INTERVIEW: Despised Icon

Ever since they erupted onto the scene over a decade ago, DESPISED ICON have developed cult hero status as they championed the duel vocalist delivery and original deathcore sound. Now being back together after a lengthy break and with a brand new album, Beast, in tow, we took the opportunity to pick the brains of Alex Erian and Eric Jarrin on how they feel to be back and what everyone can expect from the new material.

This is the first time you guys are back on tour with new music, how does it feel?

Alex: It’s been such a long wait; our last record came out in 2009! Unfortunately we haven’t been able to play anything new tonight, but next times we swing by we will definitely play some new music live. I’m super excited about the whole process, how the record sounds…. just can’t wait for to play new songs.

Despised Icon live @ Impericon Festival, Manchester. Photo Credit: Christopher Ryan
Despised Icon live @ Impericon Festival, Manchester. Photo Credit: Christopher Ryan

Is there a new energy in the band then?

Eric: The vibe is completely renewed because we’ve gone back to basics. We started again because we wanted to be together and have fun and pay music together again.

When did the decision to write new music to come about?

Eric: When we did the renewal shows…

Alex: What happened was we all went to see our old bass player Max with his current band THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER and it was the first time that we all hung out together in like four years. It had been a good four years then next thing you know, we’re hanging out and remembering all the stuff we did and we needed to take a step back. Then we got to a point when we were all ready to invest in this project so we were like ‘let’s play some reunion shows’ so we did Impericon, a couple of festivals in North America, and I was astonished to see not only the old school die hard fans there to support us but a lot of fresh faces too. A lot of new people had heard of us or started listening when we broke up, so to see that many people show up and still care was very motivating for us.

Eric: People kept requesting new music as well, even though we weren’t touring much. That was the most common comment from fans. When we did the reunion shows we said ‘lets give it a shot, lets try and write new songs’ just to see how it goes. Alex already had a couple of ideas and it just brought it out naturally.

When you guys started writing again, was it difficult to get back into it or was the spark still there?

Alex: We’re normally two writing teams. It’s either Eric and myself or Eric and Grind [Drummer]. I know they have a different way to go about it, Eric and I have certain chemistry as well, and we have been in a band for so long that it just comes naturally now. The songs that Eric and Grind write are more technical, a bit faster, but if you want straight mosh then you wanna listen to what I’m writing. It’s how we get diversity on the record, it goes through different moods. One of my personal favourites that Eric and Grind wrote is called Grind Forever and it’s so in your face.

Despised Icon live @ Impericon Festival, Manchester. Photo Credit: Christopher Ryan
Despised Icon live @ Impericon Festival, Manchester. Photo Credit: Christopher Ryan

What can we expect from Beast?

Eric: Sheer brutality!

Alex: If you enjoyed the slammier, mosh worthy stuff of our older materials like Healing Process, then you’ll find a good mixture of that plus the speed and technicality of our more recent stuff. Revisiting the old, improving the new and mixing it all up.

Is that also the reason behind the title?

Eric: Yeah it is, the more we think about it the more it’s right!. It was like the spark to write some of the lyrics for Alex because the whole theme of the album is around this beast that’s been lying dormant for a few years. It translates to the band being stagnant for so long and it awakens and it destroys everything!

Alex: Very poetic Eric!

Alex, being chief lyricist for not only DESPISED ICON but also OBEY THE BRAVE, is it difficult separating the mind-sets when writing for each band?

Alex: Yeah, the topics are often very personal. What I appreciate about being in a band is the outlet for a lot of negative energy, and turning something negative into something positive. So this is my outlet, but this is what I do. The topics between each band are different; I don’t see the point in just writing the same stuff for both bands.

Eric: I always just assumed writing lyrics for OBEY THE BRAVE would be like writing for little girls and writing for ICON would be like writing for old fat dudes.

Does the new album allude to something more permanent within the band?

Alex: Yes, we’re back, but on our own terms. We are not, by any means a full time touring band. We can allow ourselves to take a weekend off or a week off from work and just make playing an event rather than a necessity.

Do you think the weekend festival will die out and be replaced by touring festivals like Impericon?

Alex: We were discussing this earlier, whilst playing festivals is cool, playing to loads of new fans that are here to see one band and don’t know about us, that’s how you win them over and it’s great. I think it would be better to play some headline shows to get longer set times, we only had half an hour tonight, when we’re out on a headline show we’ll play over an hour.

Eric: We enjoy playing in front of huge crowds as much as smaller shows so next time we’ll probably cram In a headine show.

Beast is set for release on July 22nd via Nuclear Blast Records.

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