In an overly saturated world of political correctness comes Toronto hard rockers Daemon Grey who preach the words of sex, drugs and rock and roll.
The up-and-coming band is actually fronted by a singer who adopted the band name as his own. As Daemon Grey, the intelligent and well-spoken singer works his ass of on stage and in the studio to project as much evil, horror and good ol’ sex, drug and rock and roll to the music.
The band’s debut album, Follow Your Nightmares, is primed and ready for release on January 22. It’s an album packed with some punch and a whole lot of attitude.
Daemon checked in with 519 to shoot the shit before the album’s release.
COVID life obviously hasn’t slowed you down – with 3 singles and music videos released since May. What’s your take on the virus and how has it affected you?
Well, I’ve been told to keep somewhat of my opinions close to myself but fundamentally, I think that there’s some fishy business going on right now and there’s a lot of corruption in the world, unfortunately, but for me, I know that what I need to do is just to stay focused on making music and bringing authentic emotion and soul and everything to the world. I think that’s why I’m alive and the purpose of my life. So, I try not to get too hung up on all the details, just try to stay focused and with all of the COVID virus stuff, it’s given me a lot of time to write music and really focus. So, it’s been some blessings underneath everything.
You mentioned on Facebook that you’re writing songs about the pandemic and the system. Are these just screw the system type songs or do they specifically target COVID?
Yeah, I’m writing one. It’s all early days but I’m basically writing one which is going to have some anger in it associated with people essentially telling you how to live your life and getting to the point where you can’t even do a lot of the things that you want to do in your life. It’s like don’t you dare tell me how I’m supposed to take care of myself and how I’m supposed to take care of my health and what I’m allowed to do and what I’m not allowed to do, right? So it’s kind of that vibe.
Awesome, I can’t wait to hear it.
It’s called, Don’t You Dare. I’m a death metal fan and a deathcore fan but Daemon Grey stuff isn’t super heavy. It’s nowhere near deathcore, death metal but this one I’m like, fuck it, I’m going to make it basically as heavy and angry as I physically can. So we’ll see how it goes.
Your debut album “Follow Your Nightmares” comes out this month. What does Follow Your Nightmare mean to you?
Follow Your Nightmares means to me, basically following your fear and going into your fear instead of avoiding your fear. And my opinion is love in its truest sense is the absence of fear. Love is strong and it requires courage and I think to truly be a loving being, you have to legitimately go into your fears directly, whatever scares you, fight it, attack it, go into it, face it, and confront it. You can’t just avoid these things, so it’s a double meaning, Follow Your Nightmare, it’s a bit of a spooky seductive vibe but it’s also in a deeper meaning, it’s really uncovering your truth, uncovering your purpose, uncovering love. And I think that’s what’s so attractive about dark music and heavy things and horror and all of that is it’s about going into the darker parts but the flip side of that is it’s really about going into love as well.
The cover features a pretty powerful image. Was it COVID inspired?
No, that was just some photo shoots I do. And we just had cool pics in the masks, but that was before all the COVID stuff, actually.
For those that haven’t experienced Daemon Grey yet, how would you describe your music?
It’s a good question. I mean, for me, the most important thing is I’m just trying to bring authentic and energy and authentic soul into music. When you think about music, there’s almost two distinctions, there’s laboratory created music or music created with an agenda in mind and that sort of stuff. And then there’s the authentic soul music that is really from your deepest emotions and your deepest heart. And for me, a lot of heavy music is that and I would say that soul music was the most important aspect of my life ever growing up. So regardless of what I’m making, if it’s just a song about sex or whiskey or the devil or something fun, it’s still coming from a place of authenticity that I would never, ever negate. So, I mean, for me, it’s like, okay, let’s make some fun badass music, let’s make some rock music we can dance and we can party to but always making sure it’s coming from a real place. I’d say that’s how I would describe it.
Tell me about the song King of Sin. What inspired that?
Well, I was actually writing a ballad originally and the ballad was pretty cool but it was just too slow. So we kept trying to speed it up, speed it up, speed it up and then eventually I was like, let’s make it heavier, heavier, heavier. And we ended up having to completely remake the song from being a ballad to a heavy headbang and rock and roll song. And then I had to rewrite the lyrics and the melodies because it was no longer like the sad ballad we’re trying to make. And I just wanted to come up with something to enter the scene with a bang, I wanted to think of something really badass that had never to my knowledge been a thing. And a little bit tricky because almost every single thing has been used in heavy metal, you look at every Rob Zombie or Marilyn Manson song, it’s like every single type of statement about like the devil or this and that is in use. And I was like, what is something cool and unique and King Of Sin came to mind.
