Earlier this year, Dawn Ray’d released the critically acclaimed The Unlawful Assembly on Prosthetic Records and since then they’ve taken their incredible live show on the road and been making quite the name for themselves in the process.
In a time that is seeing a distressing rise of right wing ideas in extreme metal and in the growth of Nazi scum and their apologists – Dawn Ray’d stand tall in their defiance and channel a strong anarchist philosophy into their brand of punk infused, violin-laced black metal.
This writer experienced the true force of the Dawn Ray’d message on their recent UK jaunt with Wiegedood and spoke with Simon B. to find out what exactly drives them…
For those that might not be familiar with the band…let’s start with a bit of background on Dawn Ray’d. Tell us a little about yourselves individually, where you’re from & what brought you together?
We are from Liverpool and Leeds in the UK. We all used to play in other bands, Fabian and myself used to play in We Came Out Like Tigers, we met Matthew when we toured with his old band Black Mass. He also filled in on drums for a few tours for us. Both our old bands came to a natural end and we decided to immediately start a black metal band. We had been talking about doing it for a while, but I personally can only focus on one band at a time, I’m not smart enough to do multiple projects. So yeah, we’ve known each other for years just from touring and doing bands.
Your live experience is extremely intense and powerful. What are you drawing on to deliver such a fierce performance and what are you trying to communicate?
The live show is such an important part of this band, almost more important than the record for us; once the record is recorded it is finished, but the live set will keep developing forever, I think. Everyone listens to music in different ways and will interpret our record in different ways, but for me the live set is my interpretation of the songs – loud, harsh, fast and angry, and played in squats, punk houses and autonomous centres. I want people to know that these aren’t just songs, but that we mean everything we say, that we are genuinely angry about the issues we sing about, it is not just an aesthetic or fantasy. We also want our shows to be a place where everyone is welcome, no matter who you are, to be free to be yourself, as long as in doing so you don’t encroach on other people’s right to do the same.
What is your opinion of the DIY community in the UK in 2018?
I guess the DIY scene is different for everybody, and spans pretty much every musical genre there is, but from our experience it is alive and well, and organising some really amazing shows and venues. Depending on how purist you are being about DIY, I’m not sure we are a strictly DIY band, we have a contract on a fairly big label that has massive distribution for example, we have a booking agent for the US… We still book all European shows ourselves, take care of our own merch, run our own small label (Action Now!) and generally have a pretty tight grip on what happens to this band, but DIY isn’t our main focus at this point. I think those networks are really important, but I also think that you can’t isolate yourself in those scenes either, and for the DIY scene to remain relevant, it needs to be in touch with wider music scenes as well, otherwise it stagnate.
What was your introduction to the DIY scene?
We used to book shows in Liverpool in a couple of the (now closed) DIY spaces there, we also ran a zine for a few years, and We Came Out Like Tigers was strictly DIY. My girlfriend used to run a DIY space here which I helped out on, and being into punk, crust and screamo was a natural way in too.
What are your expectations or goals in terms of what you want to achieve with Dawn Ray’d?
Oh man, this is always a hard question. Get so famous we can buy our own jet? Be millionaire anarchists?
I’d like to see this band do as well as possible, but on our own terms. I want to try and write songs or records that for me stand the test of time, I want to get to a point where I am fully happy with a record, and know I’ve made the best music it is possible for me to make. I think you are always naturally critical of your own work, so I am always trying to write lyrics that were better than before, try and develop my own skills as much as possible. We also want to play all over the world, play in every squat there is (we still haven’t played in Kopi, 1 in 12 Club, or the ZAD, so if you organise shows there, get in touch!), and spend my life from playing the music I love. Seeing people scream your own lyrics at you far from home is an amazing feeling, long may it continue.
If you could choose an artist or a band, dead or alive, to share the stage with, who would it be and why?
Another hard one… It would have been amazing to play with Bolt Thrower, I’d love to play with Napalm Death, all those UK anarcho bands rule. I’d love to play with bands like Tragedy or Propaghandi too, just to chat to them afterwards and try to get advice on how to stay so angry so long, how to keep writing lyrics, how to stay focused. Maybe some of the death metal big four, like Deicide or Cannibal Corpse so I could get tips on getting your voice to sound that brutal and maintaining it your whole adult life. Also, I would love to play with Godspeed, someone hook us up… Other than that, all the bands I am most excited about are the bands that are releasing records each year, we are playing with bands like Grift, Full Of Hell, Soar, Wolves In The Throne Room and Oi Polloi this year so that’s pretty rad as it is.
You’re very vocal about your Anti-Fascist stance. Talk a little around this subject?
