Interview: Dana Duffey of Demonic Christ
Posted by Mary Spiro
For the last 20 plus years, guitarist Dana Duffey has been quietly working her “magick” upon scores of fans of extreme metal. First in the somewhat short-lived death metal outfit Mythic and now with Demonic Christ, Dana has maintained her musical integrity with a “no-compromises” attitude. Despite periodic breaks to raise her children and a revolving door of supporting players, Dana has been able to stay on track with her music. She is, essentially, the unofficial First Lady of US Black Metal.
Demonic Christ, based in Ohio, recently concluded a tour with Indiana’s Ptahil that included a stop in Baltimore. Two members of Ptahil, Jeffrey Mhaghnuis (drums) and Darrin Luathca (bass for D.C., guitars for Ptahil) joined the effort and David Swanson (drums for Kommandant) shares guitar duties with Dana. Both bands played in Montreal for Messe des Morts, a black metal fest with groups such as Taake and Tsjuder, which was held over the American Thanksgiving weekend. (One of these years I am going to save up enough money to go to that festival. Maybe in 2014!)
The night of the Baltimore show, November 23, Demonic Christ’s van broke down just 20 minutes from The Sidebar Tavern where they were scheduled to play. However, with the help of a friend (Jason Oberkirsch of Graveless Slumber Records) who was on his way to the show, they repaired the trailer hitch and were transported to the show just in time. All hail just-in-time-provisioning! It was among the most extreme black metal shows I have seen at Sidebar for some time.
After the show, which included Baltimore-based black metallers Xuekatre and New Jersey’s Mortum, Dana was kind enough to chat with me in the noisy Sidebar basement. (Yes, there is a basement and no, you don’t really want to spend too much time down there.)
Dana shared a little bit about her childhood growing up in Toledo, Ohio and how she first felt called to play guitar at age 13 in 1986. She worked on learning to play the guitar, which helped give her life some meaning during a difficult time. With the help of an instructor, she learned Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” and was soon composing her own songs. Dana cites Asphyx, Bolt Thrower and Pestilence among her earliest musical influences, as well as Slayer, Megadeth and Metallica. “Slayer’s lyrics spoke to me, they understood who I was,” she said.
By the age of 18, she had moved to Pittsburgh to attend school. With former members of an early incarnation of Derkéta, Dana formed the seminal all-female death metal band Mythic, and the group released a demo in 1991.
When Mythic played the 1992 Milwaukee Metal Fest, Dana caught Deicide’s set and heard their message of Satan. Up to that point, she said Mythic’s lyrical content focused on “light” occult subjects. But now Dana said she felt a strong pull to write songs that were unmistakably Satan-inspired.
“From an early age, I knew that this world was not for me, but I had to navigate to get through it …to find my purpose,” Dana said. “It is my job to go out and awake people up to take control of their own lives and spread the word of Satan, and that is a good thing. “
At that show she decided that Mythic was over, and she set out to write the music that would become the foundations of Demonic Christ with Aragon Amori (d. 1996) who had recently departed Profanatica. At a time, there were very few black metal bands in the US. Amori played on Demonic Christ’s 1993 demo “Deceiving the Heavens.” (Listen to the whole demo here.)
My conversation with Dana really took a lot of different directions. We discussed all the topics you are not supposed to discuss in “polite company” like religion, race and even why she decided to homeschool her son. We even touched on my simultaneously most-favorite/most-hated subject: the realm of “female fronted” metal.
Since Dana values her family, the responsibilities of raising and educating her kids, as well as working as a massage therapist have diverted her attention from music for several years. Now, she says, Demonic Christ is on the move and, with the members of Ptahil and Kommandant who have been backing her up, the group will record in the spring.
Fans should expect a full-length on Hells Headbangers Records
sometime in June or July. “Forget what you heard before, this is something new!” Dana added.
Italian artist Paolo Girardi has created the cover illustration. Girardi is known for his album art for groups such as Inquisition and Prosanctus Inferni and Diocletian.
Listen to the interview in its entirety here.
View a gallery of photos from the Demonic Christ and Ptahil show below:
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