Saying Dave Ingram’s name is the same as saying Death Metal. In capital letters. And with deep growls. More or less like DEAAATH METAAAAL!! , if you catch what I mean…
‘Cause Mr. Ingram is one of the most iconic voices in Death Metal. A man with a long career in this genre, being his main band Benediction, but also being part of many others: Echelon, Hellfrost and Fire, Ursinne, Stygian Dark, Formaldehydist, the crust-punk Death Metal band Down Among the Dead Men… And, not to forget his brutal vocal delivery in Bolt Thrower’s “Honour, Valour, Pride” from 2001!
Dave said “yes” when I asked him if he would like to do an interview for Blessed Altar Zine, so here are his answers to my questions.
Hi Dave, and thank you for your time answering this interview. How are you doing, and how are things with Benediction?
D. Ingram: Hey Silvia, thank YOU for the interview. Really looking forward to it. I’m doing pretty good right now. Busy as all Hell, but that’s how I like things. Much to do, so plenty to talk about. Since you ask how things are with the Benny boys, here’s the low down. We’re currently gearing up for the next album recording. I’m just one song away from finishing the writing of the lyrics (I need to record a demo of it at home and send it to the guys) so we’ll get to the studio in early 2024. Can’t give you a title – or song titles – as we’re keeping it very close to our chests for now.
You and the guys have been touring quite a lot lately. What’s the best thing for you about performing live?
D. Ingram: It’s an absolute joy to hear people’s reaction to the tracks every time we play, and it’s always a buzz to get out on stage. Obviously we like to party before and afterwards – we’re Benediction…what else would we do?! Plus being more open to meeting fans means we hear feedback directly, and that’s very important. Plus we get free beers, which is also important.
Do you have any routines in order to prepare your voice before going out on stage?
D. Ingram: There are some warm up techniques I learned but I never use them. I’m too old school, I guess. Did I mention beer? Seriously, there’s nothing too regimented to my stage preparation. I just make sure I don’t drink TOO much (sorry Switzerland!) and that I’m hydrated after too, especially if there’s a show next day. I’m still going to party though.
You are in some other bands besides Benediction (those I mentioned in the introduction, did I skip any?) That’s a lot of work and effort! How do you find time to be everywhere? And, are there news regarding any of those bands?
D. Ingram: Well I guess we should definitely mention JUST BEFORE DAWN since I toured with them, and played on a couple of their releases. Great guys and a great time back then. I’m also going to do a new doom project called SAND CADAVER soon. But for today, my only touring band is Benediction. The others are currently studio projects, and remote ones at that. I’ve worked with Rogga Johansson for over a decade now and I’ve never met him. We will one day, of that I am certain! Therefore working on these projects happens when I have downtime from Benediction. As I said, we’re writing a new album now. When I have completed that I will begin working on the aforementioned Sand Cadaver, a new DOWN AMONG THE DEAD MEN, new STYGIAN DARK, and a new HELLFROST AND FIRE. These will be worked on and completed throughout next year when free time arises. I love to keep busy that way.
I’m just curious… What was your parents’ reaction the first time they listened to you growling like a beast?
D. Ingram: They were very supportive of my music, and of me wanting to be a touring musician. I gave up a career offer to be an accountant with the company I had a shit office job at (they saw I had a brain and wanted to pay for my education, give me a massive pension, company car etc) but the offer to join Benediction came along in August 1990 and, well… here we are today. When I played “The Grand Leveller” to my Mom for the first time she said, “That’s nice, dear. Which one were you?” My Dad was pretty ambivalent to it. He was a Big Band Jazz fan (he got me into it too) but he supported me totally.
Have you ever done clean vocals?
