Interview with Core Device vocalist Dan Dunphy
Conducted by Robert Williams
Formed in New Jersey way back in 1998, the five-piece heavy melodic thrash metal unit collectively known as Core Device have been steadily making a name for themselves in underground metal circles as demonstrated on the band’s sophmore effort "What I’ve Become" recently released through Heaven And Hell Records. Over the course of their thirteen-year career, Core Device has shared the stage with such notable metal powerhouses as King Diamond, Manowar, Overkill, Symphony X, Nevermore and Morbid Angel to name a few. Vocalist Dan Dunphy recently took the time to chat with Metal-Rules.com about the exciting new release, some back history of the band, touring plans for 2011 and what we can expect next from Core Device.
How are you doing today Dan?
Hot as hell bro, New Jersey is sweltering, but besides that, looking forward to getting into the studio tonight. We have a few new songs on the plate I need to digest.
Give us a little back history on Core Device, when and where was the band formed, how you all met initially, what the metal scene was like in your area at the time of the band’s conception…
Well the band formed mainly in 1998 when Tony (guitarist 1 of 2) joined. At that time we were I, Pat (guitarist 2 of 2), Marty (bass) and Tim (drums). With Tony in the band Core Device started finding our sound. As far as the history, Me and Pat were in a band named Anosist for a bit, Marty and I were in a short lived rock/metal thing, and Tim and Pat went to school together. Tony was found through an ad at our local rag. What was the local scene like back then? Well to be honest I thought it sucked, but then it got worse, and worse, till at one point there wasn’t any good venues to play unless you were a cover band. Slowly but surely we started getting bigger and the better shows opened up for us. This was about 2001 or so. We had alot of set backs that really messed us up, deaths in the family that members needed major help getting through, my blown-out knee from a stage diving moment and 9-11. Good to be able to look back at it now still rocking.
I couldn’t help but notice that your first EP released in 1997 was titled "Raped" What inspired such a title and did the band experience any backlash from retailers or any difficulty moving units with such a controversial album title?
Taken at first blush the title is tough to push but reading the lyrics added an interesting effect. The song "Raped" is about a girl from yesteryear, in a town where there are kings and peasants. Well a girl was taken and thrown into a dungeon and used as a sex toy by all the nobles. Midway through the song she dies happily and returns to rape all who had hurt her in life. So the few who didnt want to carry our music because of the name, I had the lyrics with me and pointed out that this wasn’t a song about rape but revenge. They still didn’t want it, go figure! (laughs)
The following year Core Device released the "God and Man" EP, which I would suspect to be long out of print. Are there any plans to make your earlier self-released recordings available as possible future bonus tracks or website downloadable content?
We’ve been asked, and though we really love what we’ve done in the past, some things just need to be in the past. Maybe one day after we hit a milestone of some sorts we’ll re-issue them, who knows…
It has now been seven years since the release of your debut CD "Our Fellowship Eternal" Let’s talk about the reasons for the extended gap between the debut effort and your latest studio release "What I’ve Become"?
Well, besides what I mentioned before we had internal issues as well. Our friend and drummer Tim wasn’t into the direction the music was going and it took time to figure out that he wouldn’t quit but just came as a shell. He was unhappy and we knew it, but we all were together for so long that no one did anything. This produced songs slowly and painfully. We parted ways with Tim in 2009, one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but he needed to find what was going to give him that spark for drumming again, it wasn’t us. "What I’ve Become" was recorded by Tim and I wish we did a better job informing people that Jay our new drummer wasn’t on this record.
Jay feels like he’s taking credit for what is the record when he only wants credit for what he has done.
I’ve seen some reviews for the new record and a lot of them are quick to point out that at fourteen tracks this is quite a lengthy effort from the band. Was it a conscious decision as a band to pack as much bang for the listener’s buck onto the disc considering it had been a while in between releases?
