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Interviews : Darker Half (Vo Simpson) – 25/08/2009

By on August 26, 2009

Darker Half

In recent months Darker Half have become a force to be reckoned with. Not only releasing their fantastic debut album ‘Duality’, but are supporting some of the world’s foremost metal bands on their Australian tours. Including such acts as, Paul DiAnno, Queensryche, Destruction and many more.

Metal Obsession recently had a chance to speak with Darker Half frontman, Vo Simpson about the band’s debut album, their amazing support run and a few personal questions about the Aussie metal scene.

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MetalObsession.net: Thanks for taking the time to speak with us at Metal Obsession.net. Firstly, I’d like to congratulate Darker Half on the recent release of their debut album, ‘Duality’.

You must be quite pleased with the overall success of the album so far?

Vo Simpson: Yeah, the album has been really well received so far, It’s great to finally have a product that we’re really proud of showing people.

MO: For the many readers unfamiliar with Darker Half, can you give us a quick introduction to the band, and its influences?

VS: Darker Half is a metal band. We have a predominantly melodic sound that takes influences from classic bands like Maiden and Metallica and mixes with some newer influences such as Nevermore or SYL (Strapping Young Lad).

Between the four of us we got pretty wide tastes so anything can happen. If we had to pin ourselves in a genre, we’d probably call ourselves melodic thrash.

MO: What was the main inspiration behind the writing process of the debut album, ‘Duality’?

VS: There wasn’t really a single particular inspiration or concept for the album as a whole, some songs are quite old and others written just before recording, the title track was actually the last song to be written for the album.

When we were looking at a title, after going through a lot of our lyrics, Duality seemed like a theme that runs through a lot of our material in different forms both lyrically and musically so it seemed like the natural choice of title to tie everything together.

MO: The album is quite an achievement in terms of it’s diversity and production value. More so since it was created on such a small scale in terms of money and equipment.

What do you believe has given the album an edge over most mainstream or “popular” Australian metal releases, or for that matter, international releases?

VS: Thank you! This is a hard question to answer given the quality of so many Australian and International releases recently. Having Jayde Smith (Astennu – Dimmu Borgir) produce the album was a big help for us.

We really didn’t want a Power Metal sound on the recording as such and so Jay was perfect as he’s a fan of classic metal but has played in some of the most extreme bands around. He helped us get a proper heavy sound while still staying true to the melodic aspects of our music.

MO: How was the recording process of the album, were there many delays or mishaps
through the recording process?

VS: To be honest, it was mostly pretty smooth, we’d rehearsed the songs well. We had minor mishaps here and there but nothing really disastrous. It was a really good experience finally hearing the songs properly.

Probably the most difficult part personally was vocals. I haven’t that much recording experience with vocals and it’s quite different to live singing so that was awkward sometimes.

MO: Is there a favorite track which stands out for you on ‘Duality’, if so, is there a story or an interesting tale behind its conception?

VS: I have a few favorites for different reasons. Live, probably “Take the Plunge”, “Invasion” or “Duality”, the faster more melodic songs always feel great live. On the album “Helpless” is my favourite. It’s the most personal lyrically and the keys and choirs we were able to put on the cd make it stand out to me. There is a story behind the song, but it is quite long and convoluted and I’d prefer not to go there.

MO: The band recently went through a slight line-up change, with Benito Martino (drummer) recently departing the band. Have Darker Half found a full time replacement, or are you currently using a session musician when touring?Darker Half (2009)

VS: Yea, Ben has moved to Nowra on NSW south coast to get married and we wish him all the best.

It’s an odd situation, my brother (Dom Simpson) had been playing guitar in the band for about a year when Ben left, but he’s a drummer first (really good too!) so when Ben left, the obvious choice was for Dom to move to drums and for us to find a new guitarist.

We’ve recently found a great player named Brad Dickson and we’re stoked to welcome him aboard as a full time member.

MO: Speaking of tours. Darker Half have recently scored a support slot for the upcoming Queensryche tour in August, and have also landed a support slot for the new years eve metal extravaganza Screamfest, in Sydney next year.

