Today, we are sitting down with Brewin the lyricist, concept creator and “musical director” for The Calling concept album by The Dark Horde. We talk inspiration to write music, type of music he enjoyed growing up and much more! Be sure to check out The Dark Horde below after the interview!
What is your inspiration to write your music? Is it your surroundings?
The inspiration for the stories and worlds I create through writing, primarily comes from the realms of supernatural horror and fantasy, rather than from the “real world”. Yes my surroundings, and life experiences, shape my writing to an extent, but really I seek to create experiences that are an escape from reality more so than being a reflection of it. And in creating these experiences I seek the ambitious goal of creating something that hasn’t been done before, of creating experiences that wouldn’t have existed had I not created them. To make my creative mark on the world, in the way that only I can. That is what inspires me to create.
What type of music did you listen to growing up?
My journey to becoming a metal-head by about the age of eighteen was a convoluted one since I didn’t really have peers (or siblings) that could lead me into the amazing world of metal, I had to discover it largely myself. I grew up thinking that “I just wasn’t into music that much” since most of what I was exposed to – mainstream pop music of the eighties – didn’t really grab me. My childhood environment was one where my mother always had classical music playing, and my older siblings (who were much older and had already moved out) were into stuff like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. The closest glimpse of the metal that I love came from an unlikely source, but looking back it all makes sense to me… The music of Commodore 64 computer games. The midi in that thing was way ahead of its time, and some of those tunes (e.g. Ron Hubbard who had some of his C64 compositions performed by an orchestra) were mind blowing. (If you wanna see I what mean, look up “turrican metal medley” on you-tube, then check out something like “delta c64 music” and you’ll hopefully see the connection to the intricacies of metal).
It was only much later, around 16, I was impressed by some of the stuff I heard friends and peers playing – Joe Satriani and Skid Row coming to mind in particular, and I began to take my first steps on the glorious path to metal. I recall reading an article in the paper around the same time about heavy metal – that it was primarily about themes of horror, fantasy and sci-fi, and the typical metal-head was a geeky kid who played Dungeons and Dragons, and I thought “That’s me! Why aren’t I listening to metal!” I suppose I’d believed the mainstream messaging that metal “was just noise and ranting about Satanic worship”, and never understood what amazing diversity and talent awaited me… But once I was hooked, there was no going back, I’d found my musical home.
Is there someone you looked up as a hero?
My original two idols are Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone whom created the Fighting Fantasy series of gamebooks that were massive in the eighties and still are (though haven’t had the same boost Stranger Things has given to Dungeons and Dragons to make them cool haha). And to that I’d add Herbie Brennan that wrote the Grailquest series of gamebooks that was my favourite. I’m blessed to have been contacted by all of them in some capacity through my work for Tin Man Games in the past, and to have been able to exchange ideas with them, which is mind-blowing for me.
Musically my heroes changed over the years, including as they themselves changed. Metallica used to be great in my mind, but those days are many decades ago now I think haha. Judas Priest and Testament deserve credit I think for staying awesome to this day though!
If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing today?
I recall a day in 1989 (a year when many of the ideas for The Dark Horde novel and the related album The Calling began to form) when I had listened, mesmerised, to the year-level band playing. They were playing a set that included various covers from hard-rock bands like Hunters and Collectors, but also metal bands like Suicidal Tendencies. But the main thing I remember was the thought that “Gee I’d love to be a guitarist and create music”. But almost immediately after that thought, I remember thinking something like “But I’ve already committed myself to basing my life around writing, and had made progress there over the last few years. I can’t do both, if I want to succeed, I have to commit to one or the other. So I’ll be a musician in my next life.”
So in other words, to spin your question a different way, if I wasn’t focused on being a writer (and games-designer), then I would have focused on being a musician. Put yet another way, in a parallel universe I created some awesome music haha.
What advice do you have for our fans out there that want to create music?
There’s a particular motivational speech by the writer Neil Gaiman, given at the arts graduation at a US University, that can be easily found on you-tube. It’s my favourite motivational speech and is what I think of as the ultimate good advice for any artist. Channelling this, my advice is to not worry about the rules or what others say. Just create the things that you want to create, that only you can create. There’ll always be challenges to overcome yes, but as long as you just go and “make good art”, you’ll find worthwhile reward.
Thank you for having me and supporting The Dark Horde! And if you’ve read to the end, thank you! If you haven’t already, I invite you to check out The Calling, a supernatural horror story set to an eighties heavy metal soundtrack and featuring a cast of some of Australia’s finest musicians, singers and actors, and other projects of mine at www.thebrewin.com