Earlier this year Atlanta’s Dead In The Dirt dropped a sonic maelstrom of grinding mayhem and emotional catharsis with their album, The Blind Hole (Southern Lord). Ghost Cult’s Matt Hinch posed some questions to band mouthpiece Blake Connally about the band, the album and life in general. He was only too happy dig in.
First of all, who is Dead In The Dirt and how did you come together?
Dead in the Dirt is a three piece grindcore band from Atlanta, GA USA. We were all friends in high school. Me (Blake [Connally]) and Bo [Orr] at the same one, Hank [Pratt] lived an hour away. Hank and I started the band in 2008. Bo was living in Massachusetts, but joined after moving back to Atlanta.
What significance do you attach to the band name? What kind of message are you trying to convey with it?
We got our name from one of our favorite band’s called The Swarm. We feel that our name directly relates to our central drive to do the band, kinda of a “momento mori” name.
You’re very upfront with the fact that you are straightedge vegan. (I’m not judging or being confrontational but) Why are you so honest about those ideals when so many people don’t understand them?
I feel it’s important to give people your perspective, I feel like reviewers/interviewers do more work than we do keeping that aspect of our band at the forefront. Although, our ethic is extremely important to us. But it’s not everything. Unlike many current metal/hardcore bands, we actually believe in and have an emotional connection with our lyrics, not just regurgitated rhetoric. We realize that some people may feel our ethic is oppressive, or unnecessary, but most of our lyrical content goes far beyond that and connects with more people than not.
Was there a particular person/event/reason you adopted/stuck with that lifestyle?
There is not one particular moment I remember, however, I do remember finding out there was a name for what I had already felt when I first heard Minor Threat when I was 13. Everything that I have experienced before then and since has strengthened that conviction. As for Veganism, it was two years later, that a friend of mine (Tomas of Foundation) exposed me to the truth of factory farms and the effect it has on the world and the living things in it. I became Vegan almost immediately, and can’t imagine living any other way.
I’m a vegetarian myself and I find it difficult with meals sometimes at home. How difficult is it to find quality vegan meals on the road?
In the states there is always something, and most big cities have at least one veg restaurant. Most of the time we hit up a grocery store and make sandwiches and eat fruit. We only hit certain spots, because they are too good to pass up, like Doomies in Los Angeles or Gracias Madre in San Francisco.
Speaking of the road, what’s your favourite city to play and why? Or, what city would you most like to play that you haven’t yet?
We have a few, mainly because of the support and the vibe. San Antonio, San Jose, Jacksonville, LA, last but not least Denver. We are playing tons of cities we have yet to play in the coming months. I couldn’t be more excited.
The album, The Blind Hole, is incredibly intense and visceral. How were you able to bring that energy to the studio?
Easy is not the right word, maybe necessary. We had worked on the LP for a year, and when it was time to start tracking in the studio we were compelled to purge every ounce into the recording. A lot of the songs are about things we go through on daily basis, so the wounds are always fresh so to speak.
Would you care to tell us what a couple of the songs are about?
This is the first time I’ve been asked to explain any of our songs. I could write a paragraph for each one. I’ll choose two that are extremely personal to me.
‘One More Day’ was written for a good friend of mine, regarding the passing of his life partner, after a long fight with cancer. They are two of the most infectiously happy people I have ever met. Hearing the news of her passing, I crumbled. After losing so many family members this year, her death shattered me. So I wrote that song in memory of her and in solidarity with him.
‘The Blaring Eye’ is about Bo and I. We used to work together at a dog daycare/kennel facility. Our job consisted of making sure the dogs don’t hurt each other, clean up shit and piss, and not lose our mind enduring 100’s of barking dogs for 8 hours a day. The facility is set up with webcam’s to view your dog play in the “yards” while you are away, as well as having a glass window where dog owners can watch you, watch the dogs. Most times it’s with the utmost degrading gaze owners stare at you. Staring to figure out what you’re doing with your life or why you look the way you do, like an exhibit of a failure.
Are there any issues currently that you find particularly upsetting in the US or elsewhere?
Oh wow, where to begin? In no particular order: Consistent Suburban Sprawl, Deforestation, The Slaughter of Animals for Food, Monsanto/GMO, Overwhelming Racism, Sexism, Classism etc. Increased public surveillance, poverty, unaffordable health care, Pollution of every kind… It goes on and on.
Why choose grindcore to vent your frustrations?
To me the music we create is the sound that correlates to emotions we express. To me, it’s the very threshold of extreme music. I don’t think any other genre would be suitable.
Finally, if you could tell today’s impressionable youth one thing, what would that be?
Have integrity, THINK for yourself. Actually THINK in general, don’t let the ugliness of world win, keep fighting.