Welcome to Napalm Flesh! Our faithful darkhearts are certainly doing a smashing job letting the dark lord know he’s well loved; it’s hot as hell up here, so he must be pleased with your worship. As a reward to all you pious minions, I have the pleasure of introducing one of Salt Lake’s fine metal outfits who are on the verge of a heat-up themselves: Disforia. With roots buried deep in prog/power traditions from Dream Theater, Blind Guardian, and Rush, Disforia’s sound is different from most of the newest wave of metal bands. In place of trendy “djenting” or the usual ruthless vocals, this band has instead opted to hold séance with a more lost retro sound, a sound respected still for its timelessness but more often than not buried beneath the latest trick-of-the-week. With the help of a Kickstarter project now in full swing, the band is working hard to get their first full-length record out this year, as well as the attention of the Salt Lake metal scene. I used the magic of the interwebs to find out what vocalist/bassist John Yelland and drummer Casey Frederick think of being on the verge of this milestone, and find out more about their history, influences, and hopes for Disforia’s future.
SLUG: You guys have a sound so unique to the Salt Lake scene. Tell me how you guys found each other.
Disforia: Casey Frederick and Chad Anderson formed the band in 2007. It wasn't until a year later that John Yelland and Austin Bentley joined the band. From that point forward, Disforia began to evolve musically into a more well rounded metal act, taking influence from the greats in metal, but fusing it with our own styles and progressing in our direction. Our EP, Our Time Defined, is a great reflection of the turning point in "the D.” It harks back to our early days and gives a healthy dose of the new direction we're paving. Our first full length will be an epic, bombastic work of art, and we can't wait to record it.
SLUG: How would you guys describe your sound to someone unfamiliar with Disforia?
Disforia: Disforia is a blend of modern and retro metal influences, yet unique. It's a pleasant blend of progressive and power metal, but unafraid to explore any genre or sound. Disforia has everything from haunting Egyptian sounds [such as in] "Of Wolves and Men" to epic, sing-along choruses [as with] "My Sacrifice" [and] "Our Time Defined."
SLUG: What bands do you gather inspiration from? How about inspiration outside of music—books, movies, etc.?
Disforia: Our primary musical influences as a band include Dream Theater, Blind Guardian, Opeth, Iron Maiden, Devin Townsend Project and Rush. Aside from music, we base a lot of our lyrics on sci-fi. We have songs on Stephen King's book, "The Tommyknockers,” William Blake's poetry—such as "The Book of Thel" and poems from the "Songs of Innocence and of Experience" compilation—and a considerable amount of influence is taken from modern physicists and scientists such as Michio Kaku, Carl Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson. We are, after all, children of the stars ;-).
SLUG: How do you guys feel about the local scene right now?
Disforia: Utah's local metal scene is peculiar. It has fluctuated from really good to absolute poop. It all depends on how hard the bands are willing to work. For some reason, I've noticed a lot of bands here have or have had a selfish mentality. What we NEED to be doing is working hard to build and grow a local scene TOGETHER. We can learn a lot by looking back to the Bay Area thrash movement, which spawned Metal Church, Metallica, Death Angel and Testament, and the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, which spawned Iron Maiden, Saxon and Def Leppard. This isn't an “every band for itself” situation, we need to have an “all for one and one for all” mentality. We must be united and support each other, for right now we are scattered and not cohesive. Unite the fans and bands is my motto, so let's get working! Once our first full length album is recorded and out, we will be devoting all of our time and effort into this feat … as well as promotion of the album of course ;-).
SLUG: Casey: You mentioned that telling people you play progressive/rock/metal in Salt Lake is difficult, because two of those words are considered “swear words” to Utah’s mostly indie scene. Can you elaborate on what that means and how you guys deal with a scene that may not be as supportive of your brand of music?
Disforia: What I mean by that is, when you tell someone you are in an indie band, there is this automatic tasty feeling of bouncy rock and songs about feelings and Kilby Court. When you say you're in a metal band, the imagery changes to blood, screaming, bars and terrible noise that can't be interpreted. The only real way to deal with those kinds of stereotypes is to prove people wrong with our music. Once we get someone to listen, they love it and it opens up a new world for them. We maintain a high-quality product, whether it is an EP, shirt design or live show.
SLUG: How do you feel about the current state of metal as a whole?
Disforia: Metal never died, it just lost momentum in certain places. The United States is a land dominated by trends. Metal was popular in the '80s and early '90s for a while, but lost momentum as the market moved elsewhere. Unless you're Iron Maiden, Metallica or Ozzy Osbourne (legends formed in the '80s), you're not going to sell out stadiums. But I have noticed a significant increase in the popularity of metal lately. It really struck me when Iced Earth and Symphony X came through The Complex last February—the venue was packed and people went crazy! The same thing happened last time Mastodon came through. In Europe, however, you have metal shows selling out MUCH more frequently. When Yngwie Malmsteen was asked how he felt about not making as much money anymore, he said, "What are you talking about? I still make money, just not in the U.S." So, it all falls down to US, the local bands, to bring about a new wave of metal. If we don't unite and work hard then, well, I hope you like the revolving wheel of trendy fad pop.