Interview with BW. vocalist and guitarist of Draghkar done by Patrick
1. Hello please introduce yourself to the readers?
BW: Hello, I’m BW, the guitarist, vocalist, main songwriter, and founder of Draghkar, a death metal band from Los Angeles, California.
2. When did you first discover metal music and who were some of the first bands you listened to?
BW: I was actually raised on metal; my dad isn’t really into extreme metal (with some exceptions), but I grew up on a steady diet of Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Sleep, and whatever he happened to be into over the years. Some of the first bands that I had an independent interest in were Metallica and Slayer as a kid, neither of which my dad is into- he mostly loves things that are slow and heavy, and that means that he stopped listening to thrash in probably ’85 or ’86, according to him. He was definitely extremely formative to my taste (in particular my love of doom metal, but just in general as well), and introduced me to bands like Celtic Frost and Rotting Christ a bit later down the line.
3. When did you first get the idea to form this band? How did you choose Draghkar as the name of this band?
BW: I’ve only been playing guitar for a couple of years (started halfway through December 2013), but I knew pretty soon after starting that I wanted to write and play music. I started doing vocals right around the same time as I picked up the guitar at the urging of a good friend (“how the hell can you listen to so much death metal and not try growling yourself?”) and was well on my way to writing music within the year. The summer before releasing World Unraveled, I was driving and listening to Massacre’s “From Beyond” and had the idea for a song pop into my head. From there, I went home and wrote the first Draghkar song in a period of about four hours. Though I ended up scrapping the song in the end, I was able to use it to recruit a bassist and drummer (neither of which ended up staying in the band through the recording of the demo), and the band came from there. The name comes from a monster from a classic epic fantasy series, Robert Jordan’s “Wheel of Time.”
4. Draghkar is getting ready to release their debut demo World Unraveled which will be released through Blood Harvest Rec. how did you come in contact with this great label?
BW: After digitally releasing the demo back in February, I asked a couple of friends with a lot of experience for advice on finding a label. One of the promos I sent out went to Rodrigo, and to my immense shock, he emailed me back about putting it out. Given how good the label and their roster are, I had no expectation at all of ending up on Blood Harvest, and I’m extraordinarily proud and grateful for the opportunity.
5. How long did it take the band to write the music for the debut release? Where did you draw inspiration for the lyrics on the debut and what are some subjects you wrote about on the debut
BW: I wrote the music for the demo more or less on my own over a period of three or four months. The lyrics come from the same book series as the band name, and cover a conceptual storyline from the novels that culminates in the end of the world. This was mostly as a homage to Robert Jordan, whose literature was foundational for the development of my taste in fantasy; future releases will not be inspired by the same material except insofar as all of the things that I love come together to influence my songwriting.
6. Besides the debut World Unraveled does the band have any other merchandise available? If yes what is available and where can the readers buy it?
BW: We have shirts, a small amount of longsleeves, and patches available on our bandcamp page, and when we start gigging in the near future, all of those will also be available at shows.
7. I believe Draghkar is a two man band are their any plans to add more members to make a full band or do you prefer to work as a two man band?
BW: The lineup has changed again since the demo, and has been filled out to form a full band for writing, recording, and live purposes. I enjoyed functioning as a two-piece, but I have nothing against larger lineups.
8. What does underground metal mean to you?
BW: It represents a spirit of discovery and love towards music more than any single other thing. There’s a wild variety of people involved with making metal music, and I’ve met people making well-respected underground music that range from bartenders to teachers to engineers to cashiers to attorneys, with personality types that range as widely as their careers do. Between the introverts, extroverts, extraordinarily kind and intelligent people, and the moronic assholes, there’s always at the very least a deep shared love for this music that goes beyond aesthetic or style. As much as I like other types of music, metal is and likely always will be the dearest to my heart, and especially where the pulse of the underground lies.
