The Red Devil Incident – Interview with Dom Lyne

Interview by Pharmer4

This interview was conducted with Dom Lyne, lead singer of The Red Devil Incident, in 2008, prior to the release of their latest offering In Dreams We SleepThe Red Devil Incident is an industrial-styled metal band from England with a political outlook and social conscience.

This social conscience has been demonstrated most recently when they decided to distance themselves from PETA, due to their funding of the Animal Liberation Front, an extremist group that uses questionable tactics to make their political views on animal rights heard.

Who would you include as your predecessors; which bands inspired you to make the music you do?

As a band, it’s hard to say a direct influence as we are all inspired individually by totally different styles. For me, the greatest inspiration came from Marilyn Manson, Trent Reznor, Peter Tagtgren, Dave Gahan and Tommy Lee. For M** it is artists like Nikki Sixx and Motley Crue, Slash and Dave Navarro.

You can’t hear all these influences in the band’s music as a whole, but if you scratch away at the surface you can see their traces. Our sound is often referred to as original, and I’m happy with it remaining that way.

An interesting combination, since they are varying genres. I guess really you can see the influence of the 80s glam bands in other modern bands, i.e. shock rockers like Marilyn Manson, (or perhaps that’s come from David Bowie).

Yeah, I don’t think any band is purely influenced by one single genre, and it’s always nice when you see references to influences coming through in image or sound.  I think Manson’s kinda referenced most of his idols at some point.

It’s an interesting combination of the two of you though – one of you is more influenced by modern, almost industrial bands, while the other is more the 80s glam – it’s not a combination that you readily see in metal.

I think that comes down to the music that makes an early influence on you as you grow up.  Having such a wide range of influences helps keep the music fresh. If we both approached from the same angle it could make the music we write very sterile.

Who would you class as your contemporaries; bands that you see as your equals in the current scene?

I never think of other bands in that way, and we’re not the sort of band who name-drops their friends or tries to claim to be on the same level as a signed band. To me The Red Devil Incident works at its own level and we never make claims to be better than or equal to another.

Music to me is about the message you want to convey, it isn’t about trying to prove your worth amongst the other bands in the area. Things like Battles of the Bands annoy me, they’re just about ego. Music isn’t a competition, it is entertainment.

I like the integrity in that response, specifically not wanting to garner any type of notice by mentioning another band’s name.

Once you start mentioning names of bands who you feel are at your level, people start listening for the similarities between you.  I’d prefer The Red Devil Incident to be appreciated for who we are, not through a comparison to another band.

And then if your average listener can’t hear it, they suddenly lose interest in your music.

Yeah, if you try to appeal to a certain fan base and sound nothing like the bands you name there is going to be a loss of interest. It’s like me saying we sound like Iron Maiden when in fact we’re worlds apart.

I think the Battle of The Bands events do certainly serve a purpose – firstly they do give bands a chance to play in front of an audience (something not all bands get), but also they give some bands the motivation to write their own material.

That’s true they do allow bands to play to varied audiences, but it’s the competition that takes place that I disagree with. Yeah every band thinks their band is better than another, but I feel Battles of the Bands give that an open forum for ego-boosting.  Some band’s need them to give themselves a feeling of worth, but they’re just something we’ve always stayed away from.

It’s definitely an issue in rock and metal, since there is a level of macho-ism about the genres. It certainly explains why fans of one genre of metal, for instance, like to shit over other genres.

Fans align themselves to a genre or a band and can sometimes get obsessive over that, which is good, it’s fun.  I like it when two or more bands have a rivalry between each other, that’s natural… I just have a problem when it’s bands pissing over another just for the fun of it.

I think that’s just human nature, you find that in almost all aspects of life – even checkout chicks at the local supermarket will have one or two that will backstab the others or talk shit about someone else to make themselves look good.

We all do it, I do it.  Natural rivalry is good; I don’t have a problem with that. It’s only when music becomes a structured competition that I have a problem. If your band thinks it’s better than another have a big old fashioned fight, not jump into an X-Factor ring.

Who would you like to tour with?

Marilyn Manson or Rammstein. They’re both very visual bands and they know how to put on a show. I remember the first time I ever saw a clip of Manson live, it was from the Dead to the World Tour and it blew me away. I’ve always wanted to emulate to that level.

