Interview With Spite’s Darius Tehrani

0

Since bursting out of California in 2017, deathcore band Spite have left a trail of burning stages in their wake. The Midlands Rock caught up with the band’s irrepressible vocalist Darius Tehrani prior to the Band’s set at Birmingham’s The Mill as Spite blazed a trail across Europe as part of Impericon’s Never Say Die tour.

You’re from the Bay Area. Black Sabbath were influenced by their industrial surroundings. How did your environment inform you?

I was part of a really good music scene growing up. We had this really good venue called The Red House, a really tight group of supportive people showed up all the time, and it inspired everyone in that scene to keep pursuing music all the time. So, it was easy for me to become driven, and to become inspired with my life.

When I think of the Bay Area, it’s always the ‘80s thrash scene that springs to mind. Did that scene play into your sound?

I think there’s definitely some thrash in our music, but if you listen to Spite then the first thing that probably comes to head isn’t thrash, but we have some of those elements, for sure.

So, what are your musical influences?

The Bay Area, we’ve got Metallica, Exodus obviously, we’ve got Green Day [laughs], Dead Kennedys, we’ve got some good ones, but as far as personal influences go me and my brother were always into music, he played guitar and we started listening to Avenged Sevenfold, Lamb Of God, Children Of Bodom, bands that had a lot of actual riffs. If you think of Spite you think of beatdowns and breakdowns, I think with Dedication To Flesh we finally showed a lot more of our influences, you can really hear those intricate riffs.

Is there one band that unites all of you in Spite?

I think Slipknot. We’re an aggressive band, and a lot of a music is influenced by that. But growing up, all of us played in different, heavy bands, and all of us finally came together and created a supergroup after leaving the band’s we grew up in. Ben [Bamford, bass] played in Bodysnatcher, Spite’s earliest tours was with them, we became best friends and he kind of came in with us…

Your currently blazing a trail across Europe as part of the Never Say Die package tour. How has it been so far?

It’s been an experience, there’s a lot to get used to, it’s been very hectic, we’ve never really been on a tour this big. We’ve done big tours with Carnifex across the US, but we’re so used to the routine over there, over here it’s a bit more of a stressful environment…but the shows are f*cking awesome! The shows make everything worth it.

This is your first time in Europe. How are you finding the crowds?

Amazing. They’re very supportive. You can tell they’re there to actually listen to music, and experience new music. I feel that in the US crowds are very selective when it comes to line-ups, I think over here people want to experience what they can, while it’s in front of them, and I think that’s really cool.

Your part of a bill featuring six other really strong bands. How do you plan on standing out?

It’s a pretty mixed line-up and heavy all round, but Spite is a special breed of monster, we thrive in the live environment, I think that’s what we specialise in, you’ve got to see it to get it, but I think we stand our own ground, for sure.

This European jaunt is 19 shows in 22 days spread over numerous countries. That’s a pretty hectic schedule. What’s your survival plan?

Luckily, we have a bus to hang out on, but I feel I’m a road warrior at this point. We are fresh off a tour with Carnifex and Oceano across the States, we’ve had four days off, then we came over here. I think we’re in a groove right now, so I hope that kind of carries us through.

What kind of media and books do you take on tour to keep yourself occupied?

Honestly, I haven’t brought much. Normally some of the band bring video games, but when you’re travelling internationally you try to pack as little as you can. I’ve brought a journal with me, but mainly we’re trying to vibe out with the other guys on the bus. CABAL are a band that’s new to me, so I want to get to know them, but mainly I just want to soak everything up.

Spite is famed for their energetic live shows, and you hit a high level of intensity every night. How do you reach that pinnacle night after night, and do you feel you’ve created a level you might not always reach?

I get asked this a lot, but it’s psyching myself out before I play, I have to close myself off from everything around me. I’m pretty open about it; people can see me getting ready before I play, and it’s a pretty visual experience! [laughs] It’s all about getting that adrenaline flowing and being already there before you walk on the stage. There’s nothing worse than walking on stage and not being ready; you’ve got to go through your routines and lose yourself a little bit.

It must be a dream come true playing in a touring band, but you are only human and I’m sure some nights you’d rather be somewhere else. When you’re in that mood how do you approach a performance?

It’s tough, but you have to remind yourself of the younger you who dreamt of doing this. Sometimes when you are in the day to day and doing this all the time, you get lost in the routines and the work, and it is a job, everybody is working here, as your band grows and gets bigger, it’s hard work, but those 45 minutes you play on stage makes everything worth it. I think about the two years [during Covid] when I was forced to stay home doing nothing at all, so now I approach this full on because who knows when it’s going to be taken away again? It’s a different ball game now.

