Interview conducted May 22 2019
Interview published June 2 2019
"I live a charmed life; I'm very lucky."
British power metal unit Savage
Messiah put out their new effort Demons on May 17th and as they made a
stop in Stockholm as support act to progressive metallers Symphony X,
Metal Covenant got some time with the band's main man Dave Silver.
Tobbe: Your new record Demons was recently
out and in what way do you think that record carries Savage Messiah to
Dave: I think it's the first record in our career
where I've really been totally active with the finished product; I wouldn't
change anything about it. I mean, maybe that will change from time,
but, you know, obviously we've had the album since November. You know,
the whole process and everything: We made the album here in Stockholm.
We lived here for 5 weeks. And just the approach to it, the studio,
the people we worked with; from start to finish it was, like, super
creative. I didn't get, like, bogged down with anything; it just happened,
so. So, that's cool.
The band started out more a thrash metal band and has more turned into
a power metal band. You've gone a little bit lighter, I think. So how
do you personally look at that viewpoint and the band's growth over the
Dave: Well, the thing about the thrash thing:
I never ever wanted to be in a thrash band, ever. So anything that we
were doing in the past was, you know, probably just immaturity of forming
a band when you're, like, 21, you know what I mean? But I think if you
go back and revisit some of our older records, you can always hear that
there's ballads and there's melody.
For me, that's just developing as a musician.
Especially developing as a singer, you know, and having more confidence
to sing in those ways, 'cause it's not easy, you know. So for me it's:
the band has always just been a band. Like, it's as much a thrash band
as Metallica, you know. So it's an element of it, but we were never
the, you know, Nuclear Assault, Testament kind of thing. Yeah, I don't
hear much difference; I just think we've gone a bit better at what we
Tobbe: But how far off the original idea
could you take Savage Messiah one day in an unforeseen future?
Dave: Who knows? I mean, the thing is: it will
always be a metal band, 'cause that's what I wanna do. You see, the
bands that I have always been heavy influenced by, such as, you know,
like Judas Priest. What I like about them is they always made different
albums. You can put Painkiller  on and you can put British Steel
 on; it sounds like two different bands.
But the trick is in trying to find your own identity
so that you can write Painkiller and you can write, you know, Hot Rockin'
[Point Of Entry, 1981]. Even if it sounds like different bands, it's
still Judas Priest, is what I'm trying to say. So, you know, hopefully
that's where we could go. But we could go much heavier, we could go
much lighter; I don't know.
Tobbe: You're obviously out supporting Symphony
X at this point and you guys play pretty much only songs off the new album.
Isn't that kind of a bold move?
Dave: Yeah, probably. But, you know, the thing
and the beauty of being in our position
So we're on this tour,
but probably, I would say, about 90 percent or something in this audience
have never heard of us; let alone haven't heard a song. So it feels
good to go and just hit them with what we think is our strongest material,
which is the newest stuff.
it's where you can find the 45 minutes. What happens is
when we headline we do, like, 90. And so we did a headline set, 'cause
we did 3 release shows, and then we started eliminating songs and you
go "Well, could that knock that out?" - "Well no, it
can't. We think that's stronger.". So in the end you look at it
and go "Oh God, it's all new songs, but.".
Tobbe: It must be hard to put aside almost
5 albums, including the EP [Spitting Venom, 2007]. It's, like, 50 songs.
Dave: For a "young band" we do have
quite a lot of songs. But, you know, the only time we ever get to play
super long sets is in Japan. So that's, like, a luxury when we play
songs from every record. But I think when you put out a new record,
especially for us, 'cause we're not in any way like a heritage band
or anything; we're a new band, you stand behind your newest material
'cause that's what you want people to get into. So that's kind of why.
Tobbe: Do you personally kind of follow
any thread lyrically? Like songs with similar subjects.