D. Ingram: No, but there may be something along those lines on the SAND CADAVER album. I haven’t written a thing yet, but who knows how it’s going to turn out. Besides that I think I may have done some falsetto vocals on a Queens of the Stone Age cover version that appeared on the URSINNE album. Luckily it was pretty buried in the mix. Oh, and there was the chorus of both “Merry Xmas Everybody” (Slade) and “I Wish It Could Be Xmas Everyday” (Wizard) that were two covers I released with URSINNE again, but as download only and all donations for those tracks went to charity. The tracks were placed on YouTube but got taken down (surprise) but they’re still on the URSINNE bandcamp page. The band released stuff on Transcending Obscurity Records, and I say that so you don’t get confused with another Ursinne, who are a Hardcore band (and very good, by the way!) Funny story: you mentioned HELLFROST AND FIRE at the start, and I recently stumbled on a review of the HF&F album. The reviewer guy didn’t like it, that much was obvious and he is welcome to his opinion. But what made me laugh was the fact that, besides initially getting my name wrong, he said he could often understand what I was singing. Like… that’s a bad thing? There were many more inconsistencies in his review but I’m not here to pick it all apart, nor name drop. I just found the “…oftentimes you can understand him” to be hilarious. I don’t, won’t, and never have done undistinguishable cookie monster vocals.
Besides your awesome vocal skills, can you play any instrument?
D. Ingram: I can play the bass reasonably badly, the drums quite awfully, and don’t ever give me a guitar as I’m bloody awful. I was a bass player in my band (Plague H.D.C.) prior to Benediction. The singer in that band quit so I took over vocal duties as well as bass. I found I was a better singer, and…well, here we are today again.
I recently listened to the Pete Being Pete Podcast in which you were talking openly about mental health, more particularly about the hard times when you had depression, and also about your physical issues with osteoarthritis. (For those of you who are curious, here is the link to the podcast). Well, first of all, as a person myself struggling with some mental issues and also physical pain, I want to say thank you David for being that sincere and taking out this stigma. Illnesses that are not visible, are often taken lightly by people who don’t suffer. What’s your biggest motivation, positive thought… for facing life in general?
D. Ingram: Getting help, for both physical and mental pain, is key to your wellbeing. That in and of itself is motivating for me, though I ABSOLUTELY KNOW that depression drains you of all motivation. It isn’t easy, but there is always light at the end of the tunnel once you begin the process. I suffered depression for over 20 years, and I basically had enough of it. I fought it, and won. My physical ailments can bring me down, but I don’t allow that black cloud into my life. I’m currently trying some new techniques to improve my physical health, so I’ll be able to perform for more years – and that is also motivating! I don’t want to stop doing what I’m doing yet. I’ve had both my hips replaced, and if necessary I’ll have more parts changed out! As for mental health, I find talking about it is very cathartic, and if that helps others then it continues to help me. It’s reciprocal.
Anyone suffering from depression, or any type of mental health issues, please remember: YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
Do you think a lot about the future, or are you a person living the present?
D. Ingram: A little from column A, and a little from column B!
I definitely live for the now. I am the physical embodiment of chaos, especially at home. I am a terribly untidy person, though I try incredibly hard not to be. I like my personal aesthetics, as scruffy as they are. With that said, I look to the future and plan ahead for musical projects, so I can attempt to keep the chaos at bay by sticking to a schedule. Then there are no real (bad) surprises along that road.
Returning to the music… which band was the first one that got you into Metal? Was it any specific song that caught you? And, how old were you when this happened?
D. Ingram: I was 7 years old, it was the Black Sabbath album “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” and when the title track kicked in it was a crystallisation moment for me. I knew that this type of music was going to be by path in life, and be a HUGE part of my life. I didn’t know quite how much, and if I could go back and tell myself back then what I’d do throughout my entire life then I probably wouldn’t believe me. But yeah, Black Sabbath started it all for me.
Which are your favorite classic Metal bands? Is there a musician of whom you are a big fan, and have you been able to meet personally?
D. Ingram: As I just mentioned, Black Sabbath are my favourite band. Each incarnation of them brought something heavy, and they’re always on my turntable/iPod. The same goes for Queens of the Stone Age…along with Kyuss, Desert Sessions, Them Crooked Vultures, Eagles of Death Metal, Stoner, and Brant Bjork. All these artists are constantly in my ears. I do still listen to Death Metal, of course, but I’m still in the past old school mentality, and the OSDM bands like Massacre, Immolation and Incantation get spins. Since I’m living in Denmark I get a lot of Danish bands stuff to play, such as Undergang, Hyperdontia, Strychnos, Maceration, and Chaotian (to name a few favourites) so there’s the new DM bands I love. I also get recommendations from close friends, and recently got into Scottish bands Brainbath and Feannag. Excellent stuff, too! And returning to Black Sabbath, I never met any of them, though I spoke via an interview/article with Bill Ward. And I once trod on Tony Iommi’s foot in Birmingham.
