Mixing complex rhythms, labored guitars and unexpected vocal hooks, Daeodon’s dark, freehand vibe likens to Soundgarden, Radiohead and Tomahawk.
Daeodon - from the Greek words daios (hostile, dreadful) and odon (teeth) - roamed across North America sometime between 29 and 19 million years ago, using his elongated, tooth-filled skull and imposing physicality to fend off attackers, steal prey, and fight when challenged. He wasn't pretty, and he meant business - and the same could be said about the post-grunge/doom-rock outfit from Louisville, Kentucky, known as DAEODON.
Their music is difficult to classify or categorize, as it spans across multiple genres and follows no traditional music conventions or formulas. As evidenced by the band's latest album, Forever Strangers, the music is rife with hard-driving, precision riffs, spacious, ethereal moments, extreme highs and lows and passages that range from blaringly loud to calmingly soft. One thing is for sure, however - Daeodon's music has teeth.
DAEODON - pronounced day-o-don - got its start in November 2016 when Louisville natives John Torstrick (guitars) and Sam LeMay (vocals) began collaborating on material. The lineup didn't coalesce until months later with the additions of expert drummer Rob Edwards (Days of the New, Arnett Hollow) and Louisville Hardcore veteran Greg Livingston on bass (Hedge, I have a Knife), and that initial process of searching for the right rhythm section almost proved fatal for the young band.
"In all honesty, I didn't know if we were going to make it through that," says Torstrick.
"It was pretty shaky in the beginning," adds LeMay, "and it required a lot of perseverance on our part."
With a stable lineup in place, DAEODON was off and running. By November 2017, the group - which draws influence from everything from early Black Sabbath to Mr. Bungle - found itself recording its four-song debut EP, No Time to Die, at Electrical Audio in Chicago, a facility owned by legendary musician and producer Steve Albini (Nirvana’s In Utero). Recorded live to tape in only two days, No Time to Die has a raw quality indicative of a young band still in the process of finding its sound.
In contrast, the nine songs on the new Forever Strangers LP - recorded over several months in the band's hometown of Louisville - is a stronger representation of what DAEODON sounds like now. The Fixer (2019) and Forever Strangers (2020), were produced by highly coveted producer/engineer Hank Linderman (America, The Eagles). Both records were further blessed by having Tim Brothers pick up the bass after Livingston left in 2018. The songwriting is tighter, and the production is astonishingly more clean and precise - clear signs of a group that's continuing to evolve and mature as time progresses.
"We tried to kill every single song, every single day on the path to forge Forever Strangers," says LeMay. "We culled the herd over and over to be left with nothing weak. A razor sharp edge on everything. We did not achieve perfection but we got closer this time than anything in our catalogue to date."
DAEODON have come a long way in 5 years, releasing a record every calendar year since their start despite the pitfalls of the music industry. While they are certainly a stronger, more cohesive unit than they were in their early days, by no means is it always smooth sailing for this group of strong-willed individuals.
"There's a bit of a destructive energy in DAEODON, and part of our success is being able to cope with that," says Torstrick. "I think part of the reason that our sound is a little crazy and all over the place is because everybody has their own issues they're trying to deal with."
When asked about this undercurrent of tension that regularly flows between band members, LeMay adds, "When we were recording the first EP in Chicago, there was almost a fistfight on take one. I thought we were going to end up owing Albini 50 grand for broken equipment. But we got through it and we got a killer take out of it."
"We've been walking a tightrope for a while," says Torstrick. "Can we get over this hurdle, or is this going to be the end of the band? But I think that's kind of the crux of the project, that we've been able to deal with some very tough situations and capitalize on it. Sometimes when you have a fight with someone close to you, it strengthens the relationship. In the long run, it's made all of us a stronger unit - it's made us trust each other more."
Currently Daeodon are recording demos workshopping their third full length album due out in 2021. “A lot of independent artists are struggling with the lack of live shows right now. Thankfully we have always been able to put our heads down and write. So that’s what we are doing. We know that if we continue to write better and better music, that our fans will continue to support us and we can adapt. The primary function of a band, we believe, is to create good music.”
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