Interview with vocalist and guitarist Dave Gorsuch
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: May 28, 2015
Of the dozens and dozens of Metal bands out there going by the Insanity moniker, San Francisco's version is the one that has impressed Metal fans all round the world. Dave Gorsuch has been leading these Death/Thrash mongers since 1985 through all the ups and downs including the untimely deaths of band members Joe DeZuniga and Bud Mills.
From a historical point of view, Insanity had a huge impact back in the underground tape trading days some 30 years ago. Members of Carcass and Napalm Death (among others) have cited Insanity as an influence and Napalm Death even did a version of "Fire Death Fate" for their Leaders Not Followers: Part 2 covers album.
Lately Insanity have been working on their second album titled Visions of the Apocalypse, to be released by both Dark Descent Records and Unspeakable Axe Records later this year.
The Metal Crypt reached out to the heart and soul of Insanity, Dave Gorsuch, to find out where they are at now with the current recording situation and when people with extreme Metal tastes should start expecting to reach for their wallets.
Luxi: Hey Dave, how are things in sunny California?
Dave: Hi Luxi, it's a little windy but not bad.
Luxi: As you have stated on Insanity's official Facebook page you have been working hard on Visions of Apocalypse for a long time and there's been some unexpected delays along the way. Can you tell us a bit more about the reasons behind these delays?
Dave: Bad timing as far as what was going on personally with the band members and the line-up in general. Some issues have involved a legal battle over child custody and some issues were health and work related. In addition, we didn't have a full line-up ready to record the rhythm tracks and we ended up making a line-up change before the backing vocals were recorded. I also had to travel and spend some time dealing with my mom passing away and the aftermath of that and lost a close friend a few months later.
Luxi: You have had a version of Visions of Apocalypse available for sale for quite a while now. It contains some old pre-production demos that you are now re-arranging for this official release of the album. Can you tell us about the differences between the songs on the two releases and what type of re-arranged material we are talking about?
Dave: Well the first version was recorded with our original drummer Bud Mills but it was done on three different drum sets during three different sessions over more than a year and they all sounded different. Since it was all old arrangements we intended to redo it with Bud after he rejoined in 2007 but he got sick with cancer before we could. After Bud died we decided to make those recording available to honor his memory and give the fans that waited a long time for something new to listen to. We only made it available through the website and at shows and we never considered it an "official" release.
Luxi: Were there specific details from the recording sessions of Visions of Apocalypse that you wanted to pay more attention to this time?
Dave: Yes, besides getting a consistent sound, we wanted to record the songs with the improvements we made to the arrangements to better reflect they way we have been playing them live for a while. I also wanted to take more time crafting better solos.
Luxi: Do you feel like recording Visions of Apocalypse was more like a collective work of each band member this time?
Dave: Not really. Apart from drums and some of vocals, I had to do almost all of the tracking myself. There was some collaboration on riffs old members contributed but not quite as much as when Joe was alive. I've been writing the majority of the music for a while now.
Luxi: Recording itself can cause some teeth-grinding and headaches due to a number of things. Did you face any minor or major setbacks when recording Visions of Apocalypse or were the recording sessions for this album some of the easiest and most painless yet?
Dave: Yes, there were quite a few tooth-grinding and headache-generating setbacks and it almost seemed like whatever could go wrong did go wrong at times. One early setback was we had to redo a drum track due to a lost file on the computer. Using an older system that crashed more than once and corrupted files was another pretty major setback. Tracking everything individually at a time when the band was taking a break was much more time consuming than I expected. Not to mention some of the riffs are very challenging and it takes some practice to be able to play them well enough to be able to record them. Redoing the guitar in a better studio since we weren't happy with the sound on the first attempt added a month. Then having to edit out little pops in the tracks took a lot time because of we were working with a composite sound made up of three mics/tracks instead of one so each edit had to be three times.
Luxi: The cover artwork for this new version of Visions of Apocalypse looks really stunning in my opinion. Do you believe it reflects the album's content well enough?
Dave: Yes. We spoke to the artist from the start about the lyrical content, especially on the title track, so she could reflect that in her designs. We're happy the label wanted her to do the cover and we think she did a great job.
Luxi: How did you find this artist named Danielle Gauvin to do the cover artwork? Was it Eric from Unspeakable Axe Records who suggested her? Had you seen any of Danielle's previous work that made an impression on you? How highly do you rate Danielle among other album cover artists and do you believe she's got some special gift that others may lack?
Dave: She worked with Dark Descent before and did some designs for their label showcase we played in Portland right before we started recording. The decision to work with her for our cover came from either Matt from Dark Descent or Eric as it is being co-released by both labels.
Luxi: Are the visions of apocalypse on this forthcoming Insanity record mostly fictional or does the album title have some sort of a political message about some of the worst scenarios for this (dying) planet hidden in it?
