September 3, 2013 Interview – Kristof Bathory of Dawn Of Ashes talks music and movies
In this ever changing universe we live in few things remain the same. Hollywood California based Dawn Of Ashes defy labels and have crossed musical genres over the years. After starting as a aggrotech style band they shed that skin for a death metal sound in Genocide Chapters (2010) . In their continuous efforts to progress, the band morphed their sound yet again with their latest offering Anathema (2013) combining elements of industrial and metal. Dedicated to their artistic vision Dawn Of Ashes have continued to shock audiences with their imagery and style. Recently we sat down with mastermind Kristof Bathory for a intimate look at his vision for Dawn Of Ashes, sincerity in art, passion for dark music , horror movies, and much more.
CrypticRock.com – Dawn of Ashes is quite the tale of two different bands. When you first began back in 2001 you were more an aggrotech style band and when you released your album in 2010 you went more to a black/death metal sound. Tell me what inspired you to change your sound?
Kristof Bathory – When Dawn of Ashes first started out my intentions were to be more of an industrial/ black metal sort of band. I think as a solo artist it ended up becoming more aggrotech with the aggression and energy from metal and rock music. In time I wanted to progress the band back into a metal/rock sound with a full live band. I think my problem is I jumped into too fast without leaving the elements of the older sound when we first started. I think now with the Anathema album we kind of bring out the elements of what we were in the past along with the metal/ rock sound. That’s just what happened throughout the years.
CrypticRock.com – Right and you have found that good balance with the new album. How do you feel the original fan base adapted to the change in style of the band. Do you think they were more accepting of it or were they less accepting?
Kristof Bathory – I think with the Genocide Chapters (2010) they couldn’t digest the whole change at first. I think after a point certain fans accepted that we have talent in both directions. At the same time I can understand the fans being frustrated that we lost the elements that they liked when we started DOA. That is actually why I created the Anathema album, I feel like it’s the perfect blend. I feel like we should have done that during the whole Genocide Chapters era, we should have done what we did with Anathema. I feel like the whole industrial side needs to remain with DOA but at the same time I feel like DOA needs to have a more metal or rock sound. Every band in my opinion needs to evolve as musicians. I think fans need to realize a band like us need to evolve. I started DOA based on metal and rock.
CrypticRock.com – I completely understand what you are saying that you need to evolve as a musician and as a band in general. In the end it all evens out because you may lose some fans along the way but you will gain new fans along the way.
Kristof Bathory – Also what has remained with Dawn of Ashes is the theme, the imagery, and even the imagery has evolved in different ways. The whole horror aspect has always remained, the whole shock aspect has always remained. That’s never going to change, I think that is going to increase throughout our careers. We are going to be more shocking and more disturbing. I think fans need to look at that and need to realize that the aggression of DOA needed to evolve. In my opinion there was only a certain point with aggrotech, I don’t even like using that term, that sound could never evolve. From what I see every band sounds basically the same in the genre, I am not talking bad about it, but in my opinion there is just no room to grow that sound. For me this is my career so I wanted to progress, I wanted to put in every sort of element I enjoy because I am not just into 1 style of music. I am into a bunch of music styles, I think I have every right to put anything I please into my group. I think for hardcore aggrotech and EBM fans they will never accept us because a lot of them are elite to guitars and stuff like that. It’s kind of sad but that’s what I’ve seen. It’s kind of narrow minded but fans who just enjoy music and don’t need to put in a genre, those are the ones who will keep sticking with our fan base. It’s pretty sad that certain fans within the EBM scene can’t accept that and move forward. That’s why we have those old albums, they can listen to that. Unfortunately if they don’t like what we are doing now it’s not going to change what we’re going to do, we are going to keep moving forward with new material and different ideas.
CrypticRock.com – You have to stay true to yourself. Back in 2010 when you released Genocide Chapters you went on tour with Dimmu Borgir, Enslaved, and Blood Red Throne. That’s a pretty great tour of European metal bands. I was curious how did that tour go for you?
Kridtof Bathory – It was good, Dimmu Borgir was a huge influence on me for many years. What an honor for me to be on a tour like that with a band that I looked up to. Unfortunately, at the time I think we went on tour with the wrong album in my opinion. A lot of metal fans liked Genocide Chapters, I think it’s a good album in the metal scene, but it’s particularly not my favorite album. I wish that what we are doing now would have been on that tour. We are doing more tours now and a lot more upcoming touring. It was a period of history in DOA, it was great to know the guys from Dimmu Borgir and to be a part of that.
