So here’s the interview I did with Benjamin Coyte, the lead singer of Day of Contempt! Feedback is much appreciated
Firstly, just some basic questions:
Q – What’s your full name? How old are you? Where are you from?
A – Benjamin Coyte, 25, originally from Adelaide, Australia.
Now some more challenging stuff.
Q – Day of Contempt has evolved a lot since forming as a band, to the point that you’re the only original member still in the lineup. Tell us about the lineup changes? What were the reasons for so many changes? Do you think the band has a solid lineup now? Is it strange sometimes to think about how much has changed?
A – It is weird that so much as changed, but when it all started we were basically kids playing instruments we barely knew, trying to play punk and hardcore songs in our parents garage. There was barely even punk bands in our town to look up to, and maybe a handful of people in a city of a million who’d heard of hardcore. With 8 years of touring and growing somethings have to change I guess. We’re definitely happy with the guys we have in our band now. We’ve been through a lot together, and we all don’t really know anything but our band.
Q – Obviously the band has evolved musically, as well. I read a description of your earlier music as a cross between hardcore, metal, and grindcore. Now it seems that your music has shifted slightly more towards a mainstream sound, while still incorporating elements of punk, hardcore, and metal. Did this evolution come about naturally, or was it more of a forced decision? How would you personally describe your sound to a new listener?
A – I’d avoid describing our music to someone if possible… Haha… I hate doing it. We used to have a drummer and a guitarist who grew up on grindcore, yea, I’d forgotten about that… it’s all flooding back. All of us in present-day DOC were dragged into the music world via punk-rock… So I guess that’s what we have in common now. I don’t think anyone ever really gets forced to change style, maybe with some really shitty major label deals, but I think that’s more of an underground scene myth than much else. We just try to play music that makes us feel alive, like we’re doing something that captures our own imagination. If we can still get that feeling out of it we all had when we first got addicted to a favorite record it makes everything worthwhile.
Q – What’s your writing process like as a band? Do you guys enjoy being in the studio? Who are some industry people that you hope to get the opportunity to work with in the future as far as producers or musicians are concerned?
A – We have a few guys who write in the band, which seems to make things come out well in the end, but there can be a lot of ideas flying around on the way. Being in the studio is a mix between the most pressure and stress imaginable, while doing your favorite thing in the world. It’s weird. It was definitely a lot more of the latter last time when we did the record with Josh Abraham and Ryan Williams. Hopefully our next record will be with them again.
Q – Along the lines of your sound, what are some of your personal favourite artists, or influences? Do you take any elements of your sound from other bands? I know some of your friends are in more pop-oriented, mainstream bands (ie: Good Charlotte, The Used); has their sound had any influence on Day of Contempt’s sound?
A – It’s probably had influence, I’m not really conscious of writing like a certain bands style when I’m writing music, I’ll just be thinking of an atmosphere to aim for, maybe a more energetic one, or a darker one, something slower… If that makes any sense. It doesn’t always finish up like that, but it’s a starting point. But, yea, I still love some hardcore and metal bands a lot, but to an extent that stuff seems to be hardwired into us because we know it pretty well, and more melodic bands can help bring newer ideas for influencing songs.
Q – You guys just released an EP in August on Epitaph, an indie label founded by Bad Religion’s guitarist, that’s in large part responsible for the 90s punk explosion. How did your deal with them come about? Are you guys liking being on the label so far? Any plans for a full-length release or a single off the EP? Any video plans?
A – We just did the one EP with them so far. We did a 2 record deal with our producer, and they liked our demo and liked Josh Abraham’s track record I guess, so they got on board. We hope to start a full length early 2006. Epitaph have talked to us a bit, but we don’t know who we’re going with yet, we’re just working on the material.
Q – As far as your EP, The Will To Live, is concerned, how has the reaction been so far? To me it seems pretty different from your previous material, “Where Shadows Lie” and “See Through The Lies”. Have you gotten a lot of feedback from fans? Have you encountered anyone (an older fan, for example) that’s been surprised by the direction in which your music is headed?
A – Yea we’ve had a couple of emails mostly from Australia from older fans. Most of them seem really into the new one too, which I think is rad, because it is pretty different. A couple just asked about the change and when we told them where we were coming from, I think everyone except maybe 1 sent a cool reply back – that other one never wrote back to us. So, not a bad track record. I’m sure there are other kids who talk shit on guestboards, but those kids hate on everybody, so I can live with that. We’ve probably had about 1000 emails mostly after touring Canada and Australia from new comers saying they’re really into the record and that they got it after the show. We’re trying to get back to everyone, but we are a lot behind.
Q – This summer, you guys toured with Good Charlotte a band who typically draws younger kids, specifically young girls. To me, this doesn’t seem like your typical “target audience”. What was it like to play to a younger crowd than you’d normally be used to? Did you get a lot of positive reactions from the fans, or did you find that your music didn’t really appeal to them?
A – We’ve played with pop punk bands even when we were a lot heavier, so it wasn’t really weird for us. We’ve done Australia, Japan and Canada with them, and the shows always seem to go amazing. I think its a lot easier to see a heavier band live and stay interested even if you’re not used to it. The energy can suck you in, and break the ice so when they do hear the CD they understand what’s going on. Some of my friends today in Australia had never heard of hardcore before seeing us play with some US punk bands. Now they’ve been around it for years, so it’s cool to be a part of that.
