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Doomriders: From Darkness To Catharsis

13 February 2014

Melodies linger beneath the surface of discordant aggression and sonic assault on Grand Blood, the highly anticipated new record from Boston’s Doomriders. Fronted by Converge bassist Nate Newton, Grand Blood expands on 2009’s Darkness Come Alive by broadening Newton’s lyrical scope.

“Looking back to our first record the lyrics were meant to be over the top. I didn’t put a lot of thought into them. Our second record had me really wanting to write more in-depth. I get really down on hateful music that has no point. What good is it if all you’re doing is screaming about how angry you are if there’s no type of catharsis for you?” stated Newton.

Dead Friends has Newton paying homage to lost loved ones but the track stands out due to the singer taking a limited role in the remembrance of those that fell. Songs that confront the subject matter of loss usually have the singer playing the role of eulogist. For Newton, he takes on the role of concise messenger.

“I never claimed to be a poet. I didn’t want to write something melodramatic or an ode and have it become more about me than them. I’m 38 and I have friends and family dying, it’s just a fact. You can’t let it depress you but you don’t want to forget and thinking about them or writing about them keeps them alive,” sighed Newton.

He added that people once connected to him that have become estranged have resurfaced since Grand Blood’s release.

“I had people calling me that haven’t spoken to me in awhile saying it was cool I wrote a song about it. People I haven’t talked to in years reconnected with me and the conversations we had weren’t sad but positive.”

Pigeonholed in a genre not often associated with positive outlooks, Newton was quick to dismiss the idea that Doomriders is a Metal band.

“I really don’t view us like that. I think we have a lot of influences and Metal is one of them. We’re a lot of things mixed in one pot. There are many kinds of music fans and I feel there are some fans that just want certain bands to stay the same and not evolve. There are others that are ok with growth. I think there are lot of people that just like to pigeonhole bands,” stated Newton.

He added “Truthfully, if I was in a modern Metal band I wouldn’t be able to keep up. I’m not that kind of guitar player,” laughed Newton.

For Doomriders, the end result that became Grand Blood is indicative of the group’s new approach to songwriting. Newton reflected on the process.

“A lot of it has to do with our new drummer Q. He brings an entirely new vibe and everyone gets along differently; had a different effect on the writing and things flowed more organically. We didn’t try to make the songs into something they weren’t. The songs took us in the direction they needed to go.”

As Newton stepped back to view Doomriders in retrospect he was surprised to state the band has been together for a decade.

“Man, that makes me feel old! We played our first show in 2004 at the Blackout Bar in Boston. Our friend was the DJ and invited us to play. We only had like 5 songs but the place was packed! People went crazy and from the beginning I feel this band has been welcome with open arms. I feel really lucky.”

Newton and guitarist Chris Pupecki have been writing together for even longer, learning their respective nuances and style once Newton moved to Massachusetts.

“I moved to Mass in ’99. We were just like ‘let’s do this!’ and we would just play together over and over for like 3 years. At that point we knew we had really good chemistry and wanted to try something different. We weren’t exactly sure at the time but we knew what we didn’t wanna sound like.”

In addition to music Newton’s passion lies within skating, where he was introduced to a variety of bands he respects to this day.

“I’ve been skating since I was a little kid and it’s still a big part of my life. It bought me to a lot of punk and hardcore music and I’m grateful for it. I’m pushing 40 now so I obviously don’t skate like I used to but I can hold my own,” he said.

Duane Peters and Mark ‘The Gonz’ Gonzalez rank among his favorite professional skaters.

“Those guys are amazing! Duane is like 50 and he still kills it. He kind of sets the gold standard for gnarliness and is not from this world so to speak. My knees are kind of destroyed so I don’t really skate street anymore. I just like to cruise and get my grinds in,” said Newton.

Much like his initial attitude toward skating, Doomriders take the approach of just going for it.

“Honestly, it’s not the type of band where we just sit down and plan everything out. There are some aspects where we approach things differently such as where to release music now that traditional record labels seem so archaic.”

Grand Blood is available from Deathwish and Newton proudly stated the label’s growth could be attributed to its successful brand creation.

“You have to realize that a band’s shelf life is so much shorter now with all this technology. A band that blows up on the web may not be ready for what it takes to go out and tour and keep getting in people’s faces. At Deathwish, they really worked to create their own scene from the ground up by fostering a sense of community. This is something the major labels never understood and they think that just promoting the hell out of some shallow artist is enough.”

Doomriders are slated to tour Europe in May with Beastmilk. For Newton, he believes European fans have been more receptive.

“For whatever reason we seem to do real well there. Maybe because heavier music is more popular there, I’m not sure but it seems people get it more. I know Europe has an outstanding pedigree of heavy music. In the U.S. music seems more genre specific.”

Asked what future goals Doomriders have, Newton focused more on how he has evolved.

“I always used to think how I would write this insane, monster guitar riff. To just write something that would be thought of as amazing. Now, I realize I don’t care about that and just want to write a cohesive song and do whatever it is that’s best for that song. I don’t care if I’m the one shining because if that’s the only thing that sticks out to people then I ruined it. I just want to work on writing well.”