Who are Dragged Into Sunlight? The Liverpool act’s personal identity is cryptic and we don’t know much other than the fact they’re an illusive four-piece who aren’t keen on being identified. If they’ve escaped your radar this far, then that explains it. They’ve gone to extraordinary lengths to keep out of the limelight, but have simultaneously forced a vile, untamed beast of a sound upon all those who have listened so far. Calum Robson got a chance to corner their anonymous vocalist, just hours before their performance at Damnation Festival 2011...
Walking into the media lounge, a group of people are sat, undistinguishable to the public eye, when one emerges from the gathering and offers a handshake. You’d easily pass this casually-clothed character without a second thought in the bustling scene of a busy UK festival. But he’s an instrumental figure in a band that are fascinating a great number of people. Simply known to the masses as T, this mysterious individual is surprisingly relaxed despite the heavy grey bags that underline his stare. For the past eight-days, the frontman has been furiously recording material for upcoming album ‘Widowmaker’, and hasn’t had much time to sleep. The band’s meetings are sparse – usually spent in isolation. “We haven’t seen each other in seven-and-a-half months now,” the frontman reveals. “Last Friday we turn up and just record an album and no one’s really heard each other’s parts. It’s off the map really – it’s whatever is there and then at that time.”
These explosive impulses say a lot about a band whose music has an emotionally erosive power. Dragged Into Sunlight may be classed as a visceral black metal band, but it’s more than your average duplicate. They do hark back to a scratchy, ugly production quality that wouldn’t be amiss from the genre’s 90’s roots. Nevertheless, if done with a genuine passion, it’s an atmosphere that is as relevant today as it was then. The band retain a solid identity away from cliché corpse paint or egotistical shock value and T has no shame in admitting to influence or even dissecting the direction of upcoming record ‘Widowmaker’. “It’s not a follow-up to the last album – it’s just completely new and it’s a completely different thing,” he says. “It’s self-replicating bands that we grew up listening to I guess, but it’s the doomier side of things, the crustier side of things. Grief, Graves At Sea and Eyehategod – bands like that are a big inspiration on ‘Widowmaker’. We decided to put out our own interpretation on that – it’s a lot slower, it’s louder and that doesn’t mean less aggressive. Yeah, we’re pretty happy with how it’s going.”
Work on ‘Widowmaker’ began over two-years ago and, on the basis of T’s words and a flash preview of the record, it looks to emphasize a depressing atmosphere of crushing doom metal. Their imbalanced flushes of inspiration might make for an unconventional set-up when looking for these results, but it provokes an intense musical reaction that not even its members can fathom. “Overall there’s definitely a dark theme but I’m not sure I can explain where it comes from,” he says. “It’s in all of us. When we’re all in the same room we can all make excessively aggressive music. Everyone gets maximum creative output and we’re all on such a wavelength. We all know each other so well that we share common ground. There’s this bond between us where if one was missing it just wouldn’t work.”
The statement might ooze irony given the fact that each member is mysteriously isolated for months at a time. But what happens in confinement? In this quiet solitude, their vocalist takes time to triangulate his thoughts and harvest inspirations – and there’s no lack of them. “I’d call them scripts I guess,” he says. “But they’re just things I’ll jot down on a fucking receipt or something. I’ve always had a thing about words and the interesting way that words are put together. In lyrics, in writing something down, sometimes it’s just because I love that word – I love the way it’s set out and I have to use it.”
Away from the quill and on the road, it’s a fine razor’s edge between balance and overindulgence. The lifestyle ties intrinsically with the job, and while this man admits “I don’t think I could do years without a band” touring has ended in toxic indulgences and ultimately, excess. “Last year I had this really bad cough and people thought I had the black plague or something. I think it’s just going for seven-months without seeing each other and putting us on a bus for ten-days with Rwake for example – the biggest drinkers in Southern US! You put us on a bus with those guys and say ten-days in Europe – it was carnage. There were safety concerns.”
But it’s not only safety that’s been gambled by the black metallers. The possibility of incarceration faced them at one specific point in their European tour with Weedeater this year. After a night of heavy whisky drinking with Weedeater main-man Dave ‘Dixie’ Collins, T headed back to the hotel, had minimal hours of sleep and made for the Hamburg, Prague border on their tour bus. Thinking they’d past the border many miles back they went back to sleep. But not all was as it seemed, as T explains. “We had a celebratory beer got back to it, fell to sleep and woke up with blue sirens just everywhere,” he says. “We were pulled over by the side of the motorway in Hamburg and it didn’t end there. I got off and I was shitting because I had to get rid of everything on board our bus. They were seeing what the situation was, weighing our vehicles and seeing if we were massively overweight because of the amps. I got off the bus that quickly that I didn’t have socks on or a top on – I looked like a homeless person, same with Dixie! They’d sealed off every exit. It resulted in a four-hour wait while they tore the van piece to piece – me and Dixie arrived in Hamburg and showed up with ten-minutes left of our set. It wasn’t the best show! It was a pretty messed up ordeal.”
Dragged Into Sunlight is hardly easy-listening, shopping music. But as time goes on, whether they like it or not, they might be dragged into the limelight. But for now, we’ll leave you weird kvltsters with a tantalising question – could this be the renaissance and redefinition of the ‘underground’?