There hasn't been too many bands in recent memory to burst on to the scene quite like Denial of Life. Composed of Logan Miller on guitar, Brenna Gowin on vocals, Nicky Cody on drums, and Spencer Russo on bass, the band formed in 2019 and hit the ground running quickly releasing a demo and playing shows around Tacoma. I feel lucky to have been able to witness one of the first ones. Since then the band has shown no signs of slowing down even in the face of a global pandemic. I caught a DOL show this summer and the live shows have grown so much since I last saw them.
They bring arena rock energy to a hardcore show and nowhere is that more apparent than their debut full length. No Reason was released August 13th and has quickly elevated the profile of the band. Since then the band has completed a full North American tour as well as a killer in studio performance on what most would consider hardcores biggest youtube channel, hate5six. I had the pleasure of speaking with Logan from the band to get a little more insight into how they got started, what they've been up to and where they wanna go next!
I found out about the band around the end of 2019. Can you tell us a little bit about the origins of the band?
L: DOL officially started around the end of 2019. I came to Brenna with the idea of doing a Sacrilege style band that I thought she would be perfect for. We jammed for a few weeks under a different name and with a different drummer that didn’t work out. We then hit up Nicky for drums which he was skeptical about at first but ultimately was down. We then hit up Spencer for bass. We’ve all known each other for a really long time pre-DOL. There’s a lot of history with us and Tacoma. Around fall 2019 we recorded Demo ‘19, with Nicky still being so-so on the project. It wasn’t till quarantine 2020 that we really solidified what is now DOL. We played one show under a different name which only real heads will know.
The first DOL show that I saw was a house show at the legendary 607 around that same time. How have you guys changed as a live band since then?
L: It's funny that you say the ‘legendary 607’ house. That house is definitely legendary. I lived there when I was like 19. At that time it was called the House of Gore. It birthed a lot of really sick Tacoma bands and had some legendary shows. The DOL show you’re referring to was probably our 2nd or 3rd gig. Our live shows have progressed a great deal since. We take painstaking time to make sure our live sound is sonically as on-point and as heavy as possible. Brenna is a natural front person, so she always brings the heat. But we put a lot of time into refining and organizing our live set in a way that creates a performance rather than just us playing our songs to a room.
I would personally consider you guys a hardcore band despite the sound of your newest record. How important is hardcore and the DIY scene to you?
L: We definitely are a hardcore band, and are proud to rep NWHC. I think (personally), it’s a really fun time to be in hardcore. The sound and style of what hardcore is is progressing while still maintaining the strong community that makes the scene what it is. I come from more of a punk / metal background, so it has been really fun for me to see the ways the HC community is unique to a lot of other genres / subcultures. Nicky has been in hardcore the longest out of the 4 of us. Without Nicky, DOL wouldn’t be what it is, and he definitely brings hardcore into our sound just by his nature. Spencer and Brenna also come from a strong DIY musical background. While we all have different histories when it comes to style of music, we all have been in the DIY community for our whole lives. And when you come from it, it doesn’t leave.
With bands like Turnstile, and even Scowl having breakout moments and bringing more mainstream attention to the Hardcore scene. Do you think this helps the trajectory of your band?
L: I think the success of bands like Turnstile and Scowl have had extremely positive effects on hardcore and hardcore bands in general. Both Scowl and Turnstile are hardcore bands in their nature, so no matter how much mainstream success they achieve, they always retain that hardcore DIY energy. They also have been super intentional about bringing hardcore bands on their tours, giving young hardcore bands an opportunity to do really important and game-changing tours. They have put a lot of bands on, and continue to do so, which is really how it should be. We are all a family and so the success of one or two of us should ultimately lead to greater success for all of us.
In a perfect world what does that next 5 years look like for you guys as a band?
L: In a perfect world we will do as much good, package touring as possible. We want to tour with legendary bands and play to 500+ cap venues every night. We want to travel and see other parts of the world and bring Denial of Life to as many places as we can. Definitely will keep putting out records and challenging ourselves in our songwriting, but I think we ultimately just want to progress in a genuine way and have that journey be enjoyed by the community. We’re all best friends in DOL, so we also just want to have fun.
You guys went on a pretty big tour just a few months ago. What's the bands dynamic in the van? And do you guys know everyones taco bell order by heart yet?
L: Our band dynamic is honestly about as good as it gets. We tour great together. We communicate well, we address issues when they arise, and we all put in the work driving / handling business. Obviously being in a van with your four best friends for 30+ days isn’t always easy. Anyone that has toured before knows that it's not perfect. It’s high-highs and low-lows. But at the end of the day there’s nothing else like it. We talk a lot of shit to each other in the van, that’s generally the vibe. And we certainly know our taco bell / starbucks / Tim Horton’s (shout out our canadian homies) orders by heart.
How important is Tacoma to you as a band? And are there any bands in Tacoma or the scene that we should be paying attention to?
L: Tacoma is at the core of DOL. It’s a place that means so much to us, and has raised us. It’s a special place and demands respect. People will recognize this eventually. As far as bands go, there are so many Tacoma bands that people should be paying attention to. End of Dayz, By All Meanz, the list goes on and on. Tacoma hardcore.
If there was a kid in Tacoma looking to get into the scene where would you tell them to start?
A: I’ll speak for myself, but to a new kid in the scene I would say do whatever you can to step outside of your comfort zone. If you’ve grown up going to house shows at punk houses, go to a sober show at Real Art or the Vera project and see how people move there. If you’ve grown up going to legit all ages venue shows, go to a house show where people are stealing, writing graffiti and getting into fights. All aspects of the scene are equally important and there can be so much learned from each style. Go to shows and talk to people and make connections. Don’t be too cool for school. Be respectful and have fun.
I loved the Album Art for No Reason. Who is the artist behind it and is there any significance to it?
L: Stein Hansen did the No Reason art. He killed it. We don’t speak too much on what it signifies to us, but we are glad that people have responded well to it.
What's one thing you want people to know about Denial of Life?
L: One thing I want people to know about DOL is how much we put into this band. So much time, energy, money, love, etc. has been poured into DOL. We really give a shit about this band and the community.
With the New Album, No Reason and what looks to have been a pretty successful fall tour what's next on the list going into 2023?
L: We have a TON of shit coming up in 2023. We’re confirmed for JAG 4., a tour in March, a European tour in June if all goes according to plan, and new music being written and recorded. It’s only up from here for us.
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