Photo Credit: Thomas Savage
It’s been a huge two weeks for Sydney’s heavy band Justice For The Damned. Last Friday, the five-piece released their first full-length album Dragged Through Dirt, showcasing some of the riff-driven numbers to date. The outfit also embarked on a national tour run with UNFD’s experimental rockers Ocean Grove, finishing up their tour in Melbourne’s Corner Hotel just a few days ago. While the metalcore scene has been a saturated market for some time, the five-piece have embraced their musical growth, showcasing maturity in their lyrical content while also connecting their listeners with themes of loss and grief.
Justice For The Damned have opened up to the fact that making music is an important outlet for them, realising the efforts behind the craft and how much of a positive influence they are for their fanbase. Speaking with guitarist Nick Adams, he tells us more about Dragged Through The Dirt and how its shaped the band’s journey so far.
I just want to say congrats on what Justice For The Damned have achieved so far. So you guys signed to Greyscale Records, which is freaking sick. And you’re releasing your LP Dragged Through The Dirt. How do you guys feel about being up to speed with everything so far?
Oh, it is a very turbulent time for us but it’s really exciting. Everything just sort of took a long time to get here. The album was fairly delayed every now and then – we were waiting so long. Now, it’s all happening; it just feels like everything is happening so quick and we’re just penciling dates, you know, shows beyond what the current touring schedule is and it’s just piling up very quickly so it’s very intense.
You guys seem like you have a busy few months ahead as well ’cause I saw that as soon as you finish wrapping up your Australian tour, you’ll be going straight to Europe and playing even more shows. What do you look forward to most when it comes to a show?
What we’re looking forward to the most about these Australian shows is first, we’ve got Ocean Grove coming – we’re probably most excited about that just because we’ll be playing with those guys. We’ve been friends for many years so it’s really exciting to finally do a lap with them. When you look at our own tour, I mean it’s pretty nerve-wracking ’cause a lot of eyes will be on us, but that’s exciting just because once again we’re bringing out a lot of friends and playing a lot of new material.
Playing the new material is probably going to be a big thing – a really fresh experience live. Obviously, for Europe, it’s just playing these different places is gonna be really crazy for us – probably the fact that we’re going to be travelling around on the bus. We’ve spent years just grinding away in Australia, stuck in vans and cars. To be driving around in other countries in a really big bus is just so wild. We’re speechless, but we are actually interested to see who knows us.
“At the end of the day, we all sort of collectively feel that if you’re not writing what’s in your heart, there’s no way you’re gonna touch other people’s hearts…”
I think it’s perfect timing too because you’re releasing your new album. Was there a particular reason why the release of it was delayed?
It came down to the artwork ’cause we decided we didn’t want to go ahead unless the Vinyl release [was complete] and that demanded more from our artist who was drawing up the artwork. He did have to get more stuff ready for that – it caused a bit of a delay ’cause if you check out the artwork, it’s a big hand drawn thing and it takes a lot of time to do his work. I mean, it’s worth the wait – it comes out really well at the end of it. Thankfully everything was all in place fairly quickly.
You must feel so stoked as well because lots of people are buying your vinyl. How do you feel about that response so far?
It’s a pretty fantastic feeling. In the month leading up to it, a lot of our peers were all putting their albums out and we’re looking at it and it’s so good to see how well they’re doing and we think “Crap, they’re going so well. I wonder how we’ll stick up to it ’cause they’re all so successful right now”. It’s really good to see that we’ve been able bring it the way we’d hope it would. We’re all just really stoked and really flattered by that. We didn’t really expect it.
Now that the album is ready to go, what would you say made this record so special compared to your other releases?
It’s the longest thing we’ve ever put out until now. Like the first EP we put out was only about like three songs. It’s the most work we’d ever had in one single body and that’s pretty exciting; it meant that we were really expanding musically [on] what we were doing. Before we only had a small margin of experimentation. With this, we had a whole album to play with so there’s definitely a lot of different sounds. The fact that we had more room to grow musically is what makes it stand out a lot more from other releases.
Would you say you guys were outside your comfort zones when you were making this?
