Hot on the heels of their debut release on Roadrunner records, Love Is Gone, goth rockers Dommin hit the road with HIM. Before the San Francisco show I caught up with bass player Billy James to talk about the new album, touring and the future.
Congratulations on the new album.
How’s it feel to finally get it out?
Billy: It’s been amazing. We’ve waited way too long.
I understand that it was originally supposed to come out last spring.
Billy: It was supposed to come out almost a year before it did come out.
What was the reason for the delay?
Billy: It was a bunch of different reasons, mainly for marketing purposes and for our benefit we pushed it back. Some felt that they weren’t doing enough for marketing so we wanted to have a proper release. We wanted to do enough promotional things in between that time and do enough touring before it was properly released. All the way around I think it was a better decision for us even though we were just waiting for it to come out.
And it was basically sitting in the can for a year?
Billy: It was done, mastered, artwork was finished. Yeah it was just sitting waiting for a release. It actually got pushed back three different times … accumulated a whole year [delay].
Some of the material that went on to this record was actually on an early demo from 2006…
Billy: Yeah, we had a self-titled release, Mend Your Misery, and there were only about one to two thousand of those in circulation. And those were in circulation right up until the time where we had signed with Roadrunner and then Roadrunner cut them off, obviously, for their own reasons.
Do you still have boxes of them sitting around somewhere?
Billy: We got rid of about all of them. We just didn’t have to re-order basically.
How has being on a major label changed things for you?
Billy: It’s done a lot for us. It’s opened up a lot of doors for us. One of the major things that it does for us is it gives us a big financial backing for proper tools that we need whether it be a really great produced music video or a great produced album. They have distribution; they have every tool that a band needs to be successful these days. And these days you need everything you can. It definitely put us on a new level and I don’t know if we would ever be released to such a big audience if we were to do it on our own without a label.
In terms of influence, I know Kris has talked about Type O Negative being a big influence for him …
Billy: Me too.
Thoughts on Peter Steele’s passing last week?
Billy: It was a sad day. Me and Kris just couldn’t believe it because we played with Peter Steele before. We opened up a show with him at the Galaxy Theater years ago in a previous band. We also toured with Seventh Void which is Kenny and Johnny the drummer. We’re not only huge fans but we know them and so it was a huge loss for us.
Have you thought about covering a Type O Negative song?
We’ve thought about it. I don’t know if we’ve just never agreed on one or just have been working on other things that have come together in a better way. Or it might possibly be since a lot of people compare us so much to Type O Negative, I don’t know if it would be such a total new, innovative thing to release a Type O Cover song. I don’t know if we ever will. I would like to, personally.
Which one would you choose?
Billy: Cinnamon Girl or Black No. 1
A cover of a cover.
Billy: Maybe I Don’t Want to Be Me. I relate to that song a lot. [laughs]
Why is that?
Billy: It’s tough sometimes. This tour has been really tough for us. When you’re away from home for five months at a time it’s repetitive and it’s a lot of work. Every day we’re loading, every day we get minimal rest and after a while, traveling takes a toll on your body.
You guys have been pretty much on the road non-stop for the last 9 months.
Billy: Yeah, we’ve had a month break here, a month break there. The European Lacuna Coil tour, which the day after we started on the European H.I.M. tour. Now the H.I.M. tour is back here [in the U.S.]. After the H.I.M. tour’s finished we’re going to see maybe a three week to a month string of small headlining gigs.
Where are those going to be?
Billy: In the U.S. We’re going to start East Coast and work our way back to West Coast … work our way back home, basically. And after everything is said and done, it’s going to be probably a total of about five months that we’ve been on the road. So this is the longest one. It’s tough.
How has your live performance evolved over that time?
Billy: Well, when you’re performing every night you start to streamline your live performance very well. I think it’s always been good but now it’s even that much better. We have a different set this time. From what I’ve been told by people around us and by people that go to our shows, our live performance has always been amazing. The sound, actually from what people and fans say, sounds almost better than the production of the album does which is cool to hear.
How have the Lacuna Coil and H.I.M. fans reacted? A lot of these people come to see them and have never heard of Dommin.
