“The sole reason why I got into punk/hardcore was because it was a community of screwed up kids who couldn’t express themselves at all save through this medium. It was a place to go where you weren’t the only one who was fucked up, lost and pissed off at the world. It was a home for people without homes.” Those are the words of Makh Daniels, vocalist for Metal Blade recording artists, Early Graves. The band has just released their newest CD We: The Guillotine. This record is an all out assault on the senses right from the beginning, brash, aggressive and in your face these tunes will have listeners snapping their necks in no time at all. Daniels and guitarist Chris Brock took some time to answer a few questions about the band the record and life on the road.

You worked with Steve Austin of Today is Day (Converge, Deadguy, Lamb of God. How did you get in touch with him and what was it like working with him?
Chris: Working with Steve was insane. The way that we got a hold of him was I wrote him on his MySpace I think because we had decided that there was no one else that would be more perfect to record our new album. So he wrote us back, and we chit-chatted on the phone for a few months back and fourth while we were still touring and writing the new album. Eventually, we sent him the demos of the album and headed to Nashville. When we got there something snapped in all of us and we just fucking drank our ass off for the next 10 days we were there. We would wake up, start drinking shitty whiskey and not stop until we passed out at this bar down the street.

Your lyrics are infused with heavy detail and raw emotion. What is it that normally gives you inspiration when writing lyrics and is there a theme or themes behind the writing of this record?
Makh: It’s not that different than what most people go through on a daily basis. No Themes really. There’s depression in there. There’s a “fuck everything” in there but there’s also hope in some ways. I basically just take all my frustrations, regrets and sorrow and put them into words that I hope people can relate to. Nothing crazy really. I mean, I get way hammered and listen to shit that makes you want to kill yourself like Leadbelly and Low when I’m writing. I also constantly rewrite the lyrics until I can get the message across in the fewest words possible. Why say something in a paragraph when you can say it with one word or one turn of a phrase? I like lyrics to be metaphorical but I hate it when they get to the point of some D&D story about dragons and Minotaurs and no one has any clue about what the fuck you are talking about. I’m a huge fan of Bukowski, Fante and McCourt and I love how they get straight to the point of what they are saying without losing the heart. I guess I try to do the same.

When you are on the road for a while I am sure you see and experience many different things you might not even have known existed. Are there any stories that stand out in your mind as being exceptionally strange or odd?
Chris: Don’t you think it’s a little odd that 4 assholes sit in a van for 8 hours a day, drink themselves into pickled liver mess’, pee in bottles, holler at the same girls, play loud heavy music that is about as pissed off as can get, sleep on strangers’ floors, never shit in the same toilet any day, and see the country more than their own homes? I do.

Makh: Almost crashing the van in the middle of the night because I’m looking for UFOs.

When you are out on the road anything can happen and often does. Can you think of any disastrous events that happened while out on tour? How did you solve the problem?
Chris: Let me start by saying that honestly we’re cursed. Not anymore than any other band starting to tour a lot, but man, there was a 6 month period where everything bad happened. First, our van basically blew up in the middle of a bad snow storm, which got us trapped inside an awesome venue in PA called Backstage Enterprises, who graciously let us stay at the venue. We had to come up with some money to get a new van and when we finally did we got on the road the tour that we were supposed to meet up with about a month later cancelled on us 2 days before (thanks dude, that was awesome.) Our booking agent at the time had to piece whatever tour dates together that he could (aka, not getting any money). Then we got fucking broken into while we were playing in Boston, where my computer was, and a whole album’s worth of riffs on there. Then after that tour everybody left the band, basically.

The name of the band Early Graves is interesting to say the least and sounds as if there is a story behind it. Where did the name come from and what is the story?
Chris: The name Early Graves came from the concept of burning the wick at both ends, and living fast type of deal. It was going to the name of an EP we were working on, but that didn’t end up panning out and we flipped a coin between Early Graves or Hyenas. Early Graves won. To me, the name stands for not wasting your time while you are here on earth and if it brings you to an ‘early grave’ so be it. But we only have one chance to do what we want, there is no savior up above that is going to give us another shot, so do everything you can now (minus heroin and killing people).

What is the toughest lesson you ever learned in the studio and on the stage?
Chris: In the studio the very first time I recorded I wasn’t as prepared as I should have been. Now I just try to make sure I’m as prepared as possible, not much to say about that. On stage, never smoke weed before you play. I turn into a dead guy that has cotton mouth and thinks that my solos sound a little more awesome than they really are.

Makh: It sucks recording vocals. Every time I listen back to the take, it always sounds like some dog dry heaving or some shit. I hate it. Also when you’re in the studio you’ll start second guessing your decisions and if you smoke weed on top of that…well…you basically find out you don’t know anything about anything. On stage….well…always duct tape the mike to the cord and always drink tons of husk (whiskey) before hitting the stage. No vodka cause it turns you into a mummy and no beer because it turns you into every rocker dad ever.

Your brand new CD titled We: The Guillotine was released on 08/19/2008 now that it is complete how do you feel about it? Are you satisfied with the outcome?
Chris: I think we wrote our first 11 songs and did a good job. There are flaws like a real record should have and there are parts I think we nailed on the head.

Makh: I love it. It’s all raw and shitty like my favorite records. Definitely sounds like a bunch of assholes throwing up everywhere. Definitely proud of it.

Give us some insight into the record We: The Guillotine and the meaning behind its title?
Chris: Chopping people’s heads off. Literally/Not so literally.

How quick are you in the studio? Can you usually knock things out in a couple takes?
Chris: I do okay in the studio. I’m not Yngwie.

Makh: Oh man. I take for-FUCKING-ever. I never like the way anything sounds and then I’m like “dude I need some beers!!” and then I’m like “naw naw I need some coffee! What?! fuck that! I want Peet’s!!” and then I’m like “fuck you! fuck this!! Who’s that girl over there?! Tell her to come over here!!” and then I’m like “hey…roadhouse is the best movie ever!” And then somewhere after this I’m too wasted to do anything except to go and piss in someone’s open car window.

Playing such visceral music in a recording studio must be vastly different than at one of your chaotic live shows. How did the recording process go for your debut album We: The Guillotine?
Chris: It was chill and chaotic at the same time. We were hanging with Steve Austin from Today Is the Day, which was amazing. But we were waking up, pouring fat drinks and working on our first album, so it was way nerve wracking. I think we captured the energy from our shows on it pretty well because it’s not a clean sounding record, a lot of the takes are one takes, and it’s dirty. I don’t know. I’m not interested in clean sounding albums.

Makh: Worst recording experience ever. Best thing I’ve ever done. It’s kind of like that whole “what’s the sound of one hand clapping?” and you’re all thinking about it and then shrug and light up a joint.

What is next for Early Graves?
Chris: Hopefully just touring a lot and writing more songs. We have some ideas already kicking around for the next album that are pretty sick, so I’m way stoked for that. We plan on touring all of 2009 and writing while we are home so we get another album at some point. We also plan on drinking a lot.  [ END ]