Toronto, Canada – Fayetteville, North Carolina’s Narcotic Wasteland is currently touring with German Metal Gods Accept. Digital Beat Magazine’s Jay Broderick caught up with frontman Dallas Toler-Wade ahead of their Toronto, Canada gig on October 16, 2022.
Digital Beat Magazine: So I’m here with Dallas from Narcotic Wasteland. Dallas, I understand that you originally wanted to be a drummer?
Dallas Toler-Wade: Yes, I started out on the drums really young. I was really serious about it for 4 or 5 years and then I started getting into more metal stuff and less rock stuff. I think Metal Church, that was the deciding thing, I was like I wanna learn how to play that on the guitar. I was just hanging out with some buddies from high school you know, and they showed me a couple things and just kind of took it from there. It was just kinda that whole new thrashy, crunchy thing going on and I was just like ‘Oh man, that is rad’ it just turned out that it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it was going to be. I was really intimidated by the guitar for a really long time. I always wanted to learn how to play it and then when I got started and started to get kind of decent I was like ‘well maybe I can write some stuff.’ I still wanted to be a drummer but the more I started playing guitar the drums just kind of sat there and you know. I was obsessed! I would do it day and night, all the time.
DBM: Can you share with us the genesis of “Narcotic Wasteland” and how it all came about?
Dallas: Sure! Basically when I was you know, not on tour or busy writing or in the studio with Nile, I had a few other ideas that was a little bit more like the stuff I used to play back in the day. A little bit more on the thrashy side, so I just started putting these demos together and I was talking with my good friend Ed Rhone which I used to play, he was a lead guitarist in a couple of my bands back in the day. I actually joined his band a couple times so we were always good friends and just really guitar heads. So I started sending demos to him and he used to send me demos of his and we just kinda started going back and forth and then kinda decided we wanted to do a whole band with the new music that we were coming up with and then we got Chris Dupre in on bass and Erik Schultek on drums. The whole first album had been written and it took us about two years to find a drummer and luckily Mr. George Kollias hooked me up with Erik Schultek and then we were able to finally do the first album and it was pretty well received with no media, nothing you know what I mean. There was really just like social media and stuff that we used. When it came out it was actually pretty well received and I was kinda surprised by that but we really wanted to kinda take it to the stage even if it was just every now and then or whatever. And that’s pretty much it man. And then when I left Nile in 2016 I was like well, let’s just do this.
DBM: One of the band’s main focuses is on the current state of affairs with the drug problems in the United States. The same problem exists here in Canada. Why do you think there has been such a drastic rise in the use of opioids?
Dallas: Uh, because if a doctor prescribes it to you, it’s legal. There’s already people that I know that get prescribed stuff and they’re afraid of it. They’re like ‘I’ll only take it if I’m in absolute pain and I absolutely need it. The doctor will tell you to take three of them a day. Well, the problem is when you don’t have it and that’s just it. They try to limit the prescription and the next thing you know they’re turning to the streets to get the real deal. You know, I think that’s what it really is. In my opinion it’s malpractice. You know, I know that there’s a lot of people out there that are in serious pain and stuff like that. I understand that. But you have to be better than just patching it with an opiate, a feel good drug, you know what I mean? I think that’s just utter bullshit. I think that’s the real issue. It’s the fact that that’s legal. That’s why there was so much resistance against marijuana. Because it is actually helping people with pain, mental issues and anxiety. It gives me anxiety so I can’t really smoke it (we both laugh), but for other people it works the opposite so you know. And it’s the most benign thing you could do. It’s you know, you’re not going to crash your car and kill a bunch of people because you smoked pot. You’re gonna do it because you had too many to drink and a couple pills or something like that. You know, that’s usually the issue, but they know that, you know Pharma is going to fight that because they’re just going to lose money and it’s all about the money. They don’t give a damn about our health. It’s an inherent problem in a lot of business nowadays. Everybody’s got the porn website mentality when it comes to doing business. Quick, fast money. No future. They don’t care about the future. Just get it now, now, now! That’s also just an overall kind of problem. It’s probably in the whole world. But you know, as far as our lyrics and stuff, the newer stuff is not so much about that but it’s still very much just sort of my observations of what’s going on and stuff that’s happened with me personally and you know, just things that I observe, things that are going on in the world and all the stuff that people are having problems with. I like to keep it kind of current and real and to the point and not too poetic.