The band must be quite excited to play along side bands such as Sonata Arctica, Destruction, Cynic and of course Queensryche; yes?

VS: Man, we’re stoked to have gotten all these great shows this year! we been trying to get our foot in the door for a while, so it feels great to be playing alongside so many amazing bands! Really can’t say much else on that one.

MO: You guys were also the support for the recent Paul Di’Anno tour. How was it playing along side the original lead singer of Iron Maiden? There must have been some hilarious moments had by all when Mr. Di’Anno was around?

VS: We’re all massive Maiden fans so it was an honour to share the stage with him every night. We didn’t get a chance to hang out too much as we were pretty busy, but yea, he’s definitely a character, does not stop talking.

I gotta mention how awesome Killrazer were on that tour as well, not only how well they played with Di’anno but they helped us out heaps behind the scenes if there were any problems.

MO: Has there been much discussion on writing new material, or will the band continue to tour for the time being?

VS: We have already begun writing for the next album/ep (not sure yet) and have 2 or 3 pretty complete tracks and some more being worked up at the moment. It’s been hard for us to write too much lately as we’ve been concentrating on making sure the new line-up is ready for the Queensryche tour. We’re always working on new bits and pieces so after Queensryche we’ll be sitting down and putting it all together.

MO: You guys recently came off an amazing whirlwind national tour to promote ‘Duality’. Are there plans for another national tour for the recent success of ‘Duality’?

VS: We’re in the process of booking another tour for late this year, we will be returning to the capital cities and trying to go to as many regional cities and towns as we can.

MO: What are some of your favorite gigs you’ve played so far across Australia?

VS: Brisbane is always great, we’ve been up a few times now and have made a lot of good friends. The scene up there is really strong and supportive which is always good to see.

The Sydney show with Di’Anno was a highlight for us as well. Some more unlikely places like Wagga and Orange have also been great. To be honest, nothing against Sydney, but it’s always more fun going on a trip than down to the local.

MO: With all this touring, it would give you a good chance to discover some of Australia’s great metal talent.

What are some of your favorite Aussie metal acts at the moment, any major influences?

VS: Yeah, there are heaps of bands who’ve blown me away! off the top of my head; From Winters Grace from Orange are amazing, Bel’akor, Anarchsphere and Dreadnaught from Melbourne, Killrazer, Anno Domini and Switchblade from Sydney are all sick! Born From the Ashes and Metallurgy from Brisbane are awesome.

As far as influences, we’ve always been Dungeon/Lord fans as well as Vanishing Point and Eyefear! Voyager and The Furor from Perth are great too! I could go on for ages man, we got some great bands here.

MO: It seems 2009 has been an explosive year for metal releases, both in Australia and internationally. Any releases that have taken your fancy of late?

VS: Most of the bands mentioned in the last question have great albums either out or coming soon. As far as internationals go, really looking forward to the new Nevermore album as well as the new Devin Townsend Band albums too.

MO: Well, I better wrap this up mate. Any final comment you’d like to make to the
Metal Obsession readers?

VS: Thanks heaps for the interview! Thanks anyone who’s reading. Thanks for the support. Keep it metal! Cheers

Band: Darker Half
Date: 25/08/2009
Origin: Sydney, Australia
www.myspace.com/darkerhalf

Interviewer: Anwar Rizk
Interviewee: Vo Simpson (Vocals & Guitars)

Make sure to check Darker Half on the upcoming Queensryche tour, starting this week.

Click image to enlarge

Queensryche 2009 Australian Tour

You can also catch Darker Half at Screamfest this New Years Eve.

Click image to enlarge

Screamfest 2009

For ticket information, please go to www.justsayrock.com.au or www.darkerhalf.com

About

Anwar is the editor-in-chief of Metal Obsession.net. When Anwar isn't busy promoting tours, interviewing bands and reviewing awesome music, he loves to collect metal vinyl and play video games. Follow Metal Obsession on Twitter and Facebook