Today, I had the opportunity to talk with ET Brown – Vocals/Bass, Evan Hensley – Guitars, Preston Walls – Guitars and Josh Brown – Drums from the metal band Dark Hound. The band has an incredible sound and bring to mind bands like Testament, Metallica, Megadeth and Pantera. Check out my interview with the guys below to learn more about this talented band:
XS ROCK: Tell me about the latest band news? Any new projects coming out, live shows or announcements
Josh – We’re finishing up the final stages of the our new full length!! The recording process has been done for quite some time now, but now the band is finishing up the merchandise and getting the album pressed and released!!!!
ET – Yes indeed, we’re preparing to release our new full-length album, ‘Dawning’, on January 19, 2018! We’ll be playing a release show here in Nashville at The Basement on that date with Time Trap and The Dead Deads, we’re very excited about that!
Preston – We are chomping at the bit to get out and play Dawning for the beautiful people of Nashville, TN!
XS ROCK: How long has the band been together?
Josh – 8 awesome years!
ET – We technically formed in 2009 when most of us were still in college. But we didn’t become truly active until 2014 when we released our first album. We’ve had one change since then, when Preston joined towards the end of 2015.
Preston – Couldn’t have said it better myself.
XS ROCK: What was your main motivation for starting or being in a band?
Preston – I started playing music because I was fascinated by the geetar. Shortly after, I started playing with Josh, and the joy that filled the room was palpable. A few years later, I started playing with Josh and Evan, and the joy only multiplied. Much later than that, I started playing with Josh, Evan and ET, and the joy is off the charts. They are three of the greatest reasons for wanting to play music!
Josh – All of us grew up listening to music and playing music. It has always been a thing that brings each of us an immense level happiness.
ET – We’re the ones who never let our childhood dreams of ‘being a rockstar’ die. What that looks like these days is wildly different than what it used to be, but there’s no medicine or therapy better than rocking out with your best friends. And when you get to do that in front of a room of people who dig it, it’s the best high there is!
Evan – As a kid, I would spend countless hours listening to CDs, reading through album booklets, and jumping around like a maniac with a tennis racket pretending it was a guitar. I just thought it was all the coolest thing in the world. I then started playing at age 10, and by the time I was 16 I knew that music and playing in a band would become permanent fixtures of my life. It’s cliche to say something like “you don’t choose music, it chooses you!”, but it’s totally true – I don’t know what I’d do without it. As for Dark Hound specifically – it’s funny because my first band was actually with Josh and Preston, way back in high school. Then in college ET and I had another band together. Now things have come full circle!
XS ROCK: What is your music background?
Preston – Both of my parents were musically inclined, which led to me picking an instrument to play at a young age. Naturally, I picked guitar, and my Dad got me into Allman Brothers, Led Zeppelin, etc. Those were a gateway into harder music, and eventually metal. Me interest in guitar and getting better at playing only grew as the intensity of the music increased. Metallica led to Megadeth, which led to Pantera, which eventually led to Meshuggah and the likes. Now here I am; living the American Dream.
Josh – Very broad. Each of us like a wide variety of bands and music. But, in regards to our sound, we really take a lot from the thrash bands of the 80’s and 90’s as well as various progressive rock and metal bands. Some of the members also have been heavily influenced by European death and black metal bands!
ET – Yea, very diverse within the realm of heavy music and rock’n’roll. Personally, I was raised on Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Yes; lots of classic rock. Then I heard ‘Ride The Lightning’ when I was 12 and it was game-over, heavy music was all I cared about. I’ve since gone down the rabbit-holes of pretty much every sub-genre of metal there is.
Evan – I’ve played guitar since I was 10. I took some lessons for various periods of time, but when it comes to the heavy metal side of things I am pretty much self-taught. Never bothered with too much theory or any “professional” training, although I have immense respect for people who do that. Maybe I am just too lazy! Like I mentioned earlier, I’ve been obsessed with music my whole life. It’s just part of the deal!
XS ROCK: What image do you think your music conveys?
Josh – Be strong. Be powerful. Have fun. And be yourself.
ET – Think about your place in the world and consider the consequences of your actions. Be a good person and call the shitty people out for being shitty.
Evan – Think for yourself, enjoy your time on this planet, and do some good out there.
XS ROCK: What are your immediate music career goals?