Live work isn’t just about walking on stage with your guitar or mic and jumping around; it’s about being creative and visual, stimulating people’s minds and just taking the whole thing to that next level. Another band I’d love to tour with is Depeche Mode.

There definitely needs to be an experience when you see a band live – especially since it is the best way to really blow your fans away. It always surprises me to see behaviour like Axl Rose’s infamously repeated show after show, since it is his own livelihood he is shitting on – why the hell would you walk out on your job if you are self employed?

Totally, I mean Axl Rose is the best example of an out of control ego.  He’s fucking good at what he does, he knows it, and he’ll throw tantrums when it doesn’t go his way.  I’ll always remember him falling flat on his ass at Download 2006.  But despite the problems he causes, he still puts on an awesome show.

Which bands would you just as soon see disappear altogether?

Any band who has worked to make a success of their band has the right to their moment of fame. It’s a very dangerous game for bands to start saying who is better, worse, or shouldn’t be around.

Which sub-genre of metal would you class yourself as?

For ease we always say Industrial. People find it very hard to pinpoint exactly what we are. I mean when we released Self Degraded Suicide, you had iTunes calling us Electronic, Virgin Digital calling us Alternative and HMV Digital calling us Indie. So let’s stick with Industrial.

Genres really can be a bane, especially if your music can’t be pigeonholed. What has your experience with online music distributors been like?

It was a fucking pain; I mean all you have to choose from is those drop-down menus so you can’t even create a listing of your own.  We just had to try and create the feel with what we had. Then laugh as they went and re-classified us.

And if someone knows the band, they could just search for your music on your own site, instead of going to one of those sites; the whole point is gaining new exposure, right?

Exactly, we chose the on-line option for two reasons really, to embrace the new technologies, and to be able to reach as large a market as possible.  Most people who buy our music from online stores have come through one of our sites or been told about us, so in the end how they’ve ‘pigeonholed’ us on their store isn’t really an issue.

How did The Red Devil Incident come together?

M** [guitarist and songwriter] and I had been working on a project called GodEngine since 2000 on an on-and-off basis and that pretty much laid the foundations for The Red Devil Incident, which became our main project in 2004. Up to that point we were both working on different bands, I was the drummer and principal songwriter for a metal band, and M** was the bassist in a Goth band. When we sat down and recorded the RDI demo we realised this was where our heart was at, from that moment on RDI pretty much became our sole concern.

Did GodEngine only involve the two of you, and if so, why not take GodEngine in the direction of The Red Devil Incident while keeping the old name?

GodEngine was a full band and although it was a gradual progression between the two, I just felt the new outlook and format of the band needed a total rebirth, so the name was changed.

Tell me about the band members.

The Red Devil Incident doesn’t exist as a solid band so to speak. I’ve always intended it to work as a collective. I want to be able to work with as many different musicians as possible without being limited to the constraints of a structured four piece band. I run this band in a way similar to Nine Inch Nails.

You have the two core members, myself and M**, and then we have a collective of live musicians. This format works for RDI because firstly it means that no one feels tied to the project, so they’re free to come and go as they please; and secondly, I’ve done the whole ‘band’ thing before and seen how difficult it becomes when individual members let their egos get out of control, because of the way RDI works, this has never been an issue. So in a sense it’s like a solo act with a live band.

I’m in control of the band, I have my finger in every pie and have a say in everything about the project, be it image, ethos or production. I have very strong beliefs and these come across in both my lyrics, the band’s artwork and branding – which in RDI is just as important as the music we write.

M** is my right-hand person; they write a good proportion of the music and are a strong guitarist who believes solid rhythm playing is more important than technical wank. They’re such a versatile writer that sometimes even I’m amazed at what they bring to the table, and they’re so humble about their skills, which is a quality you don’t find in most people these days. They’ll play me what they term as a ‘crap’ riff and I’ll be so blown away by it that I’m inspired to write the lyrics on the spot. In all my time working in bands I’ve never come across another guitarist who has been able to do that.

The collective idea sounds very similar to Jason Newstead’s Chophouse – he invites all manner of musicians around (from lots of different genres, not just metal), they jam the house down, while recording the lot. Then they mix some shit together and a new project is born. It’s all very independent and no one makes money off it (which is fine when you’ve been in Metallica for over a decade!)

The RDI collective is a lot more structured than that, the music is written and then performed, so it works in a manner like NIN, where you have a core at the middle which is constant then the outside changes, keeping the sound and feel fresh.

