Demonic Battle Mom: Dana's Return
CoC interviews Dana Duffey of Demonic Christ
by: Alvin Wee
Followers of the old death metal scene might do a double take at hearing the name of Demonic Christ these days, but old habits die hard, and the semi-cult figure of Dana Duffey is once again poised to loom over the hungry underground. Formed in 1992 from the ashes of the infamous all-girl Mythic, Demonic Christ has virtually been the solo project of Dana, with various musicians completing the line-up on three demo tapes and one under-promoted full-length. With a somewhat stable line-up established, the band has been steadily encroaching on epic black-metal territory, a distinct move away from their familiar guttural rumblings. Limited to a mere 250 hand-numbered copies, the band's latest release _Demonic Battle Metal_ on Cryonics Records may be annoyingly elusive, but the impressively epic, martial music on offer makes it well worth the effort to seek out. As murmurs of a new release began to spread, I managed to hook up with Dana herself for a fascinating chat...

CoC: Greetings, Dana! How's your daughter doing? Is she gonna become a regular metalhead like her mom?

Dana Duffey: Hails! My daughter, Morgana, is now three years old and is great. She loves black metal and already likes to play my guitar, so hopefully she will follow in my footsteps.

CoC: So how has becoming a mom affected your metal lifestyle? Some things must've had to change, right?

DD: Yes, it has been difficult. That's why I really wasn't involved in the scene much for three years, since I had a rough pregnancy and then taking care of my baby was my number one priority. I still practiced my guitar and even wrote some music, but I just didn't have time to record or look for a line-up. Now that she is a bit older, it is much easier to do the things I want and it is time to complete a new line-up for Demonic Christ.

CoC: Well, as a fan I'm certainly looking forward to any new material! It's a pity there had to be such a long break...

DD: As I explained in the previous question, it was related to my daughter. Being a woman I have a lot more responsibility than a man would whose wife just had a baby. I put 100% into being a mother and I have no regrets about that. My music could wait. I knew that I could pick it up again whenever I was ready, and I was right.

CoC: But the fans can't wait...

DD: Everyone seems anxious to hear what I am writing, and to tell you the truth I think a little stagnation has done me good since the new material is in my opinion far superior than that of the past.

CoC: Stepping back in time now... Back in '95, when you released your LP, there was this black metal boom just starting up. With your death metal roots, how well were you received back then?

DD: It is true I have death metal roots, however I have always considered Demonic Christ to be more black metal than death metal. The response was overall pretty good. There are always going to be critics. Honestly, I was not that thrilled with the final product anyways, since I had only been playing with the members a few months and the drummer really was not very good. Making an impact was not hard, since blasphemy has always been accepted in death/black metal and _Punishment for Ignorance_ had plenty of that!

CoC: But at that time wasn't there some sort of "war" between black metal and the then-popular death metal?

DD: As far as a "war" between death and black metal, I am not sure that I feel there is. I mean, they are definitely separated genres, however some bands are really hard to categorize...

CoC: So what do you think about the new wave of melodic death sweeping the metal world of late?

DD: I definitely prefer the sound of black metal over death metal, but can appreciate any kind of music done well. Melodic death metal included -- I like Sentenced (_Amok_) and Shadow a lot... Any music that has the musicians' soul in it is great, as far as I'm concerned. I will not listen to a band just because they're considered "black metal" or whatever. I am very open minded to different types of heavy, aggressive music.

CoC: There's been a resurgence of death metal these days, and even the neo-black metal joke has reached its limit. So will DC be taking up some of that electronica stuff -- horror of horrors -- that's been coming out of Norway these days? Or old-school death maybe?

DD: <laughs> No, no electronics for DC! And no, we are not going in a more death metal vein... if anything, it is probably more black than ever at this point. I just write what I feel and however you want to interpret it or categorize it is up to you (the listener).

CoC: There's been a huge development from the _Deceiving the Heavens_ tape and the latter two demos towards a more black metal sound; why this change?

DD: Well, the main reason for the change was growth and obviously what I was listening to at the time... I was also very limited with what I could write, since I didn't have a drummer who could do blastbeats or much double bass. When "Deceiving the Heavens" was recorded I had only been out of the death/doom band Mythic for a few months -- I had not yet had time to conjure up a new sound/creation. It is very primitive. Not to mention the drummer played on the tape after playing the songs two times each. <laughs>

CoC: So things are moving more in the black direction these days?

