Some bands find themselves having a identity crisis when they write their second album because, after spending so much time defining themselves with their debut effort, they aren’t certain what path to pursue that stays true to their style but doesn’t duplicate their first album.
For the Dayton, Ohio, band Dangerkids, the opposite was true when it recorded its sophomore outing, Blacklist (Jan. 27, Paid Vacation Records). The rap/rock group was eager to re-establish the musical direction that helped it break out with 2013’s Collapse.
“We still feel like a new band in a lot of ways, and since our early inception we always felt like we were playing catch-up,” explains rapper Tyler Smyth. “When we initially got signed, it became a race to complete the album —‘We need more songs! More songs!’ — and a race to get out on the road: ‘Tour! Tour!’ By the end of the first album cycle, we had given so much time and energy into pleasing the industry around us that we forgot to ask ourselves how we want to sound or how we’d like to be perceived. Working on Blacklist became an opportunity for us to grow as a unit and fight to regain that same creative control that we had when we were just a band in a basement.”
Smyth observes that Dangerkids is influenced by many rap/rock bands from the early 2000’s that they grew up listening to, “as well as a lot of the contemporary rock bands currently paving the way for the next generation.” Asked what makes his band different from other such acts, he notes, “Any of our fans would say our biggest difference lies in our lyrics. I think where some rock bands, and more specifically the rock/rap genre, have the reputation for being lyrically vapid, we work hard to share something meaningful, heartfelt and honest in every song.”
Dangerkids do this on Blacklist by picking up from where they left off lyrically with Collapse, which “addressed the idea of you being your own worst enemy or your own demon,” says Smyth.
“Blacklist goes in the face of all the outward forces that stand in your way,” he adds. “Although the concept isn’t too different — facing your demons and overcoming your own obstacles — it was very reflective of our journey as a band over the last couple years. Thematically, this forced us to think from a totally inverted perspective from the first time around, and I think that concept poured over into the sonic tone of the record. The songs, while having less traditional ‘heavy’ elements, are loads moodier and the attitude is more palpable. My goal with Blacklist is to surprise our fans and open them up to something a little darker and a little more sincere.”
Billboard has the exclusive premiere of “Kill Everything,” the new video from Blacklist. Watch it below:
Smyth notes that “Kill Everything” is “the encapsulation of the attitude that comes with standing up, dusting yourself off and coming back full force. It was endlessly important that the song sonically reflected this idea and come to a head with the lyric that we feel embodies the entire album, ‘Nobody’s taller than the last man standing.’ As a band that’s had so much success so early and an equal amount of adversity, those words are truer now than they’ve ever been.”
He adds that the track is important for the band because “it crystalizes the moment that we decided to stop listening to other people’s advice and to start trusting ourselves. We developed this concept of us as the living dead, something essentially unkillable and unwilling to be stopped, and used that metaphor to fuel the lyrics. The message and upbeat feel made it the perfect introduction to what we affectionately refer to as ‘the new chapter’ for Dangerkids.”