Dan Lilker of Ravenous
Interview by MetalGeorge
your like your Death Metal served raw and bloody, with a side of filth?
Old school veterans The Ravenous hear your plea, and have prepared a
rotting musickal feast for ya in the shape of their second LP,
Blood Delirium. Of course, due to the fact that it's members
have spent time in such legendary acts as Autopsy, Necrophagia, and
Nuclear Assault, The Ravenous just may know a thing or two more than
your average "brutal" or "technical" band out there
when it comes to evoking the true spirit of death. I was lucky enough to
escape from serial bassist Danny Lilker's torture chamber with my skin
intact, together with some answers to my pending questions. The things I
go through for you guys...
Hailz man, and thanks for doing this interview! After the initial
"Assembled in Blasphemy" strike, there was a period of quiet
for The Ravenous, apart from your Milwaukee gig (at least from what I
remember!), but lately you've struck back with 2 new vicious assaults,
the "3 on a Meathook" ep and the killer "Blood Delerium"
full length! Please bring us up to speed on what's been going on with
The Ravenous to start things off!
Greetings. Well, due to the fact that we are, in essence, a project
band due to geographical limitations, we aren't the most active band.
We've played a handful of shows in our 4 year existence (and it's been
like 16 months since the last one) and released the stuff you mentioned.
It took less time between the EP and the new one, 'cos there was less
label hassles. Hammerheart, who released "Assembled..." didn't
work our after that, so it took a little while to hook up with Patrick
and Red Stream, but it was worth the wait!
"Assembled in Blasphemy" impressed the fuck out of me
for sure, I think it was one of the best debuts of that year, an awesome
throwback to when Death Metal was truly sick and dark! Needless to say,
I think we've all been waiting for this follow up! How has the initial
response been to the new stuff from fans of the debut, and how do you
feel it stacks up? Also, do you feel a lot of bands lack this
"deathlike" feeling in the era of triggered drums and
From what I've seen, most reviews have been fairly positive. I think
"Blood Delirium" is actually a little sicker and faster, which
makes sense, because we've grown as a band. Hell, if we got to rehearse
together like most bands, it would probably be better, but we have to
deal with the cards we're dealt. I do think it's true that a lot of
modern death metal is a little too mechanical sounding and precise.
However, I guess it's a natural progression. You can't expect 17
year-old kids brought up on Cannibal Corpse and Suffocation to know of
or play classic 80s death metal, which as more in common with black
metal than some of today's death metal bands.
Adding to this question, would you say "bringing it
back" is a primary goal for The Ravenous? When you used to say
"American Death Metal", it used to mean "Scream Bloody
Gore", "Mental Funeral", or "From Beyond",
nowadays it seems to mean an entirely different thing, like who can play
the fastest or most technical. What to you defines the term "Death
Metal"? Should it be akin to "worshipping death?, and what
bands past and present do you feel best represent this?
I don't think we consciously set about to bring back the old style.
It's that Chris (Reifert, drums, Abscess, ex-Autopsy) writes 99% of the
music, and he's somewhat of a recluse. He hasn't kept tabs on death
metal's progressions. He just sits home with his vinyl and his weed, so
his riffs are as pure as they were in the mid 80s, not tainted one bit
by any modern influences. Worshipping death? Isn't that something
Euronymous said a long time ago? (sure is!-mg) Well, musically and
especially lyrically, The Ravenous satisfies the requirements for
worshipping death, but we [dont'] walk around decapitating people or
anything, heh heh. Immolation. Darkthrone. There's two good bands that
cultivate death.(yeah...but Immolation suck, though.-mg)
What do you set out to achieve when you record a Ravenous album?
How important is the progression from album to album? The new material
stays loose and raw as fuck, and drenched in samples and hideous solos.