DMB: In talking with some people recently, the gap between the rich and the poor is getting crazy. Here in Toronto we’re seeing so much homelessness.
Dallas: Absolutely! After you have billions of dollars, ok dude! You win capitalism. You don’t even need it. You’ve got enough money for your family for like 10 generations or even more. It’s just ridiculous. Nobody actually needs that kind of money. It in itself is an addiction. It’s a different kind of addiction. Maybe even more disgusting. What we got going on in America is big corporations buying up all these places and charging outrageous money for rent. They’re basically trying to keep us from owning anything and they just want everybody to rent and be human McNuggets. You know, I think that’s going to change. I think people are going to get tired of this shit. My opinion is that if we really want to win this war we need to take all of our money (all of us need to cooperate), we have to take all of our money out of the banks, stop using Facebook, stop using Amazon, stop giving rich assholes your money. We need to take the power back.
DBM: ok… let’s get a little bit lighter (we laugh again). How has the tour been so far with Accept?
Dallas: The tour has been really great. Meeting a lot of new fans. You know, it’s a little bit different. They’re a little bit more on the old school, classic heavy metal side. Some people don’t necessarily like the style of vocals or whatever but they’re definitely appreciative of the music and then there’s a lot of other people that are like me that like all kinds of heavy metal that like Acccept and like Suffocation too and that’s ok. They’re not going to sit there and tell me that I don’t need to deserve to be up on stage if I’m not singing stuff like that. You know, and that’s all fun and we’ve been really well received on this and I’m really happy and thankful that Accept had us out and all that stuff. Yeah man, it’s been really cool and all those guys are super cool and the crew is super cool and it’s just been, we’re out here together man. This is a big happy family.
DBM: Any memorable experiences on this tour that kind of pops out at you as maybe a great moment?
Dallas: I think a great moment was, we played the Whiskey A-Go-Go and I brought a song to the table the guys wanted to play. It’s called “Absent Friends”. It’s actually the last track on the debut album but it involves me using a slide on the guitar and I was kinda nervous about it cuz I’ve never actually used it live. I’ve using a slide in the studio on the Nile records and I used it a couple of times on the Narcotic records just to kind of break out of the frets and make things a little wonky. A little weird or a little out of tune on purpose and man, I was so… the first time I tried to do that my hand was shaky a little bit. I was a little nervous and then I don’t know, at that particular show I just nailed it. It was so cool cuz I had never done anything like that. I mean, it just, it had a lot of feeling to it. It was new stuff. I’m always trying to get better at this shit.
DBM: Cool! Can you share with us what a day-in-the-life is for you when you’re on tour?
Dallas: For me it’s usually like lots of driving, which I enjoy. I like to see the countryside. And then you know, once we get here, I’m pretty focused. I keep my mind on the game. You know, I’m worried about making sure my gear is ok. If I’ve gotta change strings or getting guitar maintenance. I had to fix my wireless yesterday so that’s all fixed. Stuff like that. It’s pretty uneventful for the most part. It’s usually just everybody hanging around, getting everything set up. Everybody talking about gear. That is home for me.
DBM: Do you actually ever get to “visit” the cities you play at? Any chance to do the touristy type thing?
Dallas: Sometimes. Sometimes we get to do that if we got a little bit of time or if we have a day off. We’ve got a day off tomorrow and then we’re all the way to Jersey. We did a few shows with Genitorturers in 2021 and they’re going to be playing a tour somewhere in Michigan so we might actually go and check them out before we head to Jersey. Just to say “Hey” and check out the show and stuff like that. So yeah, you know, we try to check out some stuff on days off. 2021 we went to Niagara Falls before we came back home. Stuff like that. But sometimes you just don’t have time cuz it’s a long drive and you’ve got everybody rotating 4 hour shifts or whatever. Try to get some sleep. Try to get some rack time cuz I’m gonna need you later.
DBM: What do you love most about being on the road?
