The Deciblog Interview: Tad Doyle

Tad Doyle has preached the Gospel of heaviness for the better part of his life. His seminal band TAD was one of the first out of the gate in Seattle’s grunge movement and one of the earliest bands signed to the legendary Sub Pop label. Although they never achieved the massive crossover success of their peers Nirvana and Soundgarden they nonetheless were a critical favorite and retained a devoted fan base. Since 2000 Doyle has continued to play and tour but hasn’t recorded. That changed this year when his new band Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth released their debut on Neurot. Although the album is categorized as doom it’s more about transcendence through noise like Doyle’s favorite band YOB. Doyle talked to us about his musical rebirth and aging.

It’s taken about 15 years to get this record out, correct?

(laughs). It really started around 2007 when TAD broke up. I got into another project called Hog Molly and we were together maybe a year and did a few tours. But the band just fell apart. At that point I decided to take a break. I still had a day job – I was working this whole time. Eventually, I ran into a girl I really liked (Peggy) and we started a relationship. I moved to San Diego to be with her and we ended up getting married. I spent some time there and didn’t do any music; I was just thinking about where I wanted to go, self-evaluation. We both decided we wanted to move to Seattle and this was right at the end of the housing boom. We picked up and moved and I just got an urge to play. Peggy came back from a show and said: “I just saw the most amazing band with Ludicra. You have to see these guys.” She was jumping up and down about how amazing they were. It was YOB. I’d never heard of them before. When I started listing to their music I realized I hadn’t heard a lot of new music and it was the impetus to start writing new stuff. Their music really hit me deep. The same with Neurosis. Those bands have literally brought me to tears.

Was there ever a point where you thought about giving up music?

I wasn’t burned out but I was ready for a break. I had no idea if I was going to pick up again. To be honest, it was just great to be in San Diego with all the sunlight. I think I had seasonal affective disorder up here with all the darkness and rain. Every day in San Diego was nice and sunny. But at that point I had no idea what was next with music.

Was part of that being tired that people asked you about TAD so much? The band was part of a historic music scene.

I did want to put the TAD legacy to bed. I’m in a different place in my life and I don’t ever see us getting back together. We had a good run and it was as fun as hell but I had to have time away from it. I needed to hit the reset button. What it took was three or four years of not being involved with bands and music. Then I got a ProTools rig and demoed stuff. That’s why it probably took so long; I don’t feel a rush.

What was it about YOB’s music that affected you?

It married brutality and beauty in a way that seemed amazing. And the lyrics just hit home. I related to it a lot. It’s hard to describe other than to say they are one of my favorite bands up there with AC/DC and Pink Floyd.

Did your personal journey have a spiritual component?

Definitely. If you live you will have a spiritual experience. There are differences between religious and spiritual experiences. Mine is spiritual – especially through music. I love the feeling I get when music tugs on the ropes of the spirit. I went through a lot of horrible things, as most people do. Life is fucking hard and everyone has trials and tribulations. I had my share and I made it out. I was pre-disposed to self-destruction but I made my way out and I can enjoy things and be more of whatever I am in this universe. Some people helped me along the way and I was one of the few lucky guys able to pull out of the small world of self-consumption –– of shooting myself in the groin mentally.

Is the material on the new record all stuff that’s been written recently or is it from earlier?

I had riffs that date to probably about 2006 — before I moved back to Seattle from San Diego. There were fragments and basic ideas. Once in a while I’d demo stuff in the basement. When I had a few demos under my belt I thought I might want to play some of this stuff live. Peggy kept saying: “When you are ready to do this I’m your bass player.” She’s a really great player. Finally, I just felt the need to play out again.

Has Peggy been pushing in the background to complete this project?

She’s not a pushy person but she was my sounding board. I always respected her musical taste. She’s way more diverse in her listening habits than I am. I end up stuck in the studio and don’t listen as much. She was very encouraging. (The reception) to this material has been good. A while back, we played a show at a dive bar in the Seattle area. It was our first taste of playing a show. We’re not a band that constantly plays out and overstays our welcome. The response to those shows and the demo we did – there were only 50 or 60 of them — was good. The new record’s reception has exceeded my expectations.

Where did you think of the band name?

I had a Word document full of names that I look through every so often. Some things become fodder for song titles. I wanted to bring unity – an overall feeling – to the music. I wanted this music about unity and not separation. A lot of music I love is about hate and being nasty to each other. But my life has changed and I enjoy being a part of things rather than apart from them. My heart lies with heavy music. But you get older and things change – it’s a natural progression. When I was 20, I couldn’t imagine being 30. And when you are 30 you can’t imagine being 40. It’s mind boggling that I’m still here.

I remember when my Dad turned 40 and that seemed ancient.

(Laughs). And it is, to someone who is 17 or 18 years old. How can you relate to someone like that? Now I find I’m able to relate to almost anyone no matter what their age probably because I am older and have more experience. I never thought I’d be this old. I look in the mirror and it’s like: “who the fuck is that guy in my house?” It happens fast. The only solace I found is that you either get old or you die. And I don’t feel like I’m done. I enjoy life a hell of a lot more now, even things that I once considered mundane. I took things for granted but you never know when you are going to be put in the earth so I try to be kind and loving to everyone I meet. I used to be a younger guy who was full of testosterone and just wanted to kick ass.

Heavy music initially was considered a younger person’s game but the change in demographics means older people now listen to it. How does someone older find their place?

I don’t worry about where I fit in. I’m like water – I seek my own level. If I were to start thinking about it I’d go crazy. I couldn’t give two rat’s asses about what people think of what I’m doing. Because there is that stigma that metal is a young man’s game. And to an extent it is because that’s who is doing it. You don’t see many 50-year-olds walking on stage and most 50-year-olds don’t even like listening to loud music. It’s fun to see guys like Slayer and Crowbar still at it. I watched the “Let There Be Rock” video and AC/DC was amazing. And they are still amazing. To see Malcolm (Young) where he is really hurts because he was such an amazing player and the backbone of that band.

Malcolm put so much vital music into the world.

You never know what’s going to get you. Something is always approaching the older you get. Honestly, one of the reason there are older people in heavy music is because we are living longer. We live at a standard that most humans didn’t enjoy even 100 years ago. And the science of living has grown exponentially. When you think about 200 years ago? A shitty day in our life would be an amazing day to those people.

In the future they might be able to drop our consciousness on a hard drive and we could exist permanently.

(laughs) I don’t know if I’d want that. I’ve lived to a point to a cool where I’m cool with death. But I don’t feel like I’m done. I feel good about the future.