It's not so dissimilar from the debut, yet at the same time there is a
bit more texture to the songwriting, such as the old school thrash
attack of the title song, "Festering Beneath the Fog", with
it's Celtic Frost-lik atmosphere, or "Nightmares in a Damaged
Brain", which showcases a very creepy, disturbed, and demented
atmosphere. Speaking of which, could you please explain the line, "Fenriz
is really sick"...a nice ode to Herr Nagel, eh? Haha!
We don't really have any plan of attack. We wouldn't progress too
much and risk losing the feel. I guess Killjoy was saying hi to his
buddy Fenriz, yeah.
How often do you guys get together and jam? With all these
projects between you (Necrophagia, Nuclear Assault, Abscess, etc), where
does priority for The Ravenous lie? Where does the lion's share of the
songwriting come from, and is there much spontaneous
songwriting/practicing in the studio?
The Abscess part of the band jams the stuff prior to the recordings,
and for the ep and the new one, I did all my parts locally, having been
sent the master tapes. First I learned the songs from a rehearsal tape.
We can't prioritize The Ravenous, unfortunately. Chris writes the music,
Killjoy writes the lyrics. Due to our bizarre recording technique, I
couldn't tell you much about spontaneous practicing, it's just me and an
Does the Ravenous follow any set schedule when it comes to
releasing material, or do you prefer to just let inspiration flow as it
comes? Is there a lot of unreleased material lying around, waiting to be
No schedule. Chris just calls up and says, "I got some new shit,
and I'm sending you a riff tape". As far as I know, all material
has been used.
In comparison, the "3 on a Meathook" ep seems to have a
very punk rock, simplified groove to it that I also dig a lot! Tons of
Hellhammer and old Sodom influence here, I think! There's a heavier bass
presence here, too, I think. Being a bassist myself, I really dig this,
but was also wondering as to how you feel the ep stands next to the full
lengths? Do you have any personal favorite Ravenous material? How is it
playing with Chris Reifert as your partner in rhythm section crime?
Yeah, Killjoy mixed the last 2. I think the bass-driven production on
the ep gives it that raw, punky vibe. I heard the mix and called Killjoy
and said, "goddamn dude, you sure cranked the bass!" He said,
"I just love that bass sound, and I cranked it". I think the
ep serves it's purpose as a little in between release. I think it stands
up to the full lengths fine, and is unique.
Speaking of bass, your playing has always influenced me, and I was
wondering where you got your start and who made you want to pick it up?
What gear do you use, and what advice do you have for other players? Do
you have any preferences regarding pick vs. fingers, 4 string vs 5
string, etc? Would you say there's a secret to your technique?
Well, I'm old! I was first influenced by the bassists of Cream,
Zeppelin, The Who, etc...Then came Lemmy and Steve Harris, and ever
since I have not really followed any bassists. I have a Jackson JJ bass,
a Sans Amp GT2 distortion, a Gallien Kruger head, and an SVT cab. I
prefer using a pick on 4 strings, and there's no secret except kill.
Where does the bar lay with regards to how far you want to take
The Ravenous? Is it considered a fun project to jam with, or something
more serious to focus your energies on in the future?
At this point it seems that we will always be a project band...
With regards to touring, I know of your Milwaukee gig, but not
much else. How many gigs have The Ravenous played, and how have they
went? I assume you all have really busy schedules...is there any full
scale touring planned? Maybe some East Coast gigs?
I'm not even sure how many shows we've done. There were a couple of
Milwaukee Metalfests, November to Dismember in LA, and a couple of shows
in NYC that were all spread out over a few years. Although it would be
awesome to actually do a proper tour, or even get on some huge Eurofests,
it doesn't seem likely.
How comfortable are you with the term "supergroup"? I
mean, The Ravenous has some serious history, considering all the
influential musick you've all been involved with. How do you feel when
someone comes up to you and comments on how you've affected their life
with what you've done? From Autopsy to Nuke, to Anthrax and Necrophagia,
to SOD, Abscess, and Brutal Truth...it's all legendary stuff.
Well, thanks, but I'm not really down with the "supergroup"
stigma. I realize it's somewhat unavoidable, but we're just some dudes
playing music we enjoy. I'm always flattered when someone comes up and
tells me how influential I've been, but I'm not thee type to get a
swollen head about it.
