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Dead Asylum formed in Vancouver, BC at the end of 2011, and features vocalist/guitarist Mike Lister, vocalist/bassist Roger Mowat, guitarist Eric Morrison and drummer Samantha Landa. Dead Asylum’s style combines elements of thrash and death with melodic and grooving overtones–and echoes elements of band influences such as Kreator, Amon Amarth and Exodus.
I had the opportunity to catch up with drummer, Samantha Landa and she filled me in on what’s been happening.
XS ROCK: Tell me about the latest band news? Any new projects coming out, live shows or announcements?
Samantha: We’re releasing our new album, Death Always Wins on June 2. We’ve got shows in Vancouver, Victoria and Nanaimo with Unleash the Archers to kick things off that week. Then we’re touring around the US from mid-August to mid-September.
XS ROCK: How long has the band been together?
Samantha:We’ve been a band since 2011.
XS ROCK: What was your main motivation for starting or being in a band?
Samantha: Personally, I love performing and playing live. Entertaining a crowd is the best. I’ve been drumming for almost 20 years and I haven’t done much studio work because my love for drums comes largely from the raw energy of live shows. Touring is the best.
XS ROCK: What is your music background?
Samantha: I played classical piano for almost ten years before I started drumming. I have a very basic theory background because of that, but I learned how to play drums by being in school band. I joined my first band (as a session member!) at age 15 and have been regularly in bands since.
XS ROCK: What image do you think your music conveys?
Samantha: The music definitely conveys a dark image, but also full of energy and emotion (that sentence sounds cheesy, but the music isn’t).
XS ROCK: What are your immediate music career goals?
Samantha: It would be great to take Dead Asylum to Europe. Our sound takes a lot of influences from European metal and our music seem to be well-received by European metalheads.
XS ROCK: What are your long-term career goals?
Samantha: We’d like to tour regularly. We’d love to partner with a label and agent and get on the festival circuit one day.
XS ROCK: Which do you prefer? Writing new songs and recording or playing for a live audience?
Samantha: I prefer playing for a live audience–that’s where my passion comes from, personally.
XS ROCK: What are your songs about?
Samantha: A lot of the lyrics are about overcoming obstacles and rising up against authority. That’s not my general opinion on authority (I didn’t write the lyrics, anyway), but it’s more about unfair regimes and how people can take back their power in certain situations. That might apply to an old asylum with outdated practices and policies, or to the rules of war.
XS ROCK: Do you have any outrageous tour stories from the road?
Samantha: I wouldn’t say ‘outrageous’, but there are always some bumps. We bought a big RV, which broke down on the side of the road in BC after our first gig and we had to rent a tiny vehicle, borrow gear and find places to crash for the rest of the tour. People really helped us out, but it sucked at the time.
We couldn’t find a hotel or place to stay after another show in California–so we slept sitting in our truck in a Walmart parking lot in east San Jose. The next morning, a woman came up to the truck and gave two of the guys a gift card because she thought we were homeless. Turns out there was no money on the card anyway.
XS ROCK: What’s the strangest request that you’ve ever received from one of your fans?
Samantha: I’ve been asked for socks before, but I don’t think that’s because they were a fan…
XS ROCK: Were your parents supportive of your aspirations to play in a rock band?
Samantha: My mom didn’t like ‘the cookie monster vocals’, but my parents are supportive for sure. Mom likes to tell people she has a daughter who’s a metal drummer.
XS ROCK: What are your favorite tracks to play live?
Samantha:Between Me And The Grave is my favorite to play live right now, because it’s simple but powerful. I like playing Defiance as well.
XS ROCK: Which band or artist inspired you to perform? Why?
Samantha: I’ve always liked performing, so I can’t credit one particular artist or band for that. It was Dream Theater (specifically Mike Portnoy) who inspired me to start playing more double kick and I quickly got into metal after that.
XS ROCK: If you could design a dream tour for your band, who would be on the bill?
Samantha: Don’t tempt me! Kreator? Kalmah? Amon Amarth? And Mike would kill me if I didn’t say Motörhead (even though it wouldn’t be possible).
XS ROCK: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment so far?
Samantha: Recording each album is an accomplishment–it’s a costly and draining thing to do, but it’s always worth it in the end. I’m proud of the music video we worked on for Forgotten Sacrifice. And as a personal accomplishment, I had a great time drumming with Nervosa around Europe with Destruction last fall.
XS ROCK: If you weren’t performing in a band what kind of career do you think you would have?
Samantha: I’m lucky–I get to have my cake and eat it too. I have a copywriting business that I manage online, which means I can live my dream of owning a business while living my dream of touring.
XS ROCK: What type of equipment do you use for live shows?
Samantha: I play a six-piece Tama Starclassic birch kit, Sabian cymbals, Pearl Demon Drive double pedals, Gibraltar/Tama hardware and Los Cabos sticks (I endorse the latter–check them out!).
XS ROCK: What do you think of the current music scene?
Samantha: I love the scene, and the people in it. I wish metal was bigger in North America. I don’t know why it is the way it is–maybe country and pop are more ingrained in our culture somehow–but I hope we see a rebirth of metal here.
XS ROCK: For anyone that doesn’t know you, what would they be surprised to know about you?
Samantha: I wrote a novel, have a flat spot on my head, worked the entire time while being on tour for three months, I have my own business…I’m not sure what else!
XS ROCK: If someone had never heard you before, how would you describe your sound?
Samantha: This might sound cliche, but we kind of cross over a few genres. Melodic lead guitar over gritty, thrashy rhythms, dual vocals, and some unpredictable stuff thrown in there.
XS ROCK: Is there anything that you’d like to promote or say to your fans out there?
Samantha: Thanks for the support! It means a lot, especially for a band who is 100% self-financed right now. We really appreciate our fans.
If you like the album (available at https://deadasylum.bandcamp.
Watch our lyric video for the title track, Death Always Wins: https://www.youtube.com/watch?
Check out the brutal music video for Forgotten Sacrifice:
XS ROCK:Thanks again for taking the time to talk with us at XS Rock!