Dave: Yeah. I mean, it's not, like, conceptual
or anything like that, but I've always tried to be a little, you know,
not, like, intellectual for the sake of being intellectual, but, you
know, I don't like sort of the meathead element of heavy metal. I mean,
that's fine, there's an audience for that; great, but it's not for me,
you know what I mean?
And the kind of comedy side of heavy metal
I've always been like
Lyrically, I like bands like, you know,
Queensrÿche. A thinking man's heavy metal. So
with this record, 'cause we had a lot of time and I was reading a lot
I mean, I was reading like [Fyodor] Dostoevsky, and that's where the
title of the record comes from. George Orwell, a huge hero of mine.
I kind of read [Alexsandr] Solzhenitsyn. I got really into Russian history
and that influenced me quite a lot. But it's more from a psychological
perspective, you know.
human psyche, in a way that
the Russian revolution, which is a
pretty incredible period in history, and what really had been building
for about a hundred years, and then drawing parallels with what's happening
in the UK. And just the kind of total, sort of, polarized division that
people find themselves in ideologically, I find quite interesting.
Tobbe: Parachute, a cover song [Chris Stapleton,
2015]. Tell me how come you guys recorded that one.
Dave: The brain chart of that was our manager
Oliver [Halfin], who is really into that. You know, he has really super
broad taste in music and he had been playing that song a lot around
our office and I liked it. Originally what I wanted to do was just steal
the chords. You know, it's minor key and the chord structure is not
completely similar to a metal track and I thought that would be really
interesting, so I was just gonna swipe them and then "You know
what? Let's just do the song.". 'Cause there's a few reasons for
It's not anything new for a metal band to pick
a random song and metalize it. Priest did it very successfully. One
of the hardest things in the modern music industry is to stand out from
the pack. I mean, you know, you take a band like us, suddenly covering
Chris Stapleton, everybody, like every industry person, that we've told
"Oh, we did this Chris Stapleton
", they go "Oh,
my God. That's genius!". Look at the success of that guy, Little
Nas X, who's come out with this Old Town Road, and it's had, like, a
hundred million streams.
It's like a genre; a crossover with him and Billy
Ray Cyrus. There's something in the psyche of the suits that seems to
think that that's a utility in that. I don't know if there is, but,
you know, Parachute has only had an interesting reaction, but fundamentally
I like the song.
Tobbe: In general, when you enter a new
album cycle, what do you put most focus on?
Dave: I mean, really, like, when you're sort
of a younger band trying to, loosely termed, breakthrough, the emphasis
is put onto touring. You have to tour because, you know, metal fans
are sort of, by default, incredibly conservative, and really the only
way to sort of convince them to like you. The default response of most
heavy metal fans is to reject anything that's new as being, you know,
completely worthless, rubbish, or "Been done before.". That's
just the way it is, you know.
the other problem, I think, with sort of a conservative mindset, in
terms of consumption and music, is that it forces people to listen to
music backwards. So for example, people identify with, you know, an
image, so they go "I'm a thrash metal guy!" and so they create
this little hierarchy in their mind, like a check box of what is thrash
metal. So if someone like us comes along and, you know, we're not thrash
metal, but people say we are, and then what happens is: it's sort of
like the music filters through this hierarchy in their mind and they're
getting, like, X's, so they go "This is bad thrash!".
So for us the emphasis is heavy on touring, basically
because the only way of winning fans is repetition. They have to see
you probably 3-5 times and they have to hear you quite a lot, because,
like I said, they're mostly conservatists; they like what they know
and they know what they like. It's a challenge, but, you know, it's
why you do it.
Tobbe: Do you feel, right now, that you're
with this new album kind of in a 'now or never' situation in terms of
Dave: Not really, because I think if you look
at the history of the band, we've always been on a very slow 45-degree
upward trajectory. And the way the music industry is geared now, the
way music is consumed now; I mean, one of the worst things, and it's
difficult for, you know, younger bands like ourselves, is you can't
compare the career of this new wave of bands to the careers bands had
in the '80s, because technologically it's completely different and culturally
it's completely different.
