Interview with Darvius Noctem of Days Of Our Decay

Brought together by Cosmo Morte of US band Scream Machine, we had the pleasure of meeting Darvius Noctem of Canadian goth/black/industrial metal band Days Of Our Decay and reviewing the excellent album Electric Twilight which was released a few weeks ago. With a rich mix of flavours reminding of the likes of Rammstein, Deathstars, Dimmu Borgir, Type O Negative, and Sisters Of Mercy, as well as unique and vibrant imagination of its own it was a release that found a firm place on our playlists. Wanting to know more about the band and the great creativity brought forth by Days Of Our Decay we threw a flurry of questions the way of Darvius and he graciously revealed all.

Hi Darvius welcome to The RingMaster Review and many thanks for talking with us.

Firstly could you just tell us about yourself?

Man, you gave me the hard question first.  I am so horrible talking about myself, but I think my Facebook “about me” section sums it up.   Here goes…

I draw stuff and occasionally get paid for it. I also compose and play music, but usually don’t get paid for that. Sometimes I collaborate with other musicians for various projects. I end up talking to myself a lot because no one really listens to me to begin with. I hate most things, particularly: people, religion, and summer. Most people often mistake me for a “snob” when I am actually a misanthrope. I’m extremely opinionated and often voice my opinions, which usually get me into some degree of trouble. I have a dry, morbid sense of humour, but I am usually the only one laughing.

What is your musical history before Days Of Our Decay?

I started playing guitar when I was 15 or 16, but just couldn’t really get into it and moved on to learn bass, drums and then keyboard.  I took piano in high school but never really took it seriously until just before I started Days Of Our Decay.  During high school I played in a really lame electronic/rock/metal/experimental band called: The Spacemen On Vacation.  Later on in my early 20’s I joined my friends’ band: Malice.  It was more of a nu-metal influenced band in the same vein as bands like Coal Chamber, Spineshank, etc.  Initially, I played drums and then moved into the keyboard and bass position just before the other guys called it quits, which is then when I started Days Of Our Decay.

Days of Our Decay was initially and in many ways still is a solo project?

I started the band and wrote a few songs, but wanted to get my ex band  mates from Malice to join and contribute, but due to our life schedules and one of the members alcoholism, it ended up just becoming my solo project, and in many ways it still is a solo project.  I have had many different people in and out of the band over the years, but the only other official member is Demonika Demise.  Most of the past members were just brought in so we could play shows.  I recorded some demos and alternate versions of songs with a lot of the past members, but none of the final songs included them.  There are some demo cds and a live cd floating around – I will tell you that.

What was the intent and spark behind starting the project for you?

I wanted to have a rock/metal influenced band that was really keyboard savvy.  The thing that annoyed me the most in metal and rock is that the keyboards were always mixed so low, or just so minimal, so I wanted to have a band that featured keyboards as the driving instrument.  In addition, I am really attracted to dark music, whether it is heavy or soft, which is something I also wanted to incorporate into my project.   Ultimately, I wanted to create a sound that I wanted to hear in music, from a listener perspective, and at the same time, I wanted something that didn’t take itself too seriously.

You have self termed it “Elevator Music For The Dying!” could you elaborate on that and did that apply to your music from the very beginning? I ask as I know you had a later album with the term as its title.

It was originally a line from a poem/song I wrote in my late teens and I thought it was just something silly and over the top, and just decided to run with it.  The term did apply from the beginning.  In regards to the album:  Elevator Music For The Dying, it kind of summed up every aspect of the band at the time and prior to that.  That album was more or less an end of an era and Graveyard Superstar was the first album of the new era.  It’s ultimately still “Elevator Music For The Dying” it’s just expanded a bit more, I think.

 From what I know of your music you are unafraid to explore your own and the music’s boundaries?

Umm, sort of.  I don’t stray much from my trademark style, but I am always trying to incorporate new elements per song or album.   Overall, I just try to write and play what comes natural at the time.  That’s also easier said than done.  I tend to over think everything.   Sometimes I write a riff or a song and have to think “Did I write that riff before?” or “Does this song sound too much like this one?” etc.

You are quite prolific release wise especially in recent times and I know people have commented on that to you but I get the sense whereas other musicians might do the same but just throw everything out they create whatever the standard you have a disciplined and strict standard you place upon your work and maybe discard songs as many as you release?