When you are writing new music, and it comes time to record it or tour it, do you have specific musicians in mind that you want to work at that time, i.e. do you write a bass line or a drum section and think of someone you’d feel would do it justice, or is it a matter of finding those interested and available?

I generally have an idea of who I want to use. In recording I will always turn to the same people because I know they can deliver, but I’m always looking for new people and if I find someone and they’re interested then I’ll make sure I use them.

When we start working on a live set or studio sessions I usually have an image of it in my mind and I can see who would suit that project and who wouldn’t. Then it’s a case of making the phone calls and crossing fingers.

How often do you have issues with non-availability?

We’ve been lucky with that because it’s always planned in advance so everyone knows when everything is going to be happening.

I always check the members out before offering them a place within it.  We’ve all had arguments but nothing major.  I’ve only ever removed one person from it.

I would think that the collective aspect makes it fairly easy to “replace” a member without immediately bruising their ego.

Exactly, it also keeps any egos to a minimum as they know that they can be replaced.

How did you come up with the name The Red Devil Incident?

It was something I’d written down in a notebook that I came back across a few years later and liked. Most people abbreviate it down to RDI.

Tell me about where you are from in England.

Originally we’re from the North West of England, that’s where the band was formed, where we record most of our latest music and generally gig. I’m currently based just outside London, and we have a few collective members down here that allows for small one-off appearances, and it’s also where we recorded Self Degraded Suicide, but at the moment the main brunt of what we do is based in the North.

What is your local scene like – are you one amongst many, or a lone torch bearer for Metal?

As a rule, we steer clear from being part of a scene. The way that our gigging works at the moment is that we perform in different places dependent of where we are at that given time. So we see how the scenes vary. I mean, you get cases where all the local bands try to sound like the current trend, the current popular bands and it all ends up sounding the same, sounding sterile. We don’t want to be part of a gang of clones; we strive to maintain our individuality.

The good thing about RDI is that our music is versatile, we are not limited to playing it how we record it. I mean it’s not unheard of for us to just play a simple acoustic set.

Well, I’ve noticed that you have two MySpace pages – one for acoustic versions of your songs.

Being able to strip your sound down and not lose its essence is always something we’ve tried to maintain.  Acoustic versions bring a different perspective to your songs, make them that little bit more intimate.

It’s interesting that you created a new profile just for that. You could conceivably create two different fan bases.

We really wanted to keep the distinction between the two sounds. It shows that there are two sides to the band just like there are two sides to people.  Having the two sites hasn’t created two alienated fan bases, but made them appreciate the project as a whole.

What do you want to achieve with The Red Devil Incident; a way to avoid mundane employment; notoriety amongst fans, or world domination?

To help change the way people think. We actually have a message, something that is definitely lacking in most music these days. Quite a few bands will jump on the bandwagon and say ‘oh everyone’s political so that’s what we’re gonna be’ and not really mean what they are saying.

We are a political band, but not everything we write is political. It’s about the world and times we live in. We don’t paint a rosy picture that everything in the world is nice because it isn’t. I want people to open their eyes, to actually make a stand for what they believe in. If people hear my lyrics and say ‘wait, he’s got a point’ then my job has been done, but I would never compromise our music just to make that point.

Ultimately we’re here to entertain, to make music that people enjoy on any level they choose.

Ok, sum it up for us, do you have a manifesto of your political philosophy – can you boil it down for us?

I wouldn’t say we had a distinct political agenda or manifesto that we shake in the face of the government, our political beliefs are personal; the political stance of the band is that we want people to take a more active part in what is going on around them. To open their eyes to the larger world.

So not necessarily what needs to happen, just that people should be more active, don’t sit back and let others decide your future for you?

Exactly, you have a voice which you should use, if you sit and do nothing you have no right to complain when it all goes wrong.

Do you still have day jobs?

Yeah sure, everyone needs to make that extra bit of money to survive, but at the moment because I’m working freelance, I can fit my work around the band. The Red Devil Incident is the most important factor to us.

What work do you do freelance?

At the moment I’m freelancing in design. My last projects have been designing aspects for a film promotion (logos, websites) and just finished the total rebranding of a UK Independent Film Company.

Wow, that must be both lots of work, and also pay pretty well.

