Forged like a reconstructed phoenix, from the ashes of several broken projects, Darkc3ll is a monumental achievement in itself – and this is still the early days!
For these four blokes, all previous members from various Sunshine Coast, Brisbane and Gold Coast metal outfits, it wasn’t simply a case of just starting another project when they came together a couple of years ago and decided to cull the fat and get serious. There was something different this time – the friendships, the collective momentum and the drive to succeed beyond expectation was with them. So was born an electric yet dark metal band that infused many differing styles and multi-generational sounds. They then set it alight and unleashed it on the ears and eyes of Australia’s underground scene.
Gothic, ethereal, heavy at times but packed full of raw fun and bouncing rhythms, the band shatters inhibition by wearing their hearts on their sleeves and stamping their identity on the foreheads of the front row fans without reservation. To say their show is fun is an understatement – it’s Rocky Horror Picture Show meets Trent Reznor on Rob Zombie’s front porch! These associations and influences are things that Darkc3ll frontman, the Gold Coast’s Jesse Dracman, isn’t shy about celebrating either. Jesse sits down with LiQUiFY to take us through his rise, and the Darkc3ll tour diary from their recent breakout run across the United States with New Jersey legends Ill Niño.
LM: Wow mate! What a transition from being a die hard music fan, to then running local shows and drifting between bands for years to this – now finally seeing the hard work put you on the other side of the fence. What’s it been like to take your music life to this next level?
JD: It’s a massive sense of accomplishment. It has been a journey and I’ve covered a lot of ground in my time, from helping other musicians to playing in various bands to producing and everything like that. I’ve pretty much done it all but to be in this position to go overseas and play the music I’ve written is really something else. To see the reaction of a foreign audience is … it’s hard to put into words. For the guys and me, we were so focused and driven, we had been like a juggernaut for a few years and then when Darkc3ll came into fruition it was a bit of a period of trial and error – of creating new music.
You guys were sort of born out of the remnants of a few projects and another band though yeah?
Yeah well you know, Matt and I, we’d known each other since our early days, playing in different horror bands and playing shows together, and then we started producing music together. Devilution came about, and we had a great run with that, but it was also a learning curve for us – learning about ourselves really as songwriters. Slowly the songs that would become Darkc3ll came to light and we realised we were on to something – something that we’d somehow always wanted to do. We finally found the components to make the music we feel we were always destined to create.
Playing live you know, that was actually an accident. We’d been in the studio recording an album, which in all honesty, was essentially just a studio project, but we had a promoter call and give us an opportunity to open for Combichrist in Brisbane. So we assembled a basic Mark 1 version of the band that would be Darkc3ll – we had no band name at that point. We had all kinds of ridiculous names at that point but we said ‘let’s go with Darkc3ll’ – that was one of the ones that stood out – we knew the name had to be synonymous with the music we were creating.
With Devilution, for us it was just the right thing at the time, it was fun and never meant to be all about world domination or anything like that, we were just having fun creating music and just being rock’n’roll wankers. You know, it was fun, but with Darkc3ll, we took it to a whole ‘nother level – it became a whole new beast. We played that show – we realised that night that ‘wow’, we could really do some damage live. A few lineup changes later and we had found the four guys that would make up Darkc3ll today.
And now you guys have really created something that might have been a little lacking around here yeah? The audience has grown for you guys and you’ve really given them something they might have been searching for over time – maybe a genre, a sound, a style and a persona that was possibly lacking a little in South East do you think?
We’ve never once to this day said that we’re trying to reinvent the wheel, we’ve never tried to say that we’re 100% original, we’ve always just said that we’re proud to admit our influences. We wear that proudly on our sleeves, me literally, (Dracman rolls up his sleeve to reveal permanent tattoos of famous metal band signatures he has had done on his forearm) and what we’ve done I suppose, is we’ve taken that wheel and shined it up and just added our own colour to it in a way. That’s what we’ve done, we’ve just taken a formula and put our own spin on it, I mean we’re fans as well. When people say to us that we sound like Wednesday 13 or Rob Zombie, well we’re like ‘fuck yeah we do!’ – you know, we love those bands.
And you know what? I’ll take that over having someone say that we sound like 20 or 30 thousand other death metal bands, death core bands or whatever – any day of the week. We really don’t listen to that (criticism) stuff too much, if anything it adds a bit of humour, it’s a good laugh – it’s good to know people are talking about you. Once upon a time we had an interviewer tell us, ‘you guys make hate sound fun’ and we’ve latched on to that, and it’s been one of our mantras ever since.
So, ‘murica, the US of A … this tour in June was your first tour outside of Australia right? What a wild mission! We heard you did it full van styles and even had it part crowd funded?
Yeah we did a crowd fund, the target was $13,000 and, yeah we did it!
Wow, so there is actually some good people willing to pay up in support of local bands and artists in the South East?
I think that was testament to our work ethic you know, to not just go ‘we’re a band, support us’ – but be that band that if you email us, we email you back, you talk to us, we’ll talk to you. It’s like we spoke about earlier, we’re that band that blurs the line between the band and the fan, there is no ‘us and them – we are one unit. We really do give a shit about the people who support us.
Touring in that crazy nation, with all of the sights and the opportunities and the risks – it must have blown your minds right?
For us it was taking a leap … and by leap I mean it was a flying leap … I still remember talking to Matt that morning and going ‘well, do we do this?’ – it was a do or die thing. It was a situation where we either take a leap over the cliff and don’t look down, or we just pull up before the cliff face and play it safe, go back and do another lap of Australia instead. To be that band that says ‘coulda, woulda, shoulda, didn’t’ – I’ve never endorsed being that. We made a lot of sacrifice, and we just did it.
And did that leap deliver in the land of soda pop, biscuits and gravy?
Look, we came back with a wealth of knowledge and experience, and a stronger determination to be an even bigger band in the future, so yes it delivered. We learnt first hand there about the great American hustle – everyone there is out to make a quick buck. We went everywhere man, from Colorado to Minneapolis to Vegas to LA – look, we saw all kinds of places over there.
Did you get treated well because you were Australian? Maybe a little different?
Myself personally, I went over there with the real Rocky Balboa mindset – we were the underdogs, we had no expectations other than to be a band where they go, ‘who the fuck are these guys, they’re just another painted up band’. I knew we were going to cop all that, and believe me, there’s a plethora of them over there. They all have coloured hair, they all wear black corpse paint on their arms, the patches, the vests and all that bullshit. So we would just come out on stage and just hit them in the face. We played every show over there at no less than 110%, we knew we had to.
We went over there and hit them right between the eyes, force 10, and within the first song you’d see that reaction – the transformation within the audience. You’d see the guys there, you know arms folded and not interested, and within a minute or so, they’d be moving, giving us the devil horns up I swear. The girls are dancing, the dudes are too, ‘cause they want to dance with the girls, and I never ever encountered anyone at any of our shows that went ‘meh, nah, not for me’ or anything like that. For the most part our audiences were awesome, and they loved it when they found out we were from Australia – we just were ourselves and did our thing and people just wanted to have fun with us – they warmed to us.
And you did a stack of shows with a stack of bands, but it’s pretty intense right? How do you cope with staying on the road, being so far away every night for such periods?
Haha the tour hasn’t finished, the tour just continues … some of these bands had joined this tour, and had already been on the road for you know, 7 months or so. There are a few bands there that were up to 155 days straight on the …
Darkc3ll – Hollywood Scars – OFFICIAL VIDEO