Definitely, for every album I generally write and record up to 20+ songs and narrow it down to the best 11 or 12.  It’s hard to determine what makes the cut until the end because each song means something to me, but I try and make each album as dynamic as I can and have it flow really well from beginning to end.  I always second guess myself though because you never know what songs are gonna connect with people.  I find that most of my favourites are people’s least favourites and vice versa.  One of these days I might just make an album of songs that I hate and maybe everyone will love it and it will be a big hit.

Is creating music the first and last thought for you each and every day?

Sometimes.  I think about drawing and art just as much.  Sometimes I write songs in my dreams.  No joke.  I wrote 2 songs from how I remembered them in my dream.  One was called:  “The Letter And The Ghost” and the other was called: “Gift.”

As you mentioned you work with Demonika Demise in the band and though she is mentioned as a backing singer she brings a lot more than her vocal skills to the project?

I think of her vocals as more of an instrument, rather than a backing singer.  It’s a complete contrast to my vocals, but somehow they seem to work well together.   I think that if I sang more conventional or if she sang more unconventional, it wouldn’t work.  In addition, she helps me with some of the final mixes.

How did you both meet?

We met online in December, 2006 when I was living in Minneapolis.  We got engaged and I moved to Canada in 2007 and the rest, they say, is history.

Does she get involved with the initial songwriting?

Haha, no, not at all.  She admits that she is not a songwriter.  She understands this is more my project and doesn’t want to interfere with that.  She has helped with a few parts though.  She helped me revamp an old song and she wrote a choir part to the intro/verse of our song:  The Dark Gift.

We have had a discussion about bands that people compare your music to rightly or wrongly so what are your major influences and which ones do you think have most added texture to your ideas and sound direction?

I`d say that our biggest influences that helped shape our sound would be: Deathstars, Type O Negative, Marilyn Manson, Rammstein, Dimmu Borgir, Nightwish, She Wants Revenge, Sisters Of Mercy, Diary of Dreams, and The 69 Eyes.  Demonika’s influences are roughly the same as mine, but she is really influenced by more female -vocal oriented stuff like: Tarja Turunen, Evanescence, We Are The Fallen, etc.

I know Marilyn Manson is mentioned a lot when talking about your music especially vocally though I do not see it; does this get a bit tedious?

You are probably one of the only people who don’t see it, haha.  That’s cool though.  Overall, it does get tedious, but I usually find that it`s mostly from people who don`t know of any other darker- type bands, and since Manson is so mainstream, everyone just associates me with him.  I admit that I think our singing techniques are fairly similar from the raspy-ness in our voices and how we drag our notes, but if someone were to listen to us back to back, they would notice drastic differences.  I suppose at the same time, if someone compares us to Manson in a complementary way, I don`t get offended or anything, haha.

Always late to the party haha our introduction to you came with the great Electric Twilight which came out earlier this year. You first started making music for Days Of Our Decay with your first release The Devil’s Concubine appearing in 2005 I believe? How has your music evolved through the past decade and you as a musician and songwriter?

Yep, I wrote Devil`s Concubine back in 2005, but rerecorded for world release in 2007, and to also include Demonika Demise, as she was not on the original recordings of the first 2 albums.  Over that course of time, my songwriting and composing has gotten so much more refined and mature.  I can play stuff now that I could never play years ago.  We integrated new elements over the years and gradually got away from a lot of the `metal` aspects in our initial sound.  However, that will always be there in some form or another, I think, which is cool.  The production has greatly improved over the years for sure.  Even our vocals have changed and matured, quite a bit.  In the early albums it was about 50/50 singing to screaming, whereas now, I barely scream anymore.  Our vocal accuracy has greatly improved as well.  In a lot of ways we simplified and in other ways we expanded from the drums to the keyboards and all the sounds in between.  It was just a natural progression, I think.  I also managed to learn how to create and define a “mood” for a particular song much better.  Before it was just playing notes and making riffs.  For Graveyard Superstar, we started incorporating more guitar-synths and simpler compositions, as compared to our older work.  At this point, I can barely listen to our first handful of albums without cringing. 

Your website http://daysofourdecay.yolasite.com suggests you have already three more albums planned for the rest of the year and into 2013, are you that far ahead or is this just planned targets?

Ever since 2009 we have been 2 or more albums ahead of schedule (so to speak).  Keep in mind, we have been this far ahead even with me scrapping lots of songs.  I work extremely fast and can put out 1-2 finished songs per week.  If I were to die or end the band today, there would be a good 5 albums ready to go.  We’d be like the Tupac of the gothic rock world – dead, but still coming out with albums!

How do you create your music, what most often comes first and how do you develop these seeds?

