Murder Death Kill have a lot to be angry about. On their second album, ‘Instigate Infiltrate Annihilate,’ the Victorville, CA-based rockers deliver track after track of pure anger aimed at the state of the modern world, the difficulties of touring, and the superficiality of other bands in the hardcore scene. Guitarist “Pitbull” Dan Banura’s heavy slabs of downtuned distortion pave the way for the unrestrained vocal rage of Sean Bennet and Aaron .45 throughout the record.
Dan was kind enough to have a quick phone chat with us as Murder Death Kill made their way through heavy traffic on the eve of the band’s run on the Over the Limit II tour. Head below to check out our conversation about the new album, fake hate, and bands that are keeping hardcore alive.
How’s it going?
We’re on our way to Buffalo, NY right now, and we’re trying to get around this traffic and take back roads to get there, you know what I mean?
Yeah. You guys are playing with Blood Stands Still tonight, right?
And you’re also about to head out on the Over the Limit II tour with Bury Your Dead, Evergreen Terrace, and a lot of other bands. Excited?
Yeah, we’re pretty excited about it. Yes, of course we are. [laughs]
Which of the other bands are you looking forward to playing alongside on that tour?
Pretty much all the bands. We’re pretty much friends with a lot of the bands. You know, like Hundredth. I’ve known Bury Your Dead from when they first came to the West Coast. It’s really a fun tour. It’s going to be like a big party, basically. [laughs]
That seems like a pretty awesome lineup; there are a ton of bands on that tour. I know that you guys place a lot of importance on the intensity of your live show. Could you tell us about a few of the craziest gigs you’ve ever played?
San Antonio was really crazy when we played there. San Antonio is pretty awesome. McAllen, TX — usually Texas is really amazing for us. [asks bandmates in the car if there are any other crazy places they’ve played] Oh yeah, San Diego; I always forget San Diego. San Diego’s fucking awesome. San Diego, Pomona. Our last show in Omaha was pretty intense, too. Albuquerque fucking goes the fuck off, also. Arizona’s usually good for us. San Antonio, realistically, is the one that stands out above all. We just played Denver; Denver was fucking out of control. Usually all of our shows are pretty good. Sometimes, depending on if there’s a million shows going on at the same time… [breaks off to discuss traffic with bandmates] Sorry about that. But yeah, we usually do good everywhere we play. There’s a couple states, a couple towns, that are like, “Wow, these dudes are kind of crazy,” but for the most part it’s really good.
Do you guys try to interact with the audience a lot?
We try. It depends on how the crowd is. The crowd pretty much knows that when you come to one of our shows, you know what you’re getting involved in. You’re here to fucking go the fuck off; you’re here to get all your aggression out. You came to the show to get it out; that’s why you’re here, and that’s what our show’s for. We’re not here to fucking be the next big thing that’s talked about on Twitter or hang out with your girlfriend or watch a show. It’s just pure fucking violance, pure fucking get it out of your system.
Do you think that you guys wrote the songs on ‘Instigate Infiltrate Annihilate’ with live performance in mind?
I wouldn’t say that. There are a lot of sing-along parts and a lot of group chant parts, but we’re just following up the last record, and we tried to make it a little more intricate, not so easy. The last record was really, really heavy; this one has a lot more fast songs, more hardcore elements, I would say, rather than just heavy elements. Basically, with this new record, we had more time to write it. We wanted to add more elements to it, rather than just all breakdowns. I hope that for earlier fans that like our band, it doesn’t turn them away. I don’t think it will. We’re just trying to add more to it this time, rather than keeping it simple, like last time.
So you’re saying it’s more of a technical release?
Yeah, it’s definitely more uptempo. There are more fast songs on it, more fast parts on it. There’s just more things going on. The lyrics are crazier; the vocal patterns are crazier. It’s just a more mature record.
You’ve said that there’s a lot of fake hate in modern music.
What kind of things fuel the anger that your music is based on?