Billy: The whole idea that a good booking agent wants to do is to book their bands with bands that they think have similar fans. So Lacuna’s fans were amazing. They took us in right away. They’re really open, one of the most open fan bases out of any band that I’ve ever toured with. H.I.M.’s fans are just … like I said earlier, this has been a super tour for us. Their fans are loving us and we’re loving them. They’ve been giving us such an amazing reaction every night.
The band has had to cancel a few dates because of Kris’ voice. Has that been a strain on you guys?
Billy: It’s not cool for any band that’s on such an amazing tour like this. We’re trying to suck up every bit that we can on this tour and when we lose a few shows it’s like losing a few shows of the best tour that we’ve ever been on in our careers. We’re really disappointed but on another note, if it [Kris’ voice] could get any worse or if we push Kris’ voice, it could turn out that we would just cancel the whole tour because he could get a bad case of pneumonia.
Do you get a chance to hand out with the other bands when you’re on the road?
Billy: Yeah. We’ve hung out with the other bands excluding H.I.M. Me personally, I haven’t had a great opportunity to hang out with them too much other than just passing each other between dressing rooms. They’re pretty busy and they don’t like to go out and party. They’re not that band. They kind of like to keep to themselves which is cool and respectful.
What do you do when you’re not touring?
Billy: I have a dog which I miss a lot right now [laughs]. Hang out with family and friends as much as possible. I own a skate shop in a surrounding city outside of L.A. Me and another business partner run that. He takes care of it when I’m on the road.
Does he take care of the dog too?
Billy: No, my girlfriend is taking care of the dog right now.
When you guys get off tour do you not want to see each other for a while?
Billy: It’s not that we don’t want to see each other, but we don’t make too much of an effort to hang out every night [laughing]. We don’t get sick of each other. Like I said, this has been the longest tour so far … the longest couple of tours all bunched up to one … 5 months … and there haven’t been any arguments or anything. Everybody’s been really cool, amazingly. Everybody’s been getting along really great.
And you guys don’t have a big fancy tour bus, you’re in a van.
Billy: Yeah, we have a van. We’re saving money because ultimately those expenses, they come out of us.
So what’s next for Dommin?
Billy: We’re going to do a lot of touring. After this tour we’re going to do a small string of headlining shows. That’s going to run all the way to about May 22 or May 24 and then we’re home for about eight days and then we go off to do all the summer festivals in Europe. We’re doing Rock Im Park, we’re doing Download and we’re doing Sonisphere. Those are some of the major festivals.
Any particular bands that you’re excited to play with?
Billy: The Download Festival is Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. We’re playing Sunday on the main stage and I believe that we’re the first band that day. Later in the evening is Aerosmith, Stone Temple Pilots, Ratt … I’m excited to play with those bands. And on Friday, which is one of my favorite bands growing up, AC/DC is playing and I’m going to be there for that. Definitely, that’s going to be awesome.
Is it going to be the largest audience that you’ve ever played for?
Billy: Yes, I’m sure it will. I’ve been told 100-110 thousand people are usually at Download. And at which time when we’re playing at noon … in theory everybody’s going to still be there because it’s kind of like a campout thing and everybody spends the night and goes in the morning … I’m hoping there’s between 20 and 50 thousand people at that time that we’re playing which is going to do us some good.
Are you going to video tape it?
You guys have made roses a big part of your stage presence and your image. I noticed that upstairs a lady was cutting the thorns off the roses. Wouldn’t it be more hardcore if you left the thorns on?
Billy: It would be more hardcore but I don’t know if our fans would appreciate it [laughs], that would be an unpleasant surprise! We take them off because we give them to our fans and when we give them to our fans they take home something that they can remember the show by. When somebody has a physical item to bring home with them, whether it be an album or a t-shirt or a rose or a signed flyer, it gives them something to remember the show more. The whole rose theme … you know roses are a symbol of love … and [in] our music Kris writes about a lot of past love relationships and past experiences that he’s had so that’s where that comes from.
I just figured that given that a lot of the themes in the music have to do with the more painful sides of love that leaving the thorns on might be more appropriate.
Billy: Yeah [laughs], I get your point.
Given that the album that was just released is many years in the making and a year in the can, have you guys been working on new material and when do you expect to get that out?
Billy: Well, we do have a lot of new material. We have years and years of material. And we have a lot of new stuff that we’re working on currently. It’s basically whenever we get the green light from the label that’s when we’re going to start recording. We’re definitely prepared for the next album.
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