Interview - Chris Van Engelen of Dead Addiction

Updated: Apr 11, 2020





Dead Addiction are a 5 piece all original hard rock/metal band from Belfast Northern Ireland, are currently anticipating the release of our debut album. Formed in 2014, the band is made up of like-minded hard rock musicians; Chris Van Engelen on guitar, Steve Van Engelen on drums, Danny Haughey on bass, Ciaran Lyttle on lead guitar and Joe Murphy on vocals.

When we initially formed, we didn’t have a front man. Niall Graham of another local rock band Sweet Taste helped get the band out of the practice room. The band played alongside Sweet Taste in a bunch of shows making it to the quarter finals of Bloodstock’s ‘Metal to the masses’ competition. After Niall’s departure it wasn’t long until the band found Joe on a local musician's forum, and have been on the up and up ever since!

What first got you into music and when was it?

Personally, I got into playing music around 2003 or so, myself and other members of the band had been practicing in school during lunch breaks, and we would play birthday parties and small shows playing mostly covers.

We’ve all been involved in separate music projects over the years, but when we all came together to form Dead Addiction it was meant to be.

Who inspired you to make music, who are you influenced by?

In my teens I was always big into metal and punk and stuff like that. I was always a huge Metallica fan growing up, and James Hetfield was huge inspiration to me. I was always a fan of a good Rhythm guitar player as opposed to lead. The rest of the guys have their own inspirations, a lot of Rush, Thin Lizzy, Queen and classic bands like that.

How would you describe the music that you typically create, has it changed over the years and how?

The music I create would be heavy rock, but it depends on who you ask. I’m a metal head at heart but I think a lot of people would categorise us as hard rock.

I guess in my younger days it was all about punk, and power chords and playing the guitar down at your knees. These days I am more into a groovy metal style, and I do think that comes through in the song writing.

What is your creative process like?

I have my own process, the rest the guys have theirs. Personally, I very rarely write from experience. I find that if I can create a story in my head and just write a song about that then I find myself not bound or limited as to what I can write about, I’ve always written that way.

Who would you like to collaborate with?

I have far too many to narrow it down to one, I’ve always been a music fan before I consider myself a musician, I like to meet the guys who make the music and who helped shape my music taste.  I guess if I had to pick one it would probably be to collaborate with Glenn Danzig, who has been an idol of mine since I was 14.

If you could support one band, who would it be and why?

I would love to say someone like Metallica, but I think that’s more just trying to look at the big picture, whereas in reality it would be extremely difficult to win over a Metallica crowd. The fans are there to see Metallica, same with Iron Maiden or any of those huge bands. I think I would have to pick someone like Skid Row or Ugly Kid Joe, bands more in line with our sound.

What is the one message you would give your audience and what message would you give the MU readers?

It’s a complete cliché to say this, but please support your local music scene. It’s important going forward that bands who want music to be their life have that opportunity, although I think we are very fortunate that Belfast has a thriving music scene.

What is the most useless talent you have?

I am known for my useless talents, from rubbish magic tricks to pulling absolute random bits of 80’s movie and music trivia out of nowhere and bestowing it upon and anyone who will listen, and even those who won’t.

What would you be doing right now if it wasn’t for music?

Knowing me, I would probably be throwing myself into some other random project and giving it 100%. I’m an animal lover, so probably something related to that. I always try to see music as a hobby, so it's great in the sense that I still have other hobbies and get to do everything I like without sacrificing a great deal of time to music.

Where have you performed?

Furthest afield I have performed was in Scotland, which was in a previous band. I have played all over my own country, and we do have plans to start taking the band overseas but we’ll see how people respond to the album first. My favourite gig with Dead Addiction has to be when we opened fir NWOBHM legends Girlschool in the limelight here in Belfast, that was especially great as in their encore song, lead singer Kim McAuliffe broke a string and had to borrow my guitar!

Least favourite gig would have to be a show we did here in Belfast, about 30 seconds into our sound check I just started to smell and see smoke. I had assumed it was some smoke machine that had been switched on but in fact my amp had just blown a valve. Thankfully the headline band were graceful enough to let me borrow their head for the evening, but it was a completely different sound and I just couldn’t find my stride for the whole set, but these things happen!

How do you feel the internet has impacted the music industry and you specifically?

I think a lot of new bands have a bittersweet relationship with the internet. In one sense it's good that we can get people from all over the world to listen to our album, but there is absolutely no incentive for the fan to then pay for it. I’m not gonna sit here and say “Spotify are robbing us blind!” when we don’t get nearly the number of streams to complain about that, but for sure there is an issue with trying to get fans to purchase your music, which is a shame.

What is your favourite song to perform and why?

I love to perform our track “Blood Money”. It’s a song I wrote with the original frontman, it just has that big chorus and my brother does an excellent job on the skins with it. It may even be my favourite solo on the album from Ciaran. It just tells a great story about corruption and bribery, which was the recurring theme with all of our songs early on in the song writing process.

