When I arrived there were already a few people standing outside. And just before the doors opened I was able to talk with David Sullivan next to the merchstand. Sitting on the stairs with him for what was going to be a very nice and comfortable conversation.
Hey David, first things first, How are you doing? Do you feel like playing today?
Owyeah, we’re doing good. We have just been home for a month and now we’re back in Europe for a month. This is just our second show of the tour and we’re excited to play and we’re glad to be back in Belgium. I like Belgium, there is always good food en good beer! I don’t know if this one is Belgian, but it’s good (with a can of Jupiler in his hand).
You are touring with your new album “Whales and leeches”. What’s your own opinion about the album? In which ways, do you think, it is different to the other albums you’ve made?
It’s a little bit different for one thing. This one was written under a deadline. We were touring a lot and we were at home for three months and we were like, ‘ok go ahead and book recording time and write everything.’ So we did it all very quickly. There were a few songs that we had from before, but mostly this album was kind of written under pressure. Our other ones were more like, when we had enough songs, we would book recording time. We gave ourselves a deadline and I really didn’t like that very much but I’m happy with how it turned out. It made us focus on writing. I don’t know if the songs are better because of that. It helped us focus but on the other hand I like it when you write a song and then first get familiar with it, playing it for a while. It makes you feel more relaxed when you record it. I think you can even feel some of the stress we felt in the songs. Still I prefer to not do it with a tight schedule, but I’m happy with this album.
It seems like you’re always on tour, but still you have enough time to make a new album within two years. Must be very busy. What’s the secret?
Yeah, that is because we really made ourselves to. We were like ‘Yeah we could go home and just relax.’ But we didn’t because we knew there wasn’t going to be another time where we would have had such a gap in our schedule. We really had to do it then. And actually last month we were home and we wrote a couple more songs for a seven inch that is going to come out and I’m happy with how that turned out to. First I was like ‘Ow it’s time off I just want to relax and not think about music.’ But now I’m happy with the new songs and I’m happy we did that.
It looks like you are touring a lot in Europe, but you’re from the USA. Are there any differences between these two continents?
Yes, I prefer touring in Europe. The food is way better and the beer too. The drives are shorter. There are places to play in the centre of the US, but mostly everything is concentrated on the coasts. So for us, we would have to travel all the way from the west coast to the east coast before we have some shorter drives. Even over here there are long drives, but still everything is closer. I just have a good time over here. Maybe it is the grass is greener kind of thing. I’m from the US so I’m like, I’ve seen it, it’s boring and here there are all these new cities, I really like touring in Europe! But I do feel we need to do more touring in the US, It’s been too long. We have planned one in the future so…
Whales and Leeches is a song from your first album. Why that name/song for the title of the new album?
Basically we had all this titles and ideas. This one came up and it’s a good name, it sounded good so… Same thing with Murder the Mountains, it’s a song from the earlier stuff and that one didn’t appear until this album. It’s a sort of self-cannibalising our titles, which we like to do.
Where does the first song, ’DOEN’, stand for? Does it have any meaning, cause in Dutch it means ‘To do’?
It actually started as a shortened form of ‘Death Of Endless Night’. When we were working on the song, we thought the title was too long, so we shortened it to ‘DOEN’. We didn’t know that that meant something in Dutch. The lyrics are based on this movie ’30 days of night’. Aaron used that as an inspiration for ‘Winter is your doom’-stuff. So it means Death Of Endless Nights, but we decided to call it DOEN. We pronounce it as DO-EN. But it is really cool that it means something else in your language
I expect the Aaron writes the lyrics? They all seem quite dark inspired, how does he get started with them?
Aaron (Beam) and Bryan (Giles) write songs, but Aaron does the most of them. You might be thinking of the lyrics Bryan wrote, because he writes a lot of dark stuff. Aaron does that as well but less. I think it is maybe some pressure or frustration and it’s just a good way to let them out. It’s not like he’s a depressed guy, maybe he would be if he hadn’t this way to let it all out. It is his way to let it out. I think for all of us without music as a creative outlet we might get depressed.
