The Scorching Spiritual Reveries of Deathbreaker
The Scorching Spiritual Reveries of Deathbreaker
Deathbreaker from Washington State present their own dynamic take on metallic hardcore, in the grand tradition of genre legends such as Norma Jean and The Chariot. Signed to Facedown Records, Deathbreaker will certainly make a lasting impression with their sonic intensity and thought-provoking spiritual lyrical content. Isolate is the name of Deathbreaker’s latest magnum opus, a scorching collection of mesmerzing tunes unleashed during these pandemic days. Highwire Daze recently caught with Deathbreaker’s vocalist Scott McNeil to find out whole lot more about the newest driving force to be found within the post-hardcore movement. Read on…
Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Deathbreaker, and how long the band has been together.
Hey, this is Scott from DEATHBREAKER, I am the vocalist for the band. The band formed in 2017 when we signed to Facedown Records. We were previously Redeem The Exile but changed the name when we signed and released our first record Disconnect.
Where are you based out of and what is the local music scene like there?
We are based out of Olympia, Washington which is about an hour south of Seattle. The local music scene has a huge variety of Indie artists, singer songwriters, hip hop, rap, metal, and lots of other styles. Most shows happen at bars and house shows. Pretty typical to see bands playing wherever they can.
How did you wind up on Facedown Records?
We wound up on Facedown because we had known Comrades for a long time and Jason was looking for a new band to sign for the 20 year Facedown Fest. We were fortunate enough to have Comrades mention to Jason that he should check us out.
Is there any overall story or concept behind Isolate title?
As far as the Isolate title it was basically how we as band members, and even as individuals, felt in the band. We had felt like that for the last couple years. Lots of touring and strained friendships created a vibe that we were kinda alone. Somewhat common for bands who spend months away from their families to meet people on the road who we may only see one day a year. Those things coupled with fall-outs from life longtime friends created a sense of isolation. We came up with the name in October prior to recording the record but in light of the Covid Quarantine the name seems fitting.
Select two songs from Isolate and what inspired the lyrics.
My personal favorite song is Pit Viper. I also really like Choke. Both those songs were written about personal true stories. Mainly a past band member as well as a prior pastor. Our old band member got caught up in a church that was becoming a cult. He stole money and gear from the band while slandering our reputation around our local community. Pit Viper is written about the pastor who let power, pride, and fear get the best of them. They started manipulating people to believe they were people’s access to God and when confronted they got vindictive. They turned the congregation against us, even the band member I mentioned earlier. It was a pretty dark time to have your closest friends and personal pastor say some of those most hurtful things about us. It was a time to really evaluate everything we believed about ourselves, our faith, our band, God,… everything… These songs and this entire record is basically about that main topic and those 2 individuals.
Who produced Isolate and what was it like working with them?
Jeremy Shaffer from Earth Groans recorded and produced Isolate. It was amazing to work with him. He really wanted to do this record and he worked really hard to make it awesome and I believe he was exactly the right guy for the job.
Who did the cover art for Isolate and how much input did you have on it?
Taylor Bates from the band Your Hands Write History did all our album artwork as well as most of the designs for the merch coming out with this release. We gave him very minor input but mostly let him be creative. He spent weeks listening to the record and learning the lyrics before he even came up with a concept. He wanted to hear the record for what it was musically and then create a visual of what he thought it was, and I believe he nailed it. We pretty much used his first draft and didn’t make much changes at all.
What has it been like to release a new album right in the middle of a pandemic?
We were slated to release this record in May prior to the pandemic happening. When we realized how dramatic this pandemic was going to be we had to sit down and discuss if we should hold off on the release. We talked to the label and came to the conclusion that not releasing new music would probably hurt us more than not touring on a new record. So the decision was made to release on time and hope for the best. We were so stoked on this record and wanted to get it out into the world that the thought of waiting until the pandemic was over, just to maybe have a few more record sales wasn’t worth it. Keep in mind, at the time there was no idea of how long this pandemic would keep us from touring. Given the current situation I’m glad we released when we did.
What could one expect from a live Deathbreaker show?
A live DEATHBREAKER show is just an honest expression of who we are as people and who we are as a band. I know for myself as well as a couple of the other guys, we are worshiping when we play. Our focus is on who God is and why He has us here. I speak for myself here, but I’ve come to realize that the reason I’ve gone through so much Church hurt is so I can relate and identify to those same people. God hurts when we hurt and it hurts God to know that so much harm has been done in His name. When I play a show my heart is breaking for every person in the room that has abandoned God because they were hurt by God’s people. I know that feeling because I am one. I didn’t abandon my faith or give up on God but I can see why so many do. My hope and my goal in this band, and in this life, to show people they are loved, they are beautiful, they have purpose, and just because they have hurts it wasn’t God who hurt them and God doesn’t approve of those hurts. I feel like a recovering addict who is trying to help other addicts become clean. That’s a lame analogy, but being on this side of things makes we want to bring so many other people to where Hope lives. This is my heart when playing a live show and I believe people who know the story feel that.
What was the experience like playing Facedown Fest at Chain Reaction this year? This must have been one of the last shows before the pandemic shut everything down.
Chain Reaction was surreal. My most favorite part was seeing so many friends and bands we have met while on tour over these last few years. A great reunion with so many great people. Not to mention I get to watch so many of my friends playing a sick venue.
If Deathbreaker could open for any band either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
As far as a band who would we want to open for, I don’t really know how to answer that. The answer would be different for each member in the band for sure. But I would say I would like to open for The Chariot. Long Live The Chariot!
Are you currently involved with any other bands or projects outside of Deathbreaker?
I do have a side project with my brother Kevin, who is also the guitar player and songwriter for DEATHBREAKER. The side project has no name and it’s mostly just Dad-Rock stuff but I’m a dad so what can I say…
What’s up next for Deathbreaker?
Not sure what’s next for DEATHBREAKER. Probably a tour. We really want to get out there and tour on this record but as to when that will happen, it all depends on when things open up. So hopefully sooner rather than later.
Any final words of wisdom?
As far as final words, I touched on it earlier but I’ll say it again. Unfortunately too many people can relate to being hurt by the Church. Its easy to attack what hurts us but there are so many beautiful things that can happen with Church. Yes the hurts are real, and yes it takes time to heal, but I have found some of the healing I have needed has been at Church. This record is dark because it touches on some dark things but if we aren’t honest then why even tell the story? We have to separate the idea of God’s people being God. Just because we have been wounded by a church or God’s people that doesn’t mean God hurt us. God is Love and what hurts have been done are so often done out of anything but love. God is Love and He hurts when we hurt. He wants to heal those hurts. I’m not trying to bring people back to a church but rather back to God. I don’t preach from stage and I’m not interested in deep theological debates but the hill I will die on is that God loves you.
(Interview by Ken Morton)
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