From Satan to Swing: A Conversation with David Ingram
By Joel Gausten
For anyone who is serious about underground Metal, David Ingram needs no introduction.
For 20 years, Ingram has stood as one of the definitive vocalists in Death Metal. Best known for his eight-year stint as frontman for Birmingham legends Benediction (replacing Napalm Death-bound singer Mark “Barney” Greenway in ’90) as well as his performance on Bolt Thrower’s 2001 magnum opus, Honor-Valour-Pride, Ingram has spent recent times exploring the world of Internet radio with his shows, “Metal Breakfast Radio” and “Lambert’s Basement.” Additionally, Ingram has been a proud member of the Church of Satan since 2007. Although I’ve been a fan of Ingram’s work for several years, my personal introduction to the man came last year, when I was surprised to receive a rather excited message from him on MySpace, praising my then-musical project, Kung Fu Killers. After realizing that it was THE David Ingram contacting me, I thought to myself, “Wait, shouldn’t such praise be the other way around?” Since that time, David has remained an avid supporter of many of my projects as well as just a truly nice gent. As a fellow CoS member, I can say with full confidence that he not only exemplifies what it means to be a productive Satanist, but also proves what a great “Mutual Admiration Society” the Church of Satan truly is!
With that said, it is my absolute pleasure to present the following career-spanning interview with David.
What was your musical experience prior to joining Benediction?
Besides listening to music from around seven years old, when I had my first taste of Black Sabbath and The Clash, I was in several bands over the years through my teens. Mostly were just 'after school' projects that fizzled out due to the others losing interest. But after leaving school, I met a lot more people who had the drive to make music together. There were several bands I worked with – as bass player, I must add – but I most remember the one just before I joined Benediction, who were called 'Plague H.D.C.' We never recorded anything, except for some live shows which I have on cassette somewhere, but that period – 1987 to 1989 – of time was a lot of fun. The music was Amebix-orientated crust-core, if there is such a genre. I was also a member of a Chicago-based band named Eyegouger very briefly, while I was visiting friends there around the same time.
What was it like to replace someone like Barney, who has such a distinct Death Metal voice?
I love a challenge, and took it head on. I wasn't intimidated by any means, as we have distinctly different styles - regardless of what the rest of the music world has said in the past - so I really didn't give it a second thought. My goal was to bring a different sound to Benediction and take it onwards and upwards, not to continue to regurgitate or replicate. In no way am I being disrespectful to Barney or his vocals by saying that, either. Barney and I may not have seen eye to eye in the past, but I certainly do respect his achievements and vocal style. I say this to quell the mass of proles who will be quick to jump to many a conclusion!
How would you say the addition of Frank Healey (Cerebral Fix/ Napalm Death) changed the dynamic within Benediction?
Frank brought a lot of experience with him, along with a brusqueness that was needed exactly at that time (mid 1992). Not that there was any problems within the band… far from it! He helped bring a lot of focus for writing songs as he was - and still is - a musical stalwart. He recently contacted me to ask if I would like to be a part of a DVD celebrating 20 years of Benediction,so I've been filming myself answering questions. I'm not sure when it will be released, but I'll let it be known as soon as I get word on it from Frank.
What is your favorite moment from your years in Benediction?
Oh wow, there were so many! I couldn't even begin to choose a favourite. Touring was always very enjoyable, due to the humour amongst the band members. There were, of course, occasional arguments and harsh words while on the road, but that's to be expected when there are five band members plus crew living in each other's pockets for five weeks or more on a tour bus. Recording will also be a fond memory, especially the Transcend The Rubicon album, as I'm rather proud of the lyrics on that one.
What led to your participation in Bolt Thrower?
Bolt Thrower asked me to stand in as singer for a festival performance in 1996, as their singer at the time didn't want to do the show and the band were really stoked about playing that particular festival. Fast-forward to 1998… Almost four months after my decision to leave Benediction in May '98, I got a call from B.T. asking if I was interested in joining them. Of course, I jumped at the chance! I've been a fan of the band since they started, so this was a fabulous opportunity. There were rumours in the press that I only left Benediction to join Bolt Thrower, and this simply isn't true. There was a four-month period between my leaving Benediction and then being asked, and agreeing, to join Bolt Thrower. So, once again, this ought to quiet the proles.
How did your experience in Bolt Thrower compare to your time in Benediction?
