Michigan's THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER has just announced a show in Detroit on October 28 at Saint Andrew's Hall, which will be a celebration of the life and legacy of Trevor Strnad. The concert marks the band's return to the stage after the untimely passing of their beloved frontman on May 11. Founding member Brian Eschbach will be putting down his guitar and taking on the role of lead vocalist moving forward — a decision that wasn't made lightly when the band got together to discuss their future after they started to work through the initial shock and grief of losing their best friend. Stepping back into the THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER family is guitarist Ryan Knight. Support for the show will come from DARKEST HOUR and PLAGUE YEARS.
Tickets go on sale this Friday, September 16 at 10 a.m. ET.
Decibel has interviewed all members of the band for a cover story of the magazine's November 2022 issue, out this month.
Eschbach tells Decibel: "We spent many days thinking things like, 'Is this over?' None of us wanted it to be over. We still feel like there is a lot left to do. I know Trevor would keep this band going if I went down a deep, dark path and weren't here. It's bigger than us. When we finally started talking about it, we thought, 'Let's remake it from within and see if Ryan wants to return. And I'll take a crack on the vocals and see how it goes.' I can't go out there and do Trevor's voice or try to be him. I can only execute the music of THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER with respect and try to do it the most justice I can. I've heard Trevor perform more than anyone else alive."
Knight says the decision to return was easy despite the difficult circumstances. "The time I've spent with this band is the best time I've ever had," he says. "Being away has given me a lot of time to reflect, and it always occurred to me that being in THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER is the best use of my time. I've thought a lot about the band while I was away and realized how much value this band has. I almost feel like I let some opportunities slip, being away from the band. So, it feels great to be back and like everything has come full circle. I've realized how much I love being in this band."
A memorial for Strnad was held on July 30 at St. Andrew's Hall in Detroit. The private event was attended by Strnad's friends, family members and music industry colleagues, including Brian Slagel and Michael Faley of THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER's record label, Metal Blade Records, and BROKEN HOPE guitarist Jeremy Wagner.
Strnad's death was announced by his bandmates on social media on May 11. At the time, they wrote: "It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of Trevor Scott Strnad. Beloved son, brother, and Shepard of good times, he was loved by all that met him. A walking encyclopedia of all things music. He was a hugger, a writer, and truly one of the world’s greatest entertainers. His lyrics provided the world with stories and spells and horror and whimsy. It was his life to be your show." The band also shared the telephone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER guitarist Brandon Ellis wrote in a separate post: "I can not even begin to process this... In total shock and disbelief. It has been my greatest honor to spend the last six and a half years in a band with this absolute icon and legend. A brother. A best friend. One of the funniest and most entertaining people to walk the earth. The life of the party that is THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER, as well as any given room he happens to occupy. A lyrical mastermind. A champion of the entire culture of heavy music. Also my biggest supporter. This man changed my life and believed in me more than I do myself. I can not believe there will no more laughs had, songs written together, or stages decimated with Trevor at the helm. I hope he knew how much he was loved the world over."
Last November, Strnad shared on social media that he was having a difficult time dealing with the passing of his mother, who had "died a few weeks" earlier "very abruptly." "Even at 40 years old, it's still hard," he wrote. "We were close. I feel like a lost little kid. Props to the many of you out there who have dealt with this and made it out the other side."
In an April 2021 interview with Metal Injection, Strnad spoke about his battle with depression and alcohol dependence. At the time, he said: "At the rate I drink while we're gone on tour, it's just not sustainable for getting older. Being 40-plus and being able to do what I do well and not look like a shithead, I've gotta be better to myself. So that's really the impetus [for quitting drinking]. That's the heart of it. It's not that… I know I'm no fun [when I'm drinking].
