Voice of Dissent: Interview with Rodney McGlothlin
Interview conducted June 2012
Sometimes it seems the wait between new metal releases worth sinking some teeth into is long and barren. But then everyone once in awhile something new comes along that has the ability to take one's senses by storm.
Los Angeles based Voice of Dissent is a new metal project with strong blend of classic, speed and thrash influences. Subverses (Book One), their first album, is one of those projects that makes up for any lull in the need for new crushing metal releases as of late. Due to be released on June 21, 2012 on Distracked Media; Subverses (Book One) is worth checking out by anyone loves metal as much as they think they do.
Voice of Dissent's brainchild, Rodney McGlothlin, put this project together pretty much all on his own.
"I did write and record all of Subverses on my own. I began writing some of the songs while still in my last band. We really weren't seeing eye to eye on the direction the music was going, or how the band should be presented in general. I really feel like metal has gotten kind of stale and repetitive recently, and I wanted the music to take some chances. I thought we should try new ideas in everything from the production, to the songwriting, to how the music was presented to fans."
"I met a lot of resistance," explains McGlothlin, "Partly from not agreeing on direction, and partly because innovation takes more time and work and some people just aren't willing to man up for it. So after deciding to leave, I briefly considered a new band, but decided it would be best to just do it all myself, get it done, and then find the like minded musicians who could hear it and know it is what they want to do right away."
"I've also come to the realization that there has to be a person or a pair with a vision and a leadership role in a band. When you think of the great songwriting teams, or bands with longevity, they always revolve around one or two central figures. Mick and Keith, Plant and Page, Stanley and Simmons, Dave Mustaine, Lars and Hetfield, et cetera. I know exactly what Voice Of Dissent's signature is and it's evolving to that point quickly. I'm really happy with it, as it gets closer to the mark all the time."
So since this release is "Book One" is it safe to assume there will be a "Book Two?"
"Subverses will cover Book One and Book Two. Each has its own thematic vibe, but has an overall concept. Book 2 is already written and will be finished recording in the fall."
"The final full release will be early 2013. The internet gives unique opportunities to do new things with the music, so Book 2 will be released gradually over a few months. Since digital distribution has taken the industry back to a more singles oriented atmosphere, I want to try to do both single and full project releases."
"We'll be putting out a song every month or so, with a full presentation for it - artwork, video, discussions of lyrical themes and inspirations, et cetera. Then the full release with expanded material and music will come at the end. I think it will be a fun way for fans to get a slow reveal, and steady amounts of new material from us instead of waiting long periods for new music, and then also get a full package of more comprehensive presentations. What if you could have heard a song at a time from Pink Floyd's the wall, with a piece of the artwork, and then gotten the full blown vinyl and booklet at the end? Awesome!"
Are there any themes?
"The theme behind Subverses and Voice Of Dissent is anti-statism and liberty movement principles. We talk a lot about the ever growing domination of the state over everything from what you hear and see, to the stripping away of human rights, to what you do with your own mind and body. Principles of libertarianism, voluntaryism, and liberty philosophies are used in the lyrics a lot."
"Along the same lines, and this goes more with the imaging we use, is that you are being lied to. Allot! And things aren't always what they seem to be. Even familiar things may have other meanings the deeper you look at them. We use symbolism pretty heavily. There's nothing in the images that doesn't have some kind of meaning. Even the small stuff! The title Subverses is a name for subversive information in verse form."
"I try not to get too heavy handed lyrically and make the ideas something anyone can connect to. The website will have some interactive features to give fans places to read up on specific writings and inspirations that we've used. The biggest "talking point" you might say is that I think so many people claim to be rebels, or against "the man", when they really are just tools of the state and kidding themselves. It's like we're trapped in the sixties, with outdated rebellion. Going to the government with your begging bowl every morning, and giving up all your civil rights to feel a little safer is just being a useful idiot for the power hungry."
"For me, metal always stood for personal empowerment, being an individual, and not living on your knees. So many musicians and artists I know claim these same principles, but then cry all day about how much more other people should be giving them and doing for them, all the while voting their basic rights away. If I had to put our theme in a phrase it would be: 'Real rebels don't support centralized state authority!' Suck it up, there's no crying in metal!"
What sorts of things is VOD doing right now in preparation for the release?