Yeah, it keeps me busy, but it’s fun, although sadly doesn’t pay enough to retire on.

It’d be a good skill to have in the music industry – image can make or break.

Image has always been a key issue for me, so I’ve always made sure that RDI‘s image is continuous and strong; in essence, making The Red Devil Incident a brand.

What have been The Red Devil Incident’s highlights so far?

There’s been a few, but if I was to list one it’s probably having licensed out our music on computer games. There’s nothing more satisfying than having THQ request to use one of your tracks. Well that and being asked to leave the stage for speaking against the Government.

People really ask you to leave the stage for speaking against the government? How moronic. I guess freedom of speech is nice in theory, not so much in practicality.

It was one of those moments where our views went against those of the venue’s manager.  Thankfully that isn’t always the case.  You have a certain amount of freedom of speech in this country and you need to know how to stay within its limits, I’ve studied politics so thankfully I know what those limits are.

How does licensing to games work for you – do you make more money if a game is successful, or is it a lottery, in which you get $X, whether it pans out or changes the dynamics of human entertainment forever?

Unfortunately it’s normally just a one-off buy out fee.  You’re given the money and that’s it, they can then go off and make £millions but you don’t see any of that

What do you think of the uproar caused by Metallica not signing up to games like Guitar Hero et al until they had a royalty based fee?

In a way it’s unfair, but I guess it just shows that they only went on the game for the money.  They have an idea of their worth and will make sure they get it.

I guess it goes both ways – who is bigger, Metallica or Guitar Hero – will guitar hero sell more just because Metallica is on there, or will Metallica get bigger by being on Guitar Hero?

It works in both their favours, but Metallica isn’t the only big band on that game, so in a way they’re profiting at the expense of others.

Metallica is not the only band who negotiated this though, and now a lot of bands who may look at going on #4 etc have a little more leverage.

Yeah, I mean Metallica generally have the balls to go out and get what they want, if it makes for a fairer system then it’s always a good thing, but again with music you’re paid upon what people think you are worth.

Any lowlights so far for RDI?

None that I can think of. So far this band has been relatively problem free.

Do you have any current studio plans?

We’re currently recording music which will form the basis of a future release. We tried to take a break from the studio after we finished our first full-length album Self Degraded Suicide, but within a month we’d recorded a very minimalist synth-based EP called Judas Halo which I felt was a necessity to sum up that whole period of the band’s life. A lot had happened during the year we were recording which was not resolved on the album so the EP kinda put the full stop at the end of that era so to speak.

The new material we’re working on sees us return to the heavier, rockier sound that the band started out with, much more guitar orientated whereas Self Degraded Suicide had a lot simpler guitar parts and was a bit more synth-pop, a bit more Depeche Mode.

When do you expect we’ll be seeing the next album?

Well, although we’ve got 8 tracks recorded and roughly mixed, we’re not planning to release them for some time yet. The new tracks are being incorporated into our live sets, and 4 have been previewed on our MySpace, but we’re still out there promoting Self Degraded Suicide, so we’re in no rush to hurry out new material.

That is definitely a luxury of being independent – you are not forced to rush new material in case it misses the frenzy.

Yeah, it gives you time to be creative and make sure you don’t rush through anything which doesn’t show you at your best.

We’ve just put forward one of our new tracks for a compilation CD that is due out this year, so that’s going to be the first new track released track available to buy, and we have another one featuring in a UK Independent movie that is due out later this year.

Don’t you get restless sitting on the new material – what if you change your tastes in the months you are sitting on it, and don’t want to release it anymore – that’s a lot of work down the tubes.

It’s just something that happens, you write new music and you feel it was better than the last, so you put the old to one side and it gathers dust. I mean when we recorded Self Degraded Suicide the amount of tracks left on the side was stupid, but you just move on.

Do you think you’ll be like Smashing Pumpkins and release a lot of B sides on every single, or maybe like Pearl Jam, releasing them all as a compilation, or never let them see the light of day.

For Self Degraded Suicide we put together a free download of out-takes from the sessions on the micro-site we created for it on our website.  I think that is the route we’d take; I don’t see the point in charging your fans for material you didn’t view as good enough.

The Red Devil Incident’s latest album, In Dreams We Sleep, will be released in October 2009.

This interview appeared on the Heavy Metal Nation website in July 2009. The copyright in this interview belongs to the website’s writers/publishers.

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