Q & A With Chris Whitby and Aki Shishido From Dystopia A.D.

Q & A With Chris Whitby and Aki Shishido From Dystopia A.D.

Tell me about the latest band news? Any new projects coming out, live shows or announcements?


CW: Our latest album, Rise of the Merciless, will be released in July 2020 and pushes our sound to new limits in terms of technicality, musicianship, and songwriting complexity. The album was partially recorded from Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan where Aki was deployed as a Major in the U.S. Army.


How long has the band been together?


CW: I started Dystopia A.D. as a solo project in 2018 and released our debut album Designing Ruin with the help of several guest musicians in the underground metal/progressive rock scene, including Justin Greczyn of Swashbuckle and John Tuohy of Mile Marker Zero. Aki came on board full-time in 2019 as the lead guitarist.


What is your music background?


CW: Both Aki and have deep roots in the underground metal scene. As teenagers, we were both in a melodeath band called Vigrid and played local shows in NJ/NY. Aki continued playing guitar with thrash/death metal bands Ash&Elm and Strains of Bellum, while I moved on to sing with international death metal acts Hellbore and Black Negative Domination.


What image do you think your music conveys?


CW: Each song is designed and performed to be a journey for the listener and hopefully evokes a variety of different emotions, including mania, despair, chrysalism.

AS: Chris is an amazing composer- each song covers a ton of ground and is a journey of its own.  I’d like to think it also captures some of the war since I recorded my tracks from my CHU in Afghanistan.


What are your immediate music career goals? (Next 1 to 3 years.)


CW: My goal is simply to connect with fans that will feel the same exhilarating rage and joy when listening to Dystopia A.D.’s music that I did while writing and performing it.

AS: Chris hit it on the head. We’re making music that we want to hear and hope others will enjoy.

What are your long-term career goals?


CW: If we’re still making kickass music 10 years from now, I’ll consider that a win, haha! I hope that we’ll one day have the opportunity to step away from our “normal” lives and experience the thrill of touring and playing for fans around the world.

AS: I hope to be making Metal for the rest of my life – and if people continue to listen, awesome!


Which do you prefer? Writing new songs and recording or playing for a live audience?


CW: As much as I love the thrill of performing for a live crowd, the physical distance between us and our demanding personal lives mean that we’re strictly a studio band. for the time being. For what it’s worth, I think that our recordings illustrate our raw passion and intensity and how seriously we take being musicians.

AS: Nothing beats playing live for a crowd.  But as Chris mentioned, we’re currently strictly a studio band.  That said the challenge of composing, recording, mixing and releasing an album has been an incredibly fun and rewarding endeavor on its own.

What are your songs about? (What specific themes do they cover?)


CW: Thematically, our songs explore the concepts of the occult, suffering, and insanity.


Were your parents supportive of your aspirations to play in a rock band?


CW: Absolutely! I still have the Ibanez bass that they bought me for Christmas when I was 15. They are the best.

AS: Yes, my mother was a Presbyterian minister and still supported her son playing Devil Music in the basement!


Which band or artist inspired you to perform? Why?


CW: I think it was Roots by Sepultura. As an adolescent, it was easily the heaviest and angriest music I’d ever heard, and I soon learned that nothing could quite match the thrill of writing and performing extreme metal music.

AS: Metallica. I was just learning how to palm mute with heavy downstrokes when I heard Master of Puppets for the first time. I couldn’t believe a human could play those riffs.

If you could design a dream tour for your band, who would be on the bill?


CW: I’m a huge fan of Revocation – they are tremendous musicians and absolutely kill it live! I’d also love to be on the road with our good friends in Swashbuckle.

AS:  Incredibly, I’ve had the honor and privilege of playing with both Revocation and Swashbuckle and damnit I’d love to do it again!  I think the three of us would be a great opening package for Testament.


What do you consider your greatest accomplishment so far?


CW: It hasn’t happened yet! The release of Rise of the Merciless in July 2020 will be the culmination of two years of passionate song writing, performance, and engineering that I can’t wait to share with the world.

AS: I played a few shows in Japan with Ash&Elm – it was awesome! That said, I’m absolutely psyched for Rise of the Merciless to drop.

If you weren’t performing in a band what kind of career do you think you would have?


CW: Aki and I actually both have demanding day jobs. Aki is a U.S. Army veteran and doctor of infectious diseases. My resume pales in comparison – I work at a prominent FinTech company. Our music has been an important outlet for me emotionally and creatively. The band isn’t and won’t ever be a source of significant income, but that helps us keep our music untainted creatively.


What do you think of the current music scene?


AS: I think that online music and technology has been a great leveler for the scene. The fact that we can independently make professional sounding music and get an immediate audience is awesome. Additionally, the musicmakers are beginning to get a lot more credit. Pop music used to be dominated by ‘stars’ who sang other people’s songs; now, it seems that the producers are the stars. I also feel like it’s an incentive to play live shows, whenever that starts happening again. 

If someone had never heard you before, how would you describe your sound?


CW: Our signature blend of death metal, thrash, and progressive rock features blistering shred guitar solos and a variety of vocal styles.

AS: If Sepultura and Blind Guardian had a child, it would listen to Dystopia A.D.


Is there anything that you’d like to promote or say to your fans out there?


CW: Rise of the Merciless releases on July 31, 2020 and is currently available for preorder on Bandcamp. Please check it out – if you like what we’re doing, let us know!


Thanks again for taking the time to talk with us at XS Rock!


CW: Thanks to XS Rock and its readers for supporting the metal underground!

AS:  Thank you all – stay safe – stay Metal.