DD: Yes, the newer material is definitely more black and fast.

CoC: There's also some experimentation with martial beats and rhythms on "Witches Fall", any particular thing that inspired that epic sound?

DD: Yes -- WAR! I wanted it to sound like battle was about to begin... Scott (the drummer at the time) and I worked on this and did achieve the sound we were looking for!

CoC: It's certainly one of the most memorable and striking black metal tracks I've heard in recent times!

DD: Thank you for the compliment. There will definitely be more of this kind of drumming in the new Demonic Christ material.

CoC: On to the lyrics now: it's pretty obvious what your subject matter is, but what drives you in this direction? Was it a personal experience perhaps? Or upbringing?

DD: Surprisingly, I was not raised with religion. I was just always "aware" of the inconsistencies religion held. When I was 12 I read the Holy Bible and the Satanic Bible and it all became clear to me... From there I began reading more philosophers' teachings like Crowley and Nietzche and just sort of developed my own theory.

CoC: So you're against organized religion as a whole?

DD: Organized religion disgusts me -- the whole idea of control and teaching humans not to be human but to be robots is sickening. I could go on and on about this subject, but if you just read my lyrics, it is self explanatory.

CoC: But do you see how Christianity -- or any organized religion -- could be beneficial to humans in general? As a form of spiritual support, perhaps?

DD: It may be helpful if they are sheep. I am not saying that "believing in something" or "being spiritual" is negative -- only that belonging to a church or group of people for social reasons or because "that is what you are supposed to do" is pure bullshit and a sign of weakness. Organized religions do all the thinking for you and allow you NO room to make choices for yourself. I am so down on organized religion because it makes you a clone, a puppet, a sheep. However, if we were all intelligent and had our own ideologies of spirituality, we would have other problems.

CoC: So on the same topic, who and what inspires you to write the way you do? Both lyrically and musically, I mean.

DD: I base my lyrics on the way I feel about things -- life in general, society, etc. Sometimes thoughts I have to hold in that only makes them stronger. Sometimes I have dreams that turn into lyrics, but mainly it is my own experiences and deep feelings in my subconscious. I convert my emotions into music. I never write just to write a song -- I write when I "feel it", kind of hard to explain...

CoC: You write only when inspired, then.

DD: I could go months without writing and then I can write four or five songs in a month. I write when the time is right.

CoC: You know, it's interesting that with a young daughter to bring up, you're still maintaining your outlook on life...

DD: Well, I take that as a compliment that I maintain my outlook on life, since I would agree that many change their beliefs once children are brought into the picture.

CoC: So how do you plan on raising your daughter? I mean, would you be exposing her to the "darker side", so to speak? That's something not traditionally held to be good parenting!

DD: To answer your question, I will raise my daughter to be strong, to think for herself and to never assume she knows anything about the universe. When she goes to school and has questions about Jesus, I will give her my "PG" version of what I think but add in that it is only my opinion and that there are many different views and no one really knows which one is right, and that she should decide for herself based on a combination of her gut and her head. As far as exposing her to "the darker side", I don't see anything wrong with it. I do not force her to do anything and all she sees is a lot of positive energy from me. I am happy and love what I do -- what could be wrong with seeing that? The way I see it is she will have an advantage most kids do not: she will not have to overcome a fear of the occult and witchcraft and Satanism, so her journey of finding her own beliefs will be that much easier.

CoC: Well put indeed... but that's not a perspective many people will be able to adopt. Most people would see your metal lifestyle as a negative environment for a child to grow up in.

DD: Well, there isn't an "environment" that I see negative. At this point all my daughter knows is that mommy plays metal.

CoC: What about all the negative sentiments expressed in your music? A song title like "Church of Profane Masturbation" is highly questionable, don't you think?

DD: As far as "Church of Profane Masturbation" goes, she will not hear this song or read the lyrics as long as I can prevent it. Of course I think that is unfit for a child to see -- but I do not write or play my music for kids...

CoC: So, to bring in a heavily debated point: is there a difference between black metal as Art and black metal as a lifestyle?