Speaking of which, you yourself have always been a diehard
undergrounder, with your hands in the more extreme stuff way back in the
80s. How do you feel about the underground's state today in comparison?
I recently saw you interviewed in Slayer Mag as an "old thrash
bastard"...how does that feel, ha! =)
It's really hard to follow all that goes on in the underground scene
today, but it seems like extreme metal is as healthy as ever. I am, of
course, proud to be an old thrash bastard, especially the first in the
series! I don't know how to compare it to the scene of old...except to
say the Internet has been a big help these days. I've started yet
another band, brutal black death called Overlord Exterminator, and we
threw up 2 songs for people to check out at
You've never stood still, and have always had your hands full with
music. Are you one of those people that always have to keep busy, like
myself, and do you have much free time on your hands? Do you ever see
"the" Dan Lilker retiring into quiet domestic bliss? (congrats
on your marriage, by the way!)
I guess I just have a short attention span! I don't know, I don't
really think too deeply about the musical endeavors I've been involved
in. I'm one of those types who plays music because I love it, and it's
very important to me, so it's coming more from the gut than the brain. I
have plenty of free time. I work semi-fulltime just doing stock, and
otherwise just hanging out with my lovely wife Heather. Slowly but
surely, I'm kind of retiring bit by bit, just not recording or touring
as constantly as I used to.
How was the recording? Were there any problems, or did it go
I can only speak for the bass tracks, hehheh. I did the bass on
"Blood Delirium" in about 4 hours. Like I said, (I"ll
elaborate here) the recordings of the ep and the new album were done as
follows: Chris calls me and tells me it's almost time. I then receive a
tape of Chris playing guitar of the new songs, and I figure them out.
Then, I get a rehearsal tape somewhat later, which helps, 'cos now I can
tell how the drums go. Finally, those Abscess guys record their parts,
and I receive ADAT master tapes, plus a rough mix CDR to practice a
little more to, 'cos this is actually their recorded parts. I go to a
local studio with compatible recording gear, pull up their tracks, and
The artwork and atmosphere are a very important aspect to the
band, it seems. Paul Booth's artwork on the debut definitely caught the
eye, and was very disturbing, and the new lp follows suit, though in a
different way. Would you say the image and musick go hand in hand to a
Absolutely. The imagery, lyrics, and music are al the basic building
blocks of the final combined artistic presentation. The ingredients and
recipe for the soupy stew that is The Ravenous.
How about the overabundance of samples? Do they all come from
Killjoy's collection? It must be infamous! How do you go about choosing
which one goes where and how to fit them in with the music? It works
especially well on "August Underground", I think, especially
the "I fuckin' hate you!"/"I hate you too!"
exchange...where's this from?
I actually think there's too many samples, but that's just my
opinion. Killjoy's the last person in the assembly line in the
streamlined recording process. He does his vocals, throws on the samples
and mixes. We don't have huge budgets to do alternate mixes and send
CDRs around. We just leave it to Killjoy, and he uses his discretion.
That sample you mentioned is from a movie called "August
Underground", that some people Killjoy knows made. The video we did
for that song has some clips from the movie.
What's next on the Ravenous agenda, as well as with anything else
you have planned? What's the status regarding what your working with?
Besides The Ravenous and Nuke, is there anything else your working on?
You still jamming on any Black Metal material post-Hemlock? Has Anthrax
asked you to rejoin yet, haha! =) Please fill us in!
Haha, indeed! I do not know as of now what's next for The
Ravenous...could be we could do a US festival or 2, now that we have new
shit out, but that of course depends on what the members' other bands
are doing. I guess I already plugged my new band earlier. We're looking
for a label at the moment, and we can be reached at email@example.com
Ok, I think that's it, man! THANKS again for your time in this, I
really appreciate it! Best of luck with everything!! Die hard!
No problem, dude. Thanks for your interest.