XL And Death Before Dishonor interview
Mr. Todd Stevens and I had a chance to talk about what is going on with XL And Death Before Dishonor. Yes I do like thrash metal, rapcore is what XL And Death Before Dishonor was. Plus a great message of God in the songs!
Thank you for hanging with the Metal Pulse Radio rock community! It is great to have you here!
XL: It’s awesome to be on the show. Thank you so much!!
Please take us on the journey of how XL And Death Before Dishonor came together and got to the point where you are at today.
XL: Well, I was first introduced into the Christian music industry by hanging around many of the west coast Christian hip-hop acts. Brainstorm records at that time had some of the best Street hip-hop available with a Christian message. They had the Dynamic Twins, SFC featuring Soup The Chemist, Freedom Of Soul featuring Peace 586, Idol King, the Tunnel Rats, and in 93 they had XL and DBD. In the fall of 1991 I went on tour with the Dynamic Twins on the DC Talk/Newsboys tour called the Nu School Jam tour. When I got back from that tour Brainstorm had offered me a record deal. They knew I had been hanging out with several of their artists and also putting down guitar parts, bass parts and drum parts on their tracks. I had my own demo tape out at that time and Peace 586 handed it to them and said you guys should sign this guy. So I signed with Brainstorm in the beginning of 1992 to put out a hip-hop record. My brother, Anthony Stevens, XL and DBDs touring drummer as well as The drummer on most of Live From Nineveh, came up with the idea of Death Before Dishonor being the band name. And just two weeks before going into the studio I showed Gene Eugene some of the demos I had been doing at my house that featured metal music with me rapping to it. He was sold and he said let’s do this. So we did!! My first tour as XL and DBD was with the Crucified in late 92 playing behind me. In all honesty I’ve never had a better band play my stuff than the Crucified!! After that tour and 93 We played a few concerts that year and we played Cornerstone in 93, the crowd went wild. It was awesome!!! The following year however, I got married and that really changed everything. There’s a whole other interview behind that smile emoticon Everything just came to a halt for me. We tried to keep the band going in California for some time. Bryan Jay of the band Keel had joined us. My original bass player, Doug Shumway was playing. And a neighborhood friend of mine, the late Mike Nichols was on the drums that was the band from 94–96. We didn’t play a whole lot. We did get to open up for LA Guns though at club orchids in orange county. That was a cool show. But later that year in 96 is when I decided to move to Iowa. So the band came to an end for some time. And finally we picked up in 1998 and this time I was playing with my brothers Eric and Anthony. That was the core unit of XL DBD until 2004. Then it was just all over. And XL& DBD did not do anything until October 2015 when we hit the studio again.
XL And Death Before Dishonor is an interesting name. Does it have any special meaning?
XL: Well, as I said my brother Anthony came up with the idea of the name. My brother was in the Marine Corps for a short time before he received an honorable discharge for an injury. The term “death before dishonor ” is an old marine term meaning, we choose to die before we ever dishonor our nation or mission. It is the same for us Christians except our mission is living out the gospel of Christ!
You have a new album coming out soon called Offensive Truth Vol. 1.
I hear you have a lot special guest on the album? When is the release date for the new album?
XL: Well, I’m actually putting out 2 albums at the same time. Offensive Truth Volumes 1 & 2. The release date is February 2 and that is for digital download on iTunes and Amazon etc. physical CDs will take a few more weeks. Since I did this thing on my own this time I depended on fan fundraising. I was a little short when it came to making CDs but I did not want to hold back anymore for making the songs available. So both albums will be available on February 2 for digital download and those desiring a CD will need to wait a few more weeks. With the help of God I was able to score a few of my favorite Christian artists to play on the record. I simply asked them and they all said yes!!! I got Oz Fox, Rex Carroll, Greg Minier, Jim Chaffin, and Jimmy Brown. I am very stoked to have them as well as with their performance.
What can people expect from Truth Vol. 1. music wise?
XL: I essentially put out another rap core album. Since the album that put me on the map was Sodom and America, I decided to give the people somewhat of the same flavor. There is some straight metal, some hard rock, some stuff that leans a little bit more towards rock rap in the vein of Run DMC and Aerosmith’s walk this way. About five or six of the songs are ones that were going to come out in 1994 for my sophomore album with Brainstorm records. Although that album never came out because I decided to walk away from the deal. I’ve been showing it to many people whose opinion means a lot to me. And everyone is saying that it sounds just great!! Overall it is aggressive rock music with aggressive rap style vocals. Although on these albums a lot of the hooks are very melodic, much more singing this time around.
You are putting out Offensive Truth Vol. 1. independently. Is there a reason you are not going with a label?