How do you see the underground Metal scene nowadays? Apart from quantity, as it seems there are a lot of new bands emerging everywhere, do you think there is quality too?
D. Ingram: There’s certainly quality in the Danish scene, with the aforementioned bands! I love going to see those guys play live, and hang with them. Beer is usually involved in those instances. Indeed there are a lot of bands out there. My radio show/podcast METAL BREAKFAST RADIO (currently on hiatus, though I may put out a show for the new year) gets a lot of digital promos sent through and I see so many band names I’ve never heard of. Additionally, so many of the names are so fucking laughable that I never want to listen to the band, as their name hints at their music style. I’ve little time for music I cannot find any heart in it. Music that is written WITH heart will always shine.
If you were forced to save only 5 vinyls of your entire collection from a catastrophic fire, which ones would they be? (And sorry, hope this question won’t give you nightmares)
D. Ingram: It’s impossible to say, really. I think my original copy of Sabbath Bloody Sabbath would be one, along with my other OG Sabbath vinyl. I can carry more than 5 so there’d be a bunch I could save. As said, impossible to say which ones. And yes, this will give me nightmares.
Is there any special song that has a strong emotional meaning to you?
D. Ingram: “It’s Alright” on the Sabbath album ‘Technical Ecstasy’ for a very personal reason. Bill Ward knows, I told him. It always seems to return to Sabbath for me. It started my musical journey, so all their discography holds great nostalgia.
Do you have any “musical guilty pleasure” that you can confess?
D. Ingram: No such thing as a guilty pleasure in music. If it gives you pleasure, why would you feel guilt? Maybe it’s best to say that there are types of music I listen to that might make metalheads say “Wow, really?” But for that I don’t see why they should. My musical tastes are quite eclectic, and always have been. I mentioned before about music being written from the heart will always shine, and if it is written that way then I will like it. What I DON’T like is music that is manufactured to simply sell. Boy/Girl bands are the guilty ones. Ugh.
Can you name three things that you couldn’t live without?
D. Ingram: Oxygen. Water. Food.
But I guess you weren’t meaning literally, right? Therefore I’m going to have to say Family, which includes my two dogs. Then I guess it would be Music, in all its forms (listening, buying, performing etc) Finally I think I would have to say beer. I love a good, cold beer. Even with the small lifestyle changes I’ve got planned in the very near future I believe beer will still play a part in my life. Maybe not as much for a time… but there’s still room for Gin!
What does Metal music mean to you in your life?
D. Ingram: It has been a constant companion from the age of 7, and has opened many doors to other forms of music and bands, given me a career as a musician and an outlet for my creativity. The community it brings with it is amazing, and I have met a lot of other creative people, and some very talented ones at that. I’ve stood alongside my childhood heroes, played gigs with them, have them as friends – some even on my phone contacts! – and I am speechless that people still want to hear what we’re doing several decades later. I am overjoyed to be a Metalhead.
It’s been a pleasure having you in Blessed Altar Zine, Dave. Is there anything you want to add?
D. Ingram: Thank YOU so much for a lovely interview! One of my favourites I’ve done this year, I must say. Hope everyone reading it enjoyed it too.
Check out these two albums that are my favourite releases of 2023:
Triumph of Death – Resurrection of the Flesh
Queens of the Stone Age – In Times New Roman
Interview by Sílvia
Check out Benediction‘s discography and the other bands/projects with David Ingram, there’s a lot of great stuff there! Ready for an Old School Death Metal overdose??
Down Among the Dead Men
Hellfrost and Fire
Metal Breakfast Radio
Please note: the vocals in these bands MIGHT be understandable! (David’s words)
**Please support the underground! It’s vital to the future of our genre.**