Both bands were very hard working, but it different ways. I found a lot more of the same focus within Bolt Thrower, as they kept everything they did as 'close to home' and among their core cadre as possible. If any outsiders had been involved, it could have led to loss of control, and the band wanted full authority over all decisions. This was something I applauded, and I will take all my experiences with Bolt Thrower with me forever.
Why did your time in Bolt Thrower last for only one album?
It was only one album, but my tenure was almost six years. I had to make a hard decision to leave in 2003 after I suffered a very bad breakdown after my sister's death – we were very close. The band were preparing to start a new album and I was nowhere near ready for it. I needed time to recuperate and convalesce. I didn't want to hold them back, so I made one of the hardest decisions in my life. I had to put myself and my health first. Not just for me, but my own family, as only a few months before I had become a fresh-baked father.
Looking back today, what do you think of the Honour-Valour-Pride album?
I love that album, if I say so myself –and I will! It's one of the few albums that I perform on that I keep on my iPod. The entire recording process was filled with a "WE are doing this OURSELVES" feeling, a very strong emotion of control and self-sufficiency.That was a big part of Bolt Thrower - never relying on others for advancing oneself, showing gratitude to those willing to give aid to further the band and also taking advantage of those people/organizations that were so obviously deserving of it. Quite a Satanic doctrine for the band, and something that fitted perfectly with my own mindset. Another great memory of that time was the album promotion day we had at an old military base in the south of England.We flew in journalists from various Metal magazines around the world, and treated them to a day of military exercises. Those who passed the tests got to hear the album, though at first we tricked them into thinking they had accidentally driven into a restricted area and were under arrest by some covert section of the British Army. The look on their faces when they were marched into the "debriefing room" and saw the Bolt Thrower backdrop on the wall was priceless!
How did your next project, Downlord, come about?
It was early 2004, when I was approached by a friend to sing for his as-yet-unnamed band. I thought that time enough had passed for convalescing, and was itching to get back into writing and playing music, so I accepted his offer - as long as my close friend Donovan Spenceley would be in on it too! After three years, several drummers, an EP of demo recordings and a full-length album – ruined by lousy mastering from the record label, I hasten to add – and a handful of shows, some of which were supporting Bolt Thrower, we decided to call it a day and move on to the next project. I've always maintained that any future musical projects I do will be together with Donovan. That guy knows how to write a great riff!
What can you tell me about your latest endeavor, Doomcharge?
Not much, really! We have several irons in the fire with music, and the entire Doomcharge project came about due to both Donovan and I having a great love of the UK Punk bands Doom and Discharge, hence the band's name. We were originally just going to make cover versions of Punk tracks we remember from our youth, but the project widened somewhat soon after it began. Right now, we are re-recording some of the songs we wrote under that name for another project, and we await the release of a split 7-inch single with The Kung Fu Killers and Electric Frankenstein – two bands who need no introduction. We're pretty fired up about everything that's currently going on for us musically, I must say!
What led to the formation of Dark Sentinel, and what are your goals for the project?
My love of that wonderful tool called the Internet and Mac computers were the initial two parts of the first step. I like to use Mac to create and maintain my own websites, and still do now. I wanted to begin a very indulgent online base for all the things I personally like and as a staging point for any future music projects Donovan and I create.The website, www.darksentinel.dk, is slowly growing. In fact, it's almost somewhat difficult to maintain everything! But as I said earlier, I love a challenge. I find them stimulating and the final feeling of triumph just can't be topped, in my opinion. I'm already fulfilling a lot of goals for it, and constantly adding more of them as I travel along the path of life.I think it will be an ever-growing project, at least until something needs to branch off and go it alone. At some point, Donovan and I want to be self-sufficient at the "Dark Sentinel Global Headquarters" and therefore, we keep putting more irons into that fire!
How did you become involved in Internet radio? What can people expect from your two shows, “Metal Breakfast Radio” and“Lambert’s Basement”?
