Rob Dukes Talks Generation Kill, Exodus, Thrash History + More
Rob Dukes, of Exodus and Generation Kill fame, was the guest on Full Metal Jackie’s radio show this past weekend. Dukes and Generation Kill recently released their ‘We’re All Going to Die’ album and he spoke about the disc, as well as his plans with his other band, thrash legends Exodus. If you missed Jackie’s show, here’s her full interview with Generation Kill and Exodus’ Rob Dukes.
It’s Full Metal Jackie bringing you two full hours of metal each and every week. On the show with us, Exodus and Generation Kill frontman Rob Dukes. How are you?
I’m good, how are you?
I’m great, thanks so much for being on the show. Of course Generation Kill’s latest record ‘We’re All Going to Die’ is out in stores now. It’s the second record from you guys. Musically, what was your primary goal for growth from ‘Red White and Blood’ to ‘We’re All Going to Die’?
I wanted to make the songs a little better. The first one was a demo. I mean basically when we look back on it and how we approached it all, the first album we did about a year and a half ago. We did three songs, took a few months off, did three songs, took a few months off, and we recorded at my house in my home in a small Pro Tools studios, so it wasn’t like it was — it was just a demo. And then when [producer] Zeuss approached us, he thought there were some really good break spots on the album. To move forward and make an album we really concentrated on just writing songs — writing good songs — and taking it from there.
You’ve called this album the strongest vocal performance of your career. What about ‘We’re All Going to Die’ defines you as a vocalist and will that now be a new foundation in your approach to singing?
Well, I mean the reason I said that it was challenging because I was doing stuff I had never done before. I had never done harmonies up to this point. I had not really sung songs in like a mellower voice. You know as far as Exodus goes, it’s just full-bore thrash all the time, and this isn’t a … Generation Kill isn’t a pure thrash band. I think we’re just a metal band, and we have, we incorporate all different styles. So, you know, when you’re listening to the first couple Iron Maiden albums or even the first couple of Metallica albums there’s spots where they, I wouldn’t say they’re ballads, but they use a mellower side and they have values and peaks of the songs, and they go up and down.
So we wanted to try and incorporate that. We wanted to take those elements of stuff that we grew up on and branch into our own music. That’s just the songs we wrote based on what we wanted to hear. We didn’t have a label, we didn’t have any money, we did it all on our own, so we paid Zeuss ourselves. Really we were just in this to write songs that we wanted because we didn’t know if we were getting signed. We didn’t know if anyone was going to like the record, we didn’t even know if anyone was going to hear it. Basically we were writing songs that we wanted to hear ourselves and to challenge ourselves and to try stuff that maybe we had never done before, do some of the mellower stuff and mixing it in with the heavy was a challenge. It was something that I hadn’t done before, so that’s why I figured that’s where that statement comes from.
Rob, in a lot of ways 2013 is the 30th anniversary of thrash metal. What to you has been most interesting about the way it’s developed and how do you hope Generation Kill will further its evolution?
I think thrash metal was based solely on, or not solely on, but had a little bit of punk rock, it had a little bit of, you know — Gary [Holt] told me stories, like him and Lee, Hetfield and him, would go down and would go see GBH and go see the Exploited, and they would see really cool punk rock bands. And then to add that to Iron Maiden and Judas Priest and to take the tones that Priest and Maiden had and to play them a little faster is really how thrash metal started. So that’s why I don’t think that Generation Kill is a pure thrash band. I think there’s elements of thrash in there, because look, I was 15 the first time I heard thrash metal, and up to that point I had been listening to Black Sabbath and Pink Floyd, and when I had heard it, I had never heard anything like it in my life.
To have all those elements, through all in all, I hope that metal will just keep evolving and stay the same at the same time. I think some of the stuff, you know — I don’t listen to a lot of the new bands, but the new bands I do listen to, they’re all taking it to another level. They’re doing the same thing that Gary and Hetfield and all those guys did — Iron Maiden and Priest — they’re doing the same thing but they’re starting with Exodus. They’re starting with Metallica and bringing it to another level. I think just based on my age and the guys I’ve surrounded myself with, we’re playing what we like, what we grew up on. We’re keeping the torch going and hopefully writing good songs just based on all of that stuff.
Totally. Are there any younger bands that are coming up that you guys are watching or that you’re into?
I really like Holy Grail. I just think they’re amazing guitar players. I think they write really good songs. Revocation are pretty badass. I like them. Honestly … I put my iPod on shuffle and a lot of times it’s Pink Floyd, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest. I don’t have a lot of new records. I have such a plethora of bands that I listen to, I don’t really stick to one thing at a time. But of my favorite of the new bands, it’s been lately Holy Grail. I saw them with Orange Goblin recently and they were just amazing. Plus, we toured with them last year.
Rob, how important was your first four years with Exodus to launching Generation Kill? And what about Exodus continues to help you grow and evolve with this band?
First off, I was in the music industry as a tech and I was touring and part of that world. But to be in a band and travel the world was, No. 1, it was really scary at the beginning. I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t even know if I could do it. I just accepted the challenge and kind of went for it. Having no prior experience, it was a learning curve of a couple of years. That’s how Generation Kill started, I live in New York. Exodus is a Bay Area band so when I came home I didn’t have — I’d get together with my friends and we would go, instead of going to bars and drink we would go to a rehearsal studio, go there and hang out and play music and that’s how Generation Kill started.
Through the years, the last nine years of being with Exodus I’ve honed the craft of being a singer, doing thousands of shows, performing on a regular basis and it being such an integral part of my life it just made me a better singer as the years have gone on. Starting another band was basically just to try another side of myself. Exodus is pure thrash. Generation Kill is a little thrash mixed with some other stuff. It was just another avenue to try new things and things I’ve learned on the road and to just experiment in life, you only live once. Why not try to do as much as you can and have fun doing it?
Rob, I really appreciate you being on the show. What can you tell us what’s to come for Generation Kill for 2014?
Well at this point we have some tours in the works. I think we’re going to Europe in January. That’s on the table right now. I get to make a new Exodus record in February. I have like a 2-3 week tour in March with Exodus, then Gary is going to do some stuff with Slayer so we’re going to take the time from May into June and July and make — not really sure of Slayer’s time schedule, so don’t quote me on it. But I know they are playing some festivals and stuff, so while he’s doing that I’m going to do some tours with Generation Kill. We’re going to try and do the States once and Europe some more and play as many shows as we can. Try to balance the two out, when Exodus isn’t touring I’m going to go out with Generation Kill and vice versa, you know?
Awesome. Best of luck with you. I appreciate you being on the show. Thanks so much, Rob.
Thank you, Jackie.
This coming weekend, Full Metal Jackie will welcome Warbringer‘s John Kevill on her show. Full Metal Jackie can be heard on radio stations around the country — for a full list of stations, go to fullmetaljackieradio.com.