"I did an eight-month stint with no alcohol out there, but at that time it was more to save a relationship; it wasn't something I really, really wanted to do and really invested myself in. I was embittered by having to do it after a while and kind of resentful of my partner. But this is full-on my choice. I want to have the excitement I had before I ever drank. When we started this band, I was a fucking weird straight-edge kid. And now it's become kind of like… it's a lubricant for me to get up on stage and be funny and be kind of carefree and be the wild guy that [fans] expect of us, that they've seen from our DVDs and shit, which is really just a compilation of the good times. So if you expect any band that's just raging full-on like that all the time, they're not — it's just not sustainable. But it's to the point where I'm having 10 drinks a day plus to go on stage. And two weeks into it, I've been hung over every single day. I'm chasing that hangover with just more liquor, until the end of the tour [by which time] I have doubled my intake just to get by, basically. And it's not fun — it's disgusting; it sucks. It starts as fun. The three of us that drink in the band are, like, 'Yeah, bro. Sipping time.' And it is fun, but it's not sustainable. I've seen photos of myself, videos of myself where I'm, like, 'Yeah, you look like shit.' I don't wanna look like shit. From here on out, it's only gonna get harder to meet people's standards physically.
"Even though it's a death metal band, there are so many eyes on us and so much judgment, it's insane," he continued. "We're not a boy band. I'm not supposed to be fucking handsome. Who gives a fuck? But people berate you. I can't tell you how many times I've been called fat on the Internet. It's insane — literally. You've gotta have a thick skin to do what I do. But also it does wear you down over time, man. Doing all the social media myself and taking the brunt of whatever anonymous abuse, it's accumulated in some self-doubt, it's accumulated in more anxiety, for me, as the band has gotten bigger and bigger and there's more eyes and more pressure."
Trevor went on to say that his 40th birthday was a turning point for him. He explained: "I wanted my 40s to be awesome. I wanna look presentable; I wanna be a better frontman; I want to be more physically fit; I want to go into my 40 screaming. I don't want anyone snickering at me. I don't wanna be in W.A.S.P. I want this band to keep going at this tremendous speed, and I wanna segue into being an older metalhead gracefully. Luckily, in metal you can be an older metalhead. It's not like pop music where they just throw you away. Thankfully, this music is just as much about the past as it is about the present and the future. People are always gonna love the classic metal records. And that's one thing I enjoy about it. It's not this disposable music that you like for a week and throw away.
"I see this band going for another 20 years. But to physically be able to do it at this level and not top out at all is gonna take a focus on health and longevity and sanity too. [Laughs]"
He added: "Being left alone with my thoughts all this time [during the pandemic] has just been so dangerous for me."
Strnad also revealed that he was about to undergo ketamine therapy as a way of treating his depression. "It's intravenous," he said. "They pump ketamine into you over the course of two weeks — three days a week for two weeks. And they put you in this euphoric state for a couple of hours. And eventually you've done it enough to where your brain makes new passageways, new synapses, and you stop doing these cyclic kind of thinking — self-defeating. I've been a lot better now, but there was times when shit got pretty fucking dark for me over the last two years.
"You can go there as an emergency if you're ideating suicide really crazily — they can take you in on an emergency basis. You're basically high as fuck and euphoric as fuck, and they just give you all these great chemicals — you release all these happy chemicals and stuff like that. And they just keep doing that to you until you kind of rewrite the way you think.
"Really, this put the nail in the coffin for me about the way I look at the world, and it's been heavy as fuck," he continued, referring to his life during the pandemic. "I feel like there's no happy ending for any of us in the way that we've set everything up — government and just everything. I feel like it's just gonna be darker and darker from here on out. And that's a lot for a person to think about all the time. It basically stole whatever little bit of innocence I had left or any little blinder I had on to the way shit is. It's been heavy, dude. This has been a heavy fucking thing for me… I'm arrested by all of this right now and by my own feelings. It's just brought my anxiety to an ultimate head, basically. It's to the point where I've gotta do something."
Formed in 2000, THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER — named after the infamous 1947 unsolved murder of actress Elizabeth Smart — had a number of shows scheduled for this year, including an appearance at Daytona Beach, Florida's Welcome To Rockville festival.
THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER's latest album, "Verminous", came out in 2020. It was described in a press release as the band's "most dynamic, rousing and emotional release to date."