I’ve heard in another interview that some of the lyrics are just invented at the moment you record them.
Our song-writingproces is to start from the music. We will have a whole song written and then the vocals get added. Other people do more of the sing-a-songwriterstyle. We don't, the lyrics are added in the end. And sometimes we even have written some lyrics while we were in the studio. That’s just how we like to do it, to concentrate on the music first. I wouldn’t call the lyrics an afterthought, but they happen on the end. Sometimes we will go back and rearrange the song because of the vocals. Extend or shorten a part, to fit with the syllables of the song.
I’ve seen you in the AB a few years ago, opening for Mastodon. Now you are headlining your own tour. Are you becoming big? Do you feel any difference?
It’s getting a little better, for sure. I think that the Mastodon tour was awesome. It was great to tour with those guys. It is that tour that helped us a lot to get where we are now I think. Some people knew who we were because of the music videos, but I think a lot of people who saw us playing with Mastodon have been coming to our shows now. It was great to do that tour with them, because they are HUGE in this type of music and we got to play some really big places. They were great and really nice to us. But yeah I think we are slowly growing, but that was a big step for us to tour with them.
You’re well known for your videoclips. I think they’re hilarious. Do you come up with the ideas yourself?
No, the main credit for the videos goes to the director, Whitey McConnaughy. He is a friend of ours, who makes videos. Mainly the concepts are his. He will come up with the ideas. We will talk with him and maybe some of our ideas get in it, but 99% is from the director. He is a friend of us and knows our characters and exaggerates them, makes us larger than life. We are really lucky to have him, who understands our sense of humour and can turn it into a video.
Just this Monday Pukkelpop announced their first names. You’re one of them. But what are the other plans for the future? Which way do you wanna go?
Pukkelpop is somewhere in July or August? Because we will be touring in Europe again from the middle of July until the middle of August, like a month. Mostly we will play festivals like that one, but some clubs too. I don’t know what the other ones are yet.
Are there any festivals you would really like to play?
Maybe a few that we have played already, like Hellfest. I really enjoyed that twice beacause it is so huge and fun. I also really liked one in France to, but I forgot the name. More important, they had one stage that was built over a lake. So the groups were on the lake and the audiences on the land. While Graveyard was playing there, we were just swimming in the lake. That was really cool.
One vs another.
Black Sabbath or Led Zeppelin
Those are really hard to choose but for me it is Black Sabbath. Just because some of the very first song I learned to play were Black Sabbath songs like Iron Man. I Have always loved Black Sabbath, but I do love Led Zeppelin too. I wouldn’t want to choose between them but if I have to, it’s Black Sabbath. Piercing orTattoo I have neither, but I would rather do a Tattoo before I would do a piercing. There was a summer maybe ten years ago that I was drawing these sleeves on my arms to see if I would do it, but I never really could do it.
Queens Of The Stone age or Kyuss
Queens Of The stone Age for me, I like them both and you know Queens Of The Stone Age wouldn’t have existed without Kyuss. I would just choose them because they are a little more varied. Kyuss is kind of doing one thing. The new Queens Of The Stone Age record is still growing on me, it still hasn’t grabbed me like al their other records. Especially the very first Queens Of The Stone Age albums are the ones I really like.
Beer or strong drinks
Our drummer (John Sherman) would say strong drinks. He would prefer cocktails. I would choose beer, because I can keep drinking beer. If I drink a bunch of cocktails them I’m out, that’s not with beer.
Jimi Hendrix or John Lennon
Jimi Hendrix, just for his guitar playing, I mean I like the Beatles to but I prefer Jimi Hendrix.
Touring or recording Touring. Recording is great, because that is where you create the songs. But touring is way more fun. It’s then that you get the energy from the crowd and bring the songs to them. Recording is more analytical and more on details, I just like to play for the crowd.
Ok, that was it. Thanks for the interview and good luck on stage.