Daniel Dismal: The MWR Interview
The first metal show I went to after moving to Los Angeles was Ghost Bath with Underling and He Whose Ox is Gored. It was a little venue called The Complex in Glendale, and unfortunately, it's gone now. The ticket was maybe $15, about as much as the Uber ride over there. I was pretty broke at the time and still pretty new to the city. I had one beer, but couldn't really afford any merch.
It was one of the single best shows I ever saw.
It was like high-art. There were no moshpits. It wasn't aggressive. It was simply a group of people, couldn't have been more than 100 of us, watching a few bands pour themselves out onto that stage.
I came with an acquaintance. "That's him," he said as he nudged me with a beer up to my face. The beer sloshed around my nose and I lowered the glass.
"That's the guy responsible for just about every metal show in Los Angeles." He pointed to Daniel Dismal. Daniel was standing at the back of the crowd with his cane mingling with a small crowd around him. Immediately, I was enamored with Church of the 8th Day.
I saw Daniel again years later at an Aborted/Cryptopsy show in Downtown LA. He played with his band Crematorium and had some interesting things to say to the crowd while he was on stage. There were two bits that really stuck out to me. One of them is discussed below in this interview, the other was a signal of culture. Let me preface his statement by saying that the response to his band is... mixed to say the least. He talked on that stage about how we were the ones coming out weekend after weekend to these shows, about how we were the ones buying merch, about how we were buying drinks and tipping the bartenders, about how we were keeping this circle, this family alive.
"You may not like what I do, most don't, but I like what you do."
He gave me a hug after the show was over and I was headed out the door.
With the introduction of the coronavirus into our every day lives, as I'm sure you know, the metal community, and the live music industry at large has taken an enormous hit. Shows have been canceled or rescheduled left and right. Bands have been struggling; venues have been struggling. So, I thought I'd reach out to the man once introduced to me as the the guy responsible for just about every metal show in Los Angeles to see if he'd answer some questions for us. He was kind enough to oblige. You can read the interview in entirety below.
For the underground, by the underground
Can you tell me in your own words what Church of the 8th Day is and what you do?
Church of the 8th Day is a collective of ideas that have one direct mission, to provide events
within Los Angeles, and sometimes, beyond those borders, with a moral high-ground. We strive
to cultivate artists, provide quality line ups, push for new boundaries, and make our space within
the entertainment field viable, and forward thinking. “What (do we) do?”, we do exactly that. We
are a haven for creative endeavors. We are a proponent of expression without being a detriment
upon said expression.
You mentioned at the Aborted/Cryptopsy show in 2019 that a show you played with
Crematorium was a less than satisfactory experience and that was a reason you started Church
of the 8th Day. Can you elaborate on that feeling and what the mission started as?
The statement I made on stage was rooted in me being a front-man of a band that wasn’t
seeing a reaction from the crowd. It’s hard to be up there, giving it your all and people aren’t
responding. The simple fact is that CREMATORIUM is a band that has been ridiculed within Los
Angeles for our style, my sense of morals, not being to Death Metal, nor being to anything else.
We have always flown the flag of Los Angeles, though, at times, Los Angeles seemed to
abandon us. Since we regrouped, we saw a lot of respect tossed our way, and selfishly, that
night, I felt the old days creeping upon us. I made a call out, and again, selfishly so. People
have the right to not engage, I always know that, I just was, well... a little salty.
As for the mission of Church, again, it was started to go against the grain of stylistic fads. To
bring up artists because of their music, not how the times saw them. I have stood behind bands
based upon their musical impact, even if that impact was not felt by the crowd.
This goes hand in hand with my statement that I work to cultivate, and not bastardize a popular
genre at the time.
Do you have a specific methodology or process for bringing bands in? Do they reach out to you
or vice versa?
When I was working in venues as a Front of House engineer, I would see bands and witness
something, so I would go after them and state, “you can be something, let me help you!”. I still
do this, but not as much. I have bands, as well as acts, come to me, they send me music, and I
listen, I feel, and if I think I can place them, I do. Does this mean that bands that send me their
work that I am not working with are less than? No, NEVER no. It means I might not have
something for them, at the time. I pride myself, once again, in cultivation. An awesome act might
contact me and I am not seeing a placement for them as I like to curate what I do. I don’t just
stack bands on bands haphazardly in order to fill a night. That’s not me. Others do it, all good, I
am not hating, but, for ME, that’s not how I work. I would rather put a band on ONE awesome
show that garners them new fans and puts them in forward momentum OVER putting them
filling a slot, just because I need to fill it.
