FFO: Heavy Metal, Metal
Cacophony of Souls
Released Mar. 13, 2020
When we last spoke with David Reece, the singer had just released what was arguably his best solo music outing to date, 2018’s Resilient Heart. On the album, Reece is backed by members of the melodic metal band Meridian, who also joined the vocalist on a special 2019 European tour in support of U.D.O., former Accept singer Udo Dirkschneider’s longtime group. The U.D.O. tour was noteworthy considering two former Accept singers were on the bill.
David Reece is known for providing lead vocals on Accept’s 1989 album Eat The Heat, which some fans have had evolving opinions about over the past 30 years. As we previously reported, Meridian’s members returned to their full-time jobs following the U.D.O. tour. Meanwhile, Reece reconnected with guitar guru Andy Susemihl (U.D.O. and Sinner) who played on Reece’s 2007 Universal Language. The two quickly began working on what would become the new David Reece album, Cacophony of Souls, on El Puerto Records. Topping Resilient Heart would not be easy, but the combined experience of Reece and Susemihl, backed by bassist Malte Burkert (Sainted Sinners – one of Reece’s part-time projects) and drummer Andrea Gianangeli, the band seemed up to the task.
On Cacophony, Reece maintains the same approach as Resilient Heart; heavy riffs, song structures that quickly lead to memorable choruses and of course, the voice of a metal wailer. Opening with the one-two punches of “Chasing The Shadows” and “Blood On Our Hands,” the band brings forth high speed melodic metal. Reece’s new anthem and the first single, “Metal Voice,” follows suit and is reminiscent of arena rock themes which warrant audience participation. The musicians go ballad-style on “Another Life Another Time,” which has some lovely background orchestration. The title track opens with a haunting guitar rhythm, giving way to Reece entering in a baritone register for the verse leading up to a classic-sounding “World’s-at-stake”-style chorus. Cacophony was listed in our 2020 music preview during January and it delivers; ultimately, these 12 tracks are every bit as good as their predecessor and in some respect the darker-toned side of the same coin.
David Reece loves to connect with fans and was thrilled to catch up with musicinterviewmagazine about Cacophony of Souls. The singer also imparted some wisdom about managing music, how he is still a proud student of Dirkschneider and what it takes to be a metal singer.
Musicinterviewmagazine: The lineup of players on Cacophony of Souls is almost entirely different than Resilient Heart. Most notably, you are joined again this time by guitarist and collaborator Andy Susemihl. Does the energy always change for the better?
David Reece: Not always for the better, but definitely for this album. I’ve recorded several albums with Andy [Susemihl] over 30 years and he’s definitely bringing that extra oomph that I needed to do such a great album. This album tops Resilient Heart in many ways. I still love Resilient Heart, too.
But after the U.D.O. tour I felt that something was kind of not working with the guitar players. And ironically, touring was not for them. So they walked away. And during that U.D.O tour, I met with Andy in Stuttgart, Germany and he had this look on his face that seemed all depressed. I asked what was the matter and he said he needed to be working with us. He said ‘He should be up there.’ So it kind of clicked in my head. And then after the tour, those guys had to leave. Then I called Andy to do Cacophony. He said “Yeah, let’s do it.”
Did you already have some ideas in mind or did you start from scratch?
I had the song “Cacophony of Souls” pretty much made up. I wrote that with Martin Frank. He wrote “Karma” and “Two Coins And A Dead Man,” with me on Resilient Heart. And we had these new songs kind of lying in the background. Martin Frank is a great songwriter and my lyrics seem to go well on top of this work. I’m glad it got to go on the record. What was lacking was a solo section and Andy took that of course and finalized it.
There are not too many song titles with the word “Cacophony.”
I guess I get inspired by what I see going on. And it’s a big cacophony of souls right now. That rhythm that Andy played inspired me. I think a lot about what’s going on in current times. Sometimes those words just pop up. It depends on how you preserve the word. There are some songs that sound like they shouldn’t have their titles because they just don’t fit. But sometimes those words just set in perfectly. I don’t know how to explain it. It just sometimes works.
Speaking of word play, I noticed also there’s a little bit of symmetry with Resilient Heart. On that album there’s “Perfect Apocalypse” and on Cacophony there’s “Perfect World.”
I hadn’t realized it until you mentioned it. That track actually came from Malte, our bassist. He’s played on about three or four different albums with me. I was at his house in Germany and his lights kick in late at night while he was walking around the house playing guitar. He [Malte] was playing that melody. And I was trying to sleep. He played that and “Collective Anesthesia.” He said he wished he could write on more albums because a lot of times he’s a hired guy. I told him those songs are great and that they were great melodies. Then the title just kind of popped into my head and it fit again, like with ‘Cacophony.’ But it wasn’t intentional.
Malte gets a nice bass solo on “Over and Over,” which is a unique touch for a metal song. Do you give your musicians some space and freedom to contribute and create?