So it was like a semi-drunk dream that I had. When I think about sin, I mean, in the classic form, as in the adversary to Christian beliefs, I think about sin as just living your true life and living a life of freedom, doing what feels good. Obviously there’s a million definitions of the word sin but for me, that’s what it represents, that’s what the song represents.
In the music video, you sit in a throne chair, did you feel like a badass sitting in that chair?
That day was one of the best days of my life and I honestly felt ridiculously grateful for my life because I went from just never being taken seriously for my music writing abilities and my ideas and concepts to being in LA with a fully funded music video, top class factors and models on a fucking throne and I was like, it wasn’t even like an ego thing for me. I was actually just grateful to have these people around me and to finally be creating what I’ve always wanted to create and what I would deem as the purpose of my life. So, yeah, it was a pretty sweet day.
Well, I have to say the chair does give the song that added dose of evil to it.
Well, I mean, its right in the song, so it’s hard to make a video to King Of Sin without a big ass throne.
Do you have a favourite evil character from history or fiction?
Ooh, that is a very good question. I would have to say Dracula because he’s the first horror character that really combined seduction with horror and he really took things to a new level, like combining the scary with the sexual components, which is my favorite part about horror. If you read the original Dracula book, it’s legitimately frightening and it’s a legitimate horror book and it came out of nowhere, this whole concept of the vampire and being redone obviously a bunch of times.
You’ve got three killer producers at the helm on Follow Your Nightmare. What did each one bring to the album and how did you connect with them?
Gavin Brown, he was the first guy that I ever met that really saw what I was trying to do and saw the vision instantly. Before him, I had been working with people I could afford myself and just running around but then I finally decided like, okay, I really need to step it up. And I knew I wouldn’t be able to afford some big, hot shot producer but I just decided to swing for the fences anyways. And I was really lucky to meet Gavin, I just basically cold called him and he took a meeting with me, from some demos that I sent him and I had Stoned & Alone and I Don’t Want To Grow Up. I wrote these songs with my mouth and I basically just showed him and sang for him on the spot. And yeah, it was a really special day. He just looked at me and he gave me the head nod, he brought some other people in the room and it was a thing from there.
So Gavin taught me a lot about writing music. He basically killed the OCD perfectionism aspect of probably every new artist trying to make music like, over thinking things and he taught me how to simplify music and simplify lyrics, he showed me so much about making music and we just really had a deep, deep bond in every aspect of melodies and lyrics. I had never experienced that with someone before and that was really, really awesome and special. From there, the album moved towards working with Mike Riley, who is out of LA. He basically makes them produce half the album along with Gavin Brown. Mike did, he brought another element, more of an industrial modern sound and element.
He’s worked with a lot of the top pop and trap producers but also people like Marilyn Manson and I just learned a lot from him as well. Totally different style and totally more raw edgy vibe. So both those guys taught me so much and they both really added a cool dynamic flare to the album and that’s why each song is its own vibe and has its own flare and production value.
Why did you choose to embrace the darker side of your music?
Well, I’ve always been into dark and heavy music since I was 10 years old, I just became obsessed with it. For me, the counterculture of having music was everything, like in elementary school, to me it resonated to me on a soul level, it was resonated as truth and power and strength and attitude. What I saw around me with friends, family and kids in grade five, the music was so much stronger and felt more real than everything around me and it was and still is just the most powerful influence. And from a darker element, when I think about black metal, I think about Satanism or counterculture stuff. For me growing up, that was all very positive and classic Satanism, like the Satanic Bible type thing. If you read that, it’s actually a pretty loving book.
It’s just about the fact that, it’s really just an add in opposition to the corruption of monotheistic Christianity. So, I’ve always viewed Satanism as a positive thing in celebrating our freedom, celebrating our truth and celebrating our independence away from the corruption of monotheistic religions and I also just find evil art to be really beautiful and just awesome. So yeah, the evil stuff for me has always just been positive. Yeah, it’s always been a really positive aspect to me.
Sex, drugs, rock and roll and even touches of horror run throughout the music. Does the horror and energy transfer over to your live shows?
Yeah, totally. I think horror is connected to who we are as primal human beings. Getting closer to our mortality and getting closer to death is very positive and beneficial to us as human beings, like ignoring scary things and ignoring death. It’s kind of the opposite of going into your fear, it’s the opposite of following your nightmares. In terms of a live show, whatever the song is, I just go into a flow state of that song and adopt that energy. I have a song called, I Like to Taste the Blood and that’s a song about horror and when we were playing shows, I’d always bring a knife or my fucking Wolverine claw on stage but I’m not sure if I should do that because I probably could get charged for carrying a deadly weapon but so far so good. If it’s a song about horror or song about a sexual vibe or something, I’m definitely trying to just portray the vibe of the music.
