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Interview with Grog Rox (Die So Fluid)

‘Right now, the world needs this band,’ declared Burn in their review of Not Everybody Gets a Happy Ending, the second full-length album from Die So Fluid. Championed by rock press around the world, the band gained momentum with their sophomore release in 2008 finding their way onto the pages of Kerrang! and Classic Rock and even securing a supporting slot on tour with My Ruin.

Praised by Rock Sound for their ‘passion, determination and independence,’ Die So Fluid first appeared in 2001 with their EP Operation Hypocrite, before launching their own label, Cartesian Records, for their debut album Spawn of Dysfunction. Most recently, Die So Fluid completed work on their fourth album, The Opposites of Light.

Singer and bassist Grog Rox discusses the making of their new album.

Why choose to release a double album? With very few exceptions, they are often overlong and over-bloated and would have been worked better at a traditional length?

Okay let me clear this up. This is not a thirty track, self-indulgent, exercise in navel staring. But we have recorded eighteen songs that fall into two distinct and different styles. So instead of cramming Jekyll and Hyde on to one CD we thought why not keep the man and the monster separate. It’s also a response to how we listen to music now. I have a lot of fourteen track CDs where I haven’t listened past track seven before putting something else on. I have to be conscious of this and put records on halfway through. With two short discs – not a problem. Put one on before you head out to the roller disco and the other one when you come home with a bag of weed. It’s ironic that issuing a double album leads people to immediately conclude that you’re taking yourself too seriously when really I just think this format will be more fun.

This album will follow three years after The World is Too Big for One Lifetime. In what ways do you feel your new work reflects how you have advanced as songwriters and musicians?

It’s not so much advanced as adapted and evolved. Since moving to L.A. I’ve set up a studio at home and learnt so much from that experience. Before, my role was more on the writing side, not so much the technical, but now Drew and I are able to send song ideas back and forth by email and it has enabled us to get into a very prolific flow. It has actually opened up a whole spectrum of collaboration between us because now we write whole songs on our own, perform on each other’s songs and then co-write at all different levels in between. The pre-production for this record was so thorough that we decided to just carry it through and produce the record ourselves.

Is there a central concept or core themes that you have explored on your new album and is there any narrative that runs throughout?

The themes running through this album are to do with my moving to the U.S., meeting the man I married, which all happened during this period of a general obsession with apocalypse and end of days. So there is some tasty desert vampire rock and also material inspired by my impressions of this new country and culture – the modern entwined with its past, and my fascination with dust bowl and early hollywood times. L.A. is still a place people wander to in search of dreams but now it has become a far more warped version of its earlier self. Desperation and extreme self-indulgence exist side-by-side here, the streets are full of ghosts. I suppose the supreme underlying theme for all our music always comes back to the fighting spirit and the battle we’re all engaged in to make something beautiful and worthwhile of our short lives.

Your early material had echoes of punk and grrrl riot, but over the years you have moved further towards metal. How varied were your influences during the writing and recording of the new album?

Our sound has always been a genuine representation of what we were feeling at the time. So our first EP was very angry. The band doesn’t have a style, it has an emotion. I think that’s why we’ve always been more comfortable being described as a ‘rock’ band. That description is so broad it doesn’t fence you in and grants me the right to be angry on one recording and full of love on another. I guess whilst writing this album I was listening to stuff like Opeth, Mastodon, Deftones, Orchid, Mountain, Rush, Hawkwind, Dead Weather, The Tubes, Debussy, Carmina Burana…all sorts, whereas Drew was listening to obscure new wave like Polyrock and basically anything that came out of Australia between 1979 and 1983. I never set out to write a song in a certain style. It’s much more like some kind of intuitive divination for me. We definitely do touch on country and medieval this time. You’ll be surprised.

Die So Fluid

Die So Fluid

Were the songs for this album written over a long period of time and were many of them rewritten drastically from your initial ideas to the final versions?

Crime Scene was written towards the end of the writing process for the last album. We felt it was awesome but didn’t sit well with the rest of that work, so decided to use it as a starting point for the next album. The main body of songs were finished by January 2012; we recorded full versions of it all via our internet process and tweaked the arrangements, parts and lyrics until we were satisfied.

We then all got together in a London studio and started from drums and bass upwards, Drew and I recorded our own guitar and vocals in our studios, enabling us to capture exactly what we intended, and we also recorded some wonderful live string arrangements for several songs in London. The process could have happened much faster had we not been beleaguered by legal and financial issues during this time. But when shit like that does delay you, you just make the most of it and write another cello line for that string arrangement.

Exactly what is the meaning behind the title The Opposites of Light and is this a reflection on the tone of the music?

Reflection is the right word. The music deals with the realms of death and the underworld on the other side of the mirror. It’s also meant to be funny. Because the opposites of light, in the english language, are ‘dark’ and ‘heavy’ which are the base characters of the two discs.

Can you talk about the recording sessions and how long they took?

We oversaw production ourselves. Mark Williams mixed most of the album and Mr Drew mixed a few tracks. One of great things about recording with your own set-up is you get the luxury of time, and I don’t mean that we worked slower, I mean we could work when the time was right, we could revisit things, we weren’t so pressured by being ‘on the clock’ in general. It was recorded in my place Hollywood, U.S.A., Drew’s place, Archway, London, and at Unit 2 Studios, Acton, London UK.

Have you performed any of the new tracks live and do your songs often develop further after playing them in front of a crowd?

We played four of the songs at our London show in April. A song doesn’t really exist until someone’s heard it. And if there’s something not right it will be completely apparent when you play to an audience. Anyway, the new tunes rocked and the crowd loved them.

You are currently pitching the album to different labels. Were you nervous about making an album without a deal secured and do you feel you have finally found the right home for The Opposites of Light?

I don’t think we ever made an album with a deal secured, not in the traditional sense anyway. We always just find a way to do what we want to. We’ve only just started approaching people but it really isn’t something to be nervous about nowadays. If we don’t find someone we want to work with then we’ll just release it ourselves. And at least that way we’ll get paid. Thus far we have licensed to small labels and many of them have stolen from us and caused us problems. At this point I would like to go with a bigger label who’s got some influence and will commit to pushing the band. If they also produce accurate accounts and royalty cheques that would be a bonus.

Drew Richards, Grog Rox and Al Fletcher

Drew Richards, Grog Rox and Al Fletcher

Would you say you have made the definitive Die So Fluid album or have you yet to reach your full potential?

We have always been indefinable to a certain extent. This could be the definitive record from us just because it is so varied and so much of it was recorded, with immense care, in our own homes. It could be the skeleton key that unlocks the next part of the adventure, you know, the part with the unicorns and wizards.

Did you have a masterplan on how you would bring the album together and then unleash it upon the world?

All we think about is what would be exciting to us if we were fans of the band.

The fact that we do have some great fans supporting us allows us to be a bit fearless and just create great music. We’re better prepared than usual, with two great finished videos on hold and I would just love to release this album through a label that has its own master plan for us. It’s really about time we were ‘unleashed’ into the limelight. We’ve always been in the shadows and that’s such a waste of great bone structure.

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