Honestly, what fuels the anger is just — bands fuel the anger; people that come to shows fuel the anger. Things that happen to us day to day — trying to find work, trying to fucking make some money, trying to fucking survive, trying to be a band. All of that, all together, fuels it. Fake hate — it’s all these bands that are singing like they’re all angry and this and that when it’s like, “You have nothing to be angry about. What are you trying to prove by doing what you’re doing? You ain’t doing shit.” Everyone in this band works hard, doing what we need to do to be able to tour. Touring is not easy. No one has money to fucking spend to fucking travel and do this shit. It’s a struggle to do what we do, but we love to do it, so that’s why we do it. If we’re going to be in a band, we might as well be about what we’re about. Basically, it’s like, if we’re going to do this, we’re going to go all the way or don’t do it at all.
With that in mind, is playing live a release for you?
It’s totally a release. Basically, our live show is our chance to say what we want to say, to say what we feel, and get it out. When we’re done, it’s kind of like we’ve got a weight lifted off of our chests. We’ve been doing this for a long time in other previous bands, and this band is the over the top “fuck you” to everything. That’s what I want to say to everything. I fucking hate a lot of the shit that’s going on in the world in general, in this nation in general, everything. It’s not a good time for anybody right now. If you have something to be happy about, that’s awesome, but for us, we don’t have shit to be happy about, so I’m going to let it out in my music. If people feel it, cool, if they don’t, then that’s too fucking bad, I guess.
From a lyrical perspective, are there any specific topics that you guys talk about on any of the songs off the new album?
We don’t have specific instances. A lot of bands talk about their girlfriends or about some bullshit like that. No, we just have general frustration for this whole fucking life that we’re living, and we get it out through the lyrics. We don’t have like, “Something happened, and we’re going to sing about it.” No, we don’t really have a lot of stuff like that that we’re singing about. It’s just generalization of fucked up shit that’s going on. We’re just trying to put it out through our music and through our lyrics. People will be able to relate, no problem.
That’s just the way I look at it.
Do you have any favorite tracks on the new record?
I would say my favorite tracks would be “Hatred for Mankind;” “Hunt to Kill” is a good one. Pretty much all of the tracks, if you listen to them, are all good. I don’t really have one I favor over another one. As far as when we play live, we’re trying not to play a lot of the new songs, just because the record hasn’t come out yet. On this tour, we might play the two songs we have up on the Facebook, but as far as the rest of them, everybody wants to hear stuff off of the old record because they haven’t heard the new one yet. On this tour, we’re basically just focused on playing the old stuff, with a couple of new songs. They’re not really giving us much time to play on this tour, so we’re just trying to cram as many old songs and new songs as we can in the set.
The album flows really well from one song to the next. Was it a goal of yours to make it very consistent throughout?
Yeah. When you listen to a lot of records now, you can’t really tell the difference from song to song. I won’t name any names, but one record we were listening to on the way on this tour, every song sounded like a nu-metal song. There’s no difference between the songs. It’s basically nu-metal, nu-metal, breakdown, nu-metal, nu-metal. On our record, we’re trying to make each song different, but each song flow together, if that makes any sense… Oh my God, we’re on a road that ends in fifteen-hundred feet right now.
Oh yeah. Oh my God. We’re supposed to be in Buffalo in like an hour and we’re still two hours away. [laughs] Dealing with traffic and shit.
Oh man, that sounds like the worst.
Yeah, it’s the worst. But yeah, that was the whole thing with this record. We were trying to make it so that every song is different, but it all flows together. I feel we did a really good job with this record… [discusses traffic with bandmates] Goddamn! But yeah, this is weird, man. Fucking driving during this interview at the same time is fucking nerve-wracking.[laughs] Yeah, sorry about that.
[laughs] We’re in the woods right now, and we’re about to get stuck is what’s going to happen. I’m losing my mind here.
What other hardcore bands do you see as genuinely keeping the genre going strong, that aren’t playing music based on fake hate?
