been piling in there’s been a lot of “death metal album of the year” remarks, which are both exciting and very humbling.
Any word on when the band will be back out on the road touring?
We’ve got a heap of shows lined up, but it’s really still a tad unpredictable. In truth, until we are stood at the side of the stage with the intro music playing I’m not going to believe we’re actually going to play a gig. This sounds like I’m not being 100% positive, but I AM being completely logical and very, very cautious.
Well Dave I for one am so glad you are back in the band and will leave you with the last word. What would you like to say to all the Benediction fans who have been following the band for over three decades.
Thank you for the interview! A huge amount of gratitude to all the fans who have been with the band all this time. You rock! Remember to stay true to the scene, and the scene will stay true to you… and remember to STAY SAFE! See you all soon.
Here’s the list of links that may be of interest to everyone:
YouTube Channel: www.youtube.com/user/Lapdog1