Home / Interview / Interview: Dave McAnally of Industrial Metal Act, Derision Cult

Interview: Dave McAnally of Industrial Metal Act, Derision Cult

‘Mercenary Notes Pt. 1’ is the latest release by Chicago-based industrial metal act, Derision Cult. We discussed its themes along with the past and present as well as the forthcoming ‘Mercenary Notes Pt. 2’. We’d like to thank Dave for his time today.

Hi Dave.  Thanks for the interview with us today.  Let’s dive right into the new release, ‘Mercenary Notes Pt. 1’. Can you discuss the central theme that runs through it?

Mercenary Notes is all about how brands and big media use narratives to manipulate and play on our anxieties and fears.   Fear is a powerful motivator and a profitable commodity for those who know how to exploit it. In recent years, we’ve seen this tactic escalate, with various societal issues being used as leverage to drive consumerism and silence dissenting voices. This EP sort of sheds light on different ways this happens and offers some ideas for how to move forward.   I drew a lot on my experiences in the ad industry on the other side crafting some of this stuff to shed light on what’s going on.   In a way, it’s sort of like a magician revealing how the magic tricks are done.

Are the tracks on the record stories in and of themselves as a part of the larger picture?

They’re stories in and of themselves that tackle different aspects of the theme of mass manipulation. “Year Hope Failed” deals with the impact of technology and AI have on our understanding of the world. “Life Unlit” addresses how social justice issues are being exploited. “Bastards of the World” looks at the manipulation of narratives to create division. While these songs may not have a direct connection to each other, they all share a common thread in exploring the ways in which the powerful use manipulation to control the masses. Together they serve as a call to question the information and narratives presented to us and to think critically about the world around us.

What was the biggest challenge you had working on the preceding singles and the new release?

That’s a great question! To be honest, the biggest challenge was taking the sound of Derision Cult from the last album and blending it with a more robotic industrial style. We also incorporated some country elements with the use of acoustic and twang guitars. Finding the right balance and making it all work together was definitely a hurdle. We went through some rewrites and retakes, but I think we nailed it in the end.

For someone that’s never heard of Derision Cult, what artists might they also be fans of if they were to take interest in yr music?

It’s amusing to me, paying attention to the similar artist list that Spotify suggests. It’s pretty spot on (pun intended!). Cyanotic, of course, is a big one since Sean’s got a heavy hand in this. When I talk to folks, I hear the word “throwback” get used a bit and I’m cool with that, you know, I want to wear my influences on my sleeve. So, bands like Nailbomb, Sister Machine Gun and Front Line Assembly are some reference points. I expect a lot of people will hear similarities to Ministry, White Zombie, and KMFDM in our work too. Sean and I found ourselves listening to the first couple of Circle of Dust albums quite a bit while we were referencing mixes. Pig is one band we seem to have a lot of cross-fans with too.

Do you have a specific process that guides what you create for Derision Cult or the other projects you work with? Are there different motivations or areas of focus with other projects?

I’m a guitar player first and foremost, so Derision Cult tracks almost always start with a riff. I got a few other projects, one of them is a straight-ahead grunge rock band called Purgatory Line that’s the same way. But with Sys Machine, I tend to start with more soundscapes and only use guitars when it makes sense. Sean is the opposite, and I think that’s part of why it works. He’s all about the soundscapes and the vibes of a track before honing in on details like guitar riffs or foreground elements. So, with these songs, I took demos to him, and we started hammering out the sound space that they’d live in.

Let’s do some history and talk about the ‘Prior Machines’ release.  Those are obviously older tracks so how has your set up developed since then? Did you address any of the themes back then as you do today?

I had all these demos that I had sorta haphazardly been putting up on Bandcamp without much thought. When I connected with Glitch Mode, it seemed kind of silly to have all these floating out there, so I just condensed it into one big collection and made it free for folks to check out. You can hear early versions of tracks like “Slaves” and “Life Unlit” on there. The themes are pretty consistent, man. Early on, I got a lot more political in the themes, particularly when that 2016 election was going on because things were so crazy with the circus Trump brought. I’ve made a conscious effort to stay away from political issues since then. It’s not that I don’t feel strongly about certain things, I just feel my tracks are better served addressing things I have more of a background in.

The new album discusses advertising and mass manipulation.  Do you feel that, since the pandemic there’s been any changes in tactics used by companies advertising? A greater sense of urgency perhaps? Do you see advertising as mostly negative for the consumer considering the behind the scenes activities or motivations of companies aren’t always in good nature?

Yeah, it’s a mixed bag. I think the pandemic itself really elevated the anxiety and paranoia in the world and there are organizations that have seized upon that. The stories that would get prioritization, particularly after the George Floyd murder, and who was running ads on those spots really showed you what narrative sat where. There’s a saying that enrage equals engagement. As things like that happened, or even more recently with the overturning of Roe V Wade, it’s easy to amplify the outrage. It’s not that you can’t feel passionately one way or the other, but you gotta be aware of what piece of news or data is trying to inform you or just piss you off. It doesn’t matter if you’re a liberal or conservative person, this is happening on both sides. Now having said that, advertising as a whole is a wonderful thing, man. Compelling ads that evoke emotions are an artform unto themselves. There’s plenty of positive uses, I’ve bought things because a random Facebook ad targeted me at the right time with the right product. We’re just bombarded with a lot of it now and as it’s shifted to be more political and socially conscious, we gotta have our filters up to discern between what’s informative and what’s just out to piss us off.

Where do you think that ‘Mercenary Notes Pt. 2” is going to take you? Have you thought about how it will develop from this release?

We got most of the tracks in various stages of completion. We started out with around a dozen tracks and made the decision to split it into two. Some of these are near completion. Our goal is to have it ready to release in December, we’ll see if we can make that happen! In terms of styles, the next batch of tracks builds on what we’ve already established. We’re pushing the boundaries even further with our infusion of blues and country elements into the metal industrial sound. There’s one track that has a crazy organ solo that I’m particularly excited about, it’s got that same raw energy as an old Albert Collins or Muddy Waters track even though it’s an industrial track. We’re even lining up some guests for it. If you were a fan of our previous material, you’re gonna love this new release.

Derision Cult on Social / Streaming Platforms:



About Colette Josef

Check Also

Interview: Alicia Blue Finds Closure with Inner Child Work

Rising indie-folk songstress Alicia Blue calls on personal affairs and self actualization in her poignant …

%d bloggers like this: