Australia conjures a lot of imaginative imagery. From ancient Aboriginal art and the haunting beauty of the seemingly desolate Outback to memes about gargantuan and dangerous animals and plants that will devour you whole and lend an element of peril and danger to a gorgeous continent. You just can’t help but feel compelled towards fantasy at the very name. What many people don’t think about, though, is the Australian contribution to art, horror and a surreal kind of strangeness. From films like Undead, Sheborg Massacre, or Wyrmwood (just to name a few) to cabaret, heavy metal, and carnival style performance art there’s a world of phenomenal talent and creativity that has gone ignored for far too long by many of us here in the States. Darkness Visible is one of those acts that, despite having a cult following and over 25 years of presence in the industry hasn’t quite received the recognition they deserve. A horror rock band that should easily appeal to metal heads, goths, and music lovers alike, their physical presence is just as haunting and powerful as their music. I recently had the chance to talk to Darkness Visible’s bassist David “Brother” Black. To say that I was intimidated is an understatement. The man has done it all. Writer, editor, cartoonist, model maker, musician, filmmaker… I could go on but we really don’t have the time. He’s one of the founding members of the band and has been through hell and back getting to where he is today. Between a resume like that and a stage presence that feels ferocious when you look at some of the bands earlier work, I wasn’t certain what to expect. What I was expecting was a rundown of Darkness Visible’s newest project, “Breaking Point.” What I got was so much more. Dan: Your Facebook profile lists you as almost everything imaginable in the industry. Is there anything you don’t do? David Black: I think of myself as a Jack of all trades and a master of none, though I did get a shot at the big time as the editorial cartoonist for The Truth back in 1989-1990. It was a national paper with 500,000 readers in a country that, at the time, barely had 18 million people living in it. I also did a comic book, Punkz in space, in 1993. Dan: I love the style! Reminds me of a lot of the stuff I watched and read as a kid. DB: Yep. The style was helped along by Peter Mathieson who I partnered with. We spent about six months on the style sheets getting the characters to look like that. Dan: So tell me about Darkness Visible. How long have you guys been performing? DB: Darkness Visible formed in July of 1994 and our first release was Candles and Intrigue. The gigs were wild. There were props and audience members all over the stage and it was getting way too wild. We even had chainsaws. I was exhausted and was battling cancer so the gigging had to stop for a while. Even so, we still managed to make three videos between the end of gigs and now. The challenge was trying to bring that craziness into a music video. Dan: Your performances have a sort of a twisted sideshow vibe to them. You even have some sword swallowers? DB: The new video definitely has that sideshow vibe to it. There are real sideshow performers including Guinness World Record holder Michele White. She and Qwinz spent months working on an act just for the video where they face off against one another. During editing with Stewart Fairweather last week we came across a clip where Michele actually takes a hit to the face from a whip. Safety has been our top concern, especially with some of the acts you’ll see in “Breaking Point,” but we couldn’t look at that footage and not put it in. Danger is these girls’ business and they weren’t going to waste an opportunity and neither were we. Dan: Tell me about “Breaking Point.” DB: “Breaking Point” has a couple of meanings to it. The song itself is about a person being at (or even beyond) their breaking point physically and mentally. It covers the medical fetish theme of the video which is weird for me. I swore coming back from the cancer that I didn’t want anything more to do with hospitals or doctors. For the band, though, this is a comeback in a way. Sort of a make or break sort of moment, not just for us, but for all of the talent represented in it. I’m hoping this will be that point of breaking through for them as well. Dan: And it’s clearly a dedicated group to be sure. Tell me more about that talent being represented. DB: One of our big stars is Whitney Duff who appears in Sheborg Massacre. I’m a big fan of hers and I definitely want to see her break through. Michele White and Qwinz Dudek are sword swallowers, musicians, dancers… and that doesn’t even scratch the surface of it with their talents. We also have Zia Electric and Ferri Maya who are top in the running for Australia’s Queen of Burlesque. Band members Albert Goikham, Tim Webster, and Axle Gunn are also top actors in the local indie movie industry. Axle has his own section on fizzy.tv and is the guitarist on this song. For a four and a half minute video, we managed to snag the top cast and crew in Australia. I was a newcomer in the indie horror scene but I think I was in the right place at the right time while this project was in pre-production. Dan: I notice a lot of goth and punk elements in your music but I’m curious how you’d best describe the style of Darkness Visible. DB: I would call it horror rock. Dan: If you had to pick something from “Breaking Point” to thrill longtime fans and win over a new generation, what would it be? DB: From the song, it will be the theme. We’ve all hit our breaking point at one time or another. From the video, it will be the talent. Many of my videos are recordings of the artists and talents happening in Melbourne at the time. I try not to focus on myself but rather on the amazing people putting their heart and soul into the animations, dancing, sculpture, carny acting, prop making and anything else that we can see in these videos. Dan: It’s refreshing to see. Most musicians have forgotten how to create anything beyond their own egos while you’re focusing on all these talented people. DB: Spot on! I think that most of the people in “Breaking Point” are going to go on to become big names. And even if they don’t, it’d be a shame not to have moving footage of these performances. What we see in these “seedy” little clubs in Melbourne is some burly or carny talent that’s the best in the world but only those people who happen to be there on a particular night are experiencing it. Dan: Especially in an age when talents like these are becoming more and more scarce. DB: We seem to be an incubator for this kind of talent in Melbourne. The problem is it’s not as well known outside of Melbourne. Some folks give it ten years then call it a day while others like Scarlett -who appears in Flesh- take up other avenues like costume making. She made the eyeball pasties for the girls in “Breaking Point.” Amber from Murderdrome goes from cartoon character to real person in the opening scene and is wearing a pair. There was an eyeball theme to the whole video in the beginning but some things had to be cut including an eyeball coming out of a sphincter. I scripted nearly eight minutes for a four and a half minute music clip. Dan: So, as a Jack of all trades who’s done a little of everything, what advice could you offer to other artists trying to make it out there? DB: Stick with it. Forget the idea of the viral, overnight sensation. Build a following over the long haul and put in the hard work to hone your skills and create some genuine followers. And don’t worry about stumbling. I got back on the horse after cancer and found out that the world was still there. Even if your first attempt doesn’t work out you can rest, work through what you’ve learned, and give it another try. Don’t worry about taking that big leap. Eventually, you’ll get there. I can’t imagine any better advice. Stick with it and keep trying. For every writer, performer, and artist out there I’m not sure that anything could be more apropos. “Breaking Point’s” official release is still about four weeks out but, thanks to David Black, I got a chance to listen to the track and it’s amazing, especially when you consider the story and struggle behind it blending with these surreal, sometimes nightmarish scenes. It’s haunting. In the meantime, you can catch some interviews with the cast and crew including Michele White and Qwinz Dudek -who, I might add, are two of only three female sword swallowers on the entire Australian continent- through links to Darkness Visible’s ongoing series Darkness Breaking on YouTube. And be sure to check out their press release and some of their older videos at ibleedindie. You won’t be disappointed. Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related One Response Reposting Inspiration | Danno of the Dead Blog July 20, 2017 […] David Black: Carnies, Carnage, and the Creative Chaos of Darkness Visible […] Log in to Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.