Interview with DJ Temple (guitarist) of WITHOUT MERCY
Interview by Kat Knite
Listen to Seismic here:
Bandcamp – Spotify – Youtube Music – Deezer
Vancouver based death-metal act Without Mercy had been hard at work for the last few years working on fresh material, making sure that when they dropped their new full-length album, Seismic, it would be a bone-rattler like no other. All the way from the songwriting process, to the recording of this project in the studio with production from highly renowned producer Dave Otero, the band members took a memorable journey in their new projects creation. We got a chance to interview DJ Temple of the band to talk about this, and more. Check it out down below!
I have to mention I got excited to interview you when I read you were from Vancouver, which is my hometown. Where are you all originally from? How did you meet and decide to form a band together?
We’re all from neighbouring towns to Vancouver. Our actual home is in Abbotsford, BC which is out in the valley. DJ started the band in 2004 and found each of the members through trials and tribulations, haha.
Who were your favourite bands and artists growing up? Which bands played the biggest role in inspiring you to play the fusion of death/thrash metal?
The funny thing is we never know what genre we are. That stems from having such an eclectic background. So many bands and artists inspired each of us and that list is growing daily! Some notable mentions, of course, would be: Pantera, Decapitated, Cattle Decapitation, Nevermore, Animals as Leaders, Plini, Intervals, Slayer, PJ Harvey, Deftones, The Melvins, Meshuggah, Exit Strategy, Dimebag, Jeff Loomis, Chris Broderick… the list is insane.
How has the Vancouver death metal scene changed and evolved over the years? What kind of impact do you hope the new album will have on fans and the public?
We hope the new album has a positive impact at the very least! Can’t speculate on the Vancouver scene as we spend more time touring than we do playing at home. Our hope is that people really love the record that we’ve spent so much time on.
Are there any local bands you personally like or think stand out?
There’s definitely a few! Exit Strategy probably the dopest local band we’ve ever played with. On top of that, there are so many underground legends like Kyoktys, Shadow Weaver, Panolith. These guys are all trying hard and that should be noted.
How has COVID-19 affected the new release and your future plans? Do you intend on touring once it’s safe to do so again?
Our management didn’t want us to release the record during the pandemic. So many people thought it would go unheard since touring wasn’t an option. We thought you all deserved it sooner than later. We’re lucky to have any fans at all… it’s a really great feeling. So when this album was ready to go, we thought there was no more waiting. And honestly, the response has been so insane that we stand by that decision 10 fold. We plan to tour the millisecond it’s possible. There’s been a few tours presented to us in the ways of Europe and we can’t wait to jump the pond and show you what we’re all about.
What has been your favourite Vancouver venue to play so far? How about nationally/internationally? If you could take Seismic on the road, which venue would be your dream to play at?
Pub 340 is our favourite because it represents our start. It was the first venue in Vancouver that gave us a shot at the start of our career. Now it’s fun to go back and pay homage to those days and support a local business trying to do their thing. Not to draw a sad note over this interview but I’m hesitant to say which venues internationally just in case some are having a rough go. I know there are plenty of places that have such a killer name and brand that we want to be a part of them though. That spans across so many countries!
Do you prefer the process of writing and recording, or going out and playing live? Or do you enjoy both equally in different ways?
Neither. Each process is fun and stressful in their own way. Writing is the most artistic thing that we get to do and the live performance is the fruits of that labour which is amazing. But even recording is an art form and a process that is fun in of itself. The secret here is to find happiness at the moment…. That’s what we like to do 😉
Who did most of the songwriting for the album? How did you all collaborate on the overall sound and production?
The entire album was written 100% collaborative. What you hear is the result of 4 musicians who are also friends giving their all and not settling for anything less than the best we could do. Every song started with a single idea. That idea could have been a lyric, a rhythm or a riff. But the idea starts it all and from there, we move on to a skeleton by linking ideas together. Always conversing with each other about what is going to happen next and how the part can evolve into something. From there, lyrics can be added or even just introducing vocal sounds… it all happens in its place and it becomes something great when we’re done.
I interpret your lyrics as being focused heavily around themes of the suffering one undergoes in endless circles, the demise of the mind, yet strength and defiance of the spirit. All of those are presented in a fantastical, spiritual, and violent vein. What in life invokes and inspires the writing?
Alex wanted the lyrics to be open to interpretation. He was very specific about that. While I can confirm that they are derived in strife and self-loathing, they represent a personal inkblot test to the individual, which I think brings an ere of mystery to the entire thing. Read the lyrics when you can, let us know what you think!
I live for the artwork that comes with music. The scene of a deadly tree against a tumultuous midnight blue sky and sea by Brayden Eshuis for Seismic is epic and full of decaying doom. How did you work with him to come up with this imagery?
Brayden and I have been friends for years and he’s just a brilliant artist and amazing soul. He gets me and he understands what we all like. He listened to our summary of what we wanted and interpreted it into what you see before you. The end result was just the perfection personified of his view and creativity. Honestly, the guy is a genius.
If you could work with anybody as a feature on a future album, who would it be?
Jeff Loomis and Chris Broderick. Then we’d get Dave Otero to mix it……
In your 13 years together as a band, what are the greatest challenges you’ve faced?
Rejection. We would create something we were proud of and it would get rejected. Even this record was rejected by so many labels before Blood Blast jumped on board. Clearly, we should have gone to them first! Rejection is tough when you’re in the trenches as bad as independent metal bands are. That seems to be the one unifying quality the genre holds with each other…. The utter desecration of survival. All bands have to go through it for a certain degree but I honestly think that metal bands may have it worse than most.
How do you envision your future as musicians? What kind of projects would you like to be involved in?
Without Mercy is the main project for all of us right now. Side hustles aren’t really a thing for us. There are other creative outlets for sure but for now, the focus is here.
What advice would you give for budding artists on the scene?
Never, ever, ever, give up. Work your ass off and be nice to people. It’s the only sensible thing to do.
Thank you so much for your time, and good luck on the release of Seismic. Is there anything else you’d like to say to our readers?
Check us out online at: www.withoutmercyband.com and find us on all social medias at withoutmercyband. Say hi! We like to answer back 🙂
Much love and respect,
DJ Temple (guitarist)