I have to admit that it wasn’t that long ago when I didn’t know who or what Deadly Avenger was. Yes, yes, I know. Please, hold your boos and jeers till after the show. Thanks. So it wasn’t until last year with the Death Waltz Originals release of Everyday Is Kill did I enter the amazing musical world of Deadly Avenger. Neo-futuristic vibes mixed with an 80s sci-fi movie flair, Everyday Is Kill was this amazing blast of slick beats and dense, melodic synth that was part futuristic assassin themes and melancholy pop.
It was damn near perfect.
Now, to my knowledge I hadn’t heard Deadly Avenger prior to Everyday Is Kill. There is a chance, however, that I have heard him before. Baxter’s main gig for a long time has been TV and film music. He’s the go-to guy for movie and TV execs when they need someone to punch up their movie trailer or TV spots with some killer music. He’s the guy that makes those trailers look so damn good in the movie theater, and when you watch the movie after renting it from Redbox a few months later you wonder where that cool music is. He’s done TV spots for Men In Black 3, Lockout, 127 Hours and Johnny English Reborn to name just a few.
But now, Damon Baxter is making music for himself. Last year saw the first bit of original Deadly Avenger music in some time, now Deadly Avenger is readying to release upon the world another bit of original music. Baxter teamed up with Burning Witches Records and on Friday June 1st I Am Godzilla, You Are Japan will be stomping its way across the globe, leaving in its wake burning cities and blown minds. Where Everyday Is Kill was the mysterious, wraith-like being making its way through the shadows, I Am Godzilla, You Are Japan is all extrovert; huge bombastic beats, towering synths, and all attitude.
I sat down with Deadly Avenger, aka Damon Baxter, and we talked about his music and the new record.
J. Hubner: So you spend a lot of creative fire on film and TV music, which I can only assume you love doing. But between last year and now you have been creating albums of original music under the Deadly Avenger moniker. With last year’s ‘Everyday Is Kill’ with Spencer at Death Waltz Originals, and now with the upcoming ‘I Am Godzilla, You Are Japan’ with Burning Witches Records, and even a couple other super secret original project in the works.
Where did the shift come from to get some original albums out? Do you have a cache of original music you’ve been holding onto, or are these all very recent songs that you’ve created?
Damon Baxter: Back in the day when I first started doing Deadly Avenger, I released a few 12”s aimed at dance floors and started DJing. After touring the world, I settled back into making music and developed the Deadly Avenger sounds. Inspired by soundtracks / score I started remixing some of the bigger guitar bands at the time( Manic Street Preacher, Elbow, Travis, Charlatans.) That sound was more of a hybrid; live strings / guitars etc and very melancholic….it felt like a natural progression to move from that into music to picture. In that world of course nothing gets released! Had an itch that needed scratching!
J. Hubner: Do you approach songwriting differently when writing for film/TV work, as opposed to writing original music?
Damon Baxter: Yeah depends on what you’re working on. With ads you tend to have a very tight deadline( sometimes hours )and a specific brief…TV is slightly different as most of the music I do for shows, is pretty much Deadly Avenger material.
J. Hubner: What was one of the more influential TV spots you remember seeing as a kid? Something that might’ve been the seed to which Deadly Avenger grew from?
Damon Baxter: I remember seeing a TV trailer for The Prophecy…it was on late, and it was SCARY! haha….it wasn’t, it was dreadful, but I remember it making an impact, that and the Legend of Boggy Creek trailer, can’t remember where I saw that…but that got me as well. As far as the seeds of Deadly Avenger, it all came from late 70s / early 80s sub-cultures, BMX, electro, US TV shows etc etc…but mainly Golden era hip hop, my first love!
J. Hubner: You’ve got a lot going on, but lets talk a bit about your upcoming Burning Witches release I Am Godzilla, You Are Japan. It’s fantastic, by the way.
Damon Baxter: Thanks! It was fun to do! Co-written with my friend and fellow composer Pete Diggens, I wanted to do something big, bold, with tongue firmly in cheek…! Over the top synths and drums, something that’s quite in your face, as those movies were.
J. Hubner: What was the genesis of this record, besides wanting to do something big and bold? Everyday Is Kill was slicker and darker in mood. The introverted sci-fi kid. Where as IAGYAJ is the in-your-face extrovert blowing shit up.
Damon Baxter: 2 sides of the same geeky coin ! 🙂
J. Hubner: Were you into the Japanese monster movies growing up?
Damon Baxter: I really wasn’t into those movies growing up at all. It was only when I started crate digging when I was into hip hop and coming across soundtracks and seeing the movie posters that it interested me. Horror and sci-fi on the other hand have both been big influences.
J. Hubner: Besides hip hop, horror and sci fi, and BMX, who or what were some big influences on you growing up?
Damon Baxter: Adam and the Antz, Electro and Hip Hop, thats it !I remember walking across the school playground and hearing Al Naafiysh on a ghetto blaster…..I thought I was listening to alien space music, it was just incredible.
J. Hubner: Composer-wise, I hear a lot of Lalo Schifrin in your work. His work on the first couple Dirty Harry films and Enter The Dragon, especially seem to play into your orchestral style. Part symphony, part street hustler. Were you a fan of Schifrin?
Damon Baxter: Well noticed! He was a massive influence, not only his music but his arrangements were what really inspired me. His scores can go move from orchestral parts right down to a high hat, and back again….and then of course there is the music itself!
J. Hubner: What about the synth-oriented work of Deadly Avenger? Who or what are some influences on Everyday Is Kill, or your 2010 album Kingdom?
Damon Baxter: Kingdom was inspired by lots of things, mainly all the film posters I had in my studio at the time! EIK, was pretty much inspired by crappy 80s movies. They had such charm, some great scores…and the lighting on the movies was quite dark, which gave them all a certain feel that I tried to capture in the music.
J. Hubner: You’ve worked with quite a few record labels over the years. How did you hook up with Burning Witches Records?
Damon Baxter: We became pally through Facebook. They offered me a fry up in Kent, I said Yes, the rest is history.
J. Hubner: What else do you have in store for the world musically? What does Deadly Avenger have up his sleeve?
Damon Baxter: Well, after IAGYAJ, there will be a synth album co-composed with Pete Diggens on Lakeshore Records. Then a new collaboration project with Luke Insect, a potential Death Waltz release after which I will be working on something spooky with Burning Witches! Next year I have something lined up with Timothy Fife.
J. Hubner: Before you go, name an album you’d consider absolutely essential and why?
Damon Baxter: Now this is a tricky question! Some albums I listen to for production, some for my soul, and some that make me want to smash shit up( in a good way.) A cop out I know, but I really couldn’t say. I am listening to The Alchemist Israeli Salad as I’m typing this though!
I Am Godzilla, You Are Japan comes out Friday June 1st via Burning Witches Records. Head over to their site Friday and order your vinyl. It will go quick, so set that alarm early Friday A.M. And be on the look out for all of Deadly Avenger’s upcoming albums. Keep up with Deadly Avenger here.