Dave: It started off as being fictional, receiving a Nostradamus-like prophecy, but I guess some of the lyrics we write could be viewed as being political as far as singing about the corporate elite only caring about their own greed and power/control.
Luxi: Are you afraid of some of the recent negative happenings in today's world? Do you think the human race will soon meet its destiny if things keep developing the same way they have been some years?
Dave: Well, I wouldn't use the word "afraid" as I try not to give into a "fear" type of thinking or consciousness but if you learn what's really going on, it's pretty disgusting. I can only hope the masses will awake to the hidden truths as far as why things are the way they are and hopefully we can bring about some change for the better and for future generations to come. Geez, I can't believe I sound like such a hippy, ha ha!
Luxi: As we Insanity fans know, your music has always been more or less complex, tricky and challenging. Do you believe as your guitar playing improved over the years you also wanted to challenge yourself resulting in Insanity's mix of Death Metal and Thrash Metal continually getting more complex and trickier?
Dave: I guess you are the type of person that has never really followed the path of least resistance, are you? Yes, we always wanted to challenge ourselves from the start as we thought that was a good way to get better although it took longer to be able to play some of the riffs. I surely do believe my song writing has improved and I will always strive to improve and learn or try new things. Yes, that is quite correct; somehow I always manage to make things harder on myself, ha ha!
Luxi: How well do you think the slogan "Not only do we put the "old" in "old school" but we put the "death" in "Death Metal!" fits the material on this forthcoming Visions of Apocalypse album?
Dave: Well it wasn't meant to be about this album as much as just being dark humor about the bands history and having two original members die. Although we always try to expand our style, I think we also keep the old school feel of Insanity music pretty well at the same time. We also have a song about what the last hours of one of our late band member's life was like as far as the "death" part goes.
Luxi: What kinds of elements make an Insanity song sound like an Insanity song, from your point of view? I know that you demand a lot from yourself as a musician as well as from your fellow musicians, hence this question ;o)
Dave: Apart from being picky as far as how good a riff is or having at least one good technical riff per song, I really try to stay away from any pattern or formula we might fall into because we try to make every song different from the all the others. I guess catchy changes or riffs that hook people are one of the things I try to have besides intense technical shredding riffs played really fast.
Luxi: When Visions of Apocalypse is finally out do you have any plans to go on tour to support and promote the release of this long-awaited Insanity album?
Dave: Playing live is most often the best way to get attention for your band and to make new fans, as you surely know. We do plan on touring more to support the album but we also wanted to generate some new buzz with its release as well as a split that Hells Headbangers is doing a vinyl release of to create better touring opportunities.
Luxi: The "A Night of Desecration" event was arranged on April 19th 2015 and Insanity was to be a part of it as the headlining act that night. It's been a long while since Insanity played live so did that make you nervous?
Dave: I don't really get nervous unless it's a big fest or something. Luckily, with our material and energy, we always manage to put on a good show.
Luxi: Do you have any personal "rituals" or routines that you go through before you go on stage to either calm down or get pumped up for an Insanity show? It's no secret many musicians have their own little rituals/routines before they go out and play live...
Dave: It kind of depends on how big the show is. Usually I like to get warmed up on guitar before I play. Other things I might do is think about some of the things I might want to say to introduce certain songs or try to remember to mention certain things. Sometimes I have so much adrenaline it's hard to remember everything you want to say when you are on stage.
Luxi: As far as I know, Insanity have never played outside of the States thus far. Will that change when you have the new album out? I am sure there's a big bunch of people outside of your home turf that would love to witness Insanity live someday.
Dave: That is true. The times we planned to play Mexico or Canada something fell through. Yes, getting this new album out is one of the things we are planning that will create a better situation for us to start playing overseas.
Luxi: What else is going on regarding Insanity? Is there still something that you'd like to achieve with Insanity in the distant future? Or would you rather not say too much so that people won't start expecting too much? Time will tell, right?
Dave: We have a whole new full-length album in the works we want to finish and record with a good producer. Except for some lyrics and leads, eight songs are ready to go. Although I usually wouldn't want to say much until things are further along, playing some bigger fests overseas would be something else we'd like to start doing.
Luxi: I guess that was it Dave, so congrats if you made it this far without taking any painkillers or anything, he he!! Thanks for taking some time with my questions and I want to sincerely wish you all the best with your future endeavors with Insanity. May Lady Luck be with Insanity on your way toward new victories. Any last comments perhaps?
Dave: How did you know I was on painkillers, ha ha jk. You're welcome, thanks for supporting Insanity! Hopefully we'll see you in person on the road sometime soon. We'll be updating the website at blacklungproductons.com/insanity if you want to check out the latest news, dates and merch. Thanks!
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