Well, yes and sort of. We had a lot of songs, we had a lot of riffs and one day they all came together and made sense. Since they all followed the same vibe, to use them on a future record would make them stand out, and not in a good way. Give the listener a healthy CD, and have it be whole.
What would you consider to be the standout tracks for yourself personally speaking on "What I’ve Become"?
My favorite song is "What I’ve Become". It’s a four course meal in one and I love that. To me it has this power that only comes from getting it right. Yup, love that song.
Let’s talk about what inspires you as the lyricist for the band, where would you say that you accumulate most of your lyrical ideas from? Does the music define your approach or do you ever jot down lyrics before hearing a composition?
It sound silly but I think the songs have lyrics before I write them, I just need to find them. I feel the music and I put that to pen. Once in a while I’ll have something prior to the music being written but rarely.
"What I’ve Become" is one of the latest titles released through Heaven and Hell Records. Tell me how the record deal with Heaven and Hell come about? Did you submit your music to them? Did they track you down? Do you feel like they are getting the word out on the band?
We always thought we needed to partner with someone who loves the music as much as the business. When we met Jeremy Golden we knew he was our guy. He loves music and knows his stuff. As far as our meeting, we were selling CD’s through "cdbaby" and one of the distributers wanted our new CD “What I’ve Become” but we were broke and could not press them. He passed the word to Jeremy and that was that. I do feel like Heaven and Hell are doing their best for us, it’s a tough market.
Famed album illustrator Travis Smith (Nevermore, Opeth) created the cover for "What I’ve Become". How did you guys hook up with Travis? Was there a specific cover he had done that caught your collective eye as a band and inspired you to seek him out?
We always loved his works, they fit with our vibe and he is well known for his creative eye. The artwork was a collaboration between me and Jeremy then him and Travis.
Take me back in time to 2004 when the debut record came out. I know that Symphony X guitarist Mike Romeo produced "Our Fellowship Eternal" How did Core Device wind up working with Mike and would you consider his direction in the studio as a pretty valuable learning experience for yourself as a musician?
Well we have been friends with Romeo since 98 and we’ve learned a lot from him. He had a big effect on the sound of "Our Fellowship Eternal" as far as the mixing goes. That was a really cool time and I’m glad we had that time.
Core Device has shared the stage with some of the biggest names in metal including Manowar, Overkill, King Diamond, Mercyful Fate, Iced Earth, and Morbid Angel to name a few. Who were the coolest bands to share the stage with and which meant the most to you as a fellow metal fan?
For me the shows we played with King Diamond were the most important shows because he was the guy that influenced me. Other bands we’ve played with that I thought were cool would be Nevermore, Symphony X, Iced Earth.
Speaking of performing live, are there presently any plans to tour in support for the new album "What I’ve Become"? If you could put together a package tour who would be the other bands on the bill?
We’re currently looking into a tour or two and if I could pick any of the other bands it would be Devin Townsend, Symphony X, Nevermore and In Flames.
Which metal singers would you credit as inspiring you to become a metal vocalist yourself?
Like before, King Diamond is the biggest metal influence on me, and old school crooners like Perry Como or Dean Martin.
Considering you just released your first new record in seven years this next question might be a little premature but has Core Device started writing any new material for a follow up album and if so how would you describe the musical direction?
Yes we have been writing so much that we’re forgetting riffs. Now that our engine has been repaired, we’re ready to rock and produce music as we should.
Tell me about when and how you originally got into metal music…
I was in middle school and I liked this girl who loved metal. So I would sing different bands I had heard to her and she thought that was the coolest thing ever, I’ve been hooked ever since.
What’s next for Core Device? What would you consider to be your goals as a band for the remainder of 2011?
What’s next? Finish our demos for the next record while touring, rocking Arrius Studios and enjoying our profession.
I’d like to thank you for taking the time to talk metal with me today Dan, before we wrap this up do you have any last words for your fans reading at home?
We love our fans and we’re up to the task of feeding the Core Device machine to full motion. We’ll see you all soon and may your beers be cold.