Games, Brrraaains & A Head-Banging Life bring you an interview with hard rock/heavy metal band, Dean Wallace and the Black Flames.
1. Hello! Thank you for taking the time to chat to us. First things first, tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got started.
I’m Dean Wallace, I’m French and live in Chamonix, France. I was born in 1992 (freshly 31 years old), married and father of one. I write, record and produce my songs alone, and play live with a band called The Black Flames.
This project started as a family affair, when my brother and I, both guitarists and fans of Metallica, decided to start writing our own material. That was in 2011. One of my best friends joined us as a bass player, and we found a young drummer in nearby Switzerland. The band was named “Whymper” (named after the famous british alpinist Edward Whymper). After a few years playing gigs mainly in Geneva, we recorded our debut album “Metal Family”. During the recording sessions, my brother encouraged me to release this album as a solo artist, as he saw me writing every song, playing every instrument in the studio, and being in charge of pretty much everything. “Metal Family” is known as Dean Wallace’s debut album.
As my determination was growing, we decided to move to London in 2015. Unfortunately, we had trouble finding gigs in the UK and the band split in 2017. When I came back to France, I started to work as a professional guitar player, which I’m still doing today. I decided to write again and to put this project back on track when the pandemic hit. I hired two musicians I knew from my cover bands, and met the second guitar player online. I’m now proud to present a new single New World Disorder.
2. Someone comes to you and asks you to sum up what kind of music you play – what do you tell them?
I would say that a good starting point would be the Metallica, Megadeth and Pantera from the 90’s. I mix this with my other influences which are Queen, Pink Floyd, Rammstein, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and it gives a pretty versatile genre of Heavy Rock / Heavy Metal.
3. What’s currently going on in your camp? New releases? Tours? Etc.
The band has been inactive between 2017 and 2023, so it’s a new start for us. We are about to release 4 singles before April, and these 4 singles will be gathered on an EP released with The Animal Farm Music, our label. We are working very hard right now to find gigs in clubs and festivals, I’m sure it’s gonna pay off soon. I keep on writing,I got about 8 songs ready, so an album is likely to come out in 2015.
4. What has been the most positive experience of making music to date for you?
That would be in 2011, when we won a contest in California. We had just released two demo songs online when a californian radio station specialising in metal contacted us offering to include a song in their monthly compilation, Kill City. We accepted the proposition without hesitation. Each month the station organised a vote amongst its listeners to find the most popular songs on the playlist. We came in first with “Get Away From My Home” winning precious radio airtime.
5. Likewise, what has been some of the more challenging aspects and how have you overcome them?
In February 2020, I attended some mixing and producing classes in a studio with the objective to improve and see how far I could go into music production.
One month later, the pandemic hit. My job is to play guitar in cover bands, so I wasn’t allowed to work for a year. With no gigs in sight, I decided it was the right moment to start an ambitious project, to produce an album from A to Z. I had some riffs and demos left from the time we were living in the UK, so I started to write music again and recorded 13 demos by the end of 2020. I also invested in some studio gears and started to record this album alone. Basically, I recorded every instrument, sang, mixed and mastered 10 songs. It’s been a huge challenge, to stay focused and motivated all the way through, but I did it, and I’m very proud of myself. My manager decided to pick 4 songs out of this album to release an EP, and the rest of the songs will come out in a fairly near future.
6. How do you handle the modern expectations of being in a band? Always online, having to put out content constantly, your success measured in likes and follows?
I don’t really like it, I’m not a social media guy at all. It’s very hard and tiring, it’s less time you spend on finding gigs and on writing music. Sharing is not the hard part, but creating content is awfully excausting. Everytime you record, rehearse or whatever, you have to think about making a photo or video…
As I said in your previous question, writing and producing these songs took me a lot of time and passion, so yes indeed, measuring my success with likes and follows is emotionally quite hard to handle for me, though the feedback from the people who heard the new song is very heartwarming so far.
7. What’s something that really ‘grinds your gears’ about the industry/business these days and what would you propose is done to combat it?
Streaming has killed albums. I’m a fan of albums, cause I consider this is how music is supposed to be presented. When I buy an album, I like to read the booklet, check the photos and the lyrics. I see it as a story, where every song has a role to play, with a very important order. This is how I want to create my albums. But now, people just get 2 songs from this band, 1 song from the band… They no longer care what’s the name of the musicians or the story of the bands, and I think streaming platforms have created, or at least accelerated this trend. I don’t propose to combat it, because I think people are absolutely fine with this way of consuming music, it’s just my point of view, there’s no point trying to impose it on everybody else. But for my releases, I’ll do my best to create cohesive and interesting albums !
8. Speaking directly to listeners – what would you ask them to do to help support your music?
I would ask them to share my contents. I believe in my music. I know that not everybody is gonna like it, but I’m sure a good part of the rock and metal community is gonna appreciate this band. Everything we do has one goal, get our music heard. So share, talk about it.
9. Outside of the music, what do you do to relax?
Beside music, I like to do sports (cross-country skiing, mountain biking, sports that we have the chance to do in the French Alps). It helps me to clear my mind, and the clearer my mind is, the more creative I am. When I have too many thoughts in my head, the songwriting isn’t fluid. I also love spending time with my wife and my 4 years old son.
10. Where can people find you?