In the Meet The Band spotlight this week are the L.A. group Death Dealer Union. They recently released their debut album Initiation. Drummer CC McKenna introduces us to his band.
Chad Bowar: Give us a brief history of Death Dealer Union.
CC McKenna: DDU started out in Los Angeles in the years 2019/2020 as a experimental project. We connected with our guitar player and from there we auditioned the rest of the band members.
Describe the songwriting process for Initiation.
The song writing process starts with me designing the main songs and from there me, Doug, and the rest of the guys in the band add to that with some melodies and different lines in the guitar. It’s then sent to our producer, where it is refined, and in some cases rearranged at which point Lena comes in and does all the vocals and write all the lyrics.
How did you come to work with producer Valentin Voluta?
I discovered Valentino through his work with a side studio project called Seas On The Moon so I sent him some demos to see if he would be interested.
What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
I think there will be a lot of memorable moments during this first couple of years of writing songs, and such. Most memorable might be when I had to re-track all of the song “Ekphrasis” because we needed a fresh approach on it, and I was much happier with the new takes we got.
What was the biggest challenge in its recording?
I don’t think we really had too many challenges that stick out in my mind anyway. Reason is, most of the musicians in the band are all seasoned pros, and know how to work efficiently in the studios.
How would you characterize its style/sound?
I’m not really sure. We have been telling people that we are a Gothic power metal/alternative metal act. We could probably come up with other styles or comparisons, but I’m just not sure. We kind of have our own sound.
What lyrical topics do you cover?
I think Lena would be the better one to ask for that, but we basically keep a positive message and try to implore our fans and others to seek the highest versions of themselves. I think there’s some other fun topics as well, but like I said, probably better that Lena answers those specifics.
How did you come to sign with Napalm Records?
Lena had first introduced us to that label a couple of years ago and we kept in touch. When Lena officially joined the band, they and other record labels were reaching out to us but since we had started with Napalm first, we felt that was probably going to be the best fit.
What are your goals and expectations for the album?
I’ve learned to keep my goals and expectations very low this way I’ll never be disappointed. (laughs) In all seriousness, we really have nothing to measure against, so I’m not sure how to answer that question. I just hope as many people will discover our music and tell other people about as possible. We ask that people listen to it two or three times before making a final decision. We put in a lot of embedded sounds, and different soundscapes and layers that we hope the fans will enjoy.
How was the video shoot for “The Integument”?
The video shoot was super fun. It was the second video we did during a two week period of shooting.
Do you have plans to play live?
Yes. The plan is to play some regional shows in January/February and then some other shows in May. The exact dates and venues are not yet finalized.
How did you get started in music?
When I was about 10 years old, I had been listening to bands like Kiss, Blue Oyster Cult, Styx and others, and saw what they were doing and thought, “Man, I love this hard rock and I need to try to be the coolest drummer, too!” I didn’t have a drum set at the time, but the neighbor down the street had one and he would let me play it and I remember playing a bunch of AC/DC songs. I think that started my musical journey.
Who were your early influences and inspirations?
I think there’s just too many to list, but I would have to talk about the bands I just mentioned and others from that era like Aerosmith, Rush, Heart, and then all the bands after that when I was a teenager and then starting to play drums. So, bands like Metallica Iron Maiden, Slayer, Testament and LA style bands that were standing out or some of the earlier influences. Later on, it was bands like Sepultura, Alice In Chains, Soundgarden, and others, plus a whole host of new wave and new rock like Depeche Mode or Duran Duran, who I thought was brilliant. I could go on and on.
What was the first metal concert you attended?
My first ever concert was Kiss and they are considered heavy metal (or they were at the time when I saw them. I was in single-digit age), and it was the original Kiss.
What are some of your non-musical interests and hobbies?
I like to stay active through daily workout routines and martial arts training. Although because of some injuries the last two to three years which restricted me some what, I’ve been able to get a much more consistent routine. I also paint and do canvas artwork.
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
I’ve actually been listening to a lot of Parkway Drive and also some retro hard rock from The Cult. I guess been bouncing a little bit all over.
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
I would just like to thank everyone and thank all the fans for all the love and support we’ve gotten it has been absolutely been tremendous! And please continue to check our website for updates on shows and different merchandise plus special edition merchandise as it becomes available soon.
(interview published September 30, 2023)
Watch Death Dealer Union – “The Integument” Video