What is the most trouble you have gotten into?

Probably public urination on the streets of Glasgow after playing a show and getting escorted back to my hotel by the police, after being hit with a hefty fine. I think I got off light though as they could have had me for indecent exposure!

If you could only listen to one album from now on what would it be?

That is a tough one, for me it would probably be Crazy nights by Kiss, albums gotten me through a few tough times!  Ciaran’s pick would be Appetite for Destruction by Guns N Roses. Of course our drummer picks a Rush album, Power Windows. Bass player Danny has chosen Permission to Land by the Darkness and finally singer Joe has picked Judas PriestScreaming for Vengeance! Quite a varied mix there and I do think it reflects what we all bring to the table for sure!

What is the best advice you have been given?

Musically? to just enjoy it as a hobby. It’s extremely difficult now to make a career in music unless you go down a music theory route or something like that. If you just treat it like a hobby, then you don’t leave yourself open to disappointment or a sudden urge to pack it in when things don’t go your way.

If you could change anything what would it be?

That we got more time with Lemmy and Motörhead, although to consider how old the planet is and we all somehow managed to be alive at the same time as Lemmy, Prince and David Bowie is pretty amazing

Which bands do you think are currently under-rated or that people should look out for?

I Gotta give a shout out to my old band mates Maverick for sure, who are killing it right now across Europe. Also just some other local home grown talent like Safire, Wild Heat, Stormzone, Gasoline Outlaws, Rosco’s Riot, Like A Hawk, Trucker Diablo... The list goes on!

What is next for you?

Next for me is to get on the road with Dead Addiction and promote our forthcoming debut album ‘...of Vice & Men’. We already have some stuff in the pipeline in terms of playing across the water and hopefully it continues to go up from here!

See next page for further questions if you have a new release.

What was the driving force behind your new release?

The driving force behind ‘...of Vice & Men’ was quite simple, the fact that it is a full blown concept album. Set in the fictional city of San Vector, a dystopian metropolis on a downward spiral to anarchy and chaos. It specifically follows the story of a detective who has been left for dead after a betrayal from a close friend. He awakens 4 years later from a coma to find the city has completely changed. With a new edge to his defiance and a thirst for revenge he vows to take on anyone who stands in the way of his enemy. So overall the album touches on corruption, bribery and criminal violence. We have hired voice actors to play the roles of a reporter by the name of Lucy Wong who sort of acts as kind of a plot device for setting the scene as well as concluding it. We also have a crazy Radio DJ by the name of DJ ‘Dave ‘The Rave’ Robbins’. One of the themes of the album is DJ Dave’s descent into Chaos as he believes he is truly alone in the city until he meets our Detective.

What was the process for writing and recording the release, are there any aspects of the production that were interesting or that you were keen to incorporate?

The process for writing for us was actually pretty easy in the beginning, I had written a song called ‘White line’ which was about a detective sick of coming to work and dealing with the same thing every day, and somehow, never becoming desensitised to it. Then I started writing another song called ‘Warning shot’ where the writing process very much lead on from the previous song, it was about going on a rampage after completely snapping. Then Ciaran would come in with a song which by complete coincidence was dealing with the same themes.  When discussing it with the band we realised we had a handful of songs that were starting to piece together a puzzle. Then the concept came very naturally after that and before we knew it, we had 10 tracks that wrapped up this story very well.

We also knew that how this album was packaged and presented had to be perfect, so we hired a local comic book artist John McFarlane do our cover. He absolutely knocked it of the park and perfectly captured that blade runner, new wave retro vibe we were going for. Of course, being from Belfast we had to get the DeLorean in there, we even managed to do a photoshoot with one for the album booklet, so we weren’t pulling any punches with this release!

Were there any hurdles to overcome when going through the writing and recording process, how did the album and songs develop?

Well, we work together very well as musicians, and some of us had been playing together for years in other projects and things, and I have to say the downright professionalism that comes from the guys is infectious. We all knew we could rely on each other to play our part and before we knew it everything was in place. Although, we did begin recording the album in 2017, so it took us more time than we would have liked to reach the finished product. In a way though this turned out to be a good thing, as a lot of our songs had naturally changed over time and by the time we went to record them they were exactly as we wanted.

When and how are you launching the new release?

We have already released 2 singles so far, met with much critical acclaim, and we plan on doing a music video for the third single.

We are doing a full album launch on the 25th of April in Voodoo, Belfast. We will have our album on sale, we will have t-shirts and we will be putting everything into our stage show, I really think it's going to be a fantastic evening.

Then of course, the album will be released online shortly after through Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer and all the usual places!

How are you hoping it will be received?

This is our first release, so we have nothing to compare it to, but we really have put in the work for this album and I really hope people dig it. If not? Well we had an absolute blast making it, and we will continue to do what we love to do and hopefully we’ll see you all down the road!

Thank you again for taking the time to answer these questions, please keep an eye out for the publication.


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