Q – Both of the times I’ve seen you guys play live, you’ve always made a point to come out after your set, to meet and greet with fans. Is it important to you to connect with the fans? Have you encountered any specifically interesting people while doing these meet and greets? Do you typically find that you meet new fans, or ones that have been listening to your band for a long while? What are some of your most memorable fan experiences?
A – I’d just rather hang out than sit backstage in a room and be bored. At some of the bigger shows it can be pretty impersonal, because its just saying hi, signing something, or taking a photo, then [on to the] next person. It’s usually a mix of people we’ve met before and new comers. But for younger kids who don’t really feel a part of the music world it can be pretty cool just to have something signed or something real to take home from a show. I think that counts for something. Pretty much all my friends in the world I’ve met through shows or something to do with them too. Every night we’ll walk away with some crazy stories usually, definitely beats sitting backstage if we have the choice.
Q – This question is a bit more specific. You may or may not be aware of these events, but in the beginning of September, you guys played a show with The Used in Thunder Bay, Ontario (my hometown). The set was in a theatre-style venue, and some kids rushed the stage while The Used was playing. The end result was that quite a few of the theatre seats ended up being broken. An article was written in the local newspaper, and as a result, many letters were received by the paper that expressed concern about the “violence” associated with this type of music. Some even expressed concern about these fans being “out of control”. How do you feel about this? Do you think there is a lack of understanding about the culture associated with the music scene? What would you say if someone were to ask you why mosh pits and hardcore dancing are a part of this type of music?
A – Yea there’s definitely a lack of understanding of it, but that’s part of its beauty. Conservative people see anything like that and put it down to something negative. They’ll never even want to understand it, but it’s ok with me. That night was as simple as… It was a big energetic show where kids had been counting the days before it, and they get to a venue, that’s set up for a theatre production, and are forced to stay in a seat while they watch a band that they live for. The same people that wrote off those kids would complain their asses off if they had to see opera, or an orchestra in a rock venue with no seats and just a stage. It’s as ridiculous to them as a rock show in a place like that.
Q – This article is directed to a bunch of college students, and is taking place because of a unique program designed for students that want to work in the music industry, so for the most part, we understand what it’s like to have a passion for music. Did you have the chance to go to college before deciding to make music your main focus? What made you choose music as a career path?
A – I did, but it wasn’t in a music field. I did psych/sociology. I just kept letting go of more and more things I thought I’d end up doing, and did more of what I wanted…. like fight club, haha.
Q – You guys moved your band from Australia/New Zealand to California in hopes of getting more exposure. Do you ever have times when you regret doing what you did? How has moving to California helped Day of Contempt? What types of struggles were presented when you first moved? Have you been able to network more freely this way? How is the music industry/scene in California different from the one you were used to back home?
A – It’s a lot more real here, this is where everything happens for this kind of industry. If it’s what you care about its pretty important to be near it, not on the other side of the world from it. Bands are here, enough cities to tour all the time are here, labels and people who make stuff happen are here, so its with it. Its definitely been hard, and we all miss a bunch of people, but we’ve never looked back as far as the band goes. We still struggle to get by, to live cheap, own nothing and just to know where we’re going to be staying from month to month. We were basically reborn here with a bag of clothes each and had to start from scratch, but we’re getting where we want to be, living cheap, but living good.
Q – The music industry is often portrayed as a cut-throat business, one in which few will survive. Do you think it’s truly as rough as it is made out to be? In your opinion, what is the most important quality to have if you’re interested in getting into the industry? What are some important things you’ve learned by being a part of the industry?
A – There are definitely sketchy people around, but the best people in the world are a part of it as well. People will work their ass off for something they believe is special, which is pretty rare. Its important to do whatever you can think of to get you where you want to be, not to just wait for someone to instruct you and then follow. Definitely being a decent person counts for a lot I think as well.
Q – Where is Day of Contempt headed these days? Musically, as well as tour plans, album plans, and just general plans. What do you guys hope to accomplish in the near future, or the extended future? Do you have goals as a band, or are you pretty laid back and just take each day as it comes?
A – We are writing now, and looking to record pretty soon. So far in a similar vein to our EP, but there’s some avenues we want to explore more, and new bands that have inspired us. We are sorting out label and booking agents and should have that worked out pretty soon. We have shows with our friends in Bleeding Through in Cali, Utah, Nevada and Arizona in the meantime.
Q – Before deciding exactly what to ask you for this interview, I was checking out your band’s myspace page, and I noticed a common question on many of your fans’ minds, so I decided to do the asking for them: when are you coming back to Canada!?
A – As soon as the snow thaws, we’re back there! Canada is awesome!
Q – And lastly, is there anything you want your fans to know about you as a musician, or the band as a whole? Is there a certain question you’ve always wanted to be asked? If so, let me know what it is!
A – Hmmm… If there is I’m blowing my chance because its 2am and I need to get up really soon, and my brain is only half working, haha. Check it out… www.dayofcontempt.com