XL: Well, I don’t mind going with a label if it’s going to be one that will provide the necessary means that I need to both do what needs to happen as well as not rob me of my due. Many of the smaller labels I have dealt with in the past did exactly that. They take high percentages of the artist’s money. Or can’t produce anything for you that you couldn’t do on your own now a days. I’m done with that. The risk I take is not having the capital upfront to really market myself, but I’m just trusting God. He’s brought me this far and I know he won’t let me down. If DreamWorks, Warner Bros., or Capital, or one of the bigger labels wants to pick me up I may consider. But otherwise it can be done on your own now.
What type of recording process did you use? Who produced your recording?
XL: I recorded the majority of the drum tracks at Retrophonics studio in St. Augustine Florida. Tom Petty recorded there, as well as Otis Redding’s son. Then all the rest of the tracking was done at Sound Mind Studios in Daytona Beach Florida. A former fan, now friend and associate Matt Mckeown produced this record with a little input from XL here and there
smile emoticon Matt did an excellent job in my opinion. He has been working with some big names in Nashville and also has music that has been bought by the NFL. That’s right you can hear Matt in some of the football games and on the NFL website. So he’s the guy that brought the sound in this record. We are hoping it does well enough that many other bands will start to look him up. Some other tracks of course came in from the studios where my guest artists recorded. Wherever Oz was, wherever Rex was etc. It’s so cool being able to record long-distance these days. My brother Anthony played drums on a couple of tracks and he did his recording at the Ark Recording Kompany owned by Dennis Haeslip in Ames Iowa where I live.
I remember you talking about your 2nd album Live From Nineveh…What Next? you were not happy with could you tell us why?
XL: I like the material. I wrote most of it smile emoticon But on that particular album my two brothers Eric and Anthony also participated in the writing process. The recording just was not state-of-the-art. I went with a guy that was willing to record me and had just received his first Pro tools set up and just wasn’t very familiar with it at first. So the outcome was not very desirable. It’s all cool though because the record label we were on at that time fell through with the deal, and so we only put out 1000 units and then just made it available for streaming on band camp. We plan to put out another record, maybe towards the end of this year that will be a remake of the majority of those songs on Live from Nineveh.
What has been your biggest challenge as a band? Have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so, how?
XL: I think my biggest challenge as a band has been getting a full band of competent players that also have a strong mentality to serve Jesus. Through the years I have always ended up with one or the other. Some have been super fired up for Jesus but their skill was just mediocre. Or the opposite side of the coin. As of right now I don’t even have a complete band. But I know that’s coming. There are enough All-Stars out there that are willing to tour with me, and that would help me land a competent band. For example, Rex said he would tour with me if all works well. Also Jesse Sprinkle said the same. Etc. My original bass player, Doug Shumway is willing to play with the band. But he lives in California right now and fights fires. Ultimately it comes down to God putting one together. But I know he will. Because I am touring this coming year. It has long been time.
What role does God play in the band or in your life personally?
XL: It’s all about God. Without him I know I would be dead. He saved me from destruction and damnation. He saved my marriage, he put my family back together. He gave me another opportunity to fulfill the destiny of the ministry handed to me years ago. He gave me back a fire that I had lost. If you see my posts on Facebook I would say 95% of them are spiritual posts about what the Lord has done in my life and how people should live for him and love him. The other 5% are just to entertain people long enough to keep them around to hear the next spiritual post smile emoticon That’s why this time around whoever is a permanent member of XL&DBD must be fired up for Jesus.!!! The general public is not just going to get entertained with good music, we are about saving souls and destroying the kingdom of our enemy. God has commissioned us to do so. Hallelujah!!
How can fans-to-be gain access to your music? Do you have a website with sample ?
XL: I am in the process of putting one up this week. So by the end of the week there should be an XL & DBD website. It will be a one stop shop place for people that love our music. I will have all the links to where they can buy our products. I will have a link to all of our lyrics. Band member’s bios, the whole 9 yards, shirts, beanies, posters, and a blog where myself or other members will post the word of God from time to time etc etc. To get all that stuff together it will take a little bit of time. I will let people know on Facebook and pay for advertisement so it gets out to thousands upon thousands of people
Thank you very much for your time,. Any final words?
XL: The way this has come about is a complete miracle from God. I feel very safe to say he is the one who has made a comeback for XL&DBD. So you will be hearing much from us. Our mission is the mission that God gave to every Christian, to go and preach the gospel to every creature. We got mad love for all who support us and we’ve got mad love for those who will not. Because when it’s all said and done it is only about Jesus Christ. He is all that matters. From XL, the front guy for the band, I say thank you to Dave and to Metal Pulse Radio. Blessings and Godspeed!!