How do you feel about the current state of the LA metal scene? Or the metal scene as a whole?
I am asked this a lot, and my thoughts are always, the scene is alive, but the scene is what we
all make of it. The bands, the fans, the clubs, the promoters. It’s, as simple as the Lion King, a
circle of life. I have never felt like I dictate the scene. I, again, feel like I curate and help move it
along, but, the scene is dictated by every single person that resides within it. So, I ask, what do
people think of the scene? Do you seem something wrong? Well, why not step up and help
change it, because you might hold the key to a better tomorrow.
It’s obvious when you’re on stage how much you love the music. If anything, what are you trying
to affect in the scene locally and as a whole?
Action!!! I always want to express my own self on stage, but, I also want people to feel as if they
can do something. You see something you do not like, take action. We all hold the power to do
something. I am no better than anyone in the audience. When you see something you do not
agree with, and you feel you have another way to do things, step up, make a change!
You often have multiple shows a day. How long did it take to get to this point of success?
Well, they’re not always success stories. The thing is, tour routings conflict, and I try my best. I
try to bring together packages, when it makes sense. I never book a “local” night against a tour
package, unless the genre’s are completely different and the local package is something that I
was working on beforehand. I don’t stack nights in the guise of being a big shot, which is
backended in trying to make “cash” on multiple events. I despise not being able to be at my
events. I take pride in my events. I want to be there. When it comes down to 2 events in one
night, it’s because it NEEDS to happen. If I had my choice, it would never, ever happen.
Any plans to bring back Murderfest?
I was planning on a light launch of the fest in August, but given the pandemic and the live
entertainment venue rollouts, I am going to have to push it back. I am proud that Murderfest has
held a place in people’s hearts, though the last event was in 2009. I mean, come on, people
remember, 11 years later, I am a PROUD fucking papa. I am so enamored by the fact that
people remember, and want it back.
... but with that being said, I also guard that fest heavily. I have been offered to bring it back, sell
the name off, make a buck, but I never will do it. I will bring it back, WHEN I FEEL IT MAKES
SENSE. I felt that sense in 2020, with a soft launch, but again, times are holding it back, so,
we’ll get there, when we get there, when it makes sense.
What advice do you have for kids or anyone really trying to be a part of the scene and culture?
Do you. Do not try to belong. Don’t jump a ship for the sake of “belonging”. The scene is a
subversive culture. If you feel like you have a side of you that does not conform to what is the
“norm” within the scene you want to be a part of, DO NOT throw that away. When I was a kid
coming up in this culture, there were “weirdo’s” within the weirdo’s. We all started as black
sheep and maybe your shade of black is another shade of black. Don’t try to fit in. NEVER try to
fit in. Be the best you before you try to be the best them.
With current lock down orders in place, what have you been doing with your time?
Cooking, thinking, trying to figure out how to work within a new system, one that has not been
defined. I have a lot of people pitching me ideas, but, as I have always done, I am divisive. I
don’t jump, I look, I see, I work within. This is why I have been here so long.
How can we support local venues during quarantine?
A lot have GoFundMe’s, I actually launched a t-shirt campaign to help raise funds for venue
workers as well. It’s all up in the air though. For me, I will say, just be ready to support, the
venues will need it because without their walls, we have no structures to worship our music
What do you think recovery in the metal underground will look like going forward?
I wish I had the answer, because I need it myself. Bottom line is perseverance. I remember
when our culture was shunned away from Los Angeles, or, we had to attend shows where
bands were ticket peddlers, but, we found a way. Yes, I put out that way, in many facets, BUT,
we ALL were the way. Recovery comes with sound minds, great movements, and, a “we are all
in this, TOGETHER” attitude.
Do you have any advice for bands or even fans to get through this?
You’re not alone.
The bands, CREATE. Work within yourselves in order to do something you might have not done
before. Use this time, use it wisely.
The fans, STAY steadfast. Remember the scene, what it gives to you. I know it seems like it’s
not coming back, but, IT WILL. I will guarantee, IT WILL!!