9. Besides working in Draghkar do you currently play in any other bands? If yes please tell the readers about them?
BW: Yes, actually! I’m releasing a black metal demo with a couple of friends under the project name of Grave Spirit in the extremely near future and working on a traditional heavy metal project with a couple of other guys. Both of those are firm studio projects with no intention of playing live; I like to have a way to write music without the concern for being able to replicate it live or having to dump the time into rehearsing it. Though the heavy metal project is still unnamed and seems far from a release, Grave Spirit’s first demo, Beast Unburdened By Flesh, will hopefully be out within a month of me responding to this interview. I am extremely excited for its release, and think it’s some of the best material I’ve written to date.
10. Draghkar comes out of California's death metal scene what is your opinion of the metal scene in California?
BW: I think that it’s been getting better and better in the last few years. It’s always had a ton of creativity in the Bay Area, and Los Angeles had a massive scene in the ‘80s of course, but Southern California had relatively little going on for years. These days, the Bay Area is among the foremost death metal scenes in the world in my opinion, and Southern California has had good bands popping up faster than I ever would have believed.
11. Who are your all-time favorite Californian bands and are their any new bands you feel the readers should check out soon?
BW: I almost feel like being from California is cheating when asking about all time bands from the state because so many of my all time favorites in general are from here. Bands like Tyrant, Slough Feg, Possessed, Terrorizer, Hexx, Slayer, and Autopsy make up a lot of the backbone of my listening, and always will. For newer bands, though, I can’t recommend Ascended Dead or Necrosic enough, and though they’re technically a reformation, Ruin is a big recent favorite as well. Some other bands to check out include the mighty Rude, Ancient Empire, Vastum, Acephalix, and Skeletal Remains, and for bands that just popped up in the last couple of years, there’s Crematory Stench, the aforementioned Necrosic, Ensepulcher, and Funeral Chant, off the top of my head.
12. BW you handle the vocals for the band when did you start growling? Do you do anything special to keep your throat and voice healthy?
BW: Like I mentioned earlier in the interview, I started around the same time that I picked up the guitar, so either in late 2013 or early 2014. Other than just making sure that I don’t strain myself to the point where it hurts, I have nothing particularly special that I do; I was taking singing lessons for regular clean singing for a bit to protect my voice when I do that, but I was growling before I was singing, and my habits for the style remain unchanged.
13. Who are some of your favorite vocalists?
BW: David Vincent on the classic Morbid Angel stuff, Martin Van Drunen across all of his bands, Rob Halford who needs no introduction, James Rivera from Helstar and a slew of side projects, Chris Reifert from Autopsy, Jukka Kolehmainen from Abhorrence, and the mighty Bruce Dickinson come to mind. I’m also a huge fan of Johan Langquist, who sang on Epicus Doomicus Metallicus, as well as Robert Lowe, the vocalist of Solitude Aeturnus. Really too many to name.
14. Besides the vocals you also take care of the guitars when did you become interested in playing the guitars? Are you self-taught or did you take lessons when first starting out?
BW: The same friend who convinced me to start doing vocals got me interested in playing guitar. He was always playing when we hung out, and after harassing him to play the same cool riffs over and over again, he got fed up and told me that if I got a guitar, he’d just show me how to play them myself. I ended up taking lessons for a couple of months, but for the most part am self taught aside from some valuable lessons on how to properly hold the guitar and pick (turns out I’d initially been doing it wrong) as well as on how to warm up, stretch, and minor details like that.
15. Who are some of your influences and favorite guitarists? Besides the vocals and guitars do you currently play any other instruments?
BW: If I had to point at just a handful of influences as a musician and guitar player, I’d point first to Trey Azagthoth, Tony Iommi, and Tom Warrior. I learned a lot of guitar from Morbid Angel, Black Sabbath, and Frost/Hellhammer riffs, and couldn’t separate them from my guitar playing even if I wanted to. Some other massive influences are Eric Cutler from Autopsy, the guys behind Abhorrence and early Amorphis, Chuck Schuldiner from Death, and Bolt Thrower as a whole both for my guitar playing and for how I do vocals. As of right now, I only play guitar and do vocals.
16. Thank you BW. for taking the time to fill this interview out do you have any final comments for the readers?
BW: Stay morbid, stay death, stay metal, buy some Draghkar merch, and check out Grave Spirit.
BW: Stay morbid, stay death, stay metal, buy some Draghkar merch, and check out Grave Spirit.