Yes. I have confidence in Malte, for example. Usually if my players put something there, it belongs there. I’m not a dictator at all. If the song improves, then I’m all for it. And you know what? Bass solos are cool if they’re done right.
I notice you’re still using the chief mascot from Resilient Heart, which is a badass logo. Do you feel like the arrival of that logo marked kind of a new chapter for you?
Yes. That chief is also a branding thing. It’s kind of my “Eddie” from Iron Maiden. My new album cover has him hidden in the background and I’m making patches now with him and some other designs behind it. I think he’s pretty cool. People seem to like him. And I see concert photos of people wearing that shirt and pointing at it like at Iron Maiden or Motley Crue. My Danish friend, Kim, comes to a lot of gigs and while he was in Germany, pulls up his pants leg and shows me a tattoo of it. I was like I don’t believe it. That was amazing. Because, I mean, with Udo, you run into a lot of guys that will have “Metal Heart” tattooed on their heart or his picture on their back. It’s a real honor for someone to put that on their body. It’s lifelong.
Speaking of Udo [Dirkschneider], you have known him for years and there seems to be a good relationship. While touring with him in 2019 and even at this stage in your careers, did you find there are still things to learn from him?
Absolutely. That is a good question. I had to play quite a bit of Eat The Heat on that tour. And the curiosity of the two old Accept singers touring together was kind of cool. I had a lot of the folded-arm guys who basically said show me what you got. I studied Udo as many nights as I could, if we didn’t have to travel immediately. I watched tempos and melodies. Udo’s songwriting with his guys is very anthemic. You have to include the audience, especially the European metal fans. It is imperative that you include them in that energy. So on Cacophony of Souls, you’ll notice a lot of that style on “Judgment Day,” “Chasing the Shadows” and “Blood On Our Hands.” Those were inspired by that tour because that guy goes on like a tank every night.
Udo always has had a presence.
One night in Hamburg, he had a really bad bone infection on that tour. It was where he was even singing with a cane. And he could barely walk. The doctor told him in Spain to cancel because it could get really bad. He said he’d never cancel. So they gave him a bunch of antibiotics. And one night in Hamburg, there was a really dark area on the staging, where the top step was higher than the rest. And he led with the bad foot and fell completely flat on his face. He bounced up, hobbled out on stage, did the gig and you would have never known he fell. He wasn’t bleeding, but he bounced his head off the stage. That guy is a tank. He is bulletproof.
On that tour I noticed your set list exclusively featured Resilient Heart and Eat The Heat songs. How will you change it up when you hit the road in Europe in April?
We’re gonna do “Apocalypse” and “Anytime At All” and maybe “Live Before You Die.” But the guys have all decided to really showcase the new album as well. It’ll be a longer set because I’m headlining now. So it’s about 90 minutes. And we’ll keep some of the Eat The Heat classics, like “D-Train” and “Hellhammer.” People love that stuff, so I have to play it.
Do you still have an affinity for those Eat The Heat songs?
Yes, especially now. Every night I played, I had so many people that had the original vinyl or CD. They’d say I hated your guts when this came out, but I’ve grown to love this. Coincidentally, the album was reissued on limited vinyl again during that tour. So, you know what? I’m not ashamed of it. I’m damn proud of it. And there are the haters who think I destroyed the band. But I’m in love with those songs and they are classic. I think we made a serious mistake when we released “Generation Clash” as the first single. I believe we should have done “X-T-C” or “D-Train” to kind of keep the heavy audience still interested in the band. “Generation Clash” was so obscure compared to what they had done before.
The one thing about Eat The Heat that a lot of people seem to realize now is if you listen to that era of Accept, like Russian Roulette and Metal Heart, it was starting to be a little bit more commercialized. So Heat isn’t that far removed from where they were going. It’s just a new voice. I’m damn proud of it. And I’m going to keep playing those songs.
You don’t seem like the kind of person who would play a song at this stage in your career that you didn’t believe in.
I’ve tried it on some suggestions from other people, like some stuff from the back catalogue. I’m not really a fan of the song and I play it and it sounds like I’m not a fan of it. So there’s no energy there. And the people, they don’t respond.
Last time we asked you about advice for up-and-coming local musicians. You mentioned the importance of sleep and sobriety. What are some other lessons from your early days as a local singer that have stayed with you as your careers progressed?
[Laughing] I knew the right way to act when I was younger, but I didn’t. All the guys in those days that we opened for, you know, you’d see them in the dressing room and then they’d disappear on the bus and get the rest. And I’d be up for days and doing the various things that I shouldn’t have. But at my age and the extreme vocal stuff that I have to do, it won’t stand. My advice would be you don’t need it. I’m completely, 100 percent sober now. Nearly two years. Yeah, that was a big thing for me. I’m an alcoholic. So I had to put it down. I always thought that I needed it to take the edge off before I went on. And when I was on and after I was on. And it was a big lie. I know it was one of those things where I was part of my life for so long that I just had to do it, I thought. And then that little voice in your head says, no, you don’t.
