EMQ’s with DYSTOPIA A.D.
Hi everyone! Welcome to our new EMQ’s interview with West Windsor, New Jersey based Modern Death Metal band Dystopia A.D. Huge thanks to Chris Whitby & Aki Shishido for taking part.
What is your name, what do you play, and can you tell us a little bit about the history of the band?
CW: Dystopia A.D. is an American two-man modern death metal band consisting of lead guitarist Aki Shishido and myself (vocalist/bassist/guitarist Chris Whitby). Our signature blend of death metal, thrash, and progressive rock features blistering shred guitar solos and a variety of vocal styles.
In 2018, we released our debut album “Designing Ruin”, which included guest appearances from numerous musicians in the underground metal/progressive rock scene, including Justin Greczyn of Swashbuckle and John Tuohy of Mile Marker Zero.
How did you come up with your band name?
CW: It’s a reflection of the constant turmoil the world faces. I think the word ‘dystopia’ conjures images of a distant, unpleasant future, but, in some respects, we’re already living in one.
There’s an influential punk band called Dystopia. The name ‘Dystopia A.D.’ sounds like we’re a reformed version of the band (a la Entombed A.D.), but there’s no connection. They kind of called us out on Twitter and said that Dystopia A.D. is ‘just a new band without Google.’ I can’t really argue with that!
What Country/Region are you from and what is the Metal/Rock scene like there?
CW: I live in the United States just outside of New York City where the metal underground is going strong.
AS: Chris and I both grew up in New Jersey and there was a raging metal and hardcore scene when we first started making metal. I now live in Baltimore and prior to COVID there was a great death metal scene.
What is your latest release? (Album, EP, Single, Video)
CW: Our latest album, “Rise of the Merciless”, will be released in July 2020 and pushes our sound to new limits in terms of technicality, musicianship, and songwriting complexity. The album was partially recorded from Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan where Aki was deployed as a Major in the U.S. Army.
Who have been your greatest influences?
CW: Musically? Probably the same stuff we were listening to when we were kids. Sepultura, Death, Blind Guardian, and In Flames come to mind. I also listen to modern bands like Revocation, Cattle Decapitation, and Pig Destroyer, and I think the influence of these bands shows in our songwriting. Non-musically, I think I just need a nihilistic outlet where I can unleash unbridled brutality while still expressing emotion and passion.
AS: I started out with the classics: Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, and evolved into the melodic death metal scene with bands like In Flames and Dark Tranquility. Blind Guardian is my favourite band, but really the only power metal band I can listen to with any regularity. Now, in my old age, I find myself listening to a ton of Testament and Death. Non-musically, I am influenced by science, justice, patriotism, and beer.
What first got you into music?
CW: I grew up in the 90’s, and the raw aggression of grunge music that was popular at the time started my journey into heavy music.
AS: I actually got into metal through soundtracks. The first 2 CD’s I bought as a kid were “The Last Action Hero” and “Mortal Kombat” movie soundtracks. The Last Action Hero is loaded with gems from AC/DC, Megadeth, Anthrax, Alice in Chains and Cypress Hill while Mortal Kombat had Napalm Death, Fear Factory and Type O Neg.
If you could collaborate with a current band or musician who would it be?
CW: I’m a big fan of Andrew Lee (of one-man death metal band Ripped to Shreds). His music has that nostalgic OSDM aesthetic while still sounding fresh/modern. He’s a skilled songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, and I have the chance to connect and work with him in the future.
AS: I would love to work with Frederick Thordendal. His guitar playing absolutely blows my mind because he’s just wired so differently, and it’d be an immense challenge for me to play with him. He’s also apparently a pretty interesting guy and I’d love to watch a UFC fight with him.
If you could play any festival in the world, which would you choose and why?
CW: Wacken! Is there any other answer?
If you could bring one rock star back from the dead, who would it be?
CW: Evil Chuck! I feel like he was at the top of his game with “The Sound of Perseverance” and “The Fragile Art of Existence” when he died.
AS: Damn, Chuck would have been mine too. So instead I’ll have to go with Randy Rhodes. I’m biased with guitar players here, but he was damn good one. The first solo I ever learned was Crazy Train.
What do you enjoy the most about being a musician? And what do you hate?
CW: I enjoy being able to continue to grow as a musician. There is limitless scope for learning new theory, technique, etc. I think that “Rise of the Merciless” displays significant progress for us as musicians and songwriters, and I hope to continue that evolution on future albums.
AS: Music is the one thing that I have that is a combination of raw emotion and technical complexity. It engages my soul and my brain, and in the case of metal, my physical endurance and dexterity as well. It is never boring, and will match my mood whether I feel like laying low and relaxing or I feel like punching someone in the face. As far as what I hate…Outside of a few significant exceptions (e.g. the latest Testament album, among others) a lot of the top metal acts featured on the iTunes metal playlists are very uninspiring. There is so much awesome new metal out there and it is not recognized on the largest platforms. I understand that there is definitely pride in staying underground – but damnit why is all this garbage so popular?
Name one of your all-time favourite albums?
CW: “The Gathering” by Testament. Every song is masterful – the performances are polished without losing that raw thrash metal aesthetic. The album is masterfully composed and, for me, is the best answer to the question, “what is metal?”
AS: Agree with Testament’s “The Gathering”. If an Alien asked me what metal sounded like, I’d play it “The Gathering”.
What’s best? Vinyl, Cassettes, CD’s or Downloads?
CW: I understand the appeal of vinyl but can’t rationalize stockpiling physical media in this day and age. Streaming services that offer music in lossless format (like Bandcamp) are my preference.
What’s the best gig that you have played to date?
CW: As much as I love the thrill of performing for a live crowd, the physical distance between us and our demanding personal lives mean that we’re strictly a studio band. for the time being. For what it’s worth, I think that our recordings illustrate our raw passion and intensity and how seriously we take being musicians.
If you weren’t a musician, what else would you be doing?
CW: Aki and I both have demanding day jobs. Aki is a U.S. Army veteran and doctor of infectious diseases. My resume pales in comparison – I work at a prominent FinTech company. Our music has been an important outlet for me emotionally and creatively. The band isn’t and won’t ever be a source of significant income, but that helps us keep our music untainted creatively.
What’s next for the band?
CW: We’re currently promoting Rise of the Merciless and hope to connect with fans that will feel the same exhilarating rage and joy when listening to Dystopia A.D.’s music that we did while writing and performing it. Afterwards I’ll likely take some time to reflect and expand my repertoire as a songwriter by studying more music theory, listening to different genres of music, etc. before starting to write our next album.
What Social Media/Website links do you use to get your music out to people?
You can pre-order Rise of the Merciless here:
The entire album will be available for streaming on Spotify after it releases on July 31st:
You can follow us here:
Jaffa Cakes? Are they a cake or a biscuit?
CW: I don’t think I’ve ever had one, but they sure look like biscuits to me.
AS: In America we’d call these cookies which per Google (see, learning here) is based on the Dutch word meaning “a small cake.”
Thank you for your time. Is there anything else that you would like to add?
CW: Thanks to Ever Metal and all of its readers for supporting the metal underground!
AS: Thank you – stay safe – stay Metal.
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