Die Young (tx) are a band who have survived the American Nightmare curse of band name issues to go on to make some of the most inspiring hardcore around. Michael caught up with vocalist "The Rev. White Devil" to find out more.
Scene Point Blank: You go by The Rev. White Devil rather than your birth name, what's that all about?
The Rev. White Devil: Haha, well my real name is Daniel, just so everyone knows. Die Young (TX) is a pretty serious band, or very serious to be accurate, but we're not individuals without a sense humor. We've never put our real names in the album inserts simply because we wanted to throw people a curve ball, I guess you could say. Hopefully, all the lists of aliases in our lyric sheets convey to people that we don't take ourselves too seriously. We're still (somewhat) regular dudes, haha. "White Devil" was a nickname that came about when we made our first demo and started playing our first shows in Houston. It sounds weird to say it like this, but two non-white friends of mine thought all the anti-religious sentiment in our lyrics was really funny, and they'd just start shouting out "White Devil!" while we were on stage, and before you know it, the name just kind of caught on with local kids. To be honest, I don't hear people blurting out "White Devil" much anymore, but really it's just too late to go back and start putting our real names on our albums, haha.
Scene Point Blank: Speaking of names, last year your band had to change its name from Die Young to Die Young (TX). For those unaware, can you tell us the story behind this change?
The Rev. White Devil: Well, we got home from a tour in the summer of 2005, and I had some letters from a lawyer in southern California waiting for me in the mail. We had been ordered to "cease and desist" use of the name Die Young and pull all units/products bearing the name from the shelves of stores and distributors or else there would be legal action against us. Apparently a band from California had gone out and bought the trademark to the name, and they could prove that they had been a band slightly longer than us. To be honest, we just ignored these letters for about five months or so. I really just don't have any regard for that kind of crap, especially in the arena of supposed "punk rock". But then the lawyer started harassing our label, and my mail kept piling up, so I decided to contact the dudes from the other band myself to see if we could reach any kind of resolution on a "dude" level. Luckily, the singer of the other Die Young was a really cool and understanding guy, and we both agreed to work things out without getting the law involved any further. They actually offered to sell us the name, but they wanted more than we could afford (a LOT more haha), so he told me we could keep the name as long as we just added something else to distinguish ourselves from them in the marketplace (not that there has really ever been much confusion, if any). So we kept it simple and added the "TX" or "(TX)" instead of changing the name altogether.
We did think of changing it to something based on some song lyrics of ours, but in the end, it just didn't feel right. We felt adding the "TX" would be a better compromise - one that wouldn't compromise the reputation we had built around the name Die Young. It's really not so bad. We have an agreement in writing with the California Die Young, and it doesn't really specify how big the "TX" has to be. It's just got to be there one way or the other, and we've come to be cool with that. The whole situation really could have ended up being a lot worse than it did. In a weird sense, being that the situation in itself was a huge pain in the ass, we are still very grateful that the California Die Young was willing to work things out on a "dude" level with us.
Scene Point Blank: A couple of months back Die Young (TX) signed to Eulogy? How did that signing come about?
The Rev. White Devil: I'd say the deal with Eulogy came about for two reasons. One: we tour our asses off. Two: we have some good friends--friends who have been our friends and fans of our music since before they worked at Eulogy, who really look out for us. We actually spent a good six months wasting our time communicating with another prominent hardcore label about doing our full-length, but they couldn't quite get things together to do our record, so when that fell through we ended up getting an offer from Eulogy shortly afterwards, and so far I don't see how things could be any better for us. In retrospect, I am stoked things worked out the way they did, even though they didn't work out how we thought they were going to work out. We get to communicate directly with friends of ours who believe in our music about the way we want to be portrayed, promoted, and all that. So far, Eulogy has been very welcoming to our ideas for our music, artwork and overall vision, which, I'm sure they might consider to be fairly unconventional at times, haha. I think it's cool that we are able to balance the business end of things very casually by collaborating with our friends at the label instead of some maniacal Tony Brummel type that we have no history with.
Scene Point Blank: You've titled your upcoming full-length, Graven Images. What does that title mean? How will it be reflected in the music found on the record? When can we expect the album to be released?