CrypticRock.com – It had to be an awesome tour. Your latest album Anathema as we spoke of earlier is a good balance of the old style of the band and the newer style. Tell me what you were thinking when you went into the writing and recording of the record?
Kristof Bathory – I was looking at it as an album to kill off the whole genre war of what Dawn of Ashes should be considered. I put aspects of metal, industrial, what we did in the past, and a lot of rock elements. I think it’s an album that can adapt for a wide variety of fans. I was looking at an album that could please me and please a large amount of DOA fans and new fans. It’s kind of funny because a lot of my inspiration from that album came from listening to Nine Inch Nails and Dimmu Borgir. I was a little scared putting it out basically that it wasn’t going to come out exactly the way I wanted it to, it actually came out better. Working with Chris Vrenna and all these amazing artists was a long and challenging process, it definitely came out exactly the how I wanted to.
CrypticRock.com – In the end it’s a very solid record and stands alone on it’s own.
Kristof Bathory – Not only that, I had a lot of personal issues going on. This album was more talking about personal issues. I feel like a lot of fans could relate to a lot of the stuff I was talking about. It was a good way of letting that out into an album. I felt like it was a certain time we were going through, a process, because we were having a hard time releasing this album. I felt like fuck I need to release this album as a form of therapy. In a therapeutically way express all these built up emotions in this album. That was very vital to me as well.
CrypticRock.com – It’s the best form of therapy there is, to release emotions through art and what you are passionate about. With the past of the band and present you found that balance on this record. I understand inspiration changes in life and you never know which direction you are going to go in. What direction would you like to go in the future for Dawn Of Ashes?
Kristof Bathory – I just had this conversation with someone. I am going to keep the industrial aspects but I would definitely like to go more toward a rock/metal path. I’d like to do more tours with metal and rock acts. I just see that is going to be more beneficial within my career. I am actually working on another album but I don’t want to give any details away. It’s going to be definitely more on the Anathema side and a bit on the rock and metal side. Not to say industrial fans are going to be disappointed with it because there is going to be a lot of that but like I said I want to go more in that direction.
CrypticRock.com – That is something to look forward to. You said you are doing some tours. You are actually going to be hitting the road at the end of August with Pysclon Nine. One of those places you are stopping along the way is the Triton Festival in NYC. How excited are you about that tour and the Triton Festival?
Kristof Bathory – Right now we are still booking more dates. I think the idea of this tour is Dawn Of Ashes and Pysclon Nine had a bad history and bad blood in the past. When we all became friends we felt maybe we should do a tour together because it’s what fans wanted to see for years. This was a tour that was definitely due to happen. I am excited about it, we haven’t done a full tour since 2010. I know a lot of fans are eager to see us and Pysclon Nine play. Triton Festival seems pretty fucking crazy as well. It’s definitely going to be brutal and violent, we are going to put all our blood and aggression into this tour.
CrypticRock.com – Sounds like it will be a great tour and it will be great to see the Anathema material played live. You mention the horror theme, how are you going to portray that on the tour. What are you looking to do with your stage show?
Kristof Bathory – There is always something new with every show. I guess it just depends what comes to mind when I am on the stage. I am not going to give any details away. I would rather people just be excited that some nasty is going to come their way (laughs).
CrypticRock.com – The element of surprise makes it more shocking and entertaining.
Kristof Bathory – Also in general there is never going to be a night where it’s tame. Hopefully the fans will react because I feed off their energy, the more energy they give me the more disturbing shit that will happen on stage.
CrypticRock.com – That makes for a very good entertaining show. You said in the past you don’t have one specific musical taste, that you have a broad variety of tastes. What are some of your musical influences?
Kristof Bathory – There are a lot of bands I like. I go from black metal to death metal to bands like Fear Factory and Slipknot, to dark ambient and industrial. It just depends, I like a lot of music. I am definitely more on the metal and rock side. I’m a huge Nine Inch Nails fan. I can go on forever with bands. I can go from Nine Inch Nails to Cannibal Corpse to Marduk. I also like a lot of the more mainstream metal acts as well.
