When the band was founded in 2001, it is highly unlikely that anyone in De Novo Dahl expected that seven years later they would be signed to one of the most prolific metal labels in the business. Considering that Roadrunner Records is filled with bands named things like “DevilDriver” and “Cradle of Filth,” it would surprise anyone that a quirky pop quintet from Nashville would be anywhere near their radar.
Nevertheless, De Novo Dahl was signed to the label in 2007 in an attempt to diversify the label’s output in a bout of signings that included non-metal acts like Airborne, Dresden Dolls and New York Dolls. They have since gone on tour supporting Hot Hot Heat, played at Next Big Nashville, made two music videos, released an EP entitled “Shout,” and performed at an official Roadrunner showcase at the annual South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas, all hot on the heals of their major label debut.
Bassist Keith Lowen, a former Belmont student, spoke with The Vision about their first fully produced music video and the explosively hateful reaction to it from metal fans.
Vision: Since you’ve been on this big tour, how is the world outside of Nashville treating the band?
Keith Lowen: The world outside of Nashville has been treating the band very well. Every show we play, I think, goes over really well. We haven’t been selling our new album yet, obviously, but all the stuff we’ve had to sell has been selling well. We’ve been getting a good reaction; people are always surprised that we’re from Nashville because we’ve got that country stigma to it. But, yeah, its been going over really well.
Vision: The metalheads online are really not happy about De Novo Dahl or the “Shout” video. Did you expect that kind of reaction?
Lowen: I don’t know. We’re on a metal label, it’s been a very traditional metal label with very hardcore metal fans—of the label itself—that have been trained that anything that comes out of Roadrunner is going to be metal and it’s going to be hardcore and its going to be good—good metal. And we’re kind of the opposite of that, so it’s not surprising at all that there’s a reaction. We’ve been kinda going around as a joke saying, “March 25 is the day that metal is going to die.” When we’ve got all these metalheads around we talk to them about the album and it’s that old saying that “no publicity is bad publicity.” We’ve definitely used their hate to our advantage.
Vision: There’s some other bands on Roadrunner that aren’t metal bands like Dresden Dolls. Do you know if they’ve faced the same kind of anger.
Lowen: Not Dresden Dolls, really. They’re scary enough that they get respect, I think. But I think that since we’re clearly the most different, we get more heat than anybody else. But I think a lot of those real hardcore Roadrunner fans are just mad in general about the change in direction of the label and it’s just that De Novo Dahl is the most clear example of it.
Vision: There were also a lot of nice things said by supporters, so there is a balance.
Lowen: When you get anybody passionate about anything, that’s a good thing. If you can make someone hate something enough, there are probably going to be people out there that are going to love it.
De Novo Dahl’s major label debut, “Move Every Muscle Make Every Sound” released on March 25 at most major record stores including Grimey’s. The band also plans on performing live throughout the summer, including festival appearances at Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo and All Points West.