drummer Ryan Peterson and guitarist Cory Divine of Madison's legendary metallers Birth Of Tragedy
Two-man heavy metal juggernaut BIRTH OF TRAGEDY ripped through the Madison scene in the late 90s and early 2000s with a blend of prog and hardcore. Singer/guitarist Cory Divine and drummer Ryan Peterson delivered a concentrated sonic enema of what they called "Cathartic Metal" that was often more about emotional release than it was about entertainment. After quickly becoming Midwest metal darlings and even a tour with MUDVAYNE, the duo decided to take a break from the music and since 2002 have only sporadically recorded and released music. The good news is that they're back this month for the Maximum Ink Halloween Spooktacular on October 29th and we spoke with Cory from the band about what they've been up to and where they're going.
MAXIMUM INK: BIRTH OF TRAGEDY is back after a hiatus. On your Facebook page, you mention success and excess getting to your heads, what does that mean?
CORY DIVINE: Part of that is just Spinal Tap-esque sarcasm. Like one of the final scenes where they're talking about what happens after the band ends, "The end is something that's happening, but not happening". Funny thing is, I think we may have been at that very pool side roof top when we played in Hollywood with MUDVAYNE many years ago. On a more serious note, we just kind of moved into a different chapter of life for a while, domestication, families, careers, school, etc... Ryan and I are pretty much best friends so this band has always been an extension of that, ever since we drifted away from "rock" per se and started delving into heavier territory when we were about 20, we've always stayed connected. Our families are close, we still go to shows together, hang out all the time. There were months that would go by where the drums/guitars sat idle in the basement but yet we always stayed connected. If we felt the itch, we'd rock out a few old ones, but it wasn't really until last fall when I started seriously writing again that things began to take form for this new chapter.
MI: How do you think the Madison music scene has changed in the 18 years since you've formed the band?
CD: In some ways I see more metal in this city, but in other ways I'm not so sure. I wish the really heavy, experimental scene was bigger but I've always thought it's a tough demographic to maintain that style of music in. The college atmosphere creates a kind of transient scene that's always changing, which is awesome in some ways, but makes it tough to sustain sometimes. Hopefully that doesn't come off as too pretentious! To give another Spinal Tap quote, "too much fucking perspective"!
MI: How have you and Ryan changed as performers and songwriters?
CD: I think we're playing with a different kind of passion. The same level as when we were younger, but I think of our days playing O'Cayz, The Anchor Inn, The Rock Shop in Milwaukee, etc..., and it was balls to the wall catharsis. It's still that for sure, but in certain ways it's more controlled, more expansive. More melody here and there, but then at times, there's a hint of progressive black metal, think Enslaved for example. We're just excited to play some of this new shit we've been carving out for the past few months.
MI: What are you finding inspiration in today that you haven't in the past?
CD: What initiated a lot of the desire to start writing again was an opportunity I had to attend a traditional sweat lodge ceremony about a year ago outside of Nashville. It was one of the most powerful experiences of my life. Intense and transcendent. It changed me and sparked this sense of urgency that we still have plenty of gas in the tank left. I came back from that and kind of had this art for art's sake idea... Even if we don't ever play this shit live, lets feed the creative fire. It's healing and I believe it's connecting with something regardless if it's heard or not. That may sound strange and existential, but it's connecting with an energy on a personal level that is kind of mystical. Now that it's starting to gain momentum, we can't wait to get out of our heads and bring it to a live form.
MI: Are you guys recording anything new? What's the plan for the future of the group?
CD: I'm such a novice when it comes to home recording or really anything technology related so I took the easiest route possible to put together demos over last winter - Garageband! We're slowly throwing them up on the Facebook page with the disclaimer that they're just programmed drums, but man I'd love to get back in the studio because obviously Ryan's percussion needs to be heard. What you're hearing on Facebook is drastically different than what you'll hear live from a percussion standpoint obviously. He brings these songs to life. We've had the opportunity to work with some awesome people over the years... We did our first record with Wendy Schneider at Coney Island, then Matt Faye at Sleepless Nights, then Conrad St. Clair who's the man behind Kicksville, then Mark Whitcomb at DNA. So the itch is definitely there, as we've had some great experiences in the studio.
MI: What can people expect from the live show at this year's Maximum Ink Spooktacular on October 29th?
CD: The live show will be intense. Emotional, heavy, we've got a bit of a surprise for the last few songs that we're going to keep on the down low...
MI: Any other tidbits you want to mention to the Max Ink audience?
CD: Gordon Lightfoot is the heaviest son of a bitch there is. Gordy's Gold man, Gordy's Gold.(1894) Page Views
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