Dave McAnaly is the man behind The Derision Cult, but he has not one, but at least four projects at any given time spanning many different genres. The Derision Cult is his project that fits our little genre in the world of music. McAnaly has been writing and recording since the early ’90s and this writer has had the privilege of working with him in Microwaved. On February 18, he released No Esteemed Deeds; here, he speaks with us about the thought process behind the album, leading into how his 6ix List relates to his latest album.
McAnaly: No Esteemed Deeds is a bit of an expansion from prior releases from The Derision Cult. I made a concerted effort to build all the tracks off the drum and bass, whereas on prior albums, I pretty much always started with a guitar riff. It’s still very much a guitar-centric album (and all the guitars are instruments I built myself), but I think that approach gave more of a pulse to the tracks. Sam Buck, who co-engineers a lot of my projects, really pushed me to dial back a lot of the effects and let the sounds and vocals speak for themselves, which I think ended up improving the intensity and presence. It’s still heavy, but definitely has a lot more textures than past Derision Cult records. I actually sing on parts! That’s something I’m really proud of.
The Derision Cult is like a journalism project in a way. I use it to write about what’s going on in the world vs. me personally, and I think I was pretty successful in keeping my personal views out of it with No Esteemed Deeds (with the exception of ‘Pussy Grabs Back,’ which is my take on all the guys getting busted for being pigs because I have a daughter and give those assholes no quarter). So, it’s not really political in as much as a record of what I feel are key themes going on in the world. Other projects like Jefferson Dust are more about storytelling, but that’s a whole other genre. No Esteemed Deeds comes from a monument in a park where I mountain bike. They buried all remnants from the Manhattan Project south of Chicago. Deep in the forest (like, a good five or six miles from the road), there’s this open field where no trees grow and this stone in the middle. It’s a warning for generations hundreds of years from now, warning them not to dig there. It has a line that specifically says, ‘No Highly Esteemed Deed is Commemorated Here,’ which I thought was a strange use of words. I took the photo myself in the catacombs in Paris this summer… those skulls are people who died during the Third French Revolution. All in all, I thought the No Esteemed Deeds thing wrapped it up nicely.
No Esteemed Deeds is available through South Street Dungeon, on The Derision Cult Bandcamp page, and through all major streaming services.
Now, without further ado, here ReGen Magazine presents The Derision Cult’s entry on The 6ix List.
The 6ix List
6 favorite artists/bands/musicians
McAnaly: I could go on and on, but here’s who I think directly influences my Derision Cult music the most.
- Tom Waits – I swear this guy gets better with age. I got into him with Heartattack and Vine, but Swordfishtrombones really blew my mind. Tom’s more recent work can be harsh and melodic all at the same time. At his noisiest on songs like ‘Hoist,’ the percussion is really inspiring to me.
- Al Jourgensen – I was a metal kid who came into industrial vs. a synthpop guy. Psalm 69 was my first big ‘oh wow, look how good these things go together’ moment. I’ve been a card-carrying fan ever since. The influence MINISTRY/Lard have had on Derision Cult is pretty self-evident. Al’s output isn’t always consistent, but I’m really inspired by how many directions he goes in, yet everything has a familiarity without being repetitive. A RevCo album doesn’t just sound like baby MINISTRY or a poor man’s Lard. I even dug the Buck Satan record… which is probably because of my next fav.
- Whitey Morgan and the 78’s – Outlaw country has a ton of great stuff happening right now and this guy is my fav. His band is fantastic (and all around good guys). I don’t care what your favorite genre is; a live, good country band with a kickass pedal steel player who can all sing 3-4-part harmonies is tough to beat. There’s a few Derision Cult tracks that are basically industrial takes on things guys like Whitey are doing. ‘Shithole Country’ on the last album is a good example of that.
- Metallica – Credit where credit is due, this was the band that really made me want to play guitar and begat everything else. I think, despite how massive they are, there’s a real sincerity that comes through in the band’s music. Like, even if you find St. Anger unlistenable (I for one love it), you don’t feel like they made that record to ‘gain market share’ or whatever. It just is what it is. That’s really inspiring.
- Motörhead – Everything from the aesthetic of the band to the punk/metal tones. Lemmy’s distorted bass really set their tone apart, so even if he’s not singing, you know a Motörhead song when you hear it. That and Phil Taylor’s drumming on those early albums really influenced my own drum programming.