CrypticRock.com – It’s good not to limit yourself. You talked about earlier how sometimes people can be close minded. That can be rather frustrating as an artist because you have all these ideas in your mind and you want to express those in your art, and people have this vision of what you should be but you know what you want to be.
Kristof Bathory – Yes and there are so many good bands out there. You can’t just eliminate everything just to listen to one specific style of music. I honestly find that to be pretty sad. I was one of those back in the day, I’d only listen to this or that. Throughout the years as a musician you appreciate more and respect more artists. For example, some black metal fans don’t like certain bands because the production is really good or their music is more mainstream than others. I just think that’s ridiculous, they should say good for them as an artist for getting bigger as an artist and expanding. I think expanding as a band is important, the more a band expands the more they can offer to their fan base. That is what fans need to realize, they can’t just get angry because now all of a sudden this band is trendier than the other. That kind of kills the music industry. I’m in the stage where I like to buy CDs. I enjoy getting CDs to get all the artwork and everything. I think even downloading on iTunes you just lose a lot. I have people coming up to me saying where can I get the lyrics because I downloaded this album on iTunes. I feel wouldn’t you want to buy the physical album so you can have the lyrics and the whole package? I think that in this era a lot of things are harming the music industry. I just look down on it. For me I am busting my ass to get my group to the top. I guess people look down on that for some reason and I think that’s kind of sad.
CrypticRock.com – I totally agree with you. I am a strong component of physical format music. I think something is lost when you don’t have that CD or vinyl or whatever format you like in your hands. I feel like now a days a casual fan can just go, download the one song they hear or like and not hear the rest of the record when the whole thing is suppose to be a cohesive piece. That just kills it for the artist.
Kristof Bathory – Exactly. It goes with the movie industry too. I collect various horror films, I am very into occult horror. I have the biggest horror collection and I won’t give that up for anything. Now people are downloading movies and they have it on their external hard drive. I feel well you don’t get the package, you can’t display these movies that you own. It’s the same thing with books, now people download books. The whole downloading thing, I don’t get it. I think it’s harming everything. I’m really disgusted by the era we live in now. Definitely a bit of frustration that has been in my head lately.
CrypticRock.com – I completely understand where you are coming from. I have this personal conversation with people all the time. What is your opinion about the way things have gone with the digital age. Do you feel it’s a direct reflection of people’s attitude and their outlook on life in general now a days?
Kristof Bathory – I think it goes with how movies are filmed. I was just reading an article how they are trying to bring old special effects back instead of CGI. When I look at CGI I look at it as a form of laziness. They close down all these book stores and music stores. It seems like people are just too fucking lazy to walk and go and pick up a CD or a movie. Now people just download it. I feel like humanity has just become fucking lazy, it’s just disgusting. I don’t like humanity to start with, I can go on and on about that. This is just a new rant for me. If you really want to support a band buy the fucking CD and display it. What are you going to do, if you go to a show are you going to bring your iTunes download and try and get it signed by the band? It’s just ridiculous.
CrypticRock.com – It really is insane. You are right, it is complete laziness. It also has taken the fun and joy out of the art. Part of the art is the artwork, it’s everything that goes along with the film or the music. That is all part of it.
Kristof Bathory – Not only that, it introduces you to other artists. You can go into an album booklet and go into the thank you section and see a band that this band thanks and say ok I will go check out that band. It’s a gateway to check out other new music. I don’t want to say that I don’t appreciate someone buying our album off iTunes. It’s just me as a general statement that I appreciate when people actually buy CD’s because you just a lost a lot of amazing stuff when you don’t buy a physical album.
CrypticRock.com – You are absolutely right. We are living in apathetic times. It’s obvious you are a major horror fan. What are some of your favorite horror films?
Kristof Bathory – Oh man, that’s a conversation that we can go on for hours. I will go through directors because I think that limits instead of me talking about it forever. I’m very into old John Carpenter, old Wes Craven, Luci Fulci, Dario Argento. My all-time favorite movie is In The Mouth Of Madness (1994) by John Carpenter. Clive Barker, I’m really into the Hellraiser films. Actually I had a discussion online about it. I revealed my whole outfit concept came from the Cenobites. Since DOA started the imagery, the cenobites have always been my biggest inspiration. That’s definitely a movie that has been a huge impact on me.
CrypticRock.com – You mentioned some great directors. As a horror fan how do you feel about all these remakes now a days?