I would say The Acacia Strain is one that isn’t fake at all. Vincent [Bennett] is a very fucking angry person, so I would say that’s one band that’s keeping shit alive. Shattered Realm — there’s a lot of underground bands, like Line of Scrimmage, bands in California like World of Pain, The Black Path. A lot of the underground bands are the ones that are keeping shit real. A lot of bigger bands that have started to get signed to labels, they’re just candy coated bands. Hammerfist is another one of those good bands that are still keeping shit alive. There’s a band out of Boise called Brawl. They’ve been doing it for a long time; they’re still keeping it real. A lot of these bands that the labels are picking up, they’re looking for a flavor of the month. If they can find it marketable, they’re going to sign it and do shit for it. Whereas bands out there that are busting their asses, trying to make something for themselves, trying to do something for themselves, they don’t even give them the time of day. We’re pretty lucky that Mediaskare picked us up and was really interested in us because we’re not a very marketable band. Our music is not very marketable; there’s a very narrow range of people who are into the band. We’re thankful for what we’ve got, and we’re thankful for what we’re doing.
It’s definitely good to hear that there are still a lot of people trying to make good music, even if they’re not getting as much success as other bands.
Yeah, it’s the whole hardcore mentality. Doing it for themselves, doing it because they want to do it, not because they’re like, “Oh, I’m going to be fucking making money off of this shit,” or, “Oh, I’m cool; I’m going to get girls because I play in a band.” Fuck all that shit. We do this because it’s what we fucking love to do. This is our fucking way of getting our fucking frustrations out, and this is why we do what we do. It’s not like a trend to us; it’s not like something cool to do. This is what we love to do, and that’s it.
Cool. What kind of gear are you using to get that really heavy guitar tone?
Old Mesa. [laughs] Old Mesa Dual Recs, and Mesa 4×12 cabs. I have endorsements through ESP. Believe it or not, we have a lot of endorsements. My brother has a Spaun and Paiste endorsement, we have a Schecter endorsement for bass, ESP for guitars, and Mesa for amps. Old Mesas are the shit. Nothing will ever mess with that stuff.
Yeah, I love the tone you can get on those amps. It’s just huge.
Yeah. On the record we used a rack mount Dual with a Mesa oversize cab, and that’s how we got that sound. Have you heard the record yourself?
Yeah, I have.
Yeah, I was kind of bummed out because — have you heard ‘Fuck With Us,’ the first record we have?
No, I actually have not, unfortunately.
Okay, well, that record sounds even crazier just because the way the guy mixed it sounds so much better, to me. But we used the same exact gear on both records. [laughs] It’s kind of weird.
Yeah, that is pretty weird. As the only guitarist in the band, how do you ensure that your sound is just as heavy when you’re playing live?
Well, I use my live rig when I record. [laughs] I don’t use any of that Axe-Fx bullshit. A lot of other bands use Axe-Fx. I won’t use fake stuff. Basically, what you hear on the recording is what you’re going to hear live. We use our live setup in the studio. We don’t say, “Oh man, we need this kind of a drum sound,” or, “We need this kind of guitar sound.” We’re like, “Record our stuff, and that’s what it’s going to sound like,” and so far it’s coming out fucking good, so there’s no reason to change. A lot of bands use those digital — like I said, Axe-Fx — that just sounds fake. It doesn’t have a real sound to it. I guess, we just try to be real. [laughs] It’s just what we prefer.
So you don’t do very much layering on the recordings?
No, we don’t. Basically, not at all. It’s just one path on the left and one path on the right. Wham, there you go. We recorded on Pro Tools, but the way we did it, when you open up a track, you record a stereo track. So we have two mics on one speaker, and you make that your stereo track. I record bands, also. That’s basically how we got the sound. Everybody was trying to get us to use different stuff when we were recording, and we just wouldn’t do it because we wanted it to sound like us and not every other band.
That’s a pretty good mentality about it, sticking to what you’re best at.
Yeah. We try to do our best! [laughs]
Pick up Murder Death Kill’s new album, Instigate Infiltrate Annihilate.
For the band’s upcoming tour dates, check out their Facebook page.