That's quite a complicated question when you
break it down, because when you say "get bigger", do you mean
Iron Maiden, you know? So, to be honest, we're already getting bigger
because we can now successfully headline in the UK and we can headline
in Japan and the venues are getting bigger and the fans become more
numerous and engaged and stuff like that.
what we need to do is recreate that in mainland Europe, Scandinavia,
and possibly, eventually North America, but it's more of a structured
goal-oriented sort of process rather than just "Fingers crossed.
Let's hope this will happen.". Unless you take the old school approach,
which has been done with bands like Greta Van Fleet for example, which
is kind of "Turn the cash tap on and see where it goes.".
But that's not gonna happen with a band like us, because the infrastructure
doesn't exist and, you know, entrepreneurship doesn't exist.
The industry is a complete mess and it's the
blind leading the blind. Nobody really knows what to do about it. And
that's the way it is. Year on year it sort of gets more and more apparent
that damage has been done to the career prospects of, particularly,
But there's also demographics and one of the
criticisms you hear on a lot of metal shows is that the audience is
old; could be, you know. And that's a social, cultural phenomenon, "Does
metal not resonate with young people in a way that it did 20 years ago?".
But all these things are philosophical questions. We're a metal band
and we enjoy doing what we do and que sera sera.
Tobbe: So how do you keep up your motivation,
or energy, or focus still after 6 records?
Dave: It's equal parts stubbornness and stupidity.
The thing is: I've had a parallel career to music and I've not been
unsuccessful. I mean, I've worked at some of the biggest
I was a tour accountant at CAA and we worked on, you know, tours like
One Direction and stuff like that. I've seen that world and I know what
that's like. I worked for Gordon Ramsey, you know. It's like: I've seen
that world, and it's not for me. Like Frank Zappa said "Broadway
The Hard Way".
Tobbe: As a sole original member of the
band, does Savage Messiah get, like, more a solo band along the road?
Dave: Inevitably. I mean, it's sad to say, 'cause
the idea of, you know, a band of brothers that conquer the world is
something that anyone would be envious of, but again, it's always a
question of economic reality, people change, they get girlfriends that
make them do silly things, they have unrealistic ambitions, you know.
what happens a lot of times is, you know, people go "You're on
a big record label, you've got a big agency behind you, you tour internationally,
if I join your band I've made it!" and then they join the band
it's hard work and people get burned out.
Tobbe: What else do you do besides Savage
Dave: My present sort of day job, if you can
call it a day job, is I work with photographer Ross Halfin and I manage
his archive and we work on, you know, the Metallica reissues, and we
work on projects like the Guns N' Roses - Appetite For Destruction thing.
Mostly projects like that. And that's kind of what I do, and it's just
And it's great, 'cause I live in Italy now, which
makes a big difference. I fly to London for, like, a couple of weeks
at a time, do what I need to do, go home. I have a daughter now, so
I'm a dad and trying to put as much effort into that as possible. I
live a charmed life; I'm very lucky.
Tobbe: Where do you see Savage Messiah in
10 years or so?
Dave: 10 years or so
It could be very
interesting. I'm pretty sure I will probably still be doing it, for
better or worse, because it's almost like chasing the rabbit in Alice
In Wonderland. You know, you don't know "If I stop now, what would
I miss? We've come this far, if I would just quit now, what would I
So I'm pretty sure I will still be doing it,
maybe. I think we'll probably be successfully headlining in Europe,
whether that will be 500 caps, or 2000 caps, or 10000 caps. I don't
know, because that's not something I can control. We've grown steadily
to this point, and the thing about momentum which I find most curious
is that success isn't a linear process; it's exponential, so for every
little good thing that happens, it marginally increases the chances
of making something else happening.
So once that ball starts rolling you actually
have no idea where it's gonna end. It could end at 500 caps, which would
be a complete success, or it could end at 10000 caps, which would be
a whole other load of success. [Laughs] But the point is: I'm totally
objective, I have no idea.