We sing about a lot of different issues, prison abolition, the police, the borders, anarchism, voting and democracy, and of course anti-fascism. We have played hunt-sab benefits, Mayday festivals and organised our own benefit show for the Abortion Support Network. Anti-fascism seems to be the idea that people seem to pick up on the most. I’m not sure why that is, maybe because all of a sudden it is controversial to be anti-fascist and anti-racist, or maybe because fascism is on the rise again, and its a hotly debated topic. People ask us about this as if it’s an extreme or niche belief, but there are only 2 sides to this debate: you are either pro-fascism, or anti-fascism. If you remain neutral in this then you side with the oppressor, as it is only those that are not immediately threatened by a fascist regime that can afford not to cast an opinion. In doing so, you fail to protect or support marginalised groups, making the fascist state’s job easier, you also help normalise those ideas by not calling them out for being as horrific as they actually are. It wasn’t just concentration camp guards that allowed the holocaust to happen, but also people that voted for the NSDAP for their economic policies. To be anti-fascism is the default decent human position.
Anti-fascist Action is the people who have realised the true horror of those ideas and are doing what they can to stop them. That might be community football tournaments, fundraising barbecues, education workshops, or blocking the street when the nazis try and march through your town. If you have any grasp of the history of fascism then you will find yourself appalled that it is on the increase across the world right now.
‘The Unlawful Assembly’ has been extremely well received and you’ve been touring extensively, what’s next in terms of touring plans?
We are still only a part of the way through our touring cycle for this record – we have 2 weeks in Europe with Unyielding Love in July, a bunch of really good one off shows in the UK, a big tour towards the end of the year as well, and some possible summer plans that aren’t fully confirmed yet… We are also set to come back to the US early 2019. We pretty much say yes to every show we are offered, and tour as much as we can. We were really proud of that record and really happy with the response it got, but that’s only half the battle, the next job is to get it heard and take it round the world. We’d love to come to Japan and Asia, no matter where you are, get in touch and we will try and come to your town!
Can you talk a little about the artwork for ‘The Unlawful Assembly’?
It’s by an artist called Michael Chance who operates out of Mercer-Chance Gallery in London. He is an amazing painter, I gave him a rough idea of what we wanted, the title, the themes involved and then he came up with this amazing painting. It’s huge as well, about 2 metres across! I went down to the gallery and he talked me through it, there is so much detail, so many references in it. The figure that has his arm raised in the air is a William Blake reference, the characters in it that look the most threatening on closer inspection aren’t, whilst seemingly innocent figures are actually hunched over plans for some clandestine plot. The whole thing was meant to have a bit of a Goya feel to it, it was meant to combine both fantasy and the reality of protest and resistance movements. I love it, we couldn’t have been happier. He also did the cover for our first EP.
Does the creation of this music help you work through things? Is it a cathartic process?
I’m not sure; I guess we all do a number of different things to help us survive, it’s hard to say which is the most effective. It brings me a great amount of satisfaction, screaming these songs live is such an intense feeling and brings me a happiness that nothing else can. We are also starting to write the next record, I have got 3 full sets of lyrics finished. This is one of my favourite points of writing, I’m really proud of what I’ve written so far, I keep rereading them and getting really excited about the possibilities of what the songs will become. I also have to read a lot to help me write, so I end up immersing myself in music and poetry which is a really positive thing to do anyway, and that makes me happy for sure. Playing music is a part of how I process the world, and it brings me a lot of satisfaction and happiness. Doing creative things is so important, it is the difference between living and surviving.
16.6.18 – 0161 Festival – Manchester
27.6.18 – Invisible Wind Factory – Liverpool w’WITTR
tour w’Unyielding Love
7.7.18 – The Pipeline – Brighton, UK
8.7.18 – La Comedia Montreuil – Paris, FR
9.7.18 – Venue TBC – Lyon, FR
10.7.18 – Altherax Music – Nice, FR
11.7.18 – 360 Gradi – Rome, IT
12.7.18 – Prostor – Cakovec, HR
13.7.18 – Venster 99 – Vienna, AT
14.7.18 – Acafe – Cadra, SK
15.7.18 – Garage – Bratislava, SK
16.7.18 – Kneipe Pottsdam – Potsdam, DE
17.7.18 – Sta – Leipzig, DE
18.7.18 – Potemkin Bar – Bielefeld, DE
19.7.18 – Kreativfabrik – Wiesbaden, DE
23.8.18 – The Underworld – London w’Full Of Hell
13.10.18 – Atmosfest – Nottingham w’A Forest of Stars/Saor/Grift