"We're doing some really cool things with the website to give fans more of an experience to go with the music. We've designed it so it's constantly evolving. Some features will come and go, and there will always be new things there, so it's like having a CD booklet that's different every time you look at it. We're looking at some cool hidden features for people on our mailing list as well, so fans will definitely get allot of cool stuff by staying in touch!"
Are there any plans at all to put together a band so that you can play this material live?
"There is a band. Although I did Subverses myself, I have gotten some great musicians together and there will most definitely be lots of live shows. That's what metal is all about! We're going to be doing a few one off shows to get warmed up, and even a few political events, then we'll be touring later in the fall/early winter."
"I'm being a little secretive as to who exactly as some people might be surprised about one of the members especially. He's pretty well known and is leaving his band to join us. You'll have to wait and see," says McGlothlin mischievously.
One of the songs on Subverses (Book One) Hellbent is available to fee download. What kind of feedback has this song received thus far?
"I'm really flattered by how well it was received. Since we had sent it out as a promo for some of the people we're working with, we decided to just make it public. I've gotten nothing but good words and support. Multiple internet and even FM stations added it to the playlist, and we've gotten requests for live interviews and shows already."
"It was great to see that there is still a metal community out there that gets involved with the music, and gives new sounds attention and support. I really didn't think it would get so much attention so quickly! Gotta love the digital age."
Who are some of McGlothlin's influences, and how long has he been playing now?
"Total I've been playing for about 18 years. I started fairly early. I began on bass and it's still my real love. I tackled vocals after that, then guitars and finally some drums."
"Influences would be Bass: Bob Daisley (Ozzy bassist from Diary and Blizzard) He was the one that really made me want to play bass. Geddy Lee and Steve Harris both come in at a close second. Vocals: John Bush, Rob Halford, Devin Towsend, Mike Patton. Guitar: Andy LaRocque (King Diamond) Jake E Lee, Randy Rhoads, Alex Lifeson, Paul Gilbert, Dave Mustaine, Marty Friedman. Drums: Mikkey Dee, Charlie Benante, Gene Hoglan, Roy Mayorga."
What musician, living or dead, would McGlothlin like to jam with and why?
"Wow...Just one? That's tough. I can't nail it down to one so I'll do my best to do a couple from one instrument."
"First, Andy LaRocque from King Diamond. I think he's just criminally under rated and so unique. He crosses metal with exotic influences and interacting with that musically would be amazing."
"Alex Lifeson. He's incredibly innovative and just blows me away with how interesting he can be with his approach to guitar in both solo and rhythm. He's like the esoteric Buddha of heavy rock guitar! Besides, what bassist wouldn't want to be Geddy for a day?"
"Randy Rhoads. Does this even need an explanation? A master improviser and guitar virtuoso. One of my top 3 albums of all time is Diary of a Madman. The interplay between Randy and the bassist Bob Daisley is true artwork. Being able to play SATO from that album with him would be my greatest moment ever."
"I think I feel a hidden cover song recording for the website coming on! Hmm..."
Has this all been about what McGlothlin expected when he first began working on this project?
"It definitely has become more than I had hoped. When I began, I knew what I wanted to do musically, but the exact, down to the last detail vision wasn't perfectly clear. I absolutely know what I want now and exactly how to achieve it."
"Many things I had hoped to do seemed like they were going to be a bit out of my reach as far as images, multimedia, the whole presentation. The tools to be able to do it all get better and better every day, and I'm really happy with how the concept will be presented."
If McGlothlin was a box what would be inside?
So what else is on McGlothlin's plate - musically or otherwise?
"The major thing would be my label Distracked Media. It's not a label in the conventional sense and will offer artists a way of getting help, guidance, and management without selling the rights to their music, and compromising themselves financially. Subverses will debut on it, and over the fall / early winter, we'll be working with a couple of fantastic new bands."
"I'm amazed the industry lasted as long as it did. It was a bad model based on putting everyone at odds with each other. Artist vs label, sponsor vs artists, fan vs label. Working with concepts that create new opportunities for all involved is what Distracked Media is based on. Innovative fan outreach, new approaches to touring, recording, and media are all used to get the fans what they want, and make music profitable for artists again."
McGlothlin adds: "That, and Voice Of Dissent, keeps me more than occupied."