Kristof Bathory – I feel like they are fucking garbage to be blunt about it. It’s a lack of creativity. Even the special effects now, it’s all lighting and the way they film it. I feel like there is no originality and creativity in the remakes and modern horror. A lot of the remakes lack a lot. It’s usually just too much fucking CGI and all this bullshit. The movies that they remake they shouldn’t have been touched at all, they were good how they are. Everybody was raving about the remake of Evil Dead (2013), I love Evil Dead (1981). I went and saw it and it was really hard for me not to walk out. They fucked the story line up, it didn’t make any sense, and it was too dramatic. There were a couple of cool special effect scenes, the soundtrack was really good, but the movie just really sucked. I was already hesitant about seeing the film, but I was talking to fear.net and all these horror magazines and they said you should give a chance. I said ok, I went to see it and I was just completely fucking disappointed (laughs). That is what I feel with remakes, walking into it I will be disappointed. Not only that there are books out there. When I see these immense amount of remakes I just feel in the 80’s there was a bunch of remakes, they had The Blob (1988) and The Thing (1982). The Thing by John Carpenter is another one of my favorite movies but it was done right. It’s just there are so many remakes, where is the room for an actually original idea? There are thousands of books out there that can be made into a movie, instead they pick all these movies that are already good and came from someone’s mind as an original idea. For example Nightmare On Elm Street (1984), that was an original idea by Wes Craven and someone came and remade it. I didn’t even see that one, I refused.
CrypticRock.com – That also goes back to what our culture and what our society has become. You try to talk to people and say why would you remake this? It’s already a classic film. Their ideology now a days is people say well we can make it better. Everyone feels like they can make everything better. They should just leave it alone the way it is, it’s a piece of art the way it is.
Kristof Bathory – The problem is people’s attention spans can’t handle certain things. I feel like everybody’s attention spans are on a different planet right now. What they do these horror remakes is they make it all crazy visual stuff and they put no time into the story or the story just makes no fucking sense. For me I love gory, violence, creatures in horror films, but I also like the stories. Even in the old Friday The 13th movies there was always a story behind it throughout the whole franchise. I think it’s just dollar signs with these people that remake this stuff, they don’t give a shit about the actual movies. It’s sad that is all what it’s about. It’s disappointing. I just watch the horror movies I watch. Once in a while I will come across a modern horror film I love. The House Of The Devil (2009) is an amazing movie and it was an original idea. It wasn’t in the theater because no one gives a shit.
CrypticRock.com – You are right, it’s awful. Another thing with 70’s and 80’s horror films is people say well they are boring but the movies have a storyline, they are suppose to have a lot of dialogue. That is what a horror movie is.
Kristof Bathory – They’re suppose to have mystery and suspense. You take a movie like Psycho (1960) for instance. There is a lot of mystery in that movie. Movies now, they have to have all these bullshit back stories and you have to know every bit of detail about the killer. Like Rob Zombie’s Halloween (2007) they had to have this whole back story about Michael Myers, I am just sitting there saying who gives a fuck? I liked it when Michael Myers was when you don’t know anything about him, he doesn’t speak, he just kills. I don’t care about the family history or their back story, it’s just crap.
Sep 3 · Atlanta, GA Das Bunker Atlanta
Sep 5 · Norfolk, VA The Wave
Sep 6 · New York, NY Triton Festival, Irving Plaza
Sep 8 · Allentown, PA TBD
Sep 10 · Pittsburgh, PA Mexico City Resteraunt
Sep 12 · Buffalo, NY Broadway Joe’s
Sep 13 · Cleveland, OH Phantasy
Sep 14 · Columbus, OH Skully’s
Sep 16 · Ann Arbor, MI Factory at Necto (DJ SET ONLY! NOT A LIVE SHOW)
Sep 17 · Ypsilanti, MI Maidstone Theater
Sep 18 · Chicago, IL Live Wire Lounge
Sep 19 · Minneapolis, MN Ground Zero
Sep 24 · Kansas City, MO Davey’s Uptown
Sep 26 · Grand Junction, CO Mesa Theater & Club
Sep 27 · Denver, CO 3 Kings Tavern
Sep 29 · Spokane Wa The Hop
Sep 30 · Seattle, WA The Highline
Oct 1 · Portland, OR Tonic Lounge
Oct 4 · San Diego, CA Brick By Brick