The Rev. White Devil: I don't want to give away too much about the new album and all the ideas behind it, because I really want everyone to have a chance to think about what it's supposed to mean for themselves when it comes out. That's really the most important thing about the whole album - to think about it. Basically though, Graven Images is a biblical reference, and the album as a whole is generally an assault on the hypocrisy of western religion and government, and western civilization as a whole, honestly. It's by far our most concentrated work, and our most experimental. I wouldn't do another record if it wasn't our strongest effort, and if it wasn't striving for something new, both musically and in the concepts it touches upon. I think we might actually lose some people with this one. This is bound to be a record people will either hate or love, as it's the most extreme Die Young (TX) has ever been with its message and ideals. We're recording the album in November, and it is scheduled to be out in early March of 2007.
Scene Point Blank: One thing that I have noticed is that Die Young (TX) is always on tour, and its not just tours of the United States. You guys have played places like Alaska, Eastern Asia, and even islands in the Caribbean. Why go through all the trouble of playing such obscure locations?
The Rev. White Devil: Why would anyone not want to go to Puerto Rico and swim under waterfalls in the rainforest? or look down the side of a volcano above the clouds in Costa Rica? or feed wild monkeys on mountain overlooking the Gulf of Thailand? We've seen some of the most beautiful, captivating, and amazing places in the world just by playing in this band (the band actually made it affordable to see all those great places), and we've met some of the most welcoming and enthusiastic hardcore kids in the process. We have learned a lot about other customs and people, too, and with every new place we are privileged enough to visit I think we are all wiser human beings. Hardcore kids in other, less wealthy countries aren't as spoiled and jaded as most North American crowds - kids actually come up front! The shows are almost always the most memorable when you've got to fly across an ocean to play. It just means so much to be there - both to yourself and to the kids who come out.
Also, I will say there is a big difference when you go some place as a tourist, and you stay in some resort, and you are detached from the local people than when you go some place where you are bringing something that people want besides your tourist dollars and you get to stay in local kids' houses and talk to their families and see their homeland from their perspective. I find traveling to be a bit more interesting that way, because you get to be more connected with the place and the culture, and I'm very thankful that hardcore/punk has given me the opportunity to see things from that perspective. We've been able to experience how this music and lifestyle brings people from all over the world together and builds community without borders. It's really no trouble at all. It's a total privilege, and I would hope more hardcore/punk kids would utilize this global community and connect with people in far off places, and then hopefully go see those places! There's so much out there to open our eyes.
This band is about experiences, and as long as we're playing music, we're going to get out to every new place we possibly can. And you know, it's a really cool thing to possibly be the band that introduced hardcore to some kids in Alaska or Taiwan, or some other place where most US hardcore acts NEVER go. I just don't understand why some bands wouldn't want to go see some of the places we've been to. I understand that financing it all can be a toilsome task, but still, it just doesn't add up to miss out on so many great places.
Scene Point Blank: During your travels in Asia, I heard you had an interesting run in with customs over your CDs. What was that all about?
The Rev. White Devil: We had heard stories of how "black metal" was illegal in Malaysia prior to our visit there, but we arrived in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to find out that just about any material encompassing rock and roll is pretty much considered to be black metal. You see, black metal is illegal there, but I don't think any of the authorities even really know what black metal is. Anyway, we arrive in Kuala Lumpur, get our bags and split up to go through the customs lines. Everyone makes it through but me, and the woman officer searching my bags asks me if all the CDs I am carrying are "black metal." I say "no, punk rock, hardcore." She goes to get a higher-ranking officer and they take me back to an office to interrogate me further. They spilled out two bags of mine on a table and various officers would periodically come into the room, scatter it about, and exclaim "Black metal! Black metal! Prohibited!" Eventually I was told I could leave my contraband there, at the airport, until we were to fly out two days later, and I could come back with a receipt and pick up my items then. Luckily, they did give me my stuff back then. Too bad I lost two whole hours of my life sitting there in utter confusion while the dudes in the band were waiting outside in the Malaysian heat without a clue of what was happening to me. Haha, good times, at least it makes for a funny story. That was really the only major culture clash of our whole three-week East Asia tour though.