I usually sit around and think to myself, “What would people really NOT want to hear.”

I’m usually inspired by a song, whether it is good or bad, or some kind of mood or feeling and then I sit at my keyboards and see what comes out.  I have spent hours just messing around with keyboard riffs and ideas, but usually I try and get the music to the chorus part done first and build the rest of the song around that.  A lot of times it doesn’t work that way, but that is initially how I start.  Once I finish writing and recording the main keyboard part, I fill in the rest of the sounds.  The drums usually come together last, as far as the music goes.  99% of the time, the lyrics and vocals are written and arranged after the music has been finalized.  I hate writing lyrics though, yet, ironically I spend a lot of time working on them.  It’s like an organized chaos and sometimes a warzone when I am writing a song.

You produce and mix your own releases too?

Yep.  I have the most unconventional equipment set up, but somehow it works for us.

How do stop yourself from getting too close in that department when you are doing every aspect of the music, do you have an outside ear to offer thoughts and ideas around too? Demonika maybe?

Exactly!  You hit the nail on the head, my friend.  I have to step away from it a lot and have Demonika take a listen.  Aside from her, I don’t want any outside influence because I don’t want to feel like I have to compromise what I do to appease someone.  Occasionally, I will ask my friends what they think of a particular mix or song, but that’s it.

How do you set up your live shows, still just the two of you?

It has changed for every show.  For the first 3 shows, we had a full line up (vocals, guitars, keyboards, bass, drums), without using any kind of backing tracks, but when I moved to Canada, we got booked for a show and I couldn’t secure a line up, so I had to resort to having our music (keyboards and drums) backtracked with Demonika and myself on vocals (respectively).  Honestly, I had so many problems with live musicians in the past, that we decided to keep the backtracks and go from there.  Some people might see that as unethical, but whatever.  The music is all created electronically, and unfortunately I can’t sing and play keyboard at the same time, so we have to resort to extreme measures to play shows.  Demonika doesn’t want to play shows anymore, and honestly, neither do I.  However, I get that “itch” from time to time, so if we play any shows in the future it will just be me and my lap top on stage.  I am also considering doing “internet shows” so people from all over the world can check it out, being as most of our fans are either in Europe or the U.S.

Is there a good audience for goth/black/industrial metal in Canada and especially Ontario where you are from?

Not at all.  We constantly get the cold shoulder from promoters around here, as well as bands, and just people in, general.  Most of the people around here just hate our style of music.  It’s really discouraging and disappointing.  The main thing is that it’s so divided here between crowds/scenes.  To make it in a band around here you either have to play really banal sounding hardcore/metal or classic rock and country.  There is no in between.  With most of our past shows, we’d get booked to play with all metal/hardcore bands, and that crowd is definitely not our demographic, to say the least.  Our last show we ended up opening for a blues, cover band.

Can we move on to the great art work to your albums, that is all your work too I believe?

Yes, indeed!

How long have you been creating art and is it an important part of the whole music experience you bring to your releases?

I have been an artist way longer than I have been a musician.  I have been creating art since I was a little kid.  I think my art is really contrasting to my music, but I think they work well together as a package deal.

What are your inspirations in this aspect of your skills?

I’d say mostly:  Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, and Joan Miro.

I am sure I am wrong but I just have this thought there is a link or theme running through your art which wraps around your releases?

Well, the art you see is just my style, so all of my pieces have a unique, ongoing look and theme.  For album covers, I generally just choose a piece that seems to fit for that particular album.

Apart from your album sleeves you do not have a gallery for your work on the website so where can people see more of your art?

Thanks for asking. Yes, I do:  https://www.facebook.com/visualdecadenceofficial

Does the art come after the music when creating music or arrive hand in hand?

No, I do art and music completely separate.  However, a song title has been known to influence a piece of artwork.

Which receives the priority of your time music or painting?

I’d say it’s about 50/50 give or take.  Some days I work on music all day and vice versa.

When can we get our ears and thoughts into your next album?

“Master Of Funerals” will be the next album, which we are planning for Halloween this year (2012).

Once again a great many thanks for sharing time with us.

Would you like to leave with a final thought or comment?

It’s not how much Crown [Crown Royal] you can drink, it’s how much ass you can get while drinking Crown.  I believe Vinnie Paul said that or something like that.  In regards to the music and art, you can download most of our albums on our website and tell all your friends (who might like us) to ‘like’ us on Facebook and spread the decay.

https://www.facebook.com/daysofourdecay

Read the review of Electric Twilight @

The RingMaster Review 16/05/2012

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