- David Bowie – I can honestly say that David Bowie changed my life musically. He came on my radar during the 1. Outside cycle when he had Reeves Gabrels playing guitar. Prior to that, I was Mr. ‘Only metal has worthy guitar players‘ and I saw them play ‘Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)’ and it blew my mind. That and Earthling were such a great and underrated era for Bowie. I had a band in the late ’90s/early ’00s that was a poor man’s rip off of that stuff (to punctuate that we even covered Tin Machine songs, ha!). I quickly discovered the depth of his work and he’s been an immense influence on everything I do (even in my day job) since.
6 favorite albums
McAnaly: I’ll stick to how these albums influence me.
- The Stooges – Fun House (1970). For my money, Fun House is the greatest album ever made if you’re driving around in L.A.; it just sounds like L.A., even 45 odd years after it was made. There’s no letting up. Every song is just cranked full blast. Rumor has it they literally just recorded it all in one sitting and you can really hear the room. I don’t really aim for that with production on Derision Cult, but I definitely take a lot of cues for how to kick things off hard from them. When this album came out, The Beatles’ Let It Be was the #1 album in the country. Given that context, I can’t imagine how intense this must have sounded in its day to the unwashed masses. Zeppelin and Sabbath had nothing on these guys in that realm.
- Die Warzau – Engine (1995). This album was a game changer for me: organized chaos. I’d never heard everything come together like it does on that record. The noisiness of Derision Cult comes from this. Also, Jim Marcus is just a badass singer and great lyricist, even if you don’t always agree with his political views. They can get pretty commercial, but even at their most abrasive, his phrasing and rhythm is shimmering.
- Killing Joke – Killing Joke (1980). Their first album was such a great blueprint. The album cover alone is just ominous. I think on No Esteemed Deeds, Geordie Walker was a big influence on the more ambient/melodic guitars that sit on the choruses. Songs like ‘Wardance’ have that almost hypnotic vibe to the guitars, which influenced me a lot on No Esteemed Deeds (end of ‘Slaves,’ etc.).
- MINISTRY – Rio Grande Blood (2006). I studied the production on this a lot for the last two Derision Cult albums. I know it’s not a classic MINISTRY record (and honestly, who among us wasn’t inspired by Twitch or The Land of Rape and Honey?) and comes out of Al’s ‘Bash-Bush-with-a-lot-of-thrash’ period, but it was also heavy as hell and frenetic, which I really liked.
- Sister Machine Gun – Metropolis (1997). Easily one of the best industrial productions of ’90s for my money. It’s a little more polished and smooth than what I go for, but the monster low end and layering on here is great. I’ve come to know Chris Randall pretty well over the past 20 years and have picked his brain about how this or that sound came together and those tidbits and that informs a lot of my production ideas (not to mention I own everything Audio Damage has created, so he’s had a thumbprint on things in more ways than one).
- David Bowie – Earthling (1997). When this came out, I wasn’t really into jungle (The Prodigy, et al). But with Earthling, I totally got it. In my opinion, this is Bowie’s heaviest record from a density perspective. There’s a lot of Earthling DNA on No Esteemed Deeds, and definitely my last .SYS Machine album with the guitar solos and jungle loops lurking in the background.
6 inspirations outside of music
- Building instruments – Since I fired my music endeavors back up, I’ve also begun building guitars. I started with kits and am a little more adventurous now. Whenever I set out with an instrument, it always inspires new ideas musically as I build it. I think about what kind of music I’d presume whoever owns it would play and when it’s done, everything from playing style to what I write with it ends up being influenced by that.
- Photography – I travel a lot for work and at night, I like to wander around the cities I’m in with my camera and shoot things. Sometimes, like with No Esteemed Deeds, I use them for album covers.
- The News – I’m a bit of a newshawk and taking in what’s going on and connecting dots in more of a ‘what’s really going on right now’ kind of way shapes lyrics. No particular source; just whatever I see on social media on the train.
- Friends/coworkers – This is more so true for Jefferson Dust, but in a lot of ways, the people I’m around end up getting in songs. Like, I’ll explain things through their perspectives or relate a certain issue to somebody I know. I keep it all anonymous to keep it universal, but the things that bother people or inspire passion have a lot to do with what I write about.
- Movies – I don’t watch a ton of movies, but I do go down YouTube and NetFlix click holes after my wife goes to bed. Documentaries generally get me thinking about certain issues that one way or another that show up in songs.
- BBQ – I’m big into low and slow. I tend to get into my biggest deepest thought trenches when I’m out tending to ribs or brisket in my smoker. I usually make a whole day of it and after a full day at the pit, I usually end up in the studio with the basis of a new track.
The Derision Cult
Facebook, Twitter, ReverbNation, SoundCloud, Bandcamp
South Street Dungeon
Website, Facebook, Bandcamp
Gabe Wilkinson (Microwaved)