Josh – Play as much as possible and have fun doing it.
ET – Yep, Josh got this one right.
Preston – Yep!
XS ROCK: What are your long-term career goals?
Josh – Play as much as possible and have fun doing it. If we make money and can quit our real jobs, great! If not, great!!
ET – Indeed, to be able to continue to create and perform music together and get it to the people who will hopefully enjoy it into the distant future.
Preston – Agree with Josh and ET. We’re all pretty aligned on this one.
XS ROCK: Which do you prefer? Writing new songs and recording or playing for a live audience?
Josh – You can’t have one without the other. Being in a band is the most entertaining part. What’s a show without an album? What’s an album with the opportunity to perform said songs? You must have both and as a band we love the entire process! The entire picture, if you will!!!
ET – I think it fluctuates for me. There’s no better high than performing well in front of an audience that really digs what you’re doing and returns the energy you’re putting forth in a show, especially when it’s new material that you haven’t played a million times before. Writing can be very hard, but the feeling you get when you come up with the right riff or lyric or melody for a song is one of the most exhilarating and exciting feelings I’ve experienced. And then I love recording, it’s always a blast.
Preston – I enjoy the writing and recording process slightly more than playing out live, but like Josh said, you can’t have one without the other. To me, the creative process and the arranging is more exciting, but like ET said, nothing quite tickles the fancy like pulling off the arrangements that we labored over together for many hours in the writing and recording process; especially when the crowd responds.
Evan – I enjoy both equally. They serve different purposes. I probably appreciate the final product of a record more than the actual recording process. I have a perfectionist streak so it’s very easy to get bogged down in the tedium of fine-tuning everything and second-guessing every decision. You have to let that go. That was doubly hard for me on this recent go since I tracked the guitars and bass myself at my home studio. So…after long periods of doing that, it’s great to get out, see people, have some beers and spend an evening rocking out!
XS ROCK: What are your songs about? (What specific themes do they cover?)
Josh – All sorts of things. Everything from the ugliness of society, to thrashing out to heavy metal, to being young and single, to even being in love!
ET – We have songs about various topics ranging from love to hate, but I’d say that the overall theme of this new record deals with the concept of truth, and whether or not we as a society are capable of reconciling perceptions with reality. But we also have a song on there which is just an over-the-top ode to thrash metal, so anything goes!
XS ROCK: Do you have any outrageous tour stories from the road?
ET – I’d say the most outrageous character in our band is our drummer, Josh. One time we were playing a shitty bar in Murfreesboro, TN and after the first song of our set he got up and started to take down our banner, which was set up behind him, saying that it was getting in the way of his ability to flail his arms about his kit. I had to run back to him and tell him to sit down and keep playing the set!
Evan – It was extremely entertaining.
XS ROCK: What’s the strangest request that you’ve ever received from one of your fans?
ET – I had a lady come up to me at a show once and ask me about our song “Thread”, saying that it was one of her grandson’s favorite songs and that they had been debating the meaning behind the lyrics. It’s a song about a friend of mine who was suicidal at one point while he was living with me. She pulled out her phone and asked me if I would tell her grandson about it. She dialed and gave me the phone, and the kid who answered couldn’t have been older than 10. Ha ha, between the subject matter and how late in the night it was, it was a very strange conversation. But the lady was very nice and thankful and bought a couple of shirts, so hey, cool!
XS ROCK: Were your parents supportive of your aspirations to play in a rock band?
ET – Yes, incredibly. Josh is correct, we’ve all been extremely fortunate to have parents who have encouraged our musical endeavors all along. We even used to practice at Josh’s parent’s house.
Preston – Couldn’t have been more supportive. My Dad used to have Josh’s dad haul his drums over to our house occasionally on the weekends to give the Browns a break from having to listen to us play. Wherever it was, though. All of our parents had our back, and love to hear us crank it up.
Josh – Very supportive. Each member has been very fortunate to have good parents that support us with everything we do!
Evan – Very. I’m not quite sure they understood it at first, but they see all the good it does for me now and totally get it. They aren’t always the biggest fans of the music, but they are always positive about it!
XS ROCK: What are your favorite tracks to play live?
ET – The new stuff! ‘Ashes of Your Worth’ and ‘Carnival of Youth’ have some really fun riffs. We also recently started playing ‘Watercolored’ from our first record again, and it’s been fun to knock the dust off of that one.
