Henry Derek interview for Hek82 podcast …
Act of Defiance’s new album:
“Old Scars, New Wounds”
Metal Blade Records
Henry Derek, Vocalist
Hek82: Hek82 podcasts, I’m talking w/ Metal musicians, and it’s so cool to have Henry Derek from the band Act of Defiance. How’s it goin’?
Henry Derek: Hey there! It’s goin’ like California Dreamin’ over here.
Hek82: Great to have you, I like the band Act of Defiance a lot.
Henry Derek: Awesome.
Hek82: It hasn’t been that long that you’ve been together but you’ve managed a really great sound, it’s very tight. Wasn’t it 2014 when you got together? Let’s see, isn’t that right?
Henry Derek: Um, yup it was a couple years ago now.
Hek82: I know the band has toured already. Consisting of two well-known ex- Megadeth players, Chris Broderick and Shawn Drover …
Henry: Those guys are famous!
Hek82: They’re totally famous, they’re so cool. They are truly incredible performers … and Matt Bachand the ex- bassist of Shadows Fall, and yourself of course an ex-vocalist of Scar the Martyr. All the members of the band are so great, and the sound you had achieved in Scar the Martyr was also great.
Henry Derek: Yes, I think I’ve heard of those bands. Well, thank you!
Hek82: I did get to see the band perform the first album “Birth and the Burial” and it was fantastic on tour! The new album which everyone is raging out is called “Old Scars, New Wounds” and it just came out last week. How long did it take to create the album?
Henry Derek: The making of the album … Well, I had a miserable time the whole time through. Just kidding! We somehow managed to have plenty of time to come together collectively and creatively, and you know everybody contributed riffs, and everybody wanted to be part of the process which is always a good thing. We wanted to have a more cohesive sound as a band, and we did that by taking enough time. The first record we did in about 3 months. So, we had time to really live with the songs, with pre- production. Chris and I did most of the pre- production and bounced lots of ideas to the other guys Shawn and Matt. I also brought in a friend, Steve White and to help with the vocals to get the final fix. Chris and I did most of our stuff here in LA we’re based here. So, it was a privilege that we did this.
Hek82: Well, what comes to my mind is that the name of the band, Act of Defiance is due to their both leaving Megadeth at the same time, did you ever think that it might happen again, did you ever have that Mustaine or Ellefson- like feeling? I imagine you all get along well.
Henry Derek: No! That was obviously a completely different situation, I mean- in this band we are all in good spirits. We all get along perfectly fine and nothing is weird or awkward. In bands, there may always have to be compromises or arguments or things of that nature, but you just work it out. A marriage-like commitment, once you commit you’ve got to be able to work it out. We’re not thinking about bands that our players came from. So, most of the time as adults we determine what is dumb drama, and we work everything out accordingly.
Hek82: I imagine that working with the two ex-Megadeth players that there is a whole lot of professionalism, real pros. All of you are very expert at putting music together. I hardly mean to suggest that there would be anything else factoring in. I don’t know what exactly prompted them to leave Megadeth, but that’s another story- so not wanting to get into any issues, I’ll just have to ask them myself next time I see them. When I listen to Act of Defiance, I hear a very good positive charge in the music and especially the performance. It is a great new start for such talent. Walking out of a past project and into a new project that is very good.
Henry Derek: That’s just how it happens. You can’t compare two completely different things like apples and oranges. They had their time in that band, and they did what they wanted to do and accomplished what they wanted to accomplish, and once that was done it was time to do something else, you know. The same goes for me, I’m just going to keep creating no matter what- I don’t care if there’s 5 people listening or 50,000! If you’re a musician it’s what you do. You may accumulate accolades along the way, and find that it is another step on a ladder. It would be a compliment to be compared to Megadeth.
Hek82: Absolutely. How did you get to know the band? Did they find you or did you find them?
Henry Derek: They found me. Stephanie saw me play and it was around the time I was looking for something to do. I was in another band called “Thrown Into Exile”, and we were in the midst of recording when I heard from Chris. So, I did some demos with them- and here we are!
Hek82: Yeah, and your vocals in “Scar the Martyr” were certainly impressive too. What a sound. They’re lucky they could find you. It brings to mind just what happens in the music industry these days, and players do change projects often, and they do change bands, and the fans are hanging on their every movement too. OMG, I can’t believe there was a change made- or my favorite player of the group dropped out … and there are great new projects beginning all the time. So, that’s kinda how everyone has to go with the flow!