DD: Yes, there is a difference in the mental state I am in while writing/performing and while being a mom and going to work and living amongst society. If I am not "true black metal" because I have a life outside of Demonic Christ, then so be it. To me, "true black metal" is one who sticks to their roots and writes what they feel and does not compromise their sound/lyrics for anyone or anything. I am who I am and I do not claim to be or try to be anything different.

CoC: Look what Venom dragged in: a whole host of black metallers turning the music into a lifestyle. Didn't Venom intend it all to be taken with a pinch of salt?

DD: I do believe Venom intended it to be taken with a grain of salt, however it has gone way beyond Venom for many years now. I love Venom and agree they were definitely one of the bands that pioneered the road for black metal, but there were many other bands as well.

CoC: What then do you think of the black metallers actively involved in illegal activities? Like Jon Nodtveidt, Bard Eithun, etc.?

DD: My opinion on the illegal acts of these black metallers is that the fact that they are in black metal bands is merely a coincidence. These individuals would have committed crimes anyways. I mean, look at the whole Judas Priest trial -- it is ridiculous. [Dana probably refers to the 1985 lawsuit against Judas Priest for the suicide of two youths, allegedly under the influence of the album _Stained Class_. -- Alvin] Music does not make you commit illegal acts -- only you can make that decision for yourself. There is a very small percentage that have committed these crimes amongst a large amount of black metal musicians/fans. I personally would not do any of these acts because I value my freedom too much. I think that once you give that up for another you are only hurting yourself -- sure, the fag is dead, but you are now locked up for all of your "strong" years. That is just the way, I think... only my opinion. That is the way my mind works -- but perhaps to those who have done these deeds it is validated.

CoC: OK, I'm curious about one of the tracks on the CD: "Blut Und Ehre", which sounds rather suggestive with the title and the martial beats. Now there's a growing popularity of NS-influenced black metal and other White Power sentiments in the scene, so one might be forgiven for thinking...

DD: Indeed the pride of the European American is on the rise in black metal music and I hail that. Note I did not say White Power -- I said pride, two different things. "Blut Und Ehre" was the perfect title of this song which is about being stabbed in the back and deceived by someone you put all your trust in. I have German ancestry in my blood running through my veins, so a Germanic title seemed appropriate. It was not a hidden or suggested nazi slogan.

[This was a question intended to spark off the topic; a subsequent peek at the lyrics revealed the true nature of the song... and a highly interesting read. -- Alvin]

CoC: Fair enough, but what do you think of the bands mixing fascism with music? Take Graveland or Absurd, for example.

DD: As far as my opinion on mixing racism/fascism with music -- I think it is great -- I think that if that is truly the way the artists feel, then I hail them for expressing themselves without fear of what others will think. That is to be commended. Do I agree with everything they say? No -- however I will not judge them because of their message... They have a right to base their lyrics on any subject under the moon and to be as politically incorrect or as racist as they wish.

CoC: OK, another thing I'm curious about is your experiences in the male-dominated scene, being a woman. Were there any difficulties you ran into playing in the two female fronted bands [Mythic and DC]?

DD: Well, I think that overall it is accepted to have a female frontwoman, if she is worth a shit. I would say there are two types of men: those that think it is cool as hell and those that think women have no place in metal, that it is a man's realm... blah blah blah. I have run into a few of these macho assholes, but have dealt with a lot more men that have been supportive as hell.

CoC: So you haven't had problems with the men in the scene?

DD: Most men treat me just as they would their male friends and that is exactly the way I like it. I realize I am not like most women. I cannot say exactly what it is that makes me different. I am feminine, I mean I am a mother -- but I just relate to men better than women, I always have. I think that most women do not have the drive and determination to stay with music very long. I have been playing for fourteen years and I just cannot see myself not writing songs -- it is in my soul, my very being.

CoC: Still, it's pretty safe to say that reactions will never be neutral when audiences are confronted with a woman playing brutal music, right?

DD: Yes -- you hit it right on the head! There are not many neutral reactions and that is from men and women. Is it a problem for me? Hell no. I am confident in what I do and if others don't like it I honestly don't give a shit. I think once most see Demonic Christ live they don't have any shit talking to do.

