It's apparent that for North Carolina-based bludgeoners Deception of a Ghost, it's about the sound and very little about the image.
According to guitarist Buddy Dameron, equal to his band's slam is the message the band conveys. "The message we send is to be yourself and do all you can to make yourself happy. Let your voice be heard. We try to encourage people to fight for their dreams, to sum it all up," he says enthusiastically.
Buddy, along with his brother brother Kyle Dameron, make up the DOAG guitar duo, which, along with lead vocalist Scott Cowan, bassist Wes Lail and drummer Bryan Sain, blast a crushing hardcore/metal sound that's beginning to stir up the underground scene with the help of songs like "These Voices" from the band's hard-hitting debut, Speak Up, You're Not Alone.
Buddy checked in with Guitar World from the road on one of the last dates of their recent national tour.
GUITAR WORLD: How is the tour going?
Man, it's awesome. This is what we live for. It's a dream job, every day. We're having a great time.
Your brother Kyle is in the band with you. How does the Dameron brothers guitar dynamic work?
We're actually both kind of rhythm players. He writes the majority of the stuff and he plays a lot of "effectsy" delay parts, so he always takes care of that live. I do singing in the band so that leaves me free to do most of the rhythm. It would be kind of hard to do all of those effects and the delay kind of stuff while your singing choruses
How long have you two been playing together?
We've been together in music, probably four of five years. Deception has been signed a little over a year now.
Tell me about your last album, Speak Up, You're Not Alone. What experiences birthed the title and songs?
It's not a concept record, so to speak, but our message, which is hinted from the title, is that we're a really positive band. The album speaks about chasing your goals, living your dreams. Not letting the so-called "normal lifestyle" that people try to go by or what you're told you should do.
Do you all collaborate on the songs' lyrics?
We let our vocalist write the lyrics. We normally present the music to our vocalist and let him write, through the music, his message. We're kind of a weird band when it comes to writing. We don't all sit in a room and just jam stuff out and take hours and hours and hours ... there might be two or three people together.
I really like the instrumental, "A Steady Mind For Steady Breathing." It's like you're going full-throttle on the other tracks and then you break into this atmospheric, moody, and beautiful piece.
Thanks, man. A lot of people like that. It kind of makes you step back and have a thought, maybe (laughs).
There are some though-provoking song titles on the record, to say the least. Who is the song "John Draggin' Force" pointed at?
It's kind of like the song "Breaking Benjamin's Neck." We don't have anything against Breaking Benjamin. We just thought it was kind of funny. John Draggin' Force, the famous drag racing star, is a NHRA drag racer. We're all from North Carolina and we all love racing. The way that song starts -- it's really upbeat and kind of crazy. We thought it sounded racy, so we said, "Let's just call it 'John Draggin' Force.' It has nothing to do with the interview, but I actually used to nationally race before I got into music. I have a racing background. I actually won a couple championships in drag racing. We're all huge NASCAR fans, so we're probably a little different than most rock and roll bands and heavy metal bands. We're from the South. What do you expect? Our song names really mean nothing. At all. We're just funny like that, I guess.
Any news on the follow-up record?
We're getting ready to go into the studio with a huge producer that we're really excited about. Jason Suecof. He's done All That Remains, Trivium, huge, huge bands. We're really excited about getting in there. We're planning on tracking a record, hopefully in January, and we already have, I think, two or three huge tours lined up through February, March and April. We're taking some studio time during the holidays for the new record and to get that done.
How did you get started in music?
My brother, who's a little older than me, was a drummer in a band. I always wanted to be in a band. Little brother looks up to the big brother. He could always play any instrument, so he played guitar. He taught me how to play guitar, so we started jamming around. He taught me a lot of chords. I loved the idea of being in a band, and that's the sole purpose I chose guitar. I was pretty good at it and I just wanted to be in a band with my brother. I think you'll love this: I always was a huge Guitar World fan. We used to walk in grocery stores, back in the days when Korn was on the cover of Guitar World, when Munky [Shaffer] and Head [Brian Welch] were on the front page, holding guitars. We always dreamed that one day that was going to be us. Brothers on a magazine cover. Just doing this interview is amazing to me, a big honor. But in Deception of a Ghost, I really chase having a really aggressive guitar sound. I'm obsessed with tone and having modded amps and just having the best pickups and guitars, and just really trying to stand above other bands with just our sound alone, like this crushing tone. That's really why I like guitar. Nobody wants to be a backup singer and not play an instrument. I think it suits me well. That's my spot, for sure.
What kind of gear are you playing with?
I play Marshalls, modded by Voodoo Amps. I play a Gibson Les Paul and I have an LTD, as well. I actually have two Gibson Les Pauls. Normally why I play the LTD is just because we're a pretty intense, insane band and I've completely knocked headstocks and tuning pegs off before onstage. I tend to play what you would call a backup guitar live, just for that fact that I don't want to destroy a two-thousand dollar Gibson. (laughs) But if I'm in the studio, for sure I'm going to play the Les Paul. That's pretty much it.
Who is your favorite guitarist?
My favorite guitarist would be Randy Rhoads. Of course, I fell in love with Korn. I'm from the old school. That was a band I really liked. I got more and more into heavy music. We stay modern, of course.
You mentioned that you were a drag racer and had some success at it. What happened?
I quit music one time and I thought I was going to kill myself. I went and tried to do professional racing. I liked it, but, at the same time, my brother joined another band. I'd always check out how their shows were going while I was traveling. I just hated being away from it. As soon as I got tired of doing that racing stuff I knew that I wanted to jump back into music. That's been four or five years ago. And I haven't looked back since. and everything's continued to get bigger and better. We got signed and got a few songs in Rock Band, an HD music video coming out, I'm talking to Guitar World on the phone. I guess it's going pretty well.
Do you ever get so wound-up onstage that you feel like smashing one of your $2,000 Les Pauls?
No, I would never want to smash anything. But I tell you this; to this day whenever we play, whether there's six-hundred or a thousand people in front of us, or ten, the feeling I get before I go onstage is that huge anticipation, the adrenaline. And I don't think it will ever leave me. Anybody that doesn't have that feeling when they jump onstage probably doesn't need to do it anymore. Being onstage is like a drug. It's the most amazing feeling ever. Like I said, when I got away from it, I was so bored. I hated life. I think I was just born to do this. If you want to do one thing, and you're lucky enough to be able to do that, and you're with other people that you get along with that are talented and can somewhat work toward making a living at it -- I couldn't see myself in a better situation.