A supergroup of sorts, Fragile Mortals features members of Run-DMC, Exodus, Pro-Pain, and Generation Kill. Produced by former Guns N’ Roses (and current Sons of Apollo) guitarist Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal, The Dark Project is the long-awaited debut album from Fragile Mortals. A hybrid of metal and hip-hop, The Dark Project is heavy both musically and lyrically, as the group confronts a variety of social issues above its heavy riffs.
On behalf of the Inquisitr, I had the pleasure of doing Q&A with one of Fragile Mortals’ vocalists, hip-hop legend Darryl “DMC” McDaniels. While in the process of interviewing McDaniels, I was also able to get responses from co-vocalist Rob Dukes, drummer Rob Youells, and bassist Rob Moschetti; hopefully, a future interview will also include answers from guitarists Jason Trenczer and Jason Velez. Although The Dark Project was released by Entertainment One Music earlier this month, there are currently no tour dates announced for Fragile Mortals. However, as discussed within our interview, McDaniels stays plenty busy with his other projects, which include his comic book company, Darryl Makes Comics, and his non-profit foundation, the Felix Organization.
How did Fragile Mortals come together? Did you know most of the guys before the band formed?
Darryl “DMC” McDaniels: Fragile Mortals is not really a band, per se. It’s a concept album that came about after I collaborated with Rob Dukes after meeting him at Rock on the Range when he was performing as lead singer with Exodus and I was making an appearance with my good friends, and bad ass band, Pop Evil. Me and Dukes only planned to do one song for my upcoming album, but that turned into two songs because we worked so good together. I kind of learned how to sing being around Dukes! His band was Generation Kill at that time. They had just dropped an album.
Rob Dukes: We had a few choices of producers. Zeuss was an option, but he was busy doing Rob Zombie’s new album. Ronnie King was one thought, he’s a Grammy-winning producer, worked with Eazy-E and bunch of others, and he’s in Palm Springs. Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal was another option. I had become friends with Ron about 10 years prior when he recorded me with The Talking Metal guys. We had talked about working together for a long time, he was in Jersey close to Darryl and Rob Youells and Rob Moschetti of Generation Kill.
Rob Moschetti: Bumblefoot mixed the entire album, and Surge Tsai, Nick Koikus, Jon Ciociarri and myself engineered the initial recordings. It was tracked in four different studios. Bumblefoot is the producer.
Darryl “DMC” McDaniels: Bumblefoot is brilliant! He’s a hell of a guitar player, but I was highly impressed at his engineering and studio production skills! I see why he’s such a talented musician! During the making of the album, all of us were going through a lot of personal, political, and social hells. So that’s why a lot of the themes are death, suicide, race relations, substance abuse, and politics. None of us knew each other, so we didn’t have a reason to directly choose to take a particular direction with the songs. It just came out that way.
— MAC (@ThaOfficialMac) April 8, 2017
How long did you spend recording the album? Not everyone lives in the Northeast, right?
Darryl “DMC” McDaniels: We spent about two months recording it. Songs were done in a day, but Bumblefoot spent his off-days working on all the sounds.
Rob Youells: We did the tracking for The Dark Project over the course of about a year. We had a different approach than the usual. We gave each song a lot of attention by tracking two at a time. It gave us the opportunity to really nurture each track. We paid close attention to dynamics and where we incorporated different vocals styles.
Darryl “DMC” McDaniels: Dukes is out in Arizona, and every winter rubs it in that he’s watching the Ranger games outside in 75-degree weather!
Since the band is very spread out, are there plans to tour?
Darryl “DMC” McDaniels: There are no plans to tour. Rob Moschetti has his own solo thing going on and a new band, Rob is droppin’ his single soon. Dukes is doing his own thing, he just released an EP that’s badass, and I’m about to release the album that I talked about that brought this project to fruition. I did a song with Dukes on his EP, and I’m doing a remix of a Rob Moschetti song that I just had to remake.
Do you have a favorite song on The Dark Project?
Darryl “DMC” McDaniels: “Lot Lizard” is my favorite, but “Under the Skin” keeps trying to dethrone it!
— Theprp.com (@theprp) September 22, 2016
Understandably Run-DMC had guitars on songs like “Rock Box” and “Kings of Rock,” but what was the turning point for you with rock music as a listener? Was there a particular album or artist that drew you into hard rock?
Darryl “DMC” McDaniels: It was late ’60s, ’70s rock radio and folk rock that captivated me! “Cats in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin, “Black Water” by the Doobie Brothers, the Stones, the Beatles, AC/DC, and Led Zeppelin created the “King of Rock!” I was a black kid in the ‘hood that cared nothing about afros, high heels, bell bottoms, and the Jackson 5. I’m a comic geek, so loud drums and guitars is powerful like the Hulk to me.
The book Tougher Than Leather made the 1990s sound very tough for you until the “It’s Like That” remix got popular in Europe. How did you first find out about that remix?
Darryl “DMC” McDaniels: The label had it submitted by DJ Jason Nevins and thought it would work… and it did! It was a global phenomenon. It was old-school proving it will always be new.
So going back to what you said, do you have another solo album in the works? Is the Fragile Mortals collective your musical focus for the foreseeable future?
Darryl “DMC” McDaniels: I have an album called Dynamic Musical Collaborations, where I’m produced and performing with awesome incredible iconic artists such as Joan Jett, Sammy Hagar, Tim Armstrong from Rancid and The Transplants, Chuck D of Public Enemy, Jon Moyer from Disturbed, and the magnificent Myles Kennedy, just to name a few! This album is a historical musical event! The EP drops Black Friday on Record Store Day, Novemeber 24. The World better prepare!
Are you still involved with Children’s Rights?
Darryl “DMC” McDaniels: I work with Children’s Rights, the Garden of Dreams, and my foundation — the Felix Organization — that I teamed up with Hollywood casting director and one hell of a person Sheila Jaffe; she worked on The Sopranos and Entourage. I visit middle schools, high schools, group homes, Boys & Girls Clubs, and anywhere I can encourage empower and elevate our children.
— Sammy Hagar (@sammyhagar) March 16, 2017
What’s coming up for Darryl Makes Comics in the near-future? Another DMC title?
Darryl “DMC” McDaniels: We are currently working on graphic novel number four, and adding to the lineup of superheroes in the DMC Universe. And planning a big powerhouse event for New York City Comic Con!
When you’re not busy with career or charity work, how do you like to spend your free time?
Darryl “DMC” McDaniels: I relax, kick back, and watch Walking Dead, Into the Badlands, Penny Dreadful and Ray Donovan.
The Dark Project aside, do you have a favorite album of 2017?
Darryl “DMC” McDaniels: My favorite album of 2017 is still AC/DC’s Back in Black. Nothing this year beat it so far! “Rock And Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution” been on repeat every day since New Year’s. I can’t stop listening to that song!
Finally, DMC, any last words for the kids?
Darryl “DMC” McDaniels: Me and Tim Armstrong have something really exciting about to happen!
[Feature Image by Amanda Cagan]