CoC: And have your family and friends been supportive of your "un-lady-like" activities?

DD: My family has been supportive since day one. I dedicated the first CD _Punishment for Ignorance_ to my parents for their support -- they have come out to a few shows and wear my shirts... Friends -- if they didn't support me, then they wouldn't be my friends.

CoC: Yet there aren't many successful women in the scene so far, I mean there are bands like Opera IX, Astarte, Thorr's Hammer etc., but the scene is rather one sided. Why is this so, do you think? Does the problem lie with the female musicians or the scene?

DD: This is always a hard question to answer, because like I said earlier, I don't really know what makes me different. I can tell you this: from dealing with other female musicians in the past and from talking to some, I know that the biggest downfall is that women get into the scene and decide to play for attention. This does not work! They don't get the reaction they want right away so they get frustrated and bored and it's over. The women that truly love what they do and are doing it for themselves are the ones that make it.

CoC: So could this male dominance in the genre be due to the fact that women just don't go for such brutal stuff?

DD: Metal is definitely a male dominated genre -- why I am not sure... perhaps it is that it is so aggressive and full of testosterone, maybe that scares women off. Maybe they feel they can't be aggressive and feminine at the same time. When I got into it I was just as surprised as I am now that there aren't more women playing -- it is so natural to me, so I just don't get it. Is there anything that can be done about it? No -- it's just the way it is.

CoC: To wrap things up a little: how have sales been for _Demonic Battle Metal_? Cryonics isn't a label that's known for strong marketing... what do you think of them thus far?

DD: It sold out as soon as it was pressed, but that isn't saying much since this release was an ultra limited press of 250 hand-numbered copies. It was meant to be part of a series of forgotten demo tapes by black metal bands that helped mold the scene. I of course was honored that they considered Demonic Christ to be one of those bands, so I figured why not? To say something in Cryonics' defence -- they were great for this release. Quick turn around, great job on the booklet and they stayed in good contact with me. I have never heard of anyone having problems with them. I was glad to have released a CD with Cryonics, however there are no future releases planned with them. The label is very small and I would like to get a larger release with worldwide distribution for the next CD.

CoC: So what are your plans for getting the show back on the road? What have you got up your sleeves for us die-hard fans?

DD: Currently I have conjured up a line-up for the first live performance in five years. This show will be at the fourth Annual Sacrifice of the Nazarene Child Black Metal Fest in San Antonio, TX on December 1st, 2001. These musicians will most likely also be recording the next CD for Demonic Christ as well... Let me introduce them: Xaphan (Kult Ov Azazel) on guitar, Lord Imperial (Krieg) on bass and Chad Walls, who has worked with many bands throughout the scene, on drums. I of course play guitar/vocals.

CoC: And it will be released on...?

DD: I am still searching for the perfect label for the next release -- I have had several offers, but nothing has been decided yet. The first Demonic Christ CD _Punishment for Ignorance_ will be released on pic LP from Painkiller Records in Belgium in early 2002. They are the same label that pressed _Demonic Battle Metal_ on pic LP, which is also sold out due to a limited pressing of 300 copies (licensed from Cryonics). So if there is a label interested in putting out Demonic Christ material -- get in touch! There is much more to come from this US battle horde...

CoC: Right then... we'll just wrap up with some words you might wanna say.

DD: I would just like to invite everyone to come look at the website at www.demonicbattlemetal.com -- there is merchandise and news and MP3s -- check it out! You can also reach me for interviews and questions at Dchrist666@aol.com. Thank you Alvin for the great interview and your support! Keep the flames burning!

[Thanks in return, Dana! It was great hearing from a pioneering woman in the old death metal scene, and readers are encouraged to seek out any remaining copies of _Demonic Battle Metal_ as it's truly a killer album. -- Alvin]

(article submitted 12/8/2001)


RSS Feed RSS   Facebook Facebook   Twitter Twitter  ::  Mobile : Text  ::  HTML : CSS  ::  Sitemap

All contents copyright 1995-2017 their individual creators.  All rights reserved.  Do not reproduce without permission.

All opinions expressed in Chronicles of Chaos are opinions held at the time of writing by the individuals expressing them.
They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of anyone else, past or present.