I'd have to blame the Internet and my love of music in general for that. The whole concept of a "Metal Breakfast" began in 2000 with myself, Donovan and a close friend of ours named, Mads Haarløv (ex-Iniquity guitarist/vocalist), getting together in a morning for breakfast and listening to whatever new CDs we'd bought. We'd drink a couple of beers, critique each other’s new purchases and eat a hearty Danish breakfast. One evening, we were doing the very same, but had Donovan's brother on video chat with us (he lives in Texas) and it was breakfast time for him. It was there that the entire "Metal Breakfast" idea was born… in that whatever time of day it is, it's always breakfast somewhere in the world. So what better way to start the day than with listening to music and drinking a couple of frosty, frothy ales with your cornflakes? It was, at the time, all in good fun. But in 2008, Donovan and I decided we wanted to take the concept and apply it to Internet radio. Initially, we wanted to broadcast live, or looped on a station, but the costs were phenomenal. In the end, we decided that a podcast version would be ideal, as people can then download the show and listen to it at their leisure. This also added to the audience, which currently now stands at around 3,000 listeners per week. We play new and/or underground bands - mostly Metal - and critique their tracks – all while drinking some fine beverages. We can be rather harsh at times, but with our years of experience, we know what's good, what's bad and what's just plain ugly! We DO want to like all the music we play– and we're sent a lot of great tracks – but if it doesn't inspire us or if we find it makes us drift off then it gets blown up (a.k.a. "Exterminated") in a similar way to "The Gong Show." Of course, if the bands involved can't take any kind of criticism, then they're TOTALLY in the wrong business! We've just been syndicated by five different stations, so that can only add to the audience. Right now we're looking into ways of taking advantage of that, so we can really make this a full-time job. We can be found at the following sites: www.darksentinel.dk and www.metalbreakfastradio.com. Lambert's Basement, on Radio Free Satan (www.radiofreesatan.com), began in November 2008, and on that show I play my other musical love: Big Band, Swing & Jazz. The show's title is one of my Father's middle names -Lawrence Albert Lambert Ingram - and it was he who re-introduced me to Big Band in a big way, after I gained interest in it as a child. Making this show is one way of honouring him, as well as indulging in some very wonderful music. For this show, people can expect an hour of delectable nostalgia each week, and several interruptions by my zombie undead goldfish, Igor – though less said about him, the better!
When and why did you become involved in the Church of Satan? How would you best define Satanism?
It was directly connected to my breakdown, strangely enough. During my recovery, I was visiting a psychologist who suggested keeping my mind occupied with some activities that I could regulate myself and keep to a schedule. I have a great love for the written word, so I compiled a list of all the books I had always wanted to read - not just scan through like fiction, but actually READ - and top of the list was The Satanic Bible. After reading, I read it again. Then once again. Even after the first reading, I could feel so much of it resonating with me on a lifelong level. Many things about myself suddenly made even more sense. It was at that moment, in mid-2003, that I had my Satanic epiphany. Obviously, I wanted to know more, so I went direct to the source at www.churchofsatan.com and spent several days reading through the entire website, making notes and ordering many more books. I had already been applying the philosophy throughout my life - albeit unknowing its name - and now that I knew what I was called, I could apply it even more. I spent the next few years doing just that -- and, of course, continue to do so. It was in 2007 that I sent my registration to become a member of the Church of Satan, but due to the Danish postal system being rather anally retentive, it wasn't until 2008 that I received the welcome package – but it was more than worth the wait. I see Satanism as multi-faceted, within that the word "adversary" has its ties with "rebellion" and, in turn, that has ties with "chaos." But Satanism has brought me "order" to my life, it has helped focus and define me in a way I have searched within myself since birth (and to a degree have known about and applied), and it's therefore that I make the multi-faceted analogy. I also see it as an immensely logical philosophy, putting REAL fact over superstition, unafraid to be intrepid, and show those that hide behind the skirt-tails and sandals of a 2000-year-old fairy tale, that enough really is enough. Their one-sided monopoly has to end. The herd often use the phrase "set in their ways" and I counter with, "Lethargy!" The Satanic age is most definitely here… and to me, it's no wonder these meek, lazy and ignorant slaves tremble at the dreaded "S" word. Let them tremble, let them shake… as much as their ignorance is frustrating, it can also be bloody entertaining at times!
What does the future hold for David Ingram?
I shall continue the two radio shows for as long as people still want to listen; that's a given fact. I'm enjoying myself greatly, and these shows are certainly no chore. In addition, Donovan and I are currently working on our latest musical project, which we are tentatively naming 'Tundra Sessions.' This consists of songs that we have written ourselves (with the exception of a couple of cover versions) that we both perform on in various ways, and we are inviting in multiple musicians to guest on the project. It's a little like the Californian band 'Desert Sessions,' but since we are in the icy North, we adapted and adopted the name for the time being. I'm also soon to start writing a little more, when time allows, for a possible future book. It'll mainly be writings from my experiences over the years, a sort of autobiography including my band experiences with a Satanic perspective, along with some of the pieces I've written over the years that I have archived at home. I'm always keeping myself busy, but I wouldn't have it any other way.
Copyright 2009 Joel Gausten
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