With their debut album out on May 3rd, what better time to discover a bit of darkness from Germany? In the words of singer / songwriter Brandon Ashley, here are The Dark…
I started The Dark in 2015 in Los Angeles before relocating to Berlin, Germany.
How did you meet?
After a few months spent on producing the debut album Live. Create. Destroy. I felt it was time to get The Dark back on the road with a whole new show. So I put an ad on a local Facebook musicians’ group and I first stumbled on Dam (drummer). I must say I’ve never played with such a hard slammer before. We immediately clicked so I asked him if he knew a good guitarist. He introduced me to Kris Fiore who soon showed me he was actually one of the best in town. I met Adrian at a bar in Friedrichshain. I liked him as he was covered in tattoos and had good taste in music. I gathered everyone for an audition. I immediately realized that we were all meant to be in a band together. We sounded heavy and tight like… since day one.
How long have you been playing as a band?
I used to play with at least three different line ups in LA. We played shows with Peter Murphy, Orgy, Wednesday 13, Static X and many more before I decided I was done with America. I’ve always been the visionary and main composer in this band and I had the privilege to play with great musicians throughout these years. We are here to build a future and work our way up to the top.
Before you get sick of being asked… where does the band name come from?
A few years ago I was contacted by Jonny Coffin, owner at Coffin Case. He liked the music video for my single back then called “My Decadent Thursday”. A different sound from our current one, more on the electronic side. Definitely the song I’m remembered for to these days though. He suggested it was time for me to make a new band.
After brainstorming for a while the name The Dark sounded perfect. The name very well describes the meaning of my entire existence, spent on dueling with pain and loss. I believe you need to embrace your dark side in order to fulfill your destiny as a human. You can’t find it, but understand it as light can only exist if compared to the dark.
What are your influences?
Our sound was influenced by my biggest passion which is 90’s rock. In my opinion that was the best time for all kinds of music. I would like to make it relevant again with this record, but using a different sound that very few have the balls to use these days… like a wall of fuzz guitars, a sexy bass, stoner/rock heavy drums and catchy vocals that will get stuck in your head in no time.
Describe your music. What makes you unique?
I think what makes The Dark unique is that when I write a song I try to keep it simple and memorable using a sound that you wouldn’t expect. I like challenges and I wanna change the rules of the game. When I’m mixing I try to think of a sound able to express the mood of the lyrics.
I think I was able to come up with a signature sound after hours spent trying different things, failing and starting all over again. I can be very stubborn. I wanted the guitars to be as harsh as the kind of the shit I talk about on this record, alluring bass lines to represent my sensuality, heavy drums to showcase the power of my thoughts and catchy vocals screaming my truth in your face.
Do you have any particular lyrical themes?
Live. Create. Destroy. is a tale of a madman. It goes through a blurry decade of self destruction, pain, loss and then rising like a phoenix from my own ashes. Each song describes a particular moment when I used to feel lonely and desperate.
The song “Lost At Sea” was written to remember my father Renato who died tragically on a expedition in the Mediterranean Sea when I was 18 years old. Him and his father, my grandfather, sailed on a voyage from Italy to Greece during the night, a storm hit and they were never heard from again. I am the last of our bloodline.
My relationship with my father was always very complicated, but he was the one who gave me my music gift; he was a jazz pianist, he lived an exciting life and met his fate in the exact way he chose to live. It took me years to recover from this traumatic event and writing this song was one of the most important accomplishments in my life. I hope somehow, he can hear it from the afterlife.
What’s your live show like? How many shows have you played?
The Dark show is a wild one. We know what kind of power we are able to unleash when we play these songs together. We hit the stage to meet the audience’s desire of being at a rock show, if you know what I’m talking about.
I’ve played several shows in my music career. The day I opened for Iron Maiden was definitely the biggest day of my life as a musician. It was ‘Rock In India” in 2009 in Bangalore, India. A huge festival I played at in front of 50,000 souls. The last thought I had before showing up on stage was… I’m ready for this, I was born to do this.
This is followed by one of the most exciting shows of my life when The Dark opened for Peter Murphy at Nokia Club in Los Angeles. I must confess to you, when he walked towards me on stage during sound check I felt excited like a virgin on her first date. It doesn’t happen everyday to have the GothFather giving you compliments about your music. For the occasion we also performed at the Andy Dick show in Beverly Hills, and had a shitload of fun doing it.
What’s the wildest thing you’ve seen or done at a live show?
I remember this time I was playing a show and some rude asshat in the audience called me a clown. I’m not very good at taking shit, so I told this person I was gonna give him something real special to remember. I took my pants off all the way down and bent over on his face giving him a nice close up of my hole just to show him I don’t give a fuck.
What kit do you use / guitars do you play / etc.?
I play a vintage Fender Stratocaster from 1992. It’s a special instrument with a unique sound. My father gave it to me on my eighteenth birthday. I had to sell lots of my gear in the past because my ex spent all my money but I promised myself I wouldn’t ever separate myself from my beautiful guitar. And so I ended up tracking the entire record with this fierce instrument. I can hear its story every time I touch it. I like to connect it to a JCM 900 combined with an Orange Dark Terror.
What, if anything, are you plugging/promoting at the moment?
We are pleased to announce our record release show on May 3rd at Rock at Sage in Berlin. You can find info and ticket sales on our website. This performance will be followed by a listening party, an acoustic set and a DJ set by yours truly. Location is still to be revealed.
What are your plans for 2018?
This is a starting point for me and I wanna take advantage of every opportunity I will encounter on my path. My energy at the moment is totally channeled towards the release date of Live. Create. Destroy. We have shows coming up and watching the launch of this record will be an incredible experience. After that I want The Dark to become established in Berlin in order to expand our live activity all over Europe. Just a few friends know but… I’ve already started working on the second album.
If you were second on a three-band bill, which band would you love to be supporting and which band would you choose to open for you? A chance to plug someone you’ve toured with, or a mate’s band we’ve not heard of before!
Very nice question! I’d like to open for Palaye Royale. I like the way they sound and they look. If I could decide my opener I would ask Bullet Height. They are from Berlin and they rock. It’s my friend Sammi Doll’s project, she also plays keys for IAMX.
From previous Band of the Day Insolvency: Would you leave family and friends to live your music dreams?
I’ve done that a million times. Now I’m lucky enough to live closer to my family. My real friends always supported my decisions, they are the best. Also I’ve made so many other friends all over the world.
From another BotD, Divided Minds: What has been your favourite venue to play?
I love playing at the Whiskey A Go Go. Every time you hit that stage you are part of history. It feels like you’re being watched by the eyes of those icons who inspired me to become who I am today.
And from Kinjiru: If you could use The Force, what is the meanest / naughtiest thing you would do? (Force masturbation does not count because it is assumed that everyone would try that)
I would have everyone clothes disappear so I can finally walk around naked in public.