Do you think the band and live shows will develop theatrically? The music and lyrics certainly lend themselves to something very visual.
Yeah, I think so. The live theatrics, to be honest, I’m pretty new to all of that, I definitely would want to incorporate a lot more of that as we go. I think that’ll happen organically, hopefully with touring and bigger shows and bigger audiences and bigger budgets and all that stuff. So I, 100% would love to explore it, one of the ideas, I mean, it’s not a super novel idea but having black and white horror playing on a screen behind the band if we’re doing a song about horror or take it from there and maybe think of some things that no one else has thought of but I don’t necessarily know yet. I know for starters, I like the idea of just letting the music and the musicianship speak for itself at first.
I like how, if you look at how Pantera did it, it was the heaviest most extreme live show ever and it was just people being off struck by Phil and the musicianship of the band just literally blowing people away. And it wasn’t really until late ‘90s, reinventing the steel tour that Pantera really had all the huge flames and everything and by that time they were already considered the best, pretty much live metal band in my opinion, that has ever been in existence. I think focusing on the live just rock at first and then incorporating things organically as we go.
I bet you can’t wait to play live again. When was your last show?
I think it was in March of this year. It was actually a really good show. It was in Hamilton, Ontario. And then we did a live stream a week or two ago, which was cool but I have to admit I’m really not into the virtual stuff too much.
Well, you don’t get that vibe from your audience that you do live, right?
Yeah. It almost defeats the whole purpose of why we’re doing this. To me, the live aspect is bringing your energy into a physical space and you’re sharing that with other people physically and that’s where the magic starts to flow and that’s the whole point. So I have mixed feelings about it.
What’s the next single coming up and why did you choose that specific song?
The next single that’s coming out on January 22nd with the album is called Isolated. I wrote this song a number of years ago now with a guy named Kevin Thrasher and I think we want it to come with a bit more of a mature song with the album release and just a bit of a different look at the band as opposed to everything being like me running around without a shirt on just screaming. This one, I think it’s more timely and especially the lyrics behind the song definitely play into what’s going on in the world. I wrote the song obviously before COVID and everything but the song itself is just about choosing a path of strength, which can lead to isolation but being okay with that and pushing through independently. So I think that it’s timely and that’s why we chose it as well to help people resonate with it and show them a bit more of a mature side of the band.
I hear that your thoughts on cannabis are pretty strong. How so?
I’ve done a lot of work with shamans and plant medicines and I take plants and psychedelics very seriously, which you have to give them the respect they are due and I just think marijuana has been somewhat commoditized to just being like taking a shot of alcohol or something like that. I just think it’s really important to remember that marijuana is a sacred plant and it affects your spirit and it needs to be consumed in a way that respects the spirit of the plant.
So, I wrote that song from that angle and also just the fact that weed has been so instrumental in my mental state, my creativity, basically every part of my life and that was before the stigma of weed really changed. So, I mean, even though it can be seen as a party drug, weed is absolutely critical to a lot of people’s mental health and I just try to write a more serious ode to that side of weed as a sacred plant.
Which is awesome, not many people tackle that.
I have an on and off relationship with weed as I’m sure a lot of people do, as your mind and your spirit changes over time, different things resonate and different things don’t. Lately, I haven’t been taking in as much but it just played such a critical role in my teenage upbringing years that, I’ve got to love it till the day I die.
Lastly, I’ve never seen a rocker so attached to his cat. Tell me about Mystic.
Well, I always wanted a pet growing up and I could tell you some embarrassing stories. Like I used to sneak into my neighbor’s lawn like every day to go hang out with their dog and I would name my neighbor’s dogs, I’d give them my own name and I would literally name and take care of stripe frogs. I just wanted a pet so bad and my parents had their reasons to not get pets, which obviously I wasn’t so thrilled about. And then when I moved out on my own and everything, I could never really justify taking care of a dog and it’s like, I’m running around.
I would feel bad and then I finally got to a place in my life where I was just like, okay, it is goddamn fine to get a fricking pet. I’ve waited way too long so I decided to go the cat route, open my eyes and my mind to getting over being too tough to get a cat. And honestly, Mystic has just taught me a lot about myself and brought out some of my weaknesses that I deal with. Life with a pet is better than life without a pet. It’s just been really nice.
I love that you wrote her a song.
I had to, right? Yeah, it’s weird, having a pet, it brings out your own personality and some of your own flaws as a human being that’s never lived with anyone else. And sometimes I look at myself and I’m like, oh man, how I’m treating her is a reflection of myself right now and you can just be treating her with love, singing her love songs.