Friday, May 14, 2021

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Sound Circuit

Dead Horse Trauma


Wrecked vans, live horses and new “Life”

DHTOver the course of a decade, Dead Horse Trauma has built itself into a band that can draw crowds in cities across the United States. The metal band recently signed with The Orchard, a Sony Music Distribution company that is getting the band’s new album, “Life,” heard around the world.

In short, Dead Horse Trauma is becoming a fairly successful band. But when the members of the group come back to Des Moines for a show — like they will this month at Wooly’s — they keep things DIY.

“When we tour, we have a booking agency and talent buyers we deal with, but we’ve been putting on our own shows in Des Moines for a long time. There’s no point in having a middle man,” said vocalist Eric Davidson. “We end up promoting it ourselves, getting local bands on the bill and selling our own tickets. We hone it the best we can and have as much control as we can.”

The show is the Des Moines release party for “Life,” Dead Horse Trauma’s first album in almost three years. After doing four albums with Donnie Mengwasser of Mindrite, the band turned to producer Rick Lander for “Life.” After years of writing and recording individually, Lander pushed for getting the band together for the process.

“Rick showed us that we were missing out on a lot of the organic sound of when we’re all playing in a room together,” Davidson said. “He changed the way we wrote. We spent more time on preparation and literally ate and slept in a studio for a month working on music. It was our first time doing that since our first record. We ended up with a vision for ‘Life,’ and Rick pushed us to accomplish it.”

Prep Iowa

In 2016, Dead Horse Trauma spent up to three months at a time on the road. Lately, the band has been trying to find a sweet spot of a month to six weeks on the road, then coming back to Des Moines for a month. After building up followings in Chicago and Madison, DHT has spent more time hitting cities across the U.S., revisiting on a regular basis to bigger and bigger crowds. Davidson compared it to the way a company might test market a product, but with heavy metal shows instead of potato chips.

The road provided additional challenges for Dead Horse Trauma last year. In June, the band was involved in a crash with a semi that totaled its tour van. Everyone was OK, and Davidson set up a Go Fund Me page from the side of the road to help pay for the band’s next van.

“Despite the crash, we only ended up missing one show on that tour,” Davidson said. “That’s all due to our fans and friends across the nation.” ♦



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