Dallas: Obviously playing the shows, but also you know, just hanging out and talking and shooting the shit with the guys. We’re brothers out here. Everybody is a little different and diverse and that keeps things kind of interesting. I don’t know, there’s just a lot of brilliance in the band right now with my current lineup. We have a lot of fun.
DBM: A little change of subject, but vinyl, CD or digital?
Dallas: Me personally, CD. Vinyl to me sounds like ass. I understand that, it definitely sounds nostalgic. I get that. And it’s cool to have the big artwork and all that stuff but I just remember the first time I bought a CD player. You know, back when they were like $300. And I put in the first CD. I think it was a Rush CD actually and then I realized that the shit that I was trying to play on the drums back in the day, some of it was completely wrong, because you know, the records, especially when you play them a thousand times they get this noise floor of just snap, crackle, pop. It’s like Rice Krispies and shit going on while you’re trying to listen to your music. And then as soon as the CD came out, it’s like a blanket just got lifted off of everything. Even when you dubbed a cassette it sounded like a bought cassette if you had a good unit, a good recorder. So I still prefer CD. If you’re gonna do digital, MP3 has come a long way as far as the sound quality. It used to really be bad. It sounded like Nintendo music you know. So they kind of fixed that. If they’re gonna give us like 2496 high res digital. That would be great. You know what I mean. Like the FLAC files or whatever. Those are pretty cool. As far as getting paid digitally, they definitely need to reform that. You’ve got some serious top dog rock and roll artists that should be getting, you know, millions of dollars and they’re getting like thousands of dollars. I remember when all this shit started, I read an article with Peter Frampton. He got a check in the mail for $2500. PETER FRAMPTON! Come on dude! We’re all kinda gettin’ screwed on that. I was kind of used to that anyway, being a death metal musician. So if you’re gonna make a buck in this shit at all, you gotta play live. You gotta sell merchandise. I was already used to that. And then you know, the whole thing started happening and then the next thing you know you see like death metal bands on the charts and it’s because metal people like to collect things, and they like actual physical stuff cuz it looks cool on the shelf. I’m the same way, with my comics, with my CDs, with my video games. All of them on shelves, perfectly sleeved, kind of OCD about it. A lot of us are like that.
DBM: Very true. I can speak for myself, I’m very much like that. Who’s in your CD player right now?
Dallas: In my CD player in my truck actually is song demos for the next album. But both my truck and my car have cassette players so I’ve been listening to cassettes too. The cassette that’s in my Grand Marquee is Savatage Hall of the Mountain King
DBM: Ahhh! Awesome album!!
Dallas: Yeah, I think Power of the Night is my favorite. But that’s just lately. In a week, I’ll tell you Sirens, you know what I mean? Same with Thin Lizzy. I’ve been listening to a lot of that recently. This week it’s Johnny the Fox next week it’s gonna be Fighting (laughs)
DBM: So you mention demos for the new album. I understand that’s scheduled to release next year on Megaforce. What can the fans expect to hear on that album?
Dallas: I honestly think just a more focused version of the band. The gap in the improvements between the debut and Delirium Tremens is pretty substantial and I think we got that again. Just getting better at this. We’re expanding a little bit, trying a few more things. You’re always going to get some nice fast, blasty stuff if that’s what you want. I’m not trying to pigeon hole myself into that corner. I spent, you know, 18 years at the crest of that wave, so it’s time to do some different stuff. It’s one of the things I loved about Nile too. It wasn’t always about that. Sometimes we just like to crunch out. That’s really important having a variety of stuff, and not just being meat tenderizer for 45 minutes. Have some ebb and flow. Have some contrast. I’m getting better at that I think. I’m getting better at the whole contrast thing. And really just being honest with myself and letting that kind of flow out into the guitar. And just not being ashamed of it you know what I mean? And not thinking that it’s terrible or whatever. If you feel it, and it’s giving you goosebumps, or tears or something like that then you’re doing something. And other people might get that too.
DBM: Awesome man. Cool! Well, thanks so much for your time, and I’m looking forward to the show later and we’ll be chattin’ at ya!
Dallas: Thank you so much!