Josh – ‘Ashes of your Worth’, ‘Carnival of Youth’, ‘Thread’
Evan – ‘Oceans’ from our 2015 EP is probably my favorite song to play live. We also do a lot of Megadeth covers; “Wake Up Dead” is my favorite. Endless headbanging!
Preston – ‘Carnival of Youth, ‘Ashes of Your Worth’ and ‘Oceans’
XS ROCK: Which band or artist inspired you to perform? Why?
Josh – Metallica! Because they just sounded so damn badass as a 5th grader.
Preston – Well, I’d say Pantera probably. But to be honest, joining Dark Hound got me back to playing after a few years off, so Dark Hound gets a nod here, too!
ET – I’m not sure that there was one in particular. I think I’d have to credit the show ‘Behind The Music’ on VH1, that was my favorite show as a kid and really made me think “yea this music thing is what I want to do”.
Evan – Probably Megadeth as a teenager. I thought that there 80s-90s era was infinitely cool. In fact, I still do!!
XS ROCK: If you could design a dream tour for your band, who would be on the bill?
Josh – Very hard to answer. Megadeth, Testament, and Arch Enemy
ET – If ever there was a tour bill that consisted of KISS, Megadeth, Devin Townsend Project, and Dark Hound, I probably wouldn’t do anything ever again for the rest of my life because there’d be nothing better ever possible to achieve.
Preston – Unfortunately it’s not possible, but Pantera would have been the dream, along with Megadeth and Testament.
Evan – Rush, Children of Bodom, and Devin Townsend Project. We wouldn’t fit at all, but I wouldn’t care – I would be too busy nerding out the whole time!
XS ROCK: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment so far?
Josh – Being in a band with three of my close friends who also happen to be phenomenal players that write riffs that I wish I could write.
Preston – For me, it’s ‘Dawning’. Like I said earlier, it’s my first experience recording music that I helped write and arrange. The material we came up with definitely exceeded my expectations of what I thought I was capable of. We really pushed each other, and came up with an end product that has us pleased as a peach.
ET – I agree with Preston, I think this new record that we’ve made is best thing that I’ve been involved with thus far.
Evan – ‘Dawning’ is definitely our best, to date. Everything has improved.
XS ROCK: If you weren’t performing in a band what kind of career do you think you would have?
Preston – We all have normal careers, but ET’s is probably the coolest.
ET – I currently work in the music industry as my regular job, and that’s where I want to be!
Josh – What I do now! Instrument Sales Industry.
Evan – I work in IT. I’ve gotta pay the bills somehow, right? I will always be doing something with music as a passion.
XS ROCK: What type of equipment do you use for live shows?
Preston – Bogner Amps, Marshall Cabs, TC Electronic Pedals, Decimator, Gibson Les Pauls, Dimarzio Straps.
Evan – I cycle through a few different guitars. We play in multiple tunings so I always have two “main” guitars. Currently using an older Ibanez Prestige RG with Dimarzio pickups for our lower-tuned stuff. For standard tuning, I have a Gibson Explorer, a late 80s RG, and a recently acquired Les Paul I’m eager to try! My pedalboard is a constantly rotating array of buttons, cables and flashing lights – the real mainstay is a Maxon OD808. I currently play Diezel amps.
Josh – Same gear I record with. Tama Starclassic Maple drums with a Pearl Masters snare drum. Meinl and Zildjian cymbals. Vic Firth Drumsticks. Remo drumheads. And Axis Pedals!!
ET – Ampeg, ESP/LTD, Tortex.
XS ROCK: What do you think of the current music scene?
Josh – Fairly good! Nashville of course still isn’t the place for metal, but there is a small scene of hard rock and metal musicians that is continuing to grow. As a Nashville native who has been performing as a musician for over ten years, you had very few venues that would house metal bands. Even if you had a venue that would take a metal band for an evening, the venue was so lame and disgusting that no one would show up. Also, there was a serious lack of quality players that not only wanted to play this style of music, but also wanted to take the time to promote the event properly to draw a crowd. That’s now changing as more and more rock and metal shows are occurring with quality musicians at quality locations that typically didn’t allow metal bands to perform at.
Preston – I agree with what Josh said.
ET – Wow, Josh said something something insightful and informative!
Evan – He speaks the truth!