We’re never known to be the most organised and prepared band. This was definitely no different. I know one thing, when it comes to writing we will always have heaps and heaps of pre-produced tracks rather than working on a few and just making them perfect. The thing that sort of made it a bit of a rush was the dates for recording sort of crept up on us suddenly. It was a bit stressful but we’re pretty happy with how it came together in the end.
Why did you guys name it Dragged Through The Dirt?
When it comes to us, we always delve deeper if we can when it comes to lyrical content and musical content. At the end of the day, we all sort of collectively feel that if you’re not writing what’s in your heart, there’s no way you’re gonna touch other people’s hearts; that is something we really strive for and when it came to Dragged Through The Dirt. When it comes to the name, we always want to be a little bit vague in the sense that other people can relate to it and find interpretation without it being too specific. The title has the intent of sort of coming across in an emotional context rather than Dragged Through The Dirt – like your heart and soul has been ‘dragged through the dirt’ whether it’d be by someone or by some extraneous circumstances.
When it comes to the name, we always want to be a little bit vague in the sense that other people can relate to it and find interpretation without it being too specific. The title has the intent of sort of coming across in an emotional context – like your heart and soul has been ‘dragged through the dirt’ whether it’d be by someone or by some extraneous circumstances.
Obviously, that’s the continuous theme throughout album. Did this sort of come organically when it came to the songs?
As far as the theme that continued throughout the album, I think it could almost be attributed to the fact that a lot the times it felt like it was a story coming together in one album. The theme was kind of accidental on very similar emotional processes, but it was almost equally intended, you know. We thought it was perfect [to] keep rolling with how we’re feeling; it’s how we can put an honest and relatable record.
Did you struggle writing the songs or did you find it freeing in a sense?
At the end of the day, when it was all put down, it was extremely liberating to put the songs together. People are gonna hear this and realise it’s a complete work with all the lyrics intact and everything like that.
You also worked with Sam Bassal [Ocean Grove’s drummer] as your producer as well. How would you describe his work ethic when it came to recording this album?
It was awesome. He definitely worked really hard for us. We have been friends with him and the rest of his band for a long time. He did his best but sometimes we’d be hanging out too much [laughs]. It was probably our fault that we didn’t work as hard as we all could’ve cause we’re all too busy hanging but that was like a really good thing. We were having so much fun whilst doing this that it was just such a natural and fun time. His work ethic was impeccable – it was fantastic. The way he nurtured our sound and wanted to bring the best in us as musicians was really fantastic.
Did you go through any particular learning curves when it came to writing/recording this album?
I don’t think we went through any extremely difficult times. It was very laid-back and we just sort of set up everything ready to go and just went for it. I wouldn’t say for myself or many of the other guys that there was too many difficult learning curves to go through. It was just a lot of work but we found it fun so it was never really a chore.
So you’ve been a band for about five years now. If you could talk to your younger selves and give them advice, what would you say to them right now?
There were times after a little while where things seemed so stressful. I wish I could sort of go back and say ‘Don’t worry’ – like some of the stuff that you’re stressing about now just won’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Small decisions that we had to go through or different lineup changes seemed like the end of the world at the time.
With our finalised lineup we’ve had for the last two years now, it’s just been such a strong team and we really love each other and love working together. If I could go back, I would just tell myself to not worry. Just to ride it out and just to enjoy it because, at the end of the day, the journey that we’re on is the real reward, you know.
Dragged Through The Dirt is out now through Greyscale Records
Check out Justice For The Damned’s upcoming tour dates below!
w/ Hindsight, Staunch, and Honest Crooks
FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 1 – YMCA HQ, Perth AA*
SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 2 – Amplifier Bar, Perth 18+*
FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 15 – Crowbar, Brisbane 18+
SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 16 – Hamilton Station Hotel, Newcastle 18+
SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 17 – Red Rattler, Sydney Lic AA
MONDAY SEPTEMBER 18 – RAD Bar, Wollongong Lic AA
FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 22 – Enigma Bar, Adelaide Lic AA
SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 24 – Phoenix Youth Centre, Melbourne AA
* Justice For The Damned only
For more information, follow the band’s Facebook page HERE