There currently seems to be a plethora of heavy aggressive bands (yourselves included). Do you think it’s a case of art imitating life?

Music has always been a catharsis, I think metal is very healthy for people, it obviously gets a bad rap from people who are ignorant to it, but when you delve into it; metal makes people feel better. I think there’s a lot of bands playing this sound right now, it’s also becoming more popular. Aside from the emotional, passionate side, metal is becoming cool now, bigger bands are inspiring younger bands and all the social media presence. People are using it because they know it’s going to be big now, which is cool, but it’s also kind of shitty in a way. Obviously I want metal to become big, I want it to be profitable for everyone that’s in it and make careers out of it, that’s the coolest part, but there’s the other side where you see people who aren’t into metal at all wearing merch that looks like deathcore merch and then you find out it’s a pop artist who’s using it because it’s trendy now and they don’t give respect to where it has come from and we’re like “Yo! That’s us! We came up with that shit!”.

When I was young and into metal, I always preferred it when my favourite bands were underground. When they got too popular that kind of spoiled it a bit.

That’s something with Spite I’ve always wanted to hold down. Exactly that. Underground is cool, it’s always better when no one knows about the band you’re super excited about, but what we can do amongst getting bigger, is play that underground feel on stage, we want to get as big as we can be, but on stage it’s still going to be the Spite show. People are going to get that same experience every time. We don’t want to have that “sold-out” feel, it doesn’t matter who we’re playing with, what stage we’re playing on, it’s us.

Your videos and album covers have a very defined look. How involved are you in their production?

Very involved. I drew the band’s logo with the noose around the head, which still gets used, it’s pretty established at this point. The album covers I’ve always had a say in. The new one, Dedication To Flesh is very intentionally a homage to Nothing Is Beautiful, a continuation of that vibe, whereas you can see Root Of All Evil was a tribute to the self-titled. Nothing Is Beautiful was a staple album for the band, it was a progressive album for us, I think Dedication To Flesh is a new progressive sound for us.

And now you’re signed to Rise Records. Do they give you freedom to follow your artistic endeavours?

100 per cent. They are very supportive. I’ve heard stories about other labels who’ve been controlling, or tell bands to scrap their records, we’ve never had anything like that with Rise. It’s a team effort, and it’s all about how we can make this band as big as it can be. I love working with Rise. I’ve zero complaints.

How do you feel about Dedication To Flesh now that it’s been out in the world for a couple of months?

Incredible. I feel some people might think Spite are picking up traction and getting bigger as a band, but I feel we still have such a long way to go, and I feel Dedication To Flesh is a great record for people who have been fans of us for a long time, but also for new fans; it’s the perfect album to discover us on. I think this album is going to be a bit of a slow burner, I think right now it’s going over exactly how I want it to. People who are receiving it are loving it, and I can’t wait for more people to discover it years from now. I think it’s going to stand the test of time.

Spite have been around for a long time, but I’ve noticed that in the last six months things have gone stratospheric and there’s a buzz surrounding the band. You’re reaching all different sorts of media. What do you attribute that to?

I think it’s a combination of a lot of things. We were quiet for a long time over Covid, we kind of disappeared and people were wondering what was going to happen next. We switched a lot of our team, management, booking, label, and it’s been a whole team effort in moving the band forward, people have been pushing really hard. I think the summation of that is the music, the new album is an embodiment of what we are supposed to do, it’s exactly what it’s supposed to be, and I think that’s why it’s doing as well as it is.

It certainly seems Spite is currently an unstoppable force. How do you plan on keeping this momentum going?

I want to keep touring. I want to keep putting out content, be it from the studio or music videos, I want to keep people engaged. Again, I think Spite is a live band and that’s where we thrive. I don’t want Spite to be a band that people check off the list. I want Spite to be an experience to which people come again and again and again, because people saw something so crazy and they say, ‘I want that again!’. There’s a lot of albums I’ve heard in my time where I’ve been nonplussed after listening to it, but then I see the band live and it’s so good and captivating and then I go a revisit that album and fall in love with it, because I put the two together and revisit that live experience. I think that’s Spite’s key element.

Finally, what are your future plans?

We have Australia coming up with Thy Art Is Murder, for a tour with Whitechapel and Chelsea Grin, which is awesome to be part of, it’s a legendary line-up and an honour to be part of. We’ve also got a tour lined-up which is way out of our comfort zone and that’s going to be amazing.

Do you think you’ll be back in Europe in the summer for some festival dates?

Hopefully after doing something like this, we’ll get offered some festival dates. I’m hoping that once we’ve built a bit we could come and play some of those festivals. That’d be a dream come true.