But you’re afraid to stop because you don’t know who you’re going to be, what you’re going to be like. And I think I’m a better singer. I have more stamina. I’m far more coherent when I speak to people during and after interviews and with my family. So my advice is, you know, there are times for it, I suppose, but not when you’re working. You know, you don’t go to work and drink all day, right. You don’t go to a factory job or drive equipment drinking all day because you’re going to kill yourself or somebody. And it’s no different. I mean, if people don’t realize that music is a business and a job, they’re wasting your time and my time and their own time. It’s not about the free beer and the cocaine and the girls. That’s just kind of a dark bonus that follows you around.
You don’t need it to be healthy, you know? And people actually respect you more. You know, if you take care of your body and you’re healthy and they pay to see a show and you give it, then they go wow, you can still do it.
For Cacophony, what was your collaborative process like with Andy?
The cool thing about Andy is that I can have just a fraction of an idea and he is so gifted that he can take that and really delve into it and create kind of what I’m thinking, but take it further. So I have to give him far more kudos than myself. He produced, arranged and mixed the album and was a key focal point for the group. He is one of the most gifted guitar players in the world.
It sounds like there’s a good chance that you would collaborate with Andy again for future records.
Absolutely and I would suggest that to anybody else. He has a pretty, pretty strong solo career as well. I think he’s doing an album right now. He actually got Peter Baltes from Accept to play bass. So he’s got his hands in a lot of things. And as a producer, he’s really, really grown. If you listen to the production of our album, it’s amazing. The production quality is fantastic and it’s just right on your nose. That’s all Andy. I’ve got nothing to do with it.
While touring, will you be opening with “Chasing The Shadows” like you do on Cacophony?
I think so. Andy and I actually wrote that song when you asked earlier, but it was while we were going to put it on my first solo album, Universal Language. The label actually took the title but didn’t put it on the running order. So when we got back together, Andy looked at me and asked if you want it to be heavier. We want to do this more metal thing again. What about “Chasing The Shadows”? And he played me the track because I had forgotten about it. We put different drums on it and more guitars. The vocal take is pretty cool. So I just added a few things. But yeah, that’s our new opener. It’ll be a video, too.
When the “Chasing The Shadows” mishap occurred, did that make you want to pull your hair out?
Absolutely, but more so for Andy, he was ready to friggin kill the label at the time. I mean, we got the CD. We saw the title and like it’s not on the album and there’s this dead space. And then like this weird sound, I mean it was like it was too late. There were 2,000 or 3,000 units pressed. Of course we complained and then they said if we wanted to rectify it, it would cost a lot. Those kinds of things drive me absolutely ape-shit. I’m not going to lie. And that happens a lot. But being solo, I’m in charge of quality control. I’m in control and I have nobody but myself to blame if I forget something.
You ask me about advice for other bands. If you’re having difficulty in a group unit, trust me, I’ve learned over the years there’s no such thing as a democracy; it’s usually one or two guys leading the show. I’ve tried to have a band of brothers, but when it hits the fan, they all start looking at their personal work. I’ve just given up that pipe– dream, that it’s a band of brothers, because it’s not realistic. To say that everybody’s in the same boat thinking the same thing is just a lie. But as far as making music, I’m democratic in that sense. Like you said, putting a bass solo on the album or any good idea. You’ve got a good song? Why wouldn’t I put a good song on the album? I’m not going to be a credit hound and say, well, it’s on Cacophony of Souls, so it’s ninety percent my song. There are a lot of songwriters like that, too. They just take everything and that doesn’t work.
You live in Italy and typically play European venues. When will you return to play the United States?
The thing about that is I would love to. And the only way it seems like it could work right now is if I come along and use a North American backing band, because some of my players haven’t set foot on U.S. soil. So it’s always a matter of finances. Something will happen this year. I’ve got like three things that are really moving forward but they’re kind of leaning on me, just coming alone and also hiring a backing band. I do have guys that I trust that could do a great job, but I much prefer to have the guys that I play with because we’re great together live.
Before we go, let’s clarify one important detail. You were REECE on Resilient Heart. Are you David Reece now?
Yes. There’s a band called Reece from Wales. My name is Welsh and I found out just a few years ago. It’s as common as Johnson. And I know those guys. We’re booking shows and there’s this band booking shows and promoters are going I just booked Reece last week. Well clearly it was someone else. So my manager fixed it and I’m now David Reece just so that it’s not confusing. That was kind of a nightmare, too. Like you said, those little things can drive you nuts.
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Editor’s Note: The interview was done prior to current travel restrictions.
Justin Smulison is a professional content writer and producer whose first love is music. Smulison’s digital and print copywriting experience spans music, law, true crime, advertising and real estate, among other subjects. You can often find JS in Long Beach, New York, either running on the boardwalk or in the sand with his family.