This Interview was made with Dave Bracewell, the original singer of the band DEATH MILITIA
So Dave, how and when did you metal discover back then and what were the records what you worshipped so much?
First of all let me congradulate you on your research you definately know alot about our band it shows in your questions...Anyway I guess my first metal record was the first single I ever bought when I was a kid led zepplins black dog ..I went up to the record counter at our local department store and asked her for the number one record on the charts...guess it couldve gone a whole other way if someone else was on top that week lol.
What were your influences to become metal musician? What kind of instruments do you play
I started out on the drums played in my basement for years got it to where i could play all of Rush 2112 on a 5 piece kit played with a few garage bands more like throw together jam sessions then after awhile started to put adds in the paper ..found myself a touring band and toured all over Ontario Canada just a cover band but it gave me a taste of the life and I liked it
In which bands did you play before you joined DEATH MILITIA? Could you tell us more about your early experiences as musician?
The band I was in was called Roxx just a bunch of radio cover songs but it gave me a chance to play live and was my first experience singing backup then lead
DEATH MILITIA came from Toronto, how do you remember about the underground scene of those times? Were you familiar with bands, such as SACRIFICE, SLAUGHTER, EXCITER, INFERNAL MAJESTY or ANVIL?
Yes I remember alot about those times all of us knew each other and we used to go to each others gigs sometimes play on the same bill Death militia came a little after those bands were well established so we were kinda the new kids on the block...sorry to use that term but we were determined to make our mark ...I think we did
Would you say that Toronto was a big metal center in Canada? Did you have a healthy club and underground scene?
Toronto had an excellent metal scene it was very underground but if you got into it there was alot going on The newpapers and flyers could always tell you what was happening in you could go see a good band pretty much when you wanted to lots of underground clubs were playing live music and the people came out to support them.
Were you in touch with other bands as well, such as RAZOR, VOIVOD, DEAF DEALER, AGGRESSION, SOOTHSAYER or DBC?
Steve our bass player knew someone who knew Voivod youd have to ask him that question..the other bands not to my knowledge anyway.
In your opinion, was the underground metal scene in Quebec bigger, than in Toronto?
That something I couldnt tell you I was in Quebec ealier in my life during the Roxx days we played there but It was completely different I never got to know the Quebec metal scene Death militia was a very hard working band we spent alot of time writing and rehearsing we would pretty much go out to see other bands then go right back to work not to say there was no partying there was alot but we really concentrated alot on our music as did alot of bands at that
Do you still remember, how did you get in the picture exactly and why was the former singer Evan Wilson sacked from the band? Were there other singers auditioned beside you?
That you would have to ask the other guys..my side of it was I came to Toronto with some other guys to form a band they turned out not to be serious but I liked Toronto and wanted to stay so I put my name in the local music paper and got a call from Dave I believe.
Did you know the guys earlier?
Never met them before that
10. Bassist Mike Faria was involved with DARK LEGION and Jason Marsden played in BEYOND did you know these bands?
Never heard of them before that but went to see beyond play after he left them ..I think we actually played with them to
Why do you think so many metal or crossover bands were popping up from everywhere in the Ontario area and mainly in Toronto during 1984/1985?
I think it was the time.... metal was a growing thing at the time there was Metallica Megadeth and a handful of other bands that were making exciting new music and we wanted to be part of that
Were you familiar with the first demo of the band, called „Onslaught of death”? In my opinion it was an excellent thrash stuff?
I think Dave played it a few times for me I found it to be heavy almost punk stuff but I think the stuff we were writing was more progressive
The second demo was „To serve and protect”, what about the recording sessions?
I remember they were recorded in an old basement of a store that was owned by a hockey player it was musty and cold and my buddy who also came to Toronto Brian did the recording on an old 4 track tape machine he had. He did a pretty good job considering the circumstances he was working under I thought.
What was the line up of the band at that point? You became a five piece band, is that correct?
Yes I believe so a drummer Cory Dave on guitar Dale on guitar Steve on bass and me on lead vocals
Did you take part in the songcomposing or were the tunes already written, when you joined the band?
Two were written I believe forgive me father and beneath the crosses the rest of the songs were written without lyrics had titles like the hamburger song lol
As far as the track „Killing time”, was it an original tune or a cover vesrion of the SWEET SAVAGE’s one?
Killing time was the first lyrics I wrote for Deathmilitia i had never heard the song or title killing time before i wrote it
The demo was recorded in a cellar where you rehearsed and the recording session is famous for the moment, when Dale Kennedy inadvertently flung himself out one of the doors while he was laying down one of his solos, how did it happen?
I mustve been drunk I dont even remember that happening there was alot of sitting around time for me in between takes so it wasnt uncommon for me to indulge in a beer or two lol
Musicwise was this tape a power metal oriented one, in my oppinion, it differed from the first demo, what made you to turn into that direction? Did you discover bands, such as TESTAMENT, ONSLAUGHT, ANNIHILATOR etc.?
Thats a question you could ask Dave or Steve they did all the music i just arranged a bit after the lyrics were done it was like putting the pieces together in a puzzle.