Henry Derek: The way of the world. As I said earlier, I’ve had a firm stance in just being creative no matter what. If I can’t do that with a particular band, it’s not the end of the world if there’s a bump in the road. It’s hard out there to be part of the music world, or in the industry period. It’s not an understatement to say it’s not easy, a lot of people don’t realize what goes on behind the scenes. You’ve got guys out there who want to be the rockstars, they want to be the man, they want to be the shining star. That’s fine but to get there and do that- they might not be nice guys who tell you that you have to work for someone who says “do this and that“. It’s all up to you to say “okay” and agree to sell your soul and what for … for me, “no“. If you pay me a million dollars would I do a song and dance? Not likely feasible or realistic at all. Staying grounded is the number one thing for me. I know how this “sh**” works. One person isn’t as important as they may think. The bands themselves are bigger than the components, that’s the legacy. Household names like “The Beatles” or “The Ramones” that turned into monsters, or so says Rick Rubin (the producer). You just hope that in the process, the players don’t lose their minds, or become control freaks or ego- driven maniacs.
Hek82: The way you’re describing it gives a very good inside look at how the business is built around the players.
Henry Derek: But it’s human nature- it’s the way that people act in any realm not just music. It could be politics. Music isn’t the same but it’s like who you know or who you “blow“. It’s all relative.
Hek82: Well, it brings me back to what you said about the need that you have to express yourself and be creative as an artist. If they feel stifled by business or people or politics they may have a sense of desperation or the need to break away from the project or the band, I don’t know. It certainly is important though to be able to be creative, and breathe air and feel inspired.
Henry Derek: That’s all that matters. If you’re a musician you just do that, and you have to create your own path. You’ve gotta get to a point where you’re not worried about anyone else. I mean, you want to worry about the right things. Sometimes it’s difficult because there are so many things that get in the way and cast like- a huge shadow over you or whatever. Musicians sometimes feel weighed down, and money is often a factor. Although money should never have to be a thing. This isn’t a genre where it would be expected to make a lot of money at all.
Hek82: Now, as far as your voice- the vocals are sounding real strong. A metal voice, who are your favorite vocalists and contemporaries that inspire you?
Henry Derek: I listen to everything. As far as favorites, it gets complicated. I listen to everything from Glen Campbell to Neil Diamond, to King Diamond, to Black Sabbath, to Blondie. It’s all relative, I mean- if the music is good, then I want to listen to it. I wouldn’t eat Chicken Soup everyday either. I love Slayer but I don’t listen to it every single minute of everyday. As a vocalist, I like Life of Agony’s singer a lot, and Mark Lanegan the Seattle based guys especially Chris Cornell, may he Rest in Peace. Swedish Death Metal inspires me. Bands from the early to mid-90’s influenced me a lot in terms of the rough vocals and stuff like that. All over influence, vocally I’ve just always looked to different sounds- that’s how it works, like a natural progression really.
Hek82: Yeah, you really listen to a variety of music. Now, what about touring this new album? Have you got a tour mapped out, or are there certain bands that you definitely want to support and perform with?
Henry Derek: Yeah! We’re going to be hitting the road in early 2018 next year, so hopefully as early as Jan. or Feb. that’s kind of our goal so, if we have it my way we’ll be out there for the next year and a half. We really need to get busy on the road, and right now it’s just a matter of connecting the dots to make it happen. As far as direct support we really do want to go out and support bands in our genre who are making their mark. There are a lot of bands doing that, and I have so much respect for bands that really get out there and “do it”, you have to live it you know. It’s something that it’s beyond music- it’s performance, and really taking it to the people. It’s important as long as the people are there and they want it, it’s keeping the genre alive. That’s what we’ll be doing!
Hek82: Definitely, awesome! I imagine that you are happy to be a part of Metal Blade Records too I imagine with other great bands on the label.
Henry Derek: Absolutely, it’s a label that I grew up with and a lot of people grew up with. I use to save my lunch money to go to the mall and buy cassette tapes. I would buy whatever they had, being lucky in the bargain bin. Metal Blade, Century Media, Roadrunner, Relapse, all those labels made such a huge impact on me! The label has integrity and it’s great to be a part of the legacy. There are no shortage of great bands.
Hek82: Absolutely! Thank you so much for sharing with us, and about what it was like putting “Old Scars, New Wounds” together. What reason is the title of the album?
Henry Derek: It’s like everyday is a battle. It’s something everyday. I wake up everyday, I live in LA- and I see the sunshine but maybe clouds, even black clouds are following me around. Story of my life, just a cool f**kin title, so there you go!
Hek82: Great songs on the album, I like “Talisman” a lot, great video for that one too …
Henry Derek: Thanks!
Hek82: MIA is good, I can’t really compliment the album enough, I think it’s very nicely put together and great listening. A great one to own.
Henry Derek: Awesome, thank you I’m so glad that you like it.
Hek82: Incredible, very nice work by the band and I can’t wait to see you perform this one. I’ll look forward to it!
Henry Derek: Very nice and thanks for your support I appreciate it.
Hek82: Sure thing!
Henry Derek: Thanks to everyone who likes the record and if you hate it just blame Shawn Drover.
Hek82: Oh no, that’s doubtful. See you then!
Henry Derek: Thanks.