What about the lyrics? Were they a kind of anti-christian, anti-religous texts? I’m thinking of „Forgive me father”, „Beneath the crosses” or „On the eight day (man created)”.
I think they lyrics are what they are everyone can put theyre own spin on them I still write alot and i try not to be one sided in what I say
Did you shop around the demo to attract label interests? Were there some label, they started interesting in DEATH MILITIA at all?
We just did our thing writing recording and playing hoping that things would happen unfortunately that didnt happen
What about your live gigs back then? Did you often play live?
We played as often as we could even played a few gigs in London with some friends of ours who we met when they played in Toronto called Dyoxen .
Were you always an opening act or did you do some headliner shows as well? Did you have the opportunity playing at festivals or stuff?
We would put on our own shows with local bands or play with bands that we had played with before freinds of freinds bands we would play as much as we could sometimes headlining sometimes not we loved to play live and every time we did In my opinion it got better and better.
What do you think, Canadian metal bands lacked to become big, I mean, that most of the Canadian bands have a lots of talent, but most of them went nowhere, what’s or what was wrong with the Canadian music industry as far as metal in concerned?
I think that there is not enough metal fans to support the metal scene unfortunately we come from a small country in terms of population compared to the states who have 10 times as many people most bands from here move to the states to become successful unforntunately.
For example, was Attic the only one metal label in Canada back then? A lot of Canadian bands got signed to labels such as Roadrunner, Combat, Metal Blade, New Renaissance etc.
There was a handful not many though
Would you say that the Metal scene wasn’t supported strong in Canada?
At the time it was now I dont see it its a different time now metals more of a crossover thing so you can like pop and still like metal it wasnt like that back in the 80s
In 1988 you recorded the „One day closer to hell” demo featuring „Begin the last rites” and „Does he live today”, how did the recording sessions with this tape go?
Those were done with a girl who met us at a gig and was going through school as a music engineer we were her school project lol...very long and painful process she was learning and so were we im surprised it turned out at all lol.
Why was this demo only a two tracks tape? Didn’t you have enough material for a longer demo?
It was that long because I think thats all they would let us do
Was this demo also shopped around to get a deal?
You have to ask Dave that was his department
Would you say, that you musically followed the direction of the „To serve and protect” demo?
I would say we had progressed by then
What about the tracks such as „The unknown epic” or „The future in question”? Were they written during the „One day…” sessions or a little bit later?
All those songs were un finished and unrecorded I have the lyrics for those songs and we played them all live but they were never recorded you have to remember we had no money at all besides rent and food so no money to record these songs thats why there were so many cassetes laying around with half finished songs on them..to here any new Death Militia songs you would have to go see us live.
In your opinion, why did failed DEATH MILITIA getting a record deal? Were you sad back then because of couldn’t releasing your debut record?
It was very frustating because we were writing all of this good music all the time and we couldnt record it because of lack of money i truly believe that if we wouldve had some kind of financial backing to record with there wouldve been alot more material released and the band wouldve lasted alot longer then it did.
At which point did you leave the band? What did you do after your departure? Did you remain in touch with your bandmates
That part is a little murky for me to be honest I think there was alot of back stabbing going on at that point no one in the band directly told me I was fired or anything like that Im not stupid I got the hint. ..as far as keeping in touch Dave has kept in touch
Did you follow what’s going on in the metal scene? How do you view the present scene compared to the mid ’80’s one? Are they comparable with each other at all or are they two different worlds?
Well i dont see the underground scene much so I cant comment on that all I see is the complete commercialism of all music and I cant stand that..I stopped listening to the radio years ago. I ve listened to some of the stoner rock bands and I like some of them but really not a lot of bands are really doing anything as new and different as we were at the time I feel.
What to do you say SACRIFICE’s reunion? Did you see their reunion gig?
Im glad they did it I was there met Dave again after 20 yrs too bad no one else from the band was there it was a great gig they always were one of my favs back in the day.
RAZOR and INFERNAL MAJESTY are active again…
Glad to hear it we need more true metal
Last year Evil Legend Records released the „You can’t kill what’s already dead: Anthology 1985-1988”, do you consider it a good idea releasing this stuff? Did you have knowledge of releasing this CD?
Yes I ahve a copy Dave was cool enough to send me one although I dont know if theyre selling or not If they are I want a cut lol
From where did come the idea at all putting out the CD? Was it done for the old school, die hard maniacs?
Thats all Daves idea
The title of the CD speaks for itself…
Yes it does
Would you say, that the label wanted drawing the younger fans attention to the band?
thats a good question I have no idea
What are your best and worst memories as the member of DEATH MILITIA?
Best memories are when we were creating new songs when we were in the zone we had alot of very talented people in that band and when it was working there was nothing like it the live shows were alot of fun to do we would always go out there and leave it all on the stage you would never be bored at one of our shows and I was proud to be part of it..the worst of course is when it all ended..but shit happens and its all water under the bridge now Im not holding any grudges after 20 years lol
Dave, thanks a lot for the interview, anything else to add to this feature, what I forgot to cover?
Just wanted to say it was really cool doing this brought back alot of cool memories and if anyone in the band want to shoot the shit Daves got my number thanks.
Onslaught Thrasher (2008)